Dharma Day 2023 – Mitra Ceremonies
It is a cause of much joy that we are having five Mitra ceremonies taking place during our up-and-coming Dharma Day celebration on Sunday 2 July 2023 at the Centre. The Mitras-to-be have kindly written some words about their journeys to making the commitment involved in becoming Mitras. So here are the wonderful beings in their own words:
My journey to becoming a Mitra in the Triratna Buddhist Community began when I learnt to meditate at the Rivendell Retreat Centre about two decades ago. I did not develop a regular meditation practice. As a working mother I either fell asleep, cried or started thinking about to-do lists! But always felt there must be ‘more’ to it than the practice of breathing or kindness meditation.
I became interested in finding out what that ‘more’ might be when I started visiting Luang Prabang in Laos. The town is incredibly chilled and kind. Now I understand why. There are 50 Buddhist temples in a 10 square kilometre area which have provided a Buddhist education to rural boys for five centuries. It means there is a critical mass of the population who are practising, educated Buddhists.
I started learning ‘more’ when I stopped full-time work and went portfolio – still pursuing social justice – and had more time. My learning was accelerated with the introduction of wonderful online courses during the pandemic. My meditation became more regular, insightful and useful. And I didn’t fall asleep. I began to see the Buddhist context for meditation, but felt I was still missing an overarching framework to make best use of the teaching. And that is why I asked to do the four-year study programme and become a Mitra.
In the first few weeks of the very structured programme, I felt I had come home. Everything I was learning was consistent with the way my wonderful mother had brought me up and with the way I have tried to contribute to positive social change in my work. An ethical philosophy, with the practices of meditation, learning and being part of a community help me tackle any barriers to that ethical living and be as skilful as possible in pursuing positive social change.
My name is Teresa and I am on a year sabbatical from teaching English and I am also a yoga teacher. I have meditated sporadically over the years and my yoga training incorporated mindfulness and meditation. Studying the history of yoga, I learnt that the physical practice was a way of preparing the body to sit in stillness for meditation. This made me curious about Buddhism and I began to read a range of books and found them deeply inspiring. However, I dabbled rather than committed to meditation and the Dharma. “Discovering” The West London Buddhist Centre and its wonderful online offerings during Covid changed everything! Bodhilia, Prajnanita, Ratnadeva and the Sangha were instrumental in me wanting to deepen my practice and commitment to this spiritual path.
I practice Buddhism for myself and for others and have a heartfelt wish to live in presence, wake up and cultivate more loving awareness. I have only just begun this exciting journey and I am so happy that I am on the path with the wonderful sangha of The West London Buddhist Centre. Thank you!
My name is Sophia and I am a writer and editor. I first became involved with the West London Buddhist Centre in lockdown, through an Introduction to Buddhism course taught by Ratnadeva and Prajnanita. The teachings, lively group discussions, and weekly home practices quickly became a light in the sometimes-dark, and many years later, here I am, about to become a Mitra. As trumpeter Don Cherry (a follower of Tibetan Buddhism) says on the track Universal Mother: “The Dharma is everywhere.” Since becoming involved with the West London Buddhist Centre, I’ve found that to be very much true. I’m grateful for the space we have to discuss and debate at the Centre, but I’m even more grateful for how these ideas and teachings trickle out to everywhere: to the world outside in all of its ethical and emotional complexities. I’m looking forward to becoming a Mitra and to see how I can be a little better, do a little better.
I had always experienced a draw towards Buddhism and loved the stillness and resoluteness that seem to emanate from figures of the Buddha. But I knew nothing!
When I was introduced to the WLBC by a good friend I began to learn what Buddhism is about and was very inspired by the people who come to the centre and the teachers who are phenomenal – I often joke that when I grow up I want to be like them!
Studying to become a Mitra has been such a privilege and has brought me some very special new friends and a different perspective on life.
Hi, my name is Anna, and if you haven’t met me, feel free to come up to me and say hi. Within the last couple of months, the WLBC has become a home for me. The meditations here have greatly improved my life and helped me in my spiritual growth. Now, I want to commit further to this path by becoming a Mitra. I am looking forward to what lies ahead.