West London Buddhist Centre

Thank you, Ratnadeva

by Bodhilila

Published on Apr 23rd 2024, in Blog

Nothing is permanent.
The sun and the moon rise and then set,
The bright clear day is followed by the deep, dark, night.
From hour to hour, everything changes.
                                                       Kalu Rimpoche

Ratnadeva has left the centre team, his last official work day was Monday, 15 April. For me, his leaving has been a process which began 6 months ago when he first told me of his intention to follow the call of his heart and return to Ireland. I knew this would be a great loss to the centre and to me personally. So I am grateful that in giving so much notice, Ratnadeva provided the opportunity for a conscious ending, with plenty of time to accept the fact of his leaving, to experience and process a range of feelings about this and to enjoy the time spent with him until then.

In the past few weeks, there have been a series of significant moments – his last Trustee meeting, last team meeting, last Dharma Night and, of course, his leaving event where sangha members had a chance to rejoice in Ratnadeva and say goodbye. I was so moved by this event. There was a big turn out, including sangha members I rarely see as well as those who attend the centre regularly. Ratnadeva has touched so many people’s lives, inspiring them through his teaching at classes, courses and retreats while connecting with them through his kindness, friendliness and warmth.

We began in the shrine room where Ratnadeva talked about his time at the centre and the call from deep within to return to his homeland and explore ways of communicating the Dharma, integrating it with his love of nature and connecting with the land and its spirits and ancestors. Some of you may know that he is also a druid and in the future, he will be able to fully embody being a Dharma Druid. He led us in a Celtic puja ending with a powerful Shakyamuni mantra accompanied by the drone of his shruti box.

After that, we headed upstairs where many of us rejoiced in Ratnadeva’s merits and he received his gifts from the centre – a Padmasambhava pupa, a set of Tibetan cymbals and an African shaker (which he requested as it’s an instrument he has used in past rituals and said would remind him of the West London Buddhist Centre). Then there were drinks and snacks and time for people to say their personal farewells and to connect with each other both individually and as a community. It was a joyous occasion and an example of the strength and depth of our sangha as people came together to express their love and appreciation and to say goodbye.

But of course it’s not a final goodbye, Ratnadeva will always be part of the WLBC sangha. All the connections he made will continue and he is open to leading retreats for us when he visits England in the future. I have no doubt that he will be back to visit when he is in town. In fact, he’s been meeting up with people all week since he officially left! I had my personal goodbye last Saturday as we sat on a bench in the park, chatting and feeding a persistent squirrel as we shared a picnic lunch. Thank you Ratnadeva, you will be missed.


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