Wanting life, fearing death, we try to hang on to the one and shut our eyes to the other. But sooner or later we are forced to confront death, either our own or someone else's. We can only solve the problem of life if we are prepared to face the problem of death -- indeed, to see life and death as two sides of the same coin.
Sangharakshita, The Bodhisattva Ideal
We are nearing the end of what we call "the year 2021". This time of year, as the darkness envelops us in its thick dark cloak, presents an opportunity to go inward and look back. To assess our progress, to celebrate our harvests, and to mourn our losses.
As a community we have much to be thankful for. We provide opportunities for others to learn about and practice the dharma with us. We have a beautiful tradition, for ourselves and others to be challenged, to grow and ultimately to be transformed by coming into contact with such a rich, bountiful lineage of teachings and teachers.
This community is all of us, from those who bought and then shaped the physical buildings that housed us over the years, to all the intangible ways in which we have all shaped this collective enterprise by our very presence in it. We are all invaluable assets of this rich treasure of the Glasgow Buddhist Centre. Thank you for your presence here, long may you remain to be of benefit in the world.
We have dissolved the mandala
And of course, we no longer have our property at Sauchiehall St, our spiritual home for the past 40+ years. So there is much to mourn - to be able to reckon with the inevitable cycle of birth and death, which we are all, as conditioned beings, subject to. We said goodbye ritually this time last year, and then in actuality the building was no longer ours by summer. We are now truly homeless.
Check out this video celebrating our beautiful space:
The pain of change
We are at a very painful point in this dissolution process. We don't yet know what will arise next. As a sangha we are sifting and sorting, listening and speaking, and also feeling into what is arising amongst us.
Many of us are feeling the discomfort of not having a physical space. We just want to meet, to feel the comfort of the familiar ways we knew! And this is completely understandable.
But we have just leapt into the void, and are free falling, we don't know what awaits on the ground. This is a tender and fragile time this gestation period, followed by the birth.
I would ask you to find the strength to hold steady with this process, to allow the new, the future, to speak to us. Only then will we have come to hold the tension of the dynamics between life and death, and truly allow something new to arise out of that.
What's next in our vision process?
A think tank of eight sangha members, chosen by the council, are meeting in mid December to form a one page vision from all the work we have done over the past 5 months, dreaming and missioning. This will be ready by January and we will have a clear direction of travel - a vision of a way forward for us.
Two themes that have emerged quite strongly from the work we have already done:
engagement in our communities
models of sustainability
So expect in some way to to see these emerge in our new vision!
From that work we will create models for our new Glasgow Buddhist Centre, and start to test out what is feasible for us to take on. It may not be until mid to late 2022 when we will have a building again, and it might take longer than that depending on what is a available for what we want.
Please join us in-person when you can, at a festival, or a mitra morning, or at our Dharma night when it goes in person again soon (stay tuned)! We are all the Glasgow Buddhist Centre, wherever we are!