Urban Retreat 2009

An International FWBO Urban Retreat 2009

a proposal for FWBO/TBMSG Centres
The following is an invitation to take part in an exciting and important new initiative which came out of the July 2008 European FWBO Chairs Assembly.

We aim to run “urban retreats” at many of our centres during the same week in 2009, and we’d like to invite as many FWBO Centres across the world to join us. The following notes explain the basic idea of an urban retreat and the potential benefits to your sangha.

When will it be?
The dates we have set, after consultation with FWBO Centres worldwide are 20th to 27th June 2009.

The basic idea

the urban meditator...?

the urban meditator...?

The urban retreat was pioneered by Sheffield Buddhist Centre, and has now been taken up at a number of other Centres. Typically an Urban Retreat starts with a day retreat at the local centre, in which participants are encouraged to think about what they’d like to practice in the next week, to be aware of what will help and what will hinder them, to keep practice diaries for the duration of the retreat, to buddy up with someone and agree to have contact with them, perhaps come to daily morning and evening meditations at the Buddhist Centre, and so on. Another important element is an “aspirational puja”, which includes chanting a mantra that can then be chanted by participants through the week. At the end of the week there is another day retreat to review and learn for the future.

(You can find out more about how an urban retreat works here. )

The potential benefits of an urban retreat
1) Firstly, the urban retreat allows people, especially those who find it difficult to get away on retreat, to experience more intensive Dharma practice.

2) It is about being on retreat in everyday life, learning to maintain and work towards one’s aspirations in the midst of day-by-day conditions. In that sense, you could almost say it is more important than a rural retreat, as it is teaching people how to practice amidst the circumstances they find themselves in daily. It gives them confidence that this is a real possibility.

3) The urban retreat also brings people together and builds sangha. Especially for newer people, it can be a wonderful first taste of the potential of sangha and friendship based on a shared spiritual ideal. It can engender an inspiring sense of common purpose around the Centre.

4) Lastly, there will be a buzz around your centre that week – a sense of excitement about Dharma practice!

The potential benefits of doing this together
There is even more benefit to us running our urban retreats synchronised with each other:

1) People would know that all over the world people would be doing the same mediations, chanting the same mantra, trying the same practices that week. It would foster both a real and mythic sense of the FWBO as a united, worldwide community. (There are much less events and activities that bring this about in the FWBO as compared to the Order.)

2) We could provide resources (such as talks on Free Buddhist Audio) that could be available especially for the urban retreat. We may even be able to provide facilities to do the urban retreat on-line, for the benefit of those not near a Centre.

What we would provide:
This initiative has come out of the European Chairs Assembly, and the FWBO Development Team (employed by the Assembly) will be responsible for developing the idea. We would:

1) Provide generic publicity materials that Centres can adapt and use locally.

2) Provide a “training pack” for teachers on how to run an urban retreat, and perhaps even some training sessions on big Order gatherings.

3) Provide a website with high-quality Dharma talks, blogs for those participating, and possibly the facilities to do the urban retreat on-line for those not living near a centre. (We don’t, however, want people to spend the whole urban retreat behind a computer!)

4) The material will be in English, but perhaps we could help co-ordinate translations – please talk to us about what you would need if English is not the language you’ll be teaching in.

You and your Centre would then:
1) Put the date of the urban retreat in your diary and publicise it, using or adapting the materials we’ll provide.

2) Run the retreat, again using or adapting the facilities provided. The event will be your own event and pricing polices (dana, fixed charge, using the event as a fundraiser etc.) will be up to you to decide.

3) As part of running the event, you promote the idea that it is international and people all over the world are taking part.

We think this has the potential to be an exciting and unifying event, with the potential to help many people deepen their engagement with the Dharma. We hope as many Centres as possible will join us.

With all best wishes,

Lokabandhu, Siddhisambhava, and Vajragupta
(FWBO Development Team)

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