My old car has just failed its MOT, it has changed from being a ‘car’ to being a collection of scrap metal. The garage spoke to me kindly, in a gentle voice, like a relative or pet had just died. We went through the list of its ailments, with the conclusion that the cost of repairs was far more than the car was worth. The car cannot be reduced to its Elements, mainly earth I suppose. This was an unexpected consequence of the lock-down; my car has not moved for months, resulting in the brakes suffering from corrosion and the tyres bulging, a sign of its venerable age. The phrase “use it or lose it” comes to mind. Like us, cars don’t like to sit around waiting for something to happen, we all stagnate if we don’t do something creative.
However, this sad tale put me in mind of our Centre building. It has been sitting waiting for yours and my return, and doubtless it too has suffered the effects of decay and impermanence. The special conditions that make it a Buddhist Centre currently do not hold sway, without the Sangha it is just a pile of bricks. Maybe it is a spiritual loss that the Centre is suffering from?
The regular practice that a year ago filled the Centre is no longer occurring and you can imagine the spiritual and dharmic store that had built up in the building has been slowly seeping away. The chairs are still there, but its heart, the sangha, is not.
Things are starting to change; the country is slowly, cautiously coming out of lock-down and we will soon be able to spiritually recharge the Centre and once more fill it with our dharmic activity. But the building will not stand still. It has to move on and change with our needs for the future. It looks like Zoom classes are here to stay and work is now happening at the Centre to ensure we can broadcast, and broadcast well, from the Centre to those who cannot get into Ipswich town for a class.
Last month I talked about spiritual growth, which is a wonderful thing, and our sangha is not only growing spiritually but is growing in number. Our growing Ipswich Triratna Buddhist community is a joy even if, for the moment, we can only experience it via our computer screens.
The experience of Centres in countries where Covid restrictions have lifted are encouraging. Their sanghas wanted to be together at the Centre, filling the building and all events run there.
I think that we too, in Ipswich will want to meet in-person and get back to our Centre, that may even happen by early summer. With some minor work to the Centre we can meet the needs of our growing sangha by expanding the available space as much as possible. This will ensure that the maximum number of people can fit into the Centre.
So unlike my poor car, with some love and attention the Centre building will last us a few more years, until the inevitable time to move to a bigger place is necessary and we have built up the required finances to make it happen.
I hope you all stay safe and well, and I look forward to welcoming you back into the Centre in the near future.
Chairman of Ipswich Buddhist Centre