Below are excerpts from an email I received from an Order member raising funds to make it possible for people in India who cannot afford the cost of a retreat to be on retreat. I donate annually to this project and thought others might like to also - Ratnavyuha
I am writing to tell you about a big retreat we are holding at the Urgyen Sangharakshita Meditation Centre, near Nanded in Maharashtra, India, over the Diwali holiday in November this year.
These retreats have been held over the last 4 years with between 500 and 600 people attending from some of India’s poorest communities. Shantisthana and I go to India each year to co-lead the retreats with Chandrabodhi, founder of the Urgyen Sangharakshita Meditation Centre.
We are inspired by the vision of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, the great leader of the Dalit community. He saw clearly that his community needed not only political and social emancipation but spiritual emancipation too. Ambedkar realised that most ex-untouchables were chained to the idea that they are inferior and it is by changing themselves, changing the deep seated ideas in the mind through the practice of the Buddha Dhamma, that they can be truly free.
Since Dr Ambedkar converted to Buddhism on 14th October 1956 many millions have become Buddhists but only a small proportion have been able to 'hear' the Dhamma. They have much devotion but little knowledge.
Hearing the Dhamma in the context of a retreat can, in India, have remarkable results. I meet a woman on one such retreat who told me that, were her husband not at home looking after the children, she wouldn’t have been able to attend. Her husband had been on the retreat the previous year and, having heard the five precepts, was completely transformed. Previously he had been a drinker, beaten her regularly and taken no responsibility for the children. Now he didn’t drink, treated her with kindness and helped with the children. He had discovered what being a Buddhist meant in practice to the benefit of himself and all his family.
Chandrabodhi has initiated these retreats each year, taking advantage of the Diwali holiday, when people are more free to attend, to give them the opportunity to hear the Dhamma which they thirst for. Most are very poor, and to encourage them to come, these retreats are offered free. It is a great opportunity for them to not only hear the Dhamma, but to experience Sangha, and I am undertaking to raise the money for approximately 550 people to go on retreat.
Please donate to 'MyDonate' account, MyDonate take no commission and claim Gift aid on our behalf. All of your donation, apart from charges made by your credit card company, goes towards spreading the Dhamma in India and transforming the lives of hundreds of people.
Namo Buddhay! Jai Bhim!
With good wishes