Foundation Laying Ceremony for Bodhi Tree sapling and Bodhidhamma temple
Within the grounds of the Great Stupa in Bendigo, magic is unfolding. I am remembering Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s staggering question “Can you bring the tooth relic to the stupa?” So far, we haven’t brought the tooth relic here but a similarly important holy item has arrived from Sri Lanka; a formally certified sapling from the Sri Maha Bodhi tree in Anuradhapura. It is already bringing people to the Stupa.
Bendigo becomes the first location in the West to have a major Stupa and Enlightenment Tree sharing the same grounds. There are only two others; at Bodhgaya and Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka and they attract thousands of pilgrims every year.
Local Sri Lankans are working tirelessly to establish a protective enclosure for the Enlightenment Tree that will grow on the grounds of the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion. In December 2021 they held the official foundation laying ceremony, with dignitaries and 300 other witnesses celebrating the auspicious occasion.
Covid has made it challenging time for the little committee (Bodhi Dhamma Buddhist Association, Inc) trying to raise money for the Bodhi Dhamma project which is the building of the protective enclosure and a Sri Lankan style temple (Vihara). The soil in Bendigo, a former gold mining area, is unsuitable for the Bodhi sapling.
In a strange twist, my landlady who rents me my flat in Kandy, lives in Melbourne. She is part of an experienced building team at a well established temple in Melbourne. I was able to introduce her to the President and she has become an invaluable resource.
I was also able to find people who helped them with several grant applications and translations and English writing. A former Big Four consultant, Lorraine Kibbis, is a dear friend who volunteers her time generously. Many hours were spent on grant activities and we hope for a successful outcome. This work is ongoing.
Atisha Centre is my current home and, in August and November, they hosted two NVC workshops with me as the designer and presenter. Both seemed to go well with packed houses of over 20 participants each time and that’s a great outcome for a rural centre a couple of hours away from Melbourne. There are new workshops already planned for 2022. Thank you to Jaala who originally funded my NVC training six years ago and who has volunteered to co facilitate with me.
My connection with the Daylesford Dharma School has strengthened. They will be funding my NVC accreditation in return I will deliver NVC training to their new teachers and help them build a community of practitioners. For 3 days in October, the School held its annual Dharma Retreat and they invited me along as an observer. I was able to provide feedback and rejoice in the uniquely skillful way the non Buddhist teachers weave dharma into daily life of the students and themselves. Their senior students visited Atisha Centre where we held a fun NVC workshop that got a few non-talkers talking and problem solving with their peers. It was a greatly satisfying for the teachers too.
Atisha Centre has decided to create a NVC practice group in the new year and I am looking forward to being involved.