|So-Wide Space Dec 2010|
|The Khyentse Visitorship|
November was a very busy month as the OCBS hosted the inaugural visit of the Khyentse Visitorship with a visit from Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche to the University. In this issue of the Newsletter we have an article from Geoff Bamford giving some of the background and context to this exciting visit.
Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make this visit so memorable. We also have details of the administrative renewal going on within So-Wide and OCBS. Although it has taken up a goodly amount of time this process is now putting us on a firm footing to build for the future. Details below.
In relation to this, we also have details of development plans being put into place to ensure the future growth of So-Wide.
Thank you for your continued interest in So-Wide. We hope things are going well for you in your part of the world.
The Khyentse Visitorship
More than three and a half years ago in May 07 the OCBS got an email out of the blue. Would we be interested in establishing a Visitorship for distinguished scholar monks. Yes, we would.
The endowment agreement was signed on roughly a year later. A further year on the best part of a quarter of a million pounds had been donated.
It’s been a long road. For a small organization as ours has been the demands have been considerable. But this is a major opportunity.
We are eternally grateful to Mr Sin-Ming Shaw who had the original idea and to the various donors, mainly from Hong Kong who have supported it. We are also pleased in this way to have an association with a significant community of Buddhist practitioners and scholars organized around the Khyentse lineage and in particular the holder of the lineage – Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. Most gratifying of all was when Rinpoche agreed to be the first incumbent of the Visitorship that bears the Khyentse name.
Our visitor was here for 16 days only but they were full days. We are still processing his inputs.
Much of his time was spent in the OCBS with graduate students of Tibetan Buddhism – looking at their research projects and studying passages from the key texts they are working with. Time was also allocated to scholars working within other fields of Buddhism. Richard Gombrich’s personal memoir of the visit refers. Rinpoche also spent time in the OMC working with the psychologists and therapists there who are leading the development of mindfulness in a secular western context. He got a chance to interact with the OMC team and to see them in action. He also led a mid-day meditation for them.
Finally, there were some wider public events which attracted a hundred odd people per event to the Examination Schools. One dealt with a specific Tibetan/Buddhist theme; two were very broadly defined, covering Buddhism and Science and Buddhist Studies and Buddhist Practices.
The new So-Wide admin team is bedding in well. Major progress is demonstrable.
We are indeed fortunate to have secured the collaboration of Susan Gianni and Steven Egan. Susan has an impressive CV in financial management and administration, specifically also within the education sector. Steven has worked in Front of House and Box Office Management in many theatres across the West End.
The first period after the team was formed focused on eliminating a certain administrative backlog. We are now within sight of that goal. Going forward the priorities are:
System building (mainly defining business processes and writing manuals, but also simpler points such as developing paper filing systems)
Expanding our range of activities (involving more people, more material on the web, organizing more adventurous events)
In the process – developing networks within the University and the academic world generally, and also across the wider community of those interested in tasting the fruits of contemporary work on Buddhism.
A number of well wishers have recently become involved with the So-Wide family of charities. A structure is forming to institutionalize this involvement.
It involves an overall development committee and specific committees for specific charities. The members of these committees will not assume formal legal responsibility for the charities but have a clear heartfelt engagement the goal – Wider Understanding of the Buddhist Tradition – and a wide range of relevant experience and skills.
Watch this space!
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