July 2009. News and updates of OCBS and So-Wide: events, developments, a book and more.
Web site and Friends.
We have begun to improve our web sites, with the invaluable help of Michael McIlmurray. For the first results, please see www.so-wide.org much more content will follow soon. Meanwhile we hope for a further increase in membership.
We are happy to report that we have somewhat formalised our relationship to Wolfson College, where we have our (tiny) office. The College (of which I am an Emeritus Fellow) has decided to put Buddhist Studies on a list of subjects they would like to see develop. The first fruit of this is that we have contracted to rent a much larger office, just off the main site. We hope to enlist the services of volunteers for certain office tasks, but at the moment have nowhere we could put them!
No less important, we intend to use some of the space as a common room and part-time seminar room for students (in the broadest sense) of Buddhism, many of whom are already members of Wolfson. The room is already lined with bookcases, so we can start to fill them with books (currently in my garage) intended to form the nucleus of a modest OCBS library. Contributions to this library will be most welcome. We are painfully aware that lack of resources has so far prevented us from doing much for students beyond putting on a few lectures and other events. We hope that this provision of a social facility will give the OCBS more body, or should I say, more heart.
We have made this move with some trepidation, because it is not clear that we can afford it financially. The premises must be refurbished, and the rent will be much higher. I have however argued, as I did when founding the OCBS, nothing ventured, nothing gained: we hope that this outlay will lead to more activity, more good will, and more income.
Progress at the Mindfulness Centre (OMC)
When we moved into the POWIC building, the seat of the Mindfulness Centre, a vast amount had to be done to make the building fully usable. Mark Leonard has supervised this work. He has had the floor of the main conference room repaired and the building insulated for sound. Soon the leaking roof will at last be repaired and the temperature control system rectified. Mark has also welcomed a stream of visitors to the Centre and explained its work; they include visitors from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Beijing, Thailand, India and Australia, and we hope that with some at least we shall be having further contact.
Mark has also attended the annual festival Buddhafield, held near Taunton. Mark was there for all four days and lectured on mindfulness therapy. I went down for one day and spoke in the “Dharma parlour” (a punningly named tent) on “Truth or Beauty? Developments in Buddhist ideas.” Both talks were very well received; I had questions for a full hour, most of them intelligent and well informed.
My intensive Pali course, to run 15-27 August, was for the first time oversubscribed: I have had to turn applicants away. In principle I would be prepared, if there turns out to be enough demand, to give it more than once a year; the only problems are logistic.
Some time ago the government of Singapore initiated a project, involving several countries, to found an international Buddhist university at Nalanda. Geoff Bamford has now been invited to submit a paper to the Mentor Group which is charged with taking this forward.
My book What the Buddha Thought is at last at the printer’s; advance copies are promised for the first week of August. It is the ninth volume to appear in the OCBS Monograph Series. The hardback edition will cost £55, the paperback only £14.99. The publisher is Equinox Press in London; their books are distributed by Yale University Press. (The book is now available for pre-order from Amazon: hardback and paperpack)
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