Without a culture you don’t have a community
Before doing work for Abhayaratna Trust, I thought of it as mainly helping Order members to go on retreat - and it does fulfil that role for many. I did have some experience of being helped in this way. After years of being in the Order I had never been able to attend more than a couple of days of an Order convention, due to the cost of the convention itself plus travel, until Abhayaratna Trust helped me by paying half the costs. Since then I have managed to attend these events, which feel like an important link to the wider Order.
It wasn’t until actually working for Abhayaratna Trust that I came to appreciate that it has no central funding and that it was only possible for me to attend that convention because of the generosity of individual Order members who regularly donate to help others that they may not even know.
Also I have come to see that, limited in resources though it may be, the vision of the Trust has grown beyond helping out with retreats and aims to encourage and promote a culture of caring for each other within our community.
It seems to me that without a culture you don’t have a community. I understand a culture to be to do with how we relate to each other. It is to develop means by which we can effectively articulate and communicate what is most valuable to us, what we cherish, what we love. It is the flowering of our practice. I suppose you could say that our community is the flowering of our practice and it will wither and not open unless we care for each other. Abhayaratna Trust does not just ask that we give what we can, but also that we ask for what we need.
Abhayaratna Trust Team