by Ramsey Margolis
At the end of 2016, an online meeting took place which brought together a small number of secular dharma practitioners from around the world. Naming ourselves Re~Collective (for want of a better name), it came out of conversations between Juhana Kokkonen in Helsinki, Finland, and myself in Aotearoa New Zealand around our practice, our interest in secular Buddhism and recollective awareness meditation, and the fact that we were both very much engaged in our dharma communities.
Three years later these meetings still take place, and people with a range of practices from all over the world take part. The discussions, though, have developed an interesting focus: how as key people in our practice groups we make our communities useful and worthwhile.
During our most recent meeting, we talked about what it means to consider ourselves secular Buddhists, how important this is to us (or not), and the reasons we find these discussions useful. We also discussed how this new secular Buddhist website can be an important resource for facilitating and an exchange of ideas of practices among secular dharma practitioners.
We welcomed someone new – Marko in Tallinn, Estonia – and as well as Juhana and myself, other contributors to the discussion were in Vienna in Austria and Cardiff in Wales. Apologies were received from two Australian regulars, and next month we’re expecting another Kiwi to take part. For me, it was a delight to hear how Marko found the secular buddhist network website, and how our conversations were giving him so much food for thought.
In earlier meetings we’ve looked at a vast range of topics, of which these are just a few:
- dharma practice in an indecent, uncertain world,
- inappropriate behaviour by spiritual teachers (who really should know better),
- the notion that a meditator ‘can’t do it wrong’ when sitting down to meditate,
- aspects of creating community that we are happy with, and unhappy with,
- the five precepts expressed in negative and positive ways,
- to what extent we give people what they want, and
- our view on the ‘power differential’ between the person leading a session and everyone else.
Re~Collective next meets on Sunday 17 November 2019 from 09:30–11:00 Helsinki time on Zoom (941 086 9667 if you have Zoom on your device, or https://zoom.us/j/9410869667 if you don’t already have the app). The conversation will start with a focus on how we deal with conflict in our groups, and will doubtless range far and wide after this.
Interested in getting in on these discussions? Email Juhana Kokkonen or just turn up on Sunday 17 November.