Working as a centre chair is the expression of a profound aspiration to help people to meet and engage with the Three Jewels. It is a very particular role within the life of our Order and with it come major challenges together with unique opportunities for growth in the Dharma. This five week online course is devised to help you meet these challenges, and make the most of the opportunities, so both you and your centre can thrive.
We’ll be seeking to clarify what a centre chair is and then exploring some of the tasks, responsibilities and challenges that come with the role: chairing council meetings; devising strategy from a diverse range of opinion; developing and maintaining harmony in the Sangha; responding creatively to criticism; and so on.
All the way through we’ll be looking at ways to maintain clarity of perspective so we can create the conditions for the arising of insight in the midst of all the activity that the role entails.
Who is the course for?
The course is being offered free of charge for all chairs, new and old. The intention for the course is to create an Order environment where we can all share insights, experience and expertise. A significant part of each session will involve meeting in break out groups where we can do this. So if you are a new chair you can expect it to be a rich training ground, if you are a more seasoned chair you can refine what you know and offer the fruits of your experience to the next generation of chairs.
Aims for the Course
The aim for the course is that chairs will gain greater clarity, confidence and effectiveness in their work and a deeper understanding of how to approach it so it is a radically transformative Dharma practice. A wider aim is to bring chairs together across the world in order to build friendships and to know and feel more keenly our unity as an international spiritual community.
Session 1: Intro to Course & What is a Chair?
Session 2: Consensus Decision Making
The first 35 minutes are a firstly a brief recap from week 1 followed by an exploration of consensus. The remainder of the video suggests ways that we can encourage love, clarity and determination in our meetings. Here are the slides Jnanadhara used.
Session 3: Chairing Council Meetings
After a brief recap of the previous weeks, Jnanadhara takes us through many useful aspects of preparing for and Chairing a meeting of your council. At about 41/42 mins he discusses the outer, inner and secret levels of meetings. Here are the slides he used.
Session 4: The Wider Context
After a brief recap of the journey so far Jnanadhara explores the wider context of being a Chair, offering advice based on body, speech and mind, including working with criticism. At about 1 hour 3 mins he more briefly offers points about engaging the wider Sangha beyond your council. Here are the slides he used.
Session 5: Being Chair as Spiritual Practice
Jnanadhara explores being Chair as a spiritual practice, based on the 3 lakshanas. There were no slides for this week’s session.
Originally from New Zealand where he met Triratna at the Wellington Buddhist Centre, Jnanadhara now lives in Dublin, Ireland. He joined the Order in 2003 after spending some years working at Windhorse Trading in the UK. He served as chair of the Dublin Buddhist Centre for twelve years before taking on being International Movement Coordinator, a new role that seeks to join up our Buddhist community worldwide.