International Chairs Course

A six-week online course led by Jnanadhara (International Movement Coordinator)


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 six 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.

Dates & Times

The course will be hosted on zoom over six consecutive weeks starting Tuesday 27th or Wednesday 28th August, 2024.
It will be offered on two different days and different times to catch all time zones (see below). Each session will be two hours long. Some parts of the world have the option of coming on either day/time so please come at whichever time is most convenient – however if possible it would be optimal to attend the same time each week so we can build up connections in our break-out groups. 

If you can’t come to all the sessions you are welcome to come along to the ones that you are available for. All the sessions will be recorded so you can catch up with any session that you miss on Youtube.

(all times in 24 hour format)
Session 1
Pacific Time, USA Tue, 27 Aug at 11:00
Mexican Central Standard Time Tue, 27 Aug at 12:00
Venezuela, Eastern Time, USA Tue, 27 Aug at 14:00
São Paulo, Brazil Tue, 27 Aug at 15:00
UK & Ireland Tue, 27 Aug at 19:00
Central European Time Tue, 27 Aug at 20:00
Eastern European Time Tue, 27 Aug at 21:00
(India Tue, 27 Aug at 23:30
South Australia Wed, 28 Aug at 03:30
NSW & Victoria, Australia Wed, 28 Aug at 04:00
New Zealand Wed, 28 Aug at 06:00)

Session 2
(Pacific Time, USA Wed, 28 Aug at 01:00
Mexican Central Standard Time Wed, 28 Aug at 02:00
Venezuela, Eastern Time, USA Wed, 28 Aug at 04:00
São Paulo, Brazil Wed, 28 Aug at 05:00)
UK & Ireland Wed, 28 Aug at 09:00
Central European Time Wed, 28 Aug at 10:00
Eastern European Time Wed, 28 Aug at 11:00
India Wed, 28 Aug at 13:30
South Australia Wed, 28 Aug at 17:30
NSW & Victoria, Australia Wed, 28 Aug at 18:00
New Zealand Wed, 28 Aug at 20:00

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.

(if you need it:  Meeting ID: 861 9514 9738  Passcode: chair )


The is the second time we’ve run the course.
Here is what some of the participants from the first course said:

Khemabandhu (chair of Adhisthana)

It was great simply to come together as Chairs from all over the world and have mutual support in the discussion groups while at the same time learning some very practical and helpful skills from others who have so much more experience, skills that I could immediately put to use.

Suvarṇachandrā (chair of Helsinki Buddhist Centre)

The course was in my view just what was needed. We heard well prepared talks about different topics the chairs of centres are working with. Then we had a chance to meet as a chapter with four or five other chairs around the world, and to guide the conversation we had well thought through questions. This is really what I as a chair need, and sounds like others as well, so it would be good to have some sort of continuation to this, there are lots of topics chairs need to know.
Thank you Jnanadhara!

Ananta (chair of New York / New Jersey)

This has been an excellent course and one that has come at an ideal time for me as I have taken on the Chair role. Jnanadhara covered a lot of important and helpful ground around what it means to be a Chair and some of the challenges and pitfalls to navigate. I’m coming away with a clearer sense of what my role is and how I might face challenges as they arise.

Muditadevi (chair of Oslo Buddhist Centre)

I found the online chairs course with Jnanadhara very inspiring and useful for me as a chair. I got useful tips for preparing and chairing meetings and inspiration to see the spiritual practice in being a chair.  I very much enjoyed meeting up with other chairs too and sharing our experiences. It was inspiring hearing Jnanadhara share his personal experience as chair.

Prajnaketu (chair of Oxford Buddhist Centre)

This course came at a perfect time for me, as I’d just taken on the Chair at the Oxford Buddhist Centre. I found it comprehensive – in covering all the aspects of the role, from chairing meetings to the spiritual practice of running a sangha – and deep, drawing on Jnanadhara’s hard-won experience. I feel his input has already helped me to pre-empt some common pitfalls, as well as preparing me well for the wider dimension of life as a Chair. It was also helpful and enjoyable to chew over elements of this unique responsibility with others in the same position. I’d gladly do it again!

Sudaka (chair of Suryavana Retreat Centre, Spain)

Really enjoyed the recent five week course for chairs led by Jnanadhara. Principally for me, as a Chair out at the periphery of the Triratna heartlands, it gave me a wonderful opportunity to share, laugh and learn with others. The Chairs are such a valuable group within Triratna and it was a real balm and support for those of us participating. The content was concise and thought provoking. Thanks and hope to do again.

Vajracaksu (Triratna Istanbul)

I wasn’t able unfortunately to go to all the classes of the recent chairs course but did manage three sessions. I found it a very useful course and just loved listening to and sharing thoughts and experiences with other chairs, we are in the same, very particular boat! Jnanadhara poured a great deal of thought and love into the course and his very helpful presentations, respect to him. I’m looking forward to the next similar online event.

Dayavāsīnī (chair of Tierra Adentro & Pachuca Buddhist Centre)

After being in charge of a couple of small local Triratna projects in Mexico for more than 14 years I much appreciate the opportunity of sharing experiences through the Chairs Workshop led by Jnanadhara. Not only the experience of sharing with other Order Members , but also the opportunity to learn more about their experiences and particularly the way they manage their council meetings, meant a refreshing and significant encounter.

Maitridevi (chair of Taraloka Retreat Centre)

I’ve been listening to the recordings of your International Chairs course whilst I’ve been weeding the garden, and I’m really enjoying them. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but it feels like lovely cosy sessions where you relay all the wisdom you’ve gleaned from your years of Chairing and pass it on to the rest of us. There’s something very comforting listening to you say things like ‘as a Chair you’re bound to attract criticism – but don’t worry… you can always practice patience…’ etc.
Just your simple but thorough explanations on how to run Council meetings are – for me – a helpful reminder of best practice. Listening to you does also make me aware of the ways in which retreat centre chairing is different from urban centre chairing (I think retreat centre chairing might be easier!), but still it’s all interesting and helpful.
Well done for organising it all – I imagine you’ve got really good feedback as I think that this course is very helpful and relevant.

Week 1: What is a Chair?

  • introduction to the course
  • introducing each other
  • understanding the particular function of the chair
  • exploring three crucial qualities: love, clarity & determination

Week 2: Consensus Decision Making

  • what is consensus decision making?
  • why do we make decisions by consensus?
  • how is consensus decision making a spiritual practice?
  • what is the chair’s role with consensus decision making?

Week 3: Preparation for Council Meetings

  • how to prepare an agenda
  • how to usefully reflect on the topics for discussion
  • preparing mentally for council meetings

Week 4: Chairing Council Meetings

  • how to present topics for discussion
  • chairing discussion
  • presenting & modifying proposals
  • testing for consensus

Week 5: The Wider Context

  • understanding the different levels at which council meetings happen: outer, inner, secret
  • understanding the chairs function in relation to the local Sangha: body, speech, mind
  • working creatively with criticism
  • developing commonality of practice and strategy beyond the centre council

Week 6: Chairing as Spiritual Practice

  • engaging with impermanence
  • engaging with insubstantiality
  • engaging with unsatisfactoriness
  • love, clarity, determination, beauty


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.