On my way back from Criccieth I stopped at Telford Priory where the Rev. Saido is based. The priory is a spacious modern detached property with a good size garden and plenty of parking—a great benefit for such a centre. Rev Saido is the NBO treasurer and is an experienced monk from the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives (OBC). He is also a good companion and we spent several hours discussing many things.
I was invited to join the Friday evening group meeting and enjoyed a pre-meditation discussion on the relative merits of the Jerusalem Artichoke with John, a regular member. A tasty root vegetable which grows easily, (in fact it is difficult to remove from a plot), the Jerusalem artichoke also contains special sugars which promote healthy intestinal flora and plenty of wind. John warned us of the potential auditory distractions which might accompany our forthcoming meditation session.
I floundered a little with the form of the meditation and walking practice; however in essence it is very similar to that practised at Amaravati and many other Buddhist centres. The Zen (OBC) form is to face the wall and to meditate with eyes open, whilst I generally sit with eyes closed.
Rev. Saido showed me some attractive materials he had created to teach aspects of Buddhism. (I was reminded of the Venerable Kusalo, another talented and creative spirit.) He showed me a rare copy of the Enlightenment Game, handmade at Shasta Abbey in America and illustrating a great variety of Buddhist teachings within a witty, clever and educational framework.
The Rev. Saido has also accumulated a marvelous collection of illuminated Buddhist artifacts. Some may find these a little kitsch, but there is an innocent charm about kitsch which I find attractive. Knowing of Rev. Saido’s interest in such artefacts, his supporters seek them out and generously donate them to him.
As a long member of the NBO Rev. Saido and I discussed some ideas for new initiatives. One problem with having a UK wide membership is the difficulty in physically meeting, especially now that we have to reduce our carbon footprint. Encouraging travel across the UK might attract the charge of climate change denial.
Obviously the internet offers a variety of ways to interact which make geography irrelevant. We thought it would be good for more effort to be focused on extending the NBO web presence. We already have a good website at www.nbo.org.uk. However, with the addition of an NBO wiki, this could develop into a powerful way of building up a Buddhist information database.
Wikis provide web based tools for collaboratively adding to and amending text, media and information. Older versions of information are preserved along with the history of who changed what and why. This looks just the sort of technology to help the dispersed members of the NBO to communicate and work together.
I had been thinking about an NBO wiki for a while and decided to set one up on my return home.
Information on Telford Priory and activities can be found at: www.tbpriory.org.uk