I notice that it is several months since I last posted to this blog. My contract as development worker for the NBO finished in April / May and I finally 'downed tools' in June, and unfortunately the Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund (FCCBF) did not accept a bid for a further year. This is a great pity as it is very difficult to make a sustainable difference to any organisation in just one year, especially on a part-time basis. The impact of government funds on faith organisations would repay some investigation, I think. I would like to thank the many people who met me, hosted me, and helped me over the year.
I was very sorry to hear of the death of the Reverend Gyosei Handa in August. I had met and spoken with him at the beginning of my time as nbo development officer and been impressed with his energy and directness.
However, I have welcomed the space that my unemployment has provided, since I have had to spend a lot of effort in dealing with two elderly relatives. So I have cleared two houses and been involved with selling and purchasing property on their behalf. This is still ongoing. At the moment I am effectively a part-time carer and engaged with things like housing benefit, devices that help lower aged bodies into baths, and chiropodists. I would rather not be finding out about all these things in quite such a 'hands on' way, although it is useful practice from both a Buddhist perspective and also to give clear insight into what might happen to my body as it ages and the problems I may present to my children.
Someone remarked to me recently that caring for elderly people develops (or tests) all of the Buddhist perfections, and I must agree. (For those interested in the Theravada and Mahayana perfections the following link is helpful: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paramita.)
I attended the second Manchester Buddhist Conference on the 16th July and thought it even better than the first one. It is very unusual (unique?) to meet such a diverse range of monastics, Reverends and Dhamma teachers in one place. The majority of traditions present in the Manchester area were represented and the programme for the day provided a rich mix of practice and discussion. The Reverend Saido (who is very creative) and I also prepared and erected an NBO display with details of member organisations and activities.
I hope that volunteers can be found to organise a third conference in 2008. Details of the 2006 and 2007 conferences can be found at: http://manchesterbuddha2007.googlepages.com/
I hope to contnue to post as the time and issues coincide.