'Sudarshanaloka' means 'Land of Beautiful (or Happy) Vision.'
This Vision is not just about the beautiful view of the hills and water and native bush, 'Beautiful Vision' is also about Sangha working together to manifest their shared vision through collective work and practise ... not just some abstract unreachable beauty, but the beauty of Sangha. The beauty of the community of like-minded people, practising the teachings of the Buddha in order to live a more meaningful and happy life. This Buddhist community is characterised by kalyana mitrata, or intimate friendship with the Beautiful, the Lovely, the Good which the Buddha insisted was the "whole of the spiritual life."
“I do not see even a single thing that so causes unarisen wholesome qualities to arise and arisen unwholesome qualities to decine as good friendship (kalyana mittata). For one with good friends, unarisen wholesome qualities arise and arisen unwholesome qualities decline.” (AN I, VIII, 1)
Sudarshanaloka is part of the wider NZ Triratna Buddhist Community. Our community has established centres in Thames, Wellington, Christchurch, and Auckland. In addition, there are small Triratna groups spread here and there around the country. In Thames, our local manadala includes the retreat centre project with a resident Buddhist community; Lotus Realm Gift and Music shop; Buddhaloka, the Buddhist Centre in Thames township (upstairs in the post office building); and Buddhafield, an outreach and festival team. Outside of New Zealand, we are connected to an international community with activities and facilities in Australia, the United Kingdom, India, Europe, and many other countries around the world.
This mandala of spiritual friendship grows with each person who forms a connection with Sudarshanaloka, whether by coming on retreat, visiting the residential community or maybe helping out in some other area. As Ananda said to the Buddha so many years ago, it is tempting to see our meditation, study, and personal growth as the main practice and spiritual friendship with like-minded people as the other part of our journey. Ananda made the famous statement that spiritual friendship is "half of the holy life." But the Buddha urged him to change this perspective, by declaring that spiritual friendship is truly the whole of the spiritual life.
It is only through other people that spiritual maturity and the ideal of Awakening manifests. We learn to meditate, we learn about Buddhism, and we truly learn about ourselves and what is possible only through other people. And Sudarshanaloka is esentially about just such a wider Buddhist spiritual community: working together, growing together, and changing together.
If you want to be part of our collaborative and creative unfolding vision, we welcome you.
Sudarshanaloka Stupa Day, January 2017