Thursday, May 24, 2007

Retreat Centre Appeal

Caroline Sherwood, a friend of the Buddhist Hospice Trust for many years (and co-founder with Ray Wills of the Inner Work School), has written in with a recommendation of the proposed Drala Jong Retreat Centre's appeal for donations, with a view to establishing a UK Retreat Centre. The following rationale is taken from the appeal's website: "The Aro Buddhist tradition wishes to establish a permanent centre in Britain to make this rare strand of (Tibetan)Buddhism (in the Vajrayana Dzogchen tradition) more accessible to people in the (UK) home country of our lineage holders Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro D├ęchen." The bits in brackets are my own insertions.

I'm very happy to publish this appeal, and you can read more about the proposal at their website On the other hand, I told Caroline, I can't resist cocking an impertinent British snook at the idea of rewarding donors with "freebies" and "honorific titles", according to the size of their donation. This might be the sort of thing that people in the US are used to, but here in the UK it is generally regarded as a bit sleazy and "bad form". Our revered and cheesy Prime Minister had his collar felt by the "Boys in Blue" recently (i.e, was interviewed by the Police) over his possible implication in a cash-for-honours scandal, whereby donors to the ruling party's coffers were allegedly offered peerages (which means being awarded the title 'Lord' and being appointed to our glittering second chamber of unelected legislators, who wear ermine robes and tights while deciding our plebeian futures). To most people here in UK "cash for honours" was decidedly "bad form", and so - in my opinion - is the thinking behind the Drala Jong appeal. Don't let that stop you making a donation, though. You can always decline the freebie.

1 comment:

Namgyal said...

Hello there - my name is Namgyal Dorje and I am the Appeal Director for the Drala Jong retreat centre appeal. I wanted to say thank you for posting the link to the appeal, and also to say that you're most welcome to 'cock a British snook' regarding elements of the appeal itself. This is our second major appeal, and like the first we found ourselves musing over how best to engage with potential donors. Specifically, with our first appeal - asking for sponsors to enable Tibetan children to attend a traditional school in Pemako, North India - some potential donors asked us in a round about way 'what do we get in exchange for our donations?' When we were dealing with providing education to kids who otherwise would have no schooling at all and would either join the military (the boys) or stay at home to look after the family (the girls) it was quite a thing to hear that some potential donors wouldn't contribute unless e.g. they got photos of the individual child they were sponsoring, or even letters from the child saying how they were getting along. In that case £100 would buy that child the chance of a far brighter future than they'd otherwise have (a year in school). It was hard to think about what we wouldn't do to try to help. So, when it came to the Drala Jong appeal we thought 'what are donors going to want in exchange'. You know what, I think we got it wrong initially with this element of the Drala Jong appeal - so, thanks to comments such as yours, we've had a re-think, and changed the format of the appeal. We still offer donors a chance to come and meet our organisation, be it on a formal or informal occasion, since they quite rightly need to be assured that we're doing as we promised with their contributions. However we're now leaving the 'cash for honors' (not that it was intended thus) to the politicians. It seems that's more their strong suit than it is ours. To keep you up to date, our appeal has just passed the £50k mark thanks to the work of our hard pressed unpaid volunteers, and hopefully members of the Buddhist Hospice Trust will be able to attend the opening of the first vajrayana centre of it's kind outside of the Himalayan reigion in a year or two's time. Best regards, Namgyal Dorje - sncd(@)