Greetings Members and Friends,

First I would like to thank all BSWA members and our Sangha for allowing me the opportunity to serve our organisation as President for another term. My long love affair with the BSWA is still as intense as ever, so please rest assured that I will do my best in continuing to make the BSWA as good as it can be.

I wish to offer many thanks to Drew Bellamy and the past committee for all their wonderful effort over the past year. This particular time is a “watershed” time in our BSWA history and this past committee have highlighted options for the way forward. They are to be congratulated for their diligence and hard work.

Our society has grown enormously over the past years under the spiritual direction of Ajahn Brahm. Our membership is at record levels and interest in the Dhamma is booming. Buddhist organisations are springing up everywhere in Australia and around the world, very often with Ajahn Brahm as the catalyst. Our Sangha is in high demand to travel and teach, they are also starting to populate the various monasteries’ that are being born around the world. Our lay community too has been taking a leading role in growing and sustaining Buddhist teachings around Australia and world. Our members are prominent in the umbrella organisations that are working to bring the varying Buddhist organisations together in harmony so that we can speak nationally and internationally as one voice. These umbrella organisations also work to maintain a high standard of Buddhist teachings. Our Sangha; both Monks and Nuns under the guidance of Ajahn Brahm are also taking a leading role in harmonising the various Sangha’s from around Australia under the auspices of the Australian Sangha Association (ASA). Indeed their Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held at our Jhana Grove complex just a couple of weeks ago, so it is understandable that the BSWA has growing pains.

Perhaps what happened at our AGM last Saturday evening was inevitable. Ajahn Brahms resignation as our Spiritual Director was indeed a wakeup call to us all. He more than anyone sees the need for change in our society. The pressures building around financial and organisational governance can no longer be ignored. Our society needs to make strategic plans to professionalise its operations. Like some of our members I too look back wistfully at the days when everything was volunteer based, where putting forward effort would see things through, but our society now is different. It is no longer a small outfit, and our constitution needs to reflect this reality. The committee needs specialised help to run things from employing security at our meetings and events to managing the employment of skilled I.T. personal for our vast website, to say nothing about our responsibilities for governance and taxation. At present a lot of this load is falling back to Ajahn Brahm as a last stop. He needs to be free of these burdens. He may be wise and wonderful but he is flesh and blood like us all. This is why he reacted at the AGM.

We are definitely maturing as an organisation, we are developing experience and as such we have responsibilities. Many new organisations take a lead from us. We do need to be mature in our dealings with each other. Consensus should always be the aim, but if that is not possible, we need to trust that the majority opinion is best, and if it’s not, we need to be able to forgive and make things right. This is always about the journey we are on, and the journey continues until we are wise enough to become enlightened. We are working with a paradox. It is always “me and the other” and enlightenment is all about unifying these extremes. Sometimes it is confusing but our BSWA is a great place to learn about  and practice the unification of extremes in the stillness.

The committee met last night with acting spiritual director Ajahn Brahmali. He took on this role from Ajahn Hassapanna who is teaching overseas this week. Ajahn Brahm attended as Abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery. This special committee meeting was called in response to requisitions from members to call a Special General Meeting in order to reassess the change in constitution that was lost at the AGM last Saturday. The committee last night  acted to call a Special General Meeting to change item 11.6 of the constitution. The meeting will be at Dhammaloka on Sunday 22nd April 2018 at 1:00pm. Notices of the meeting will be sent to everyone.

To my mind this change is simple. At present the committee can only legally form a sub-committee with members of the committee. We would like to change that to allow the committee permission to appoint members of a sub-committee from the general membership as well if need be. This allows us to bring any specialised knowledge contained inside our membership to serve on such sub-committees. I do understand that we can think up scenarios where things could go wrong with un-elected members populating the subcommittee; however the main committee will always have oversight and will set the parameters required for good governance. We need to be able to trust that this will happen.

Tomorrow night at 7:00pm, Friday 30th March, which is a regular Friday night meeting, our new Vice President Lay Har and I along with Ajahn Brahmali will run through the changes and answer any questions that you may have. The meeting will be live streamed. Ajahn Brahm will not be there as he will be leading a 9 day retreat at Jhana Grove.

I do look forward to the coming year. We have a great committee and I trust that all of the BSWA’s members and friends will grow and prosper in the Buddha the Dhamma and Sangha.

Dennis Sheppard



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