Many of the people who attend the group live near Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, although some travel from further away. Some are committed lay Buddhists, and some are new to Buddhism. There is a core of people who attend regularly and some are only able to visit us occasionally. Sometimes guests and workers at the monastery also join the group. There are usually around twelve people.
Leading a meeting
Those who attend regularly are invited to lead, but not pressed into it – it is for them to decide. But leading an evening is an enriching experience, both for the leader and those who listen. It is an opportunity for the leader to consider how they apply Buddhism in their lives, and for the listener to discover what may be a new perspective. Between January and March of 2013, eight different attendees led our evening discussions.
The purpose of the group
The Bodhinyana Group was established around 20 years ago with the aims of:
- Encouraging friendship
- Providing a welcoming and supportive environment to people interested in finding out about Buddhism
- Providing more experienced lay-Buddhists with an opportunity to teach the Dhamma from their own experience – and gain confidence in doing so
- Encouraging lay-Buddhists to discuss their own experience, problems and benefits of practice
- Practicing right speech – harmonious, truthful and wholesome speech – in a discussion forum
- Providing the opportunity for support in practice from an experienced lay practitioner
Martin Evans organises the Group
Martin first became interested in Buddhism in the 1970s, studying Theravada Buddhism under the late Ven. Vajiragnana, former head of London Buddhist Vihara. He moved to Hemel Hempstead in 1979 and when Amaravati Buddhist Monastery was established in the mid-1980s he became one of their first local lay supporters.
He has attended many retreats led by the monks and nuns of Amaravati, and is committed to the practice of mindfulness and insight meditation as taught in the Forest Sangha tradition. His main sources of inspiration are the teachings of Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Amaro. However, his reference point is the original Pali Theravada Suttas, rather than what people have said about them, and his primary interest is in the practical application of the teachings in daily life rather than the intellectual study of them.
Over the years he has become an established lay teacher for Amaravati Lay Buddhist Association and regularly teaches meditation retreats at Amaravati.
He is a member of the Finance Committee of the English Sangha Trust (the steward charity for Amaravati) and is also Treasurer of a number of charities helping children and young people in the developing world.
He has been married for 35 years and has two children who are both professional musicians. He retired in 2010 as Head of Finance of a charitable Housing Association based in Buckinghamshire.
Recent meeting leaders
These are some of the group members who have chosen to lead a meeting over the last three months.