To all Order Members, mitras, and Friends:
PADMALOKA NUCLEAR BUNKER PROJECT
Brothers and sisters,
we live in dangerous times. Nuclear weapons are proliferating and the spectre of militant Islam once again stalks the earth. The USA and Britain are on a virtual war-footing. At such times, the Dharma becomes more precious than ever. A world without the FWBO, the only form of the Dharma that is truly relevant to modern society, hardly bears thinking about.
The Dharma has been in decline for 1000 years, ever since the Islamic hordes finally destroyed Buddhism in medieval India. In modern times, we have seen a Buddhist revival, brought about largely by the genius of Sangharakshita. What a tragedy it would be, how sad for the world, if the FWBO were to be destroyed by that old enemy of the Dharma, fundamentalist Islam. (Witness the recent dynamiting of Buddhist statues in Afghanistan).
Our thinking at the College has been sharpened by the events of September 11th. Our response is to propose the formation of a back-up Preceptors College, housed in a nuclear bunker at Padmaloka. In the event of an imminent nuclear strike or Islamic attack on Madhyamaloka, members of the College would immediately transfer to the bunker. In the event of a surprise attack that eliminated the College, the "College-in waiting" would already be safe in the bunker, ready to take over the running of the Movement. This back-up College would comprise the members of the men's Ordination team, who broadly speaking occupy the next rung down in the WBO hierarchy.
The proposed design of the bunker is on 3 levels, extending 200ft below Dorm C, which will be the antechamber to the bunker. The College-in-waiting will permanently occupy the deepest and safest level. They will in future conduct Going for Refuge retreats and study groups via video links to the surface. Mitras will still be able to go for 'virtual walks' with team members via mobile phone links.
The middle level will house Chairmen and Mitra Convenors on a rotating basis, and the upper level will be occupied by junior Order members, hand-picked by the College for their spiritual potential. In the event of the College itself moving in (who will of course occupy level 3), the other occupants will all move up a level. In normal circumstances, the ante-chamber will be operated by Mitras, who will service the needs of Order members below ground. Whilst in the event of nuclear attack we would sadly not expect a high survival rate in the ante-chamber, we would expect a survival rate of at least 50% on level 1, rising to 100% on level 3.
The bunker will be single-sex. Apart from considerations of spiritual aptitude, the presence of women would inevitably lead to inappropriate exchanges. At such times, the greatest level of spiritual purity needs to be cultivated. It is also hoped that this policy will encourage the women to build a nuclear bunker of their own.
At the College, we consider the nuclear bunker to be the single most important project in the FWBO. We hope to have it ready in time for Bhante's 78th birthday in 2003. We can think of no better birthday present than this project to ensure the future of the Movement he has given so much to.
Of course, all this means money - somewhere in the region of £500,000 (a surprisingly low figure, but we are hoping that much of the digging of the hole will be done by Mitras on a voluntary basis). Due to the importance of the project, Bhante has donated £50,000 which had been earmarked for the Sangharakshita library (his books will in any case be housed alongside College members on level 3 of the bunker). And Windhorse Trading has offered to match pound-for pound any money raised within the Movement. That means we need to raise just £275,000.
Brothers and sisters - fellow Dharma-farers - in times like this we all need to pull together. I know we can do it. And what better way of repaying our debt of gratitude to our teacher Sangharakshita?
If you would like to make a donation to the nuclear bunker project, please send a cheque payable to FWBO (Surlingham) to:
Project, Padmaloka, Lesingham House, Surlingham, Norwich NR14 7AL, UK