Report on the Dhamma Talk Series 2011, comprising 8 talks at the Dance Centre
Every year during the Rainy season monks and nuns are not supposed to travel. They stay in their temples and usually undergo extra activities as a group – usually scholarly. Many Thai people will join the temple for this period, or undergo a special vow such as staying off alcohol, or other behaviours.
So each year we have a Dhamma Talk Series at this time. Those who make the effort and join every week say it is a special period (but often don’t show up the next year!). Actually, it is nice – to make the effort, to go along, to bring the topic to mind. Too many people like the idea of meditation, or Buddhism, but don’t do anything about it. Or it turns into an intellectual pursuit – especially once you have learned the key concepts and think you know it now.
You really have to join up with others to make it important to yourself. That is why the monk’s have a whole book devoted to rules and regulations governing their 2 weekly ‘Patimokkha’ meetings – known in Thailand as ‘Wan Phra’. The monks were obliged to meet with each other every 14 or 15 days in a mandatory group gathering.
Talks topics were based around the idea of Emptiness. Any suggestions for next year’s theme?
Our Little Sangha
The first year we did this was at Baan Aree, then at Wat Yannawa, California WOW, Pharmaceutical Association, and finally at the Dance Centre. Each year gets a little more organised, though there is only so far it can be taken as a one-man-show without the support of a temple and wider Sangha or organisation.
2011 was nice. Everything went quite well, due mostly to the very generous provision of the spacious and convenient Dance Centre. Sadhu! to the Dance Centre owners for their unstinting support and use of the facilities. It is a real privilege to have a large space like that on Sukhumvit.
The talks were recorded with our brand new Canon cam-corder. This thing has a 3.5 hour battery, so will be great for recording talks in the future, once the video editing software has been mastered. Videos will be posted up next year.
The announcement/details webpage for the talks was looked at 1601 times, not including hits from 109 subscribers (which is those who are on email notices of new posts) – this is up from 1400 hits from last year’s page. Median number of attendees was 75, which is also up slightly from last year.
Thanks to K. Wirat for managing the door for us every week. Such capable help, while not a huge job, is very much appreciated, as it takes pressure off the speaker who is also trying to attend to so many details.
August 8 – 7 250 baht
August 15 – 3 510
August 22 – 5 020
August 29 – 2 820
September 5 – 5 070
September 12 – 2 450
September 19 – 3 190
September 26 – 6 860
Total attendees 620. That averages out to 58 baht/person/attendance.
Donations increase if the topic is mentioned – which accounts for the variance. But of course, the goal is not to make gain! During these talks there are lots of people, but on smaller events when we invite outside speakers, please remember to be generous. Usually the speaker is staying in a hotel for a few days to give talks for us, so we must do our part in supporting them.
This year the cost of putting on the talks was 18 400 baht, plus 300 baht/week paying for the monk’s taxi. Of the 18 400 baht most of it went on the video camera, which cost 9 400 baht; but which hopefully will be a useful resource for us from now on. There was a 2 000 baht special donation given to us to put towards the camera cost also.
2,400 baht was spent on the pickup truck which collected and returned all the chairs (which we had borrowed rent free), mats and sound system. Some more was spent on transport and costs of the PR, such as laminating, and distributing leaflets. Printing was sponsored by our friends at Soontorn film (normal cost would have been 9000 baht for printing).
Also during this period we put 1,150 towards one of our speakers Steven, and 2000 baht in donations to Bhikkhuni Ani Zamba who had significantly increased costs on her air ticket in order to spend some time with us in Bangkok. Fortunately, there was a special 8,000 baht donation to her on the last day, so it did not end up costing her to come and share Dhamma in Bangkok for us.
Total funds remaining then, after this year’s Series is 15,679 baht. This we will use through the year in extra donations to visiting speakers when there are not enough in donations to cover their expenses in being here.
Hopefully the topics were clear. Of course some people like a personal approach, others want technical stuff. Some have a good background in Buddhism, some have none – so it is never easy trying to cater to everyone. But at the same time if there are suggestions for improving anything from the sound system, topics, format … or anything else feel free to leave a comment below or to contact privately via the contact page.
There were a couple of people mentioned putting the notes into one file – but since there are videos included, here are the links to each week:
Notes on talk one ‘Hero’s Journey’
Notes on talk two ‘Spirituality of Imperfection’
Notes on talk three ‘All You Can Know’
Notes on talk four ‘The Stainless Deconstruction’
Notes on talk five ‘The Path of Purification’
Notes on talk six ‘The Grateful Beasts’
Notes on talk seven ‘The Prodigal Sons’
Notes on talk eight ‘Shut Up and Dance’