After Ajahn Nitho left BSWA in Australia, and after a stay in Thailand, Ajahn Nitho set up a website in May 2020, to get in touch with people in Norway who wanted to help establish a Buddhist society in Norway. A vision of a Buddhist society, of which BSWA in Australia was the model, was presented to Ajahn Brahm in October 2020 – who supported the initiative. Then the preparations started: draft of a vision for a city centre and a retreat centre in / around Oslo, constitution, accounting and legal matters, etc.
In January 2021, Jon Endre Mørk made contact, who wanted to help establish society. The constitution were jointly finalised and adopted at a founding meeting on 24th of February 2021. Following Jon Endre Mørk’s proposal, the association’s name became: The Buddhist Society of Oslo and Viken.
Then an online office system was established, the domain name ovbf.org was purchased, a simple website was set up, and a bank account was established in the DnB bank.
We rented premises from the The Norwegian Federation of Buddhism/Rinzei, and started arranging weekly activities on Friday evenings – instructions and meditation with a social aspect. Jaran de los Santos Olsen came in early and could also help with teaching.
In September, our first 7-day retreat was arranged at Krøderen outside Hønefoss, west of Oslo. It was a big success, as well as the start of the winter retreat in February 2022, at the initiative of Erlend Neergaard. By invitation, Ajahn Brahm has also agreed to arrange a 9-day retreat in Norway – but due to Covid-19, the date is still not set.
An online system for publishing teachings has also been developed, which we will start using in 2022, and we ran a pilot weekend retreat / course.
Finally, Ajahn Nitho has also studied the Thai language for 10 months, and can now speak a little bit, read and understand a little – but has a long way to go.
Here are some statistics for 2021:
6 months of public activity
25 Friday evenings arranged
Arranged a 7 day retreat, prepared a winter retreat and an Ajahn Brahm retreat
10,000 hits on our website
Approx. 1000 e-mails sent / received, 4000 messages sent / received
200 people follow us on Facebook
40 people follow our newsletter
The small society has 10 members
Some video teachings published by Ajahn Nitho
Ajahn Nitho completed a three-month retreat alone in the Norwegian mountains
In the constitution, the goal is in short defined: To promote the Buddhist teachings in theory and practice, with a special focus on morality, meditation and wisdom – and to establish a city centre and a retreat centre.
Vår erfaring så langt i Norge er at folk med kulturell norsk/vestlig bakgrunn, gjerne vil være med på undervisning, kurs og retreat – og det er også erfaringen fra Australia. Det er også på retreat og kurs at deltakerne legger inn nok tid i sin praksis til å få god utvikling i den gradvise treningen. Så målet fremover er å arrangere flere lengre og kortere retreat.
In parallel with teaching, now is the time to look for real estate and buildings. This is a process that will takes a long time, and the start consists of making a good overview of relevant properties and buildings, both in and outside Oslo: location, existing buildings, price, regulations, etc. In the long run, a centre provides a base for teaching and practice, and a home for Ajahn Nitho and others who want to work in the society full time.
In 2021, we were just the chairman and spiritual leader in the committee – a small and closely-collaborating group, which could start up the society. Now we will try to put together a committee with more people, so that we can take on a little more activity, and involve more people from different backgrounds on the way forward, in line with our values: volunteering, democracy, equality, honesty, loyalty, generosity and ethics.
The Buddhist Society of Oslo and Viken was founded less than a year ago. It has been a short year filled with many events for a small society with big ambitions. We have set ourselves the goal of building Norway’s first dedicated retreat centre!
The retreat centre will accommodate silence, time for contemplation and spiritual growth. The Buddha taught for more than 40 years after his awakening. He had ample time to leave behind the the most comprehensive spiritual training that exists for developing wisdom, happiness and an unshakable, inner balance. . Our hope is that the retreat centre will contribute in developing joy and happiness to the many, when completed in a few years, established by a society that wants to promote a spirituality characterised by a deep respect for the early teachings of the Buddha, free from interpretive literature and strong inherited culturally based references.
On the way towards the long-term goal of a retreat centre, we will work to promote a Buddhism that takes into account our culture and uniqueness, and at the same time conscientiously preserves the 2500-year-old tradition that arose with the Buddha. By creating an open and inclusive atmosphere adapted to our way of being, we hope that more and more people will have the opportunity to discover the way into our own minds, and the truths about ourselves that are waiting to be discovered there.
An important step towards a retreat centre will be the establishment of a residence for Ajahn Nitho and visiting monks and lay people. This place can be in the city, near the city or in a place that in the long run could become a larger retreat centre. The place will also function as a venue for the society’s activities, such as meditation retreats and courses.
In our second year, we will focus even more on meditation practice than the slightly more social focus we had in 2021. In the coming year, courses in meditation and Buddhism, as well as shorter and longer retreats will be in focus. We focus on regular day and weekend retreats in the Oslo region, and longer retreats that can take place throughout the country. One goal is to make contact with people around the country who want to assist in arranging retreats where there is interest in it. It has been our biggest and most gratifying discovery so far; there is a great interest in meditation and practice spread across our long-stretched country.
As we embark on our second year, it is a great pleasure to be able to state that we will now have a full committee formed with very competent members, who all have different backgrounds and expertise. I am convinced that we have a mix where we will complement each other and together have the necessary strength to accomplish the task of realising this society’s ambitions. Not least that we should both have and create joy with what we do along the way!
Kindly, Jon Endre Mørk
Spiritual Director’s Report
I think everyone involved has done well in 2021 – a lot of good has happened, even during a Covid pandemic. I have dedicated my life to this organisation, and have worked a lot – which is to be expected in the beginning. This will also be the case in 2022. Both teaching and the job finding a property will take a lot of time – and I only have one way to do it: To make it fun :) and make the job a spiritual training! And then give myself a private two-week retreat after Easter, as well as a complete annual three-month retreat.
I am also very grateful for the help I have received in 2021, especially from my family. t is not easy to leave the nest of Ajahn Brahm – a large organization with a lot of resources – and then come to Norway without money, during a pandemic – almost only with my skills and lots of good energy in my luggage. My family has been my biggest sponsor, both materially and socially, and my family has supported me towards the life I want to live. I am also grateful for the help I get at Wat Thai Norway, where I live as a guest, and get the freedom to develop the society full time.
It takes time to start from scratch, to build an society with a good foundation, which can help people with their inner world towards wisdom and awakening. And some factors are extra important – ensuring gender-equality in the spiritual life, protecting the freedom and independence of those who live a full-time spiritual life, and showing tolerance for and teaching of a doctrine that is deep and perhaps challenging. I really want OVBF to actually develop and build a Buddhist community on a foundation that is genuine.
So I am trying – and ask for help!
Ajahn Nitho :)
Accounting Report 2021
Short term debt
Total Debt and Equity
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