Dispatch regarding the inauguration as Mandalacarya
Sudarśanavajra Volker Zotz
Dear Members of the Ārya Maitreya Maṇḍala,
I assumed the position of Maṇḍalācārya on 20th March, 2015. Like Anagarika Govinda, Advayavajra Karl-Heinz Gottmann and Asaṅga Armin Gottmann before me, it is now my duty, as the fourth Maṇḍalācārya, to preserve, develop and pass on the content and methods of our tradition. This responsibility of a spiritual nature includes other tasks, among which are holding together our worldwide family of initiates, supervising the institutions of our Order and managing the intellectual and material heritage of Lama Govinda.
Each of my predecessors served as Maṇḍalācārya in their own way. Different emphasis established within changed overall conditions, mirroring their different personalities and their differing perceptions of their tasks as Maṇḍalācārya. I will outline below how I view the current situation, the understanding with which I will fulfil the position and tasks entrusted to me and how I would like to further develop our Order with you.
Our history spanning eight decades now coincides with a period of rapid social and technological development. Today, no one can remain unaffected by globalisation with its opportunities and threats. Anagarika Govinda has characterised our era as a conflict „between man and machine, between spiritual freedom and material power, between the wisdom of the heart and the knowledge of the brain, between the dignity of the human individual and the herd-instinct of the mass, between faith in the higher destiny of man through inner development and the belief in material prosperity through an ever-increasing production of goods.“ (The Way of the White Clouds. German Version)
Will globalisation result in a worldwide society with the same norms, with a monotony promoting the mass exodus into consumption and virtual spaces? Or will humanity maintain its wealth of cultures and individuality? As initiatic tradition, even through times of spiritual dearth, we never cease to marvel at the mysteries of life with its diverse facets. These teach us how diversity leads to creative change, but uniformity leads to inertia, rigidity and rejection of anyone and anything different.
Our community, founded in India by a German Bolivian who was inspired by a Tibetan, was since its beginning characterised by a diversity of cultures and individualities. The early members in India and Vietnam, Germany and Hungary, Great Britain and the United States joined together under the banner of love symbolised by Maitreya and enriched each other through their differences.
Following this, in order to further develop the ties of cultural and individual diversity, I would like to invite all communities throughout the world which are rooted in the Ārya Maitreya Maṇḍala to a fundamental renewal of our collaboration and togetherness. I ask all of you who are committed to this, to give it your full support. An International Board composed of representatives of all branches of the Order will serve the renewal, which I hope will make many of those decisions in future which concern the entire Order, and which were previously reserved for the Maṇḍalācārya. On the basis of the guiding principles that bind us together, and in order to meet the different conditions, each branch of the Ārya Maitreya Maṇḍala acts independently in terms of administration and content within its own sphere.
In order to allow our work in this sense to increase in range and flexibility, a revision of the Rules of the Order is necessary. If we look back over the 80 years of our history, some of the regulations and structures, established over the course of time, have today proven to be too restrictive and unrealistic.
Hierarchy indeed has a natural place in a spiritual life within an initiating Tantric order that conveys content and methods which are not generally accessible. However, this aspect has been overemphasised throughout the history of our Rules. Hierarchical elements with purely spiritual functions must not dominate other sections of the Order, whose essence of being the founder saw in a confraternity of the heart and the spirit between like-minded women and men.
A necessary shift of emphasis from the hierarchy to the community significantly concerns the office of the Maṇḍalācārya, to which our Rules excessively attribute competences and responsibilities to which no individual is entitled, if they are ever required. As a Maṇḍalācārya, I will perform the functions mentioned above in the first paragraph. Additional impulses that I offer may be carried out by you and your communities, only when you deem them sensible and useful, but you do not have to.
Like the Maṇḍalācārya of a colourful and vibrant Order does not make every important decision, he will be not the personal teacher or the spiritual authority of each Order member. Whatever temporarily applied during the time of Lama Govinda has for a long time no longer reflected the true situation. In the interest of diversity, several teachers with different specialisms, styles and interpretations in the Ārya Maitreya Maṇḍala must exert their influence.
As Maṇḍalācārya, I am responsible for the intellectual, literary and artistic legacy of our founder, whose death 30 years ago we commemorated on 14th January. From the 1950s to the 1980s, Anagarika Govinda aroused worldwide interest, but these days he unfortunately receives less attention outside of our circles than does justice to the impulses emanating from his legacy. Therefore I intend to set up a platform that will bring friends of our founder together on a worldwide scale, well beyond the Order. All of you who are committed to the memory of Lama Govinda are invited to participate in this initiative.
In addition, an institutional framework is being created in order to explore the life and works of Lama Govinda, and within an initiative which is scheduled to run for many years, to publish a complete edition of his works, which will be edited according to scientific criteria. This is intended to make both the well-known texts and the numerous unpublished texts by Anagarika Govinda accessible. The Lama und Li Gotami Govinda Stiftung (Lama and Li Gotami Foundation) will intensify their work in order, among other things, to increase awareness of the art work of Lama Govinda and his expedition results among interested parties.
Lama Govinda ran our community for almost half a century from India. I would like to bring back the international centre of the Order to India as its symbolic heart. I expect to gain helpful impulses for all branches of the Order, due to its renewed relationship with the country of its origin, where its substantive roots lie in the work of the Buddha, the early Mahāyāna and the Siddha movement.
The initiatives that I am outlining cannot be achieved overnight. Nevertheless, it is crucial for our future to proceed without hesitation. Confucius believed that “seeing success after one year, and after three years, seeing everything in perfect order” should be viewed as a temporal measure for senior positions (Lunyu XIII, 10). I have set up this framework, in order, with your support, to initiate the tasks already mentioned.
Everything that we have to work on in the world, however, does not concern external action. According to Lama Govinda, it should be that the “Ārya Maitreya Maṇḍala becomes a temple of light, in which every initiate contributes a spark of inspiration from his heart or a ray of light from his innermost experiences”. We want to continue building this temple!
April 21st, 2015
Sudarśanavajra Volker Zotz
Maṇḍalācārya Ārya Maitreya Maṇḍala
Arya Maitreya Mandala
The scholar, mystic, writer and painter Lama Anagarika Govinda (1898-1985), the founder of the Arya Maitreya Mandala
The order of the Arya Maitreya Mandala follows the writings and oral teachings of its founder Lama Anagarika Govinda (1898-1985). Lama Govinda, a renowned scholar, writer, mystic, painter and poet, became widely known for his books The Way of the White Clouds and Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism.
The foundation of the order was inspired by Lama Govinda’s Tibetan teacher Lama Ngawang Kalsang, also known as Tomo Geshe Rinpoche I, who interpreted the coming Buddha Maitreya as a model for a spiritual life today, which is focused on the needs of the future. In accordance with this heritage the Order works out the core of Buddhist philosophy, ethics and meditation for contemporary people. The teaching of meditation is individual and has to suit the personal situation and the particular progress of the practitioner.
Beside its spiritual tasks the order engages in a variety of projects like researches, publications and organizing lectures and seminars on Buddhist culture, philosophy and meditation. As the current Dalai Lama puts it on the occasion of Lama Govinda’s 75th birthday in 1973: “The order of Arya Maitreya Mandala, founded by Anagarika Govinda, has done much to create and further interest in the culture and religion of Tibet among the people of the west.”