When we began our work of establishing Ashoka House, on Bowen Island we were inspired by the story of King Ashoka, one of the greatest rulers of Ancient India. King Ashoka is one of the finest examples of spiritual transformation in history. He brought nearly all his country, along with Baluchistan (present day Pakistan) and Afghanistan under his repressive rule. But following his victories of the third century B.C.E. King Ashoka suffered a crisis of conscience, feeling deep remorse at the suffering he had caused and became a devout Buddhist. He embraced non-violence and sent emissaries throughout the country to teach the Buddhist path of enlightenment. Later King Ashoka sent his sons, all of whom were enlightened, to neighbouring countries where the Dharma was introduced and took root.
King Ashoka brought the Dharma to the running of his Empire elevating human dignity through new found freedom economically, socially and spiritually. The Dharma and the arts flourished, the people rejoiced and the nation flourished. Essentially, according to the teachings of Buddhism, Dharma can be interpreted as the Natural Law or, simply put, the way things work. It has as its fragrance, harmlessness of spirit.
The beauty of this wise leader's spiritual transformation as an example of what is possible for all human beings has inspired us to lend his name to Ashoka House. Our intention is for Ashoka House to be an inspired meeting place to come and meet with others or to reflect in solitary retreat.
Over the years we have watched as Ashoka House has found itself embracing some truly transformative events. Our vision has manifest itself and we couldn’t be more pleased.
But time moves along, and we find ourselves increasingly burdened by the prospect of caring for this place. Physically and financially, it has become more and more difficult for us to look after Ashoka House alone. But seeing what is possible here has led us to conclude that important things should continue to happen here. We simply don’t know how…
And that is why you are receiving this invitation. At some point during the history of this place, you “got” what we were trying to do at Ashoka House. Indeed you were a part of making it the place it is. So as we turned our hearts to what the future might hold, we thought of you as someone who might wish to help us move into the unknown.
We are gathering together a small group of 20 or so people who, like you, have experienced Ashoka House the way we intended it to be experienced. We are convening a gathering to see what kinds of idea the twenty of you can offer to extend the life and spirit of Ashoka House into the future.
So on March 16, 2003 at 9:30am we will meet for one day using Open Space Technology to discuss how to maintain Ashoka House as a thriving node of spiritual and social transformation in this world. We feel strongly that the world needs places like Ashoka House and people like you. We hope you can join us.
Anne and Jim Ironside