A new insight meditation sangha has formed in Sydney’s inner-western suburbs, naming itself the Kookaburra Sangha to evoke a spot of dharma joy. On Monday 1 May, the sangha started to meet weekly at the Genki Centre, 1 Arundel St, Glebe (just across the road from Sydney Uni), and will meet there each Monday from 7–9pm.
The foundation members all have experience from other sanghas in the Sydney Insight Meditators (SIM) network, as well as other dharmic traditions. Kookaburra will be the fourth SIM sangha in the metropolitan area; the others cover the northern suburbs, the northern beaches, and the eastern suburbs. (Yet others operate outside the metropolitan area.) This, however, is the first sangha to explicitly define its meditative orientation as secular Buddhism, and therewith declare its commitment to work with teachings drawn from the Pali canon, as well as their modern interpreters. While the other SIM sanghas have strong secular leanings, they honour the broad-church concept.
Kookaburra wants to establish itself and its profile in two stages. In the first phase it will devise a study programme to follow after the regular sit each week. This will give the current members a chance to get to know one another, find common ground, and consolidate their orientation. In the second phase, it will invite others to join in.
Newcomers will then have a chance to test drive this developed and coherent orientation, and decide if they want to make it their own shtick or not. No other SIM sangha has begun in this way, but at this stage in the development of the dharma scene in Sydney, it seems to offer the stayers the support they need to deepen their practice over time at the weekly gatherings, instead of having them tread water with endless returns to preliminary matters (rebirth, etc.) for the sake of poppers-in. Of course Kookaburra will apply this two-stage strategy flexibly, and won’t be turning anyone away.