ALBA developed as a ‘virtual’ community for lay Buddhists who visit Amaravati Buddhist Monastery. Amaravati is a popular and highly respected resource for Buddhist teaching and retreats. Over time, non-ordained practitioners who had been visiting and supporting Amaravati, wanted to connect with like-minded people – those who lead complex lives in the world of work, relationships, and family, and who practice core Buddhist teachings and who not only wish to feel confident and fully supported in this enterprise, but wish to offer their experience to others.
Over time, a flourishing community of practitioners has become established around regular ALBA days of practice and retreats. The ALBA community has been involved at various times with a wide range of Amaravati activities, from Kathina and Wesak, and the Saturday meditation workshops, through to representing the Amaravati Sangha at educational events, SACRE meetings and Buddhist umbrella groups.
Those in ALBA recognise that the vast majority of those who are inspired by Buddhist teachings practice these in their daily lives. We believe it important to maintain a strong dialogue between the small number of practitioners who do ordain, and the majority who do not. And to recognise that there is an ebb and flow between these groups with no hard boundaries.
From a traditional viewpoint one might regard ALBA as giving modern substance to the lay community described in early Pali texts as part of the fourfold assembly (or sangha) of bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, lay-men and lay-women practitioners. What unites all – regardless of their lifestyle – is a commitment to the path of awakening.