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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sangharakshita’s Diary April - June 2008

Sangharakshita's secretary Dharmamati has sent FWBO News this account of Sangharakshita’s engagements and activities over the past couple of months. We're pleased to reproduce it here.

Sangharakshita photographed by AlokaviraBhante's health: Since the problems with Bhante's heart in February he continues to improve. His energy levels are good as long as he does not overdo things. The treatment for the macular degeneration appears to have been successful and there has been no further deterioration in his eyesight.
"April: (continued from last report) The last report concluded with Bhante’s trip to Manchester.
Shortly after, Lama Lhundrup, the German Kagyu Lama who is overseeing Vessantara’s long solitart retreat, visited Bhante with his South African colleague. This was during a seminar Lhundrup was leading at Madhyamaloka on the Mahamudra. Bhante was pleased to find that the Lama believed that there was only one model for the spiritual life, namely the developmental model, that the doctrine of Tathagatagarbha represented a potential and not an actuality, and that it was his personal belief that there was a connection between Mahamudra and Satipatthana.

Towards the end of April Bhante visited the FWBO’s Amsterdam centre. He had three full days there during which he gave a Q&A session for Order members at the Amsterdam Buddhist centre and met with local sangha members both in small groups for meals and individually. Unfortunately on the second day Bhante, Ksantivadin and I came down with a particularly virulent stomach bug. Thanks to Dayapadma we were all well looked after and nursed back to health. This meant, unfortunately, that a trip planned to the Arnhem centre had to be cancelled. Despite this set back Bhante managed continue as usual, making the trip to Holland a success that was much appreciated by the local sangha.

May: The first event that Bhante attended in this month was the Women Mitra convenor's meeting, during which, over a period of two days, he led study at Tiratanaloka, on the chapter Guarding of Awareness from the Bodhicaryavatara.

This was closely followed by a visit from another Lama. This time, Lama Rangdrol, the only African-American Lama recognized by the first conference of Tibetan Buddhist Centres of North and South America. He had recently attended the seminar on Beyond Race and Caste, hosted by the San Francisco Buddhist centre. He came with his companion Rebecca Walker, who incidentally is the daughter of Alice Walker who wrote The Colour Purple and is an author in her own right. After the meeting the Lama told me that he had just experienced the most spiritually enriching half hour in his life!

Around the middle of the month Bhante was visited by a group of Going for Refuge Mitras from Dublin.

The next significant event was a visit to Lambeth palace for a meeting of religious leaders organised by the Archbishop of Canterbury. This was primarily a reception for the Dalai Lama. Gordon Brown, the Prime minister, was there to have a private meeting the Dalai Lama and the Archbishop prior to the meeting. After this he greeted the religious leaders, during which time Bhante got to meet him. The Prime minister departed and the meeting got under way. There were 21 delegates representing most religions in Britain (A fuller report of the meeting appeared in FWBO news on 7th July).

Before the meeting Bhante chatted with the Dalai Lama. It was the first time they had met for many years and the Dalai Lama remembered Bhante very well and also mentioned that he was well aware of the work of the FWBO with the Dalits in India. The highlight, for me, was seeing the Dalai Lama helping Bhante up the stairs, they almost danced hand in hand in a very playful way. Bhante also got an opportunity to chat to some of the other delegates including Ajahn Sumedho from Amaravati, Ven Tawalama Bandula from the London Buddhist Vihara and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor R.C. Archbishop of Westminster.

Two days later Bhante gave a talk on the FWBO International retreat. The talk was on 'Growing the Spiritual Community' and looked at the factors that help grow and healthily maintain the Spiritual community. The retreat certainly met one of the factors, that of meeting in large numbers.

June: At the time of writing Bhante has just returned from Padmaloka where he led study for the 2005 Guhyaloka reunion retreat. He led 10 sessions of study over a period of 5days again from the Bodhicaryavatara this from the chapter on Kshanti or forbearance. He also attended the British Buddhist Landscape conference at Taplow Course - a report on this has already appeared in FWBO News.

Apart from the highlights above Bhante continues to meet individuals daily and working on the Spoken Word book, Nagarjuna's 'Precious Garland' with Samacitta.

Next month trips are planned to Sheffield, Berlin and the Men's Mitra convenors meeting at Padmaloka.

So as you can see despite the set-back at the beginning of the year Bhante continues to be quite active.

Dharmamati 16th June 2008



Blogger Jayarava said...

I felt fortunate to be able to study with Bhante as part of the Guhyaloka 2005 reunion retreat. I felt a renewed and invigorated personal connection with him, and found him warm and generous. What a great exemplar he is for us!

I was inspired to re-read Learning to Walk and the 1000 Petalled Lotus (now reprinted together as intended as the Rainbow Road) and found them even more fascinating and informative than previously.

Thanks Bhante! Live long and prosper!


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