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Monday, September 01, 2008

Happy Birthday Bhante!

Tuesday 26 August was the 83rd birthday of Sangharakshita, founder of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order.

This year’s celebration also marked the successful conclusion of a fundraising campaign among the Order that aimed to transfer the financial support of Bhante (Sangharakshita) from the FWBO to the Order.

Siddhisambhava, Fundraiser in the FWBO Development Team who spearheaded the appeal, describes the genteel action -

“A small party was held in the conservatory at Madhyamaloka in Birmingham, where Bhante lives in a two-bedroom flat. Platters of cucumber sandwiches and pots of tea embraced an iced Victorian sponge birthday cake – the traditional fare of an English afternoon tea party and especially appropriate, perhaps, for an 83rd birthday. But the clusters of red, yellow and blue balloons reminded us that this has been no ordinary life.

“I launched this appeal five months ago at a European Order week-end marking the fortieth anniversary of the founding of the Order. The target was to secure Bhante a stable annual income of £30,000 from the Order by inviting standing orders of £5 UK a month from 500 people coming together in an act of samaya-dana, a collective bond (samaya) of generosity (dana). Bhante’s birthday present from the Order this year turned out to be nearly £39,000 pa, plus nearly £6,000 in one-off donations from over 420 Order members.

“I presented Bhante with a framed copy of the Order Mosaic, a photograph of all Order members surrounding a thousand-armed Avalokiteshvara, the symbol of the Order. Sadly, his eyesight these days is not up to seeing it in the literal sense but that wasn’t the point of the gift.

"Visuddhimati, Chair of the North London Buddhist Centre and a member of the European Chairs Assembly Executive, presented Mahamati, a Trustee of FWBO Uddiyana (the charity that maintains Bhante and his activities) with a golden tantric cheque – see photo. The cheque was from the Jambhala Dana Bank, based, apparently, at Mount Nakula, Shrimat Loka. (Jambhala is the god of wealth who holds a mongoose (nakula) that spits out jewels; Shrimat Loka means the Glorious Realm.) And I noticed it was signed Om Mani Padme Hum££ from the Western Buddhist Order.

“FWBO Uddiyana is Bhante’s ‘nerve centre’ and its’ funds also support Dharmamati (his secretary) and Saraha (his carer). - all shown in the photo. The bulk of FWBO Uddiyana’s financial support has, for many years, come from just two FWBO institutions, the European centres’ Central Dana Fund, and the Windhorse Trust. Though robust and blooming in many ways, both are struggling financially at the moment. The appeal was therefore launched to help the Order take on supporting Bhante in his remaining years and to free up FWBO money to fund FWBO projects, such as a new website. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to the success of this appeal.

"It’s been a win-win-win outcome: Bhante benefits from a stable income; the FWBO benefits by more of its money being freed up to spend on the Movement; and the Order benefits by strengthening its connection with Bhante and each other through samaya-dana. Happy Birthday and long life Bhante!

“If you’d like to see such genteel action live, including balloon-blowing-up, birthday-candle-blowing-out, close ups of cucumber sandwiches and tantric cheques, check out the movie, coming soon on”.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

still waiting for the video......


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