Saturday, July 07, 2007

Ordination in Berlin - an ever-widening circle, the Sangha grows

Joerg-Detlef Nerkhorn was ordained in Berlin (at the FWBO Centre) on 30 June 2007. He was given the name ARYAMAITRI - 'He whose friendship is noble'. His private preceptor was Arthapriya and his public preceptor Sona.

FWBO News estimates that this bring the Western Buddhist Order to a total number of 1447 - just below the 1,500 mark. In fact, had we not experienced three recent and tragic deaths, the total would now be exactly that.

Thse interested in some simple statistics about the Order are invited to click here, this will take you to a short presentation on our sister site FWBO Discussion.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Shambolic Warriors return to Faslane

Sophia Young has sent us this report on Glasgow Buddhist Centre's network of engaged buddhists - the Shambolic Warriors.

We celebrated the summer solstice in fine style by taking a six mile hike to the North gate of Faslane naval base and peacefully meditating, dancing and singing outside. On Sunday 24th June - the 20 warriors, two children and a dog gathered on Helensburgh pier and,fortified by homemade scones and flapjacks, began the long trek to the base in heavy rain.

A detour for a cup of tea at the peace camp was made. Under a parachute canopy the shambolics shouted three saddhu's saluting the work of the peace campers who have been maintaining a presence at the base now for twenty-five years. Faslane naval Base situated on the River Clyde is the base for UK's Trident Nuclear weapons System.
The Campaign "Faslane 365" is drawing attention to the opposition that exists in the UK to Trident and any plans to update it. Diverse groups from around the country, including the Shambolic Warriors and the Network of Engaged Buddhists have been taking responsibility for organising individual days of the year long protest.
While there have been complaints about the heavy policing of such events- there are often as many officers as there are protesters, the day passed peacefully and happily, with much banter on both sides. Indeed, our lone protestor on the second day, Shantiketu,was offered lunch and given a lift back into Helensburgh by the duty cops.

The Shambolic Warrior Network was formed two years ago after Parami's Healing Self, Healing World retreat in Dhanakosa and members of the network lead actions in areas of concern to us. We are inspired and sustained by the ideas of Joanna Macy and the Work that Reconnects. Other strands of activity in the network currently include a housing project, environmental events in the centre, personal development workshops and womens group in the centre, outreach teaching of the dharma, cooking for large numbers ( we have the best catered events!).

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Vimalasara and her forthcoming book Broken Voices

Vimalasara has sent us this report and request for help. We're pleased to pass it on in case there's anyone out there...

She says "Earlier this year I was in India for four months, writing a book on the situation of Dalit women for the FWBO/TBMSG’s ‘Arya Tara Mahila Trust’ - a Buddhist organization working for the empowerment of Dalit women. Initially we’d thought ATMT would try to raise the money to publish it, but after doing the research and writing it up, I felt strongly the book was so important it deserved to be published by an established publisher. Hence my hunt began for the publication of 'Broken Voices - Ex-Untouchable Women Speak Out’.

"Of course I went to Windhorse first as everyone in the Sangha seemed to think they were the appropriate publisher, but alas they are focusing on purely Buddhist books, and felt unable to market the book. I then tried some mainstream publishers, and the following is typical of the letters I got back,

`Dear Valerie,
We discussed your proposal at our editorial meeting on Wednesday and my colleagues were very impressed both by the depth of your research into the normally overlooked lives of ex-Untouchable women in India and by the strength of these stories. This is a really important topic and it's wonderful that people outside the immediate community are beginning to examine these women's lives. But although it's interesting and worthwhile I'm concerned about how we could publish it effectively here. I agree that there is a growing awareness of the Dalit experience and very much admire your attempt to let the women whom you have interviewed speak in their own voice as far as possible but I am concerned that the audience for a general book of this kind would be very limited and with regret we have decided to pass. I'm sorry and wish you every success on publication elsewhere.’

"Four publishers said almost the same thing, so what to do? We tried the FWBO Growth Fund who felt that Windhorse were the people we should be approaching, and some even felt a charity like Karuna should be the ones to publish. But they too were unable to help us. So we are back to square one. The book is with a couple of publishers in India- but if they go ahead this will only be for India, and so we still need to raise the money to publish in the UK.

"This is where self-publishing is a brilliant resource but of course we still need the funds to do this. Everyone who has worked on the manuscript has done it for nothing – which has been an inspiration – and Bhante Sangharakshita has also read it, and agreed to give his endorsement.

"So I’m trying to find away to finance the actual printing of the book, then ways of distributing it. I have some big news which I’m unable to announce till December and therefore in terms of a media campaign that would be a great time to bring the book out."

Please contact her if you think you can help at vimalasara [at]

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Technical problems at FWBO News - now fixed

FWBO News apologises for the lack of news items over the last week. We understand this was caused by an unknown technical fault in the server - the computer which actually stores the files which make up FWBO News. In the end it was apparently cured simply by turning the server off and on again – however this took some time to realise and organise, and anyway, in cyberspace it is not at all obvious where the server is actually located. Rumour has it that it is in Sheffield but this could be quite wrong…! Normal service should now be renewed.

We continue to welcome contributions from all FWBO Centres, and at present would particularly welcome more substantial and reflective ‘feature articles’ to add to our ‘features’ section. Please contact us if you would like to offer an article or to suggest a theme.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Sangharakshita dedicates new Tara Shrine Room at Taraloka

At the end of May, the International Sangha Gathering was held at Taraloka - an annual event for women who have asked for Ordination and run by women from Buddhafield, Tiratanaloka and Taraloka.

The event was called: ‘Entering the Tiger’s Cave’ and was based on the theme of renunciation. Throughout the weekend we listened to talks, studied words from Padmasambhava, participated in special pujas and finished with a talk from Parami about the connection between renunciation, Ordination and the Bodhisattva Ideal. And somehow, within all of that, we managed to fit in a visit from Sangharakshita.

He arrived on the second day, beginning with lunch with the Taraloka Community and a couple of guests. Then, after a short rest, he gave a talk on his connection with Tara – highlighting the importance of metta and vegetarianism. Then everyone followed Sangharakshita, as he made his way to the new Tara shrine-room, all of us chanting the Tara mantra. Surprisingly, all 70 of us managed to fit into the new shrine-room – either standing or sitting – and a poem written by Sangharakshita called ‘White Tara’ was read by Saddhanandi. This was followed by the Dedication Ceremony (also written by Sangharakshita) and the White Tara long life Mantra.

Then it was time for a cup of tea. Sangharakshita sat in the lounge and, as more and more women joined him, a very informal ‘question and answer’ session developed, with a spontaneous photo-call in which Bhante held on his lap the two 5 month old babies that were attending the event with their mothers. Sangharakshita then had supper with a group of Dharmacharinis and Mitras, after which Dhammamati drove him back to Madhyamaloka.

It had been a very beautiful and moving day, and when the Sangha Gathering was over many of us left Taraloka with a strong sense of Bhante’s presence and the blessing of having spent some time around him in such relaxed and easy circumstances. The Tara Shrine Room now stands quietly at Taraloka, fully dedicated and already containing a strong atmosphere of meditation and devotion; a new focus to this Realm of Tara.

See here for more photos of the event, and here for photos of Taraloka in general.

White Tara
Appearing from the depths of heaven
The white robed goddess calm and light
Sheds moon-like on this lower world
The blessing of her silver light.

Seven eyes she has all open wide
In face and forehead and hands and feet
For she of Pure Awareness is
Embodiment and paraclete.

One hand in teaching gesture raised
Imports a wisdom thrice profound T
he other open on her knee
For endless giving is renowned.

A lotus at her shoulder grows
Complete with flower and bud and fruit
Her form is straight and still,
For she Is grounded on the Absolute.

Awake! Arise!
She seems to say
Leave dreams, leave sloth, leave passions vile!
Oh may we, seeing her, go forth
Encouraged by her perfect smile.

Sangharakshita (‘Call of the Forest and Other Poems’ Windhorse Publications)

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

London Buddhist Centre reviewed on CNN

The London Buddhist Centre's meditation classes have been favourably reviewed on CNN, under the heading 'Meditation - the key to calm', with the reviewer, Brigid Delaney, concuding it was a "surprisingly effective exercise". Click for details...

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Free Buddhist Audio News

Free Buddhist AudioWelcome to the news update from Free Buddhist Audio, the free download and streaming service from the Dharmachakra Archives. To receive more update information by email, you can always subscribe to our mailing list.

Hello again. We've a couple of treats for you today, you lucky things. First, we're very pleased to announce the first talk on our site from a speaker who's not a member of the Western Buddhist Order! That maybe doesn't sound like such a big deal – but believe us, it's not so easy to organize as you might think... Anyway, we're absolutely delighted to welcome the wonderful Christopher Titmuss to the site, with his excellent piece What Self, What World? – his gently impassioned call to a socially and politically engaged Buddhist life. The talk was given as part of the Buddhafield Festival 2006.

Next, we've a brand new podcast - Violence and Emptiness - from San Francisco's very own Suvarnaprabha, in which she explores the Buddhist vision of compassion through her own experience of meditation and contact with inmates within the U.S. prison system. Moving stuff.

And finally, there are a series of small design changes to the site forthcoming - keep your eyes peeled! You may notice, for example, that all talks and individual tracks now display their timings... Ah, the things we do for you.

Until next time!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

VideoSangha is a new website set up to enable people within the FWBO mandala to share what they are doing, what they are inspired by, and just to see what we look like - through the medium of video. Upeksapriya, its creator, who works for ClearVision in Manchester, says "Feel free to submit any video related to your involvement with Buddhism and the FWBO - and to rate the ones currently hosted there".

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Friday, June 22, 2007

‘pilgrimage’ for Buddhafield

At the end of July Eric Friar from Bristol will be undertaking a ‘pilgrimage’ to raise money for the Buddhafield land appeal. He intends to walk along the St Michael ley line between Cwm Les Boel (near Lands End in Cornwall, UK) and the ancient stone circle of Avebury.

He is hoping for sponsorship and invites supporters to contact him on erichafriar [at]

He says, “I will walk about 185 miles, on top of which I will do some legs by public transport, to arrive at Avebury in time for Lughnasad. I'm thinking of posting the route and inviting people to join me for as long or as short as they like. I will be travelling light and sleeping out, so people will need to bring their own food and

The Buddha and his followers walked everywhere, and were known as ‘yatrikas’, meaning simply ’walkers’. For several years Buddhafield led annual walks, known as Yatras, along the Ridgeway to Stonehenge for the Summer Solstice celebrations. It’s therefore a pleasure to see this tradition being maintained.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Death in India

FWBO News is sad to report that an Indian Order Member, Ansulkumar, died in India yesterday, after a serious accident on a motorbike. He is survived by a wife and young daughter. He was 38 years old and worked at Bor Dharan retreat centre near Nagpur, where he was much loved by those who knew him.

Below is a brief account of his remarkable life story, as told to Lokabandhu in the year 2000.

“I was born in Bihar on December 12th, 1969. My people were from the tribal Adiwasi caste, and were Hindus, not followers of Dr. Ambedkar. I had three brothers and a baby sister. Economic conditions were very bad. There was no food and I had no clothes. I was thirteen years old and began to steal and pickpocket. When I was fourteen I was working in a shop, then a hotel, then an iron factory and then a circus, but I was paid only 70 rupees per month. I fell in love when I was still fourteen, but was fearful because there might be violence and even killing if it was discovered. At fifteen I left home, with sadness and no wish to live. I went to the city, planning to die, and the police caught me walking on the railway. They gave me food and I worked in the police quarters washing pots.

For six months I wandered in Bihar, no longer a pickpocket as I was afraid of the police. Then I went to Nagpur on the train, without a ticket. At this time I was very weak, with long hair and dressed in rags. I nearly had a fatal accident jumping on a train. The police took me to hospital, and later ordered me to leave town. Again, I felt I did not want to live. Finally I arrived in Nagpur, where a girl gave me two bananas. I felt very good. I did not want to beg. Later I went into a boy's hostel. The boys in the hostel were very naughty, and we became a violent gang, doing fighting, beating, and robbery. My uncle and aunt took me to another hostel, this time run by Bahujan Hitay. I was eighteen years old.

This was very different - there was discipline, and puja, and no violence. I felt very nervous and thought it was boring. I saw Order Members for the first time, Vivekaprabha and Vimalakirti, and was very impressed. Other people helped me here, and I decided to become a good man like them. I therefore joined TBMSG and attended Dhamma lectures and meditation classes. People still thought of me as a criminal, but I wasn't. I thought of the Buddha gaining Enlightenment, and decided to go into the jungle. I took yellow cloth, and went to stay in the jungle. I had no water or food, and after four days I thought I would not get enlightened there.

At this time there was the opening ceremony for Bor Dharan retreat centre, and Bhante Sangharakshita came on the Maharastra Express. There were huge crowds at the train station, but I pushed my way to the front and gave Bhante a rose. I felt that he saw me and that we were in contact. Still my aunt and uncle were against me practising Buddhism. My aunt brought a 'Tantric Baba' or 'magic man' to cure me. She promised me a wife, a child, and so on, if I would leave it. He used power that came from his eyes, but it did not affect me.

In 1992 I went to live at Bor Dharan community, and there I met Dhammacharis Varaprabha and Nagabhadra, who were anagarikas and wearing robes. I was very impressed and wanted to be one too. Community life there was hard - there was no electricity, no water, no fans, and many mosquitoes. It was very very hot, sometimes as much as 45 degrees. I was working there as a cook, and also doing building work, sometimes for twelve hours a day. In 1993 I became a mitra. I was ordained in 1998 by Subhuti, and took the Padmasambhava practice. My name means "Radiant Prince, the young spiritual hero who shines with spiritual vision." I was ordained with my two friends Kumarayogin and Adityakumar. Now I live in Bhaja village with my wife, and the three of us work at Bhaja retreat centre.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Buddhafield Festival 2007 sold out

Ratnarashi, Buddhafield's chairman, informs us that the Buddhafield Festival 2007 has sold out, and there are no more there are no more full OR weekend tickets left to purchase. He says day passes may be available on the gate on Sunday subject to available site capacity, but that day passes will not be available in advance. Anyone wanting to come for the day is strongly advised to telephone first to avoid the risk of being turned away. Apologies for any disappointment.

The photograph is from a ritual during last year's festival.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


On Tuesday 12th June, in the context of a three-month retreat, the first ordinations took place at Akashavana - the FWBO's new retreat centre dedicated to the ordination of women, in the Spanish mountains.

Public preceptor Parami:

Ethel Findlay becomes AMBARANTA (long third 'a'); literally 'sky-limit'; horizon;'she who is unbounded like the sky' (sanskrit); private preceptor Dhammadassin.

Patricia Jeffrey becomes JAYAVARDHANI (long 'i'); 'she who increases, strengthens, augments her victories' (sanskrit); private preceptor Kalyanasri.

Enid Park becomes SARANAJAYA (long last 'a'); 'she whose victory comes from the Refuges' or 'she who wins liberation through the Refuges' (pali); private preceptor Kulaprabha.

Fionna Yule becomes AMITASHURI (long 'u' and last 'i'); 'boundless, limitless heroine' (sanskrit); private preceptor Maitreyi.

Jo Howes becomes SAMASHURI (long 'u' and last 'i'); 'impartial, equanimous heroine' (sanskrit)' private preceptor Maitreyi.

Sonia Rodriquez becomes ABHAYAGITA (long 'i' and last 'a'); 'she whose song is fearlessness' (sanskrit)' private preceptor Paramachitta.

Public preceptor Ratnadharini:

Judi Simons becomes MANIGARBHA (long last 'a'); 'she who has an inner jewel', or 'matrix of gems' (sanskrit) private preceptor Padmasuri.

Caroline Martin becomes ATAPINI (long first and second 'a', and last 'i'); she who is diligent, ardent and zealous' (pali); private preceptor Kalyanasri.

Public preceptor Maitreyi:

Sabine Lentz becomes SANGHADARSHINI (long last 'i'); 'she who sees the Sangha', 'she who has a vision of the Sangha' in the sense of knowing and understanding (sanskrit); private preceptor Kulanandi.

Pippa Andrewes becomes NAGARAKSHITA (long first and last 'a'); 'she who is guarded, protected by the Nagas' (sanskrit); private preceptor Muditasri.

Carol Bois becomes MAITRIPUSHPA (long second 'i' and last 'a'); 'she who has the flower of benevolence' (sanskrit); private preceptor Ratnadharini.

Emma Styles becomes AMBARAVAJRI (long 'i'); 'sky vajra', 'she who is a vajra like the sky' (sanskrit); private preceptor Dhammadassin.

Public preceptor Padmasuri:

Bianca Boterhoek becomes AMARASHRADDHA (long last 'a'); 'immortal / undying faith' (sanskrit); private preceptor Ratnadharini.

Leonie Luterman becomes SAMAYADEVI (long 'i'); 'luminous one of the vow or bond - the bond of inner relationship with the Three Jewels and her yidam' (sanskrit); private preceptor Karunadevi.


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Wednesday, June 13, 2007



The following men were privately ordained during the first two weeks of June and P
publicly ordained at Guhyaloka on June 11th 2007:

Victor Vincent from East London becomes Appamadin (Appamaadin) - 'One who is mindful, guarded, vigilant, watchful'
(Private Preceptor: Saddhaloka, Public Preceptor: Manjuvajra).

Bill Horton from Aryaloka, USA becomes Narottama - 'The Best of Men', also an epithet of the Buddha
(Private Preceptor: Manjuvajra, Public Preceptor: Dhammarati)

Rob Haworth from Norwich becomes, Alokadhara (Aalokadhaara) - 'Light Bearer'
(Private Preceptor: Arthapriya, Public Preceptor: Saddhaloka)

Norbert Rothe from Berlin becomes Karunada (Karunaada) - 'He who gives Compassion'
(Private Preceptor: Sona, Public Preceptor: Saddhaloka)

Peter Cohen from Cambridge becomes Prajnapriya (Prajnyaapriya) - 'He who is devoted to Wisdom' or ' 'He who is loved by the Five Female Buddhas' (Private Preceptor: Vessantara, Public Preceptor: Saddhaloka )

Julian Ryall from Cambridge becomes Yashodaka (Yashodaaka) ' The daka whose sphere is the Beautiful'
(Private Preceptor: Arthapriya, Public Preceptor: Saddhaloka)

Andrew Trotman from the Isle of Wight becomes Palaka (Paalaka) - 'He who cherishes, protects and nurtures'
(Private Preceptor: Maitreyabandhu, Public Preceptor: Saddhaloka)

Alban Leigh from East London becomes Vidyadaka (Vidyaadaaka) - ' Daka of appreciative, discriminating Wisdom'
(Private Preceptor: Maitreyabandhu, Public Preceptor: Saddhaloka)

David Essex from Cambridge becomes Manjurava (Manjuraava) - 'Gentle song or roar'
(Private Preceptor: Arthapriya, Public Preceptor: Manjuvajra)

Jarrod Lovett from North London becomes Ananta - 'Limitless, boundless, endless', a name of the naga king Muchalinda
(Private Preceptor: Vessantara, Public Preceptor: Dhammarati)

Sean Boland from Dublin becomes Vajrashura - 'Vajra hero'
(Private Preceptor: Kulananda, Public Preceptor: Saddhaloka)

Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Intrepid women #2 - AIDS work in Uganda

Loren Treisman is a mitra from the Cambridge and Buddhafield centres. She’s been in Africa for the past eight months working first on AIDS-related projects in Uganda with an NBO called Tasaaga, latterly in Malawi in an orphanage. This is a report from her. She says -

“So I thought I would start with a brief low down on the general situation out here and then go on to the specifics.

AIDS is affecting EVERYONE. It's not as simple as treating patients. Every family I have met has either lost a member or is caring for orphans which few can afford, communities are losing health workers, teachers, basically all skilled workers to this devastating disease. It's an endless cycle where poverty increases the risks of becoming infected with HIV and being infected leads to greater poverty. I've been reading so much literature out here and I could tell you so much more, it's verging on impossible to describe quite what it is like out here where few people have access to basic needs such as clean drinking water, education and health care and where ignorance is killing people.

At the start of this year, I was working on Jana island, which is 1 of the Ssese islands on Uganda’s Lake Victoria (which is so large it looks like an ocean). The only access to the island is on a rickety boat which only goes once every 2 days (and that's in theory, in practice it goes less often). There's no electricity, no water other than the lake (or bottles which noone but me can afford), no permanent structures (mud huts only), no secondary school, no nurses or Drs, I could go on but I am sure you get the picture. There are approximately 1500 people on the island, excluding children and the HIV infection rate is estimated to be around 29%, though it is impossible to know as few people have managed to get tested. Women have a really hard time and since I have been here in Uganda (about 2 months) I have only managed to make one female friend but many males.

Following interviewing, I realised that the most vital necessities on the island were education and income generation. I devised an education program and gave daily seminars ranging from lectures to informal gatherings in the various villages on topics including nutrition, family planning, child abuse and labour. The receptivity was incredible and I was astonished at how much people listened. I have had villagers flocking to me for free condoms and femidoms which oddly enough they really like out here, telling me how much energy they’ve got having drunk more water, telling each other off if they saw child violence, it brings tears to my eyes to see the difference.

4 people died on the island while fishing (the only way to make a living in Jana), all in their 20's, which really got to me due to being unable to swim so I arranged swimming lessons in the lake. It was fairly tough teaching adults but some of them were getting there and I have encouraged them to train others.

My main work on the island involved setting up income generating schemes. I don't believe in hand outs, and people expect them here from people in the west so I thought the best solution was to start some project which helped the villagers help themselves. After many meetings, establishing viability of different projects, the fertility of soil, the skills available, etc, 2 projects were decided on-pineapple growing and pig rearing. By the time I left, with the help of many inspiring villagers land was cleared for 300 pineapples and there are 400 more to go and the pig house had started to be built and piglets secured from the mainland. A committee was established comprised of trustworthy community members who will decided how to distribute the money, based on those who work hardest and those who are unable to work due to old age or bad health The aim is for the profits to largely contribute towards supporting orphans, school fees and health care as well as to expand the projects to generate more income. People are so incredibly grateful.

Since then it's been Malawi and the city of Blantyre where I've worked in a very cool orphanage, the contagious smiles of African kids never cease to make my heart go gooey inside, I can't wait to teach some of them in August! My meditation has gone to new levels which is most exciting too. So much inspiration out here! Miss you all more than you know, it gets painful sometimes but I can't help following my dreams, Africa rocks my world!

SADHU Loren...!

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Two regular guests on BBC Radio...

FWBO News has come to learn that two members of the Western Buddhist Order are regular guests on BBC Radio.

Nagaraja from the Glasgow Buddhist Centre is a long-standing regular on the ‘Pause for Thought’ slot on the Terry Wogan show. You can listen to his latest reflections (arising from his 46th birthday), broadcast this week, by clicking here for the transcript or here for the audio.

You can hear Vishvapani, also a regular contributor, on Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day’, part of the peak-time ‘Today’ program, by clicking here for the last episode, or here for the archives.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

The FWBO International Retreat 2008 - “Beating the Drum of the Dharma”

A big marquee has been hired, the first publicity printed, the website is launched, the list of invited teachers is growing… preparations are well underway for the FWBO International Retreat...

Next year, FWBO Buddhist Centres from all over Europe are joining forces in a new venture.
From 22nd to 26th May at Taraloka in the UK, in conjunction with Buddhafield, there is going to be a big retreat. The idea is to bring together people in large numbers to practice, learn about, and celebrate the Dharma of the FWBO. Many of our best and most experienced teachers will be there to teach meditation, give talks, or lead puja and ritual.

Vajragupta, who is one of the main organisers of the event, says: “Everyone from the FWBO is welcome, whether it is your first retreat, or you’ve been on retreat many times before. Come and experience the magic and inspiration of practising together in large numbers!”

The weekend takes place just a few days after Wesak, the full moon day of May on which Buddhists all over the world celebrate the Buddha’s attainment of Enlightenment. So the theme will be “Beating the Drum of the Dharma” – exploring what the Buddha did next, how he took the Dharma out into the world, how he lived-out his newly discovered Wisdom and Compassion.

More details about the event will be available in the autumn. Look out for brochures at your Buddhist Centre and for the website

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Dalai Lama invites TBMSG, workshop held introducing Tibetan community to needs of new Buddhists in India

Following on from our report on TBMSG's Delhi seminar, Lokamitra sends us this account of a potentially very significant meeting with senior Tibetan Buddhists in Dharamsala, North India.

This year is the 50th anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar’s conversion to Buddhism. In recent years the momentum of conversions to Buddhism from the Scheduled Caste communities (as well as other communities) has been increasing, and this year is doing so even faster. Millions of people throughout India have become Buddhist but very few have access to effective teaching. If they do not get guidance in Buddhism they will either develop very strange forms of Buddhism or they will return to Hinduism and their place at the bottom of the Hindu social order. Whatever the case, the conversion to Buddhism will have resulted in no individual or social change. TBMSG has been working in this situation for 29 years. We are doing what we can through training and through lecture tours and retreats throughout India, but the more we do the more we realise immensity of the task. We cannot do it all ourselves. We have to encourage other Buddhists to help. We can offer them our experience.

In 2005 the Dalai Lama visited Nagaloka and expressed his desire to help with our work. Encouraged by this Subhuti and I visited Dharamsala in October 2006 along with a good friend, Naresh Mathur, who is a member of the Dalai Lama’s trust. We had extremely satisfactory meetings with Ven Lhakdor (head of the Library and Archives), Samdhong Rimpoche (the Kalon Tripa or Prime Minister of the Tibetan government in exile) and Tenzin Geche (the Dalai Lama’s secretary), all of whom encouraged us to run workshops for Tibetan monks to educate them about Dr. Ambedkar and his Buddhist followers in India.

From 19th until 21st May in Dharamsala we did exactly that. We were assisted by Suvajra, Vivekaratna, Ojogeeta, Yashosagar and Kumarajiv. There were about 35 monks, nuns and lay people, mainly if not all from the Gelugpa tradition, some extremely well studied. In his introduction Samdhong Rimpoche emphasised that the Dalai Lama had himself asked that this workshop to take place.

The workshop consisted of a combination of presentations, question and answer sessions and group work. All went very well, but the group work seemed particularly effective. Thinking that most participants would be monks we only took one Dharmacharini with us. This was a great mistake. Almost half the participants were nuns, and Ojogeeta was much in demand.

The workshop gave the participants a broad understanding of the social and cultural situation (particularly caste and untouchability), Dr Ambedkar's life and achievement, and his understanding of Buddhism, and especially its social significance. It helped them understand the Dharmic needs of the new Buddhists, and the possible difficulties, notable among which was the question of karma. There was a great deal of interest in the FWBO/TBMSG. I am sure that the workshop will bear fruit in several ways, most importantly in bringing about more interest in and support for the Buddhist followers of Dr. Ambedkar in India.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

FWBO activities in Düsseldorf

Sraddhabandhu has sent us this report from Düsseldorf. He says -
Since March 2007 new activities have started in Düsseldorf, the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. In November 06 we (that is to say, Thomas Lenk and I) were asked by local Zen practitioners, whose teacher had moved to Berlin, if we would like to start FWBO activities. They were looking for an arrangement that would allow them not to close down their centre. We enthusiastically agreed.

In the following months Thomas, an FWBO mitra preparing for ordination, and Andre, a Zen practitioner, founded a charity called "Buddha e.V." ( This charity is the tenant of a quite large medical practice. A lot of renovating work was done by them, and we are grateful that we now can start to offer introductions to both meditation and buddhism. "Buddha e.V." now hosts Zen and FWBO activities, with FWBO offering beginners’ nights on Mondays and Fridays, and the Zen group carrying on having "zazen" four times a week.

Each time we have between three and five visitors, which is not too bad, if you consider that we started just a month ago. Part of the activities are led by Sraddhabandhu, who is accompanied by a marvellous team of supporters. Especially Thomas puts a lot of work into the legal part of the charity, as well as leading the "metta bhavana" on Fridays. Find us on The photograph shows part of the new shrine room.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Milestone Dhammakranti symposium in Delhi

Nagaketu and Kumarajiv have sent us this report from Delhi -

On 25,26 and 27th May TBMSG’s Dhammakranti ‘outreach’ team organized a weekend retreat in Delhi. We decided to bring together Dhamma activists from at least 10 northern states together, Delhi being the capital of India and a convenient place for people from north Indian states to get together. This was a big undertaking for us, as Delhi is over 1000kms from Maharastra. Subhuti, Lokamitra and Suvajra were going to pass through Delhi, so this was a very good opportunity for us to organize such event. Normally at this time of year the temperature in Delhi is more than 40 degree Celsius, so we feared few people would participate and more that our European Order members who were going to lead this event might find that their brains were fried in this heat! Fortunately had some rain and clouds to hide the sun from us and made the heat bearable for all.

We got a remarkable 260 people from 9 states all over the north of India - Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Delhi, Hariyana, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Arunachal Pradesh. They brought with them an atmosphere of inspiration, enthusiasm and energy; they were eager and thirsty to learn the Dhamma.

Our venue was the Ladakh Buddha Vihara, near the ISBT (Inter-State Bus Terminus), a very central place in Delhi. It is run by Ladhaki Buddhists, and having this Vihara for our retreat brought the two major Buddhist communities in India together - the Himalayan Buddhists, who are mainly influenced by Tibetan Buddhism, and the new Buddhists, who mainly became so because of Dr. Ambedkar. This union has a great importance since the whole of India is waking up for Buddhism.

Lokamitra gave a talk on “Understanding the meaning and significance of Dr. Ambedkar’s Dhamma Revolution”. He stressed that many of Ambedkar’s followers, both then and now, do not understand the full significance of his motive behind accepting the Dhamma, and narrated situations in the life of Dr. Ambedkar where it was clear how the Dhamma had been the top-most priority in his work. After his talk people asked questions like whether Dhamma could be an answer to topical situations like caste-based atrocities, exploitations and poverty.

Subhuti gave talks and workshops on how to get the message out to the 300 million Indian people who are thirsty for the Dhamma. He got people to do role-plays on explaining the purpose of Dr. Ambedkar’s conversion to Buddhism and what is meant by the transformation of caste society into a society based on liberty, equality and fraternity. He answered varied questions on different aspects of life and its relation to Dhamma, and urged all the participants to reach out to at least ten people each every month to explain the significance of what they practiced.

Kumarjeev and Yashosagar from Maharastra, plus six Order members from UP (Uttar Pradesh) were present to support Subhuti and Lokamitra.

Dhammachari Maitriveer-Nagarjun and his team of Mitras from JN University, Delhi organized this program. They did this excellent job in the midst of their examinations.

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

FWBO/TBMSG News Readership Survey

FWBO/TBMSG News is conducting its first ever readership survey.

We'd REALLY LIKE TO KNOW how many of you are out there reading this and where you're from - please click the link below and let us know.

Please click here to let us know you're reading this. Please be sure that your name and email id will remain completely anonymous.

We're also interested in your comments on the site. There are five simple questions, it should only take 3 minutes to answer.

The survey will stay live for ONE WEEK ONLY so as to provide a snapshot of our readership at a point in time. We'll post the results on the site shortly afterwards.


The FWBO/TBMSG News team

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

New map of FWBO/TBMSG in India

A new map is available on-line of all FWBO/TBMSG groups in India. Click here to see it and/or download it from the FWBO Photos site on flickr.

This is probably the first time all of our many centres and groups in India have been collected and made visible in this way. Comments and corrections welcome. For contact details for the centres go to the TBMSG website; for contact details for the smaller groups the best is to try Nagaloka, Dhammakranti outreach project, or the Jambudvipa in Pune

There are also maps on the flickr site for the FWBO's centres and groups in Europe, the UK, and around the world.

You might also like to try exploring Google maps and searching for 'FWBO' or 'TBMSG' - in many cases, incuding in Inda, it is possible to zoom in to a street-level view of our actual centres. Check the Mahavihara in Pune for intance.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007


At the Public Ordinations held at 3pm on Friday May 25th at Shambhala in Golden Bay, New Zealand, the following Dharmacharinis were born -


Robyn Blackman becomes KAMALADEVI - pali and skt. "(She who is a) lotus goddess" (long final i) so Kamaladevii

Serena Ann becomes GAMBHIRAJA - skt. "(She who is) born of the depths" (long i and long final a) so Gambhiirajaa

Alison Mann becomes HRDAYAJA - skt "(She who is) heart born" ( dot under r and long final a) so Hrdayajaa


Sue Johnson becomes VIRYADANA - skt "(She who) gives energy in pursuit of the good" (long i and long second a and final a ) so Viiryadaanaa.

Victoria Bel becomes BUDDHANKAPALI - skt "(She who is) embraced by the Buddha" (long first a, long final a and dot over the n) so Buddhaankapaali.

Anita Hirshhorn becomes VIDYATARA - skt "(She who is) a protector of spiritual knowledge ( long first, second and final a) so Vidyaataaraa

Jane Beck becomes PADMADASI (She who is a) "Servant of the Lotus" (long final i) so Padmadasii

Maureen Nicholls becomes SARADARSHINI "She who sees/understands/knows the pith or substance or heart (of things) (long first a and long final i) so Saaradarshinii.


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Mass conversions to Buddhism in India

Reports are coming in from India of a new wave of mass conversions to Buddhism, this time in Mumbai. On Sunday over 100,000 people, mostly from the Adivasis or Tribal communities, converted in a massive ceremony at the Mahalaxmi ground. They were mostly followers of Dalit writer Laxman Mane, who has been touring the State after converting to Buddhism in Nagpur in October 2006.

Readers of FWBO News will remember Vishvapani’s reports of that period, with an account of Mane’s conversion and their meeting. He wrote then -

“In a special ceremony at Dikshabhumi in Nagpur yesterday morning, Mane took the three Buddhist refuges along with 140 leaders of tribal communities from across Maharashtra. Following the ceremony they held a planning session in which they agreed to extend the conversion programme to the other members of their communities, who number at least 500,000. …

When I met him just before he left Nagpur, Mane - a short, solidly built man with an air of sturdy determination – told me of the inspiration he and his fellow converts had gained through the ceremony. ‘My companions left the ceremony different people from the ones who had started it. They were filled with a new inspiration and confidence. We held a planning meeting straight away, and the atmosphere was different from any we had experienced before, full of hope and determination. It was a sudden, dramatic shift. For myself, I felt a new sense of freedom.’”

The conversions in Mumbai are a direct fruit of last October’s events in Nagpur, hopefully one of many. They are being hailed as one of the biggest mass conversions in modern Indian history.

Read the reports from India from The Hindu or the Times of India. More pictures are in the Mangalorean Times.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Valencia's prison program

The FWBO's Valencia Buddhist Centre, in Spain, recently celebrated the start of the third year of their prison visiting program, dubbed the ‘Wheel of Life’ project. By all accounts it has been a ground-breaking success, both for the Buddhist centre, the inmates, and the Spanish prison authorities. They teach meditation and Dharma in Picassent prison, where they are the first to be permitted to work with the Basque prisoners from ETA.

Saddhakara, the Centre’s chairwoman, has written an account of the project’s history which you can find on the FWBO Prison Dharma website. Here you can find reports from most of the FWBO’s prison visiting programs, especially those in the US.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Free Buddhist Audio News

Free Buddhist AudioWelcome to the news update from Free Buddhist Audio, the free download and streaming service from the Dharmachakra Archives. To receive more update information by email, you can always subscribe to our mailing list.

Following on from last week's launch of the site in German - Audio Buddhismus Kostenlos - we are delighted today to announce that we're able to extend our service further with the launch of our new Chinese language site - 免费 佛教 录音.

This is the product of many hours of effort by various folk connected with Free Buddhist Audio, but none so much as Ruan Yinhua, our extraordinarily generous, talented and patient Chinese translator. Yinhua's unflagging commitment to the project has been inspiring from the very start, and we are doubly happy to be able to mark the successful launch of the Chinese service by posting his thoughtful essay My Perspective on the Revival of Buddhism and Spirituality in China. Sadhu, Yinhua!

Watch this space for imminent announcements regarding the site in French and Spanish!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Three remarkable women...

The last few months have seen three remarkable women from the FWBO taking their practice way off the cushion and out into the world. FWBO News hopes to do short reports on each over the next couple of weeks.

First is Zee-Zee Heine, a mitra (and long-time peace activist) from the North London Buddhist Centre. She was active in the North London centre's 'ESA'(Environmental and Social Action) group and before that in the FWBO's 'P.S... ecopractice network'. For the past two months she's been in Palestine working with EAPPI, the World Council of Churches' Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel. Her work has been a varied mixture of personal training, checkpoint watches, accompanying children to school past violent Israeli settlers, interviewing victims of military or settler violence, and sending news of what is happening to friends and contacts in the West.

Here is an excerpt from her latest report -

"...we went to a two-day conference on Popular Resistance in a village called Bil'in. On the third day was to be a peaceful demo, however it is a village which has a demonstrations every week about the fact that the wall goes through the land of the village and denies them access. The organisers said the demo was always peaceful but sometimes youths of the village when they saw Israeli soldiers on their families land would feel they had a right to throw stones at them, and the soldiers would respond violently.

Part of the conference included what in Britain is called pre action training. For example we were told that if the youths were seen to be collecting stones one could go over and talk to them, if the soldiers started firing rubber bullets the safest thing to do is to sit down, allow things to calm down and then slowly get up and drift forward whereas if they fire tear gas it is better to disperse up-wind and then regroup. But because of the big conference there would be many extra people including many internationals, so the organisers thought it unlikely that the demo would become violent the next day.

In the event we gathered in the centre of the village and walked down the road towards the separation barrier. Just as we reached the outskirts of the village, when we were still about half a mile from the barrier and still all on the public highway, the Israeli solders started firing tear gas without any provocation. I was amazed. Some of the other EAPPI volunteers and I went back to the house where we had gathered and watched from the roof. Two others ran over the pastures and got up wind of the tear gas and stayed much closer and took lots of photos. The solders followed the tear gas with plastic coated metal bullets and water cannon. Very different from any British demo I have been on."

She will be back in early July and concludes her report by saying "When I return I want to do speaking engagements to let people know about the conditions in Palestine." If you can help arrange any in the UK (or beyond!) please let her know directly on zeezeeh [at]

Next in this series - Loren Treisman from Cambridge/Buddhafield. Suggestions for other entries welcome...

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Brighton Fringe Festival

The Brighton Buddhist Centre is playing an active part in the 2007 Brighton Fringe Festival.

At the beginning of the month they hosted an Open Day entitled "Looking After Our World", followed by an evening of music with international pianists Glen Capra and mitra Joss Peach.

'Zen in the Afternoon', last weekend, brought Japan to the Buddhist Centre, with meditation, poetry readings, Haiku Writing Workshops, a slide show of Japanese temples, tea ceremony, Origami, mini Zen garden making, and even child-friendly sushi-making.

Alongside these all these was 'Emerging', an art installation by Ingrid Plum, which explored the connection between sky and earth using devotional texts, a mirror, origami leaves and lotus blossoms. The fragile beauty of the lotus flowers emerges as if from murky water into knowledge in this installation which changes through time, according to the sky.

Here then, form is no other than emptiness
Emptiness no other than form
Form is only emptiness
Emptiness only form…


Monday, May 21, 2007

the future of “team-based right livelihood” in the FWBO...

A weekend looking at the future of team based right livelihood (TBRL) in the FWBO will take place early this autumn. Organised by the European Chairs Assembly the weekend is aimed at all those Order Members and mitras interested in the subject. As Vajragupta, who is overseeing the event, explains:

“ Our aim is to have a weekend ‘re-visioning’ what TBRL is and how to make it work – economically and spiritually – in today’s FWBO. Anyone who is interested in TBRL is welcome whether you’re currently working in it or not. It is for people working in both “new styles” of right livelihood, and those working with the “old models” too. We welcome people working at centres and retreat centres, those doing TBRL whilst living in communities, or living on their own, or with families and partners – all varieties are welcome! We want to explore what ‘Team-Based Right Livelihood’ actually means in today’s FWBO and how we can help projects both old and new.”

The weekend will start with a process known as “appreciative enquiry”, in which participants will look at what they’ve gained and valued from working together as Buddhists in the past. As Vajragupta says, “Through this process we can connect with our vision, identify where we’d like to go and the steps we need to take to get there. The aim is to generate energy and inspiration, and also start to find solutions to the practical and spiritual issues currently facing TBRLs.”

The event takes place from Friday 7th September to Sunday 9th September at Bilberry Hill in Birmingham. The cost is £35 per person for the weekend, including accommodation and food. Bilberry Hill has dormitory style accommodation, and is located near the Lickey Hills on the southern edge of Birmingham. It is easily accessible by car and by public transport. The food will be cooked by a quality Buddhist cook. Bookings on a first-come, first-served basis. Please book by sending a non-refundable cheque payable to “FWBO” for £35 to: Vajragupta, c/o 31 Sandhills Road, Barnt Green, Birmingham B45 8NP. Phone 0121-447-7427 for more details.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ordination at the London Buddhist Centre

On Sunday 13th May 2007, Margaret Wilson became

Stavarha (sanskrit, with a long middle a), meaning "(She who is) worthy of praise".

Muditasri was the private preceptor and Mallika the public.

The private ordination took place on Friday evening at the LBC and was attended by order members. The public Ordination took place at the LBC on Sunday afternoon and was attended by around 70 people including Stavarha's partner and members of her family.


from Parami on behalf of Mallika

New pilgrimage website launched

Parayana is the new name for a long-established FWBO pilgrimage service – it’s led 12 pilgrimages since 2003. Parayana is Pali for ‘The Way Beyond’ and by extension ‘The True Refuge’.

Ratnaketu, the founder, gave TBMSG News a short account of what led him to start leading pilgrimages.

“Originally from New Zealand, I joined the Western Buddhist Order in 1979, a year that also saw my first visit to India, where I accompanied Sangharakshita from Auckland in New Zealand to the LBC in London via Bombay, Pune and Ahmedabad. Travelling with Sangharakshita in India when I was twenty was a life-changing experience; I discovered I had brothers and sisters in the Dharma whose lives were radically different to my own; I realised how remarkably fortunate I was; and I fell under the spell of India.

In 1985, I went on my first real pilgrimage, a magical amble amongst the clouds and into the Eastern Himalayas to visit Dhardo Rinpoche. Since then pilgrimage has become an important part of my own practice. In 1999, after more than twenty years of community living and team-based right-livelihood, I chose to explore the homeless life. After eighteen months at the Guhyaloka Vihara in Spain, I hit the road.

My intention was threefold; to live and enable others to live lives of radical freedom and simplicity; to create a new team-based right-livelihood business that would support our renunciants; and to help others experience the delights of true pilgrimage.

And - slowly slowly - we're getting there. Pilgrimage is becoming another sparkling facet of our Movement, linking East and West. We enable pilgrims to enter the path and experience the life of pilgrimage, to gain experiences of India, of the holy places, and of the Refuges that would scarcely otherwise be possible. Not only that - Parayana provides employment, community, and skill training to a growing team of Indians and Nepalese.

We have adopted the name Parayana because our pilgrimages lead us beyond, not just into strange new worlds but beyond ourselves and towards transcendence.

And now we have a website.

Check out also our next Sakyamuni:Heartland pilgrimage 8th – 31st November 2007.

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Dhammakranti team begin 2007 season

In India, the Dhammakranti team are starting their 2007 season with an ambitious event in Delhi.. Subhuti, Suvajra, and Lokamitra will all be participating in a seminar aiming to spread awareness of Dr. Ambedkar and his vision for a casteless society.

This is part of a determined strategy to spread our activities beyond the geographical borders of Maharastra, heartland of Buddhism in India and home to 60 million people – but a fragment of the whole of India. It is also part of their effort to highlight the abuse of fundamental human rights implicit in the widespread caste discrimination still practiced in India. See for some of their work.

In this respect we are delighted to note the recent comments made in the UK’s House of Commons and House of Lords – both have recently seen debates in which members have strongly condemned the practice of casteism and the plight of the Dalits.

The event will be held on 25,26,27, May, 2007 at the Ladakh Buddhist Monastery - near ISBT, Bela Road , New Delhi, India. All are welcome and entry is by donation.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

launch of new TBMSG magazine

On 14th April, the anniversary of the birthday of Dr. Ambedkar, Lokamitra presided over the launch of a new TBMSG magazine "Samagra Buddhawani", or ' Song of Buddha'. This will be published in Hindi every three months and distributed via a network of supporters all over central and northern India.

Aryaketu, its editor, says "I am glad to say that the new Hindi tri-monthly "Samagra Buddhawani" Magazine was published and inaugurated on 14th April-07 by the hands of Dhammachari Lokamitra. We have printed 10000 copies and up to now have distributed nearly 7000 copies all over India, nearly half going in Nagpur. We hope the copies will increase up to 20,000 in October at the big Dhammakranti retreat in Buddhagaya. We have got enough support and backing from most of our centres but we are not dependent on TBMSG centres or chairmen."

The new magazine will fill a major gap as for some years now there has been no Movement-wide publication in India. It has been in the planning stages for many months and has been launched with no subsidy from foreign funds. Aryaketu goes on to say htat such is the enthusiasm for the new publication that two people in Nagpur have been thinking to create their own right livelihood just by selling it door-to-door. He sees selling it as a possible opportunity for poor people to raise their income - perhaps to raise the funds for retreats.

At the same time the Dhammakranti project's plans are taking shape for the next season, starting immediately after the rainy season. Central to this will be their second large retreat at Bodh Gaya, and Nagaketu reports that its dates are now set at 11th Nov. to 17th Nov. 2007. Westerners are warmly invited and are asked to make contact via

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

FWBO Authors

Tricyle Cover ImageYou might want to read the Summer 2007 edition of Tricycle magazine which features three FWBO Authors. Bodhipaksa's exposition on the six-element practice is an "editors pick" and therefore on the website. He introduces the practice which he describes as both highly analytical, and intensely poetic. Vishvapani who is becoming a regular in Tricycle wonders whether our new Buddhists in India hold the key to ending Sri Lanka's decades-long civil war. And finally Montreal based mitra Vanessa Sasson writes about conflict and the images we have of foreigners. The articles by Vanessa and Vishvapani are only available online to subscribers.

The issue also includes an article about Michael Dillon who was possibly the first person in the UK to have gender reassignment surgey from female to male. He studied medicine and became a medical doctor. Seeking to escape the glare of publicity Michael fled to India with the intention of becoming a Buddhist Monk. He headed for a monastery in Kalimpong run by an Englishman known as Sangharakshita who gave him the Buddhist name Jivaka. Jivaka lived with Sangharakshita for a time and acted as his secretary. He actively opposed Dillon's ordination on the basis that he was born female and was therefore not eligible. Jivaka died in India in 1962.

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New Private Preceptor

In April we over-looked noting that Viryabodhi had completed his consultation process and has been appointed as a private preceptor. Sadhu!

Some of Viryabodhi's talks in Swedish are available on Free Buddhist Audio, and he has a blog, also in Swedish.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

New Private Preceptors

Following consultation with the order three new private preceptors have been appointed. They are: Dayapakshini, Viradhamma, and Bodhimitra. Sadhu!

Don't forget that the public preceptors now have a blog - very 21st century!