Saturday, July 21, 2007

Dhammacharini Ordinations in India

FWBO News is happy to announce the latest in a long series of ordinations this year - of men and women in the UK, America, Spain, New Zealand, and India. We believe this brings the total size of the Order to just over 1,500, with approximately 340 living in India. We also believe this marks the first time in our Order - and perhaps the first time ever in India - that Indian women have acted as Preceptors, witnessing the Going for Refuge of other women.

On 16th July 2007 the following women were ordained at the Hsuan-Tsang retreat centre, Bor Dharan, India.

Karunamaya was the public preceptor.

>From Nagpur
1 Kamalasr
Ex Pratibha Moon . She who has the beauty, grace, splendour and radiance of a lotus. Private Preceptor Srimala.

2 Jayaloka
Ex Sitabai Dhavle. She whose light is victory. Private Preceptor Karunamaya

3 Saddhaja
Ex Jamgade Bai. She who is born of faith. Private Preceptor Karunamaya.

4 Sumegha.
Ex Usha Kamble. She who has a good cloud of qualities. Private Preceptor Jnanasuri.

5 Suprabha
Ex Kamal Nagrale. She who is very bright/splendid/glorious. Private Preceptor Jnanasuri

>From Wardha

6 Gunachandra
Ex Chitra Javale. She who is a moon of virtue. Private Preceptor Karunamaya.

>From Amaravati

7 Sujaya
Ex Maya Sukhdeve. She who has a good victory. Private Preceptor Jnanasuri.

8 Suruci (pronounced Suruchi)
Ex Karuna Sonule. She who has great delight (in the Dhamma). Private Preceptor Jnanasuri.

>From Goa

9 Yasomati (pronounced Yashomati)
Ex Archna Sherlekar she who has a beautiful, glorious, renowned mind. Private Preceptor Jnanasuri.

With metta Karunamaya
21 July 2007


Labels: , , ,

Friday, July 20, 2007

Lotus Realm Traders joins the ‘Vans’

Lotus Realm Traders is the Sudarshanaloka Mandala’s latest venture in New Zealand – Sudarshanaloka being our very wonderful stupa and retreat centre overlooking the Coromandel Peninsula. After a lot of hard work, they are proud to announce they have given birth to their first van! Anyone who has worked at Windhorse UK will know what this means and why they are so proud. Akasadaka, their Sales & Marketing man, sends this report –

“Well it’s a bus actually! Her name is Rosa (Mitsubishi). She is a good 6.0m long and weighs in at 3.2 tonne fully loaded with product. Her previous life was as a Tokyo Library Bus and she still has a rather snazzy Seiko Wall clock above the dash.
We have just completed our first trip (van run) around the Coromandel and Bay of Plenty, surviving cyclonic forces which caused havoc across the top half of the North Island. Rosa received plenty of compliments to her crew’s delight along the way and sales were way beyond expectations. It is hoped that this good fortune will continue as Sudarshanaloka requires a lot more funds to complete its Retreat Centre project.

“Lotus Realm Traders (LRT) Team currently consists of Andrea Gill (Admin), Akasadaka (Sales & Marketing), Mike Zero (Warehouse), Satyananda (Purchasing & Sales), Spenser Probett (Rep) and Perrick Parigot (Webmaster). LRT is attempting to become a Team Based Right Livelihood as well as making squillions of moolah (cash). How TBRL is defined or is manifested seems to be an ongoing process, but we do have a core movement towards ethical trading, building spiritual community, generating dana and having some insane fun.

“How can you help? If you have any expertise or skills to offer for free, we would happily accept. The Sudarshanaloka Mandala needs more people in general, from helping to run classes and looking after what Sudarshanaloka itself, to packing orders in our warehouse or keeping shop. In business terms this is called ‘sweat’ equity however we hope to be able to provide support and wages for more people than we currently do at some stage. Please feel free to contact me akasadaka [at] if you have some interest in getting involved in what we are doing.”

Labels: , ,

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Buddhist parenting - interview on the BBC

The BBC's flagship program 'Woman's Hour' has recorded and aired a program featuring an interview with Karunagita, author of 'A Path for Parents'. Click here to listen to the program, you will need Realplayer which can be downloaded for free here.

The BBC's blurb asks "How difficult is it to bring up children in a religious tradition, in an age where we increasingly talk about the importance of giving them the opportunity to make their own decisions? Sara Burns, author of ‘A Path for Parents’ and Carol Clewlow, author of 'Keeping the Faith', join Miriam to discuss the pleasures and pitfalls of handing down your spiritual beliefs. Sara is known in the Order as Karunagita, while Carol was raised in the 'Plymouth Bretheren'.

‘A Path for Parents’ by Sarah Burns is published by Windhorse Publications £11.99 ISBN 9781899579709

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ordination at Aryaloka

On June 24 at Aryaloka, in front of a large crowd of friends, family, and Order members, Marilyn Dyer was ordained into the Western Buddhist Order as Viriyagita, "Song of energy in pursuit of the good." Her private preceptor was Sanghadevi and the ceremony was conducted by her public preceptor Parami.

Viriyagita currently lives with her husband Kevin in Cape Neddick, Maine and works as a nurse with intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals. She has a son, Sean, from a previous marriage, who lives in Seattle with his wife and three children. In 1985 Viriyagita started practicing Buddhism with a Tibetan sangha in Vermont. In 1986 she encountered the FWBO and was particularly drawn to Sangharakshita's clear exposition of the Dharma, the emphasis on the primacy of Going for Refuge, and the practice of spiritual friendship.

Viriyagita started out by attending several retreats as well as the regulars' class, which was very small at the time. Very early on in her involvement she made a trip to the UK to have a broader experience of the FWBO. She eventually became a mitra, started the first women's community at Aryaloka, and requested ordination into the WBO. She attended several more retreats in the UK and Scotland, one of which was a month-long Going for Refuge retreat.

In 1995 she was ordained along with Varasuri of Montana and Dayalocana of Aryaloka. A little over one year later she left the Order to pursue another spiritual path (Sufi). Within a short period of time she realized that no matter how much spiritual beauty and similarity of practice existed in this other tradition, she was at heart a Buddhist. She returned to Aryaloka, never really having lost contact with her spiritual friends and her private preceptor, Sanghadevi.

After many years of living with the aspiration to rejoin the Order, she made that request in June of 2005 and on June 24, 2007 she was given back her original Order name of Viriyagita.

The photo shows Viriyagita (right) with Dayalocana, current Chair of Aryaloka, with whom she was originally ordained in 1995.


Labels: , ,

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sangharakshita in Paris

Sangharakshita recently spent three days in Paris, on the occasion of a visit to the Paris FWBO Buddhist Centre (locally known as the “Centre Bouddhiste de l’Île-de-France - AOBO”). It wasn’t his first visit to Paris, but it was his first visit to the Centre, which was founded nearly 10 years ago by Varadakini.

During his visit he met several groups of people: mitras, mitras who have asked for ordination, the council of the Centre, and Vassika and Suvannavira, the local Order Members. The highlight of his visit, however, was a well attended two-hour question & answer session on Saturday afternoon, with questions on subjects as diverse as emptiness, the sevenfold puja, Sangharashita’s own Going for Refuge, the teaching of conditioned co-production (pratitya-samutpada), or the language spoken by the Buddha, to mention just a few. Two mitras, Barbara and Christian interpreted for the session which was appreciated by all participants.

Some of the people who met Bhante Sangharakshita commented afterwards:

I had the privilege of meeting Bhante twice, in a sangha-wide Q&A session and then as a small group of mitras having asked for ordination. Bhante was very sharp, he truly shone with his clarity and pointedness. We are fortunate to have met a man of his stature in our lifetime.

I was struck by the youthfulness of his words, his clarity, his liveliness, his humour… I was also moved by this different, foreign voice chanting the refuges and precepts; it was no meaningless litany but something already recited… elsewhere, and repeated many times, since long ago. I was very interested by the way he described the development of Buddhism in the West and its re-appearance in India as part of its evolution.

Meeting Sangharakshita in Paris was for us a deep and unique experience: a warm and unique encounter with the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha as well as a personal encounter. There are three things we remember specially about Sangharakshita’s visit to Paris:
• The depth in his chanting of the salutation, refuges and precepts; there was no difference between the words and their meaning, and no difference between the message and the one who was chanting.
• The clarity and precision of his answers and teachings; the simplicity of the language and of his choice of examples from daily life; and the self-evidence of the Dharma – Sangharakshita makes no distinction between the Dharma and common sense, friendship, calm; humour, determination…
• The real interest that Sangharakshita takes in each person and what preoccupies them, and his encouragement to us to continue along the path with calm, joy and determination
. BEGGA, IOANA & JAN, who came from Ghent for the occasion

Labels: , ,

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A day in the life of... Lalitavajra

Lalitavajra, an Order Member for over 25 years, recently moved to Carlisle in the north-west of England. He was recently interviewed by the BBC there, in a feature they called 'John the Buddhist' - John being Lalitavajra's non-Buddhist name. Click here to read their report and for their photo-report of his daily routine - and a glimpse of his very lovely Shakyamuni painting by Aloka...

He hopes to be starting meditation and Dharma classes in Carlisle by the end of August.

Labels: ,

Jambudvipa team visits America

Jambudvipa is an FWBO/TBMSG project based in Pune, India, which - among other things - aims to internationalise the plight of India's vast ex-untouchable 'Dalit' community, from which come most of India's new Buddhists. Besides this they play a crucial role in disaster relief work with this community (see for example the report on their work after the Tsunami) - at such times India's age-old caste system rears its head with full force.

Mangesh Dahiwale, Jambudvipa's publicity officer, recently sent us this report on their recent - and ground-breaking - trip to the USA:

"As a part of Jambudvipa's vision to reach out to the world community and transcend barriers, and to generate international support for peaceful social revolution that Dr. Ambedkar launched, a visit to US was planned.

"Maitreyanath and Mangesh Dahiwale visited US during April 19-May 28, 2007. In the span of over 35 days, they moved from one city to another to give talks on evils of caste system in India, Dr. Ambedkar, revival of Buddhism in India and work of TBMSG. This visit was aimed at dissemination of information, raise support for the revival of Buddhism in India and develop alliances.

"During this visit, people from all different background co-operated, which included followers of Dr. Ambedkar living in US, social activists, academicians, black activists and Order Members of FWBO/TBMSG."

In the short time they were there they managed to meet a remarkable range of individuals and groups - from Tricycle Buddhist magazine and the Buddhist Peace Fellowship to the US State Department and five different universities and colleges, plus of course several FWBO centres, criss-crossing the country beween San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Cincinnati, San Diego, Washington, Indianapolis and elsewhere.

There are encouraging signs that caste prejudice and discrimination is increasingly being seen internationally not simply as an Indian social issue but a gross violation of human rights - see, for instance, recent references to this both in the UK's House of Commons and House of Lords where the UK Government minister is quoted as saying "My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord and with the Prime Minister of India —[Untouchability] is indeed a blot on humanity. Discrimination on the basis of caste identity constrains the human rights, livelihoods and life chances of millions of men, women and children. It is a systematic injustice and a routine violation of the most basic human rights..."

We are proud that the FWBO and TBMSG is able to play a part in making this more widely known and indeed in eradicating it.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

12th Buddhafield Festival gets underway

Today sees the start of the 12th Buddhafield Festival – the FWBO’s largest event outside India, and a much-loved part of many people’s lives. It was sold out over a month ago, with the 500 places for helpers (stewards, site crew, café, healers, and many more) full well before that.

The theme this year is “A LIVING MANDALA - the magic of community”, reflecting Buddhafield’s growing interests in both creating a large rural practice community and Deep Ecology.

Over the past years the Festival has become more and more of a meeting-place for Buddhists of many traditions, and this year it is hoped there will be people (and in many cases teachers) from the Amida Trust, the Network of Engaged Buddhists, the Network of Buddhist Organisations, Sokkai Gakkai, Gaia House, the Tigers Nest Dzogchen community, Vipassana, and others such as the ‘Meditation at Work’ project. This is in addition to many meditation and Dharma teachers from the Western Buddhist Order. In particular the FWBO's founder Sangharakshita is expected to attend for the first time and to give a talk, despite his advanced years.

Too much happens over the five days it’s on to ever list here, see some past Festival Eye reviews and check out the pictures from last year here or the dharma teaching to get some idea.

And book early for next year!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, July 10, 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.

Some happy news this week, filles et garçons! Now that we have the site up and running in German - Audio Buddhismus Kostenlos - and also in Chinese - 免费 佛教 录音 - we are delighted today to announce that we're able to extend our service further still with the launch of our new French language site - Audio Bouddhiste Gratuit.

As usual, this is the fruit of many hours of toil by various folk connected with Free Buddhist Audio, and this time the main shout goes out to Jayamuni, who has generously and patiently dedicated himself to the task at hand over the course of many months. May the merit be his!

Watch this space for a forthcoming announcement regarding the site in Spanish, and news of yet more languages to come!

Monday, July 09, 2007

FWBO News readership survey report

At the beginning of June we conducted our first ever survey of FWBO News' readership. We invited readers to complete a short on-line questionnaire telling us a little about how often they visited the site, what they liked about it, and so on - and of course inviting any comments. We linked this up with the basic internet statistics we get and are pleased to present our first readership report. Click here for the full report, or here if you'd like to add yourself to the Survey.

Labels: ,

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.

Labels: , ,

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!).

Labels: ,

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]

Labels: , ,

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)

Labels: , , ,

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...

Labels: ,

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".

Labels: , ,

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.

Labels: , , ,

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.

Labels: , , ,

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.


Labels: , ,

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...!

Labels: , ,

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.

Labels: , , ,

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

Labels: , , ,

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.

Labels: , , , ,

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.

Labels: ,

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

Labels: ,

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.

Labels: , , , , ,

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.


Labels: , , ,

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.

Labels: , , ,