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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Transforming Self and World — the New Society, 40 Years On

Dhammaloka writes from the FWBO’s Dharmapala College, based in Birmingham UK, with news of an important seminar they’re planning for early April. They’ll be exploring the theme of ‘Transforming Self and World — the New Society, 40 Years On’.

The FWBO was founded in the 1960s with the creation of a ‘New Society’ as one of its founding ideals. 40 years on, it’s an international, vibrant, and diverse community of practitioners - but it hasn’t been an easy ride! Hence the subtitle to the event - “The Vision — The Lessons — The Challenge”.

Dhammaloka says -

“The Triratna Buddhist Community today wouldn’t exist in its richness, diversity and unity without the people who — from its very early days until now — have given themselves to the realization of Sangharakshita’s vision of a New Society. This vision of a society radically focused on spiritual growth and compassionate activity lies at the heart of our activities in the world. It is an incredibly challenging and inspiring project, working out in practice one of Bhante’s central teachings. In relation to it, people have found themselves full of hope and close to despair. We have much reason to celebrate our achievements and we must humbly acknowledge that all these are no more than a beginning.

“What is the vision — what were the lessons learnt — what are the challenges today? We invite you to find out with us. Through talks, discussion and questions & answer sessions, we will explore the vision and the challenges of transforming self and world in the 21st century.

“We hope to have Bhante with us for a morning or afternoon session”.

Here’s some more details -

April 1 (6pm) to 7 (2pm), Dharmapala College, Birmingham— open to all.

Speakers and themes:
o Subhuti: The Vision of the New Society and its Challenge Today
o Dhammarati: The Order — Individuals in Community
o Parami: The Nucleus — a Global Net of Friends
o Vajragupta: Messengers of the Dharma – the Gift of the Triratna Community
o Ratnaghosha: The Tantric Guru — Bhante’s Vision of Right Livelihood
o Keturaja: Work in Progress — the Windhorse Experience
o Subhadramati: Living in a Mandala — LBC and More
o Maitrisara: Meeting the Suffering of the World — Compassion in Action

Each speaker will be available for a separate question-and-answer session with participants of the seminar that is being offered in conjunction with the talks. There will be study and discussion groups to further explore the themes. The talks will be open to the public. The seminar, including the question and answer sessions will be for participants of the full event only.

All Dharmapala’s seminars are offered in the spirit of dana. They suggest a donation of £210 for this seminar — but add that if that is too much, please don’t hesitate to book. For accommodation however, they must separately charge £15/10 per night.

To book, send your details with a non-refundable deposit of £50 (cheques made out for Dharmapala College). To contact them, please send an email to or phone +44 (0)121 4493700. Their website is

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Saturday, May 09, 2009

New video of Sangharakshita available online - Networking the FWBO through videoUpekshapriya, from the FWBO's ClearVision video team, writes with news of Sangharakshita's recent talk in Birmingham, UK, given as part of their FWBO Day celebrations. He sys " You might want a heads-up that the talks from FWBO day in Birmingham are now on VideoSangha".

There's three talks, all around the launch of 'The Essential Sangharakshita', Wisdom Publications' new collection of Sangharakshita's writings.

Vidyadevi, the book's compiler, begins her talk by describing the difficulty of adequately representing in a book the "ongoing process that is Sangharakshita", an author who Wisdom describes as being “equally at home with science, philosophy, myth, art, and poetry,” and using “every inner avenue to communicate the timeless Dharma.”

Her talk is at

Subhuti, in his first public talk in the West for three years, rejoices in the "glittering but muddled heap" that has been bequeathed to us in the FWBO - meaning the sum total of Sangharakshita's output over the past 60 years of Dharma teaching and practice. He goes on to evoke the spirit of the times when the FWBO and Order were founded, when in the air there was a thirst for something new, for radical change - and Sangharakshita was there to meet it. His talk is at

Sangharakshita, in his talk, available at, expresses very eloquently his gratitude to Vidyadevi and others. He goes on to launch 'Living with Ethics', and offers a series of reflections on ethics and altruism.

VideoSangha hosts over 260 videos, long and short, related to the FWBO and Western Buddhist Order.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

An invitation: spend FWBO Day 2009 with Sangharakshita

April 6th sees the 42nd anniversary of the founding of the FWBO, and to mark the occasion the Sangha in the UK’s West Midlands invites you to join them and Sangharakshita for a celebration.  This’ll be held at the Birmingham Buddhist Centre on Saturday 11th April.
During the event there will be a launch of The Essential Sangharakshita, Wisdom Publications’ new book that describes its author as “equally at home with science, philosophy, myth, art, and poetry,” and using “every inner avenue to communicate the timeless Dharma.”
They say -
“Bhante will be joining us for the launch and giving a talk.  He will be accompanied by Vidyadevi (aka Karen Stout), who edited the text and who has worked with Bhante for many years, who will introduce us to the book itself. 
“We invite you to join us as we celebrate Bhante, his writings, the FWBO, and all these as expressions of the Three Jewels”.
The program is as follows -
Arrival from 2pm onwards.  It is fine to arrive earlier than this, but we might encourage you to help with the preparations!
2.30pm: Optional Meditation
4pm: Book launch of ‘The Essential Sangharakshita’ with talks by Sangharakshita and Vidyadevi
5.30pm: Sandwich snacks available
6.30pm: Puja and close

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Young Buddhists meet in Birmingham; more gatherings planned

Kev from the FWBO’s Birmingham Buddhist Centre sends us this report:

“We recently hosted a ‘Day for Young Buddhists’ in Birmingham. And what a fantastic day it was - people travelled from as far as Norwich and Leeds for what turned out to be a vibrant and inspiring gathering.

“The day began with a dedication ceremony and meditation, followed by four short talks by young people in the Sangha on the subject of ‘What inspires me’. From this simple brief came four very rousing and inspiring talks.

“The afternoon was left as open space for people to explore what was of particular interest to them at the time; this included discussion groups, 5 rhythms dancing, and drumming in the garden. This was all rounded off with a Bodhicaryavatara Puja to finish. A great day, and we’ve another event for young Buddhists on the cards for the summer”.

To help people contact one another, there’s a Facebook group “Young People in the FWBO”; this now includes a Calendar of events especially recommended for young Buddhists. It currently has 109 members from all over the world.

Next up is a similar day event for young people in Brighton, scheduled for 26 April.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Some members of the FWBO's Worcester SanghaThe FWBO’s Worcester Centre - formally known as the ‘Worcester Buddhism and Meditation Group’ - has celebrated the new year in style by establishing themselves in their first full-time centre premises. They've been able to rent a house on the outskirts of town that will serve as the focal point for their substantial sangha, and double up as a small community for some of those most involved.

Buddha in the back seat - travelling to a weekly outreach classFirst established by Vajragupta, Vipulakirti, and others in 2003, it’s one of a number of ‘satellite’ groups started over the past few years by the large Birmingham Buddhist Centre- and the first to find its own full-time premises.

So, for them at least, no more Buddhas travelling to the weekly class strapped to the back seat of the car!

FWBO News wishes them well in their new home – you’ll find more photos of this on Facebook.

The Birmingham Buddhist Centre also runs classes in Sutton Coldfield and Shrewsbury, and has just begun a class in Warwick.

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Happy Birthday Bhante!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Transforming Self, Transforming World in Birmingham

The giant Buddha mural in the Birmingham Buddhist Centre's cafe areaThe FWBO's Birmingham Buddhist Centre recently teamed up with local environmental-awareness groups to put on an event entitled ‘Transforming Self, Transforming World’.

The day included meditation, a workshop by Friends of the Earth on bio-fuels, composting for kids, lunch courtesy of the Birmingham chapter of ‘Food not Bombs’, recycled arts and crafts, Rob’s smoothie-bike, a showing of ‘The Power of Community’, a film & discussion based upon Cuba's creative response to having its oil imports cut. Padmakumara also led a workshop exploring Joanna Macy's ‘Work that Re-connects’.

As well as being a great opportunity for people who perhaps wouldn’t normally attend a Buddhist Centre to come along and get a feel for the place, it also helped to emphasise how Buddhist practice can give rise to a natural and spontaneous aspiration to contribute to the welfare of the world, an aspiration not characterised by fear and apathy but rooted in loving-kindness.

“It’s always so inspiring to meet people who work for our shared planet! A positive way to learn from one another and cooperate for a more peaceful and sustainable world!” Rianne Veen.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Relief - art exhibition in Birmingham

Following yesterday’s post featuring Valerie Witonska’s poetry, FWBO News has had news of a very different artistic exhibition by another member of the Sangha.

Mat, also known as Matnoo, from the Birmingham Buddhist Centre, is perhaps best described as a sculptor – his unusual artwork is made from precision engineered plastic using CNC equipment (computer numerically controlled equipment, to the uninitiated!)

His exhibition ‘Relief’, held in the Buddhist Centre, featured 10-15 pieces on a range of subjects including cartoon-like animals, portraits, Buddhist philosophy and also some interactive pieces, including a tardis-like box you could step inside and see endless reflections of yourself:a modern-day Vairocana’s tower...!

You can contact him at or by phone - work his number out from his poster!

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ongoing actions in support of Burma…

Events across the FWBO continue to be held to draw attention to the situation in Burma and build support for peaceful change there.

In Birmingham, around 70 people from the Birmingham Buddhist Centre – and others from Birmingham’s Inter-Faith Network - walked in a silent ‘yatra’ from the Town Hall along the main shopping street on a crowded Sunday. They gave out several hundred leaflets, explaining the situation in Burma and suggesting actions people could take in support of the Burmese people.

In Edinburgh, a group led by Kalyanavaca, the Centre’s Chairwoman, meditated in the City Centre, and gave out leaflets passing on Aung San Suu Kyi’s famous request to “use your liberty to promote ours”.

In Delhi, Maitriveer Nagarjun, an Indian Order Member, who is one of the core team for TBMSG’s Dhammakranti Project, helped organised a large public meeting at the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University where he is a post-graduate student. This was attended by Burmese survivors of the last military crackdown in Burma, and a signature campaign was organised calling on the Indian Government (one of Burma’s chief supporters) to cease investment until democracy and human rights have been restored to Burma.

In Poona, India, the Jambudvipa Trust, an FWBO/TBMSG ‘outreach’ project is contributing to discussions with the aim of organising a visit to Burma by senior Buddhist peacemakers.

Finally, Dayaratna, in Cambridge UK, would like to hear from anyone wanting to continue to support Burma, specifically by putting pressure on China, via the 2008 Olympics, to change its ‘hands-off’ policy towards the regime in Burma. Contact him if you would like to be part of this.

As Cait, organiser of the Birmingham Yatra, said, “We cannot know the outcome of our actions, but we hope that we have helped to keep the issue alive in the minds of those who saw us.”

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sangharakshita - FWBO Day

Sangharaskhita speaking at the 40th anniversay of the founding of the FWBOIt is a rare treat these days to be able to attend a talk by Sangharakshita and it was delightful to see him at his best celebrating the 40th annivesary of the founding of the FWBO at the Birmingham FWBO Centre on Saturday. While obviously quite frail of body these days there was no doubt as to the sharpness of his mind. In an hour long talk - with many digressions - he only consulted his notes towards the end in order to get a list "in the right order". For some people it was their first opportunity to see Sangharaskhita in person.

His talk began with the early days of the FWBO and the spirit of the times when he was starting out forty years ago. The first meeting were held in a small basement room in Monmouth St in central London, but soon things began to expand and after a few years the developments that we now associate with the FWBO - communities and right-livelihood businesses - began to come into existence. Had he tried to start a new Buddhist movement 10 years earlier he might not have found many receptive to his ecumenical teachings, and had he arrived 10 years later he would have missed the boat - the late 1960's seem to have been the best possible time to attempt what he did. Sangharakshita remarked that the present zeitgeist seemed to be more marked by materialism and individualism. One of the regretable changes he noted was the decline of interest in rightlivelihood, noting that Windhorse Trading had been not only a source of considerable funds, but an important training ground for order members. The talk would not have been complete without some "teaching" and so Sangharakshita, true to form, drew our attention to Francis Bacon (the 17th century philosopher) whose Theory of Idols he suggested might help us to see the errors which prevent us from understanding reality. He concluded by reminding us of the six distinctive emphases of the FWBO.

The people attending the event had come from as far afield as Southampton and the Outer Hebrides, and the Birmingham did an excellent job of accomodating and catering for the the crowds.

image by Roy Peters

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

FWBO Projects Receive Community Funding

The UK government recently announced the results of round 2 of the ‘Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund’, which attracted bids from over 1,200 UK faith-based organisations. The funding was given to “groups with practical solutions to build capacity among faith communities to support inter faith work”. The successful applicants were the Brighton, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, and Croydon FWBO Centres, the Clear Vision Trust, Dharmachakra (now known as Free Buddhist Audio), and the LBC’s Globe Community Project.

A full list of the 343 successful organisations is available online (pdf file). The fund is administered to the Community Development Foundation (CDF). FWBO News will be chasing up the recipients to find out how they will be using the money.

Story by Lokabandhu

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

FWBO Day in Birmingham

Sangharakshita will be giving a talk in Birmingham, UK for FWBO Day. This year is the 40th anniversary of the FWBO,the 50th anniversary of the publication of Sangharakshita's A Survey of Buddhism and the 60th anniversary of his going forth. Please contact your local centre to coordinate transport, and so that Birmingham are able to get some idea of numbers to cater for. The talk is titled "Looking back - and forward" and will begin at 4pm. A puja will follow.

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