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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Jyotivana Women's Community in Manchester Unveils Beautiful New Shrine Cabin

Dayanandi writes from Manchester with news of the women community's new shrine cabin. She says -

“15 months ago it was the dream of the Jyotivana women's community here in Manchester to have a shrineroom where the community could meditate together. Our previous meditation space was an unheated attic accessible only via a loft ladder which ruled out Vidyamala from joining the others due to her back injuries and was unsuitable for Amitasuri in cold weather due to her kidney condition. (In fact several of the rest of us found it rather gruelling in the winter months!) The dripping & splashing from the water tanks in the roofspace was another issue - arguably a spur to deeper concentration but one I wouldn't be sorry to leave behind!

“The house was being used to maximum capacity with 7 in the community so the only solution seemed to be an outdoor shrine room in some sort of log cabin - probably too expensive for us to afford we thought.... But enthusiasm grew for the cabin and we decided to go for it, enlisting the help of the Sangha through fundraising. Munisha had the idea to hold Fundraising Buddhist Film Nights for the Women's Sangha .....and the rest is history... as they say! The first night we ate a delicious curry, dhal & rice and settled down to watch what turned out to be the first of many inspiring and enjoyable films. The majority of the £6500 that we raised to pay for the cabin came via these film evenings through the small and large donations that were received. But as a community we gained far more than the money for the shrineroom as the evenings were so enjoyable and the sense of support for us and our project so dynamic. We enjoyed welcoming everyone to our community and the ensuing 'explosion' of Sangha was quite amazing with between 20 - 30 women chatting away over dinner and settling down on our sofas for the film. The rumour had got about that we had a big screen for the films - which we did - a large white sheet pinned to the curtains, with a PowerPoint projector! It's amazing how we all fitted into the lounge.

“There were a worrying few months when, with the credit crunch, cabin prices soared but as Autumn came the cabins we'd been looking at on the Internet went on Sale and we decided to buy then even though we hadn't raised the whole amount. We picked the fully insulated version of a timber cabin, with double doors and a window....looking very like a Swiss chalet! (see photo!) Sona and Moksapriya quoted us for installing it. They had a free week in December - and up it went! They both worked long, hard and well as did various members of the community & friends in preparing the site and applying stain and varnish to the finished shed. Amitasuri provided the workers with coffee and bagels. She & Dayanandi also took photos from which Vidyamala has made a great film - soon to be available on You Tube!

“I should mention that we received a great boost to our fundraising when Vidyamala and Amitasuri were granted £750 between them from the Abhayaratna Trust to help fund their use of the cabin. This is a new Charity, set up to support Order Members to live a full life in the Sangha in the face of difficulty due to old age, disability and sickness.

“And so, on the 3rd January, four of us, including Vidyamala, set up a simple shrine and meditated in the cabin for the first time. It was such a lovely, clear space to meditate in, just bare wooden floors and walls with views out across the snowy garden to the woods of the Kersal Dale Nature Reserve. It was pretty quiet; a woodpecker knocking loudly on braches above us, some birdsong, a few cars on the road nearby. Later that day, with six of the seven community members able to be present, we performed a dedication ceremony to ritually inaugurate this beautiful new cabin and with it, I think, a new era in the life of Jyotivana Community!”

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Aryaloka Computer Education: profiling a Community and Right Livelihood Project in Nagpur, India

Dhammamitra Nagaratna from Kerala in South India writes with a great profile of a very successful grass-roots initiative in Nagpur, Central India. This is the ‘Aryaloka Computer Education and Community Center’, one of many TBMSG projects in the city.

He says -
“Our Aryaloka community and computer center is located in the middle of a thickly populated area called Laghuvetan Colony, nearly 5 kilometers from central Nagpur. Nagpur is a large city right in the centre of India, in Maharastra state.

“We are four members right now here in our small community, trying to adjust and live together with small available amenities. Each of us has some responsibilities in the computer institution which is in same building: we are working as computer teacher, instructor, receptionist. Also we are students learning some advanced computer courses (which are much expensive to afford by us in other places) as well as continuing our Academic Education. We get support as pocket money from the institution to meet our basic needs.

“It’s true that we are enjoying our life here, living in spiritual community, practicing meditation, trying to develop our friendship based on spiritual values - “to create a positive atmosphere in the society on the basis of humanitarian principles”. This is hard in the midst of India’s caste-ridden society. In order to achieve our vision we took our great opportunity to incorporate with this mission the ‘Aryaloka Computer Education and Community Center’.

“Thanks to Dhammachari Aryaketu (photo, right) for establishing the Institute and creating a situation like this. He has still so many innovative ideas to help flourish Buddhism all over the world. At present he is in UK visiting Buddhafield.

“Really speaking, this is also our individual mission, keeping what we have created as a role model and working in the future to create institutions in our own native places which are generally located in remote areas and towns. For that purpose we are here from different parts of the country, living together, trying to know each other’s culture, mental attitudes, etc. We are sharing and by responding sensitively we try to practice spiritually to be robust as well by doing some advanced computer courses like 2D, 3D Animation, Photoshop….and so on we could develop our creative and imaginative mind to make it more refined and focused.

“And pioneering like this we can help assure our Right Livelihood at present and in future to make success of our own life mission, to help and show the way for others too.  Please check our website at”.

Back at FWBO News we’re reminded of the three Aniruddhas in the Pali Canon, who live together in perfect harmony. The Buddha asks them “Aniruddha, how do you live thus?”, and they reply -

Venerable sir, as to that, I think thus: ‘It is a gain for me, it is a great gain for me that I am living with such companions in the holy life.’ I maintain bodily acts of loving-kindness towards these venerable ones both openly and privately; I maintain verbal acts of loving-kindness towards them both openly and privately; I maintain mental acts of loving-kindness towards them both openly and privately. I consider: ‘Why should I not set aside what I wish to do and do what these venerable ones wish to do?’ Then I set aside what I wish to do and do what these venerable ones wish to do. We are different in body, venerable sir, but one in mind".

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Archive photos from early days of FWBO now on-line

For the past two years Padmakara, an Order Member from Manchester UK, has been occupying himself in his spare time scanning hundreds and even thousands of historic photographs from the FWBO Archives, held by ClearVision.

Four collections of these have now been uploaded to the FWBO Photos website, covering-



and Team-Based Right Livelihood

We hope a further collection, covering the early days of TBMSG in India, will be added soon.  Further contributions are very welcome - please email FWBO News.

Any statisticians among FWBO News’ readership might be interested to know FWBO Photos
( currently contains 3,767 photos related to the FWBO, which have been viewed 70,002 times.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Windhorse:Evolution - the people...

This is part three of a series of four articles on Windhorse:Evolution, the FWBO’s largest and most successful Right Livelihood business, based in Cambridge, UK. The articles have looked at the ethos of the business and recent changes and challenges it has faced. Part III explores the experiences of some individuals working in it, while part IV (to be published on July 16th) will reveal the many projects funded by their current dana or generosity.

1.Gaining Confidence

Santosh Kamble (who has just been ordained, and is now known as Sanghanatha, 'Protector of the Sangha') works in the Windhorse:Evolution warehouse in Cambridge, known as 'Uddiyana'. He's from a small village in Maharastra, India, and this is his story...

"I came into contact with the Western Buddhist Order (known in India as TBMSG) in my childhood through the Asvaghosa project. They go from village to village, teaching drama, singing songs and telling stories to the most underprivileged children, to build their confidence. I went to those classes in my village when I was a child, and I loved the singing, drama and playing games, and I was inspired by their activities. They pick up some incidents from the Buddha’s life and tell a story or do a performance. Most of the songs are about the spiritual life. I made a connection with the teachers and Asvaghosa leaders, who are practising Buddhists involved in TBMSG".

Ten years later, and he's in Windhorse...  Click here to read more

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Windhorse:Evolution - a Buddhist business...

FWBO News is pleased to present part II of a series of four articles on Windhorse:Evolution, the FWBO’s largest and most successful Right Livelihood business, based in Cambridge, UK. The first article looked at recent changes and challenges it has faced, this explores the ethos of the business,.  Parts III and IV will examine the experiences of some individuals working in it, and some of the many projects funded by their current dana.  Most of the articles are taken from the W:E magazine, and are reprinted by permission.

Keturaja, Windhorse's Director of HR
Keturaja, Windhorse:Evolution's HR Director, talks to Tejasvini about some of the Buddhist flavours to be found at windhorse:evolution.  He says "Many of us have come to work at windhorse: evolution because we value working with other people who are inspired to practise the Buddhist path. Our ethos, and the five principles of the business are inspired by Buddhist practice..."

He goes on to talk of the renaissance in community living they are currently experiencing, and of the variety to be found between the dozen or more communities that are associated with Windhorse in Cambridge.  Also of their flexibility in paying people - and of the simple virtues - and challenges of living on their 'support package' as opposed to drawing a wage.  This is, perhaps, one of the most distinctive features of Windhorse and indeed the FWBO's 'team-based Right Livelihood' businesses generally.  As Keturaja says -

"...there’s a collective element in the practice of being on support. Most of support consists of allowances, which are just taken, but there are some elements that involve discussing one’s own needs, and I think that’s a useful reflection and clarification on needs and wants. We all have a relationship with money and how we use it, and quite a lot of our conditioning is tied up with our feelings about money. Somehow the support system draws out and reflects back one’s own conditioning in regard to it. Sometimes that can be quite challenging, but personally I have found that it helps make me aware of my own conditioning and deciding whether I’m happy with that conditioning or want to change it. For example some people find it difficult to ask about their own needs, and so the people involved in administering the support system practise being open and encouraging, helping people clarify what their needs really are".

Click here to read the full article

Part III will be published on July 14th. 

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Right-Livelihood Land Project in the North East (UK)

An aerial photo of Buddhafield's new land at Frog Mill, in the Dartmoor National ParkA group is forming in the FWBO's Newcastle Sangha to explore the development of a new land-based community and work project informed by the Dharma. The instigator of this group, Andy Parkes, writes:

“What do I mean by ‘A Right-Livelihood Land Project’? And he answers –

“A group of people brought together by specific common ideals, particularly:
• Dharma (movement towards an integrated lifestyle with more harmony between livelihood, community and Buddhist practice)
• Environmental Ethics (movement towards increased ecological sustainability)
• A wish to develop the above, by living and/or working on some land together

“A project like this is group-led and for that reason it is not possible to be specific about its nature. For example, we might buy, borrow or rent land. We might set up a charity, a co-operative or many varying businesses on the land. We may or may not live on the land, and we may each have different levels of input into this project. Personally, I would like to give my attention to the Dharma, growing trees, organic food, greenwood working, music, teaching, building a low-impact dwelling for myself and others, and being part of a community I can give to and receive from. We have different skills and will each bring our own emphasis.

Why ‘A Right-Livelihood Land Project’
“Dharma is precious! It feeds us, and points the way to spiritual freedom. Spiritual development and ecological sustainability require a sustained commitment that is often not understood and resisted by our society. Keeping our ethical precepts, preparing ourselves for practice is more challenging when the way in which we support ourselves is replete with subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) contradictions to our beliefs. Land is precious in as much as, it feeds us and unobstructed access to it can lead to a high degree of practical freedom, resulting in less consumerism, more sharing and a responsible relationship to the earth. With practical freedom comes the ability to develop an integrated lifestyle, in which all of our activities can be conducive to spiritual development (Dharma), supporting ourselves in an ecologically sustainable way, and supporting our Buddhist (Sangha) and local community.

“Initially the group will be about getting to know each other and our interests in light of this project, and to see if and how we want to work together as a group. The timescale for developing this project is over months and years. Consolidating the group may take a long time, so don’t be immediately discouraged if you are interested but feel unprepared.”

If you are interested in the project but live outside Newcastle, please feel free to contact Andy at:

The photograph shows Buddhafield's new land at Frog Mill, in the Dartmoor National Park.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

New article on FWBO News Features – Kamalashila on community

Following on from Akasati's article on Climate Change, “Community, Nature and Buddha Nature” is a new and thought-provoking article on the Features section of FWBO News. It's by Kamalashila, and looks at possible – and necessary - new patterns and paradigms for Buddhist communities in the light of insights gained during his 18-month-long solitary retreat at Tipi Valley in Wales.

It is also a call for people to come forwards and join him in establishing a new, large, ecological, practice-based Buddhist community in the West of England that would be large enough and spacious enough to include a wide diversity of practitioners – men and women, celibates and couples, children and elders, mechanics and musicians…

Kamalashila is currently on a four-month retreat at Guhyapati's mountain retreat centre in Spain, but is returning in March. You can contact him via FWBO News, who will be pleased to forward messages to him for his return.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Ty Brethyn - a new type of FWBO community

Ty Brethyn – the "House of Cloth" - is a large old wool mill set in the hills behind the Welsh town of Llangollen. The old mill wheel was partly destroyed in the Second World War by a bomb, and since then it has hosted many people and many businesses. There is one large house, part of which was the weaving mill, and several outbuildings with lots of potential for future development.

Now it has been purchased and is being renovated by a group of Order Members, and has become a new type of FWBO community. The house lends itself to being divided up into separate units but with connecting doors and some communal space. The property feels secluded, though it's only a 10 minute walk into Llangollen, which is on the A5 almost equidistant between the two FWBO retreat centres Vajraloka and Taraloka.

It is new for at least two reasons. First, it is a new style of FWBO community, with families and single people living together with a mixed population of men, women, and children – seven people in all so far, with more still to arrive. Given that everyone has had to move, sometimes hundreds of miles, to Ty Brehin, the residents have had to consider carefully how to earn their livelihoods – and have come up with some innovative solutions. Tejapushpa, mother of Jaya, is an acupuncturist, still practicing part-time in Manchester and she has just set up a new practice in Llangollen; Satyavadita (Jaya's dad) is busy renovating the property (the cost of this was built-in to their initial budget); Kalyacitta has recently qualified in garden design and has set up a new gardening business; Kathryn and Vibhuti are parents of Phoebe, and Kathryn is a Career Coach, working mainly by phone and Vibhuti a mental health nurse.

Second, it is new becasue it has a well thought-out ownership structure based on standard co-operative rules - which have, however, been carefully modified to suit their particular needs. They hope this may become a template for other similar groups around the FWBO. Legally it is known as the ‘Ty Brethyn Housing Coop’, but enshrined in the constitution is a short ‘mission statement’ and some ‘secondary rules’ which aim to ensure that the ethos and values remain Buddhist in the years to come. This has required some careful thinking-through of rights and responsibilities, with many complex issues having to be considered, eg what happens when children grow up or if one or more residents cease to be Buddhists. One ingredient in their formula is the role of ‘mentors’, or ‘Guardian Members', who are people who will be non-resident guardians of the ethos of Ty Brethyn.

The property, and the five acres of land surrounding it, has been purchased using a mixture of capital contributed in the form of loanstock by the residents and a short term loan from a friend (or supporter) which will be repaid after 18 months by taking out a mortgage. This too has necessitated careful consideration, in particular considering how people might get their money back should they wish to leave.

After much discussion the ‘exit terms’ have been clarified - members wishing to leave will get their capital back plus appreciation at a level set by the UK’s RHPI (Retail House Price Index) but capped at 8%. This and many other details took extensive homework and meetings spread over many months, the final details are still be thrashed out even though the property has now been bought and occupied. An important ingredient in their success was five days consultancy, paid for by a grant they obtained, from UpStart, a cooperative based in Somerset, who provided invaluable advice on how to modify the standard coop rules. They would be happy to provide further details of their legal structure - please contact FWBO News if you are interested.

FWBO News wishes them every success in their new life.

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