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Sunday, March 07, 2010

Vajraloka Shrineroom gear offer

Balajit writes from Vajraloka, the FWBO’s Welsh retreat centre dedicated to meditation - with a great offer! He says -

“During 2009 Vajraloka ran a successful appeal to raise £2000 for a complete overhaul of our shrineroom gear. I'd like to thanks all the many people who contributed so generously to help us reach this target. After many years of use, the old blankets, mats and cushions have now been boxed up and are looking for a new home! Though the gear looks well used, with bits of filling spilling out on the odd item , they could still be of use to a centre or outreach group, with some needle and thread.

“Having supported people through thousands of hours of meditation, I’m sure they are well charged with prana and positivity!

“If you are involved in a group that could put such gear to immediate use please get in touch with me at

“In total we have 35 cushions, 23 mats, 9 foam blocks and 3 wooden stools. All we ask is that the recipient collects them, or meets the full cost of a courier. Remaining money from the appeal fund is going to support our ritual activities, in the form of some new devotional and musical items.


Details of their program of retreats are at - or check their Facebook page.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas at Clear Vision...

 Christmas at Clear Vision

Following up their post of a few days ago introducing their new website, the Clear Vision team, Aparajita, Munisha and Upekshapriya, have written with some suggestions for where you could buy your Christmas prezzies - from them! And why not...?

They say -
  • Children 4 to 8 years old are captivated by our Buddhist story DVD, The Monkey King.
  • The DVD What is Buddhism? (adults and young people 12 years +) could be the answer for someone interested in your Buddhist practice but unlikely ever to read a book.
  • Give someone a flavour of meditation with our DVD Meditation for Everyone.
  • Buddhist friends might enjoy receiving our new poster of Aloka's Wheel of Life.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Windhorse:Evolution faces the credit crunch; challenges ahead but morale high

Windhorse's warehouse in Cambridge, UKWindhorse:Evolution is the FWBO’s largest Right Livelihood, indeed the largest in the Western Buddhist world, with annual sales of UK £9million, an impressively ethical approach to business, and a wonderful record of giving dana to many many FWBO and TBMSG centres around the world.

However they, like the rest of the Western economy, have been hard-hit by the recent economic downturn. This report aims to bring readers of FWBO News up-to-date with what’s happened and what they’re doing. It is based on material from Ratnaghosa and Vajraketu.

Final figures are still coming in, but sales for the 2008 Christmas period look to be down some 20% on last year, both in their shops and wholesale division. As a result their best-case projection for 2008 is a loss of £150,000 – their worst-case projection is £450,000. Nonetheless, they are confident they have the resources to ‘weather the storm’ for a year – though, like most of the retail industry, it is presently a case of fighting for survival. The collapse of the pound has also hit them hard, with the cost of many of their goods rising by 25%.

The main measures they are taking are cost-cutting – specifically looking for savings in their wage and rent bills. These are in the spotlight because they are the ‘levers’ actually available to them. Out of annual sales of £9m, they have a wage bill of £3m and a rent bill of £2m. They have instituted a ‘hiring freeze’ and, with great reluctance, made their first-ever redundancies in the business. This has been especially painful for a business that prides itself on looking after its employees. Sadly, they cannot guarantee there won’t be more over the coming months.

A major consideration in the minds of the Windhorse directors has been the livelihoods of their suppliers. Due to Windhorse’s ethical trading policy, they often know exactly who they are buying from, and have had long-term relationships with them for many years. They know, for instance, that if they disappear the livelihoods of 200 people in Bali would vanish – and many in Kenya, Guatemala, and China as well. This is a strong incentive to them to survive, and even if the very worst happens and they go under, they are determined not to close owing their suppliers money.

The great stupa in the centre of Uddiyana, the Windhorse warehouseThis seems pretty unlikely though - morale in the business is actually very good: Ratnaghosa says its as though the crisis has brought out the best in everyone. A couple of unprofitable shops have been closed (in Shrewsbury and Norwich) – but they are still looking to open 3 new shops during 2009! This is down from their original ambitious plans to open 5, and the openings have been deferred to be nearer Christmas so they will move into profitability quicker – but its still a mark of their confidence.

Notwithstanding the difficult climate, and the very real challenges they face, Windhorse are looking to the future and are determined to come out of the recession both stronger and in an expansionist mood. Exactly how this will manifest is not easy to predict – forecasting the future, says Ratnaghosa, has effectively become almost impossible.

The photographs show Uddiyana, the Windhorse warehouse in Cambridge, and the great stupa in its centre.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Where have all your savings gone - and where could they be going?

This week’s Economist magazine carries the headline “Where have all your savings gone?”

If any UK or European readers of FWBO News are wondering the same, they might like to consider joining the ‘Dana Partnership’ the FWBO has had for many years now with the Triodos Bank .
Triodos describe themselves as “the UK’s most actively ethical bank”, and FWBO members in the UK have over three-quarters of a million pounds depositied with them. They pride themselves on their transparency, and it’s a delight to read their annual reports - which largely feature project after project in fields as diverse as nature, the environment, culture, social business, the arts, housing, and much more.
You can see their current list of borrowers at They have for many years been the lender of choice for new FWBO projects, financing many of the FWBO’s communities and Right Livelihood businesses.

Triodos has been conducting research among members of the UK public, asking how the recent banking crises have affected their relationship with their money. They report: “Following the Northern Rock crisis, 61% of those interviewed who have a banking product, said that they now wanted to know more about how their bank invests their money”.

Triodos have recently launched a new range of savings accounts - and there’s a free copy of the popular ‘Go Slow England’ book on offer to new customers. If you’d like to know where your savings are going, try looking into Triodos...! When you join there's an option to donate some of the interest payable to one or another charity - including the FWBO.

Although small compared to the high street giants, Triodos are a fully-fledged bank, describing themselves as “a fully independent bank and a pioneer of sustainable and transparent banking”. They say “Our mission is to make money work for positive social, environmental and cultural change. For Triodos Bank, banking has always been a matter of trust, transparency and a long-term relationship with our savers and borrowers...”

Anyone interested to read more around the mysterious topic of money is invited to read the fascinating ‘Mindfulness and Money’, written by two Order Members, Kulananda and Mahaprabha. Kulananda founded Windhorse Trading, the FWBO’s largest and most successful Right Livelihood business, and is now an honorary research fellow at Bangor University, where he teaches a module on Buddhist Psychology, while Mahaprabha lectures in Strategic and International Management at Britain's prestigious London Business School.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Abhayaratna Trust - relieving hardship in the Western Buddhist Order

the Abhayaratna Trust’s Founding Trustees:- Dayanandi (Chair), Jnanamitra (Secretary), Shantiprabha (Treasurer), Cittapala, Dharmottara, and Padmadhara (absent)The Abhayaratna Trust is a new and rather different FWBO charity. Instead of focussing on spreading the Dharma, its objects are “To relieve financial hardship among members of the Western Buddhist Order, particularly in the face of sickness, old age or disability”.

They say –
“The scope of this new Charity is to help members of our Order who find themselves in hardship due to poverty, particularly in old age, sickness or disability. The need may be particularly acute for those who have worked for a large part of their lives to bring the Dharma to others, either directly or indirectly, through the structures of the F/WBO, living on incomes which have not allowed for savings or pension.

“The vision is of Order Members helping each other through the transitions of life, in sickness and old age, eventually preparing for death supported by their friends in the Sangha.

“Donations to the Abhayaratna Trust will go directly towards helping individual Order Members in need, or to support relevant new projects or research. Through grants we hope to bring ease to the lives of Order Members in need, helping them to continue leading an active spiritual life within the Sangha for as long as they want to. Help might be given with cost of mobility aids or attendance on retreats, for items of practical or spiritual benefit – where other funding bodies are unable to help. We hope the providing of grants towards projects or research might encourage the initiation of projects of benefit to Order Members in need such as a Buddhist hospice or specially adapted community facilities”.

Sadhu Abhayaratna!

And they’ve just been granted Charitable status! They are delighted as this opens the door for them to receive donations, whether one-off, regular, or in someone’s Will. If you are interested in contributing, contact details are available here.

They hope to make the first of many annual Disbursements towards the end of 2009.

The photograph shows the Abhayaratna Trust’s Founding Trustees:- Dayanandi (Chair), Jnanamitra (Secretary), Shantiprabha (Treasurer), Cittapala, Dharmottara, and Padmadhara (absent).

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Windhorse:Evolution part IV: Dana in 2008 - and beyond...

This is part four of a series of four articles on Windhorse:Evolution, the FWBO’s largest and most successful Right Livelihood business, based in Cambridge, UK.

In 2007-8 Windhorse’s dana totalled a remarkable £265,229, all given away out of the profits of the business to a multiplicity of projects across the FWBO, TBMSG, and beyond.  Part IV of this series looks at how Windhorse makes its decisions, and exactly what they chose to fund last year.  There's the Dana Fund, the Growth Fund, the Legacy Fund, and the Social Fund. 

Just one, the Growth Fund, was able to give money to a new FWBO group in Freiburg, Southern Germany, for continuing the development of close-to-nature camping retreats in Holland and Belgium, for publicity and basic expenses for new centre in Düsseldorf, Germany,  for cushions, mats, etc for the new Buddhist Centre in Krakow, Poland and equipment and publicity for new FWBO centre in Leicester, UK.

In India it gave publicity and equipment for new city centre premises in Bhusawal, Maharastra, and a major new Indian Buddhist Youth project building on previous two years of the ‘National Buddhist Youth’ gatherings, funding for a second year to continue working with Tribal people in remote areas, also to sponsor gatherings of leaders from different caste communities in India, , for a major extension of TBMSG activities in North India - and last but by no means least, for underwriting the cost of two Order Membes visiting a woman mitra running FWBO-style activities near Ulan Bator, Mongolia.

Click here to read the full report - which also looks at Windhorse's plans for the future - which include a clear “Donations Warning!” for 2009 and beyond.

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