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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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Monday, January 04, 2010

News from FreeBuddhistAudio - new Dharma training resources

FreeBuddhistAudio have written celebrating the completion of the new FWBO “Dharma Training Course for Mitras” - a substantial four-year course in Buddhism and meditation, designed primarily for Mitras ('friends') involved with the FWBO Buddhist community.

They say - “After two years of work by many people throughout the FWBO, led by Saccanama, the new Dharma training course is finally ready online!

“We think it's pretty marvellous – a consistent, fully referenced, fully indexed, professionally produced web publishing project to lend a new coherence to the study we do together as an international community of practising Buddhists. The course aims to give people in the FWBO a thorough grounding in Dharma study and practice. It also makes an excellent general course for anyone interested in putting Buddhist teaching into practice in their life.

“We hope you'll enjoy using it as part of your own Dharma adventures. Please let us know how you get on! You can view the full course here, download the official Guide, or listen to the launch talk and other special course resources now!”

There’s also news of two companions to the main course -

The Way of Mindfulness – a companion website
Kamalashila's wonderful audio and video meditation instruction site to accompany his module on the Satipatthana Sutta from Year Two of the Course. A labour of love in progress, featuring material not available anywhere else.

Towards Insight – Contemplations of the Buddha
This is another matching set of excellent guided meditations from Dayanandi and Ratnaguna. Here we are introduced to the practice of Buddhanussati – recollecting the Buddha by dwelling on his great qualities. The reflections are based on epithets for the Buddha from the Tiratana Vandana ('Salutation to the Buddha') and is one of the earliest of Buddhist practices.  Listen to the talk here.

Free Buddhist Audio is committed to providing free access for all. Your financial support is essential for building a strong community. Help us spread the Dharma throughout the world!

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Monday, December 28, 2009

New UK Dharma groups

Suddhacitta writes to FWBO News with news of growing interest in Dharma classes from the small town of Bridport, in Dorset on the south coast of the UK. He says -

“We have just done our first day retreat in Bridport. Alayasri and I were really happy that 10 people came for the morning, 7 stayed for lunch and 6 stayed for the whole day. It felt like a meaningful and enjoyable time. We did four lots of meditation, a couple of talks on Mindfulness and Samadhi and a little interactive session on the four levels of awareness. Generally we meet up bi-monthly on Sat mornings for a drop- in class.

“Hope all is going well for you. Keep up the good work. Suddhacitta"

Alayasri and Suddhacitta join a growing number of local FWBO groups around the UK - currently over 25 and growing.  You can find their full contact details on the main UK FWBO contacts page.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

FWBO Dharma Training Course now complete and on-line

More breaking news just spotted on Facebook -

Dharmachari Candradasa Dharma Training Course now complete! Two years in the making, a lot of work by a lot of people... 'Evolutionary Buddhism' is the final module to go live. Enjoy!

The FWBO Dharma Training Course is a four-year Dharma study course which aims to give people in the FWBO a thorough grounding in Dharma study and practice. It also makes an excellent general course for anyone interested in putting Buddhist teaching into practice in their life.

Find it at

The course was commissioned by the FWBO Chairs Assembly, and developed by Saccanama in conjunction with many Order Members who prepared individual modules under his guidance.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Letting go of letting go: a report from Sudakini and Vajralila

11 months ago Sudakini and Vajralila, two women Order Members from the FWBO’s Norwich Buddhist Centre, sold all their possessions and went forth into the homeless life. Their travels have taken them across the UK, to India, back, and over to America - from where they’ve posted a last report on their blog ‘The Cosmic Adventure’ .

We reproduce below some excerpts, focusing on the reflections that have arisen for them as they contemplate leaving the homeless life (despite their love of it) and returning to a more ‘conventional’ existence. For the full story, check their blog…

They write -

Letting go of letting go!
“We are in the end phase of the homeless life as we have known it for the last year now.

“… So now the trip is nearly over and we look back and think: how did we have the courage to take such a risk in selling everything and thinking the money we got (only 12,000 pounds in total) could take us very far. We never could have imagined we would have such a generous response that has enabled us to do what we have done "and yet..."(as Khajit would say). We saw a card the other day that said: "Take the leap and the net will come" ... maybe that says it all: a leap of faith.

“… So, as it has been such a rich time and Bhante seemed so interested in what we are doing, pleased with us even, we thought maybe we can continue this way of life in the UK. But it soon became clear that this was not to be. There would be no way of creating Dana in the UK and so we are having to think...what now? It has highlighted how there is no system or structure in the WBO to help practitioners try the homeless life, even for slots of time.

“… How does one deeply go forth, continuing to be a renunciant in the world? We are faced with the practice of letting go of being homeless wanderers, experimenting with a modern western version of the outer renunciant, and now considering what work and living situation will next best support practice... moving back to a life where the inner renunciant becomes more of the practice. Amongst other things, we have a wish to start FWBO activities where there aren't currently any, and Cornwall is a possibility. We also want to develop a livelihood doing workshops for women”

“… An area of contemplation here is how useful is it to call ourselves "teachers". We have heard the term used quite often here in the States to describe people offering classes in meditation and Buddhism... also the phrase "teachings" used quite a lot... there are a number of experienced and senior practitioners of Buddhism here, within a variety of traditions, who are leading retreats and offering courses and classes. But we have both felt uncomfortable with calling ourselves "teachers" in the Buddhist context, feeling it's a bit grandiose when applied to ourselves, and that "sharing practice" is a better term for describing our experience of leading events at Buddhist centres... but then again, if one has things to teach isn't it a fact that to share this with others is teaching! Semantics or stepping into what one does with authenticity?

Contact them (if you wish to) via the Comments feature on this site.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Launch of new FWBO Dharma Training Course for Mitras

In the FWBO and TBMSG, the first formal commitment people make to practice as a Buddhist is likely to be expressed in the Mitra Ceremony. Mitra is a Sanskrit word meaning 'friend', and in the ceremony the person declares their connection with the Three Jewels of Buddhism - their wish to become like the Buddha, to practice the Dharma, and to build friendships with the Sangha. In response, members of the Order do what they can to offer facilities to mitras across the FWBO, who now number several thousand.

For the past two years Saccanama, an Order Member living in Bristol, UK, has been working on a new Dharma Training Course for Mitras, and we are delighted to report that this has now been launched, to critical acclaim - indeed, its been described as "totally fantastic" by one delighted study leader.

The Course, which runs over four years including a Foundation Year, is a major re-presentation of the FWBO and Sangharakshita's approach to the Dharma, and for the first time has been professionally produced with source material, further reading, and teachers' notes.

The course is designed for weekly study in groups, but all the material is freely available for those not able to attend FWBO groups or centres.

It has its own permanent web address online,, though the files themselves are currently held on the FWBO's FreeBuddhistAudio site – click on the link above and it will take you straight there.

Saccanama introduced the course with a talk entitled " Giving the Gift of the Dharma", given at Padmaloka retreat centre, and available for anyone to listen to. He has also written ‘A Guide to the FWBO Dharma Training Course for Mitras’ which is now available to download from the website.

The guide includes a preface by Sangharakshita, who writes -

"Since the earliest days of the FWBO I have been concerned that men and women who attend our centres should be able to gain a proper understanding of the Dharma. I am therefore delighted that the new Dharma Training Course for Mitras is now available.

"The aim of the Course is to provide Mitras – those wishing to practise the Dharma within the context of the FWBO – with what amounts to a basic education in Buddhism. The four-year course (the first year of which is a foundation year) includes modules on the principle Buddhist teachings, both practical and theoretical, as well as on some of the more important scriptures and philosophical schools. There are modules on the Bodhisattva Ideal; on the nature of the Sangha or spiritual community; on faith, symbols, and the imagination; on ethics and the environment; on Buddhist psychology; and on the history of the FWBO. Though the new Dharma Training Course draws on the old Mitra Study Course, there is also much that is new, some of it specially written for the course. Moreover, there is a greater emphasis on the importance of putting what one learns into practice.

"A great deal of thought has gone into the preparation of the new Dharma Training Course, and a great deal of work, and I congratulate all those who were involved in its production. The course should be available at every FWBO centre, and I hope that all Mitras who wish to extend and deepen their knowledge of the Dharma will take full advantage of it.


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Monday, March 09, 2009

New FWBO Dharma Training Course for Mitras launched

Saccanama, creator of the FWBO's new Dharma Training Course for MitrasThe new FWBO Dharma Training Course for Mitras was launched on a recent Order Weekend at Padmaloka. This is an important new development for Dharma teaching within the FWBO.

The full course is four years long and comprises a Foundation Year followed by a three-year study program. The Foundation Year is based around the three declarations people make on becoming a Mitra: being a Buddhist; practising the Dharma; and participating in the FWBO. Each section contains material extracted from the Buddhist texts, Sangharakshita’s writings, and writings by other contemporary Buddhist teachers, backed up with reference material and teacher’s notes.

The course has its own dedicated website at, where the Foundation Year and part of Year 2 are now available. Subsequent modules will be rolled out over the next few months, and the whole course should be on-line by the summer.

Saccanama, the course’s creator, has been working on it for the past 18 months; it's a major new 'synthesis of the FWBO's approach to the dharma.  He launched it at Padmaloka with a talk entitled ‘Giving the Gift of the Dharma’, which you can listen on FreeBuddhistAudio here: 

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Introducing the Buddhist Recovery Network

This week’s featured website is

Created by the Buddhist Recovery Network, it exists to “support the use of Buddhist teachings, traditions and practices to help people recover from the suffering caused by addictive behaviors".

It’s not an exclusively FWBO site or project; we chose it because of its intrinsic interest and because a number of FWBO members and Order Members have been involved with it since its founding. In particular Lokapala (from New Zealand), Kuladitya (from the UK), and Guy Holden (from Australia) serve on its Advisory Council and Amara (from the US) and Dridhamati (UK) serve as its accountant and webmaster respectively.

The Buddhist Recovery Network describes itself, in its Mission Statement, as “Open to people of all backgrounds, and respectful of all recovery paths”, while being firmly grounded in Buddhist principles and practices.

As they themselves say “the organization promotes mindfulness and meditation, and is grounded in Buddhist principles of non-harming, compassion and interdependence.” And – as should be obvious – it’s international.

In fact, over the past year or so its taken off, with there new website playing a central role in their ability to provide resources for all those able to make use of them. There’s a substantial download library, including guidelines for setting up and facilitating recovery groups. Besides this, and outside of cyber-space, they seek to “serve an international audience through teaching, training, treatment, research, publication, advocacy and community-building initiatives.”

May their work be of benefit to beings…

To quote the great Buddhist poet Shantideva –

“As long as the existence of space
And as long as the existence of the world,
That long may my life
Be devoted to the world's sorrows.

“Only medicine for this suffering world,
May the teaching of the Buddha,
With all honour and glory,
Endure till the end of time.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Date for your diary: FWBO International Urban Retreat 2009

June 2009 will see the first ever International Urban retreat run by the FWBO. Urban retreats have been pioneered at a few FWBO centres over the past few years, and have proven both popular and effective.

The dates – set after consultation with FWBO Centres worldwide - are 20-27th June 2009.

All readers of FWBO News world-wide are welcome to take part, whether or not they are near an FWBO Centre.

The plan is for individual FWBO Centres across the world to run their own retreats ‘in parallel’ with one another, with some shared teaching from leading FWBO teachers, plus special arrangements for all those not living near Buddhist centres. We hope this will offer the best possible combination of local flexibility and international solidarity.

Typically an Urban Retreat starts with a day spent on retreat, if possible at the local Buddhist centre. During this, participants are encouraged to think about how they’d like to practice over the coming week – unlike ordinary retreats however, for the retreat itself they are not required to leave their normal homes or work. This means the urban retreat takes place within people’s everyday lives and it’s therefore a great way to bring Buddhist ideals more effectively into one’s daily life – whatever one’s daily life consists in.

Preparation on the day retreat will include things like becoming aware of what may help and what may hinder one’s practice, beginning to keep a ‘practice diary’ for the duration of the retreat, agreeing to ‘buddy up’ with someone to exchange notes on how things are going; and perhaps making arrangements to come to daily morning and evening meditations at the Buddhist Centre - and so on. Another important element is performing an “aspirational puja”, which includes chanting a mantra that can then be used through the week. At the end of the week there is another day retreat to review and learn for the future.

If you’re interested to take part, we suggest three things – put the date in your diary now (June 20-27th 2009); talk to your local Buddhist Centre if you have one to see if they will be taking part, and if not, keep an eye on FWBO News and also the FWBO Facebook page where more information – and contact details - will be posted nearer the time.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

FWBO Dharma Training Course for Mitras

Free Buddhist Audio
This is just a wee note to let you know about the launch of the first all new sections of the Dharma Training Course. Modules on 'The Sangha', 'The Buddha's Eightfold Path', and 'The Bodhisattva Ideal' are now live...

In case you're not familiar with it, the new course is designed primarily for Mitras ('friends') involved with the FWBO Buddhist community. It aims to give people in the FWBO a thorough grounding in Dharma study and practice. It also makes an excellent general course for anyone interested in putting Buddhist teaching into practice in their life.

The first parts of Year Two are now available online, with full references embedded in the study files themselves. We've formatted these files to print out for use in a study group, and also to make them easy to read, navigate and search on-screen.

The rest of the course is currently being developed by a number of members of the Western Buddhist Order. New modules will be made available as they become ready through 2008 and the beginning of 2009. Check out each year's page for an advance preview of what's in store, and to sign up for regular updates on new sections as they become available.

At present, the course is being hosted on Free Buddhist Audio, and you can access it easily from there too via the 'Study' section.

Happy faring...

with best wishes,

The Free Buddhist Audio Team

ps. The new site has been developed to enable a free service to be kept in place for all users. To help us keep the service free, please think about making a donation. Many thanks!

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Wildmind's 'Open Circle' launched; practical mysticism explored

Two new offerings from the FWBO’s Wildmind online meditation teaching site have recently come to FWBO News’ attention.

Their new venture, the ‘
Open Circle’ aims to offer participants – who may live anywhere in the world – the opportunity to participate in an ongoing online discussion forum exploring key Buddhist teachings and applying them to everyday life. Shrijnana, the Open Circle’s full-time facilitator, describes it as “part on-line book club, part Buddhism course”. What this means in practice is that each week discussions and activities are based on sections of Vajragupta’s book Buddhism: Tools for Living Your Life; besides simply reading the text there’s wide-ranging discussions, weekly exercises; opportunities to ask questions and share experience, and of course the guidance and feedback of a resident facilitator. The Open Circle doesn't assume that you are a Buddhist or that you want to be a Buddhist, but it does assume that you wish to learn something from the Buddhist tradition.

More details of the Open Circle are available on the Wildmind website and we should add that Wildmind have a policy that noone ever is ever turned away for purely financial reasons – so if their suggested contribution is not possible for you, contact them to see what they can do.

Alongside this, Wildmind’s latest newsletter is on the theme of ‘Practical Mysticism’ with, among other delights, their guest contributor, Zen teacher and author David Brazier asking the question “Are meditative experience and engagement with the world mutually contradictory?” and examining the false dichotomy of mysticism and engagement.

Wildmind, it’s worth pointing out, is far more than simply online meditation teaching: they offer courses on pain management, anger management, basic Buddhism, host extensive archives covering topics as diverse as book reviews, celebrity Buddhists, and meditation in prisons across the US. Explore the Wildmind website at your leisure...

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Friday, May 02, 2008

Free Buddhist Audio – New Community Site

Free Buddhist AudioWelcome to the news from Free Buddhist Audio,
the free download, podcast and streaming service from the Dharmachakra audio and text archives. To receive more regular updates on the site, you can always subscribe to our own blog.

We're absolutely thrilled today to be able to announce the full launch of our new community site! This represents a very big shift for our service: now any Fwbo centre or institution – anywhere in the world – can upload its own talks, and have its own pages on the site. We've already got quite a few signed up, and the first talks are appearing – in English, French and German! Come and take a look...

What's very exciting for us is that the amount of material on the website will increase greatly over the next months, and is likely to be much more up-to-date and representative of what's going on in our international community. It will also allow us at the archives to concentrate on getting a lot more of the older talks and special recordings online.

Watch this space for more news of new features as we roll them out in the coming months. And if your centre or Fwbo project would like to get involved, we'd be delighted if you get in touch!


One other piece of news: in April, Free Buddhist Audio had its first 20,000 visitor month! We've come a long way since the days of selling scratchy old cassette tapes to about 200 people a year... Thank you to everyone for their tremendous support!

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