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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

International Buddhist Youth Exchange program in Malaysia

Today’s story on FWBO News comes from India’s National Network of Buddhist Youth (NNBY) - just back from participating in the 2010 International Buddhist Youth Exchange program, held in Malaysia.

Chetan Meshram from Nagpur, central India, attended along with Vasitkumar from Pune. They say-

“Last week we have been in the Asean Youth Exchange at Malaysia. The WORLD FELLOWSHIP OF BUDDHIST YOUTH  (WFBY) organized the ASEAN INTERNATIONAL BUDDHIST YOUTH EXCHANGE (IBYE) 2010 which was hosted by the YOUNG BUDDHIST ASSOCIATION OF MALAYSIA (YBAM).

"We were representing the National Network of Buddhist Youth (NNBY) from India. Other countries which participated included Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, and South Korea.

"The main object of the programme was to promote development of leadership qualities among Buddhist Youth and also to strengthen Buddhist Networking across South East Asia.  The program was held in the Fo Guang Shan monastery. The theme of the event was “Joy, Fellowship and friendship.

"The 10 day programme was divided into four parts:

1) Home Stay Program
"International delegates were staying with Buddhist foster families for the first three days of the programme. Coinciding with the New Year and weekends, they had the opportunity to start 2010 in Malaysia, and also to feel and experience Malaysian lifestyle of living culture, food, sights and sound.

2) ASEAN IBYE leadership and Training Workshops:
"A series of sessions catering for the learning, contributing and tackling of current situations faced among youths in the Buddhist society, both local and international.

3) Malacca and Kuala Lumpur tour
4) ASEAN IBYE JFL Concert 2010

"We were able to make the other delegates aware about the concerns of Buddhist youth in India. Their social, economic and educational situations were discussed. Most importantly we communicated the revival of Buddhism and dynamics of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s movement. We both explained the aims, objectives, and mission of NNBY -

"The event created strong connections between those who attended. We hope these connections will contribute to the betterment of the youths in ASEAN and especially more widely in India.

"For more information and picture follow ASEAN IBYE 2010 in facebook.

"Thanking you".

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Copenhagen hosts joint first Danish-Swedish day retreat

Advayasiddhi writes from the FWBO’s small Danish Sangha with news of the first joint Danish -Swedish day retreat. She says -

“This Sunday saw the first event for people from both sides of Øresund - the small stretch of sea that divides Denmark and Southern Sweden. The day was held in Copenhagen where the (very small) Danish Sangha had invited people from Skåne to come and join them for a day of practice.

“Even if the numbers ended up low, the quality was high and we had a great day led by Advayasiddhi, meditating together and talking about the three jewels and about how we are part of a long lineage and a much bigger community.

"We ended the day with a small ritual offering our aspirations to the Buddha and sharing our merits with all beings.

“We hope to do another day soon, so let us know if you want to join”.

Check their Facebook group Buddhistisk Meditation to stay in touch.  There’s a more general introduction to Buddhism and meditation in Danish on their website

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Finding 10,000 rupees in Poland - an update from Sanghaloka

Two years ago Nityabandhu and others set up Sanghaloka, a new FWBO centre in Poland. Now he writes to tell us what it's like running it on a day-to-day basis...

He says -

“Rather than bore you with details of day-to-day events at Sanghaloka in Krakow I thought I'd tell you how it is for me to be running this place (with Sassirika, Santaka and others of course).

“It’s like finding a large banknote on the street (say 50 pounds, or 100 euro or 10,000 rupees). Suddenly one feels strangely and unexpectedly fortunate - owning a little fortune. The difference is that with Sanghaloka I feel like that almost daily.

“The greatest pleasure is meeting the people that come and getting to know those that stay and come regularly. Sometimes I don't feel like doing the admin or updating the website, or even teaching meditation or co-leading courses with Santaka. But once I start these things are so incredibly rewarding that it does feel like finding whole bags of money on the street.

“I can't think of doing anything better with my life - I can only think how to do better what I - what we here - are already doing.


The Sanghaloka website, is actually a substantial Polish Dharma resource - and there’s more, on meditation, on the Polish edition of the Wildmind site,

The photographs are from recent Sanghaloka retreats in Poland.  Nityabandhu is in the centre of the top photo.

Sadhu! - and “Przyjaciele Zachodniej Wspólnoty Buddyjskiej” (as they say in Krakov!)

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Subhuti in India December 2009

Following yesterday’s report of Shakyajata’s Indian travels and Dhamma work, today FWBO News brings you an update on another Order Member's work there. Subhuti is one of the Order’s most active Dharma teachers; he is currently in India on a six-month teaching visit, criss-crossing it North South East and West... FWBO News has recently stumbled across his Facebook page and brings you a digest of some of the stories there.

They’re posted on the FWBO Features page at click to read...

For more news of Subhuti, we’d recommend you become a ‘fan’ of his Facebook page

The reports were written by Dharmashalin, Subhuti’s secretary and travelling companion.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

December in South India: news from a Dharma tour

As Christmas approaches, spare a thought for Shakyajata and Priyadaka,  two Order Members from the UK, both currently touring India and visiting many of TBMSG’s most remote ‘Dhamma outposts’, small projects in remote areas, mostly initiated by gradates from Nagaloka.

She says -

“Well, where to begin? We have been travelling for nearly five weeks now, and every day is packed with impressions, a rollercoaster of unfamiliar experiences. Both of us are showing symptoms of overload (poor sleep, strange dreams, loss of short-term memory etc) so have decided to spend a few days here in Kerala, meditating and chilling out - we have just spent an entire day at the beach!

Before that we were in Hyderabad, where we arrived having survived a rather trying train journey from Bhubaneshwar in Orissa... there were MICE! The situation in Hyderabad could not be more different from Orissa, a remote place where there are a bunch of young mitras full of enthusiasm and inspiration; here TBMSG is much more established.

We visited a very famous site, Nagarjunakonda, an amazing place. Up to about the 5th century CE, this remote, peaceful valley of the ancient river Krishna, was a huge Buddhist monastic settlement, with many monasteries, stupas, viharas etc; then as everywhere in India, Buddhism became overlaid by Brahmanism and eventually disappeared. Then in the 1950s it was decided to build a huge dam, for much-needed irrigation for the peasant farmers of a huge area of Andhra Pradesh. The whole valley was set to be drowned; but a remarkable Indian archaeologist completed an excavation of the whole huge area, in just 6 years. Now the site is a vast lake (the dam is staggeringly huge) with an island where all the artefacts are displayed in a museum, among beautiful gardens and a setting like a Japanese ink-painting.

The Buddhist artefacts are amazing, not quite like anything I have seen before; including large standing and sitting Buddhas with strong faces of a different ethnic appearance from northern Buddhas, and unusual mudras (hand gestures). The site finds go back to the Old Stone Age, so much to take in...and we only had an hour!

The heroine of this stage of our journey is Jnanajyoti, who is making great efforts to connect and reconnect with women she knows in the Sangha here. I do hope they will continue to be supported in future, by TBMSG and the FWBO as a whole. Also great thanks are due to Padmavir who is trying to organise good things for us and, it seems, lots of other visitors at the same time! It's great to witness a revival of the ancient Buddhist traditions in Hyderabad, in a new form which will transform the lives of people here.

Kerala, on the western coast of South India, is hot and humid, quite tropical, and very beautiful, generally cleaner and more sorted than other parts of India.

Today, meditating on the beach, it came clear that there are women here I especially want to help.
In fact we have lots of ideas for projects we want to pursue. We have had a number of successful (if rather stressful) 'programmes' and there is so much interest in people, in what we have to offer. Spending a day or 2 as a 'tourist' has made me realise what it is I love about being here - it is a sort of glow on people's faces when they realise what their potential is for a different way of looking at their lives - that brilliant gleam of human potential, it's the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

And people are so friendly and responsive - a few days ago I found myself talking (to about 100 people) about my brother Asangasila's death (it was the anniversary) in just a natural way...they are so open and uninhibited. In Kerala we have spent a lot of the time with Ratnasiddhi, an Indian Order Member from Nagpur who is very impressive. He connects with people in a way we never could - I said something that inadvertently offended someone very politically militant at a meeting, and he fielded it so expertly. We are learning so much - Priyadaka is revealing a particular talent for teaching meditation, making it simple and appealing and very effective - to a group of 150 people including lots of babies, on one occasion!

Return to Nagpur
On Saturday morning we are going about 150 km north to stay with one of the Indian Dhammamitras in Kerala, who is going to show us some historic sites and put us on the train on Monday morning, to go back to Nagpur in central India, where we shall be based for most of the rest of the time here. This is a bit of a cliff-hanger as we do not have a confirmed reservation yet....our previous experience of this was not positive, we had no space to sleep...the journey takes 2 days and a night, so wish us luck...but it should be an exciting journey, through half of India....time to go now.

Any support you can give will be most welcome, on ... and thanks to you all.

love to all,
Shakyajata and Priyadaka

The map above shows most of TBMSG's groups across India; their website is at

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Friday, December 18, 2009

New Turkish Dharma website launched

Order Member Vajracaksu has been living and working in Istanbul for the past 6 years, slowly establishing Dharma and meditation classes there, plus offering sessions in “Living Well with Pain, Illness & Stress” courses via Breathworks.

He’s recently launched a new dual-language website ‘Farkindalik Meditasyon’ (meaning, ‘Mindfulness Meditation’), plus a couple of videos of him leading simple meditation-based breathing exercises. You'll findhis videos on
Videosangha or just click below…


‘Farkindalik Meditasyon’is at (Turkish) or in English.

He writes to say "By the way, I’m sure this’ll interest you: I’ve broken out of Istanbul! About a month ago I led a 3.5 hour meditation workshop in Ankara that went very well, 7 women came and left peaceful & happy. I plan to return in 2 or 3 months time and this time attract 1 or 2 more people. Whenever I write to FWBO news again of course I’ll mention it! Kind wishes, Vajracaksu"

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Dhamma travels in India

Shakyajata is a woman Order Member from Manchester, turned India traveller and supporter of the many graduates of TBMSG’s Dhamma and Social training programme at Nagaloka in central India. Since the programme started 8 years ago some 400 young men and women from all over India have graduated; many have returned home to begin Dhamma groups where they live. She and Priyadaka, also from the UK, are currently on an extended tour visiting many of them in their home towns and villages. She’s fundraising as she goes, and FWBO News readers are warmly invited to contribute to her fundraising page

She writes -

Dear all,

Here is an update of what I shall be doing in India this winter, all being well. The best news of the lot, is that I shall be travelling most of the time with Priyadaka, an old friend, India returnee, energetic idealist and very experienced fundraiser, to name but a few of his auspicious is that?

Our plan, in roughly chronological order, is:

Nagpur, central India: Aryaloka Animation students, 2nd - 7th November
We hope to be able to assess the success of this experiment in giving this training to 10 ex-Nagaloka Training Institute trainees, 6 of whom are fully supported by our fundraising efforts.

Orissa, north-eastern India - Dhamma Work, 8th - 22nd Nov.
We shall be travelling round this state where there is a lot of poverty and very little in the way of specifically Buddhist activity; the ex-NTI trainees here are focusing on social work, and we hope to devise strategies to support them in future. and raise their profile. Jnanajyoti and Tejadhamma will be with us, plus Utpal, Trinath and Nagavajra and others, who are doing the work on the ground.

Hyderabad, south India - 23rd - 28th Nov.
We hope to be able to meet up with Padmavir, late of NTI. Also I hope to pick up on some of the women who were contacted on previous outreach projects to Hyderabad. And do a bit of chilling-out in fascinating places!

Thiruvanathapuram and Kollam, Kerala, south India - 30th Nov - 11th Dec.
A short, but rather full programme of activities in Trivandrum with Nagaratna and others, joined by Ratnasiddhi for some of the time. We hope to spend time at Abhayaloka in Kollam, with Binoj Babu and others, and give everyone help where we can, with fundraising and publicity, for example.

Nagaloka, Nagpur, 14th Dec. - 13th Jan.
This part of the programme is still under negotiation, but will definitely include the 'launch' of the Buddhist Comic produced by the Animation course students, which we hope will be a successful fundraiser and focus for their first self-supporting efforts. We hope to do some teaching, myself on the mainstream curriculum at Nagaloka, and Priyadaka probably teaching English at Aryaloka Computer Education (where the A.C. course is being taught.)

Wardha, 14th - 21st Jan
We will both be on the team of a BIG retreat, maybe 1000 people, for 'Dalit' (marginalised) people, led by Saddharaja. Two-thirds of the retreatants are expected to be women. Check their fundraising page at

Our aims
This rather diffuse-looking programme will be unified, we hope, by the following long-term aims; "to support young people from disadvantaged ('low-caste') communities throughout India, so that they will have the skills and confidence to bring about radical positive change for their communities: overcoming poverty, prejudice and ignorance by peaceful means."

Your support will be most welcome, financial but also encouragement, thank you. Our fundraising page is at

Just to bring you up to date - I’m writing this from extremely hot and steamy Orissa. It actually rains from time to time, then it gets hotter and steamier - but I'm not complaining, Orissa is very beautiful, and we are doing things I love, with lovely people.

For example, this afternoon we visited the State Museum, Bhubaneswar, mainly to view local Buddhist artefacts; and maybe predictably, that section of the museum was closed for renovation. And in that Indian way, they let us look at the stuff anyway. There were some amazing images, - including a terrifying Tantric one of a kind of gruesome animated corpse holding a severed head - but many of them appeared to have been quite brutally defaced by some past holocaust. Orissa is strongly orthodox Hindu, and our friends here work against a lot of resistance to their Buddhist values. They are mostly young and inexperienced, and we are here to find out what sort of support network can be given to them.

In the museum, I wandered into the 'tribal section' with Trinath, who is our main organiser here, and it was absolutely delightful. He comes from a village family in Western Orissa, and was brought up in quite a traditional way; and many of the objects on display, were just like things used by his family. His grandfather made this sort of basket net to catch fish, he used to wear this sort of hat woven of leaves; and best of all, he is very interested in music, and a very good mimic, and he imitated the sounds of all the strange instruments we saw, and even knew how to make them; like a personal audio show, and it was so good to see how he came alive, in contact with his own history. I felt so privileged to share that.

Spending time with these young people who are so dedicated and kind, despite their struggles, is a sheer delight; and my Order member friends too. Tejadhamma (from Nagpur) is full of energy and enthusiasm, seems to be able to handle any situation, and is full of good ideas to support the mitras in future. Jnanjyoti (also from Nagpur) is a rock, a terrifically strong woman and a great role model for the girls and women we are meeting here. I shall miss them so much when we part (quite shortly), and I am so grateful that Priyadaka (from east London) will still be with me. He is so supportive and thoughtful, and gaining in confidence (eg in public speaking) all the time, and forming good friendships with the young guys here; they tease each other unmercifully, a very good sign.

There is so much I could write about, but this may have to do for now....we are all pretty well, I am fine, and just very happy to be here. At the weekend we will have a two-day retreat for the mitras, to try and give them some tools for their work here. Then we are off to Hyderabad, next Monday; more from there later.

best wishes to all,

Shakyajata and Priyadaka

PS - do check our  fundraising page!

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Russian Dharma website launched

Suvannavira, a Russian-born Order Member writes with news of a major new Dharma resource for Russian speakers. He says -

“I do have one news item for you from Russia. There is a new Russian FWBO website - - which has just gone live. It is a stylish and substantial site with four complete books translated into Russian plus 300 or more pages of the first year of the new mitra study course.

The four books are:

"Vision and Transformation" -путь-будды.html
"The Guide to the Buddhist Path" - soon to be available
"Who is the Buddha" -кто-такой-будда.html by Bhante Sangharakshita
"Meditation" -медитация.html by Kamalashila,

"The study material is atучебный-курс.html; and there's samples of the artwork of Aloka and Chintamani atизображения.html.

"Saddhaloka masterminded both the creation of and the publishing project, with help with Russian from Nagadakini from Germany. The website itself was designed by Taivo Org from Estonia.

“The site joins two other FWBO websites in Russian - the main “” site introducing the FWBO, at; and свободный дух, or the Russian version of Wildmind meditation teaching, at

"As well as making available a large number of Buddhist texts on the web for Russian speakers, and the other sites will provide a valuable way for Order Members to make known their teaching activities in Russia. Saddhaloka, Nagadakini and Sarvamitra have all visited and taught in Russia, and early in 2010 I myself, Suvannavira, plan to live again in Moscow and start teaching activities.

“Much metta from snowy south Estonia,

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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, November 13, 2009

Report from International Dhammakranti Retreat at Buddhagaya

Rohan from India’s ‘Dhammakranti’ project sends us this report of their recent retreat at Bodh Gaya, place of the Buddha’s Enlightenment and pivot of the Buddhist world.

‘Dhammakranti’ means ‘Dhamma Revolution’; their vision is a revival of the Buddha’s teaching across the length and breadth of India, and thus, the establishment of a truly caste-free society in India and an end to the appalling suffering this system still causes. He says-

“We have been organizing the Dhammakranti retreat for last seven years; this is the eight one in a series. Over last seven retreats nearly 8,500 people from 15 different states and from 20 different caste backgrounds have participated, we have tried to give to each an experience of a casteless society based on Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. This is one of our main aims.

"This was the fourth Dhammakranti retreat we have organized at the most holy and auspicious place Buddhagaya in Bihar, India.  It took place 18 Oct to 23 Oct 2009.

Our aim

A. We wanted to set up a model for a casteless society. This would work as an inspiration for people in India who are working to annihilate the caste system as per the vision of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar.

B. We wanted to give an experience of a compassionate community of a wide variety of people coming from all many different parts of India and around the world.

C. We wanted to create an opportunity for people to interact with each other from different caste backgrounds and meet one another deeply enough to experience the unity and harmony between each other so that the habit of seeing people as higher or lower vanishes.

D. We decided to use Buddhist teachings as the major components of the retreat.

E. We wanted to revive a Buddhist culture in India

We brought together people from 7 different states in India - Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab, and 4 Countries in the world - India, Britain, Thailand, New Zealand. This allowed us to have a real international flavor on the retreat.

We allowed 75 people to come free on the retreat, they were from various poor backgrounds specially from Bihar and Orissa. This helped them to build their confident and have the chance to interact with other Buddhists.

"All together 200 people participated in this retreat.  Dhammachari Subhuti was the leader of the retreat.

Talks and events

"We had an inauguration program on 18th evening where people from different countries and states introduced themselves in a group with their cultural background and won the hearts of many people.

"The main theme on the retreat was The Buddha Mind and the Five-Buddha mandala. Subhuti gave talks every morning. We explored the Buddhas by visiting the Maha Bodhi Temple everyday and reflecting on the five Buddhas, meditation, group discussion and communication exercises. Walking meditations also helped us to go deeper in to the theme.

"At the end of the retreat we had a mitra diksha (mitra ceremony) under the Bodhi tree. In this, seven brothers and sisters from four different states and two different nations expressed their strong commitment to the three jewels. As part of this, Dhammapali is the first Thai mitra we have in our movement.

Coming up - and our request to you
"Our next retreat we are going to have is in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, in December. We would like to get your generous help for this great cause.

"Please visit or; your support will help us to do the Buddhist uplift in India.

"Namo Buddhay and  Jai Bhim to all!"

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Friday, October 09, 2009

September Serendipity Tour in Sri Lanka

Ujukarin, a Dutch member of the Western Buddhist Order, reports from Sri Lanka and their “September Serendipity Tour”. Proof that spreading the Dharma can be a lot of fun! He says -

“Below are my humble experiences from the last two weeks in the beautiful tropical island called Sri Lanka. The dominant memory coming to my mind is of a real team of spiritual friends, as we travelled together for most of these two weeks. At times we felt like the ‘one for all and all for one’ of the Three Musketeers, or like the Aniruddhas from the Buddhist suttas. Sometimes of course we needed to correct each other, and in one hilarious situation we almost split over two buses each going in opposite directions!

“But generally we had a lovely balanced distribution of tasks: Prajnajit as the Master of Mantras and Puja, Saddhavira as the Meditation expert and myself as the humble Dharma study contributor. Which did not prevent us from switching roles at times: Prajnajit was asked to explain quite a lot about Indian Buddhist culture, and on-the-spot we created new Reflection Meditations - e.g. with a Tara-Mara duo. But most special credits for this tour go to our dear friend Prajnajit, who now has proven to have more Sraddha (devotion) than Saddhavira and more Uju-power (uprightness) than Ujukarin!

“During the trip we conducted two separate mitra ceremonies, both long awaited; welcome to Chaminda and Devaraj into the mitra sangha! They happened during the more formal activities: two day retreats in our relocated Colombo centre (now in Moratuwa), and a weekend retreat at Sagaraloka, Saddhavira’s retreat centre on the Unawatuna beach. Along with this we did a five-day ‘road trip’ trip all along the island, with journey legs of up to 10 hours - this led to quite a few one-to-one meetings and three talks to larger audiences.

“So you might ask, what are the ‘results’ of this? Well that’s always hard to say with Dhammadhuta work, because even a new mitra is not necessarily the result of any effort from the Order  . But we laid plans for quite a few new activities, including corporate Mindfulness trainings. I was especially pleased to see that the negative prejudices against India which many Sri Lankan Buddhists have were proven wrong one by one when they met Prajnajit. Also study and ordination training visits to India by the Sri Lankan mitras are clearly on the rise, especially now that everyone has met an Indian Order Member in person. So again LOTS of thanks to Prajnajit, Saddhavira and all others involved in this wonderful trip!

“There’s some more photos on Facebook if anyone's interested.

“With folded palms,


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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Exchange visits in Sri Lanka

Ujukarin, a Dutch Order Member who is a regular visitor to Sri Lanka, writes on behalf of his friend Prajnajit. He says -

“This fall 2, or even 3, reports for FWBO News are planned by me. But the one below is really from Prajnajit, I just acted as his scribe and he personally added material to the text and reviewed some things.

With the usual folded palms,

Prajnajit says -

"My name is Prajnajit, and I am a member of the Western Buddhist Order coming from Maharashtra in India. In my long involvement with TBMSG (as we call the FWBO in India) I have had several duties and developed various talents; the latest was publishing a poetry book in the Marathi language at this spring's Order Convention. At present my base is Goa, in southwest India, where I work for our Bahujan Hitay boys hostel and help in our small Dhamma centre there.

“But now, on the invitation of Saddhavira, I am on a new venture, helping out with our 'neighbours' of Sri Lanka. And I must rejoice in having encountered real teamwork and spiritual friendship with Saddhavira, working closely together for the last weeks. I have now completed my first month here, and will stay until late October; just today our friend Ujukarin has arrived and started helping for 10 packed days also.

“My activities here have centred around our 2 bases: Unawatuna (on the south coast, shown in the photo opposite) and in the Colombo area. I've met many people, both existing mitras and friends and many others interested in hearing about Dhamma. Usually I tell them about India and my limited knowledge of Dhamma, and do puja with them and teach some mantras. Through these people and through some books I study the social system of Sri Lanka, which is both similar to and different from my own India.

“The situation also has this partial overlap: most friends and students in India are from lower classes (although the last 10 year we worked hard to get more and more exceptions to that rule); whilst here in Lanka I am meeting much more students and high-class Westernised intellectuals. But here too, I think people's knowledge of Buddhism is often too superficial and we need hard to practice. I am also thinking that if we offer education here (like we do in India), this social work might attract people and then bring them into more Dharma interest.

“I have now experienced village life also, because friends invited me to a village near Unawatuna; and yes, village life here is quite different from city life. Also I stayed for a few days in a Vihara in the cool hill country, with a few befriended Bhikkhus. I notice that people here are treating the Bhikkhus like in India the Hindu priests are treated!

“Next to the Tamil Kovil temples I also saw quite a few Hindu temples (Devalas) integrated with Buddhist temples; and it's especially terrible for me to see that in the temple of Buddha there are so many (Hindu) gods and goddesses depicted. People pray to them together with the Buddha; it seems that if there was no ‘deva’ image in a temple then we would offend the local Buddhist devotees!

“In September I will tour 3 cities in 4 days, together with Ujukarin and Saddhavira, and conduct some talks and day retreats, again broadening our impact on society and deepening my knowledge of it. And maybe (maybe!) there are chances of me returning later for a longer stay in this lovely country, now already I feel a closer cooperation coming between these two neighbouring Sanghas.

“Yours in the Dhamma, Prajnajit"

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Friday, August 28, 2009

The FWBO in Canada - an update from Ontario...

There’s two FWBO groups in the big wide country of Canada - one to the west, in Vancouver, and one to the east, near Toronto. Harshaprabha sends us this report from the eastern side, specifically the city of Guelph, in Ontario, near Toronto.

He’s a UK-based member of the Western Buddhist Order who has for many years been visiting Canada and working with locals to build up their group.

Harshaprabha writes -

“I made another visit to Guelph in June this year. It was a joy to meet old and new friends both at the weekend event I led and at other times.

“The weekend involved five sessions of two and half hours each, all based on Subhuti’s book ‘Buddhism for Today’. Each session had an introduction to either the Metta Bhavana or Mindfulness of Breathing, a tea break, and then a short talk followed by discussion. The themes were - The Buddha; Going Forth; Buddhism and Life- Ethics, Buddhism and Death; Sangharakshita, Founder of the FWBO; and finally Ritual and Devotion in Buddhism. The most attending a session was 14 and the least 4 including myself.

“Guelph was blessed with beautiful weather that weekend which meant many were enjoying the warmth of the sun after a long cold winter.

“The biggest piece of news is that a week after I returned to UK, my Canadian friend Cameron Clark (Cam) came over from Guelph to Britain for a two-week stay. Cam was encouraged to come when I offered to pay for his retreat and some of his UK travel.

“This I could do from the funds donated on the FWBO Ontario fundraising website :-

“During his stay Cam visited our Ipswich and Colchester Buddhist Centres, was given tours of Suffolk and London by Bodhivamsa and Chris Petts, and attended the Padmaloka Summer Retreat. The latter really had a profound effect on his spiritual understanding, practice, and appreciation of the Three Jewels. The night before he left for Canada Cam attended the latter part of Dharma Day at the new Ipswich Buddhist Centre, which he had helped to renovate during his first days in the town”.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

new FWBO Centre in Mexico

Akasavajri writes from Mexico with news of Buda Mandala, the new FWBO Centre in Mexico:
The greatest thing that the Buddha has done is to tell the world that it cannot be reformed

except by the reformation of the mind of man... and the mind of the world. Dr. B. R.

If you were sufficiently alert, active, inspired, and dedicated, and if there were a number of

you working together, perhaps you could exert a substantial influence on whole societies in
different parts of the world... Urgyen Sangharakshita

Beyond ourselves, on the frontiers of being and becoming, a more living life claims us.
Octavio Paz
A few months ago, a number of us, members of the Western Buddhist Order based in Mexico City, started meeting on a weekly basis in order to explore the possibility of opening a new FWBO centre in Mexico City, an idea put forward first by Dharmacari Mokshananda and by other friends in the Order. Later, in August 2008, Urgyen Sangharakshita suggested to Jnanadakini that a new FWBO Centre in the south side of the City would be ideal given the context and developments in Mexico. For that purpose we formed the collective Buda Mandala, which at present includes Dharmacari Kavindu and Dharmacarinis Jnanadakini, Saddhajoti and Akasavajri.

Why opening a new FWBO centre in Mexico City? 
Some facts. Mexico City is the capital city of Mexico It is the most important economic, industrial, and cultural center in the country; the most populous city with over 8,836,045 inhabitants in 2008. Greater Mexico City (Zona Metropolitana del Valle de Mexico) has a population exceeding 22 million people, making it the second largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere and the third largest in the world by population according to the United Nations.

The majority (90.5%) of the residents in Mexico City are Roman Catholic, a higher figure than the national percentage, even though it has decreased over the last decades. However, many other religions and philosophies are also practiced in the city: there are many different types of Protestant groups, different types of Jewish communities, Buddhist and other philosophical groups, as well as atheism. Buddhism in Mexico possesses a minuscule demographic presence. Approximately, only 108,701 Buddhists are counted in the whole of Mexico.

Up until now, Mexico City (and the whole country) has counted with one FWBO Centre, which is located in the Colonia Roma. La Roma (as it is also known) is a neighborhood in the central borough of Cuauhtemoc in Mexico City. Undoubtedly, the Mexico City Buddhist Centre under the chairmanship of Dharmacari Upekshamati has made a significant contribution to spreading not only the Dharma but also Bhante's vision in Mexico for the last fourteen years. The Centre's beautiful venue is visited by hundreds of people every week attracted by the varied program of Buddhism and Meditation that it offers.

However, the interest in the Buddhadharma and the FWBO approach is growing and the city is big enough to house not one or two but even more centres! Buda Mandala, the new FWBO centre will be located right in the heart of Coyoacn. Coyoacn is one of the 16 boroughs into which Mexico's Federal District is divided. The name Coyoacn also is commonly used to refer to the neighborhood at the heart of the borough, and it comes from the Nahutl Coyohuacan meaning, "place where there are coyotes". Although geographically located in the center of the city, Coyoacn has long been considered to be at the southern end of Mexico City.

For a few decades now, Coyoacn has been visited by alternative groups of people like bohemians, street musicians, writers, philosophers, etc. who were in search of relaxed and non-mainstream social places to gather, so they began having an important presence in Coyoacn. These social groups eventually gave the place its distinctive cultural and artistic atmosphere. Needless to say, Coyoacn is nowadays one of the preferred and most visited places in the city.

The Buda Mandala collective believes that, it is precisely its non-mainstream, relaxed, cultural and artistic atmosphere what makes Coyoacn a suitable place for spreading the Buddhadharma through an FWBO Buddhist Centre. Indeed, the first FWBO centre in Mexico City, the one that is now in La Roma, had its first venue in Coyoacn where it proved to be a success.

At present, Yoga Espacio, the yoga, meditation and healing centre opened in 2007 by a collective led by Jnanadakini and Kavindu is also located in Coyoacn. Yoga Espacio offers a modest program on Buddhism and Meditation led by Kavindu and supported by Chandramsu and Vimuktin. Buda Mandala may be a natural place to channel people from Yoga Espacio that wish to get more involved with the movement in a Buddhist venue that offers the whole range of activities of a FWBO centre. The Mexico City Buddhist Centre has also some presence in Coyoacn on Sundays introducing Buddhism and Meditation.

Buda Mandala's Vision, Mission and Values

Our vision is of a World in which every human being can fulfill their full potential, in order to contribute in a positive manner to the building of a peaceful society, which protects other sentient beings and the Earth.

Our mission is to communicate the teachings of the Buddha, as taught by Urgyen Sangharakshita, the founder of the Western Buddhist Order, in a way that is relevant to different social groups in Mexico and Latin America. We recognise that aiming to do this requires a balance between honouring our understanding of the Order and Movement's central practices and teachings, and an inspired and imaginative way of presenting them.

Buda Mandala is a Buddhist Organisation, part of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order and led by a collective formed by members of the Western Buddhist Order. Through our work we aim to express the following:
• Our commitment to honour the Four Vows taken during our Ordination.
• The Buddha's fundamental insight that all human beings are born with the potential for
• spiritual growth and development.
• The importance of broad-based effort, which translates as the importance of Sangha.
• The need to make spiritual change happen on a daily basis through small acts of clear
• awareness, loving kindness, compassion, mutual rejoicing and equanimity.
• Openness, receptivity, respect and tolerance for the global community.
• Communication that is truthful, kind and harmonious.
• Clear thinking.
• Social engagement, and committed to improve the welfare of other sentient beings and to
• contribute to the preservation and renewal of the natural environment.
• Deep commitment to learning and teaching.
• Exemplification.
• Professionalism.
• Aesthetic appreciation.
We offer the fruits of our work to the benefit of all sentient beings.
Today my life has (borne) fruit;
(Having) well obtained this human existence,
I've been born in the family of [the] Buddha
And now am one of [the] Buddha's Sons (and Daughters).
Thus whatever actions I do from now on
Must be in accord with the family.
Never shall I disgrace or pollute
This noble and unsullied race.
Dharmacarini Akasavajri
On Behalf of the Buda Mandala Collective
The Buda Mandala website is at

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Kshitigarbha project: Outreach in Central India

For this week's personal profile, FWBO News presents Karunashur, an Indian Order Member living and studying in Cambridge UK.  He has sent us this inspiring report of his recent four-month-long Dhamma tour in the dusty plains of central India.

With Saddharaja, also from Cambridge, they have created the Kshitigarbha project, which raises funds to run retreats for the very poorest Buddhists in rural areas of India.

Karunashur says -

"I left UK for India on 2nd of Jan. Three days later I started giving talk in every village in my region - this is near Wardha, in Central India. It is very poor and suffers for a long time from drought. Many farmers are committing suicide. Saddharaja and I (photo, left) led a big 'Kshitigarbha' retreat at our retreat centre 'Bor Dharan' near Wardha. This is an annual retreat especially for poor people - we raise money in UK to make it possible for anyone to come. We also led the Kshitigarbha retreat last year. That time around five hundred people turned up. This time there were altogether seven hundred retreatants. They were coming from rural area and poor families.

"Before that I had been giving talks many different villages. In total I gave 70 talks while I was in India. After finishing the retreat, Saddharaja and I together gave six more talks around Wardha district. While we were giving the talks, people were saying to us that a few Hindu people also came our retreat. It was very pleasing news for us. Then I realized more than fifty Hindu people were in Kshitigarbha retreat. It’s a good sign for us. Not only Buddhist people are coming but non-Buddhist people also.

"Saddharaja left India then I was giving talks again. Most of my talks are based on Dhammapada. I realised it is good to tell Dhammapada stories rather than high principle or philosophy. People in rural areas like listening to stories! They were enjoying my story telling. Dhammapada stories are related to human beings. Most of talks were arranged for the evenings when people were free.

"Also this visit I led a day retreat with TBMSG people and non-TBMSG people. The people were already Buddhist; they know how to chant the Pali Canon and do puja. But they don’t know about meditation. I was teaching them two kinds of meditation Anapanasati and Metta Bhavana. A day retreat used to start at 11 o’ clock and finish at 5 o’ clock. Buddhist people were coming from different villages.

"After that I led a Holi retreat (Holi is big Indian "colour festival"). The theme was the Maha Vagga from the Dhammapada. I gave talks every day in that retreat. Four hundred people were there. It was a great experience to lead that retreat. Afterwards again I started giving talks and leading a day retreat. And then I went to Gujarat gave a talk, and led a day retreat in Valsad. It was my first talk in Hindi - normally I speak Marathi.

"And after that I went to Sikkim for eight days. It was very cold weather and showering. It felt like English weather! I visited Namachi monastery in Gangtok, Ghoom monastery in Darjeeling, and Bhante’s 'Bhikkhu cottage' in Kalimpong. Three Order Members were with me. It was a very great experience travelling with them.

"I came back from Sikkim on 25th of April in Wardha. The Sun was pouring fire, it was 46 degrees temperature. I felt sick for three days and spent a couple of days with my family. I left India for UK on 29th of April.

"Thanks to Lokabandhu for this. He told me to write for FWBO news.

"I will write again. Karunashur"

Next year they hope for 1,000 or even more people on their retreat. They have a fundraising page at which readers of FWBO News are warmly invited to contribute to.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Dhamma tours in Northern India: a report

For Part II of our report from India, we present a long report by Order Member Maitriveer Nagarjun (shown left), a young PhD student at JNU University, Delhi. He's recently completed a major tour across North India with Subhuti, Dharmashalin, and others. He writes -

Dear Lokabandhu,
Hope you are well and having cool days.
Delhi is so hot nowadays - breaking the records of 100 years.

Please find attached my late Report of the "Dhammakranti Retreats and Dhamma Awakening Campaign, North India 2009" It is at

Rest is fine.
Take care.
With much metta
Maitriveer Nagarjuna

Subhuti, recently back in UK, summarises what they got up to -

"Before I got to Bodhgaya, I had spent nearly two months touring in North India with Dharmashalin and Maitriveer Nagarjun, giving talks and leading retreats in ten different places. The approach that we have developed on the basis of Bhante's teaching and in line with Dr Ambedkar's vision is quite unique and is greeted with great joy and wonder by so many who hear of it. We manage to combine a message of social change through the principles of the Dharma with real spiritual practice. This seems to be deeply appealing.

"I have just published a book with Kumarajiv, translated into Hindi, outlining this message, called 'How to Live the Buddhist Life'. There is much more to tell about all this: there is something quite remarkable going on in Dalit circles in North India. I hope to say more about it on another occasion".

FWBO News hopes to bring you more details of this work in due course.

There's a growing number of videos on YouTube exploring and explaining what TBMSG is doing in India, and the effect it is having on thousands of people's lives. shows Dharmashalin, Subhuti's secretary, introducing the broad background to the revival of Buddhism in India; shows Satyadeep from Pune talking about his family background and what led him to the Dharma.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Retreat in Tamil Nadu, South India

Continuing this week's theme of stories from FWBO and TBMSG events in India, today we report on a recent TBMSG retreat in Tamil Nadu, South India - which is seeing a revival of Buddhism led in part by graduates from Nagarjuna Training Institute, TBMSG's training centre in Nagpur. They say -

"Namo Buddha. We are graduates of NTI in Nagpur. We are happy to inform you recently we arranged a three days retreat in Pallavoyal village, 70 kms from Chennai in Tamil Nadu. NTI has trained over 500 people from over 18 states in India.

"This was the first of its kind retreat in Tamil Nadu, it brought together Ambedkarites from various districts of Tamil Nadu, well wishers from Sri Lanka including Dhammachari Jinasena, and others including Dhammachari Viradhamma of the San Francisco Buddhist Centre. The ex-students of Nagarjuna Training Institute (NTI) constituted the core of the retreat organisation, arrangement and co-ordination. Over 120 men and women participated in this retreat.
"The major components of the retreat were Group Meditation, Dhamma Talks, Buddhist Formalities, Chanting Buddhist songs, Group Discussions and Buddhist Cultural Activities, it was a great help to revive Dhamma in the South India.

"In the beginning of the retreat, a small meeting was arranged between Buddhists from Sri Lanka and people in Tamil Nadu to clear misperceptions about current ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. Media and hardliners across the strait are trying to fuel enmity on religious lines and propaganda is trying to show that Buddhists in Sri Lanka are pro-war and are party to present war in Sri Lanka. This propaganda is creating negative impression of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, and the people inclined towards Buddhism in Tamil Nadu, mostly the followers of Babasaheb Ambedkar, get confused about role and involvement of Buddhism. However, Sri Lankan delegates made it clear that majority of the Buddhist monks and laities do not support the war and they are extending the humanitarian help to the people affected by war in North Sri Lanka.

"The theme of the retreat was why Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar chose Buddhism, and his key points regarding Buddhism. Dh. Lokamitra gave two talks, which were followed by discussions in the small group. Dh. Lokamitra also introduced two meditation practices.

"Tamil Nadu is a new situation for Buddhism, though it has the 100 year history of revival of Buddhism initiated by Pandit Iyothee Thass, who hailed from the untouchable castes, and saw in Buddhism the potential to end caste system. There is an overwhelming response to the teachings and people are keen to explore Buddhism.

"The images of the Buddha are found all over Tamil Nadu. The images are very beautiful and of artistic excellence. At one place, the famous image of Manimekalai, the famous Buddhist nun in Tamil literature, was also found.

"In all, Tamil Nadu like most of the states of India is having huge potential for revival of Buddhism and this retreat is one of the initiatives, there is so much still remains to be done to make Buddhist teachings available to millions of people here. The members of the Sakya Hostels took tremendous pains to make this event a great success.

"Thanking you, with all our metta. Dhammamitra S. Jayasridhar, Visuddhalok, Tamil Nadu".

The photograph shows Lokamitra, who led the retreat, with some of the participants from Sri Lanka.  Tomorrow we report on developments in ATMT, the women's Dhamma and Social project in India.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

On tour in Sri Lanka

Following yesterday’s report from Thailand, Ujukarin has sent us this from his recent travels in Sri Lanka.  The FWBO has a small centre in Sri Lanka run by Saddhavira, with Ujukarin joining him twice a year for retreats and classes.  It’s an instructive tale of the difficulties of introducing a new way of doing things into a traditional Buddhist culture…
He writes –
“Wow! Another Lanka Dharmaduta tour finished, two weeks by Saddhavira and Ujukarin. And it’s getting curiouser and curiouser, as we enter the Wonderland of countryside viharas…
“How many of you have experienced a Buddhafield retreat in the English summer mud? Or participated in a Dharma Talk, including some ‘quite specifically conditioned’ interested grandmothers? Or seen a version of the ‘top-or-flop’ TV show, where the audience votes to keep or dismiss the artist? NOW… imagine a combination of all of these…!
“A main activity during our tour was a 3-day rural vihara retreat at Polpitigama town in Kurunegala district.  It’s a typical countryside vihara on the outskirts of town, with the usual more or less conservative lay audience – and premises that don’t stand the monsoon showers very well. Our party included Saddhavira and 5 mitras/regulars, and the special dimension was that the retreat was around a full-moon day. So we were scheduled to give 3 talks and meditation sessions to the temple audience, numbering around 60-70, including many of the proverbial ‘grandmothers leading a sila life to prepare for their afterlife’ (and wanting reaffirmation of their pious quiet life, not virya or other ‘dangerous’ Dharma elements…).
“The morning talk (on personal mandalas) was loved by our group and by quite a few attending families and some grannies, but not all. Around lunch a group of them visited the senior bhikshu, and behaved like the audience of the ‘top-or-flop’ TV show: “OUT with these artists” (they’re far too dynamic for us…) was what they said. First we were told that the Bhikshus had bowed to their demands, and we’d have to shut up and retreat to our kutis for a mini-retreat for the rest of the day. But one hour later, shortly before the next talk slot, the Bhikshus told us that ‘well we had been invited for the full day and as good hosts they’d stick to that invitation and allow two more talk sessions – any way we wanted it’.
“The afternoon talk was on devas, sraddha and white magic, and was accompanied by heavy showers and lightning – by chance or not :-). And the evening session was experienced by everyone as amazing and inspired because we dived into ‘bringing Dharma to your heart’. So I am glad that we survived the top-or-flop vote, and we definitely felt that we had a new ‘Wonderland’ experience in the twilight zone between Western and Cultural/Ethnic Buddhism. And probably most of the regulars attending and maybe even some locals will find inspiration in this fullmoon day for following up with us!
“Other highlights included a talk in another rural area (Kekirawa near Anuradhapura) by Ujukarin together with a bhikshu who had attended our earlier retreat. At the end some of the audience, teenage girls working as Buddhist Sunday school teachers, asked Ujukarin for magic threads around their waists blessed with mantras – for a number of reasons, including his own Srilankan family life ;-), he backed down. And we had a well-attended day retreat in Colombo, and a weekend retreat at the Sagaraloka centre which was also attended well but NOT by exactly the (at least two) men who had asked to become mitras and could have become so during that retreat. So those ceremonies will have to wait till the fall…
“And in the sidelines we also had organisational progress. A 3-month Dharmaduta visit of an Indian Order Member (Pradnyajeet) is now sure to happen within a year. And we hope that some of the men GFR mitras will start attending the Nagpur ordination courses in India. So all-in-all it was a much more positive picture than last year: our sangha-building investments are starting to pay off!”
You can see more photos from their trip on their Facebook album.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

The East West Sanctuary goes East

Sinhagupta, an Order Member based in Cambridge UK has for some years also been engaged in setting up the East-West Sanctuary in Hungary, a “Center of contemplative inquiry and healing”. She’s recently returned from a four-week visit to Thailand and sends this report to FWBO News -

“I am writing this towards the end of a 4-week period in Thailand. I was fortunate enough to make it here on the last plane, diverted to a military airport. Many, many hours later, after a 9-hour trek through Thailand, I arrived at Ubon Ratachani University, where I have been invited to teach on an undergraduate course on Buddhist Business Administration.

“This has been quite an experience, including running a 2-day retreat for 45 students , on the campus. Mostly, my brief has been to teach basic Buddhism to Thai students, and to find a way of helping the students understand the importance of this to business . Which is a strange request in a country where 30% of the economy runs under ‘sufficiency economy’ principles, as developed by the Thai king, following the work of Schumacher.

“Whilst this is 90% Buddhist country, there is still a distinct lay/monastic divide, so the understanding of Buddhism here is different . The practices and principles of the FWBO have been extremely useful, as has my own work at the East West Sanctuary, where I have been introducing basic concepts and psychotherapeutic skills into the community.

“A further interesting element here is the Asoke community, of which there is one on campus. This works on Buddhist sufficiency economy principles, and throughout Thailand there are several, each with about 5-6000 people. Generally, this is a ‘movement’ which is considered ‘heretic’ from the point of view of traditional Thai Buddhism, but it is supported by many Thai people, both in spirit and financially. I received such a warm welcome, and am sure that I will be coming back. It is a privilege to see such wonderful work being carried out, and to make Buddhist connections in these different ways.

“Part of the work I am developing at the EWS is that of creating sustainable community, as in these times especially it feels very important that spiritual traditions are built back into our places of work. I am engaged, here and at my university, in developing and promoting Buddhist economics, and communicating its importance in the current crisis. Unfortunately, the conference I was also attending was postponed until April because of the unrest in Bangkok, and the international visitors could not make it here.

“At the end of this week, I shall be running a further workshop in a monastery near Bangkok, but this will be on psychotherapeutic methods. I understand there are already 50 people attending – from the monastic community, from those wishing to introduce Buddhist methods into their daily lives, and from a group of people studying Buddhist psychology”.

Dharmacharini Sinhagupta in Thailand.

You can find more about the work of the East-West Centre on its website

Tomorrow we publish an account of another FWBO pioneer: Ujukarin's adventures in Sri Lanka.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

A million pages for internet fundraising website - 30 from the FWBO

Last month JustGiving, the internet fundraising site celebrated the creation of its one millionth fundraising page – they say they have helped raise an extraordinary £388,175,603 for 6,462 charities.

Since the FWBO has contributed around 30 of those pages we thought we’d mention it – and celebrate the fact that between them they’ve raised over £30,000 over the past year, each page raising money for a different Dharma project. First, so far as we know, was Simon and Tim’s Marathon page for the LBC’s ‘Breathing Space’ project.

Around a year ago FWBO Dhammaloka joined, and a wide range of pages appeared under their auspices appealing for funds for a wide range of Dhamma projects in India – starting with Chandrabodhi’s Buddha Festival at the Urgyen Sangharakshita Meditation Centre. This was a wonderful use of the internet, as it allowed Dhamma workers in remote rural India to communicate with donors in the West.

The most recent Dhammaloka appeal, for travel expenses for Indian Order Members to attend the recent Order Convention in faraway Bihar, met it’s target and more in just 36 hours – many thanks to all who contributed!

Dhammaloka was followed by pages advertising a selection of projects managed by the FWBO Development Team – projects as varied as sponsoring a large new painting of the FWBO’s Refuge Tree; Dharma work in Poland and Canada; and the Preceptor’s College.

Other FWBO charities have also registered and made their own pages, for instance Tiratanaloka and Karuna – whose pages include an auctioned haircut by one Ginger Fringe!

Besides all the dedicated project pages, there’s two ways to give to ‘general dharma funds’ -
one for India, managed by FWBO Dhammaloka; and one for the rest of the world;
managed by the FWBO’s Growth Fund Committee.

All contributions gratefully received - and will be used to spread the Dharma far and wide...!

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

TBMSG activities expanding in North, South, East India.

The Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha, or TBMSG – as the FWBO is known in india – continues to expand the range and size of its activities. November through March are traditionally the season for ‘outreach’ and this year is no exception. In fact there are three large events coming up, in three corners of India -

North India
In North India we’ve heard from Maitriveer Nagarjun, a young Order Member studying for a higher degree at the prestigious JNU university, he says -

“Here I am sending you an image of the PAMPHLETS for another step ahead for the Dhammakranti (Dhamma Revolution) in NORTH INDIA. It’s difficult to organise in a New Place like Delhi, but I am feeling satisfied to contribute one more step in Delhi and for the rest of the states in NORTH INDIA.

“Subhuti (from England) will the main teacher. This Four-Day residential retreat, with food organized by Jawaharlal Nehru University Students for Social Human Welfare, will welcome people from all different cultures, communities and backgrounds to listen and study why we need BUDDHISM in human life, especially with reference to the work of BODHISATTVA BABASAHEB Dr. B. R. AMBEDKAR. . Subhuti will lead the retreat with Dhammacharies at our Venue”.

Bodh Gaya
Next in this impressive calendar is a large 1000-person retreat to be held at Bodh Gaya, in North-Eastern India. They say –

“The 7th International Dhammakranti retreat will be held at Buddhagaya from 1st march evening to 6th march evening 2009.

“This will be the third and largest International Dhammakranti Retreat in Buddha Gaya organized by the Dhammakranti Social Institute, TBMSG, India. These retreats have already made a considerable impact throughout India, giving people from all castes and classes an opportunity to practice Dhamma together and form a Casteless Society in the true sense. In India this is truly a precious opportunity.

“The major attractions on the retreat are Meditation under the Bodhi Tree, Dhamma Talks, Buddhist Rituals, Group Discussions & Cultural Activities. All present will be making a contribution to reviving the Dhammachakra (Dhamma Revolution) in the World. Dhammachari Subhuti will lead the Retreat. The retreat will be held at the Nyingma Monastery in Buddha Gaya.

“For more details please contact us at tel 0091-9371181404. Thank you”.

Tamil Nadu

And 1,500 miles away, in a completely different landscape, language, climate and culture – but still in India – we’ve heard from a group of graduates from TBMSG’s training program at Nagaloka. They say -

“Dear Dhamma Friends, Namo Buddha. Buddha.

“The Friends of Nagarjuna Training Institute (NTI) is organizing the first Mass Retreat in Tamil Nadu, India from 12th March evening to 15th March evening 2009. This retreat is organized to gather around 300 people from South India. It is a good opportunity to learn and practice the Dhamma with hundreds of followers of Buddha and Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. This is truly a precious opportunity in South India to bring people together irrespective of class, caste and religious background. These retreats may have a considerable impact on society and an opportunity to explore the importance of practicing Dhamma to establish a casteless society in the true sense.

“The major components of the retreat are Group Meditation, Dhamma Talks, Buddhist Formalities, Chanting Buddhist songs, Group Discussions and Buddhists Cultural Activities. Dhammachari Lokamitra, a Buddhist spiritual leader will lead the Retreat. The retreat will be held at Shanthi Nilayam, Vedamary Community College, Mambazhapattu Road, Perumpakkam, Villupuram Dist, PIN – 605 301. Tamil Nadu.

“Many people from very poor economic backgrounds are expected to participate in the retreat. A donations scheme is being set up to help many of them to attend this. Your donation will help the Revival of Buddha Dhamma movement in South India. Come and join this historic event to transform our society in to a New Society – based on Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, and fulfill the dream of Bodhisattva Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar.

For more details please contact us: email: mobile: + 91 9841 255 342 web:

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

FWBO activities develop in Denmark - and an ordination in Stockholm

Flags flying at the FWBO group in CopenhagenAdvayasiddhi from the FWBO's Copenhagen group has written to FWBO News to tell us -

"I'm very happy to let you know that FWBO Denmark had it's first meditation day in Copenhagen this Saturday with 8 people attending. It has taken a lot of work to interest people in meditation and buddhism here in Denmark, so this event felt like a landmark, having people come and engage themselves and -most importantly- continue to practice what they learn.

"As in so many other places in the world, we did the mindfulness of breathing, walking meditation and the metta bhavana, and dedicated the merits of the day to the benefit of all beings.

"We are planning to have a day event in February and March as well, so please spread the word if you know anybody in Denmark.
"We have a website at and you'll find us on Facebook too - click the link or go looking for "Buddhistisk Meditation"!

"Yours in the Dharma
Not far away, in Stockholm, this Saturday sees what may be the first ordination on Swedish soil. The public ordination of Sanna Frost will take place at the Stockholm Buddhist Center at 3pm on Saturday 31st January - all welcome! Her private ordination will have been conducted a few days previously on the island of Orno in the Stockholm archipelago.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

News from India: Dhamma talks and tours with Subhuti

These days there are major changes afoot in India, and in our movement in India as well. Subhuti’s been visiting for the past 20 years and is there now – we’re delighted to be able to bring you this report of what he’s up to, from Dharmashalin, his secretary and travelling companion. Read on for news of Pune, Nagpur, Mumbai, NNBY, and North India…

In addition to the text-based report below, Dharmashalin has posted the first of a series of video diaries on YouTube.

Subhuti in India November and December 2008
Subhuti has been visiting India regularly since 1985. Initially he and Suvajra were overseeing the Men's Ordination Process, during that time he ordained well over a hundred men. Then as International Order Convenor he led retreats for Order Members, trying to bring a greater depth of understanding and experience to members of our Order. Many of them lead extremely busy lives due to work and family commitments. In the last few years he has been more involved in reaching out into new areas: geographically, in terms of new states; community-wise, in terms of different castes; and generationally, supporting initiatives to bring more young people into the Dhamma.

We are in a phase of exciting opportunities, with the socio-economic face of India changing, this has an impact on how and where the Dhamma can be communicated. What follows is a summary of his activities:

The gardens of the Mahavihara, TBMSG's largest centre in PuneHis first week was spent in Pune, heart-land of the TBMSG, where he gave a series of talks at the Mahavihara. The Mahavihara was the first big centre we had in India, it serves as a Dhamma centre, and also a base for a number of our charities and some educational activities. Over three nights he gave a very inspiring series of talks, drawing a lot from his experiences during his long solitary retreat. The over-whelming message coming from those talks was; take Karma seriously. What we say, do and think leaves an imprint on your mind which will stay there. This of course is a central application of Pratitya Samutpada, the implication of this is the importance of being skilful and cultivating positive mental states. Over the following days Subhuti met with groups and individuals and the same theme kept returning. He was particularly keen to emphasis that whilst long retreats are of course immensely beneficial we can all practice effectively in our own situations. A particularly important message in India, where most people have responsibilities that mean long retreats are virtually impossible.

A glimpse of the massive Nagpur crowds at the anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar's conversionWe then went to Nagpur, the city where Dr Ambedkar converted. Although TBMSG has more institutions in Pune, Nagpur is the actual centre of Ambedkarite Buddhism in India - and the home of Nagaloka, our largest centre in India. Some estimations place the percentage of Buddhists as high as 30%, of course many of them are 'Ethnic' Buddhists. Yet even that results in a greater sense of ethics and personal responsibility. This is particularly brought out by the huge level of social improvement the Buddhist community has achieved in the 50 years since conversion. At that time they were almost all bonded labourers and the vast majority were illiterate, today we regularly meet doctors, lawyers and engineers. No other community in India has improved so much since Independence. This is an important point, it shows that conversion to Buddhism has a direct effect on people's lives, because of it's message of personal responsibility and transformation.

During our time here Subhuti has been meeting with his many friends and contacts, providing support and guidance. He of course he given several public talks, several responding to the terrible events in Mumbai. He has been particularly speaking on how we can respond to violence. Of course this boils down to practising the Dhamma ourselves and helping those who are in down-trodden states to improve themselves. Dr Ambedkar was a deep political thinker as well as a Buddhist and he foresaw the difficulties India would face. His analysis, which Subhuti drew upon, was the need to ensure Human dignity and opportunities to all. It is when people feel they have no other option that they turn to violence.

Subhuti at the Mahabodhi Temple in bodh GayaHe has also led several retreats, one for Dhammacharis exploring the Manjushri Stuti Sadhana. There was an extremely good atmosphere with lots of silence and meditation, many of the participants said it was the most significant retreat of their lives. In early December we went to Chhattisgarh where we had a general retreat with somewhere between one and two hundred participants. Here Subhuti went through the Tiratna Vandana, people responded well. A particular point of success was taking some of the more experienced students from the Nagarjuna Training Institute and using them as group leaders. This gave them an opportunity to test and develop their skills and meant there was enough of a Sangha present for the new-comers to get a direct experience of Sangha rather than simply having it explained to them. This seemed to be particularly inspiring for the participants, so we hope they will start meeting in small groups and carry the inspiration of the retreat into their lives.

National Network of Buddhist Youth
On the 12th of December Subhuti started the NNBY Full Moon Meditation event with a talk about the importance of supporting Youth and possibility of communication and harmony that transcends words. Between two and three hundred people attended and there was an extremely positive atmosphere in the shrine area.

Click to watch a YouTube video of the opening of the event.

For the next ten days Subhuti was engaged in a workshop looking at how training is conducted in India. The conversation soon broadened out to look at how we can make the TBMSG much more effective and spiritually alive, so that we can more adequately respond to the huge potential for spreading the Dhamma that exists here.

From the 25th til the 1st we attended the National Network of Buddhist Youth Conference. This was a very positive and enjoyable event. Subhuti gave a series of talks about Dr Ambedkar's message for the youth of today. NNBY has been in the 'News' quite a bit recently, it certainly is an exciting new area of opportunity. Many young people are responding very positively to the combination of fun, friendship, meaning and autonomy. The convention itself was mainly run by the Youths, with guidance and teaching from Order members but a lot of the rest being led by the youths themselves. Of course in some cases the lines blur (for example I count as a Youth at the tender age of 30, whilst also being an Order member.)

North India
Over the next two months we will be travelling around North India. Leading retreats, giving talks and continuing to deepen connections with local people working to spread the Dhamma. It is a very different situation compared to the relatively well established Buddhists in Maharastra, Casteism in stronger and people are generally still working to gain education and good livelihoods. Despite that, or even because of that, people are very keen to learn more about Buddhism.

Much metta,

(Subhuti's Secretary)

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