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Thursday, April 09, 2009

News of Sangharakshita

Sangharakshita, founder of the FWBO, and now well into his 80's, lives in Birmingham UK, in the FWBO's 'Madhyamaloka' community. They've sent FWBO News some highlights of Sangharakshita's diary for the past few months.

Before that though, we bring news of his latest book, just out, and entitled ‘Living Ethically: advice from Nagarjuna’s Precious Garland’. Windhorse, his publishers, say –

“In a world of increasingly confused ethics, Living Ethically looks back over the centuries for guidance from Nagarjuna, one of the greatest teachers of the Mahayana tradition. Drawing on the themes of Nagarjuna’s famous scripture, Precious Garland of Advice for a King, this book explores the relationship between an ethical lifestyle and the development of wisdom. Covering both personal and collective ethics, Sangharakshita considers such enduring themes as pride, power and business, as well as friendship, love and generosity”.

Madhyamaloka pick up the story -

"In January, Bhante was filmed being interviewed by Mahamati in honour of the occasion of the Order Convention at Bodh Gaya, and the film was shown for the first time in India on 24 February. Bhante considers the occasion of the first Convention to be held in India to have been a very significant one for the history of the Order.

"The recording of the interview with Bhante that was shown at the convention in Bodhgaya is available for general viewing on VideoSangha. Copies can be ordered from ClearVision.

"Since then, aside from being kept busy by a steady stream of personal appointments, Bhante has participated in two question-and-answer sessions on events hosted by the Dharmapala College. The last such event was attended by Nityabandhu, who, having left England almost exactly a year ago to set up the FWBO's first Centre in Poland , returned to his old room in Bhante's flat for the duration of his stay.

"Matt, Sangharakshita's secretary, has had the pleasure and privilege of reading to him from David Loy's snappily titled book Money Sex War Karma, which looks at various contemporary issues from a Buddhist perspective. Bhante found it very interesting and stimulating, and recommends the book to Order members. You’ll find it reviewed by Nagapriya on the WBO’s Western Buddhist Review website.

"Bhante's health has generally been stable, though he is easily tired, and in January he was forced to leave Bristol, where he had planned to lead a weekend of study, early, due to having slept badly. In February he had the first of a series of injections into his left eye, which, it is hoped, will slow down the macular degeneration, and maybe even improve his vision slightly. He is due another such injection on 25 March, and another a month later.

Sangharakshita inaugurating a new triptych by Aloka at the Cardiff Buddhist Centre"Today (13 March at the time of writing) Bhante will be travelling to Cardiff, where he will stay for the weekend. He will be inaugurating a new triptych in the Cardiff Buddhist Centre shrine-room on the Saturday, and on Sunday he will take a question-and-answer session with Order members and mitras.

"Other forthcoming events include a trip to Essen, his first international travel of the year, for the Central European FWBO Day celebrations.

"He also has two scheduled launches of The Essential Sangharakshita, one at Birmingham Buddhist Centre on 11 April, and another at Cambridge Buddhist Centre on 23 May".

Sangharakshita's website is at This has recently been updated and now contains no less than 32 of his books for free download.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Clear Thinking in Birmingham: 'Asking the Right Questions'

Jnanaketu, leader of the 'Clear Thinking' coursesComing up soon at the FWBO’s Dharmapala College in Birmingham is a new sort of retreat. Specifically it’s a “Level Two Clear Thinking Workshop” entitled ‘Asking The Right Questions’.

The course leader, Jnanaketu, says – “This short course will briefly review the main areas of clear thinking skills using material directly related to the Dharma – identifying and developing arguments, identifying ambiguity, hidden assumptions and fallacies, and formulating questions.  Using clear thinking in study groups is an area that I have been thinking and writing about over recent months. Two articles can be downloaded from the Dharmapala College website.

"Most of the time will be spent practising applications of clear thinking, which will probably include: examining ways of identifying and reflecting on views, practising the Elenkhos (investigating a topic by means of collaborative questioning), and using clear thinking skills to participate in and lead Dharma study groups effectively.

"Completely new for 2008 is 'Insight Dialogue', a very effective way of reflecting in pairs on short Dharma texts and views. I am also keen that we should cultivate metta (loving-kindness) in the course of practising these applications". 
The Dharmapala College is something of a new venture for FWBO retreats – they see their principle task as that of building a ‘Community of Enquiry’, describing it thus –

“Dharmapala College plays an active part in the emerging Buddhist culture in the West. Initiated by members of the Western Buddhist Order, it invites the participation of everyone inspired by the ideals of collaborative enquiry into reality and open-handed sharing of understanding and experience. With the ending of the two-year Dharmaduta Training Course, we have been shifting our main emphasis to developing a ‘Community of Enquiry’ as the core practice inspiring our teaching activities.

“By 'enquiry' we mean dharma-vicaya, understood as practice (bhavana) comprising both critical investigation and contemplative reflection, and culminating in an ever deeper experience of insight. Our notion of enquiry thus rests on a mutually reinforcing combination of study, meditation, and devotional practice. Most simply put, the “enquiry” aspect of our vision seeks to cultivate the four iddhipadas or bases of spiritual success: concentration of intention, of energy, of mind, and of investigation”.

You can read more about this on their website, and find details of their retreats (and many others) on our GoingOnRetreat website.  Highly recommended!

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Lama Lhundrup's Visit to Dharmapala College

Lama Lhundrup at Dharmapala CollegeIn March the Dharmapala College hosted Lama Lhundrup where he lead study on Gampopa's Jewel Ornament of Liberation. He has posted an account of his time in Birmingham on his blog, including some photographs. Lama Lhudrup is from the Karma Kargyu lineage. He received his monastic ordination in 1991 after several years of closed retreat. He lives in Dhagpo Kundreul Ling monastery in Auvergne, France.

Lama Lhundrup says that he found the exchanges fruitful, especially the comparisons between the his Tibetan tradition, with the Pali texts which are often more familiar to Order Members. There are a number of possible opportunities for cooperation, for instance Lama Lhundrup hopes to travel to India with Subhuti to see the TBMSG activities and Order Members may wish to undertake long retreats at his monastery where supervises the regular three year retreats.

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