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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ground-Breaking Ceremony for Berlin’s new Buddhist Centre

The FWBO’s Berlin Buddhist Centre is moving to new and larger premises. They have a substantial building project ahead of them, during the course of which they plan five rituals marking the various stages of the work.

Amogharatna, the Centre’s Chairman, writes with a report of their first ritual.  He says -

“On Sunday, 17th January 2010 around 35 members of the Berlin Buddhist Sangha celebrated our very first event in our new premises in Berlin-Kreuzberg. This was a “building site ritual”, “Erster Spatenstich” in German - which would be translated as “The Ground-Breaking Ceremony”.

“We dedicated the event to the Buddha Ratnasambhava, the yellow Buddha of the South, whose element is earth. The event lasted three hours and included walking meditation, mantra-chanting and making offerings to three shrines (check the video here!) , as well as chanting the Ratana Sutta and making offerings to the spirits of this 120-year-old historic site.

“The ceremony concluded with a seven fold puja and finally we had the traditional hot chocolate and cake in a coffee shop nearby. There will be more videos available soon.

“We are still fundraising. If you would like to support our New Buddhist Gate Berlin project, please find more information about the fundraising and on the progress of our project on our fundraising website, now also available in English!

“For online-donations, you can go to (UK) or if you live in Germany go to

“With metta,Amogharatna

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Berlin Buddhist Centre celebrates finding new premises

Amogharatna, chair of the FWBO’s Berlin centre, reports -

“On 31st of October 2009 at our Sangha day celebrations, we launched the fundraising campaign for our new Buddhist Centre, “The NEW Buddhist Gate Berlin“ (German: „das neue Buddhistische Tor Berlin“).

“Cornelia and I started preparing the fundraising as early as June. Since August, a fundraising committee has been meeting on a regular basis. Our goal is to get everybody in the Sangha involved in fundraising activities, and many more besides.

“We have produced a beautiful flyer in German and English, as well as a bi-lingual fundraising website are facilities for making on-line donations and a long list of ideas about how everybody can get involved.

“Of the estimated costs for the new Centre of €890,000, we already have €400,000 from donations and assets. Our aim is to collect €490.000 during the next 18 months so that we are not burdened by debts when we move into the new centre around the beginning of 2011.

“After a four-year long search, we finally signed the contract in July 2009. Our new premises are part of a local initiative involving the redevelopment of a former hospital consisting of fourteen buildings into apartments and business premises. They are situated in Berlin-Kreuzberg, a central, lively area of the city, well served by public transport and close to the attractive Landwehr canal. The space is in many ways perfectly suited to our needs and will be a suitable home for the prospering Sangha for many years to come.

“After meditating together, singer Johanna Fassbender and her band gave us a short sample of their work. Amogharatna introduced us to his vision for the new Centre and the FWBO in Berlin, and Karunada told us about the efforts of the brave team of volunteers, responsible for turning the former hospital kitchen into a radiant brand new Buddhist Centre.

“Of course the tea break was another good opportunity to enjoy a great assortment of cakes, donated for the occasion by members of the Sangha!

“After the tea break, Cornelia and Amogharatna launched the Fundraising campaign.  In the photo you can see the rest of our team.

“The afternoon was concluded with a sevenfold Puja during which Mitras had the opportunity to re-affirm their commitment to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

“And that's how we spent Sangha day.

“If you want to contribute or help us fundraise, or just have some ideas that would be helpful for us, please don't hesitate to get into contact:

“For online-donations, you can go to (UK)

“Or when you live in Germany go to


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Friday, September 25, 2009

First retreats for FWBO groups in Kent and Dusseldorf

Here’s a couple of updates from two of the FWBO’s newer groups. Proving, perhaps, that small is often beautiful!

Danapriya writes from Kent, UK -

“Dear Lokabandhu,

“Here’s a little something for the FWBO News.

“The East Kent Sangha based in Deal, Kent have just had their first Sangha Retreat called 'Loving Life' at Vajrasana Retreat Centre.

There were 25 of us on the retreat and we had a fantastic time and it has really had a positive effect on bringing the Sangha together even more. You will get a feel for the retreat from the photo. We had a fabulous team Siddhishvari, Sraddhagita, Suryaketu, Phil Daly and myself (Danapriya).  Love from Danapriya.”

You’ll find them at

And from Düsseldorf in Germany, Sraddhabandhu writes -

“In the last two months the development of „FWBO Düsseldorf”  has made further steps. On the first weekend of August we booked the Retreat centre “Vimaladhatu” and had our first retreat especially for the Düsseldorf Sangha. 12 people attended, plus 4 people in the team. For some people it was their first retreat ever, but everything went smooth. All enjoyed themselves, felt inspired and are eager to go on the next retreat. We haven’t booked jet, but perhaps it will be a “less-than-typical retreat” insofar that we sail on the Dutch Ijsselmeer and meditate on the ship.

“A month later we went for a walking tour just in the vicinity of Düsseldorf. Extraordinary about this is, that this time it was not organized by a member of the team. Tanja planned and led the hike, and it was an enjoyable afternoon. I look forward for more initiatives from the Sangha.

“Yours in the Dharma, Sraddhabandhu”

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Three new websites: Canada, Germany, and Buddhist Artists

There’s a few proud owners of new FWBO websites out there just now, and we’re pleased to feature a couple of them.

Karuna Deutschland have a very beautiful site at with photos and links to the projects they support in India and Nepal.

Amoghamati says “We are proud to present our new website! Thanks to Dietmar Becker, Karuna Germany now has a colourful and modern website with many features, pictures etc. Check it out! It's in German though, they say “ Karuna Deutschland e.V. ist ein gemeinnütziger Verein, dessen Ziel es ist, die Lebenssituation von Menschen zu verbessern, die zu den benachteiligsten und ärmsten Bevölkerungsgruppen gehören”.

Over in Ontario, Canada, Harshaprabha rejoices in their new website which opens with the intriguing words “Welcome to the website of FWBO Ontario. This is a website of potential.”

It was designed for Harshaprabha by his friend Mike Cheal in Ipswich, and includes a couple of videos of Harshaprabha, one outlining his vision for what could happen in Canada, and one explaining the meaning of the name ‘Harshaprabha’.

Third is not strictly an FWBO website - it’s the new Dharma Arts Network site, which came out of the recent ‘Buddha Mind Creative Mind’ conference at Taplow Court, UK. It aims to to all Buddhist Artists You’ll find it on the NING network at

 Lokabandhu, who co-founded the site along with Guy Malkerson from the Network of Engaged Buddhists, says "All Buddhist artists (or their agents!) are invited to join and contribute profiles, music, videos, etc. There’s 25 members so far and counting, including around 9 from the F/WBO".

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Monday, June 08, 2009

Adolescents celebrate rite of passage in Essen

Jnanacandra, Chair of the FWBO's Centre in Essen, Germany, writes -

"On May 1st four teenagers celebrated an important day in their lives at the Essen Buddhist Centre. In the company of family and many friends they celebrated the fact that they had left childhood behind them and were now embarking on the exciting and challenging path to adulthood.

"This was the second time that such a rite of passage was held at an fwbo Centre. Prasadavati led the ritual very beautifully and reminded both the teenagers and the parents of the deeper meaning of this step.

"Both the parents and adolescents ritually invoked the powerful forces involved in the process of growing up. They remembered the good times that they had spent together and expressed their mutual gratitude, appreciation and respect by bowing to each other and exchanging a symbolic gift.

Then the parents enacted the process of letting go by cutting off a strand of their children‘s hair which they later cast into a river. For the adolescents this also symbolized their growing independence of their parents - and Prasadavati reminded them of the fact that growing freedom also entails growing responsibility. Finally each of the teenagers listened to a moving „rejoicing in merits“ that reminded them of the many wonderful qualities that each of them possesses and encouraged them to make the best use of them.

"Two professional musicians, the grandparents of one of the girls, played wonderful music on cello and german flute - this helped create a very special and moving atmosphere around the ritual. The pieces they had chosen conveyed the distinct flavour of the different phases of the ceremony. The ritual ended with the singing of the blessings and a loud and heartfelt threefold „sadhu“ from all present.

"Dana, Derya, Gina and Ella are all 13 or 14 years old and daughters of members of the Essen Sangha. They themselves don‘t necessarily consider themselves buddhist and the ceremony didn‘t involve any commitment to buddhism on their side – but it certainly reflected buddhist values like gratitude, respect, appreciation, personal responsibility and the possibilities of conscious development.

"Many of the buddhist and non-buddhist guests present expressed their appreciation of this event. Any centre that might be interested in offering their young people such a rite of passage is very welcome to contact Jnanacandra at the Essen Buddhist Centre for details:

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

FWBO Day celebrated in style in Essen

Sanghadarsini sends us this report from Germany -

"Last weekend FWBO friends from Holland, Belgium, France and Germany gathered to celebrate the 42nd FWBO Day, in Essen, Germany. This year's celebration was the best attended ever, which was very much due to Bhante Sangharakshita's visit to the occasion. For each of the last 7 years FWBO friends from the Middle European Region have gathered in either Ghent, Amsterdam or Essen, to celebrate together.

"On Saturday afternoon, we began the programme with a meditation, followed by short talks from the different centres about their new developments. The French read out some of Bhante's poetry which had been translated into French and will soon appear as a book. Jnanacandra talked about the Essen Centre's step to offer all Dharma activities on a Dana basis, a big, but seemingly already very successful step for the Centre. Upekshadaka talked about the new Centre in Ghent, which now occupies a former restaurant - it was a big project for their Sangha to renovate the place and to turn the old kitchen, with all its white tiles which looked more like a slaughter house, into a shrine room. Akasasuri spoke about developments with Metta Vihara, Holland's new retreat centre and Mokshasiddha spoke about the plans for a new town centre in Berlin. Ingrid Menzel told us about the opening of a new FWBO Centre just outside Hamburg, and Abhayada and Tanja Stevanovic talked about Breathworks activities in Germany and their wish to become more of a Right Livelihood Team one day.

"At 5.30 we had an Indian meal, laid on by some of the Essen women. At 7.30 there were three more talks, the theme being "sitting under the Bodhi Tree" - and miraculously, in the Shrine room, a large Bodhi Tree had appeared! Three very different Order Members - Gunabhadri, Suvannavira and Lalitaratna - talked about their quite different Experiences on the Order Convention in Bodhgaya this year. Lalitaratna's very lively talk about the noises in India made us nearly roll over the floor with laughter.

"After that, Vimalavajra beautifully led a three-fold Puja, gathering and focussing all our energies together and bringing the day to a perfect close.

"The next day brought more than 150 people to the Essen Centre. The reason for so many people coming was ... Bhante Sangharakshita. The shrineroom was packed, but quite magically, it didn't feel crowded. When Bhante appeared, the atmosphere became very mindful and light and quiet and after saluting the Shrine together, Bhante gave a talk about the 'The FWBO and the Path of Spiritual Development'

"He talked about integration and the importance of mindfulness, about positivity and the importance of Metta and about spiritual death and the cutting away of our ego through acts of selflessness.

"Without a script and with his sharp clarity and humour, Bhante's talk moved many people.

"The talk has been recorded by Clear Vision and will soon appear on one of the FWBO's websites.

"After the talk we all went into silence to prepare for a 7-fold Puja done in three languages: Dutch, French and German.

"At about 3 pm, after a lovely lunch, most people made their way back home, to Amsterdam, Ghent, Arnhem, Berlin, Paris, Minden, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Southern Germany. We met in large numbers for the weekend and the effects will be felt for some time to come".

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Ordinations in Germany and Ipswich

The Three Jewels of Buddhism, displayed on the Kesa received by members of the Western Buddhist Order on their ordinationAt a Public Ordination Ceremony held on Friday 3rd April at the (very beautiful) Minden Buddhist Centre Charlotte Paulus became Saddhabodhi. Her name, which is in Pali, means „She who is realizing, or awakening, through faith“ or „She whose awakening arises through faith“. Her Private Preceptor was Prasadavati and her Public Preceptor was Dayanandi.


Parami writes “I am delighted to inform you that Dee Margerison of the Ipswich sangha will be ordained next week. She is currently on retreat with Srivandana (her private preceptor) and a few close friends. I will join them later in the week. The private ordination will take place on Thursday the 9th April at 16.00h. This is the day of the full moon which is auspicious.

“The public ordination will take place at the FWBO's Ipswich Buddhist Centre on Saturday 11th April at 14.00. All are welcome to attend, but please let Swadipa know if you plan to come along. The then ex-Dee will attend the Akashavana spring 3-month women’s Ordination Retreat in Spain”.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

News from Germany: FWBO Day in Essen; Düsseldorf celebrates their 2nd birthday

FWBO members from Holland, Belgium, France, Poland and Germany (collectively known as the FWBO’s ‘Middle European Region’) are very happy to announce that they will be celebrating FWBO day this year in Essen, Germany on Saturday 4th April (starting 2 pm) and Sunday 5th April (ending at about 2-3 pm).

Sanghadarsini writes “We are very lucky that Bhante Sangharakshita has agreed to celebrate with us and to give a talk on Sunday at 10.30. If you would also like to come to celebrate FWBO day with us, we are happy to organise accommodation for you.

"For the last 7 years we have been celebrating FWBO day in our Region and have previously met up in Ghent, Amsterdam and Essen. Its great that we have this opportunity to come together and to form strong bonds of friendship. As there are so many languages involved, we still seem to communicate most of the time in English.

“The theme for the weekend will be: “Sitting under the Bodhi Tree”. As quite a few of us met up in Bodhgaya a month ago for the International Order Convention, we were so inspired about being there, that we quite naturally decided on the theme.

“Please write to for more details and contact us as soon as possible if you are actually planning to come”.

Meanwhile Sraddhabandhu writes from Dusseldorf -

"Only two years after the founding of „FWBO Düsseldorf” we welcomed 20 guests to our second birthday party. Admittedly, 20 is not the number of people we have on “open nights” (it varies between five and eight people), but we can see significant progress. If you imagine that we started with about three people attending just two years ago…”

“The scope of events we offer has widened considerably over that time. We now have two beginners nights per week, a study group which will finish “Vision and Transformation” in a short while, a meditation course will start in April, meditation afternoons every second month, and we want to celebrate Wesak and to take part in the “International Urban Retreat -”.

"I’m very happy to work with such a committed team. With metta to all, Sraddhabandhu”.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

An Appeal from Karuna Germany

Amoghamati, chairwoman of Karuna Germany Amoghamati, their chairwoman, has contacted us with this appeal on behalf of the FWBO’s Karuna Germany. She says -

“Karuna Germany was set up in 2006 by a group of German Buddhists associated with the FWBO Centres there, to support projects run in India and Nepal. We were inspired to do so by the example of our friend Kulanandi who works with Arya Tara Mahila Trust in Pune for half of the year. And also by the example of Karuna Trust in London with whom we co-operate.“

Now we have got the opportunity to post a project on the international funding website GlobalGiving. This is a great chance to raise funds in a broader public outside the Sangha. In fact, we are now participating in a challenge to win a permanent spot on GlobalGiving – but we need your help!. To succeed, we have to raise a minimum sum of 3.000 USD donated by 75 individual donors within the next three weeks.

“Therefore I would like to ask you to consider a donation. It's very easily done online, by PayPal or credit card. It's crucial for us to clear that hurdle of the first 3.000 USD. It’s a win-win situation of course because we will get the place on GlobalGiving and all the money will go to our project partners in India! We’ve very excited about this because the Karuna Trust's experience with GlobalGiving has been very promising and this could therefore open up a precious source of income for our project.

“All details of our project planning and implementation are co-ordinated with Karuna Trust and their capacity building team.“If you’d like to find out more, or donate, please visit: our GlobalGiving page -

Capacity building for women NGOs in India

A short summary follows -
“In this project we support grassroots NGOs run by Indian Buddhist women. The women are almost all from the Dalit, or ex-untouchable, communities of India. They do a great job in their work with deprived women and children in the slums. Their aim is to alleviate poverty in the social, medical, educational and economic fields for women and their families.

“However, due to a lack of formal education a capacity building program in professional skills and project management will highly add to their competence and efficiency”.

Click the link above to find out more - and to contribute.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Sangharakshita's news

Sangharakshita, photographed by DhammaratiIt has been quite some time since news of Sangharakshita has appeared in Shabda. However we have now received a report from Dharmamati, his secretary, and are pleased to reproduce it here -

"Sangharakshita has been very active in recent months, visiting centres both here and abroad, seeing individuals nearly every day, continuing working on 'Precious Garland Seminar' with Samacitta and taking regular study with a small local men's chapter.

Bhante's health:
Bhante has been in quite good health over the last couple of months. His eyesight has even improved a little and he has started to be able to read large print publications and smallerprint with the aid of an illuminated magnifying glass and he has even been able to draft a few letters. This said, however, his eyesight is still limited and most things have to be read to him.

The last report concluded with Bhante attending the Guhyaloka reunion at Padmaloka. At the end of this month he was invited to a conference organised by The Network of Buddhist Organisations (UK) and the Institute of Oriental Philosophy-UK. the conference was called The British Buddhist Landscape - Transplantation and Growth. He was one of the two keynote speakers for the conference, the other being Stephen Bachelor.

The FWBO had quite a strong presence at the conference, not only with speakers, but with artworks contributed to an exhibition of Buddhist art from Britain. Bhante's talk was entitled 'Looking back and forward a little, reminiscences and reflections. In it he recollected his association with British Buddhism especially his time with the Buddhist society in the early 1940s in London. He also gave some reflections about the future. (for more about the conference see the report on FWBO News.

July was quite a full month with visits to Sheffield, Berlin and leading study for the Men Mitra Convenors at Padmaloka. In both Sheffield and Berlin Bhante gave a Q&A session for Order members and a public talk.

In Sheffield Bhante gave a talk on something that he has rarely talked about in public, 'Rebirth'. This was a personal talk that included reflections on dreams, visions and experiences from his life.

In Berlin the public talk was on the 'Six distinctive emphases of the FWBO' According to the local sangha this was a very timely talk in helping establish what the FWBO has to offer in Berlin; a talk covering some of the same ground was given in Birmingham and is available here from FreeBuddhistAudio. During the Men Mitra Convenors meeting at Padmaloka Bhante led ten study sessions over a period of 5 days on 'The Path of Regular and Path of Irregular Steps'.

During August Bhante spent most of the month at Madhyamaloka. Towards the end of the month Bhante celebrated his 83rd Birthday. A special event was organised by Siddhisambhava with invited guests from Madhyamaloka community, Uddiyana trustees and those involved in the recent fundraising appeal for Bhante's support. Happily to say the goal was exceeded due to the generosity of many individual Order members.

Two days after this Bhante left for Spain where he attended an Order retreat. The venue was Tushita retreat centre run by the FPMT in the hills behind Barcelona. During this event Bhante gave a q&A session for Order Members. From there he travelled to Valencia where he stayed in the men's community. During his stay in Valencia Bhante gave a public talk at the Valencia Buddhist Centre. the theme this time was Padmasambhava, his talk included the five poisons and the five spiritual faculties. This event was attended by over 150 people.

The next event was an historic one, the public launch of the Spanish translation of 'A Survey of Buddhism'. The event took place in a lecture room at a University.

Most recently, Bhante has been to Krakow, Poland where he opened Sanghaloka, a new FWBO centre and our first in Poland.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Report from "The Buddhist Contribution to building a Just, Democratic and Civil Society"

Gunaketu, chairman of the FWBO’s small centre in Oslo , Norway, has for long been active in the field of environmentally and socially engaged Buddhism. He is recently returned from Hanoi in Vietnam, where he participated in a United Nations’ sponsored conference called “The Buddhist Contribution to building a Just, Democratic and Civil Society: War, Conflict and Healing-A Buddhist perspective

He reports -

"I was lucky to be invited to Vietnam to partake in a State sponsored Buddhist Conference. Some years ago UN recognised Vesak as an international holiday. Thailand promptly arranged a large conference to celebrate, and have done so the past few years.

"Last year Vietnam decided to host the conference in 2008. This was quite an historic event because the authorities in Vietnam have been restrictive with the practice of dharma. At the opening ceremony, the Chairman of the International Organizing Committee welcomed the previous Prime Minister and Foreign Minister who were instrumental in keeping him in house arrest for many years. Things change. Now, the Government are rebuilding Monasteries on a large scale. And at the same time, the Government took over the control with the organizing of the conference, last minute.

"An example of this was related to David Blundell who was not allowed to show a 28-minute preview of a documentary about Dr. Ambedkar that he was invited for, because some party official had to see it first to approve it.

"On the other hand Thich Nhat Hanh was welcomed back to Vietnam a few years ago, and he was invited as one of the keynote speakers. He had led a five-day retreat in Hanoi just before the conference, and when it was his turn to give his speech, his followers walked onto the stage, single file, slowly. First there were the brown clad nuns and monks. Then came the light blue lay people. The procession went on for many minutes and nearly 400 people filled the stage. Thich Nhath Hanh had come back en force. They chanted and Thich Nhath Hanh delivered an inspiring talk about listening and personal practice. It wasn't challenging to the Government. The other keynote speakers were Matthew Ricard, the author of the book “The philosopher and the monk”, and Phra Dharmakosajarn, the Principal at the Main Buddhist University in Bangkok, Thailand.

"As I stood with our small Norwegian contingent of four, in the main hall, with thousands of people milling around, I suddenly saw another recognisable kesa. There was Amoghamati from our Sangha in Germany! I was very surprised and delighted. Someone had told her that I might be there. This was in fact one of the highlights of the conference: To be among Buddhists from so many traditions, to meet someone from my own Order (we had not met before), to feel a strong connection and shared point of view, and from there to explore the conference together. Salutation to the good companion!

The main theme of the conference was: Buddhist Contribution to building a Just, Democratic and Civil Society. The sub themes were:

1. War, Conflict and Healing: A Buddhist Perspective
2. Buddhist Contribution to Social Justice
3. Engaged Buddhism and Development
4. Care for Our Environment: Buddhist Response to Climate Change
5. Family Problems and the Buddhist Response
6. Symposium on Buddhist Education: Continuity and Progress
7. Symposium on Buddhism in the Digital Age

"Amoghamati delivered a clear and inspiring presentation of Karuna in Germany under 3) Engaged Buddhism and Development. It was good to see the work they are doing in this context. I was invited to speak under 1) War, Conflict and Healing, with the title: Healing Conflict with Awareness.

"Due to the size of the conference with over 4000 participants, it was quite chaotic. There were for instance twice as many people invited to speak in sub theme 1) than there was time for. Many of us were therefore given just a few minutes at the end. Rather than contend with this, I offered to give my presentation in a slightly altered form under 3), as Amoghamati had told me that they did not have that many speakers, which I did. Unfortunately, this meant that I couldn’t carry out a participatory exercise I had prepared, but c’est la vie.

"In the plenary session the following day, the moderators from the various groups summed up their activities. The moderator from group 4) presented six points to care for the Environment. I asked if he would consider a seventh recommendation for a vegetarian diet, which he partly acknowledged and yet did not fully agree with. Ajahn Brahmavamso gave the concluding speech where he too emphasized listening and finished by saying that he was careful with the earth’s resources by not having children (including a wry smile).

"Then the conference was brought to a close with various congratulatory speeches and a modern classical concert composed for the occasion, which included in the middle of it some 50 monks coming on stage to chant. The other days of the conference were also concluded with cultural performances of modern dance and a traditional Vietnamese “Reform Play” about the life of the Buddha.

"Yours in the Dharma,

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Bhante in Berlin

Amogharatna, chairman of the FWBO's Centre in Berlin, (known locally as the Buddhistisches Tor Berlin, or the 'Buddhist Gate' of Berlin) has sent us this report on their recent visit by Sangharakshita.

"On 14th July, Bhante arrived in Berlin for a short visit. He was accompanied by his friend Saraha, and they stayed in the men's community. Over the next three days members of the Berlin Sangha enjoyed several opportunities to see Bhante. His programme included going for a short walk each day and meeting individuals as well as a few special events.

"At the Sangha evening in Buddhistisches Tor Berlin on Tuesday he gave a substantial talk on “The Six Distinctive Emphases of the FWBO”, which was translated into German by Dharmapriya. This was a particularly appropriate topic for a Sangha whose members are geographically quite remote from other FWBOs, and the shrine room was filled to capacity with over sixty people. On the same evening he officiated at Peter Hirth's Mitra ceremony. A version of the talk is available here from FreeBuddhistAudio.

"On Wednesday afternoon Bhante performed a 'naming ceremony' for Samuel Phillip, Utpalavajri and Akasaraja's recently born son, and in the evening he had dinner with Berlin's men Mitras. On Thursday he had a meeting with Order Members from Berlin in the morning and in the evening had dinner with the women Mitras.

"So it was a busy time for Bhante, much appreciated by the many people who were able to see him, and for which they are all very grateful".

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

two new FWBO groups in Germany

Sraddhabandhu, co-founder of the FWBO’s new centre in Düsseldorf, Germany, has told FWBO News -

“Success has come quickly for our new group. Just one year after its opening FWBO Düsseldorf has celebrated its first Mitra ceremony.

“Sven Fischer, aged 45, father of three (photo shown), decided to take refuge in the context of the FWBO. This was on the first anniversary of the Düsseldorf centre. For this 20 people came, four of them from the Zen group with which we share the rooms. Dayanidhi from Essen led the Mitra ceremony and the Puja, Sraddhabandhu did the rejoicing in Sven's merits. A special treat was the reciting of the Heart Sutra in old Japanese, carried out by the Zen group.

“The sangha in Düsseldorf is thriving, next on our list of things we want to do is start a regular Dharma study group".

Meanwhile FWBO activities have also begun in South Germany, in the town of Freiburg, where two Dharmacharinis, Suchimansa and Padumachitta, have begun weekly activities in a rented room. There’s an interesting story behind this, which we hope to bring you soon…

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

FWBO Home page now available in Russian

A new translation of the FWBO's main website,, has been launched, this time in Russian. The address is -

As with the other versions of, the site carries information on basic Buddhism, meditation practices, and the FWBO's distinctive approach, as well as a short biography of Sangharakshita, founder of the FWBO.

Russian is of course not the only languaged into which the FWBO's website has been translated; below is a list of some others -

The FWBO's Wildmind meditation website is available in many of the above languages plus Portuguese.

See our contacts section for a fuller list and for details of the local centres in each country...

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Year-End celebrations in Berlin

On 22nd December 20 people celebrated the winter solstice with a Dana-Day festival in 'Buddhistisches Tor', as the FWBO's centre in Berlin is known.

Amogharatna, the Centre's chairman, said "It was the first time, as far as I know, that we have had a decorated "Year's End tree" (as christmas trees were officially renamed in former East Germany) in the centre. The idea behind the celebration was to take some of the pre-Christian elements of Christmas, as well as positive ingredients of the Christian festival such as generosity, and set them in a Buddhist context. As well as meditation and puja the celebration included acknowledging our gratitude to others for what they have given us, a chance to express our hopes for the coming year and sharing presents around the tree. At the end we had a small feast of gingerbread and (non-alcoholic) punch. We hope the event will become a regular feature of our programme in the future."

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Friday, November 30, 2007

Bhante in Germany - part II

FWBO News is happy to present some more details of Sangharakshita’s recent visit to the FWBO’s centres in Germany. Thanks to Lalitaratna for sending them.

On the first Saturday morning of this November, Bhante, accompanied by Nityabandhu, flew from Birmingham to Düsseldorf airport in Germany.

Bhante's first stop was Vimaladhatu retreat centre where the public Ordination of Anissita was just taking place. Bhante did not join the throng - later in his trip he would be delivering a public talk and so would meet the Essen Sangha - but kept in the background where he later joined the new ordinand and his two preceptors: Bodhimitra and Surata, for a cup of tea.

Bhante had made it clear that, with a pretty full travel itinerary, it would be best if those who wanted to see him shared his mealtimes with him. The first of these meals took place that Saturday evening at Vimaladhatu when twenty-one men, made up of Order members and GFR mitras, sat down to an excellent meal which was eaten in silence followed by a delightful period of wit and conversation with Bhante.

The next morning Bhante was driven back to Essen - a 110 km trip - to the men's community where he had a short break before meeting Prasadavati and thirteen other women who made up the group of German ‘outlying GFR mitras’.

Apart from breakfast time, Bhante shared his mealtimes with gatherings from the Sangha. He dined with the women's community with invited friends; the Karuna group; a men's study group, and finally members of the Essen FWBO council. Bhante offered a question and answer session to the Order members on the Sunday evening and delivered a public talk at the Essen Buddhist Centre to 130 visitors on the Tuesday evening. The theme of the talk was his precious teachers, and Bhante later signed copies of his book with the same title.

The day after Bhante's visit, one of the yoga teachers came into the centre and commented on how everybody looked very bright. Bhante Urgyen Sangharakshita's visit was a true gift to the Essen Sangha and it has been, and remains, deeply appreciated.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Sangharakshita visits FWBO Düsseldorf

Paul Mcloughlin from FWBO Düsseldorf has sent us a short report on Sangharakshita (Bhante)'s recent visit to their sangha there. Sangharakshita only appears rarely on FWBO News these days and we’re very happy to reproduce his report here.

“As a relatively new (3 years) member of the FWBO and background team member in our new center in Düsseldorf, I was honoured at the chance of meeting Bhante in a small circle of people. As the weeks and days flew by, my anticipation grew. On the big day I had to laugh as we were still so involved "making everything perfect" that we almost missed greeting our distinguished guest at the door!

"Suddenly Bhante was among us and so normal and human. He was accompanied by his friend and companion Nityabandhu. Very soon it was clear that his frailness was only bodily and that below the surface was a very sharp, wise, loving spirit. Nine of us sat together two hours, laughed and discussed subjects as varied as psychotherapy, the Brahma Viharas, the importance of harmony between team members, Ayya Khema, marriage and Angela Merkel (the last two being separate subjects, smile). Bhante encouraged us, especially through his interest for new, small sangha groups to just keep going. All too soon the visit neared an end, but not before Bhante agreed with pleasure to chant a blessing in our shrine room. Those moments so intense will fire us on for a long long time, to continue to work as a "small team closely knit together by Metta" in Düsseldorf.

"As we stood together in front of our center saying goodbye it really felt as if we were saying goodbye to an old dear friend. THANK YOU BHANTE!!!"

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Berlin - Paris Sangha friendship weekend

At the very end of October, on Halloween, five men and women from the Paris sangha set off by train from the Paris 'Gare du Nord' on the night train to Berlin's Ostbahnhof station. On arrival they were put up by different members of the Berlin Sangha and a long weekend followed of rich and interesting meetings and exchanges, including activities at Buddhistisches Tor Berlin (the Berlin Buddhist Centre) and sightseeing in this most historic city.

The highlight of their visit was undoubtedly the Berlin–Paris friendship day on Saturday, at Buddhistisches Tor. The day was led by Amogharatna, chairman of Buddhistisches Tor Berlin, and included meditations, meals and short talks on the theme of ‘Going Forth’ from Kalyanaprabha and Akasaraja from Berlin, and Danièle Adam and Pierrick Parigot from Paris. For Pierrick it was a last opportunity to visit as he has been invited to be ordained in New Zealand early in 2008. There was also a longer talk on ‘Internationality as Practice’ from Suvannavira from Paris. The day concluded with a French–German sevenfold puja with alternating verses - first one in French and then one in German, and so on.

“The weekend was very inspiring, international and spiritual; our German hosts were creative, friendly, fascinating and gemütlich (which means something like cosy, pleasant and comfortable in German)” - Sandra.

The Berlin sangha are already invited to visit Paris the same time next year. Some photos of their visit have been posted on the Berlin portion of the Flickr FWBO Photos site.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Ordination in Germany

On Saturday November 3rd, Leo J. Zeef was publicly ordinated in the context of a Going for Refuge Retreat in Vimaladhatu, the FWBO's retreat centre near Essen in Germany. He became ANISSITA, a Pali name meaning 'He who is independent, unattached, and free'. The Private Preceptor was Bodhimitra, and the Public Preceptor Surata.


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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Rite of Passage for Teenagers at the Essen Buddhist Centre

This year at the Essen Buddhist Centre in Germany four teenagers celebrated their ritual of leaving childhood. About 80 people attended the ceremony, which was probably the first time ever such a rite of passage for teenagers was held at an fwbo centre.

Jnanacandra (photo left) initiated and led the event and told FWBO News: “I believe that as a spiritual community it is important that we support each other at important junctions in life. There are several main transitions in a life-span, some of the more obvious ones being birth, coming of age and death. Traditional societies knew of their importance and usually had established means of celebrating them in order to help those transitions to happen as smoothly and skilfully as possible. Modern societies have often lost the awareness of their importance.

“In our Sangha we do have quite a number of families whose children have often attended families retreats and know each other. I felt it was important that at the age of 13/14 we offered them a way of acknowledging that something important was changing in them and in their relation to their parents. Something dramatic happens around that time in a person’s life and I felt that in making it more explicit we could support those involved, i.e. the teenagers themselves and their parents, by stressing and ritually invoking the positive forces involved in the process of change.”

“Of the seven teenagers aged 13 or 14 who were invited to take part four girls decided to have the ceremony. For three months before it they met weekly with Jnanacandra and explored issues around growing up: reflecting on their values in life, looking back at their childhood, exploring their relationship with their parents, as well as some outings like taking part in a first-aid-course and spending a morning at court.

“For the ceremony itself the girls were free to invite whoever they wanted, so we had grand-parents, wider family, peer friends and some friends from the Sangha. “We made it clear from the start that the ceremony was not strictly ‘buddhist’ i.e. they weren’t commiting themselves to buddhism in any way, although the ceremony certainly reflected buddhist values.” The ritual consisted of three parts which could be described as ‘connectedness’, ‘letting go’, and ‘evoking strength’.

The first part of the ceremony, ‘connectedness’, was dedicated to looking back. After a brief reflection on their childhood the teenagers and their parents gave expression to their sense of connectedness, mutual respect and gratitude by bowing to each other and by exchanging a symbolic present representing what they particularly valued in each other. This emphasized the deep bond between them that formed the stable basis from which the young people could go out to find their own way in life.

The second part of the ceremony, ‘letting go’, focussed on the process of letting go of the child by her parents that necessarily happens around that age. It was symbolically enacted by one of the parents cutting off a curl of their daughter’s hair. This was later to be thrown in streaming water. As they later confirmed, this had quite a strong emotional impact on some of the parents.

The third and final part of the ceremony, ‘evoking strength’ evoked the strength that the girls will need in order to venture into the turbulent years ahead of them. Holding a “power object” that they had previously chosen and ‘charged’, each of them listened to a beautiful Rejoicing in Merit by their elder sister, parent or grandparent. In this they were reminded of the many beautiful qualities that they have and that will help them through the bardo of adolescence that will take them to adulthood.

The ceremony was framed with live music by schoolmates of one of the girls and ended with the chanting of the blessings. After the formal part, there was coffee and cake and after that the families went off to continue their celebration at home. Many people voiced their appreciation of the event and expressed the hope that it may become a part of our culture across the FWBO.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Three ordinations in Berlin and America

In the course of a women's Going for Refuge retreat amidst the pine forests at Vimaladhatu retreat centre, on Thursday 4th October, MARLENE ELTSCHIG from Berlin was ordained and given the name DHARMADAKINI (meaning 'Dakini of the Dharma') by her private preceptor Prasadavati. Padmasuri was the public preceptor.

The public ceremony took place on a glorious autumnal day, and, in addition to sangha friends - some of whom had travelled for many hours to attend - her father, her partner and their 4-year old son joined in the celebrations.

Just before that, on Saturday, September 29, two public ordinations took place at Aryaloka Buddhist Center in Newmarket, New Hampshire, USA.

Buddy Vaughan became ARJAVA (Aarjava), which is a Sanskrit name meaning direct, sincere, truthful, straight toward a goal, as an arrow in flight.

Dave Carr became BODHANA (no diacritics), a Sanskrit name meaning causing to awaken, arousing (as from sleep), bringing to fullness (as a flower to blossom).

Nagabodhi was Public Preceptor for both and Vidhuma the Private Preceptor.

Peace and good wishes.

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Ordination in Berlin - an ever-widening circle, the Sangha grows

Joerg-Detlef Nerkhorn was ordained in Berlin (at the FWBO Centre) on 30 June 2007. He was given the name ARYAMAITRI - 'He whose friendship is noble'. His private preceptor was Arthapriya and his public preceptor Sona.

FWBO News estimates that this bring the Western Buddhist Order to a total number of 1447 - just below the 1,500 mark. In fact, had we not experienced three recent and tragic deaths, the total would now be exactly that.

Thse interested in some simple statistics about the Order are invited to click here, this will take you to a short presentation on our sister site FWBO Discussion.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

FWBO activities in Düsseldorf

Sraddhabandhu has sent us this report from Düsseldorf. He says -
Since March 2007 new activities have started in Düsseldorf, the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. In November 06 we (that is to say, Thomas Lenk and I) were asked by local Zen practitioners, whose teacher had moved to Berlin, if we would like to start FWBO activities. They were looking for an arrangement that would allow them not to close down their centre. We enthusiastically agreed.

In the following months Thomas, an FWBO mitra preparing for ordination, and Andre, a Zen practitioner, founded a charity called "Buddha e.V." ( This charity is the tenant of a quite large medical practice. A lot of renovating work was done by them, and we are grateful that we now can start to offer introductions to both meditation and buddhism. "Buddha e.V." now hosts Zen and FWBO activities, with FWBO offering beginners’ nights on Mondays and Fridays, and the Zen group carrying on having "zazen" four times a week.

Each time we have between three and five visitors, which is not too bad, if you consider that we started just a month ago. Part of the activities are led by Sraddhabandhu, who is accompanied by a marvellous team of supporters. Especially Thomas puts a lot of work into the legal part of the charity, as well as leading the "metta bhavana" on Fridays. Find us on The photograph shows part of the new shrine room.