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Thursday, January 07, 2010

An invitation - and a challenge - from the Karuna Trust fundraising team

Khemajala, a fundraiser at the Karuna Trust, writes with an invitation - and a challenge - for all men reading FWBO News. He says -

"Would you like to live a truly meaningful and memorable year as part of a Karuna Men's Fundraising Community?

"On 29 September 2006, in Khairlanji village, central India, Surekha Bhotmange, her daughter Priyanka and her two sons, Roshan and Sudhir were dragged from their home by a mob, stripped naked, paraded through their village, beaten to death, and their bodied dumped in a nearby canal.

 Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange, the father of the family (photo opposite), escaped by lucky chance. The details of this caste-based crime are sickening, and the hatred behind it is difficult to comprehend but the viciousness is typical of many crimes committed against lower caste people in India every day.

"Most of these crimes are invisible, but this atrocity came to light through Dalit campaigns and became an international news story. The Manuski project, led by members of TBMSG (the Indian equivalent of the FWBO), and supported by Karuna, played an important part in making that happen.

"Could you tell Bhaiyyalal’s story? You could give Dalit people such as Bhaiyyalal a voice and help them escape the suffering caused by caste discrimination.

"How? Live a truly meaningful and memorable year as part of a Karuna Men’s Fundraising Community

"From September 2010 to August 2011, Karuna will be pioneering the first team of Karuna Appeal fundraisers who will come together for a year to live and work together as a community of fundraisers.

"We need a team of four or more men.

"What we’re offering:

• Community living based in London
• Blocks of 6 weeks fundraising followed by at least one week off
• A total of 10 weeks leaves including a trip to India and time for retreats
• Training in Fundraising as a spiritual practice
• A comprehensive support package
• Led by Jayaraja

"For more information -
Contact Khemajala
Phone 0207 697 3004

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Karuna Trust launches 2010 Fundraising Campaign

Andrea McCaghy writes from the FWBO's Karuna Trust, saying -

"We’re really excited here at Karuna to be able to launch the Karuna 2010 Fundraising Campaigns. Did you know there is a peaceful revolution happening in South Asia?

"There are about 250 million children, women and men in South Asia who have been born into the rigid caste system which inflicts severe restrictions on their lives creating a relentless cycle of suffering which has persisted for thousands of years.

"Karuna was formed in 1980, in response to the suffering of India’s Dalit population. For 30 years, Karuna has worked with some of South Asia’s most disadvantaged people, supporting low-caste and tribal communities, street children and refugees fulfill their potential through our social and Dharma projects.

"Karuna sends over £1 million each year to fund projects in South Asia which support hundreds of thousands of people by lifting them out of poverty, building dignity and challenging discrimination.

"You can help this peaceful revolution.


"By giving your time in 2010 in one of three ways:

1. Help out on a telephone fundraising campaign in London

2. Join a Karuna residential Door to Door Fundraising Appeal

3. Live in a pioneering Men’s fundraising community for a year

Karuna door-to-door fundraising appeals are a very effective spiritual practice. Over the years I have seen many people change significantly as a result of taking part in them. I would therefore urge all those who have our work in India at heart to support Karuna in this way.” Sangharakshita

"To find out more:

"Contact Jo Goldsmid, Pete Hannah, Khemajala or Amalavajra
Phone 0207 697 3026

Check out the Booklets and posters which are due to arrive at FWBO Buddhist centres across the UK very soon. I attach the poster for those not able to get one - or who'd like a sneak preview!

Bye for now.


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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

MBE for London Order Member

FWBO News has just received a tipoff from our Taraloka mole, who says -

“Just discovered that Sraddhapushpa has just collected her MBE at Buckingham Palace!”

Thanks, mole…! It’s true - Debrett’s says so, where we learn that the Queen has been graciously pleased, on the occasion of the Celebration of Her Majesty's Birthday, to give orders for the following appointments to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire...

Sraddhapushpa (whose English name is Suzy Powesland) is a 79-year-old Order Member living in an FWBO women’s community around the London Buddhist Centre, and was for many years a teacher in some of East London’s roughest schools. She was nominated for the award (a Member of the British Empire)by her community, which was awarded for “voluntary service to Black and Minority Ethnic People in East London”.

Sraddhapushpa featured prominently in Ed Husain's 2008 book ‘The Islamist: Why I Joined Radical Islam in Britain, What I Saw Inside and Why I Left’, shortlisted for both the Book Prize and Orwell Prize 2008.

To quote from Chapter 1, Ed Husain says  - “Sir William Burrough primary school in Limehouse was almost an extension of my home. The teachers would often visit my parents and I remember going to Ms Powlesland’s house to pick cherries in her garden. She loved her pupils so much that even her social life revolved around us. At weekends she often took us to theatres in the West End, where many of the stories we read in class came alive on stage. My particular favourite was Peter Pan. I liked his ability to do the undoable: to fly.

“Growing up in Britain in the 1980s was not easy. Looking back, I think Ms Powlesland was trying to create her own little world of goodwill and kindness for the children in her care. We grew up oblivious of the fact that large numbers of us were somehow different – we were ‘Asian’.

"‘Pakis! Pakis! F— off back home!’ the hoodlums would shout. The National Front was at its peak in the 1980s. I can still see a gang of shaven-headed tattooed thugs standing tall above us, hurling abuse as we walked to the local library to return our books. Ms Powlesland and the other teachers raced to us, held our hands firmly, and roared at the hate-filled bigots.

"‘Go away! Leave us alone,’ they would bellow to taunts of ‘Paki lovers’ from the thugs. Little did I know then that one day I, too, would be filled with abhorrence of others..."   (click here to read the rest of the first chapter online).

Sadhu Sraddhapushpa!

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Ambedkar Day in north London - coming up soon...

An early portrait of Dr. Ambedkar, probably taken in the 1940sThe second annual Ambedkar Day at the FWBO’s North London Buddhist Centre is coming up on Saturday 13th September 2008,.

It’s been created to celebrate the life, work, and legacy of Dr. Ambedkar, who died in 1956 but is still the inspiration to millions upon millions of India’s new Buddhists. More than almost anyone else, he demonstrated the need for Dhamma practice to address both the individual and the world – inspiring Sangharakshita, and though him, the whole FWBO/TBMSG with this vision.

It’s looking to be a rich and full day, running from 10 am – 10 pm, offering a feast of events and information put on by a wide variety of groups, both FWBO and other. There’ll be talks by Vishvapani on ‘Indian Buddhism now’ and Tejadarshan on Ambedkar’s Dhamma Revolution; a display by the Dalit Solidarity Network on their campaign against manual scavenging (still endemic in India) two showings of ‘Recurring Dreams’ (Suryaprabha’s new film on TBMSG and Indian Dhamma. There’ll be a selection of workshops and presentations, including Saul Deason will be reporting on his recent visits to India and to followers of Dr. Ambedkar in Hungary. There’ll be Bollywood Dance by Ramesh; Hindi chanting, and DVDs and books on Caste on sale in the foyer – and even, for those needing a bit of peace and quiet, meditation workshops!

It’s been timed to coincide with the local borough Islington’s InterFaith Peace Week and local councillors are expected to attend.

Saul Deason, the organiser, describes his mission being “to encourage active support for Ambedkarite projects and to broaden the support for them among Buddhists and others”.

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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Dharma and creativity: fresh explorations

Vajradaka lived for 21 years at Vajraloka, the FWBO's meditation retreat centre in Wales, and for many years its chairman.

Now he's left and moved to the big city, London - and started a new project supporting "creativity". More specifically, he's facilitating forums and workshops on the underlying principles and spirit of Creativity, and he's created a website illustrating what he's trying to do. He describes it as "CREATIVE ENGAGEMENT: Exploring the Dharma in the context of creativity".

Outside of cyberspace you'll find him at 491 Gallery, a vibrant community arts and creativity centre in Leytonstone, London. They describe what they're up to as "an evolving Arts Piece, a meta-conceptual living room, a pirate utopia reclaiming neglected land and property and giving something back to the community with a healthy balance of art, regeneration, education, performance, gardening, and diversity of life..."

Vajradaka hopes his forums/workshops will support creative expression in all its different forms; the next events at 491 are on the 3rd and 17th of September. He tells FWBO News he's also giving one-to-one guidance on creativity - you can email him here.

Of course there's plenty else in the way of creativity going on across the FWBO/TBMSG - in london for instnace we have for years run the London Buddhist Arts Centre. They describe their mission as "to support Buddhist artists to explore the relationship between their art, Dharma practice, and the urban habitat".
Another new development is that on the FWBO Photos website (now hosting over 3,000 FWBO photos!) there's a page dedicated to showcasing the work of some FWBO Artists, including links to many individual artists' pages. Click here to have a look.

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Monday, May 05, 2008

West London emerges from the Flood – and Edinburgh says “thank you”

Last summer the West London Buddhist Centre experienced serious flooding on two separate and entirely unrelated occasions – one causing the ceiling of their shrine room to collapse and one covering the floor with water.

Undeterred, they embarked upon the necessary repairs and are now scheduled to be fully up and running again in time to celebrate Buddha Day on Sunday the 18th of May. There will be a free open day from 12 to 5, with talks, meditation, and an exhibition of Buddhist art works, followed by celebrations for the Sangha in the evening.

Among the artwork is a piece by local Buddhist artist Jason Etienne, titled “Basic Buddhism 2” – clearly inspired by the twin sources of British graffiti artist Banksy and the legendary biographies of the Buddha, which speak of lotuses springing up behind each step of the Buddha as he roared his lion’s roar..

Meanwhile, up in Scotland, the Edinburgh Buddhist Centre, who last year experienced major floods of their own, are just celebrating the second anniversary of their new Centre. Their new Director, Vajrahridaya, has written an open letter to all who have ever contributed to the FWBO in Edinburgh. Since those many people are now scattered around the world, we have pleasure in reproducing part of it here on FWBO News. Vajrahridaya writes -

“I, along with the Trustees on the Edinburgh Buddhist Council would like to take this opportunity to thank you and express our gratitude for all the support and help you have contributed towards the stability and growth of our local Sangha in Edinburgh.

“We would like to acknowledge that your help and generosity, in the form of either Donations, Standing Orders, Gift Aid, your practical help, your encouraging presence and words or even just coming along to the centre to support us, has contributed towards the creation of this new centre and thus our Sangha.

“It is due to our collective effort and enthusiasm that we have managed to buy our own new premises and establish our Sangha, the spiritual community in Edinburgh. So Sadhu! Sadhu!! Sadhu!!!

“We hope that you will continue to offer your valuable support and help towards the growth and development of our Sangha and we very much value and welcome your ideas, thoughts and vision for spreading the Buddha’s Dharma in this modern world.

“Yours in the Dharma, Vajrahridaya”

Sadhu Edinburgh!

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

London Buddhist Centre reviewed on CNN

The London Buddhist Centre's meditation classes have been favourably reviewed on CNN, under the heading 'Meditation - the key to calm', with the reviewer, Brigid Delaney, concuding it was a "surprisingly effective exercise". Click for details...

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

FWBO Projects Receive Community Funding

The UK government recently announced the results of round 2 of the ‘Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund’, which attracted bids from over 1,200 UK faith-based organisations. The funding was given to “groups with practical solutions to build capacity among faith communities to support inter faith work”. The successful applicants were the Brighton, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, and Croydon FWBO Centres, the Clear Vision Trust, Dharmachakra (now known as Free Buddhist Audio), and the LBC’s Globe Community Project.

A full list of the 343 successful organisations is available online (pdf file). The fund is administered to the Community Development Foundation (CDF). FWBO News will be chasing up the recipients to find out how they will be using the money.

Story by Lokabandhu

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