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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Technology and Enlightenment: new Wildmind newsletters out

Wildmind logoWildmind is the FWBO’s US-based website dedicated to teaching meditation. Each month they publish a newsletter exploring one or another aspect of meditation or dharma practice. 

October 2009 looks at the interesting topic of ‘Technology and Enlightenment’, in which contributors explore whether immersing ourselves in a world of gadgets may also distance us from more authentic connections with teachers, family, and friends - or not. There’s reports too on recent scientific research disproving the notion, still common in the West, that Buddhists must be a miserable lot because their teachings dwell so much on suffering. The research in fact suggests what Buddhists have believed all along - that Buddhism -- or at least Buddhist meditation- leads to happiness.

November, by contrast, is on the theme of ‘ Making your meditation work’. One article sees Sunada explain how working with (as opposed to fighting against) our fears can point us toward our own place of freedom: she describes fearlessness not as the absence of fear, but the ability stay with one's fear and use its energy wisely. Meditation teacher and life coach Srimati offers a ten-stage guide to getting the most out of your meditation practice -and new contiributor Rev. Canon Renée Miller explores Buddhist practice from the perspective of her own Christian faith.

December, just out, is simply on the theme of ‘Practice’ - especially appropriate at a time of year which often seems dedicated to anything but! There’s a rich collection of articles here too - but we’ll leave you to find out more by clicking here...

If you want to keep in touch with Wildmind they’ve recently launched a new Wildmind Facebook page and Twitter feed, which will deliver ‘tweets’ right into your Twitter in-box each time they post an article - sign up at

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Friday, July 31, 2009

launch of 'Life with Full Attention'

Maitreyabandhu writes from the London Buddhist Centre, the FWBO's largest centre outside India -

"I'm delighted to announce the launch of my new book, Life with Full Attention - a practical course in mindfulness.

"My book is about paying attention.

"Mindfulness is something you can practise on a plane, waiting in a queue at the post office, or eating a takeaway. It's not religious. It's about paying attention.

"I explore the different levels and dimensions of mindfulness. I address the issues a reader might face when they try to put mindfulness into practice. But don't worry: I'm not assuming you have plenty of free time. I assume you have work to do, people to see, things to accomplish, children to get to school. The art of mindfulness will be learning to bring more attention to the sort of things you already do. I'm not trying to add another task to your jobs list".

Launch dates
London Buddhist Centre, 7.15pm, 2nd September
Manchester Buddhist Centre, 7.15pm, 7th September
Birmingham Buddhist Centre, 7.15pm, 29th September

For more information, and to order, check Windhorse Publications on

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Vajraloka launches new on-line newsletter

vajraloka buddhaVajraloka Retreat Centre in Wales is the FWBO’s oldest meditation retreat center, founded in 1979.

They’ve launched a new e-newsletter, which is full of colourful photos, news items, short articles and some poetry. You can sign up to receive a copy by visiting their website at and entering your email address - for a taster, check the first edition, already on the web at Amongst other things, it contains an update on Vajraloka’s finances, details of a future retreat, a poem from Claire, which was written on her retreat at Vajraloka last summer, and exotic tales from ex-team member Kieran - now teaching yoga in Africa!

Balajit, their resident webmaster/photographer/journalist, writes “Its hoped that the e-newsletter will develop organically over time, and capture different aspects of life at the retreat centre, with offerings from the resident community and people who visit”.

The first issue also launches a Shrineroom appeal. If you would like to contribute, please visit their new and rather minimal fund-raising page at .

Vajraloka from the fields below
Balajit spells out why -‘With some spilled contents, frayed edges and fading colours, one by one, our shrineroom gear is falling prey to impermanence! We would like to buy a whole new set of mats, blankets, and cushions. Into the bargain, if possible, we would also like some new shrinecloths and tibetan style puja instruments, to add more colour to our evening rituals. To use the much proclaimed fund raising mantra – ‘every little bit helps!’'

There’s more about Vajraloka on the web – check their photograph albums on Flickr, at; their main website at . A supplementary Newsletter at contains (among other things) reminiscences on the early days of Vajraloka by Vajradaka and Kamalashila. Last but not least there's their Facebook group.

Vajraloka has played a crucial part in the FWBO's ongoing exploration of meditation and Sangharakshita's teaching; you'll find selections of the articles and talks they've produced over the years on Tejananda's (Vajraloka's chairman) personal website at Plus there's a wealth of talks by him and others on FreeBuddhishAudio, of course!


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Friday, January 09, 2009

Breathworks on the BBC: research vindicates mindfulness approaches to depression

News has just reached us that last month the ethical and religious news show on BBC Radio 4 ran an interview with members of the Breathworks team at the Manchester Buddhist Centre and Professor Willem Kuyken of Exeter University.

Breathworks is the FWBO’s very successful right livelihood practice, based in Manchester, UK, pioneers of mindfulness-based pain management and stress management courses for anyone wishing to live a richer life and feel a greater sense of initiative and confidence

The program focussed on some new research by Professor Kuyken indicating that systematic mindfulness practice is just as effective as drugs or 'talking' therapy for treating depression, and that it was actually more effective for their secondary measures such as improving quality of life.

The BBC contacted the Breathworks team to have someone leading a meditation, and had Diane Kaylor (a mitra at the Manchester Buddhist Centre) speaking about the benefits of practice.

A fuller report of the research is available on-line, for instance on the e!science news site.

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Wildmind on spiritual rebirth, materialism, solitude, warriorhood, and more...

Wildmind logoWildmind is the FWBO’s US-based website dedicated to teaching meditation.

Besides offering an easy and free way to
learn meditation on-line, their site hosts a vast library of meditation-related articles from a wide range of sources.

Every month they issue their meditation newsletter, each one dedicated to one or another theme connected in some way to meditation.

We've neglected to keep you up to date with these as they've come out, but here they are now -

· January 2009: Spiritual rebirth
· December 2008: Spiritual materialism
· November: Solitude
· October: Warriorhood
You can either browse these on their enormous website or subscribe here.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

1000 meditators in India, fundraising for NNBY

the shine used for the all-night meditation in Nagpur, India - outside the DiksabhumiLast Friday and Saturday nights saw the full moon appearing at it s biggest and brightest for 15 years, according to astronomers.

It also saw over 1,000 people in India meditating – many all night – as a fundraiser for NNBY, the ‘National Network of Buddhist Youth’ created by members of the Order some three years ago. They were joined by many others around the world, in the UK, France, the US, Mexico, Australia, and elsewhere, where meditators met singly or in groups for a night of practice.

full-moon walking meditation at the Mahavihara in PuneWell over UK £1,000 was raised (figures are still coming in, especially from India and the US), and the reports from India sounded almost ecstatic the morning after – “we did it!”. According to reports from Kumarajiv, one of the founder members of NNBY, the event seems to have been something of a collective milestone, a sigificant step forwards in their organising ability - and confidence in the power of collective practice!

Publicity for the event was almost entirely internet-based, with word being spread via Facebook and ‘Orkut’ (a Google-based social networking site much used by NNBY members). This hiccupped when Facebook deleted the ‘FWBO Buddhists’ profile and the associated event – it was revived but lost some momentum in the process!

tired but happy, Nagpur meditators celebrate the morning afterAs a result, NNBY are still fundraising for their annual budget – they receive no statutory funding of any sort, or from any FWBO institutions. Their three priorities for the year are -

1. Training Buddhist youth as leaders
2. Supporting their leaders to teach and organize
3. Sponsoring the NNBY National Annual Conference

The next NNBY annual conference begins very soon – on December 25th at TBMSG’s Bor Dharan retreat centre outside Nagpur. As in previous years, some 500 youth are expected to attend.

Contributions from readers of FWBO/TBMSG News are still very welcome – and two separate internet donations sites are active, for readers in the USA (via the FWBO's New York Centre) and UK (via Justgiving) respectively.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Seeking sponsors for international Full-Moon meditation

The night of Saturday December 13th will see an international ‘Sponsored Full Moon meditation’ raising funds for NNBY, India’s National Network of Buddhist Youth, an autonomous project under TBMSG’s ‘umbrella’.

The target is for them to raise their entire annual budget of UK £4,500 in a single night - all readers of FWBO News are invited to contribute, either by meditating (and seeking sponsors for yourself!) or simply by donating.

This is very simple – there is an internet fundraising page at

Kumarajiv from India has contacted FWBO News with the latest developments there. He says -

“I am writing about the arrangements in India for the Sponsored Full Moon meditation. As you know this is to raise funds world-wide for NNBY- this is our initiative of the National Network of Buddhist Youth. We need funds for our programme of Buddhist Youth leadership training and also for our big annual Buddhist Youth Conference.

“The event in Nagpur will be the biggest. We are arranging a facility for meditation for 500 people. It will be held at the open to sky meditation hall on the Deekshabhoomi ground. This is the historic place where Dr. Ambedkar converted to Buddhism in 1956. Subhuti will be giving a one hour talk at the beginning of it at 6 to 7.30 pm then he will ring the bells for the first meditation at 8 pm. We will go on until 5.30 am and then conclude with puja.

"The arrangements for 500 people will be little risky since we are fearing that many more people would turn up. We will also be encouraging participants to donate during the event.

“People in Wardha will be meditating at the TBMSG Centre there, they are hoping for 100 participants – and the same at our Centre in Amaravati. Others are also meditating throughout the world. We warmly invite all members of our Sangha to join us on this night and also to donate to NNBY.”

The initiative has met an enthusiastic response in New York among the FWBO Sangha there, they have created a special webpage that can accept American donations. It’s also been spreading virally through the Facebook network where people from 7 countries have committed to participate.

It’s very easy to take part – you simply commit to meditating for as long as you feel able on the full-moon night of Saturday December 13th, this can be in your own home or any other place of your choosing. Then tell your friends, asking them to sponsor you by visiting the fundraising webpage And if you don’t feel up to meditating – just donate!

A full introduction to NNBY is available on their main fundraising page; they also have a website. Please do consider taking part or donating.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Wildmind: meditation teaching, news, and more - an update

Wildmind is the FWBO’s US-based website dedicated to teaching meditation. Besides offering an easy and free way to learn meditation on-line, their site hosts a vast library of meditation-related articles from a wide range of sources.

Every month they issue their meditation newsletter which you can subscribe to here. Back issues are of course available on their website -

· September: Spiritual Abundance
· August: Getting Unstuck
· July: Friendship as Practice
· June: Meditating with the Body

In addition to these, they’ve built up a vast library of meditation-related articles of all sorts.

Their Meditation in the News service tracks exactly that, while the fascinating ‘Meditation Zeitgeist’ blog offers a myriad fascinating glimpses of how Buddhist meditation is entering – and affecting – American culture.

More personally, their very own Auntie Suvanna is available to answer all those tricky questions that arise for the novice practitioner. What is the Buddhist approach to excess body hair? How does Enlightenment relate to the Matrix? And many more…

In ‘real life’ they have a rich section on ‘Applied Meditation’ which among other things details their prison work, their translation projects, meditation and pain management, and meditation for stress and depression.

And in case all that’s not enough, there is the new Open Circle community, which they describe as part on-line book club, part Buddhism course - an opportunity to explore key Buddhist concepts with like-minded people. They are currently exploring Sangharakshita's excellent book 'The Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path', available either direct from them or any good bookstore.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Invitation to participate in on-line research study for meditators

FWBO News is pleased to pass on this request for volunteers to take part in an on-line project looking at some of the effects of meditation. "Hi there,I'm Rebecca, a Mitra with the Letchworth FWBO group. "I'm currently doing some research for my MSc project that involves looking at some of the effects of meditation. "I'm looking for volunteers who meditate regularly and who would like to take part in the study. It will be available online in the next few weeks, and will consist of some questionnaires (about 20 mins) and two very short experiments (less than 5 minutes each). "In total, participation should take around 40-45 minutes, and can be done wherever you have an internet connection and a Flash plug-in (most computers have this already). "We are going to submit this research to an academic journal so that it can be published, and the results will be available to anyone who is interested. If are interested in taking part, please click the links below. Do pass it on to anyone you know who might be interested, or please feel free to contact me if you would like more information, with no obligation to take part at any stage.Thanks for your time! "With Metta, "Rebecca MSc Student (Research Methods in Cognitive Neuropsychology) BPS Transpersonal Psychology PsyPAG representative Division of Teacher and Researchers in Psychology PsyPAG representative Below are the 'instructions' and link for the study. There are four sections, which should take around 30-40 minutes to complete. Please click here to take part!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Wildmind on Purification

Wildmind has recently released their latest Newsletter, on the theme of Purification. Highly recommended – but so is the rest of the Wildmind site. Although they are basically in the business of teaching meditation on-line to all who wish to learn, their site has, over the years, grown to include contributins on many subjects from many people.

While researching this article, FWBO News’ eye was caught by their recently revamped guest column ‘Ask Auntie Suvanna’ – a unique, on-line, opportuniity to put your burning questions to a wise and kindly Buddhist auntie… In her own words, she says, “Ever despair at how to cultivate lovingkindness for Dick Cheney, or ponder the effect of anti-depressants on Buddha Nature? If so, check out Auntie Suvanna, who applies her unique wisdom and wit to your queries about life, meditation, Dharma, family and relationship issues, or anything else that comes up…” Just in case you’re wondering, she goes on to say “They don’t have to be Buddhist troubles - any kind will do!”.

They’re also pretty good at keeping up with meditation in the news.

If you are pretty new to Buddhism and want to learn basic Buddhist meditations as practiced in the FWBO, and if you’re not near a Buddhist Centre, Wildmind is the place for you. It’s all here – mindfulness, loving-kindness, posture, mantra, and walking meditations.

Getting even more interactive, their new Open Circle is a discussion forum, currently looking at Buddhism: Tools for Living Your Life, by Vajragupta. To quote Wildmind’s own introduction, “Open Circle is part on-line book club, part Buddhism course. It provides an opportunity to explore key Buddhist concepts and be guided through reflections and activities designed to integrate them into your life. The emphasis of Open Circle goes beyond understanding Buddhist principles, and we do much more than just discussing the concepts presented. Each week the facilitator suggests specific reflections and activities to make the material for the week relevant and applicable. There is ample opportunity to ask questions, receive guidance, and share your ideas and experiences”.


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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Wildmind: Waking Up...

Wildmind's on-line meditation newsletter has a new edition out. The theme is

'Waking Up'.

It's what practising the Dharma is all about!

There's articles by Sunada, one of Wildmind's principal teachers; Vimalasara, currently on tour in India; Vajradaka, long-time chairman of Vajraloka (the FWBO's meditation retreat centre in Wales); the multi-facetted Parami; and Suvarnaprabha, Director of the San Franscisco Buddhist Centre - as well as Bodhipaksa himself, Wildmind's founder and director.

Besides their on-line teaching courses and free meditation instruction, Wildmind's site hosts a variety of different blogs - you might like to try Ask Auntie Suvanna for some less serious but still deeply profound advice on meditation and much, much more...

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Big changes for two Dakas

Vajradaka may well hold the record for the longest resident in any FWBO Centre or retreat centre. But now all that has changed...

After twenty one years living and leading retreats at Vajraloka retreat centre in Wales Vajradaka had a years 'sabbatical' to have unstructured time and do some writing.

While staying in southern Italy for six months he decided to leave the retreat centre. He is now living in London and offering workshops to help people communicate the essential spirit and principles of meditation.

Information about these is available on his new website Communicating Meditation.

Big changes also for Karunadaka, until recently the Chair of the FWBO’s Dublin Buddhist Centre and a big part of their ongoing new Centre project. He has been offered and has accepted the post of Fund-raising Coordinator for Oxfam in Ireland.

He writes –

“It’s a kind of dream job for me. I will be in charge of the Fund-raising team of six here in Dublin; I feel incredibly fortunate to have found a job like this.

“I'll be handing the Buddhist centre over to a team of three, the centre is in good shape and is run pretty collectively, so it all feels very smooth. Despite the new job I’ll be carrying on the building project with Dayananda, and hope to hand over the keys to a fab place to a new team in the Spring. I feel I have learned so much from working together. I only wish we had more money and I could have moved on to an FWBO position in Ireland. Maybe one day in the future…

“In the meantime, if you'd like to log on to you'll be able to make a real difference in halting the global arms trade, ensuring primary education for all, and helping sustainable long-term development for some of the most marginalised of our global citizens: just click to donate to the campaign of your choice.....! Go an ya good thing! ;-)”

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Celebrating Wildmind

We'd like to celebrate Wildmind. It describes itself as “online guide to meditation”. That sounds very simple – but actually, it’s much more than that...

If you dig a bit deeper into their extensive website you’ll find they go on to say “Our mission is to benefit the world by promoting awareness and compassion through the practice of Buddhist meditation”. Wildmind is a huge resource for anyone with an interest in contemporary Buddhist meditation, specifically as practiced and taught by the FWBO. Created by Bodhipaksa, a member of the Western Buddhist Order, in the year 2000, it is run by him and a small team out of their offices in Newmarket, New Hampshire.

There’s jewels scattered throughout their site, and FWBO News would like to highlight just three of these – as well as let you know one way you can support them.

First is their wonderful series of ‘Quotes of the Month’ – this month’s being Esther Lederer’s “Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head.”

Second is the Wildmind Newsletter, just reaching its fifth anniversary - a treasure trove of insight, teaching, and tit-bits…! You can subscribe and have it delivered monthly to your inbox, or browse their extensive archives.

Third is their archive of over 2000 meditation-related news stories from around the world – fully searchable of course. A one-stop-shop which, in effect, catalogues how meditation is influencing more and more people’s lives across the Westen world.

If you’d like to get involved, besides the obvious possibility of taking one of their courses, they have an active translation program, and already have most of the site available in five languages besides English – Chinese, Spanish, French, Russian, and Polish.

Next comes Portuguese, already part-completed - but they would welcome your donations to assist them in this, and also extending the Chinese section of the site.


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Sunday, October 14, 2007

FWBO International Retreat 2008 - bookings opening soon

The publicity and booking information for the FWBO International Retreat is being launched in the next few weeks. The retreat is a new venture, organised by the European FWBO Chairs Assembly, and is taking place from 22nd to 26th May next year. The format will be a long weekend retreat, and it will be held at Taraloka in the UK, with some of the FWBO's best and most experienced teachers.

So far, the list of confirmed teachers includes Dayanandi, Dhammarati, Kamalasila, Kulaprabha, Padmavajra, Parami, Maitreyi, Ratnadharini, Ratnaguna, Tejananda, Vessantara, and Vidyamala, plus members of Buddhafield leading ritual and storytelling, and members of Buddhafield North running activities for children.

The weekend takes place just a few days after Wesak, the full moon day of May, on which Buddhists all over the world celebrate the Buddha's attainment of Enlightenment. On the retreat we'll be hearing about what it was the Buddha had discovered, how he then spent many days reflecting and meditating on its significance, before finally deciding to share his experience and “beat the drum of the Dharma”.

We are envisaging an unfolding theme over the weekend - looking at the stories and incidents from the tradition, but also their meaning, relevance, and "equivalents" in our own lives. There will be a day looking at the Buddha's Enlightenment and the topic of insight and understanding, a day exploring absorption, depth, assimilation... and a day looking at going back into the world with the message of the Dharma...

On 12th October the English language version of new website went live, with full information about the event. There will soon be facilities to book on-line, or download a postal booking form. Also coming are versions of the website in various other European languages. Brochures about the event (also with booking forms) will be available at UK Centres in the next couple of weeks.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Mindfulness for everything?

Click here to read Vishvapani’s survey of the growing field of mindfulness-based therapies and the place of the FWBO therein.

He sets the scene by saying “The faculty of mindfulness—broadly defined as non-judgmental present-moment awareness—has always been a key element of the Buddhist path; and in recent years psychologists and healthcare professionals have been recognizing its value for people experiencing conditions ranging from stress and depression to addiction, chronic pain and ill health. A natural crossover exists between this growing medical interest in mindfulness and the skills that FWBO meditators and teachers have developed in their years of practice.”

And he asks – “So how are people from the FWBO engaging with MBTs, and what issues are emerging as they do so?”

A fascinating and inspiring read – one of the many facets of the great adventure that is the Dharma coming to the West.

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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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