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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Soulful Spirit - new CD from Mahasukha

Mahasukha writes from Brighton, UK, with news of his new double CD, ‘Soulful Spirit’. He says -

“I've recently completed a CD, 'Soulful Spirit'. It's of largely African songs (my workshop repertoire) and includes 2 mantras and part of the Karaniya Metta Sutta, and has a couple of recordings from my Buddhafield Festival workshops.

“It consists of 24 tracks of uplifting, African, sacred, soulful songs and mantras imbued with a spirit of devotion. After nearly 10 years of leading singing workshops it’s my 1st CD. I recorded Soulful Spirit in my flat on my computer using one microphone and multi-tracking. All the songs are recorded using only voice and percussion. It took me 6 months to complete (working 24/7!)

The first CD is the songs, the second one includes all the main vocal parts which can be used as a learning and teaching resource. If you'd like to order a copy, check my website at"

Mahasukha is one of a growing number of artists and musicians of all sorts  within the FWBO; you'll find many of them and more on the inter-Buddhist 'Dharma Arts Network' site at

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Buddhist Chants CD launched by Ghent Centre

Jan Deckers from the FWBO's Gent centre in Belgium writes with news of a new CD of Buddhist chants, available to FWBO members worldwide.  He says -

"We have made a wonderful CD and a booklet of Buddhist chants, sung by Arthamitra. We would like to offer it to members of the Sangha world-wide.

"For us, chanting on retreat has become a tradition in the FWBO of the Low Countries. We choose a sutra as the theme for a retreat.

"Arthamitra, a professional opera singer, teaches the participants how to pronounce and chant the words (either traditional or his own compositions). Throughout the retreat we chant the sutra twice or three times a day, before or after a meditation or as part of a puja. This strongly supports our meditation, reflection and study. Each time the chanting gets a bit more beautiful, we open our minds further for the message of the Dharma and get closer to one another.

"The profits will go to Metta Vihara, for the acquisition and setting up of a retreat Centre for Belgium and Holland. We have 500 CDs and all costs so far have been sponsored - once we sell all those we therefore make a net benefit of € 5000 for Metta Vihara.

You can find ordering and background information on our website. On it you can also listen to a beautiful singing of the Dhammapalam Gatha, watch a movie and download a small poster and leaflet. The address is -

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Arts events across the FWBO

A dancer practices at the FWBO's London Buddhist Arts Centre in East LondonA few days ago FWBO News reported on the upcoming ‘Buddhism and Creativity’ conference in which FWBO artists will be taking part.

Arts have always been an integral part of the FWBO, being highlighted by Sangharakshita as one of the six ‘distinctive emphases’ of the FWBO.  His talk exploring this is on FreeBuddhistAudio.

A recent survey conducted on the FWBO’s European Chairs Assembly illustrated the variety of arts events being held across the movement.  We reproduce it here for readers’ interest. 

Berlin Buddhist Centre choir
Weekend workshop on the arts including a gallery visit.
Two 2-day workshops including public talks, on ‘Aesthetic appreciation and the spiritual life’, including visits to art exhibitions
Film nights including talk on the evening’s film
Weekend retreat and Friends’ Night on ‘Art and the Spiritual Life’
Policy of using FWBO artists’ work on their book covers.
London Buddhist Centre
Major commissions of painting by Aloka, also sculpture
Art shows at Wild Cherry
Poetry used in Dharma teaching
Film showings
The much-loved Buddhafield Festival is full of arts events – music, film, dance, drama, large-scale rituals…
Buddhafield has a long tradition of musical accompaniments to mantras
And many opportunities for musicians etc to perform.
Major commission of new FWBO Refuge Tree painting by Chintamani
Visits to CBSO concerts
Arts soirees
Five-day thanka painting workshop
Amsterdam Buddhist Centre Choir (meets fortnightly)
Plans for monthly film night
Creative writing weekend workshop
Dharmapala College
Seminars on Shakespeare’s ‘Tempest’; Mahler’s Third Symphony, and Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’.
Two arts exhibitions by sangha members
Poetry and music evenings
Regular poetry group
Theatre group (including visits to local productions/concerts)
Music-making and mantra-developing workshops
Seeking funding for arts project (audio-visual equipment and picture-hanging system)
Purchase of painting by Aloka
Donation of Tara painting by Sangha member
Film nights showing ‘Art-house’ movies, including Indian movies
Creative writing events
Exhibitions of work by local artists and Buddhist artists
Sangha visits to local exhibitions, concerts, poetry – and publicity for local arts events at the Centre
Lots of talk in the Centre about the arts!
Centre ‘open-mike’ nights encouraging sangha musicians to ‘do a turn’.
North London
Annual ‘Wolf at the Door’ creative writing weekend
Sangha writers group.
‘Making Art’ day focussing on the Dakini
Sangha ‘Cabaret’ evenings with music, poetry, open mike
Idea for local film club
Idea for ‘Arts Sangha’ evenings
Lights in the Sky movies shown
Cultural soiree evenings with music, dance, photos, poetry…
A program of ‘Awakening Through Art’ events
Film club at Buddhist Centre
Participation in Brighton Festival with, eg stand-up comics, music (Jazz and Chopin), and arts exhibition
Also participation in Brighton Carnival and Winter Solstice event
Major commission of painting by Aloka
Monthly ‘Dharma Eye into the World’ events – including singing/debate/film/astronomy
Occasional music events
Sangha creative writing group
Brighton Centre choir
Art exhibition planned for Centre in 2009
The Windhorse pantomime!  Check last year’s on YouTube.
Art exhibitions in Centre foyer
Japanese monks visiting and chanting
Sangha Poetry group
Sangha Writers’ group
Sangha Singing group
Sangha Music group
Wolf at the Door creative writing weekends
Five or six weeks worth of retreats on arts themes each year – including the ground-breaking ‘Clowning and Insight’.
Print media
The long-running Urthona arts magazine is at
Videosangha has a special section for FWBO Arts movie clips
Visible Mantra, at  is an extraordinary resource for those interested in the art of mantra
On FWBO Photos there’s collections of some FWBO artists’ work – and of some of the stupas that have been created around the FWBO. 
There’s an FWBO Arts community page on the Free Buddhist Audio site.
The new website will be building in slots for FWBO artists’ work.
And finally – there’s a variety of personal sites by FWBO artists, teachers, and performers –
Wolf at the Door have for many years run creative writing weekends.
Achalabodhi  is a well-known woodcarver and teacher -
Aloka is perhaps the Order’s most prolific artist, and his large paintings of the Buddha grace at least five FWBO Centre shrines.  A proper website for him is long overdue but you can see some of his work at
Amitajyoti, painter, is at
Jayacitta and Red Noses Unlimited (Clowning)
Jayarava, prolific writer, calligrapher, painter, sculptor, musician and essayist. See  for his art, for his music.
Lilavati runs a Painting School at
Padmavijaya is a well-established painter based in Sweden
Padmayogini, painter and photographer, is at
Vajradaka, meditation teacher offers mentoring in creativity.
Visuddhimati runs ‘Buddhist Pictures’, a personal site showcasing her work.

And Alokavira (aka Timm Sonnenschein)is a Professional Photographer, with wide ranging reportage and commissioned work. On his website you can see fine art pinhole photography from Guhyaloka as well as recent photographs of Bhante Sangharakshita.

And last but by no means least, Sangharakshita himself is a poet, and his Collected Works are now available for free download on-line on his personal website -

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Musicians in the Western Buddhist Order

Yesterdays post on FWBO News featured Jnanadhara and his forthcoming tour with his group ‘The Pioneers’. Jnanadhara is but one of many musicians in the Western Buddhist Order and today we want to let you know of some of the others – and their websites, if they have them.

In no special order -

Padmamati, lead musician of ‘The Real Tuesday Weld’ is probably one of the Order’s most popular but least-known musicians. Popular in the world, little-known in the Sangha! Check him out at where he’s clocked up a remarkable 4578 friends – or on Wikipedia, where his band has its own entry.

In the words of his website, Padmamati (aka Stephen Coates) “began to create music to try to recreate the sounds he heard in his childhood home - 'the crackling of radios playing swing and easy listening in some distant room.' As The Real Tuesday Weld, he doesn’t hesitate to put those sounds to subversive use much like some of his most illustrious forebears and influences—such as Serge Gainsbourg and Ennio Morricone. From his first EP 'The Valentine' on Dreamy records and through many singles, eps and compilation tracks with Motorway Records, Kindercore and Bambini records to the album 'Cupid Meets Psyche' he has developed the sound known as 'Antique Beat'.”

There’s some great podcasts available – look for ‘The Real Tuesday Weld’ or their pseudonym 'The Clerkenwell Kid'. …

Suryagita (, who has recently moved back to New Zealand, is a singing coach and features on the self-produced and very beautiful CD ‘Fleeting World’. For many years her workshops were a favourite on the Buddhafield Festival.

Also much beloved at the Buddhafield Festival – and beyond – is Mahasukha at . He's also a singing teacher, and to quote someone from his workshops, “Mahasukha has a talent for bringing people together through singing in such a way that every one feels included, supported and encouraged whatever their ability or temperament. He inspires and builds confidence in others, allowing them to achieve and experience something beyond what they thought possible.”

Jinati, the Nottingham Buddhist Centre’s choir, have set many mantras and short suttas to music; you can find their promo video on YouTube.

Achintya ( from Bristol, principle teacher of the South Bristol Buddhist Centre, has for many years moved between his music and his Buddhism. As he himself puts it – “…a terrible mistake mothballing my geeetar in 1995 and 10 wasted years trying to be a 'good' buddhist - crying at a tsunami benefit concert in 2005 as the wonderful gasworks singers sang stings song fragile - a beautiful timely reminder that only music can heal like this - only music can reconnect me with what is best in me - then remembering songs already written and still to write in my remaining years - the songs started coming again - more love songs ragings and paeans - music can help us understand this crazy journey called being alive…

By contrast, Sarajit, recently moved back to his hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, is a musician in the Hip Hop/Latin/Reggae style and founder of the group East Nasty – check their MySpace page .

Moving towards more classical music, Akasadeva from Cambridge has for many years been a concert pianist and composer, well-known both in UK and South Africa. His website is at where you’ll find his biography and upcoming schedule. He will shortly be performing in the Cape Town International Music Festival.

There are sure to be many more musicians and performers of all sorts in the wider FWBO Sangha, and we’d welcome hearing from you if you spot anyone we’ve missed…  Many of course just don't have web presences, for instance 'Tempo Verde', Amoghacitta's three-piece jazz band based at the LBC. 

Lastly, this article wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the FWBO’s London Buddhist Arts Centre, home to many Buddhist practitioners in dance, theatre, music and visual arts.

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Jnanadhara and the 'Pioneers'

Jnanadhara (in the background) and the rest of 'The Pioneers'Jnanadhara, one of a dozen Order Members in Dublin, Ireland, writes to say –

“Hi, I'd like to post a item on the FWBO news site about a CD that I’ve made and a tour that I'm doing in the UK this autumn”.

Jnanadhara is one of 'The Pioneers', a small music/theatre group that is touring the UK and New Zealand over the next few months. In their show of the same name, the group’s members are telling the story of their ancestors who chose to leave Victorian England and Ireland to settle in the wilderness that would have been New Zealand 150 years ago. On the way they encounter hardship and uncertainty, freedom and love, but most importantly, the prospect of a new beginning full of possibility.

Their website states – “Using original acoustic music based on texts by leading New Zealand poets, plus story-telling and character portrayal, the three musicians bring the poignant, personal journeys to life. The show also incorporates a visually stunning backdrop of New Zealand scenery and images mixed in with rarely seen digitally reproduced archival images of Magic Lantern slides”.

Full details of tour dates are available on their website or their MySpace page which includes several of their songs. A reviewer says “The Pioneers offer a very special experience where music has been woven with theatre and back projection to create a riveting, moving performance”. Catch them if you can! The Pioneers' CD is available from their website.

Jnanadhara may already be known to regular readers of FWBO News, thanks to his guest appearance accompanying Kavyasiddhi as she sings ‘The Heart Sutra’ (by Karuna Carpenter) on Videosangha.

There are many other musicians, of all types, in the Order, we plan to bring you a partial round-up of them tomorrow. Watch this space…

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