free counters

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 -

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

FWBO Address List - major update published

 The FWBO’s main address list has recently benefitted from a major overhaul, and as a consequence many groups have been listed there for the first time.

The new list is available on the main fwbo website at

In addition an ‘in-house’ version has been prepared for use by those running FWBO Centres or groups – please contact FWBO News if you are interested in a copy of this. 
One delightful discovery was that there are no less than 57 residential FWBO communities still in existence, spread across nine countries.  It’s certainly true that a much smaller proportion of the FWBO now live in communities compared with ten or fifteen years ago, but community living is clearly alive and well in the FWBO Sangha.   

It also became apparent that since the list was last revised, new FWBO groups have sprung up in a substantial number of new places, especially around the UK but including such out-of-the-way places as the West of Ireland, where there are three groups - all run single-handedly by Sinhaketu! 

The FWBO now has centres in many of the West’s major cities and it looks likely that future growth will come not from new city centres but from new local groups, meeting in people’s houses and taking far less effort to run than acquiring and maintaining a new building. 

In addition, some at least of the many TBMSG Centres in India have been added, again for the first time. 

Any corrections to the list are welcome, please contact FWBO News at any time.  Any readers interested to start an FWBO group where they live are also invited to get in touch.  

Labels: ,

Monday, February 16, 2009

Report from recent FWBO Chairs meeting

Young People, the upcoming International Urban Retreat, Karuna’s draft strategy for the next five years, the prospects for Windhorse:Evolution, and the growing field of ‘Mindfulness-Based’ therapies were among the topics discussed by the FWBO’s European Chairs when they met last month at Taraloka.

It was a packed week – but one with a general mood of excitement and optimism underlying it. Dhammaketu arrived celebrating the FWBO’s Ghent centre moving to new and larger premises; Amoghavajra Ipswich’s; and tales were told of the hoped-for new FWBO retreat centre in the Low Countries.

Sangharakshita attended and brought copies of the new 792-page ‘Essential Sangharakshita, recently published by Wisdom, answering questions and speaking on several of the figures in the FWBO Refuge Tree.

There were presentations on the new website, on the history of the FWBO in Germany and Holland, on plans for growth, media collaboration across the FWBO, and ‘Dana Economies’ in the FWBO.

Of course lots of other stuff happened as well as the formal meeting sessions: Dhammagita was there to offer daily workouts, promising (rumour had it) ‘bums of steel’ to attendees, late-night cinema audiences seemed to work their way through a series of Wallace and Gromit movies, and the frisbee fanatics were out on the frozen grass on every possible occasion. So it wasn’t all hard work…

Big themes were discussed, some big new developments are in process. Economically, 2009 looks set to be a tough year, but spiritually the FWBO Chairs and the FWBO itself seemed to be in good shape.

A full report is available on FWBO Features. Further details of many of the topics are available on-line, hyperlinks are included in the report wherever possible.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, February 14, 2009

FWBO People: introducing Vajradarshini

This Saturday’s ‘FWBO People’ post features Vajradarshini. 

Until recently she was Chair of Tiratanaloka – the FWBO’s retreat centre dedicated to helping women prepare for ordination – and now – she’s an itinerant Dharma teacher, moving between Spain, the UK – and anywhere!

She says – “as of this year i am spending my time as a dharma teacher on the move, communicating sangharakshita's teachings in different venues around the FWBO. i'll be doing retreats, urban retreats, weekends and talks in various places around the uk and europe concentrating on some of my favorite dharma themes.  when not on the road i'll be living in a very simple life in spain where my cost of living will be low and i hope that this will enable me to have some quiet time to do my own study and reflection.


Vajradarshini has always been a bit of a techno-whizz, and she runs her own website, blog, and on-line photo archive to help people get to know her in her new incarnation. 

The website is full of gems, reflecting Vajradarshini’s many interests, especially wabi sabi, and the yogacara – plus, of course, her upcoming retreat schedule for 2009.

In a bold step into the unknown, she’s decided to rely wholly on dana, or generosity, to support herself – you can read her dana statement on her website.  To make this easier for would-be patrons, she has a page on the popular ‘JustGiving’  fundraising website – check  All contributions gratefully received!

She describes her blog as a “diary of ordinary life, of things close to home, close to the heart”.  Most recently she’s been covering her move from the busy life of a retreat centre to a new country and a far more solitary life in the mountains.  She writes –

 I do feel rather that I have disappeared, temporarily, into the mountains. I haven’t felt all that communicative and am rather more out of touch than I used to be with what is going on in the world. I am making the most of this opportunity as I will be emerging, all being well, in March and from then until the end of October I have a pretty full schedule of retreats, weekends and events all around Europe. Feels like a slightly scary thought given that these days I hardly see a soul, oh well I’ve always enjoyed extremes”.

 She continues – “Another project that I have on the go is learning CSS, which is the ‘language’ that you design websites in. I seem to have got that hang of html enough to have made my very simple website, I enjoyed it so much that I thought I would like to learn a bit more so I am in the process of learning CSS and of redesigning my website with it. It is like a rollercoaster of despair and euphoria!

 A little, perhaps, like life itself…

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, February 08, 2009

FWBO News anthology for January 2009

Every one or two months FWBO News produces an anthology of all recent stories that have appeared on the website. It’s made available in an easily-printable form; this is intended as a way of making the site (and the stories!) more visible to those who don’t find themselves in cyber-space very often.

The most recent edition has just been prepared and covers the period January 2009.

You can download it from the Resources section of the FWBO News website, or directly here.

Comments and suggestions on the site are always welcome.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, October 12, 2008

FWBO News anthology now available - July-September 2008

Every two or three months FWBO News produces an anthology of all recent stories that have appeared on the website. It’s made available in an easily-printable form; this is intended as a way of making the site (and the stories!) more visible to those who don’t find themselves in cyber-space very often.

The most recent edition has just been prepared and covers the period July-September 2008. You can download it from the Resources section of the FWBO News website, or directly here.

Meanwhile FWBO News’ readership continues a steady growth; the graph opposite shows its progress from 2006 (when the site was launched) to the present.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, September 26, 2008

FWBO Dharma Training Course for Mitras

Free Buddhist Audio
This is just a wee note to let you know about the launch of the first all new sections of the Dharma Training Course. Modules on 'The Sangha', 'The Buddha's Eightfold Path', and 'The Bodhisattva Ideal' are now live...

In case you're not familiar with it, the new course is designed primarily for Mitras ('friends') involved with the FWBO Buddhist community. It aims to give people in the FWBO a thorough grounding in Dharma study and practice. It also makes an excellent general course for anyone interested in putting Buddhist teaching into practice in their life.

The first parts of Year Two are now available online, with full references embedded in the study files themselves. We've formatted these files to print out for use in a study group, and also to make them easy to read, navigate and search on-screen.

The rest of the course is currently being developed by a number of members of the Western Buddhist Order. New modules will be made available as they become ready through 2008 and the beginning of 2009. Check out each year's page for an advance preview of what's in store, and to sign up for regular updates on new sections as they become available.

At present, the course is being hosted on Free Buddhist Audio, and you can access it easily from there too via the 'Study' section.

Happy faring...

with best wishes,

The Free Buddhist Audio Team

ps. The new site has been developed to enable a free service to be kept in place for all users. To help us keep the service free, please think about making a donation. Many thanks!

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Two lesser-known FWBO journals…

FWBO News is pleased to be able to mention two lesser-known journals published by members of the Western Buddhist Order – Urthona and the Western Buddhist Review.

Urthona ( is the fruit of a small but dedicated band of lovers of the arts; for them, Urthona is “a magazine for rousing the imagination”. It’s been published since 1992 and issue 25 is just out: Celtic Connections.

They say – “It’s an exploration of the myths of the Celtic world, their enduring appeal and their continued relevance. This issue is for those who are trying to make connections with the pagan roots of our culture, who want to make these wonderful old stories meaningful for their lives, and who want to make links with the pre-christian ways of spirituality which existed in the British Isles before the Roman invasion”.

Back issues are available here, and a generous selection of online articles cover such subjects as The Five Storied Palace (A journey around the symbolic cosmos in the company of Dante with some notes for twenty-first-century travellers); A Fountain Sealed (Reflecting on the tragic split in Coleridge’s poetic Imagination); and Experiments and Values: Sangharakshita talking about the arts in the twentieth century, his likes among its artists and writers, and his new collection of poetry.

Urthona is available from FWBO bookshops or by online ordering.

The Western Buddhist Review
Very different – but equally a product of the meeting of Buddhism and the West – is the FWBO’s ‘Western Buddhist Review’. The WBR takes a more academic approach, and in the latest issue, Issue 4, you'll find Abhaya reflecting on Letters of Gold: Imagery in the Dhammapada; Was the Buddha Omniscient? by Nagapriya, author of the well-known ‘Karma and Rebirth’ ; and the related article Kamma in Context: The Mahakammavibhangasutta and the Culakammavibhangasutta by Manishini (Alice Collett). Many other topics are covered, not least a thought-provoking inquiry into Suicide as A Response to Suffering and Jnanavira’s Reflections on the Feminine in Japanese Buddhism

Issue 5 is expected shortly and will be published on the WBR website.

Other on-line FWBO publications include many past issues of Dharma Life and Madhyamavani – at one time the journal of the Preceptors College.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Upcoming ordinations at Guhyaloka and Akashavana

The Buddhist figure of the ‘Thousand Armed Avalokitesvara’ has for many years been taken as a symbol for the Order at its highest and bestOn Monday June 9th, at 10am GMT (11am local time), 16 men will be publicly ordained at the FWBO’s Guhyaloka retreat centre in Spain

At exactly the same time, there will also be 15 women publicly ordained at Akashavana, also in Spain.

Coincidence? – who knows! Either way, we look forwards to bringing you the new names as soon as we hear them. Meanwhile, readers are invited to explore the 'Order Mosaic' by clicking on the image opposite, this leads to a webpage-mosaic of the Western Buddhist Order and most (though not quite all) of its 1,500 members worldwide...


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Wildmind's 'Open Circle' launched; practical mysticism explored

Two new offerings from the FWBO’s Wildmind online meditation teaching site have recently come to FWBO News’ attention.

Their new venture, the ‘
Open Circle’ aims to offer participants – who may live anywhere in the world – the opportunity to participate in an ongoing online discussion forum exploring key Buddhist teachings and applying them to everyday life. Shrijnana, the Open Circle’s full-time facilitator, describes it as “part on-line book club, part Buddhism course”. What this means in practice is that each week discussions and activities are based on sections of Vajragupta’s book Buddhism: Tools for Living Your Life; besides simply reading the text there’s wide-ranging discussions, weekly exercises; opportunities to ask questions and share experience, and of course the guidance and feedback of a resident facilitator. The Open Circle doesn't assume that you are a Buddhist or that you want to be a Buddhist, but it does assume that you wish to learn something from the Buddhist tradition.

More details of the Open Circle are available on the Wildmind website and we should add that Wildmind have a policy that noone ever is ever turned away for purely financial reasons – so if their suggested contribution is not possible for you, contact them to see what they can do.

Alongside this, Wildmind’s latest newsletter is on the theme of ‘Practical Mysticism’ with, among other delights, their guest contributor, Zen teacher and author David Brazier asking the question “Are meditative experience and engagement with the world mutually contradictory?” and examining the false dichotomy of mysticism and engagement.

Wildmind, it’s worth pointing out, is far more than simply online meditation teaching: they offer courses on pain management, anger management, basic Buddhism, host extensive archives covering topics as diverse as book reviews, celebrity Buddhists, and meditation in prisons across the US. Explore the Wildmind website at your leisure...

Labels: , , ,

Friday, May 02, 2008

Free Buddhist Audio – New Community Site

Free Buddhist AudioWelcome to the news from Free Buddhist Audio,
the free download, podcast and streaming service from the Dharmachakra audio and text archives. To receive more regular updates on the site, you can always subscribe to our own blog.

We're absolutely thrilled today to be able to announce the full launch of our new community site! This represents a very big shift for our service: now any Fwbo centre or institution – anywhere in the world – can upload its own talks, and have its own pages on the site. We've already got quite a few signed up, and the first talks are appearing – in English, French and German! Come and take a look...

What's very exciting for us is that the amount of material on the website will increase greatly over the next months, and is likely to be much more up-to-date and representative of what's going on in our international community. It will also allow us at the archives to concentrate on getting a lot more of the older talks and special recordings online.

Watch this space for more news of new features as we roll them out in the coming months. And if your centre or Fwbo project would like to get involved, we'd be delighted if you get in touch!


One other piece of news: in April, Free Buddhist Audio had its first 20,000 visitor month! We've come a long way since the days of selling scratchy old cassette tapes to about 200 people a year... Thank you to everyone for their tremendous support!

Labels: , ,