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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Finding 10,000 rupees in Poland - an update from Sanghaloka

Two years ago Nityabandhu and others set up Sanghaloka, a new FWBO centre in Poland. Now he writes to tell us what it's like running it on a day-to-day basis...

He says -

“Rather than bore you with details of day-to-day events at Sanghaloka in Krakow I thought I'd tell you how it is for me to be running this place (with Sassirika, Santaka and others of course).

“It’s like finding a large banknote on the street (say 50 pounds, or 100 euro or 10,000 rupees). Suddenly one feels strangely and unexpectedly fortunate - owning a little fortune. The difference is that with Sanghaloka I feel like that almost daily.

“The greatest pleasure is meeting the people that come and getting to know those that stay and come regularly. Sometimes I don't feel like doing the admin or updating the website, or even teaching meditation or co-leading courses with Santaka. But once I start these things are so incredibly rewarding that it does feel like finding whole bags of money on the street.

“I can't think of doing anything better with my life - I can only think how to do better what I - what we here - are already doing.


The Sanghaloka website, is actually a substantial Polish Dharma resource - and there’s more, on meditation, on the Polish edition of the Wildmind site,

The photographs are from recent Sanghaloka retreats in Poland.  Nityabandhu is in the centre of the top photo.

Sadhu! - and “Przyjaciele Zachodniej Wspólnoty Buddyjskiej” (as they say in Krakov!)

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sangharakshita's news: an update

Sangharakshita in a study seminar at MadhyamalokaSangharakshita’s diary last appeared in FWBO News in early October. Dharmamati, his secretary, has sent us this update. He writes -

Bhante's health:
Bhante continues to be in quite good health since the last report. His eyesight has been stable and he is still able to read large print, with the aid of a illuminated magnifying glass. He is also able to draft his own correspondence by hand.

The main event for September was Bhante's visit to Krakow, Poland, where he opened the small but beautiful Krakow Buddhist Centre. Nityabandhu and others had put much hard work into creating a very welcoming space for Buddhist activities. This was Bhante's second visit to Krakow.

His first took place six years ago, when he launched the publication of a Polish translation of 'The Survey' Since then three more of his books have been translated into Polish and published. At the opening he cut the ribbon to the Shrine room. After everyone was seated Nityabandhu led a short meditation followed by an introduction. Bhante followed this with a short talk on 'Sanghaloka' the name Nityabandhu had given the centre. This was followed by the dedication ceremony led in Polish by Nityabandhu.

The opening ceremony concluded with a fanfare from a trumpeteer. This was inspired by the golden trumpet that resounds, every hour, from the municipal tower above Krakow's central square, originally signalling the approach of enemy forces. This was followed by light refreshments in the reception area.

In October Bhante spent 12 days at Padmaloka, leading study for the Men Mitra Convenors, on his 1975 lecture 'Enlightenment as Experience - and as Non-Experience. He also performed a Kalyana Mitra ceremony for Nityabandhu in the shrine room. Nityabandhu's Kalyana Mitra's are Satyaraja and Paramabandhu.

On Sunday the 9th of November Bhante took part in the 30th anniversary celebrations of the London Buddhist Centre. In the morning he cut the ribbon, marking the sunday opening of Friends Organic. The afternoon started in the main shrine room of the LBC where Maitreyabandhu publicly interviewed Bhante on his recollections of the early days of the LBC (this interview was filmed by clear vision). After this Bhante proceeded to unveil the "magnificent" painting by Aloka in the new basement shrine room.

Aloka's new painting installed in the LBC's new basement shrine roomThis painting is a triptych depicting the Buddha Shakyamuni with his two chief disciples in the central panel, flanked by the Bodhisattvas and the Arahants in the left and right hand panels respectively. Bhante spoke briefly about this painting.

A few days later Amitasuri came to interview Bhante at Madhyamoloka on the importance of the FWBO's land at Bodhgaya. He spoke about his own experience of Bodghaya, why he wanted the FWBO/TBMSG to purchase some land there and the use that he thought this land should be put to. This was significant given that Bodhgaya is the location of the next International Order Convention.

During the above period Bhante continued to see individuals virtually every day both at Madhyamaloka and wherever he travelled. He also worked on the 'Precious Garland Seminar' with Samacitta and completed study on the Parayana Vagga of the Sutta-Nipata with a local Men's chapter. The Precious Garland is due to be released by Windhorse in 2009.

For the rest of November and December Bhante will be staying at Madhyamaloka and does not intend to do any travelling. He will, however, continue to meet people individually, do editing work on the 'Precious Garland Seminar' and, weather permitting, go for his daily walk in the large Madhyamaloka garden.

The next planned visit will be to the European Chairs Assembly at Taraloka in January, where he will give a talk and a question and answer session.

In 2009 he'll be making a tour of a number of FWBO Centres to launch 'The Essential Sangharakshita' - a handsome 750-page compendium of his writings now available for advance orders from Windhorse Publications. FWBO News hopes to carry a review of this very soon.


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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Sanghaloka - the new FWBO Buddhist Centre in Krakow, Poland

Wednesday 17th September saw the opening of the new FWBO Buddhist Centre in Krakow, Poland. The name of the Centre is Sanghaloka, the Centre of Friends of Buddhism – or in Polish, Osrodek Przyjaciol Buddyzmu. Work on the centre had continued up to the very last minute of the day of the opening ceremony. As the deadline approached there was that feeling of planning a party but not knowing how many people would show up. And, being totally absorbed in preparations, it was something of a surprise when the first visitors started to turn up!

We were very fortunate in that we had much-needed help on the day of the opening from friends from Birmingham (UK) - Karunabandhu, Alokavira, Padmakumara and Roy. A Sangha friend Kasia, decorated the whole place beautifully and, suddenly, the Centre was revealed in all its glory. Seeing the Centre for the first time was as much a surprise for us as for our visitors because it had been covered up in protective plastic sheets and still looked more like a building site than a Buddhist Centre. Although still not completely finished, Sanghaloka looked beautiful, warm and inviting with its wood features and red and orange colour scheme. The opening ceremony itself couldn't have gone better. Forty or so people came, some from near and far in Poland as well as from England, Germany, France and Hungary. It was strange and lovely to see them all there. And it was heart-warming and inspiring to see so many Order Members’ kesas there.

Most importantly, Bhante Sangharakshita was there to cut the ribbon and launch the new Centre. He brought to the occasion the appropriate sense of importance – a reminder that another public Centre being opened enabled the Dharma to be communicated to more people.

After this, Nityabandhu gave a slideshow of the building of Sanghaloka. It felt significant to share with others the history of the birth of the new Centre. Bhante spoke about his involvement with the new Centre as well as his personal connection with Nityabandhu. He also said that the opening of Sanghaloka stirred up memories for him of the opening of the very first FWBO Centre in Monmouth Street, London, back in 1967.

In talking about the name 'Sanghaloka', he said that 'loka' also meant 'home' as well as realm or world. He placed 'sangha' very much in its context of the Three Jewels and talked about their interconnectedness. He also mentioned that a hundred years ago, Monmouth Street also had numerous second-hand clothes shops! (There are many of them in Krakow, and in its previous incarnation, Sanghaloka was itself a second-hand clothes shop).
After Bhante spoke, we had a ritual to enshrine in the wall some precious objects given by Bhante. Then we had the Dedication Ceremony in Polish, after which there was a surprise trumpet recital of 'Wonderful World' by Louis Armstrong. The evening ended with the enjoyment of tea and Polish cakes. Three days after the opening ceremony, we held our fifth Polish retreat. It almost didn't happen as our original venue had been flooded so a last minute search for an alternative venue ensued. Fortunately we headed off to the Polish countryside just a day later than planned for a week’s retreat with half a dozen or so others.

Now we're back and trying to rest and prepare ourselves for the next phase - opening the doors of Sanghaloka to the public! As I mentioned earlier, the centre isn't completely finished and we hope we have enough money to install heating before the Polish winter gets under way. If anyone wishes to contribute by making a donation, it would be very much appreciated. Check our new online fundraising page at or  write to us.

The main thing is that it seems there is genuine interest in Buddhism and meditation here in Poland so we will do our best to share what we know and love with whoever comes through the door. Probably small-scale to start with, then who knows

There’s already a Polish version of the FWBO’s main website – check  And some photos are online at

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New FWBO Centre opening in Poland

Nityabandhu has sent this report and invitation to FWBO News, we’re happy to pass it on to our readers… He says -


“Tu Nityabandhu (Michal). Jak pewnie wiesz, od paru miesiecy wykanczalismy z przyjaciolmi lokal na Kazimierzu w Krakowie pod osrodek Przyjaciol Zachodniej Wspolnoty Buddyjskiej. Osrodek zacznie funkcjonowac od pazdziernika i bedzie miejscem dla medytacji, nauki medytacji, spotkan, wykladow o buddyzmie, grup dyskusyjnych, pokazow slajdow, filmow i innych zajec; bedzie tez mial czesc kawiarniana (choc otwarcie tej czesci moze nam zajac troche dluzej)…

Happily, he’s also provided an English translation, which runs thus -

“Hello everybody!

“This is Nityabandhu. As you probably know over the last few months we have been transforming a shop space in Krakow into an FWBO centre. I can't claim that we have finished on time or within budget, or even that we have finished at all. But we mostly enjoyed it and have something to show for it - there will be a shrine room ready for meditation, as well as a cafe area.

"Over the last few months we have been transforming a former second-hand clothes shop space in Krakow into a FWBO centre. We thought that having one less second-hand clothes shop won't cause too much harm to the local people (these shops abound here), and having a Buddhist centre instead may even benefit some of them.

"I can't claim that we have finished the building work on time or within budget, or even that we have finished at all - there is still work to be done and this will continue for a few more months. The photograph shows the front entrance as it MIGHT look - we don't yet have the sign! But the shrine room is almost ready to be used.
"On 17 September we will hold an opening ceremony to celebrate the efforts of many people who helped to make the centre happen and to establish symbolically a connection with the rest of the FWBO and the entire Buddhist tradition, and of course with Krakow. We expect quite a few people attending, from Krakow, other places in Poland and abroad. Urgyen Sangharakshita will be coming and I'm sure he will be pleased to be cutting another red-yellow-and-blue ribbon.

“The opening will be at 6pm in 4, Augustianska St. (Ul. Augustianska 4) in the Kazimierz district of Krakow.

“What to expect?
- we will meditate for about 10 minutes,
- see slides from the time before the building work and during it,
- a few words from me,
- a few words from Urgyen Sangharakshita,
- we will enshrine some Buddhist objects in the wall and recite the Dedication Ceremony.

“Then there will be time to meet and talk to people, drink tea, verify the claims that the world's best cakes are made in Poland, as well as have a look around the place. Please let me know briefly if you are thinking of coming. Any other questions please ask.

"From October we will start doing what one usually does in a Buddhist centre, at least in the FWBO i.e. teach meditation, meditate, do Dharma courses etc. We will start small but try to offer more courses with time and hopefully people will find these attractive. Also, we hope to open the cafe space at the centre later in the autumn".

FWBO News says, Sadhu and best wishes!

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Monday, April 21, 2008

In Krakow - dust, noise, sweat and joy...

Over in Krakow, Poland, the FWBO’s newest Buddhist centre is taking shape – with a good deal of sweat and hard work. Nityabandhu, who is leading the project, sends FWBO News a brief dispatch from the front line:

“Hi, sorry this is very laconic but not much time at the moment. We were promised dust, noise, sweat and tears and that's what we are getting apart from the latter. It is a joy however to work on this project knowing that the end result will be a Buddhist centre. At the moment we are doing the hardest work with Karunabandhu ie demolition, this creates a lot of noise and enormous amount of dust, I feel like we are in the war. But the spirits are high and next week our first helper/visitor is coming for a week”. Nityabandhu is from Poland and is returning home after several years in the UK preparing for just this move. He is being helped in the building work by his good friend Karunabandhu, originally from Germany but most recently also from Birmingham, UK. Both are shown in the photograph - enjoying a well-deserved lunch!

Photos of their work can be seen on their Flickr site and – this being the age of YouTube – we are promised a series of action movies, the first being viewable here

Nityabandhu’s careful preparation means that they already have a substantial web presence and several books already translated into Polish. Their main website is , where you can read about the ‘Przyjaciele Zachodniej Wspólnoty Buddyjskiej’ – as the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order is known in Polish! Or try to learn meditation online in Polish, courtesy of Wildmind…

Fundraising for the work is going on, and they would welcome offers of help, especially financial – please contact them at if you are interested.

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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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Thursday, January 03, 2008

FWBO Poland holds first retreat

Nityabandhu, a Polish Order Member currently living in Birmingham UK, has send this update on FWBO Poland -

"In September we held a retreat in southern Poland amidst captivating scenery. Small scale but longer (6 days) and slightly bigger than before. Poles being very reliable for not turning up we got fewer people than expected. This was just as well as we held the retreat in a befriended Dzogchen Buddhist retreat centre (read: a small country house) which would have burst at the seams otherwise. Ratnamegha’s spontaneous first comment was that this was like going back 20 years in terms of retreat experience; however, those who came were very engaged and we generated a strong retreat environment.

"Apart from sharing the Dharma with people from Poland, those of us who are already practicing with the FWBO were able to get to know each other better. I was joined by Mahananda and Joanna (both LBC), Katarzyna (Paris), Ratnamegha (Birmingham) and Martin and Ania (both Norwich). Having a strong core of practicing Buddhists made for stronger pujas and mantra chanting, and generally the best retreat so far.

"To move on from the retreat: all being well, there may be three Order members living in Krakow next year. Santaka, a Polish dharmacari, is already there; I will be moving in March; and Sassirika in September 2008.

"Karunabandhu (currently based in Birmingham) will join me in April for a few months and we will begin remodelling the empty shop space we already own into a shrine room and a café. The proposed centre has already galvanised interest from several people who are either friends, have Polish links or just like the idea of building something together for the FWBO. Click here for some photos.

"Hopefully we will be able to make this oasis of the Dharma available to the public by late summer 2008.

Other developments in Poland are proceeding in parallel with the actual building project - we have two FWBO Polish-language websites here and Wildmind in Polish, and you can contact Nityabandhu here.

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