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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Ambedkar celebrations in San Francisco

Following yesterday’s post announcing the run-up to the anniversary of Ambedkar’s conversion to Buddhism on October 14th, news is in of an ‘Ambedkar Month’ in San Francisco, organised by Jai Bhim International and the FWBO’s San Francisco Buddhist Centre.

Ann Dennehy of Jai Bhim says -

"on October 14th at the sfbc sangha night we’ll be celebrating with our buddhist friends around the world the 'diksha bhumi' or great mass conversion of 1956, when dr. ambedkar and 500,000 of his followers converted to buddhism, in nagpur, india.

"The theme will be 'the great mass conversion: spark for a buddhist revival in india'. I’ll introduce some background on this event, and there will be a video feed of dhammachari maitriveer nagarjuna, an order member and scholar in india, who will explain the history and significance of october 14th in our global buddhist movement. maitriveer will be speaking from nagpur in central india, where dr. ambedkar converted to buddhism over 50 years ago.

"More details of our other events at - or find us on Facebook".

For those wanting to know more, FreeBuddhistAudio hosts some great talks on the significance of Ambedkar and his conversion  - or check ‘Ambedkar and Buddhism’, available from Windhorse Publications.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Jai Bhim International reports...

Jai Bhim International is an innovative FWBO project based in San Francisco.  “Caste Free Generation” is their slogan: Ann Dennehy, Jai Bhim’s Director, describes their mission as “providing Indian Buddhist youth with the spiritual, educational, and emotional tools to create personal and social change, for a culture freed of caste prejudice and discrimination”.

They’ve had a busy few months, as Ann reports -

“jai bhim friends and family, near and far. i hope this message finds you all well. thanks to all of you for your support, creative support, financial support, moral support, as we launched our non-profit last year. things are going really well.
India trip
i returned from my third india trip in january, and am planning projects for this year in my new homebase, the bamboo garden here in san francisco.  lots of support building here in sf for our work. hosting a monthly happy hour the last friday of every month. and facebook has been great..

“in india i spent time with our board members kumarjeev, kamalshree and nagarjuna, and re-connected with many of the youth leaders i'd met at the nnby conference last year. i spent time again in central india, in nagpur, where i piloted our teacher training workshops for indian english teachers. i also went north to delhi and to some smaller villages in rajasthan.
community english project

“in the year ahead i will be brainstorming with our indian board members and with indian youth leaders, as well as our american board members and english advisory board, about a community english project, which will be our main focus for 2009. our vision so far is to bring a buddhist-based esl curriculum to smaller dalit communities, and to work intensively with local indian english teachers to lead interactive, communicative student-centered english sessions that will empower language learning in their communities.

“we will be drawing on dr. ambedkar's vision, and on the vision of his mentor at columbia university, john dewey, as well as the revolutionary brazilian educator paolo freire. in addition to creating a curriculum, we are developing a manifesto for the project, so that everyone involved is clear on the project's goals. all this will  be posted as updates on our website.
local events

"locally we have been hosting events to bring people together. we are having a monthly happy hour, the last friday of every month. and this summer our board member maw, our artist friends and i will coordinate a bigger local arts event. in january i was asked to make a presentation about my trip to my department at the city college downtown campus. i received a very friendly reception and was asked to present further at other campuses, which we are now coordinating. and connecticut college, my alma mater, has asked me to write an article for the alumni magazine, a beautiful glossy publication that has won several awards.
"also i wanted to tell you about our big project for the fall - jai bhim international is going to declare october as AMBEDKAR MONTH!  the two goals of the project are #1 to bring people from the san francisco area into the jai bhim community through fun, and #2 to educate folks here about dr. ambedkar and the dalit buddhist movement. we are coordinating with the san francisco center, and reaching out to other buddhist centers in other traditions, as a way of spreading the word about our movement in india.

“we are scheduling a bunch of events that could lead up to a puja/kirtan on october 14th, which is a wednesday - as you know well, october 14th is the anniversary of the great mass conversion- the official start of the dalit buddhist movement.

“before then, in august and september,  we're going to make as many presentations as possible all over the city/bay area, at libraries, bookstores, university and high school classes, other buddhist centers, with the theme of "who is dr. ambedkar?" i imagine plastering the city with simple posters with an image of dr. ambedkar and that line ("who is dr. ambedkar?"), and a link to the jai bhim website. a guerilla campaign! i am coordinating with friends of the public library, my colleagues at city college, and others.

“more prosaically, lots of paperwork to keep up on as we get the non-profit established. board member sarah brown has been helping me do our books and we ended 2008 with a surplus of $278.15! now we are getting ready to file additional paperwork with the i.r.s. in order for them to approve our 501c3 status.  We’re still busy fundraising – please visit our page
“in closing i'd like to again express my gratitude for sharing the vision for our work. thank you for all your gestures of encouragement and support. jai bhim. love, ann”

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

News from the American Order Convention

The FWBO's San Francisco Buddhist Center hosted the North American Order Convention this year in July, at Jikoji, a retreat center in the Santa Cruz Mountains, a short distance south of San Francisco. Suvarnaprabha, the SFBC's Director, has sent FWBO News this report -

"We began with a ceremony marking the entry of three new Order Members, Saricitta ("Heart/Mind Like a Waterfall"), Vihanasari ("Thrush at Dawn"), and Danakamala ("Lotus of Generosity") into the Western Buddhist Order. The ceremony was beautifully and jointly led by public preceptors Dhammarati and Dayanandi.

"The Convention was attended by about 25 or so Order Members, who traveled from the far flung corners of the contintent: from Washington State, Vancouver (Canada), Montana, Maine, New Hampshire, Boston, and New York City, plus two from the UK, and the delightful Saddhajoti from Mexico. For 5 days we met, caught up with each other, and focused on meditation, especially practices specific to the Order, such as the Mula Yogas (including the Bodhicitta practice). Khajit also got some of us to give our kesas a much needed wash!

"And at the cultural evening on the last night, we outdid ourselves! We witnessed Karunadakini tranform into a diner waitress falling in love with a logger, and with our own eyes we saw Vajramati and Naganatika's heads on a plates in a fit of hilarious Beckett-esque high drama in the dining room. Not to mention poems and stories, an acapella song, Argentinian guitar, an original blues song, and a cello solo.

"It was beautiful and I felt such a strong connection to the Order, such a strong sense of sangha. Many thanks to Sangharakshita for making that connection possible. May he and his Order thrive for many years to come".


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Friday, September 21, 2007

FWBO News back in action…

There’s been very little activity on FWBO News these past few weeks. That’s not been through lack of news to publish – in fact we have a queue of nearly 40 items! - but a changeover of editors plus personnel absences during the summer retreat season. But now we’re back and eager to get going again. Expect to see reports soon on –

The Jai Bhim Community in Hungary
The Mitraloka School of Languages in Nagpur, India
Ethical Investment opportunities in Valencia, Spain
The recent Preceptors College meeting in Wales
News from Order Members active in the world of Non-Violent Communication (NVC)
The Golden Rainbow Appeal
Poetry and Art in New Hampshire
An Ordination in Berlin
Progress towards an FWBO Centre in Beijing
Glasgow Buddhists ‘Sitting in Peace’ at the Faslane nuclear submarine base, others at the DSEI arms fair in London
The Western Buddhist Order Convention – celebrating ‘What is Alive in the Order’
The recent Team-Based Right Livelihood weekend in Birmingham
Indian Mitra presents paper at United Nations conference
The 9th Buddhafield ‘Child-Friendly’ retreat on their new land in Dartmoor, UK (from which comes the pink heart above!)
An update on the 2008 Dr. Ambedkar Conference planned in San Francisco
New websites at FWBO Discussion and FWBO Developments

There’s plenty more but hopefully that’s enough to whet your appetites…

In addition we hope to be bringing you more in the way of in-depth features (click the Features tab above) and an FWBO-wide Jobs advertising service for those interested in working or volunteering for the FWBO in one way or another.

Suggestions and contributions for news items are always welcome – please email us at
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