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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Health scare for Sangharakshita

Vidyaruci, Sangharakshita's secretary, writes with news of a recent health scare. He says -

"As Bhante was having lunch on Saturday 20th February he experienced a sudden, very painful attack of angina pectoris. In response to his emergency call Sagaramati came, administered two drops of the GTN spray to relieve the pain, dialled for an ambulance and after the paramedics had examined Bhante, accompanied him to the to the Selly Oak hospital. There Bhante underwent various tests and was kept in overnight for more tests.

"While in hospital he was visited by Subhuti, Mahamati, and Ashvajit. Bhante was discharged on Sunday morning and driven back to Madhyamaloka by Paramartha.

"He appears to have recovered, but will obviously now have to be even more careful what he does. Several interviews have already been cancelled, and Bhante may not be able to do much travelling this year, if any".



Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sangharakshita's Diary

Vidyaruci, Sangharakshita's secretary, writes with some of his latest news over the winter months.  He says -

“Bhante has been continuing to eschew travel, but has nonetheless been kept busy by his daily meetings with visitors, as well as correspondence, which he has been giving more attention to, despite his finding dictating letters difficult.

“His only trip out of Birmingham in December was to Worcester, to meet sangha members at their new centre, where they had a discussion mainly on the topic of Team Based Right Livelihood. He has enjoyed meeting with two groups of men at Madhyamaloka, one from Croydon, and another all the way from Dublin. Conversation with the latter group centered largely around Bhante's article The Path of Regular and Irregular Steps, which they had come over to study with Dhammaloka and Abhaya. [available as an audio download from FreeBuddhistAudio]

“Bhante has continued to have me read to him. We finished Nagapriya's Visions of the Mahayana, which Bhante enjoyed, describing it as 'a well researched, sympathetic, but not uncritical account of the Mahayana in India and the Far East'. [available from Windhorse Publications] I also read him an article by Bernard Stevens, a mitra from Belgium, which explored the Japanese philosopher Nishida's thought in relation to the Abhidharma. Bhante enjoys hearing reportings- in from Shabda, and we get through as much as we can of each issue.

“The RNIB audio book service that Bhante has recently joined seems to be working out well, and he has particularly appreciated two of its offerings recently. Firstly The Last Days of the Raj by Trevor Royle, which describes the political and economic background of Bhante's early years in India. Of course he knew much of it already, but he also learned things that were new to him. The second audio book was Peter the Great, by Derek Wilson, which Bhante described as giving a 'thorough and interesting, if lurid light on Russia past and present'.

“Bhante's health has been stable, and has not been too badly affected by the transition to winter. On Wednesday 16th December he had another lucentis injection into his eye, which is the last planned for the time being. Other than this his health has been good, despite the wintry weather.

“January was even more quiet than the last. Vidyadevi has visited a few of times, in order to interview Bhante about some of his favourite poetry. Bhante has received visitors most days, though even this tailed off a bit over Christmas and New Year. For a week of this period I was away visiting family, so Dharmamati stepped back into his old role, for which thanks to him. Bhante's own Christmas celebrations extended no further than having a meal with the Madhyamaloka community, followed by a chat round the open log fire. The snowy weather, as well as disrupting the travel plans of some if his visitors, has precluded his daily walks for a number of weeks.

“Bhante has had a number of friends read to him from various books. Paramartha read him Porphory's The Cave of the Nymphs, a neo-Platonic allegory of the soul's descent into the world of space and time. Devamitra read him extracts from A God Who Hates, in which Wafa Sultan describes the effect of Islam on her early life in Syria. I have read him the beginning of Francis Brassard's The Concept of Bodhicitta in Santideva's Bodhicaryavatara, the new introduction to The Religion of Art, by Dhivan, and we have recently started The Book of Kadam, a new translation of an important text from Tibetan Buddhism.

"Bhante has also listened to a few interesting audio books. These include To The Navel of the World by Peter Somerville-Large, the navel in question being the region around Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarova in Western Tibet; A Nation of Trees by Rosemary Millington, an account of the author's two and a half years in the Australian outback, and Isambard Kingdom Brunel by Adrian Vaughan, a biography of the famous nineteenth century engineer”.

Madhyamaloka, Birmingham, UK

FWBO News can also add that in October Sangharakshita wrote to all Order Members asking them to cease using the terms ‘untouchable’ and ‘ex-untouchable’. His letter is copied below as it is of course applicable to all members of the Sangha.

Dear Dharmacharis and Dharmacharinis,

I have recently received a letter signed by 11 Indian Order members and mitras, all of whom are at present living in Cambridge. They have asked me to request Western Order members not to use the expression ‘ex-untouchable’ as they do not feel comfortable with it. They rightly say they are Buddhists, not untouchables, having left the caste system behind them. I very much sympathise with their feelings, and I am therefore happy to second their request and to urge all Western Order members who are still using the terms ‘untouchable’ and ‘ex-untouchable’, whether in speech or writing, to cease doing so forthwith.

Urgyen Sangharakshita

Sangharakshita's website,, continues to host many of his books in a free downloadable pdf format, as well as his recent 'Conversations' and a collection of his poetry.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

FWBO and Western Buddhist Order discussing name change; likely to become Triratna

The FWBO and the Western Buddhist Order worldwide are discussing a change of name. If the proposed changes go ahead, later this year the Order would become the Triratna Buddhist Order and the FWBO (Friends of the Western Buddhist Order) the Triratna Buddhist Community. In India the Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha (as the Order is known there) would become the Triratna Bauddha Mahasangha.

Triratna simply means ‘Three Jewels’, specifically the Three Jewels of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, to which all Buddhists commit themselves in the simple but definitive act of ‘Going for Refuge’. The Three Jewels have long been used as emblems in many F/WBO situations, for instance the logo of FWBO News and on the Kesas worn by Order Members.

If the proposed change is accepted, it’s likely that a Movement-wide ceremony will be held on or around Wesak this year, a date which happens to coincide with the FWBO International Retreat at Taraloka: see for more details.

The suggestion to change the name was made on January 6th in a letter from Sangharakshita to all members of the Western Buddhist Order. His letter was itself a response to one from a group of Indian Order Members gathered in Pune, in which they requested him to change the Indian name of the Order from the present ‘Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha’ and also to give a new and unified name to the whole Order world-wide.

Both ‘Western’ and ‘Trailokya’ had become increasingly problematic for some over the past decade - ‘Western’ because the Order is increasingly international, with members active in India, Russia, Turkey and China, as well as other non-Western countries; and ‘Trailokya’ because Indians outside Maharastra find it difficult to relate as a Buddhist name - and the Order is increasingly active in many States all across India.

Discussions about changing the name had continued in the Order on and off for many years - in fact, from 1979, when TBMSG  was founded in India. However, partly due to the increasing size of the Order, it proved impossible to obtain consensus and the matter was dropped until Sangharakshita’s recent intervention.

Sangharakshita’s letter says in part -

... I hope that Western Order members will be as moved as I was by the request I received [from India], and that they will join with me in wanting to meet the wish of the Indian Order members for a change of their own name and for a name for the whole Order. Having one name for the whole Order will make it clear to the world not only that we all go for Refuge to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, but that whether in the East or the West, the North or the South, we are one united Order, with a single vision and a single heart and mind.

“After much deliberation, the new name for the Order that has come to me is the Triratna Buddhist Order (in Hindi, Triratna Bauddha Mahasangha), and I suggest that all Order members adopt it straight away”.

Rather than follow his suggestion to adopt the new name immediately, a process of discussion opened up among both Order Members and those running the many branches of the FWBO about how best to proceed, and when. Sangharakshita’s letter ended by proposing that the FWBO became the Friends of the Triratna Buddhist Order, which was immediately shortened by many to FTBO.

However the European Chairs Assembly, which happened to be in session at Dhanakosa in Scotland at the time, saw an opportunity to take the Movement’s unification a step further, by making it easier to translate the name into different languages - and by moving away from the many sets of initials presently used to identify it. In France and Spain, for instance, the FWBO is the AOBO, in Holland the VWBO - and in Turkey, the BBBD!

After some discussion they chose to reply to Sangharakshita suggesting that the FWBO instead became the Triratna Buddhist Community, a suggestion he accepted. They wrote -

We like ‘Triratna’. Not only does it encapsulate our central values, it also provides a positive identifying marker for the Order and the movement. We have chosen ‘Buddhist Community’ to replace ‘Friends of’ as an expression of the relationship between the movement and the Order and our emphasis on spiritual community and friendship. We have considered this in some depth, bringing to bear our collective experience and care for our movement internationally, and we would be grateful if you would seriously consider our proposal. At the same time we want you to know that we will be happy with whatever decision you make.”

The European Chairs are currently in dialogue with other Centre chairs internationally, and once these are complete further announcements will be made regarding the change and the best way to mark it. Parallel discussions are going on in the Order and again we’ll announce the details as soon as they are available.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Conversations with Sangharakshita

Sangharakshita, founder of the FWBO, has just released the transcript of a series of ‘Conversations’ held this summer with two of his senior disciples, Mahamati and Subhuti. They explore in considerable detail many aspects of his character, including his sexuality, plus a series of fascinating and previously unknown episodes in the very early years of the FWBO.

Mahamati, who participated in the sessions, writes in a short introductory message -

“In August this year Subhuti and I met with Bhante over three successive days and asked him some questions about his understanding of his own character and aspects of his personal history. Bhante had on an earlier occasion talked to us, together with Dhammarati, about some of these matters and we thought these conversations were of wider interest and significance. They fill in gaps in what is generally known and therefore help us to understand our Movement better, through understanding the circumstances in which it was created. Bhante agreed that our conversations be recorded and spoke to us for three or four hours each day, freely and generously answering whatever we asked him. The recordings were transcribed and then edited by Bhante for readability and clarity of meaning.

“For me personally it was a privilege to participate in such an intimate exchange with Bhante. It was much more like a series of conversations than an interview, and was always characterised by Bhante's warmth, humour and frankness”.

The conversations begin -

“Mahamati: Bhante, many of your disciples would like to know more about you. We know your teachings and we know quite a lot of the facts of your life, however many of us don't know so much about what makes you tick or how you tick – although, of course, there is a lot of speculation. Our sense of not knowing seems to come partly from the fact that you are a rather unusual man, but also because maybe you are by nature rather reserved, even reticent, for whatever reason. Could you say something about your own character, as you understand it?”

“Sangharakshita: I think perhaps you are right, I am rather reticent in certain respects...”

The Conversations are available in full on Sangharakshita’s website There is also a new poem on the site, entitled ‘An Apology’.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

News of Sangharakshita

Dharmamati, Sangharakshita's secretary, writes from Madhyamaloka, where he lives, to say -

"Here is a report of Bhante's various outings during the summer months.

"After Bhante's visit to Cambridge, detailed in the last report, his next visit was to the Glasgow and Edinburgh centres, accompanied by Dharmamati. Bhante and Dharmamati were accommodated by the very warm and hospitable Shantiketu and Jyotipakshini at their house in a pleasant suburb of Glasgow. From there on the following day Bhante made an excursion to the Edinburgh Buddhist Centre in time for an evening meal with Order members. After this the doors were opened to the public and Bhante launched his two new books The Essential Sangharakshita and Living Ethically, by giving a short talk followed by a book signing.

"The following evening Bhante gave a slightly longer talk at the Glasgow Centre. Again he introduced both books, and to the delight of his audience included a commentary on his poem 'Meditation', composed in 1947. The poem has been included at the end of this report. Bhante also met people individually and in small groups for meals.

"A week later, again accompanied by Dharmamati, Bhante found himself 'royally' accommodated by Saccavicaya, at his house near Blackburn. This was the base from which visits to the Northern Centres of Liverpool, Lancaster, and Blackburn would be undertaken. On the day of arrival and after Bhante's afternoon rest he was driven to Liverpool where he had an evening meal with the local Sangha, at a mitra's home. After that he was taken to the hired room that the Liverpool Sangha use as their centre. There, as in the Scottish centres, he gave a short talk introducing his latest books followed by a book signing. The next day Bhante went to Vidyacitta's house near Lancaster where he had a meal with the local Sangha.

"After that he was taken to the Friends Meeting House (Quakers) in Lancaster, where the local Sangha hire rooms for classes. There he gave another talk to launch his books and sign copies. The following evening Bhante enjoyed a meal with the Order members from Liverpool, Lancashire and Blackburn at the Blackburn Buddhist Centre. This was followed by an informal Q&A session with those Order members. The next day's event was at the Blackburn Buddhist Centre again. This time it was their turn to hear Bhante launch his two books, and have their copies signed. Bhante also saw some people individually during his stay.

"Only a few days later, accompanied by Paramartha, Bhante found himself winging his way to Valencia. Bhante was primarily in Valencia to officially open their new centre, but also took the opportunity to run two Q&A sessions, one for Order members, and the other for women who had asked for ordination. He opened the centre by giving a talk. He also acquired a Panama hat, which some of you may have seen him wearing during the conventions. Two days after their return from Valencia, Bhante and Paramartha were off again, though this time only as far as Ipswich to open the new centre. There he gave a talk to open the new centre, as well as launching his latest books. The following weekend Bhante gave a Q&A session for Public preceptors at the Birmingham Buddhist Centre. The weekend after that Bhante led a second session of study at Madhyamaloka, on the Ratnaguna Samcayagatha, for a group of men ordained by Arthapriya.

"During both the Combined and Men's Order conventions Bhante stayed at Padmaloka. During the combined convention Bhante attended all of the colloquia sessions and met with small groups of Order members for meals. On the last full day there was a book launch during which Bhante gave a long talk, the highlight of which was his emphasis on sila not only being ethics, but including manners. On the men's convention Bhante did not go to any events apart from a talk by Subhuti. He did, however, meet Order members individually and eat meals with small groups.

"Over this period, when at Madhyamaloka, Bhante continued, as usual, to see people individually. The most noteworthy of such occasions was the two visits by David Brazier from the Amida Trust. He is the author of the book New Buddhism, which Bhante has been recommending Order members to read, particularly the chapters on Critical Buddhism. He also continued his daily walks in the garden.

Bhante's health

"Bhante's health continues to be reasonably good. He has recently completed a series of Lacentis injections to inhibit macular degeneration, which appears to have been successful.

"Lastly, Vidyaruci recently returned from being ordained at Guhyaloka and he has now taken over fully as Bhante's secretary. For me personally it has been a great privilege and honour to work closely with Bhante over the last three years. I have said more about this period in the 'thank you' leaflet recently sent to Order members, so no need to say more here. So this is the last of Bhante's diaries I shall be writing, and I wish Vidyaruci well in his new responsibilities".



Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sangharakshita celebrates 84th birthday: Happy Birthday Bhante!

Today August 26th sees Sangharakshita celebrating his 84th birthday and FWBO News would like to take this opportunity to wish him a very Happy Birthday! Most likely he will be celebrating it quietly in Moseley, Birmingham UK, where he lives.

At the same time, around the world, a number of FWBO Centres will be performing the seventh in a series of 108 annual pujas to celebrate Sangharakshita's life and work. This was launched at the 2003 Order Convention and we reproduce below extracts from the document introducing the vision and purpose of this event.

Moksapriya, then chairman of the FWBO’s Manchester Buddhist Centre, wrote -

On Tuesday August 26th 2003 on Bhante's birthday Centres around
the world are invited to start on-going puja to celebrate the
life and work of Bhante. This could be seen as 108 year event or
it could simply be an annual festival.

“Before that day a special ceremony will take place in the
context of the final puja of the 2003 combined convention led by
Suvajra. On the special shrine will be stacked boxes each
containing fine cloths, 108 sticks of incense, candles which
will burn for 108 hours, a signed photograph of Bhante and a log
book with 108 pages to record those present each year. There
will be one box for every FWBO Centre (and group) and a few
extra boxes for future Centres. Bhante has agreed to bless the
items in the boxes and to sign a photograph for each box. Before
the ceremony Centre order members can place any further ritual
objects of their own into their Centre's box (such as a mala to
count each year of the puja).

“Then, on Bhante's birthday, each centre will arrange a special
shrine using the contents of their special puja box and perform
the first of the 108 or annual pujas. Afterwards the cloths,
candles, photo etc will be placed back in the box and safely
stored to await the next anniversary. The log book would be
filled in and any photographs recording the event added and this
too would be placed back in the box.

“The event will have particular significance using items blessed
by Bhante and only used on this one day each year. Each Centre
will have a precious supply of incense etcetera that has a
direct spiritual and physical connection with Bhante himself.
This particular living thread may well be increasingly treasured
by each Centre's sangha through the years. We should not
underestimate how important it is to find links between the
future members of the sangha and Bhante. It has been our great
fortune to live in his time and have had some direct connection
with him but perhaps we have a responsibility to think of those
to come who won't have any such direct connection and imagine
how we might enrich their spiritual lives through our
forethought and the establishment of such a special festival as
this one.

“This particular festival will also provide a thread of
continuity in each Centre's sangha whilst the log book, which
might list those that led elements of the puja (perhaps list all
the participants), when and where it took place and possibly
even a photographic record, will bear witness to impermanence
and change. Furthermore the event will encourage a sense of
unity being an event shared by many of our Centres and groups
around the world”.

Examples of the Centres currently participating in the 108 year puja are Dublin Buddhist Centre and the London Buddhist Centre.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Talks from the Order Convention now available on VideoSangha

Mahamati, International Order Convenor, writes to say -

“The talks from the European Combined Convention held earlier this month are now available on Videosangha. They will also be available on free buddhist audio soon.

“You will find a full-length talk by Bhante, given on the final morning of the convention, where he launches "The Essential Sangharakshita" and "Living Ethically" and along the way says much else besides. His talk is at -

You will also find all the other main talks at the following link:

“These talks comprise a talk by Vishvapani - "Recollections of the Buddha" - and Srivati - "Coming Home: a Journey to India 2009", both given on the afternoon of the first day. Then there’s a total of 9 talks from three colloquia on the themes of "Discipleship", "Coherence and Experimentation", and "The Collective Life of the Order". These talks appear in the order in which they were given.

“I don't suppose that these videos can substitute for the actual experience of attending the convention, where along with these talks there were opportunities for discussion and communication in several contexts, and substantial collective practice in the shrine-room. However I hope that even so these recordings will give those of you who were not present some of the flavour of the event, and give those of you who were there an opportunity to see and hear these talks again.

“Thank you to all who gave these talks, and to Clear Vision for making the recordings.

With metta,

Two talks are featured below - Sangharakshita's book launches, and a rousing plea from Guhyapati, founder of the FWBO's EcoDharma retreat centre in the Catalunya mountains. A personal account of the Convention can be found on Nagapriya's blog, in his post entitled "The Order as Bodhisattva".

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Saturday, August 01, 2009

Sangharakshita opens new Ipswich Buddhist Centre

Amoghavajra, Chairman of the FWBO's Ipswich Buddhist Centre, writes with news of their new centre opening. He says -

"On Saturday 11th July Urgyen Sangharakshita opened the new Ipswich Buddhist Centre. Nearly ninety people attended the dedication ceremony.

"Sangharakshita arrived outside the new centre to hear us all chanting the Long Life Tara mantra of compassion. Sangharakshita cut the ribbon across our front door then led us upstairs to our cathedral-like shrine room where he saluted the shrine and then chanted the verses of blessing. After the dedication ceremony he talked for forty minutes, covering the ground of how his latest volume, The Essential Sangharakshita, came into being.

"He also introduced the legends around the discovery of the Perfection of Wisdom sutras by way of introducing his other new book: Living Ethically. His contribution was very simple and and very moving. It was a delight hearing him talk.

"We now feel that our centre is well and truly open".

More details available on their website,

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Sangharakshita en français

Yes, Sangharakshita in French!
Three years after Vision et Transformation, the FWBO Paris Buddhist Centre, locally known as Centre bouddhiste de l’Ile-de-France, has just released his second book: Poèmes. This is a bilingual edition of 64 poems by Sangharakshita, translated into French by two mitras, Barbaralaure and Christian, and two order members, Varadakini and Vassika. In addition, another mitra and artist, Marc, drew a picture of Sangharakshita for the cover, and a friend, Gérard, did the typesetting of the book and designed the cover.

The Centre has decided to publish these books - and more will be coming in the future - as it has not yet been possible to find a mainstream publisher for Sangharakshita’s works in France. This is because he is not very well known there yet, the FWBO having only been present there for a few years and through a single Centre so far. For the time being, the books are only sold at the Centre, as selling them elsewhere would require resources and an organisation that the Centre does not have at the moment.

Christian comments: "We started to translate poems to inspire people during pujas or festivals. Then Vassika came up with the idea of translating more poems and gathering them in a book: this will now give people a fuller sense of Sangharakshita as a person. Though he came to visit our Centre a couple of years ago many people attending classes these days have not met him and may never have an opportunity to do so. They therefore only rely on the written word to get to know him, and having the chance of reading some his poetry will give them access to a different facet of him than the one they encounter through his books about Buddhism.

For us translators, it has been as great a pleasure as a challenge to translate these poems. In all cases translation is a difficult but rewarding practice of truthful speech; in the case of poetry the challenge is even greater if one wants to convey images, rhythms, rhymes and beauty as well as meaning. It was also a great pleasure – and a challenge too sometimes – to receive advice and feedback from the author (he does not speak French, of, course, but in a few places we’ve needed his clarification or explanation to make sure we got things right). It has also been an enriching process of deepening our relationship with each other, as in the end all the poems were the result of the work of two, three or even all four of us."

The poems were chosen to provide readers with as "comprehensive" an image of Sangharakshita as possible in a few pages, so there are poems old and new (from 1948 to 2006), short and long (from haikus to The Veil of Stars), with and without rhymes or metre, and showing different aspects of this remarkable man – the thinker, the contemplator, the friend, the teacher – as well as different moments of his life: his life in India and in Kalimpong, his return to the West, and his life as founder of the FWBO.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Sangharakshita's Diary

Dharmamati, Sangharakshita's secretary, writes with his latest news -

"The first event since the last report was Bhante's visit to Cardiff in Wales. There he inaugurated the new triptych painted by Aloka for the Cardiff Buddhist Centre shrine-room. Before unveiling the triptych Bhante gave a short talk about the significance of Buddhist and Western art and its importance to the spiritual life. Back at Madhyamaloka this was followed by a study seminar on chapters 4, 5 and 6 from the Ratnagunasamcayagatha, as translated by Conze. Toward the end of March, Bhante gave a question-and-answer session for participants on the 'Sangharakshita and the History of the FWBO' seminar.

At the beginning of April, Bhante, accompanied by Dharmamati, went to Essen for the Central European FWBO Day celebrations. Besides Germany, Order members came from Holland, Belgium and France. The following day he gave a public talk on the stages of the spiritual path, which was in effect an exposition of his 'system' of spiritual discipline. During his stay he met people both individually and in small groups for meals. He was also taken to two of Essen's parks. One of the most memorable meals was a short drive from Essen in the countryside at an outside restaurant by the River Ruhr. In the warm afternoon sun a group of men Order members and Mitras enjoyed a meal followed by lively conversation with Bhante.

The following weekend, on the FWBO Day celebrations at the Birmingham Buddhist Centre, Bhante, Subhuti, and Vidyadevi each gave a talk primarily to launch Bhante's latest books Living Ethically and The Essential Sangharakshita. Vidyadevi spoke first about her experiences of compiling and editing The Essential Sangharakshita. Next Subhuti launched The Essential Sangharakshita and spoke at length about his early involvement in the FWBO. Lastly, Bhante launched Living Ethically and spoke on gratitude, ethics, and altruism, sharing his most recent reflections on these issues. (All three talks are available on VideoSangha).  In the last week of April Bhante took part in a major seminar at Madhyamaloka, 'Responding to the Cries of the World'.

Shortly after this, Bernard Stevens from Belgium visited and spent a few days with the Madhyamaloka community and Bhante. He is a writer who is hoping to write a book about Sangharakshita and the FWBO in French.

At the beginning of May, Bhante went to Tiratanaloka to lead study on the Bodhicaryavatara with the Women Mitra Convenors. Unfortunately, due to poor health, Bhante was unable to lead the study and had to return to Madhyamaloka (more will be said about this below). Fortunately he was able to recover quickly from this and could meet for two Q&A sessions with the Public Preceptors at Madhyamaloka, both providing opportunities to discuss his Message to the Order, already mentioned on FWBO News.

A draft of a new history of the FWBO entitled You've had the Theory, Now Try the Practice: The Story of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, written by Vajragupta, is currently being read to him for his comments.

In between, and sometimes during, these events Bhante continues to meet people individually virtually every day, deal with correspondence, go for his daily walk, and listen to various articles, including Shabda which is read to him by either Paramartha or Dharmamati.

Bhante's health: In general, for a man of his age, Bhante's health has been good.

However, he finds on occasions that he does not have a good night's sleep and this leaves him with little energy the following day to engage in activities. This is what happened at Tiratanaloka and earlier in the year at Bristol. Anyone meeting him for any reason is asked to bear this in mind : to please be aware of the time, remind Bhante of it, and try not to extend the meeting much beyond an hour, even if it looks like he has plenty more to say. Bhante also continues to have treatment to his left eye with injections for macular degeneration. He has one more session left.

Future events: At the time of writing Bhante is about to start a study seminar on the Bodhicaryavatara with four Order members and four Mitras from Belgium and Holland. Over the next couple of months Bhante has visits planned to Cambridge, Glasgow, Liverpool, Blackburn and Lancaster where he will be launching his latest books Living Ethically and The Essential Sangharakshita and, where possible, giving Q&A sessions for Order Members and others. He will also be going to Valencia to open their new centre.

So as can be seen Bhante continues to get 'out and about' and contribute substantially to the lifeblood of the Order and Movement.

Dharmamati - Madhyamaloka 15 May 2009


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Living Ethically: latest book by Sangharakshita

Sangharakshita's latest book has been released by Windhorse Publications, his publishers. It's entitled ‘Living Ethically: advice from Nagarjuna’s Precious Garland’ and is based, like many of his recent books, on edited transcripts of a seminar held many years ago. That's not as simple as it might sound - the seminar would have recorded, - probably at Padmaloka in 1975 or 1976, onto reel-to-reel tapes, painstakingly transcribed some years later using a typewriter, scanned still later - and now, finally, edited...

In this particular case what survived to be edited was only a single carbon-copy. Silabhadra, who did the scanning in 2004, commented as he began it "The only remaining original was just a carbon copy of the original typescript of the seminar. Much of what follows will, I predict, be totally incomprehensible!"

To illustrate just how true his prediction was, we copy below the first few lines of the scan of transcription:

All flght, let's go
on to Chapter One
and read a verse at
a time, going round the circle
Chapter One
I bow down to theA i~~a;-2+. fre~from all defects,
... adorned with all virtues, the sole
friend o~~beings.
There's quite a number of points to go into here.
Tho is being
saluted here, who is the author bowing down to?
The Pu-ddha.

From such unpropitious ingredients, we are fortunate indeed to have the book itself! Even the process of editing was not easy: Sangharakshita is now in his 84th year and has for some years suffered with little or no eyesight. The book was therefore produced in collaboration with Samacitta, chair of the nearby Birmingham Buddhist Centre, who visited him most days over the past year, reading him the manuscript and writing down his responses.

She writes - " I have been delighting in my contact with Bhante recently. Since he can no longer read with his own eyes, I was asked to help him edit his next book by reading the manuscript to him. The decline of his eyesight is obviously a great loss, not only for him personally but also indirectly for us, but for me it has led to a situation which is giving me a great deal of spiritual nourishment and inspiration".

On the book itself, Windhorse, his publishers, say –

“In a world of increasingly confused ethics, Living Ethically looks back over the centuries for guidance from Nagarjuna, one of the greatest teachers of the Mahayana tradition. Drawing on the themes of Nagarjuna’s famous scripture, Precious Garland of Advice for a King, this book explores the relationship between an ethical lifestyle and the development of wisdom. Covering both personal and collective ethics, Sangharakshita considers such enduring themes as pride, power and business, as well as friendship, love and generosity”.

Living Ethically' should be available in FWBO Centre bookshops - but can also be obtained on-line via Windhorse.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"What is the Western Buddhist Order?": a 'Message' from Sangharakshita

Last week Sangharakshita, founder of the FWBO and the Western Buddhist Order, issued an important 'Message' to all members of the Order, entitled "What is the Western Buddhist Order?"

He introduces it thus -

"On 17th, 18th, and 19th March 2009, a small group of senior Order members put to me a series of questions about the nature of the Order, and related topics, and I replied to those questions. Our exchanges were recorded and I have gone through the transcript of the recording, giving clearer expression to some of the points I wished to make and cutting a few digressions which, though interesting in themselves, had no direct relation to the questions I was being asked.

"Now that I am in my 84th year, I am glad to have had the opportunity of placing on record my views concerning the nature of the Order, and related topics. My replies to the questions put to me may, indeed, be seen as my Last Will and Testament for the Order, and I therefore request all Order members not only to 'read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest' its contents but also to give it appropriate expression in their lives as Order members".

(Sd.) Urgyen Sangharakshita.
8th April 2009

Sangharakshita would like the Message to be available to everyone connected with the FWBO, and it has therefore been posted on his website under 'News'. The direct link is

More or less by coincidence, the theme for this summer's Order Convention has just been announced as being "What is the Order?". It will explore the theme using a variety of approaches - an informal 'conversation café' to open up the topic; a talk locating the Order/FWBO within the context of the Buddhist tradition; a series of 'Colloquia' on the three themes of Discipleship, Coherence and Experimentation, and The Collective Life of the Order - each presenting a number of perspectives on the topic followed by questions and answers; meditation and Puja, including the 'Mula Yogas'; and finally an 'Open Forum' specifically to air responses to Sangharakshita’s Message.

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Saturday, May 09, 2009

New video of Sangharakshita available online - Networking the FWBO through videoUpekshapriya, from the FWBO's ClearVision video team, writes with news of Sangharakshita's recent talk in Birmingham, UK, given as part of their FWBO Day celebrations. He sys " You might want a heads-up that the talks from FWBO day in Birmingham are now on VideoSangha".

There's three talks, all around the launch of 'The Essential Sangharakshita', Wisdom Publications' new collection of Sangharakshita's writings.

Vidyadevi, the book's compiler, begins her talk by describing the difficulty of adequately representing in a book the "ongoing process that is Sangharakshita", an author who Wisdom describes as being “equally at home with science, philosophy, myth, art, and poetry,” and using “every inner avenue to communicate the timeless Dharma.”

Her talk is at

Subhuti, in his first public talk in the West for three years, rejoices in the "glittering but muddled heap" that has been bequeathed to us in the FWBO - meaning the sum total of Sangharakshita's output over the past 60 years of Dharma teaching and practice. He goes on to evoke the spirit of the times when the FWBO and Order were founded, when in the air there was a thirst for something new, for radical change - and Sangharakshita was there to meet it. His talk is at

Sangharakshita, in his talk, available at, expresses very eloquently his gratitude to Vidyadevi and others. He goes on to launch 'Living with Ethics', and offers a series of reflections on ethics and altruism.

VideoSangha hosts over 260 videos, long and short, related to the FWBO and Western Buddhist Order.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

FWBO Day celebrated in style in Essen

Sanghadarsini sends us this report from Germany -

"Last weekend FWBO friends from Holland, Belgium, France and Germany gathered to celebrate the 42nd FWBO Day, in Essen, Germany. This year's celebration was the best attended ever, which was very much due to Bhante Sangharakshita's visit to the occasion. For each of the last 7 years FWBO friends from the Middle European Region have gathered in either Ghent, Amsterdam or Essen, to celebrate together.

"On Saturday afternoon, we began the programme with a meditation, followed by short talks from the different centres about their new developments. The French read out some of Bhante's poetry which had been translated into French and will soon appear as a book. Jnanacandra talked about the Essen Centre's step to offer all Dharma activities on a Dana basis, a big, but seemingly already very successful step for the Centre. Upekshadaka talked about the new Centre in Ghent, which now occupies a former restaurant - it was a big project for their Sangha to renovate the place and to turn the old kitchen, with all its white tiles which looked more like a slaughter house, into a shrine room. Akasasuri spoke about developments with Metta Vihara, Holland's new retreat centre and Mokshasiddha spoke about the plans for a new town centre in Berlin. Ingrid Menzel told us about the opening of a new FWBO Centre just outside Hamburg, and Abhayada and Tanja Stevanovic talked about Breathworks activities in Germany and their wish to become more of a Right Livelihood Team one day.

"At 5.30 we had an Indian meal, laid on by some of the Essen women. At 7.30 there were three more talks, the theme being "sitting under the Bodhi Tree" - and miraculously, in the Shrine room, a large Bodhi Tree had appeared! Three very different Order Members - Gunabhadri, Suvannavira and Lalitaratna - talked about their quite different Experiences on the Order Convention in Bodhgaya this year. Lalitaratna's very lively talk about the noises in India made us nearly roll over the floor with laughter.

"After that, Vimalavajra beautifully led a three-fold Puja, gathering and focussing all our energies together and bringing the day to a perfect close.

"The next day brought more than 150 people to the Essen Centre. The reason for so many people coming was ... Bhante Sangharakshita. The shrineroom was packed, but quite magically, it didn't feel crowded. When Bhante appeared, the atmosphere became very mindful and light and quiet and after saluting the Shrine together, Bhante gave a talk about the 'The FWBO and the Path of Spiritual Development'

"He talked about integration and the importance of mindfulness, about positivity and the importance of Metta and about spiritual death and the cutting away of our ego through acts of selflessness.

"Without a script and with his sharp clarity and humour, Bhante's talk moved many people.

"The talk has been recorded by Clear Vision and will soon appear on one of the FWBO's websites.

"After the talk we all went into silence to prepare for a 7-fold Puja done in three languages: Dutch, French and German.

"At about 3 pm, after a lovely lunch, most people made their way back home, to Amsterdam, Ghent, Arnhem, Berlin, Paris, Minden, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Southern Germany. We met in large numbers for the weekend and the effects will be felt for some time to come".

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

News of Sangharakshita

Sangharakshita, founder of the FWBO, and now well into his 80's, lives in Birmingham UK, in the FWBO's 'Madhyamaloka' community. They've sent FWBO News some highlights of Sangharakshita's diary for the past few months.

Before that though, we bring news of his latest book, just out, and entitled ‘Living Ethically: advice from Nagarjuna’s Precious Garland’. Windhorse, his publishers, say –

“In a world of increasingly confused ethics, Living Ethically looks back over the centuries for guidance from Nagarjuna, one of the greatest teachers of the Mahayana tradition. Drawing on the themes of Nagarjuna’s famous scripture, Precious Garland of Advice for a King, this book explores the relationship between an ethical lifestyle and the development of wisdom. Covering both personal and collective ethics, Sangharakshita considers such enduring themes as pride, power and business, as well as friendship, love and generosity”.

Madhyamaloka pick up the story -

"In January, Bhante was filmed being interviewed by Mahamati in honour of the occasion of the Order Convention at Bodh Gaya, and the film was shown for the first time in India on 24 February. Bhante considers the occasion of the first Convention to be held in India to have been a very significant one for the history of the Order.

"The recording of the interview with Bhante that was shown at the convention in Bodhgaya is available for general viewing on VideoSangha. Copies can be ordered from ClearVision.

"Since then, aside from being kept busy by a steady stream of personal appointments, Bhante has participated in two question-and-answer sessions on events hosted by the Dharmapala College. The last such event was attended by Nityabandhu, who, having left England almost exactly a year ago to set up the FWBO's first Centre in Poland , returned to his old room in Bhante's flat for the duration of his stay.

"Matt, Sangharakshita's secretary, has had the pleasure and privilege of reading to him from David Loy's snappily titled book Money Sex War Karma, which looks at various contemporary issues from a Buddhist perspective. Bhante found it very interesting and stimulating, and recommends the book to Order members. You’ll find it reviewed by Nagapriya on the WBO’s Western Buddhist Review website.

"Bhante's health has generally been stable, though he is easily tired, and in January he was forced to leave Bristol, where he had planned to lead a weekend of study, early, due to having slept badly. In February he had the first of a series of injections into his left eye, which, it is hoped, will slow down the macular degeneration, and maybe even improve his vision slightly. He is due another such injection on 25 March, and another a month later.

Sangharakshita inaugurating a new triptych by Aloka at the Cardiff Buddhist Centre"Today (13 March at the time of writing) Bhante will be travelling to Cardiff, where he will stay for the weekend. He will be inaugurating a new triptych in the Cardiff Buddhist Centre shrine-room on the Saturday, and on Sunday he will take a question-and-answer session with Order members and mitras.

"Other forthcoming events include a trip to Essen, his first international travel of the year, for the Central European FWBO Day celebrations.

"He also has two scheduled launches of The Essential Sangharakshita, one at Birmingham Buddhist Centre on 11 April, and another at Cambridge Buddhist Centre on 23 May".

Sangharakshita's website is at This has recently been updated and now contains no less than 32 of his books for free download.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

An invitation: spend FWBO Day 2009 with Sangharakshita

April 6th sees the 42nd anniversary of the founding of the FWBO, and to mark the occasion the Sangha in the UK’s West Midlands invites you to join them and Sangharakshita for a celebration.  This’ll be held at the Birmingham Buddhist Centre on Saturday 11th April.
During the event there will be a launch of The Essential Sangharakshita, Wisdom Publications’ new book that describes its author as “equally at home with science, philosophy, myth, art, and poetry,” and using “every inner avenue to communicate the timeless Dharma.”
They say -
“Bhante will be joining us for the launch and giving a talk.  He will be accompanied by Vidyadevi (aka Karen Stout), who edited the text and who has worked with Bhante for many years, who will introduce us to the book itself. 
“We invite you to join us as we celebrate Bhante, his writings, the FWBO, and all these as expressions of the Three Jewels”.
The program is as follows -
Arrival from 2pm onwards.  It is fine to arrive earlier than this, but we might encourage you to help with the preparations!
2.30pm: Optional Meditation
4pm: Book launch of ‘The Essential Sangharakshita’ with talks by Sangharakshita and Vidyadevi
5.30pm: Sandwich snacks available
6.30pm: Puja and close

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

New videos of Sangharakshita available online

Last month we published a recording of an interview with Sangharakshita, recorded in Birmingham but screened at the International Order Convention in Bodhgaya. This had to be temporarily withdrawn due to overload on the host site; we are pleased to announce that it is again available for general viewing. This time it is on VideoSangha, the FWBO’s video-sharing website.

The link is -

If you want to order a copy from Clear Vision you can do so at

The following links may also be of interest

Bhante talking about Bodhgaya:

Bhante's talk on some of the Teachers on the FWBO Refuge Tree - Jan 09:

Bhante's unveiling of the new LBC shrine:

Bhante's conversation with Maitreyabandhu in November 08:

Photos taken at the Convention in Bodh Gaya can be viewed at (taken by Vilasamani)
or (taken by Samacitta)

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Sangharakshita interview premiered at Order Convention in India

Sangharakshita in interview at MadhyamalokaA significant part of the International Order Convention in Bodh Gaya has been a full-length interview with Sangharakshita, founder of the FWBO and Western Buddhist Order.

Now aged 84, he’s not there himself – the video was recorded a month or so ago in Birmingham, UK, and has been prepared for viewing by the FWBO’s ClearVision film crew.

It’s been kept under tight security until now, mostly because in it he ‘reveals’ the new name for the combined FWBO/TBMSG Centre at Bodh Gaya – which is now ‘coming to life’ after an extended period of planning and preparation.

Now the interview’s been shown in India, it’s been uploaded by ClearVision website for all to see - in fact Bhante specifically requested it be shown more widely than just the Convention.

The link is

However - there's a second recent interview with Bhante, speaking specifically about Bodh Gaya, available here -

The Western Buddhist Order’s biannual International Order Convention is taking place at Bodh Gaya from Feb 23rd - March 1st, and is the first ever International Order Convention held outside of UK. Attending are more than 160 Order Members from outside India and about 300 living in India (mostly Indian of course, but some Westerners too). The event is being held on our own land on the outskirts of the town, though of course those present are spending plenty of time meditating and doing puja close to the Bodhi Tree.

In the interview, Sangharakshita addresses topics such as the significance of gathering at Bodh Gaya, his own decision not to attend, reflections on “The Essential Sangharakshita” (a very substantial compendium of his writing, recently released by Wisdom Publications), his thoughts on his ‘legacy’, and his comments on an oft-quoted remark he is supposed to have made, to the effect that members of the Order “can change everything except the Going for Refuge”.

There’s also Sangharakshita’s reflections on meditation, on insight, on inspiration, and on the part our Movement has played in the revival of Buddhism in India. Last but by no means least, there’s his announcement of the new name for our Centre at Bodh Gaya…

We'll post a report and photos on the Order Convention on Sunday.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sangharakshita's Financial Life Story

Sangharakshita as a boy, image courtesy of the ClearVision archives, FWBO News continues its series of articles about money by publishing an interview with Sangharakshita on his financial life-story.

Siddhisambhava, Fundraiser in the FWBO Development Team, conducted the interview last spring to help her with an appeal for the Order to take on the financial support of its founder. It reveals aspects of his life rarely mentioned in any of his memoirs. The interview begins with his childhood conditioning around money and covers the twists and turns of his financial fortunes from his twenty years in India – as beggar, monk, house-owner, farmer, employer and benefactor – to his return to Britain in the 1960’s, and how he ‘got by’ while he set up the FWBO.

Originally published in Shabda, the monthly Order newsletter, FWBO News is pleased to make this fascinating account more widely available. The appeal for Bhante was launched at the Order 40th anniversary celebrations last spring and was concluded successfully on Bhante’s 83rd birthday on 26 August 2008. It shifted his financial support from two of the movement’s institutions that were struggling to financially maintain this commitment, the European FWBO Centres and Windhorse Evolution, to over 400 Order members making individual standing orders.

The appeal’s success – as is the case with all fundraising – reaped more than financial benefits, by strengthening the connections between Order members and Bhante, as well as the bond between all those Order members who took on this commitment. If you’d like to see a short film about the appeal for Bhante, including some remarks by Bhante himself, visit videosangha.

“Ask of any money situation: how well is this facilitating relationship?” 
from tuesday’s article on money

Looking at out money history, or telling our financial life-story, is one of the exercises suggested in ‘Understanding money, understanding ourselves’ published on Tuesday. Perhaps you could find the money thread in your own life-story? It’s there and it has meaning. What patterns of behaviour emerge? Did you create debts or savings? What degree of stinginess or generosity is revealed? How much control did you exercise? Most important of all: were you, are you, able to fund the things that matter most to you?

Sangharkshita's financial life story is on FWBO Features here:

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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.

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Saturday, January 31, 2009

An interview with Sangharakshita

Photograph of Sangharakshita taken by Belgian photographer Diego FranssensFor Saturday's 'people' slot on FWBO News we are happy to feature Sangharakshita once again, and specifically an interview with him on the the subject of 'mindfulness.

As mentioned on FWBO News in November, last year Sangharakshita had an interview published in the Dutch Buddhist magazine ‘Vorm en Leegte’.

This was part of an issue of the magazine devoted to mindfulness, and was conducted by Dorine Esser, a mitra from Antwerp, in Belgium.

The interview is now available in English on the Features section of FWBO News. Click here to read it...

Some of what Sangharakshita says has been translated from English to Dutch and back again - please bear this in mind when reading it! It covers a wide range of topics – from the importance of mindfulness to our participation in a planet-wide ‘higher evolution’ – to the value of reading the Pali scriptures and the joy to be derived from classical music and art.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"The Essential Sangharakshita" launched, available through Windhorse

‘The Essential Sangharakshita’ book cover‘The Essential Sangharakshita’, a major new title showcasing 50 years of Sangharakshita's writings, has just been published by Wisdom Publications. It is available via Windhorse Publications.

Drawing on no less than 38 of Sangharakshita’s books, and totalling 792 pages, it’s a very substantial resource for anyone interested in his teaching, his life, his poetry, and the Dharmic influences behind the FWBO. In fact, it’s a must-buy!

A full review of the book is available on FWBO Features.

The book’s organising principle is based on the Mandala of the Five Buddhas - the central concerns of Buddhism in the central realm of Vairocana; material on ‘Buddhism and the Mind’ in the realm of Aksobhya; ‘Art, Beauty, and Myth in the Buddhist Tradition’ under Ratnasambhava; faith, devotion, friendship and meditation in the Western realm of Amitabha, and finally a lengthy final section on ‘Buddhism and the World’ in the realm of Amoghasiddhi. A major work indeed.

Vidyadevi, the book’s editor, is an Order Member of many years’ standing and has lived and breathed the project for much the past 5 years – she told FWBO News that she’d started by re-reading all Sangharakshita’s books!

For some, ‘The Essential Sangharakshita’ will suffice, and may even be the only book of his they ever need. Certainly it is a more-than-adequate introduction to Sangharakshita’s thought and teaching – if not to the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order itself. For others, it will be a gateway, a taster, to the 38 works from which it is drawn, even to those not represented, and they will be led through it deeper into Sangharakshita’s thought – and perhaps into the spiritual community he has founded and nurtured for he past 40 years.

‘The Essential Sangharakshita’, ISBN 0-86171-585-3, is available from Windhorse Publications ( in the UK or Wisdom Publications ( in the US, and Windhorse Books ( in Australia and New Zealand . For other countries please contact your nearest bookstore.

Click here for the full review – other reviews are welcome (just email FWBO News) and will be added as received.

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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, December 17, 2008

New painting unveiled at the LBC; Sangharakshita interviewed

Aloka at work in his studio in NorwichReaders of FWBO News will know the LBC recently suffered a major flood in its basement on the eve of its 30th anniversary.

Very shortly before that, they had welcomed Sangharakahita, who on November 8th had unveiled a unveiled a major new shrine painting by Aloka to celebrate the opening of
Breathing Space, a third shrine room at the FWBO's London Buddhist Centre.

As part of the opening and unveiling ceremonies, Sangharakahita was interviewed by Maitreyabandhu about his time at the LBC, and a video of this and the unveiling itself can be found on the 'talks' section of the LBC website.

Aloka's new painting installed in the LBC's new basement shrine roomThe beautiful triptych painting of the Buddha, his immediate disciples, and the Arya Sangha, includes figures from the Refuge Tree of the Western Buddhist Order.

It is designed to be closable to allow the space to be used for MBCT courses as part of the LBC's new Breathing Space project.
The two photographs show Aloka, the painter, at work in his studio in Norwich, and the finished painting as installed in the LBC.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sangharakshita inverviewed in Holland

cover image from the Dutch Buddhist magazine Vorm en LeegteFollowing his trip to Holland in April, Sangharakshita has had an interview published in the Dutch Buddhist magazine ‘Vorm en Leegte’, part of an issue of the magazine devoted to mindfulness.

The interview is available (in Dutch) on the Features section of FWBO News here; it was conducted by Dorine Esser, a mitra from Antwerp, in Belgium.

Non-Dutch speaking readers may still enjoy the very beautiful photographs that accompany the article, taken specially for the article by Belgian photographer Diego Franssens.

A translation is being prepared and will be added to FWBO Features once it is available.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

London Buddhist Centre celebrates 30th anniversary

The FWBO’s London Buddhist Centre celebrates its 30th anniversary this week.

To mark the occasion they’ve arranged a ‘30th Anniversary Urban Retreat’ running from 9th –16th November; it started Sunday with a period of ‘setting intentions’ for the week ahead. They then moved into more ceremonial mode with a Grand Unveiling, by Sangharakshita, of a new 12-foot triptych, painted by Aloka, for their new basement shrine room.

This will form part of the LBC’s new ‘Breathing Space’ area - Breathing Space is the London Buddhist Centre’s growing programme for health and wellbeing; it teaches meditation and mindfulness techniques that can help people who have struggled with depression, addiction, stress and anxiety to look after their own mental health. It’s also a resource center for carers in the area, helping local carers learn how to reduce the stress that can come with intensive caring responsibilities. They’ve produced a video, ‘Caring for the Carers’ and been featured in the UK’s ‘Guardian’ newspaper.

On the Urban Retreat itself - in which 146 people are participating - they say “you decide what commitments to take up while going about your usual routine. We will support your efforts by opening the Centre for morning meditation, hosting special classes, and sending you daily text messages and audio downloads. We start with a day retreat in which the new shrine room painting will be unveiled, and we finish with a day retreat and then Sangha day.

“In the evenings there will be free classes all week, including newcomers’ meditation classes from 7.15 to 8.15pm, followed at 8.30pm by a series of very special events celebrating the people and positivity of the LBC.
“We want everyone who comes to the LBC to attend this year’s 30th anniversary Urban Retreat – so the week is free of charge for all".

More details of the retreat - and Breathing Space - are available on the LBC's website.

Breaking News - next June FWBO centres across the world will running an International Urban Retreat to which all members of the whole FWBO Sangha are invited. The dates are June 20-27th; watch this space for more details…

There’s an introduction to the theory and practice of Urban Retreats- as developed by the FWBO’s Sheffield Buddhist Centre - on FWBO Resources here.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Sangharakshita interviewed live on-line

A recent photograph of Sangharakshita, photographed by AlokaviraMaitreyaraja, manager of the FWBO’s London Buddhist Centre, has contacted FWBO News to tell us -

“On Sunday at 4pm GMT Sangharakshita, founder of the Western Buddhist Order and the FWBO, is being interviewed live on-line by Maitreyabandhu. This event is part of the London Buddhist Centre’s 30th anniversary celebrations.

“The interview will explore Sangharakshita’s vision for the London Buddhist Centre, his life in Bethnal Green, the building of the Centre in the 1970s, and his hopes for the future.

“This event will be streamed live on the internet starting at 4pm GMT - click here to join us”.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Sangharakshita's news

Sangharakshita, photographed by DhammaratiIt has been quite some time since news of Sangharakshita has appeared in Shabda. However we have now received a report from Dharmamati, his secretary, and are pleased to reproduce it here -

"Sangharakshita has been very active in recent months, visiting centres both here and abroad, seeing individuals nearly every day, continuing working on 'Precious Garland Seminar' with Samacitta and taking regular study with a small local men's chapter.

Bhante's health:
Bhante has been in quite good health over the last couple of months. His eyesight has even improved a little and he has started to be able to read large print publications and smallerprint with the aid of an illuminated magnifying glass and he has even been able to draft a few letters. This said, however, his eyesight is still limited and most things have to be read to him.

The last report concluded with Bhante attending the Guhyaloka reunion at Padmaloka. At the end of this month he was invited to a conference organised by The Network of Buddhist Organisations (UK) and the Institute of Oriental Philosophy-UK. the conference was called The British Buddhist Landscape - Transplantation and Growth. He was one of the two keynote speakers for the conference, the other being Stephen Bachelor.

The FWBO had quite a strong presence at the conference, not only with speakers, but with artworks contributed to an exhibition of Buddhist art from Britain. Bhante's talk was entitled 'Looking back and forward a little, reminiscences and reflections. In it he recollected his association with British Buddhism especially his time with the Buddhist society in the early 1940s in London. He also gave some reflections about the future. (for more about the conference see the report on FWBO News.

July was quite a full month with visits to Sheffield, Berlin and leading study for the Men Mitra Convenors at Padmaloka. In both Sheffield and Berlin Bhante gave a Q&A session for Order members and a public talk.

In Sheffield Bhante gave a talk on something that he has rarely talked about in public, 'Rebirth'. This was a personal talk that included reflections on dreams, visions and experiences from his life.

In Berlin the public talk was on the 'Six distinctive emphases of the FWBO' According to the local sangha this was a very timely talk in helping establish what the FWBO has to offer in Berlin; a talk covering some of the same ground was given in Birmingham and is available here from FreeBuddhistAudio. During the Men Mitra Convenors meeting at Padmaloka Bhante led ten study sessions over a period of 5 days on 'The Path of Regular and Path of Irregular Steps'.

During August Bhante spent most of the month at Madhyamaloka. Towards the end of the month Bhante celebrated his 83rd Birthday. A special event was organised by Siddhisambhava with invited guests from Madhyamaloka community, Uddiyana trustees and those involved in the recent fundraising appeal for Bhante's support. Happily to say the goal was exceeded due to the generosity of many individual Order members.

Two days after this Bhante left for Spain where he attended an Order retreat. The venue was Tushita retreat centre run by the FPMT in the hills behind Barcelona. During this event Bhante gave a q&A session for Order Members. From there he travelled to Valencia where he stayed in the men's community. During his stay in Valencia Bhante gave a public talk at the Valencia Buddhist Centre. the theme this time was Padmasambhava, his talk included the five poisons and the five spiritual faculties. This event was attended by over 150 people.

The next event was an historic one, the public launch of the Spanish translation of 'A Survey of Buddhism'. The event took place in a lecture room at a University.

Most recently, Bhante has been to Krakow, Poland where he opened Sanghaloka, a new FWBO centre and our first in Poland.

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