free counters

Friday, October 09, 2009

September Serendipity Tour in Sri Lanka

Ujukarin, a Dutch member of the Western Buddhist Order, reports from Sri Lanka and their “September Serendipity Tour”. Proof that spreading the Dharma can be a lot of fun! He says -

“Below are my humble experiences from the last two weeks in the beautiful tropical island called Sri Lanka. The dominant memory coming to my mind is of a real team of spiritual friends, as we travelled together for most of these two weeks. At times we felt like the ‘one for all and all for one’ of the Three Musketeers, or like the Aniruddhas from the Buddhist suttas. Sometimes of course we needed to correct each other, and in one hilarious situation we almost split over two buses each going in opposite directions!

“But generally we had a lovely balanced distribution of tasks: Prajnajit as the Master of Mantras and Puja, Saddhavira as the Meditation expert and myself as the humble Dharma study contributor. Which did not prevent us from switching roles at times: Prajnajit was asked to explain quite a lot about Indian Buddhist culture, and on-the-spot we created new Reflection Meditations - e.g. with a Tara-Mara duo. But most special credits for this tour go to our dear friend Prajnajit, who now has proven to have more Sraddha (devotion) than Saddhavira and more Uju-power (uprightness) than Ujukarin!

“During the trip we conducted two separate mitra ceremonies, both long awaited; welcome to Chaminda and Devaraj into the mitra sangha! They happened during the more formal activities: two day retreats in our relocated Colombo centre (now in Moratuwa), and a weekend retreat at Sagaraloka, Saddhavira’s retreat centre on the Unawatuna beach. Along with this we did a five-day ‘road trip’ trip all along the island, with journey legs of up to 10 hours - this led to quite a few one-to-one meetings and three talks to larger audiences.

“So you might ask, what are the ‘results’ of this? Well that’s always hard to say with Dhammadhuta work, because even a new mitra is not necessarily the result of any effort from the Order  . But we laid plans for quite a few new activities, including corporate Mindfulness trainings. I was especially pleased to see that the negative prejudices against India which many Sri Lankan Buddhists have were proven wrong one by one when they met Prajnajit. Also study and ordination training visits to India by the Sri Lankan mitras are clearly on the rise, especially now that everyone has met an Indian Order Member in person. So again LOTS of thanks to Prajnajit, Saddhavira and all others involved in this wonderful trip!

“There’s some more photos on Facebook if anyone's interested.

“With folded palms,


Labels: ,

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Exchange visits in Sri Lanka

Ujukarin, a Dutch Order Member who is a regular visitor to Sri Lanka, writes on behalf of his friend Prajnajit. He says -

“This fall 2, or even 3, reports for FWBO News are planned by me. But the one below is really from Prajnajit, I just acted as his scribe and he personally added material to the text and reviewed some things.

With the usual folded palms,

Prajnajit says -

"My name is Prajnajit, and I am a member of the Western Buddhist Order coming from Maharashtra in India. In my long involvement with TBMSG (as we call the FWBO in India) I have had several duties and developed various talents; the latest was publishing a poetry book in the Marathi language at this spring's Order Convention. At present my base is Goa, in southwest India, where I work for our Bahujan Hitay boys hostel and help in our small Dhamma centre there.

“But now, on the invitation of Saddhavira, I am on a new venture, helping out with our 'neighbours' of Sri Lanka. And I must rejoice in having encountered real teamwork and spiritual friendship with Saddhavira, working closely together for the last weeks. I have now completed my first month here, and will stay until late October; just today our friend Ujukarin has arrived and started helping for 10 packed days also.

“My activities here have centred around our 2 bases: Unawatuna (on the south coast, shown in the photo opposite) and in the Colombo area. I've met many people, both existing mitras and friends and many others interested in hearing about Dhamma. Usually I tell them about India and my limited knowledge of Dhamma, and do puja with them and teach some mantras. Through these people and through some books I study the social system of Sri Lanka, which is both similar to and different from my own India.

“The situation also has this partial overlap: most friends and students in India are from lower classes (although the last 10 year we worked hard to get more and more exceptions to that rule); whilst here in Lanka I am meeting much more students and high-class Westernised intellectuals. But here too, I think people's knowledge of Buddhism is often too superficial and we need hard to practice. I am also thinking that if we offer education here (like we do in India), this social work might attract people and then bring them into more Dharma interest.

“I have now experienced village life also, because friends invited me to a village near Unawatuna; and yes, village life here is quite different from city life. Also I stayed for a few days in a Vihara in the cool hill country, with a few befriended Bhikkhus. I notice that people here are treating the Bhikkhus like in India the Hindu priests are treated!

“Next to the Tamil Kovil temples I also saw quite a few Hindu temples (Devalas) integrated with Buddhist temples; and it's especially terrible for me to see that in the temple of Buddha there are so many (Hindu) gods and goddesses depicted. People pray to them together with the Buddha; it seems that if there was no ‘deva’ image in a temple then we would offend the local Buddhist devotees!

“In September I will tour 3 cities in 4 days, together with Ujukarin and Saddhavira, and conduct some talks and day retreats, again broadening our impact on society and deepening my knowledge of it. And maybe (maybe!) there are chances of me returning later for a longer stay in this lovely country, now already I feel a closer cooperation coming between these two neighbouring Sanghas.

“Yours in the Dhamma, Prajnajit"

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Retreat in Tamil Nadu, South India

Continuing this week's theme of stories from FWBO and TBMSG events in India, today we report on a recent TBMSG retreat in Tamil Nadu, South India - which is seeing a revival of Buddhism led in part by graduates from Nagarjuna Training Institute, TBMSG's training centre in Nagpur. They say -

"Namo Buddha. We are graduates of NTI in Nagpur. We are happy to inform you recently we arranged a three days retreat in Pallavoyal village, 70 kms from Chennai in Tamil Nadu. NTI has trained over 500 people from over 18 states in India.

"This was the first of its kind retreat in Tamil Nadu, it brought together Ambedkarites from various districts of Tamil Nadu, well wishers from Sri Lanka including Dhammachari Jinasena, and others including Dhammachari Viradhamma of the San Francisco Buddhist Centre. The ex-students of Nagarjuna Training Institute (NTI) constituted the core of the retreat organisation, arrangement and co-ordination. Over 120 men and women participated in this retreat.
"The major components of the retreat were Group Meditation, Dhamma Talks, Buddhist Formalities, Chanting Buddhist songs, Group Discussions and Buddhist Cultural Activities, it was a great help to revive Dhamma in the South India.

"In the beginning of the retreat, a small meeting was arranged between Buddhists from Sri Lanka and people in Tamil Nadu to clear misperceptions about current ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. Media and hardliners across the strait are trying to fuel enmity on religious lines and propaganda is trying to show that Buddhists in Sri Lanka are pro-war and are party to present war in Sri Lanka. This propaganda is creating negative impression of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, and the people inclined towards Buddhism in Tamil Nadu, mostly the followers of Babasaheb Ambedkar, get confused about role and involvement of Buddhism. However, Sri Lankan delegates made it clear that majority of the Buddhist monks and laities do not support the war and they are extending the humanitarian help to the people affected by war in North Sri Lanka.

"The theme of the retreat was why Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar chose Buddhism, and his key points regarding Buddhism. Dh. Lokamitra gave two talks, which were followed by discussions in the small group. Dh. Lokamitra also introduced two meditation practices.

"Tamil Nadu is a new situation for Buddhism, though it has the 100 year history of revival of Buddhism initiated by Pandit Iyothee Thass, who hailed from the untouchable castes, and saw in Buddhism the potential to end caste system. There is an overwhelming response to the teachings and people are keen to explore Buddhism.

"The images of the Buddha are found all over Tamil Nadu. The images are very beautiful and of artistic excellence. At one place, the famous image of Manimekalai, the famous Buddhist nun in Tamil literature, was also found.

"In all, Tamil Nadu like most of the states of India is having huge potential for revival of Buddhism and this retreat is one of the initiatives, there is so much still remains to be done to make Buddhist teachings available to millions of people here. The members of the Sakya Hostels took tremendous pains to make this event a great success.

"Thanking you, with all our metta. Dhammamitra S. Jayasridhar, Visuddhalok, Tamil Nadu".

The photograph shows Lokamitra, who led the retreat, with some of the participants from Sri Lanka.  Tomorrow we report on developments in ATMT, the women's Dhamma and Social project in India.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, March 29, 2009

On tour in Sri Lanka

Following yesterday’s report from Thailand, Ujukarin has sent us this from his recent travels in Sri Lanka.  The FWBO has a small centre in Sri Lanka run by Saddhavira, with Ujukarin joining him twice a year for retreats and classes.  It’s an instructive tale of the difficulties of introducing a new way of doing things into a traditional Buddhist culture…
He writes –
“Wow! Another Lanka Dharmaduta tour finished, two weeks by Saddhavira and Ujukarin. And it’s getting curiouser and curiouser, as we enter the Wonderland of countryside viharas…
“How many of you have experienced a Buddhafield retreat in the English summer mud? Or participated in a Dharma Talk, including some ‘quite specifically conditioned’ interested grandmothers? Or seen a version of the ‘top-or-flop’ TV show, where the audience votes to keep or dismiss the artist? NOW… imagine a combination of all of these…!
“A main activity during our tour was a 3-day rural vihara retreat at Polpitigama town in Kurunegala district.  It’s a typical countryside vihara on the outskirts of town, with the usual more or less conservative lay audience – and premises that don’t stand the monsoon showers very well. Our party included Saddhavira and 5 mitras/regulars, and the special dimension was that the retreat was around a full-moon day. So we were scheduled to give 3 talks and meditation sessions to the temple audience, numbering around 60-70, including many of the proverbial ‘grandmothers leading a sila life to prepare for their afterlife’ (and wanting reaffirmation of their pious quiet life, not virya or other ‘dangerous’ Dharma elements…).
“The morning talk (on personal mandalas) was loved by our group and by quite a few attending families and some grannies, but not all. Around lunch a group of them visited the senior bhikshu, and behaved like the audience of the ‘top-or-flop’ TV show: “OUT with these artists” (they’re far too dynamic for us…) was what they said. First we were told that the Bhikshus had bowed to their demands, and we’d have to shut up and retreat to our kutis for a mini-retreat for the rest of the day. But one hour later, shortly before the next talk slot, the Bhikshus told us that ‘well we had been invited for the full day and as good hosts they’d stick to that invitation and allow two more talk sessions – any way we wanted it’.
“The afternoon talk was on devas, sraddha and white magic, and was accompanied by heavy showers and lightning – by chance or not :-). And the evening session was experienced by everyone as amazing and inspired because we dived into ‘bringing Dharma to your heart’. So I am glad that we survived the top-or-flop vote, and we definitely felt that we had a new ‘Wonderland’ experience in the twilight zone between Western and Cultural/Ethnic Buddhism. And probably most of the regulars attending and maybe even some locals will find inspiration in this fullmoon day for following up with us!
“Other highlights included a talk in another rural area (Kekirawa near Anuradhapura) by Ujukarin together with a bhikshu who had attended our earlier retreat. At the end some of the audience, teenage girls working as Buddhist Sunday school teachers, asked Ujukarin for magic threads around their waists blessed with mantras – for a number of reasons, including his own Srilankan family life ;-), he backed down. And we had a well-attended day retreat in Colombo, and a weekend retreat at the Sagaraloka centre which was also attended well but NOT by exactly the (at least two) men who had asked to become mitras and could have become so during that retreat. So those ceremonies will have to wait till the fall…
“And in the sidelines we also had organisational progress. A 3-month Dharmaduta visit of an Indian Order Member (Pradnyajeet) is now sure to happen within a year. And we hope that some of the men GFR mitras will start attending the Nagpur ordination courses in India. So all-in-all it was a much more positive picture than last year: our sangha-building investments are starting to pay off!”
You can see more photos from their trip on their Facebook album.

Labels: ,

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lessons being learned in Sri Lanka

Sagaraloka ('Realm of the Ocean'), the FWBO's beautiful retreat centre in Sri LankaUjukarin has sent FWBO News this short report on activities at Sagaraloka, the small FWBO Centre in Sri Lanka.

“The FWBO’s Sri Lanka sangha, still in growing-up mode, had another visit from me, Ujukarin. I'm a regular visitor even though I'm a native of Europe. Saddhavira, the resident Order Member, was away for health reasons but supported us a lot from a distance.

“As well as many periods of Dharma practice, we met several times to discuss how to move forwards as a Sangha. Several things became very clear over the course of our discussions; I copy them below in case they are of interest to people in other small Sanghas -

* We learned that in order to continue some growth, and be resilient in the face of the erratic availability of the local Order Members, the local Mitra Sangha needs to become more creative and take more responsibility for its circumstances.

Watching Subhuti on DVD* Modern media make learning easier. We are now using the ClearVision talks on DVDs more and more, this is great for us even when there are live Order Members present to give explanations.

* Instead of always hoping for big funds from abroad to build our own Centre – which have never materialised - we can simply use living-room situations more. And ask for the (much more available) human resources! One development in the pipeline is that Ujukarin last week visited India for 5 days to prepare for a 3-month stint next year from an experienced Indian OM to assist in Sri Lanka!

* The only solution for strength in the long run is more local Order Members and more one-on-one contacts with the wider FWBO/TBMSG. The recent ordination of Sri Lankan Jinasen in India (sadhu!) is a good step, but lots more Lankan mitras need to deepen their practice and make contacts with the Order through ordination training in India and contacting the Jalaka and Hridayavani magazines (these are magazines specifically for men and women respectively, who have requested ordination into the Western Buddhist Order). This insight is now seeping through and is leading to tangible steps by at least 3-4 mitras.

“Next year I will hopefully have much more to report in this respect, including new retreats in Sagaraloka and a small experimental project in collaboration with a liberal rural Theravadin bhikshu!

“With folded palms,


Labels: ,

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dhamma tour in Sri Lanka

FWBO News is pleased to present this report from Ujukarin and Saddhavira, the two Order Members most involved with the FWBO in Sri Lanka – where we have for many years had a small group, and more recently a retreat centre, Sagaraloka (‘Realm of the Ocean’).

They say –

“The Sri Lanka FWBO sangha consists of around 15 mitras and one resident OM, and hence relies for its activities at least partly on visits from abroad. Last December and January we saw Ashvajit and Rijumati, both reported earlier in FWBO News; and during the week up to and including ‘Medin’ Full Moon day (known in the west as Good Friday) Saddhavira toured the country with Ujukarin – new to the Order, but who has been coming twice a year to Sri Lanka for the last five years.

Next to a number of one-to-one meetings with mitras and old and new friends, the main activities of the tour were –

* The normal Colombo Sunday afternoon class upgraded to a full day retreat, on the theme of ‘balanced effort’. Attendance around 15 people.

* A day at the new yoga/meditation centre of our friend and mitra Maitri Bandara in Matale, north of Kandy. Attendance something like 40-50 people, partly for the yoga sessions and partly for our talks.

* A 3-night retreat, Thu-Sun, in Sagaraloka retreat centre in Unawatuna near Galle. Attendance on the average 8 people, including one Bhikshu.

Based on all these meetings and events, new invitations are coming in, both for Saddhavira alone and for him with any visiting OM – e.g. for a day retreat in the cool hill country and a longer event at the vihara of the befriended Bhikshu. So watch this space for news of a slowly-growing remote FWBO sangha in an environment very different to that of Western Buddhism …


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Rijumati's travels

FWBO News is pleased to present these excerpts from the travel diaries of Rijumati, an Order Member who for many years was one of the pillars of Windhorse:Evolution, the FWBO’s large Right Livelihood business in Cambridge, UK. The Western Buddhist Order has always contained great diversity of people, who have always been able to move freely between a wide variety of different lifestyles, based on their spiritual needs and Sangharakshita’s dictum “commitment is primary, the observance of the Ten Precepts secondary, and life-style tertiary, by which one would mean that although all three are of importance, the second is important as an expression of the first, and the third important as an expression of the second.”.

Rijumati’s diary is living proof of this. The letters were originally published in Shabda, the Order’s monthly journal.


Setting out

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

By the time you read this I will be somewhere in the Arabian Sea on a freight ship bound to Sri Lanka.

This is the start of a period travelling around the world which will last a year or more and marks the end of an era of living in Cambridge. I've decided to travel without using any aeroplanes, hence the freight ship travelling to Colombo. This is partly because I want to avoid the carbon emissions implied in long haul air travel, and partly because I dislike the mode of travelling that ties one into airline deadlines and schedules.

As I got on the train from Cambridge it really felt like I was leaving - after 24 years of living there. Of course many of my friends, people I love, and my possessions are still there, but somehow leaving for an open period with no definite commitment to return felt like a parting. I leave behind a lovely girlfriend, a great community, dear friends and a meaningful job - and yet in the end I felt caged by the nice life that I had in Cambridge. It's crazy to give all that up, and yet I know in my guts that I'm doing the right thing, although I can't explain why. It's as if some part of me was pining away, despite all the wonderful things in my life. So I am cut adrift, wandering in the open sea of possibility.

Click here to read more…

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Travels in Sri Lanka...

A few days ago we posted what will hopefully be the first of several stories from Dhammaloka’s tour of Malaysia and China. We are hoping to do the same for Ashvajit, an Order Member of many years standing, who is spending the next several months visiting many FWBO/TBMSG groups in Sri Lanka and India.

He has just arrived in Sri Lanka where he sent us this short report as a sort of prelude to his main travels.

“I have spent my first day in south Sri Lanka staying with my old friend Jinasena at Unawatuna Beach. He manages a very pleasant guest house called Zimmer Rest, and he set me to work yesterday opening an exhibition of Sri Lankan paintings by an artist going by the name of Lionel Weerasinghe and giving a short talk on Art.

I have also taught one Manchester tourist to meditate - he was very receptive and easily got absorbed - said he felt stoned. I said I couldn't remember what that was like!

More to come…”

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ordination in the Netherlands

On Saturday 27th October in the context of a retreat in Schoorl, in the Netherlands, Eric de Ruijter became UJUKARIN, 'He who makes (the mind) straight'.

His Private Preceptor was Dhammaketu, his Public Preceptor Surata.


Labels: , ,

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

FWBO retreat centre in Sri Lanka

Saddhavira, an Order Member with roots in both Sri Lanka and New Zealand, has an ambitious vision for his retreat centre on Unawatuna Beach in Sri Lanka. Named Sagaraloka, 'Realm of the Ocean', he sees it as combining the best of the East and the West - the East's warmth and openness, the West's tolerance of difference and rationality.

As well as the visitors' retreat centre, Saddhavira conducts local activities. He says "We have about 12 Mitras and 8 of them have asked for ordination. There is a regular class in Colombo and also at the new retreat Centre".

The Centre has been in operation for a number of years now and is very much open to visitors. Saddhavira asks anyone visiting the area to contact him on globalbuddhist [at]

Labels: , ,

Thursday, March 22, 2007

FWBO Sri Lanka

Saddhavira is a Sri Lankan born member of the Western Buddhist Order who runs a guest house and vegetarian restaurant on Unawatuna Beach (right) in Sri Lanka . The very first story for the FWBO & TBMSG News was to report on his ordination at Padmaloka in May 2005. His preceptor Ashvajit is a regular visitor to Sri Lanka.

Saddhavira has been running Dharma activities in Sri Lanka for many years now. He sayd "We have about 12 Mitras and 8 of them have asked for ordination. We have a regular class in Colombo and teach meditation for Western Travellers who come to the beach and our Sri Lankan friends in the new retreat Centre. Sri Lanka is very consevative. However, the English speaking young are open and most of our friends speak good English. We need more Western teachers."

After the Tsunami on Boxing Day 2004, Saddhavira had to rebuild his guest house. He is now also building a retreat centre. Sagaraloka - The Ocean Realm - will have facilities for about twenty people at a time, and Saddhavira hopes to attract westerners both to enjoy the natural beauty, but also to help teach the Dharma. He says "I plan to conduct light , short retreats for Sri Lankans". He also points out that Unawatuna beach in Sri Lanka is considered to be one of the 10 best beachs in the world! The building is nearly finished, but Saddhavira is running short of funds. If you could help in any capacity please contact Saddhavira:

Sagaraloka, C/o South Ceylon Lodging Unawatuna, Sri Lanka.
ph 0094912245863, 0094777105449 mobile
Email goonas[at]

image - monks on Unawatuna beach

Labels: ,