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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Turning Arrows into Flowers: an invitation to the second FWBO International Retreat 2010

Vajragupta, from the FWBO's Development Team, writes with news of the second International FWBO retreat - and an invitation to you all...

He says -

"Dear Friends,

"I'm being cheeky and writing to everyone I can think of, to invite you to take part in the second 
FWBO International Retreat. It'll run from Friday 28th May to Tuesday 1st June 2010.

"400 of you attended the first retreat in 2008 and the feedback from the event was tremendously positive: people loved the opportunity to hear talks and be taught by some of our most experienced teachers, they loved taking part in large, magical rituals, and they loved taking part in the teamwork organised by Buddhafield to help keep the event running smoothly.

"This year the retreat will again be held at Taraloka, it will be suitable for people of all levels of involvement in the FWBO, it will be family-friendly, and there will be groups of people coming from FWBO Centres across Europe. It will be another great opportunity to be inspired by the sangha gathering in large numbers.

"We learnt a lot about the practicalities of running the event last time - we are teaming up with Buddhafield and Taraloka again - and this time and it will be even better!

"The retreat starts on the full-moon night of Wesak; so this is our chance for a big, collective celebration of the Buddha’s Enlightenment in the FWBO this year. The theme will be “Turning Arrows into Flowers” – looking at the story of the Buddha’s transformation of Mara’s arrows into flowers. We’ll also be exploring the equivalent of that for us today – the transformation of our own selves and our world.

"More details can also be found on the website, which is now live.

"If you want to book (and we'd encourage you to book early), there are three ways to book: posting us the booking form in the brochure (which you should find at all FWBO Centres), or by downloading it from the website and sending it by post, or by booking directly on-line using pay-pal.

"If you need more information, check the website at;or contact us at:

"With thanks and best wishes for 2010... and hoping to see you there!


Sangharakshita's talk to the 2008 retreat, 'The Growth and Prosperity of the Sangha', can be viewed here thanks to VideoSangha -

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Monday, December 28, 2009

New UK Dharma groups

Suddhacitta writes to FWBO News with news of growing interest in Dharma classes from the small town of Bridport, in Dorset on the south coast of the UK. He says -

“We have just done our first day retreat in Bridport. Alayasri and I were really happy that 10 people came for the morning, 7 stayed for lunch and 6 stayed for the whole day. It felt like a meaningful and enjoyable time. We did four lots of meditation, a couple of talks on Mindfulness and Samadhi and a little interactive session on the four levels of awareness. Generally we meet up bi-monthly on Sat mornings for a drop- in class.

“Hope all is going well for you. Keep up the good work. Suddhacitta"

Alayasri and Suddhacitta join a growing number of local FWBO groups around the UK - currently over 25 and growing.  You can find their full contact details on the main UK FWBO contacts page.

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Buddhist youth gatherings in UK and India

This weekend sees two gatherings of young Buddhists involved with the FWBO/TBMSG - but on opposite sides of the planet. Both are in response to a growing awareness that our Sangha has aged in the 40 years since the FWBO and TBMSG were founded.

In the UK’s Peak District a record 37 people (plus Lokabandhu, no longer so young but needed as organiser and cook!) will come together to practice, strengthen friendships, and explore the possibility of setting up a network of young people’s reps across the FWBO’s centres in the UK and Europe.

In India there’s a North India regional youth gathering at Bodh Gaya (site of the Buddha’s Enlightenment) organised by NNBY, the National Network of Buddhist Youth, a self-organising network that came out of TBMSG’s Dhammakranti project a couple of years ago. They say “In this gathering youth will develop their skills on Personality Development, English Education, the Right to Information Act, Mind Mapping and Social Awareness through the teachings of Lord Buddha and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. Dh. Subhuti will be the main teacher”. Hard on the heels of their event will be another, this time in Amaravati in Central India, and home to a thriving Buddhist Sangha.

For more information, check the FWBO Young People’s group on Facebook - up to 180 members and counting; or the NNBY website.

Buddhist Sanghas in the West generally seem to be experiencing the same issue - this year has seen the both UK’s Network of Buddhist Organisations and the European Buddhist Union devoting their annual gatherings to this theme. The EBU’s meeting was held last week at Taraloka, and was addressed by Lindsay Hannah, co-organiser of the coming weekend.

The chart shows how the age profile of the Western Buddhist Order has changed in the 40 years since it was founded. Pink bars represent the proportion of 20-30-year-olds; yellow 30-40-year-olds: both groups in rapid decline as a percentage of the whole!

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

LBC celebrates as building work ends

The FWBO’s London Buddhist Centre (LBC) has had the biggest refurbishment in its history – and they’re celebrating.

The newly enlarged centre includes Breathing Space, a new health and wellbeing venue, plus a completely rebuilt bookshop/reception area; with improved facilities and disability access throughout.

Week-long celebrations are planned for May, to include a ritual blessing of the new spaces, open days for both Breathing Space and the LBC, an opening party, and a grand re-opening of the LBC itself. There’s even a VIP - Lord Layard – coming to open Breathing Space. Lord Layard is the UK Government's "happiness" tsar and author of the influential ‘Depression Report’ which advocated a substantial increase in non-chemical treatment for people suffering from stress or depression.

They say “If you feel a connection with the LBC come and have a look round on our Open Day or join us to celebrate Wesak!”

The public programme is currently –

Open Days: LBC and Breathing Space
Free meditation classes, talks on Buddhism. Free introduction to our Mindful Based Approaches (MBSs) to depressions, anxiety and addiction. A chance to introduce friends and family to the atmosphere and the activities of the LBC & Breathing Space. Sat 9 May. 11-5pm. Free of charge.

Celebratory Evening.
An evening to celebrate and rejoice in the people who have made the building project happen; a chance to enjoy the spacious new Centre. With live music and food. Sat 9 May. 7.15pm

Wesak Festival Day
A celebration and exploration of the most significant event in Buddhism: the day the Buddha attained supreme Enlightenment. With meditation, talks and ritual. Subhuti will be giving a Dharma talk as a part of the celebrations, with the title: Meeting the Buddha. Sun 10 May. From 10am. Dana/Donation. Led by Paramabandhu and Maitrivajri.

Grand Opening Party.
Rejoicing in all those who have helped create the new centre with music and film. Mon 11 May. 7.15pm

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Kindred Spirit applauds FWBO retreat centres

Kindred Spirit is a long-established alternative magazine, describing itself as “the ultimate global guide to positive change”. Each issue covers a range of diverse subjects such as spiritual growth, personal development, complementary therapies, travel, health and much more.

Their latest issue picks out five ‘top spiritual retreats to nourish your holistic health’ – and two of the five are FWBO retreat centres. There’s the ‘Jungle Club’ in Thailand offering outdoor Scaravelli yoga; there’s meditation in Marrakech, there’s Findhorn’s ‘Experience Week’ in Scotland – and there’s our own Rivendell and Dhanakosa retreat centres… They describe the FWBO approach as “making Buddhism and meditation accessible as a living tradition in the modern world and open to people of all cultures and heritages”.

About Rivendell they say “surrounded by picturesque grounds, fields and woodland, with a library and garden, introductory group weekend retreats here are the ideal way to experience Buddhist values and principles for the first time”. Dhanakosa is described as “the most beautiful retreat centre I have been to, sitting on the shore of Loch Voil, with the Highlands just a short walk away”. Dhanakosa runs a wide range of retreats where meditation is allied with other activities – Kindred Spirit specifically mentions their ‘meditation and clowning’ and ‘meditation and hill-walking’ retreats.

The FWBO has some eight retreat centres in the UK, and details of all can be found on our website

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Upcoming: Buddhism and creativity conference - call for artists and performers

June will see the second conference in the ‘British Buddhist Landscape’ series. Entitled “Buddha Mind: Creative Mind?”, it’ll look at the relationship between the creative life, artistic expression and Buddhist thought and practice.

Areas to be covered include exploring the work of artists who have drawn on Buddhism in their creative practice, the twin topics of Buddhism influencing Art and Art influencing Buddhism; Buddhism and the creative life; and Buddhist Art through the ages – all to be explored via lectures, workshops, demonstrations, dialogues, performance, and exhibition.

The weekend will be of interest to anyone with an interest in Buddhism, creativity, art, performance and the creative life. A number of FWBO artists from the London Buddhist Arts Centre are already planning to take part.

The organisers are putting out a call to artists and performers – anyone interested in exhibiting work or performing (on a voluntary basis) is asked to contact them now at .

The conference is organised by the Institute of Oriental Philosophy-UK in conjunction with the UK’s Network of Buddhist Organisations, of which the FWBO is an active member. It will be held at Taplow Court, IOP-UK’s beautiful headquarters, set in 85 acres of grounds overlooking the River Thames near Maidenhead.

For full details, click here.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Some members of the FWBO's Worcester SanghaThe FWBO’s Worcester Centre - formally known as the ‘Worcester Buddhism and Meditation Group’ - has celebrated the new year in style by establishing themselves in their first full-time centre premises. They've been able to rent a house on the outskirts of town that will serve as the focal point for their substantial sangha, and double up as a small community for some of those most involved.

Buddha in the back seat - travelling to a weekly outreach classFirst established by Vajragupta, Vipulakirti, and others in 2003, it’s one of a number of ‘satellite’ groups started over the past few years by the large Birmingham Buddhist Centre- and the first to find its own full-time premises.

So, for them at least, no more Buddhas travelling to the weekly class strapped to the back seat of the car!

FWBO News wishes them well in their new home – you’ll find more photos of this on Facebook.

The Birmingham Buddhist Centre also runs classes in Sutton Coldfield and Shrewsbury, and has just begun a class in Warwick.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

FWBO Websites IV: the Sanctuary of Prajnaparamita

Prajnaparamita is at the centre of the Sanctuary created in her honour by SagaravajraThis week’s featured website was created by Sagaravajra, an Order Member from Bristol UK. It is dedicated to Prajna-Paramita, a beautiful female Buddha figure embodying the qualities of the Perfection of Wisdom.

More specifically, his site is devoted to the ‘Sanctuary’ he has created to her.

He writes -
"The Prajnaparamita sanctuary is the culmination of a personal spiritual odyssey. On my ordination into the Western Buddhist Order I received a visualisation practice of Prajnaparamita, who embodies the qualities of the Perfection of Wisdom.

“Basing my own work on a stunning Javanese rendition of her, I began working on a sculptural representation as part of my own exploration. After completing the figure, I felt the need to come into closer relation to her essence, and I was fortunate enough to be involved in founding a small contemplative community nestled in a limestone valley in Spain, the Guhyaloka vihara.

“Realising the importance of the surrounding context of the sculpture, I became interested in the idea of sacred space, and the possibility of creating a sanctuary or landscape for the sculpture to inhabit”.

His dream came true, and the Sanctuary appeared, located in a remote woodland in the Blackdown Hills in Devon.

The website covers the story of his relationship with the figure, the labyrinth and mandala being created around the central shrine, the sculptures adorning the surrounding land, and a little more about Sagaravajra himself. It’s no substitute for the real thing, of course – but if you’re not fortunate enough to be passing Devon, it may serve as a taster… As Sagaravajra writes -

“On entering this fertile landscape populated with springs, ferns, owls, deer and archetypal sculptures, one steps into a realm of heightened significance, of metaphor and imagination”.

You’ll find the Sanctuary on-line at

Next week’s website will be 'Buddhist Pictures: Images by Visuddhimati'.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

First-ever Buddhist Centre for FWBO Leeds

FWBO Leeds has written to say:

“We are thrilled to announce that Leeds Buddhist Centre has moved into new premises. The new centre is at

FWBO Leeds Buddhist Centre
4th Floor, Leeds Bridge House
Hunslet Road Leeds LS10 1JN

There has been an FWBO presence in Leeds for very many years but – until now – always in rented rooms. This move is therefore a major shift for them – they’ve gone from having just two evenings a week available for their activities to their own space '24/7'.

The building itself is a Leeds landmark, and very central: Leeds Bridge House was built about 1880 as a Temperance Hotel by John James Cousins, a Leeds banker. It's been used for many purposes over the years and only narrowly survived demolition in the 1960s. Today, its bold Flatiron New-York-inspired architecture is regarded as one of the landmarks of the city. It’s been described as “a brick and terracotta dream ship sailing into a brave teetotal future for the working classes” – how interesting that it now houses a Buddhist Centre!

They have a delightful website at, where you can find details of their various classes and courses, including their University classes - many FWBO centres used to run these, but the Leeds centres is one of only a few still doing so.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

British Buddhism - now available in paperback!

'British Buddhism: Teachings, Practice and Development' is a key source for anyone interested in understanding more deeply the landscape of British Buddhism. It’s been in print for some years now, but only in hardback and at the somewhat unaffordable price of UK £65. However the paperback edition has just been released, and given that it refers extensively to the FWBO, it may be of interest to readers of FWBO News. A
review was posted some time ago on the Reviews section of the FWBO News website.

The author, Robert Bluck, has written to FWBO News to say “the book describes and analyses a representative sample of the full range of traditions for the first time. It allows similarities and differences to be traced by tradition or by theme, and examines how Buddhism changes when moving to a new country. Written with the British Buddhist community specifically in mind, I hope it will encourage Buddhists in Britain to discover more about their spiritual friends in other traditions, and so promote the generosity, compassion and wisdom of the Buddha and his followers. I hope you find British Buddhism interesting, and I would welcome any feedback from readers.

“With all best wishes in the Dharma,

“Robert Bluck
“Associate Lecturer in World Religions, Open University”

For further information please see your local bookshop or visit

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

New premises appeal for Ipswich Buddhist Centre

The FWBO's Ipswich Buddhist Centre has been seeking new premises - and it looks like they are well on the way to finding somewhere. We're happy to pass on this message from their Facebook site -

"Hello there all, in case you don't know we have found a new freehold building in a very prominent place in the town centre.

"We are the process of seeing who is interesting in helping us in a appeal to raise money to move and furnish to new centre to continue our work of creating a positive sphere of influence and help people to transform grow and develop.

If you have fundraising ideas, skills and would like to be involved please let us know. It is a very exciting development :-)

Check them out on Facebook.

FWBO News wishes them all the best!

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Karuna Appeal in North London – a glimpse behind the scenes

Khemajala, from the Karuna Trust's fundraising team, writes to FWBO News to say - “Readers of FWBO News might like to know we have a team of volunteers in North London right now. They’re walking the streets and talking to the good people of North London. Jo, Naomi, Abhilasa and Paddy are halfway through their six weeks of door-knocking appeal; please bear them in mind as they do this vital fundraising.“If all goes well they’ll raise many thousands between them for our many projects in India – last year we raised a remarkable £87,968 annually. And since most donations are by standing order, the money just keeps on flowing long after the appeal is over! “If you want to keep up with their story Jo Robinson is blogging away on most days on the Karuna Appeals blog. It makes great reading... Here’s a taste. 14th June: Cultivating passion"Hi, I'm calling from a charity". "You best come in then, but I'm telling you now I'm not signing up for a standing order"."I feel the warmth of the hallway and the house immediately, and realise that it is a little cold out there walking the streets. It is a familiar warmth to me, the warmth of being invited into someone's home, I am immediately grateful. My eyes scan the room, letters opened on the table, a work pass that says BBC on the counter. "Ah, you work for the BBC" "Yes", "what do you do there?" "I'm the World Services' Africa correspondent". Ah, I think, how interesting, we are going to get on well. "So, what do you want from me?" "Well, I'll tell you it straight there's no point in mucking around...I want a standing order...". I grin...he grins, "or a donation" I add, realising that this man is relatively rich and might give Karuna a big fat cheque."He tells me he had a Dalit cleaner when he lived in India. Tells me that the cook of the house said that if the cleaner was ever allowed in the kitchen of the house, she would resign as his cook. He tells me he hates Hinduism because it fosters this sense of when you're born you're screwed, you just have to put up with your lot…” Read more here...

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Right-Livelihood Land Project in the North East (UK)

An aerial photo of Buddhafield's new land at Frog Mill, in the Dartmoor National ParkA group is forming in the FWBO's Newcastle Sangha to explore the development of a new land-based community and work project informed by the Dharma. The instigator of this group, Andy Parkes, writes:

“What do I mean by ‘A Right-Livelihood Land Project’? And he answers –

“A group of people brought together by specific common ideals, particularly:
• Dharma (movement towards an integrated lifestyle with more harmony between livelihood, community and Buddhist practice)
• Environmental Ethics (movement towards increased ecological sustainability)
• A wish to develop the above, by living and/or working on some land together

“A project like this is group-led and for that reason it is not possible to be specific about its nature. For example, we might buy, borrow or rent land. We might set up a charity, a co-operative or many varying businesses on the land. We may or may not live on the land, and we may each have different levels of input into this project. Personally, I would like to give my attention to the Dharma, growing trees, organic food, greenwood working, music, teaching, building a low-impact dwelling for myself and others, and being part of a community I can give to and receive from. We have different skills and will each bring our own emphasis.

Why ‘A Right-Livelihood Land Project’
“Dharma is precious! It feeds us, and points the way to spiritual freedom. Spiritual development and ecological sustainability require a sustained commitment that is often not understood and resisted by our society. Keeping our ethical precepts, preparing ourselves for practice is more challenging when the way in which we support ourselves is replete with subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) contradictions to our beliefs. Land is precious in as much as, it feeds us and unobstructed access to it can lead to a high degree of practical freedom, resulting in less consumerism, more sharing and a responsible relationship to the earth. With practical freedom comes the ability to develop an integrated lifestyle, in which all of our activities can be conducive to spiritual development (Dharma), supporting ourselves in an ecologically sustainable way, and supporting our Buddhist (Sangha) and local community.

“Initially the group will be about getting to know each other and our interests in light of this project, and to see if and how we want to work together as a group. The timescale for developing this project is over months and years. Consolidating the group may take a long time, so don’t be immediately discouraged if you are interested but feel unprepared.”

If you are interested in the project but live outside Newcastle, please feel free to contact Andy at:

The photograph shows Buddhafield's new land at Frog Mill, in the Dartmoor National Park.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Buddhafield Festival in the news

The Buddhafield Festival has for some years been the FWBO’s largest event outside India. It’s been held every year since 1996 and has gone from strength to strength, quietly building a loyal following almost entirely by word of mouth. This year they plan to move to a new site – the third since the Festival began – and increase the size slightly, to 3,000.

By happy coincidence they’ve also hit the UK’s Sunday papers in a way they never have before, with top reviews in the Times’ list of ’12 best boutique festivals’; the Guardian’s ‘20 festivals you’ll never have heard of’; and the finally the Independent (not online so far as we know).

As the Times eloquently puts it, “'Are you sure?’ you cry. ‘A festival without alcohol, or drugs, or even – whisper it – dogs?’ But yes, as its name might suggest, Buddhafield isn’t your normal bunch of loons, sorted for Es and whizz and standing in a field with 20,000 others.”

Or, as the Guardian says, "This couldn't be more different from your run-of-the-mill festival."

Each year Buddhafield aims to learn that little bit better how to create a genuine festival that occupies a respected place in the calendar of UK alternative festivals and which genuinely follows the Buddhist precepts. This year, on their Festival Volunteers Page, they say -

“Buddhafield 2008 is organised by practising Buddhists, attempting to exemplify the qualities of infinite Wisdom, Compassion and Positive Energy and to create an environment where others can experience a taste of these qualities. To help us we take on 5 training principles and as contributors to Buddhafield 2008 we ask you to join us in trying to make these training principles a way of life on the site.

"The 5 principles are -

"To Try Not to Take Life or Cause Harm
Cafes on the site are Vegetarian/Vegan. Buddhafield has a strong ecological thread.
"To Try Not to take the Not Given
We try to be aware of what we take from others in all its aspects, goods, time, energy...
"To Try Not to Indulge in Sexual Misconduct
We try not to use sexuality to exploit or coerce others.
"To Try Not to Lie
We try to be honest in our communication.
"To Try Not to Take Intoxicants
We have a policy of discouraging the consumption of intoxicants on the site. We need clear minds to put these principles into practice!

three workers in the Buddhafield cafe, Buddhafield Festival 2007, in the mudThe Buddhafield Festival this year will be held near Taunton, from July 16-20th. Over 600 tickets are given away to the many crews and performers needed to run the Festival, if you’re interested in volunteering or contributing in any way please visit the Festival Volunteers Page of the Buddhafield website where you’ll find application forms and descriptions of what’s needed.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"The British Buddhist Landscape – Transplantation and Growth"

In June Sangharakshita will be speaking at a major UK conference entitled "The British Buddhist Landscape – Transplantation and Growth"; bookings have now opened and the organisers are advising “book early to avoid disappointment”.

Speakers so far include Sangharakshita, Stephen Batchelor, Dr John Peacock, Dr Helen Waterhouse, Ajahn Laow, Rev. Prof. Sato, Peggy Morgan, Colin Ash, Rev. Saido, Ven Sumana, Tony Kemmer, Phil Henry, Keith Munnings, Sharon Smith, Yann Lovelock, Munisha - plus others to be confirmed. It’s a chance to get a real overview of Buddhism in Britain from many different points of view.

Click for more details or a provisional program, these links include full booking details.

The conference is being organised by the Network of Buddhist Organisations (UK) & The Institute of Oriental Philosophy-UK, and will be held at Taplow Court, Taplow, Nr Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 0ER – the very splendid headquarters of Sokkai Gakkai UK. Taplow Court is a beautiful Victorian mansion in Taplow village, set in 85 acres of grounds and overlooking the River Thames, between Slough and Maidenhead

Accommodation is not provided, though there are many local Bed-and-Breakfasts– or some shared dormitories at Taplow – these are on a first-come-first-served basis so early booking is recommended.

The dates are –
Fri 27th June 2008 5.30pm - 9.30pm
Sat 28th June 9.30am-6.00/9.30pm.
Sun 29th June 10.00am-2.00pm

The costs are full conference £65.00, concessions £45.00 + Saturday eve buffet £15.00, plus the cost of your chosen accommodation.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

'Broken Voices' book launch continues in UK, US

Last month FWBO News reported Vimalasara, an African British Order Member, was on tour in India, launching her new book showcasing stories of Indian ‘Dalit’ women. The title, ‘Broken Voices: 'Untouchable' Women Speak Out’, speaks for itself, the book presenting a series of moving stories gathered by Vimalasara on an extended visit to India in 2007. Click here to buy the book on Amazon.

Back in the UK an extended book launch tour is about to begin, with the following schedule - catch it if you can!

Monday March 31st - London Buddhist Centre (LBC) regulars night
Tuesday 1st April - Birmingham Buddhist Centre – regulars night
Thursday 3rd April - Manchester Buddhist Centre – regulars night
Thursday 3rd April - Cambridge Buddhist Centre – regulars night
Friday 4th April - Norwich Buddhist Centre – regulars night
Saturday April 5th Nottingham Buddhist Centre – special evening
Sunday 6th April – Sheffield Buddhist Centre – special afternoon event
Monday 7th April - Bristol Buddhist Centre – regulars night
Thursday 10th April – Cardiff Buddhist Centre – regulars night
Saturday 12th April – Croydon Buddhist Centre – mid day event
Monday 14th April - University of East London - 5pm
Tuesday 15th April – Brighton Buddhist Centre – regulars night
Friday April 18th Glasgow Buddhist Centre – special evening event

And finally, the OFFICIAL LAUNCH -

Thursday April 17th – Borders Bookstore, Charing Cross Road, 6.30pm

Each evening will consist of a talk followed by panel discussion and questions.
They will be hosted by the film maker/producer Pratibha Parmar; panellists include Sharmilla Beezmohun (Deputy Editor Wasafiri) , Dhammacharini Karunadeepa (from TBMSG, who has worked for many years in our women's social projects), Karunamaya (member of the TBMSG's Arya Tara Mahila Trust India), and Vimalasara (aka Valerie Mason-John, the author), who says – “We hope you will be able to join us at one of these events”.

After the UK comes the American launch, with a couple of dates arranged so far and more to come -

Saturday 26th April - 6pm San Francisco Buddhist Centre - everyone welcome
Monday 28th April - 6pm - Modern Times Book Store - the Mission San Francisco
Again a great opportunity for American Buddhists and others to learn more about their brothers and sisters in India.

The book itself is attracting positive critical reviews - 'one of the few books to write about casteism and the situation of Dalits in India impartially' Professor Bhau Lokhande (india); `these stories break the heart and stir the passions. Rage against this injustice is long overdue' Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

Vimalasara has asked FWBO News to mention that all royalties are being donated to the work of the uplift of Dalit women in India.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

New FWBO groups in Peterborough, UK - and beyond

The FWBO's Cambridge Buddhist Centre is about to extend its Buddhism and meditation outreach activities to the city of Peterborough, UK. The Cambridge Centre currently runs activities in the surrounding towns of Bedford, Letchworth and Milton Keynes.

The new Peterborough group is open to Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike and will offer drop in classes in Buddhist meditation followed by discussions around Buddhism and issues relevant to contemporary life.

Jayasiddhi who is involved in helping to set up the class said: “it’s very exciting starting a new group like this. You never know how it is going to develop. We have already received some strong interest and I’m looking forward to making new connections in the Peterborough area. Unfortunately the photo isn't of the new centre - it's Peterborough's marvellous cathedral. But one day - who knows?!”

The first meeting is on Monday 24th March at the Friends Meeting House, 21 Thorpe Road, Crescent Bridge in Peterborough and the group will meet on Monday nights thereafter. Classes start at 7pm. All welcome.

More details at the FWBO Peterborough group website . The FWBO groups in Brazil (Sao Paulo) , South London (Brixton) and South Bristol also have new websites - check them out at Sao Paulo, Brixton and South Bristol respectively.

As, one by one, we make our own committment,

An ever-widening circle, the Sangha grows...

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

FWBO International Retreat 2008 - bookings opening soon

The publicity and booking information for the FWBO International Retreat is being launched in the next few weeks. The retreat is a new venture, organised by the European FWBO Chairs Assembly, and is taking place from 22nd to 26th May next year. The format will be a long weekend retreat, and it will be held at Taraloka in the UK, with some of the FWBO's best and most experienced teachers.

So far, the list of confirmed teachers includes Dayanandi, Dhammarati, Kamalasila, Kulaprabha, Padmavajra, Parami, Maitreyi, Ratnadharini, Ratnaguna, Tejananda, Vessantara, and Vidyamala, plus members of Buddhafield leading ritual and storytelling, and members of Buddhafield North running activities for children.

The weekend takes place just a few days after Wesak, the full moon day of May, on which Buddhists all over the world celebrate the Buddha's attainment of Enlightenment. On the retreat we'll be hearing about what it was the Buddha had discovered, how he then spent many days reflecting and meditating on its significance, before finally deciding to share his experience and “beat the drum of the Dharma”.

We are envisaging an unfolding theme over the weekend - looking at the stories and incidents from the tradition, but also their meaning, relevance, and "equivalents" in our own lives. There will be a day looking at the Buddha's Enlightenment and the topic of insight and understanding, a day exploring absorption, depth, assimilation... and a day looking at going back into the world with the message of the Dharma...

On 12th October the English language version of new website went live, with full information about the event. There will soon be facilities to book on-line, or download a postal booking form. Also coming are versions of the website in various other European languages. Brochures about the event (also with booking forms) will be available at UK Centres in the next couple of weeks.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

A day in the life of... Lalitavajra

Lalitavajra, an Order Member for over 25 years, recently moved to Carlisle in the north-west of England. He was recently interviewed by the BBC there, in a feature they called 'John the Buddhist' - John being Lalitavajra's non-Buddhist name. Click here to read their report and for their photo-report of his daily routine - and a glimpse of his very lovely Shakyamuni painting by Aloka...

He hopes to be starting meditation and Dharma classes in Carlisle by the end of August.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

12th Buddhafield Festival gets underway

Today sees the start of the 12th Buddhafield Festival – the FWBO’s largest event outside India, and a much-loved part of many people’s lives. It was sold out over a month ago, with the 500 places for helpers (stewards, site crew, café, healers, and many more) full well before that.

The theme this year is “A LIVING MANDALA - the magic of community”, reflecting Buddhafield’s growing interests in both creating a large rural practice community and Deep Ecology.

Over the past years the Festival has become more and more of a meeting-place for Buddhists of many traditions, and this year it is hoped there will be people (and in many cases teachers) from the Amida Trust, the Network of Engaged Buddhists, the Network of Buddhist Organisations, Sokkai Gakkai, Gaia House, the Tigers Nest Dzogchen community, Vipassana, and others such as the ‘Meditation at Work’ project. This is in addition to many meditation and Dharma teachers from the Western Buddhist Order. In particular the FWBO's founder Sangharakshita is expected to attend for the first time and to give a talk, despite his advanced years.

Too much happens over the five days it’s on to ever list here, see some past Festival Eye reviews and check out the pictures from last year here or the dharma teaching to get some idea.

And book early for next year!

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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sangharakshita dedicates new Tara Shrine Room at Taraloka

At the end of May, the International Sangha Gathering was held at Taraloka - an annual event for women who have asked for Ordination and run by women from Buddhafield, Tiratanaloka and Taraloka.

The event was called: ‘Entering the Tiger’s Cave’ and was based on the theme of renunciation. Throughout the weekend we listened to talks, studied words from Padmasambhava, participated in special pujas and finished with a talk from Parami about the connection between renunciation, Ordination and the Bodhisattva Ideal. And somehow, within all of that, we managed to fit in a visit from Sangharakshita.

He arrived on the second day, beginning with lunch with the Taraloka Community and a couple of guests. Then, after a short rest, he gave a talk on his connection with Tara – highlighting the importance of metta and vegetarianism. Then everyone followed Sangharakshita, as he made his way to the new Tara shrine-room, all of us chanting the Tara mantra. Surprisingly, all 70 of us managed to fit into the new shrine-room – either standing or sitting – and a poem written by Sangharakshita called ‘White Tara’ was read by Saddhanandi. This was followed by the Dedication Ceremony (also written by Sangharakshita) and the White Tara long life Mantra.

Then it was time for a cup of tea. Sangharakshita sat in the lounge and, as more and more women joined him, a very informal ‘question and answer’ session developed, with a spontaneous photo-call in which Bhante held on his lap the two 5 month old babies that were attending the event with their mothers. Sangharakshita then had supper with a group of Dharmacharinis and Mitras, after which Dhammamati drove him back to Madhyamaloka.

It had been a very beautiful and moving day, and when the Sangha Gathering was over many of us left Taraloka with a strong sense of Bhante’s presence and the blessing of having spent some time around him in such relaxed and easy circumstances. The Tara Shrine Room now stands quietly at Taraloka, fully dedicated and already containing a strong atmosphere of meditation and devotion; a new focus to this Realm of Tara.

See here for more photos of the event, and here for photos of Taraloka in general.

White Tara
Appearing from the depths of heaven
The white robed goddess calm and light
Sheds moon-like on this lower world
The blessing of her silver light.

Seven eyes she has all open wide
In face and forehead and hands and feet
For she of Pure Awareness is
Embodiment and paraclete.

One hand in teaching gesture raised
Imports a wisdom thrice profound T
he other open on her knee
For endless giving is renowned.

A lotus at her shoulder grows
Complete with flower and bud and fruit
Her form is straight and still,
For she Is grounded on the Absolute.

Awake! Arise!
She seems to say
Leave dreams, leave sloth, leave passions vile!
Oh may we, seeing her, go forth
Encouraged by her perfect smile.

Sangharakshita (‘Call of the Forest and Other Poems’ Windhorse Publications)

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Friday, June 22, 2007

‘pilgrimage’ for Buddhafield

At the end of July Eric Friar from Bristol will be undertaking a ‘pilgrimage’ to raise money for the Buddhafield land appeal. He intends to walk along the St Michael ley line between Cwm Les Boel (near Lands End in Cornwall, UK) and the ancient stone circle of Avebury.

He is hoping for sponsorship and invites supporters to contact him on erichafriar [at]

He says, “I will walk about 185 miles, on top of which I will do some legs by public transport, to arrive at Avebury in time for Lughnasad. I'm thinking of posting the route and inviting people to join me for as long or as short as they like. I will be travelling light and sleeping out, so people will need to bring their own food and

The Buddha and his followers walked everywhere, and were known as ‘yatrikas’, meaning simply ’walkers’. For several years Buddhafield led annual walks, known as Yatras, along the Ridgeway to Stonehenge for the Summer Solstice celebrations. It’s therefore a pleasure to see this tradition being maintained.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Two regular guests on BBC Radio...

FWBO News has come to learn that two members of the Western Buddhist Order are regular guests on BBC Radio.

Nagaraja from the Glasgow Buddhist Centre is a long-standing regular on the ‘Pause for Thought’ slot on the Terry Wogan show. You can listen to his latest reflections (arising from his 46th birthday), broadcast this week, by clicking
here for the transcript or here for the audio.

You can hear Vishvapani, also a regular contributor, on Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day’, part of the peak-time ‘Today’ program, by clicking here for the last episode, or here for the archives.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

The FWBO International Retreat 2008 - “Beating the Drum of the Dharma”

A big marquee has been hired, the first publicity printed, the website is launched, the list of invited teachers is growing… preparations are well underway for the FWBO International Retreat...

Next year, FWBO Buddhist Centres from all over Europe are joining forces in a new venture.
From 22nd to 26th May at Taraloka in the UK, in conjunction with Buddhafield, there is going to be a big retreat. The idea is to bring together people in large numbers to practice, learn about, and celebrate the Dharma of the FWBO. Many of our best and most experienced teachers will be there to teach meditation, give talks, or lead puja and ritual.

Vajragupta, who is one of the main organisers of the event, says: “Everyone from the FWBO is welcome, whether it is your first retreat, or you’ve been on retreat many times before. Come and experience the magic and inspiration of practising together in large numbers!”

The weekend takes place just a few days after Wesak, the full moon day of May on which Buddhists all over the world celebrate the Buddha’s attainment of Enlightenment. So the theme will be “Beating the Drum of the Dharma” – exploring what the Buddha did next, how he took the Dharma out into the world, how he lived-out his newly discovered Wisdom and Compassion.

More details about the event will be available in the autumn. Look out for brochures at your Buddhist Centre and for the website

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

New FWBO UK groups

New FWBO Groups in the UKFWBO News has learnt of a number of new Buddhism and meditation classes springing up around Britain. In keeping with the devolved and decentralized nature of the FWBO, we’re often the last to know, but are proud to present the following details for those who might be interested.

In Somerset, Bhadra (francis.self [at] has been running classes in his home village of Batcombe, and has plans to extend to Wells and possibly Shepton Mallet.

Vajrasara (vajrasara [at], who has just moved to Frome, is starting classes there soon, and Lokabandhu (lokabandhu [at], also a new arrival to the area and living in Glastonbury, will be running classes from his home in central Glastonbury from April 3rd.

Alobhin (dpsnail [at] is planning to move to Leicester and start a centre in 2008, assisted by Sanghaketu and Janaka. This April there will be a dedication ceremony followed by a retreat July 13-15th.

In Carlisle Lalitavajra (lalitavajra [at] has recently settled there and will be beginning classes from early summer.

Across the country, in Suffolk, Bodhivamsa and Harshaprabha (harshaprabha [at] have started the Woodbridge Buddhist Group in – guess where?! – Woodbridge; and up in Scotland Vajrahridaya (vajrahridaya [at], who hails from Pune in India, has started classes in Stirling – he has lived for some years now at nearby Dhanakosa retreat centre.

Not brand new, but little-known (and certainly absent from our listings on, are the classes in Winchester, which Paramajyoti ( has been running for some years now, and – an especial delight to report – the classes that Sampada, aged 86, continues to run from her home in Truro, Cornwall (01209 890 997).

FWBO News would be delighted to hear from any Order Members or Mitras who are also running Buddhism or meditation classes and are not currently listed in

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