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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jai Bhim International tours India

Starting today FWBO News is featuring a week of stories from India and some of the many FWBO/TBMSG projects there. We start with a report from Ann Dennehy from San Francisco, founder and director of Jai Bhim International. She’s been touring Buddhist youth projects all over India. Here’s what she says -

“Dear Friends - I am writing from Bodh Gaya, about halfway through the current Jai Bhim International tour, connecting with the Jai Bhim community and implementing our new projects. Here are a few highlights.

“Currently I am staying on the land of The 3 Jewels Center, where several hundred Tibetan monks and nuns are camped out, for The Dalai Lama's visit. Today the sangha team and I sat together meditating under The Bodhi Tree. Such an experience!

“I began my India visit in Delhi, visiting our sangha friends at The Dhammachakra Center, practicing together, meeting with Board members to discuss our projects, and spending lovely time in one another's company.

|”From Delhi I headed south for our first retreat with the Kerala sangha, where we practiced conversational English within the context of a Buddhist retreat; studying Buddhist Dhamma and meditation along with the teachings of Dr. Ambedkar. It was a small retreat, all men except for me! Our last activity was creating team-based 5-year plans, and we all left inspired and invigorated. The retreatants have since formed JAI BHIM KERALA, to continue meeting together for Dhamma study, to create community projects, and to plan for our next retreat December 2010. They have even set as their own goal for there to be 50% women in attendance.

“From Kerala I headed East to Chennai and up to The Sakya Hostel, with its 49 young students and its committed team of graduates from The Nagarjuna Training Institute in Nagpur. I practiced English with the children, as well as meditation and puja, and spent time with the wonderful team. When I asked one team member what most inspires him about their project, he replied, "This is not a project. It is our dream world." I felt very lucky to be part of their dream world; a place of love, creativity and possibility. I delighted as the children prepared for New Year's Eve, decorating the hostel, reflecting on their confessions from the past year, and their aspirations for the year ahead, writing them carefully down, and then offering them in the puja to the shrine.

“From Chennai I returned to Delhi and, by lucky coincidence, connected with Tempel Smith from San Francisco, on tour through Asia with a group of American Buddhist youth. Tempel and Maitriveer Nagarjuna had met in Thailand, and their two Sanghas spent time together in Delhi practicing meditation, socializing, and learning about Dr. Ambedkar's vision for a truly democratic society based on Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Jai Bhim International!

“And finally, after a few days, I headed to Varanasi to visit the "Cry for Change" project, which works with the scavenging community, the most oppressed of the ex-Untouchable communities. The project offers after-school classes in computers and English to girls, and gives micro-loans to people in village communities so that they may leave their traditional, dangerous and degrading jobs.

“It has been an incredible trip, full of possibility, full of joy. I have posted a few albums of pictures on our facebook page - or check our website -

“I'd welcome your thoughts on our projects and invite you to join our community, the "caste-free generation".

“Jai Bhim!”

Ann Dennehy, San Francisco Buddhist Center

Ann Dennehy, Creative Director
Jai Bhim International -caste-free generation-

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

International Buddhist Youth Exchange program in Malaysia

Today’s story on FWBO News comes from India’s National Network of Buddhist Youth (NNBY) - just back from participating in the 2010 International Buddhist Youth Exchange program, held in Malaysia.

Chetan Meshram from Nagpur, central India, attended along with Vasitkumar from Pune. They say-

“Last week we have been in the Asean Youth Exchange at Malaysia. The WORLD FELLOWSHIP OF BUDDHIST YOUTH  (WFBY) organized the ASEAN INTERNATIONAL BUDDHIST YOUTH EXCHANGE (IBYE) 2010 which was hosted by the YOUNG BUDDHIST ASSOCIATION OF MALAYSIA (YBAM).

"We were representing the National Network of Buddhist Youth (NNBY) from India. Other countries which participated included Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, and South Korea.

"The main object of the programme was to promote development of leadership qualities among Buddhist Youth and also to strengthen Buddhist Networking across South East Asia.  The program was held in the Fo Guang Shan monastery. The theme of the event was “Joy, Fellowship and friendship.

"The 10 day programme was divided into four parts:

1) Home Stay Program
"International delegates were staying with Buddhist foster families for the first three days of the programme. Coinciding with the New Year and weekends, they had the opportunity to start 2010 in Malaysia, and also to feel and experience Malaysian lifestyle of living culture, food, sights and sound.

2) ASEAN IBYE leadership and Training Workshops:
"A series of sessions catering for the learning, contributing and tackling of current situations faced among youths in the Buddhist society, both local and international.

3) Malacca and Kuala Lumpur tour
4) ASEAN IBYE JFL Concert 2010

"We were able to make the other delegates aware about the concerns of Buddhist youth in India. Their social, economic and educational situations were discussed. Most importantly we communicated the revival of Buddhism and dynamics of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s movement. We both explained the aims, objectives, and mission of NNBY -

"The event created strong connections between those who attended. We hope these connections will contribute to the betterment of the youths in ASEAN and especially more widely in India.

"For more information and picture follow ASEAN IBYE 2010 in facebook.

"Thanking you".

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Sub-30 retreat at the London Buddhist Centre

SuYen Tan writes from the FWBO’s London Buddhist Centre with news of their new ‘sub-30’ group. He says-

“Dear Friends,

“Young people at the London Buddhist Centre are getting ready for an under-30s retreat. The ‘Sub-30’ weekend retreat will take place at Vajrasana, the LBC's retreat centre in Suffolk, from the 29th to the 31st of January. The retreat provides an opportunity for men and women under the age of 30 to make connections with other young Buddhists, discuss the Dharma, and practice together in a retreat environment. The focus of the weekend will be on meditation and communication.

“The retreat is open to everyone under the age of 30, and who know both the mindfulness and metta bhavana meditation practices as taught within the FWBO. The retreat will be co-led by Knut Wilmott and SuYen Tan.

“There are still a couple of places left on this retreat - please contact the LBC at 0845 458 4716 for bookings. More information can be found at

The LBC’s Sub-30 group is one of a number of young Buddhists’ groups (eg Birmingham, Brighton, Sheffield) that have sprung up around the FWBO in the past year, many in response to a realisation that action needed to be taken to make sure the Dharma in the West was handed on to the coming generation.

There’s a Young FWBO Facebook group that aims to be a one-stop shop summarising what’s events are coming up - it’s also of course a way to connect with other young Buddhists.  You’ll find this at .  Looking beyond the FWBO for young Buddhist resources, try the American-based Buddhist Geeks site at

Meanwhile ClearVision are hard at work on new video material specifically aimed at communicating Buddhist teachings to a younger generation.  A central component of their work is a forthcoming DVD on Buddhism and Citizenship .  Already available is the wonderful  Ask a Buddhist’ service for students (one-minute answers to all those difficult questions!); plus material for children and young people of all ages - 

ages 5-11 (with some wonderful stores from the Jataka tales), 
11-14 (with an interactive Wheel of Life), 
15-16 (with sections on religious authority, and citizenship, and finally 
17-18 A-level students (where there's sections on human rights and responsibilities, also sex and relationships).

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Friday, December 04, 2009

Young FWBO Buddhists gather in Sheffield

Last month saw a gathering of 35 young Buddhists from FWBO Centres all over the UK. They met at Whirlow Hall Farm outside Sheffield, for a busy weekend connecting with one another, practicing together, sharing inspiration, and making plans for finding ways to inspire more young people with the Dharma. Demand for spaces was so high that eight participants ended up camping!

They explored a total of six specific questions, three near the beginning of the weekend and three near the end -

* What is it about the FWBO that inspires your practice?
* Where is your radical edge?
* What do you want to make happen in the FWBO?

* What are the DOMINANT THEMES that have emerged for you?
* What DISCOVERIES have you made?
* What would you like to EXPLORE FURTHER?

The last questions gave rise to a rich collection of ideas, available on the FWBO News Resources page.

Lindsay Hannah from Taraloka, one of the organisers of the weekend, commented afterwards -

“On the weekend retreat there was a real sense of energy and enthusiasm from those present to go back to their centres and run events for young people. Some individuals were interested in becoming young person’s facilitators at their centres and I hope we can identify a named young person’s facilitator for every centre or region in the UK in the coming months. We have also set up a Kula of inspired young FWBO Buddhists on facebook, this is a closed group where we can get to know each other and inspire and support each other to run initiatives at our centres to inspire other young people; it’s in addition to the public group which is at and now has over 200 members.

“In 2010 there is a weekend retreat for young women at Taraloka (January 29 -31st), we hope to establish activities for young people on the FWBO international sangha gathering in May and there will be another mixed retreat from October 8-10th, again near Sheffield (details on Facebook) I also hope events will be run at individual centres (these have already been organised in Cambridge, London, and Sheffield).

“We need to inspire young people in the Dharma to ensure we pass the Dharma and the WBO onto the next generation! There’s energy building amongst the young Buddhists in the FWBO to try and inspire more young people to join us – it is important and exciting!

“Young people at FWBO centres are very welcome to contact me or they can check out our facebook group at:

Three talks from the weekend are available on FreeBuddhistAudio at

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Second FWBO International Retreat planned for May 2010

Here’s an early heads-up for FWBO News’ readers on a major FWBO retreat coming up next year - the second FWBO International Retreat.

Dates are Friday 28th May to Tuesday 1st June 2010, the place is Taraloka, the FWBO’s retreat centre long-established on the English-Welsh border (and twice winner of the Good Retreat Guide’s ‘Retreat Centre of the Year’!

More details on the special retreat website

Vajragupta, one of the main organizers, says “The International Retreat is a collaboration between the FWBO Chairs Assembly, Buddhafield, and Taraloka. We aim to have 500 people from all over the FWBO in Europe practicing together over the Wesak weekend.

“The Friday the event starts is actually the full-moon of Wesak. This gives us the opportunity to have a large, collective celebration of Wesak in 2010. “he theme is going to be "turning arrows into flowers".

“ We'll begin with the story of the Buddha's overcoming of Mara, and then explore the spiritual transformation of our own lives and the world we live in. This will involve a mixture of talks, meditation teaching, story-telling and ritual, as well as activities for children. We'll be welcoming people from all over Europe, and providing priority booking and translation facilities for those from overseas.

“The feedback from the last event was overwhelmingly positive - it gave people a great experience of practicing with the wider FWBO.

“Please get involved to make the 2010 event even more of a success”.

Director, FWBO Development Team

The photos are from the 2007 International Retreat: inside and outside the main shrine marquee.

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Inspiring Young People in the Dharma

Following last week's posts on the NNBY (Buddhist Youth) retreat in India, it seems appropriate to report on how things are going with young Buddhists in the West. A top priority identified last year by the FWBO’s European Chairs Assembly was the need to attract more young people to the Dharma. In the 40 years since the Order was founded, the average age of its members has risen by some 25 years, a trend which shows no signs of stopping. It seems this is not only an issue for the F/WBO: in 2009 both the Network of Buddhist Organisations in the UK and the European Buddhist Union (in Europe!) have devoted their main annual forums to this theme.

In the UK a variety of initiatives have begun, most recently a weekend for 35 young FWBO Buddhists held in a farm outside Sheffield - attended by young Buddhists from as far away as Germany. Here Lindsay Hannah from Taraloka gives an overview of what’s happened to date - there’s links to some on-line talks for anyone who wants to learn more, and to Facebook if you want to get involved. She says -

In November 2008 the FWBO Development Team ran the first “inspiring young people in the Dharma” weekend which 25 people of all ages attended. In January 2009 I was invited to talk to the FWBO Centre Chairs Assembly meeting about how to inspire more young people to come to our centres and the Chairs voted this as a priority for our centres this year. Over the last year individuals at various centres have run activities for young people and the momentum has started to build amongst young people in the FWBO. There’s a ‘Young FWBO Buddhists’ Facebook group which now has nearly 200 members (they may not all be young though!) Its’ the best place to find out what’s going on.

We recently ran the second young person’s weekend outside Sheffield where 35 people in their late teens, 20s and 30s came together for highly successful weekend where we explored how to inspire more young people in the Dharma. A write-up of the main issues is available by emailing Lokabandhu.

couldn't resist posting this poster image for the movie 'Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging' - how do you find the Dharma in the middle of all that?!There’s loads I could say about my vision for inspiring more young people in the Dharma and I have said loads in the talks I have given in the last year! The talk I gave at the October 09 weekend gives a good overview of the project so far and a vision for the future and is only 15 minutes long! They are available here -
• October 09 Three short talks from the young Buddhists weekend - by Lindsay Hannah, Kate Arrowsmith and Vidyaruci.
• Sept 09 Lindsay’s talk to the European Buddhist Union
• January 09 Lindsay’s talk to the FWBO Chairs Assembly

Key points
• There are dwindling numbers of young people at our centres (and joining the WBO) and we need to put energy in to inspiring more young people to practice the Dharma with us.
• Like attracts like so it is essential to have young Buddhists visible at our centres supporting courses.
• We’d like to encourage 1 or 2 committed young people at each centre to become a “young person’s facilitator” for the centre. They would act as a point of reference for new young people into the centre and would help co-ordinate events for young people at the centre.
• Young people need to be supported and encouraged to run events for young people. It’s good to have a range of events available from intensive formal practice (TBRL, communities, study) to informal activities (walks, films)
• While young people are supported by other young people they are often inspired by older, more experienced practitioners - people who have energy about them and who exemplify the Dharma. So if you are an older experienced practitioner remember your role in inspiring young people!
• Run events on a dana (donations) system where possible and have some “drop in” activities
• Young people are interested in receiving training in teaching the Dharma to others – how this might happen needs further consideration

On the weekend retreat there was a real sense of energy and enthusiasm from those present to go back to their centres and run events for young people. Some individuals were interested in becoming young person’s facilitators at their centres and I hope we can identify a named young person’s facilitator for every FWBO centre or region in the UK in the coming months.

In 2010 there is a weekend retreat for young women at Taraloka (January 29 -31st), we hope to establish activities for young people on the FWBO international sangha gathering in May and there will be another mixed retreat in October (details tbc). I hope events will also be run at individual centres.

We need to inspire young people in the Dharma to ensure we pass the Dharma and the WBO onto the next generation! There’s energy building amongst the young Buddhists in the FWBO to try and inspire more young people to join us – it is important and exciting!

We’re keen to help young mitras get in contact with other young people around the movement - they can contact me on or check out the FWBO young Buddhists facebook group.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Indian Buddhist youth gather in Bodh Gaya

News is just in of the first-ever NNBY Youth retreat held at Bodh Gaya, place of the Buddha’s enlightenment some 2,500 years ago. NNBY stands for the Indian ‘National Network of Buddhist Youth’, a TBMSG project created some three years ago and now spread across India.

130 young Buddhist men and women came for 4 days from 6 states across India, creating between them a true ‘casteless society’ and giving many their first real taste of Sangha, or spiritual community.

Organising the retreat was a major achievement for them given that Bodh Gaya, up in a remote corner of North-East India, is many hundreds of miles from today’s ‘Buddhist heartland’ down in Maharastra.

The retreat was led by Subhuti on the theme of 'Educate, Agitate, Organise' - Dr. Ambedkar’s famous slogan. They meditated, studied, performed puja -and of course found time to play and sing! You can get a flavour of it from the YouTube video sent us by Dharmashalin - or check their website

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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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Monday, September 07, 2009

first report from the Jnanasiddhi Center for Youth Development, Amravati

This year has seen the founding of the Jnanasiddhi Center for Youth Development in the Indian city of Amravati, central India, where there has been for many years a flourishing TBMSG centre. They’ve recently sent us this report of their first few months operation. Jnanaratna, its founder, says -

“Jnanasiddhi Center for Youth Development, Amravati started on the 7th Jan 2009. It is the initiative of Jnanaratna, a young Dhammachari from Amravati, who, with the help of Amoghasiddhi , Kumarjeev and Ratnasiddhi, has been working for the youth since his ordination four years ago.

Vision of the project
The vision of the project bring is to bring together and & help to grow all Buddhist and non-Buddhist youths age between 18 to 40, of all the different castes and social backgrounds, both employed & unemployed, and to help them all to become the true individuals.

Our mission is to reach out to thousand of youngsters with different activities and try to bring them together in our events so that they explore their talents, share their views and learn from each other.

Our Activities
We took the NVC (Non-Violent Communication) training for youth at Jnanasiddhi on the 15th- 16th Feb 2009. Kumarjeev conducted the training, there were 25 participants present, and it was very inspiring moment for the youth.

A workshop on NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) was held on the 6th & 7th of April. Aruna Korana led the training, and 20 youth participated in the event. NLP is concerned with the transformation of the thought process: if the thought changes, the personality of the human also changes . Success, relationships, can all transform through the practice of NLP. Aruna also demonstrated the use of our senses to the fullest capacity .

Dhamma talk series
We have celebrated the Jayanti (birth) of Dr. Ambedkar by two series of talks, one on the personality of Dr. Ambedkar and his education, and one on the social conditions of today’s Ambedkarite youth. The first talks were given by Dhammachari Amoghasiddhi and Mahendra Mundre.

In his talks, Amoghasiddhi explored the life of Babasaheb in different ways , putting the personality of Dr. Babasaheb as the true practitioner of the Buddhism . He said , if we put the same effort as Babasaheb in the five Viniyat Chetsik Dhammas, it will help to us to became true Buddhists and individuals. He quoted many example from his life which highlights the morality.

Other events
On the occasion of URGYEN SANGHARAKSHITA’S birthday, August 26th, we asked all people to join with the Jnanasiddhi Youth Development Center, Amaravati, India, to go green and spread metta to whole world.

We celebrated Bhante’s birthday with planting trees in the near town . We were remembering his qualities:

1) Bhante gives the shelter of the fwbo/tbmsg
2) deep understanding of the dhamma
3) his own interpretation of the dhamma
4) experience of the higher stages of the meditation .

and many more. We planted 83 trees in the near the Jnanasiddhi center on the early morning of 26th Aug 2009 at 7am to 9am, and followed this with meditation and puja practise from 10am to 12pm. Through the whole month from 26th August to 26th Sept 09 , we will plant trees for the long life and gratitude to Bhante’s contribution to the new world.

For further details and to donate us for this cause, please contact me at

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Monday, June 08, 2009

Adolescents celebrate rite of passage in Essen

Jnanacandra, Chair of the FWBO's Centre in Essen, Germany, writes -

"On May 1st four teenagers celebrated an important day in their lives at the Essen Buddhist Centre. In the company of family and many friends they celebrated the fact that they had left childhood behind them and were now embarking on the exciting and challenging path to adulthood.

"This was the second time that such a rite of passage was held at an fwbo Centre. Prasadavati led the ritual very beautifully and reminded both the teenagers and the parents of the deeper meaning of this step.

"Both the parents and adolescents ritually invoked the powerful forces involved in the process of growing up. They remembered the good times that they had spent together and expressed their mutual gratitude, appreciation and respect by bowing to each other and exchanging a symbolic gift.

Then the parents enacted the process of letting go by cutting off a strand of their children‘s hair which they later cast into a river. For the adolescents this also symbolized their growing independence of their parents - and Prasadavati reminded them of the fact that growing freedom also entails growing responsibility. Finally each of the teenagers listened to a moving „rejoicing in merits“ that reminded them of the many wonderful qualities that each of them possesses and encouraged them to make the best use of them.

"Two professional musicians, the grandparents of one of the girls, played wonderful music on cello and german flute - this helped create a very special and moving atmosphere around the ritual. The pieces they had chosen conveyed the distinct flavour of the different phases of the ceremony. The ritual ended with the singing of the blessings and a loud and heartfelt threefold „sadhu“ from all present.

"Dana, Derya, Gina and Ella are all 13 or 14 years old and daughters of members of the Essen Sangha. They themselves don‘t necessarily consider themselves buddhist and the ceremony didn‘t involve any commitment to buddhism on their side – but it certainly reflected buddhist values like gratitude, respect, appreciation, personal responsibility and the possibilities of conscious development.

"Many of the buddhist and non-buddhist guests present expressed their appreciation of this event. Any centre that might be interested in offering their young people such a rite of passage is very welcome to contact Jnanacandra at the Essen Buddhist Centre for details:

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Young Buddhists meet in Birmingham; more gatherings planned

Kev from the FWBO’s Birmingham Buddhist Centre sends us this report:

“We recently hosted a ‘Day for Young Buddhists’ in Birmingham. And what a fantastic day it was - people travelled from as far as Norwich and Leeds for what turned out to be a vibrant and inspiring gathering.

“The day began with a dedication ceremony and meditation, followed by four short talks by young people in the Sangha on the subject of ‘What inspires me’. From this simple brief came four very rousing and inspiring talks.

“The afternoon was left as open space for people to explore what was of particular interest to them at the time; this included discussion groups, 5 rhythms dancing, and drumming in the garden. This was all rounded off with a Bodhicaryavatara Puja to finish. A great day, and we’ve another event for young Buddhists on the cards for the summer”.

To help people contact one another, there’s a Facebook group “Young People in the FWBO”; this now includes a Calendar of events especially recommended for young Buddhists. It currently has 109 members from all over the world.

Next up is a similar day event for young people in Brighton, scheduled for 26 April.

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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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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Youth of India Roars in 2nd National Convention of NNBY

The FWBO/TBMSG is an international Buddhist Sangha, with Buddhist Centres in over 20 countries. This internationality is never more evident than when people from opposite sides of the world come together for our big sangha events.

NNBY’s recent annual conference was an example, bringing together people from many communities across India (a major achievement in itself) – and beyond. NNBY is India’s ‘National Network of Buddhist Youth’, a major initiative started some five years ago under the auspices of TBMSG, as the FWBO is known in India.

We’re proud to bring you two reports from the Conference, one from two Indian participants – a colourful and moving photo-journal – and one from Ann Dennehy, a mitra from San Francisco who’s founded ‘Jai Bhim International, an American not-for-profit. Her aim is to “Connect spiritual communities, social change groups, and educators worldwide with Buddhist youth projects in India”.

You can read Deepa and Amrita's account here, boldly entitled “YOUTH OF INDIA ROARS IN 2nd NATIONAL CONVENTION OF NNBY

and Ann’s wide-ranging account of her travels here.

NNBY is still fundraising for its 2009 budget, contributions are invited and can be made online on their Justgiving page

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Friday, December 19, 2008

1000 meditators in India, fundraising for NNBY

the shine used for the all-night meditation in Nagpur, India - outside the DiksabhumiLast Friday and Saturday nights saw the full moon appearing at it s biggest and brightest for 15 years, according to astronomers.

It also saw over 1,000 people in India meditating – many all night – as a fundraiser for NNBY, the ‘National Network of Buddhist Youth’ created by members of the Order some three years ago. They were joined by many others around the world, in the UK, France, the US, Mexico, Australia, and elsewhere, where meditators met singly or in groups for a night of practice.

full-moon walking meditation at the Mahavihara in PuneWell over UK £1,000 was raised (figures are still coming in, especially from India and the US), and the reports from India sounded almost ecstatic the morning after – “we did it!”. According to reports from Kumarajiv, one of the founder members of NNBY, the event seems to have been something of a collective milestone, a sigificant step forwards in their organising ability - and confidence in the power of collective practice!

Publicity for the event was almost entirely internet-based, with word being spread via Facebook and ‘Orkut’ (a Google-based social networking site much used by NNBY members). This hiccupped when Facebook deleted the ‘FWBO Buddhists’ profile and the associated event – it was revived but lost some momentum in the process!

tired but happy, Nagpur meditators celebrate the morning afterAs a result, NNBY are still fundraising for their annual budget – they receive no statutory funding of any sort, or from any FWBO institutions. Their three priorities for the year are -

1. Training Buddhist youth as leaders
2. Supporting their leaders to teach and organize
3. Sponsoring the NNBY National Annual Conference

The next NNBY annual conference begins very soon – on December 25th at TBMSG’s Bor Dharan retreat centre outside Nagpur. As in previous years, some 500 youth are expected to attend.

Contributions from readers of FWBO/TBMSG News are still very welcome – and two separate internet donations sites are active, for readers in the USA (via the FWBO's New York Centre) and UK (via Justgiving) respectively.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Sponsored Full Moon meditation for Indian Buddhist Youth - tomorrow!

Tomorrow night, Saturday December 13th, sees an international ‘Sponsored Full Moon meditation’ raising funds for NNBY, India’s National Network of Buddhist Youth, an autonomous project under TBMSG’s ‘umbrella’.

The target is for them to raise their entire annual budget of UK £4,500 in a single night - all readers of FWBO News are invited to contribute, either by meditating (and seeking sponsors for yourself!) or simply by donating.

Making a donation is very simple – there is an internet fundraising page at

In India over 500 youth are expected to be meditating, in places as far afield as Nagpur, Delhi and Pune; with others joining them in countries around the world.

The initiative has met an enthusiastic response in New York among the FWBO Sangha there, they have created a special webpage that can accept American donations.

It was spreading virally through the Facebook network before an administrative hiccup meant the event was inadvertently deleted!

A full introduction to NNBY is available on their main fundraising page; they also have a website. Please do consider taking part or donating.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Inspiring Young People with the Dharma

November saw a weekend gathering of 24 people from a range of FWBO Centres in the UK and beyond. They had met in Birmingham UK to explore the topic “How can we Inspire more Young People with the Dharma?”.

The meeting had been called because of what can only be described as the aging of the Order.

As the chart on the right makes clear, in the 1970s, when the Order was first founded, over half its members were in their 20s (the purple bars to the left of the chart). Although the Order has grown enormously over the intervening 40 years, both 20- and 30-year-old Order Members are now almost entirely extinct! (30-year-olds being represented by the yellow bars)

If we follow a trend of 'like-attracts-like' it’s hard to see how the FWBO (as a Sangha) will do other than grow older and older – and older. Hence this weekend. Interestingly, despite Buddhism’s positive reputation, this seems to be a problem across the whole Buddhist world, not just with us - the NBO (the UK’s main inter-Buddhist forum) is dedicating it’s next AGM conference to the same theme.

Over the course of the weekend the participants – who ranged in age from 17-60 - generated a rich collection of ideas for how we might move forwards.

A summary is available on FWBO Resources; they’re summarised in the mindmap...

Two talks from the weekend are available on the Community section of Free Buddhist Audio – one actually being three short talks, two highly autobiographical.

Lindsay’s, the third, was especially clear and practical, giving a three-point plan for how FWBO Centres could inspire more young people with the Dharma. She is currently living and working at Taraloka Retreat Centre. Her's is available here.

Also, Munisha used the opportunity to conduct video interviews with many of the younger people present, they were asked to answer in just one or two minutes one or another of the most popular (and tricky!) questions that Buddhists get asked again and again. They’re available on ClearVision’s excellent ‘VideoSangha’ site.

A Facebook group has been created, for any and all younger people who are Buddhists or are exploring Buddhism in the FWBO (Friends of the Western Buddhist Order). It’s a forum to get to know each other, discuss ideas and advertise events and retreats.

What comes next? There’s no current plans for any big ‘central’ initiatives, we’d welcome comments and ideas – just leave a comment here or write to FWBO News.

Other Western Buddhist groups are also looking at ways to involve more young people:

* Shambala have a special website, an annual Buddhist Youth Festival (focussing on the three themes of Discussion, Art, and Socialising); plus a ‘Vajra Dawn’ study programme for youth.
* Plum Village have a youth project called “Wake Up”, subtitled “Young Buddhists and non-Buddhists for a Healthy and Compassionate Society” – see
* Soka Gakkai are reported to have a thriving youth wing but we have no information on it.
* In Germany there’s a BuddhaTeens website, in German - see
* In Australia there’s a Tibetan initiative “Loving Kindness Peaceful Youth” (LKPY) at

* Books about/by/for Buddhist Youth have been published, especially ‘Blue Jean Buddha’, ‘Buddha’s Apprentices’, and ‘Dharma Punk’.

And - as mentioned several times on FWBO News - TBMSG in India have created the very successful NNBY, the National Network of Buddhist Youth – see or their website

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

First retreat for NNBY Youth in Delhi

Maitriveer Nagarjun delivers a Dhamma talk at TBMSG's Dhammachakra Buddhist Centre in DelhiMaitriveer Nagarjun, a young India Order Member studying at the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, has sent us this report of NNBY’s first big retreat in the Indian capital. NNBY is India’s National Network of Buddhist Youth, started a couple of years ago by Order Members from TBMSG’s Dhammakranti ‘outreach’ project.

Maitriveer writes –

“For the first time, in the capital of the country – Delhi, we organised a gathering of the youth for four days. It was an energetic and inspired retreat, organised successfully by the National Network of Buddhist Youth (NNBY) and Dhammachakra Buddhist Centre; our newly opened TBMSG Centre in Delhi.

Approximately 120 Youths attended, coming from eight different states in North India (Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Maharashtra , Madhya Pradesh, and even Ladakh). The Theme for the event was ‘Ambedkar and Buddhism for the Youth’, we met in the Ladakh Buddhist Monastery.

“Even though people came from all over North India and were from different regions , cultures and Castes, they were able to form a common vision for the Casteless society based on the teaching of the Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and the Buddha.

“The goal of the event was to infuse a new confidence and energy among the youths present; to make them sensitive to the spiritual life and to encourage them in their careers for the betterment of the fractured Indian society based on Caste. Most of the youths were from the so-called ‘Untouchable community’, so trying to understand the relevance of Buddhism in modern society in the light of Dr. Ambedkar’s Buddhist vision is of vital importance to them.

“NNBY and Dhammachakra Buddhist Centre is thankful for the Lama Londang Damchoe, Secretary of the Ladakh Buddhist Vihara, to the NNBY Nagpur team and the core team of the Prabuddha Bharat Vichar Manch, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

“With Maitri, Maitriveer Nagarjun”

NNBY is currently appealing for funds for their 2009 budget. They have created an on-line fundraising page introducing themselves, and are holding a world-wide sponsored meditation this coming Saturday night, the Full-Moon. Over 500 people are expected to take part in India, plus others in 7 countries.

Please see their special fundraising page at - all readers of FWBO News are invited to join us or to contribute! For the benefit of American readers, the FWBO's New York Sangha have created a dollar-based donations page at

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Monday, December 01, 2008

TBMSG in Japan: presenting Indian Buddhist Youth work

Five members of TBMSG, the FWBO’s Indian wing, are just back (in India) from attending the annual World Fellowship of Buddhist Youth conference, which this year was held in Japan. This is a major step onto the international Buddhist stage for them, and Yashosagar, one of the delegates and chairman of TBMSG, has sent us this report –

“The 24th General Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) and the 15th General Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhist Youth (WFBY) was devoted to the subject of “The Buddhist Contribution to Resolving Social Problems”; it was held from 14th to 17th November 2008 at the Asakusa View hotel, in Asakusa Japan.

“370 people from all over the world attended the conference of WFB and WFBY (WFBY is the youth section of the WFB). Nearly twelve countries’ regional centers were present.

“The WFBY’s purpose is to promote and strengthen understanding and practice of the teaching of the Lord Buddha among youth and increase respect and piety towards the Triple Gem, our parents, elders and to each other. It aims to promote unite, solidarity and networking among young Buddhists around the world.

“TBMSG is one of the Regional Centres of WFB and WFBY in India, and Priyadarshi and I made a special presentation of our work and especially our youth work. We presented Dr. Ambedkar’s contribution to Buddhism and also what we are doing in India, our activities in India, particularly the new situation which is arising in India for the growth of Buddhism. We were able to show the great influence of our work is having in India on people’s minds. People felt very happy to see our slideshow, the living Buddhism in India.

After the presentation were Symposiums – Dhammamitra Mangesh Dahiwale was also invited to speak on ‘Buddhism Past Present and Future’, particularly on the youth’s situation. One of the panelists from Japan expressed his concern over the isolation of youths in Japan from Buddhism. He expressed the need for youth’s participation in Buddhism and the social action.

Yashosagar and some new friends in Japan“Interaction with many people from the different parts of the world is the most important part of this conference in our view. To share with each other what we are doing and what we can do together. Actually it was a great occasion to meet many Buddhist people throughout the world - making contact with them gives you an idea of their situation and work they do.

“Later on a Prayer and Procession for world peace was arranged; all 370 of us silently walked to Senso-ji Temple where we held peace prayers and then a Traditional Tea Ceremony. All the people were served the green Japanese tea by the Japanese Sisters in their traditional dresses.

“The WFBY youth conference concluded by organizing a two year action plan. We in India are having a special youth program in January 2009 - Dr. Ong See Yew, the new Vice- President of WFBY, is coming with Young Buddhists from Malaysia to our centre in India (Bhaja, Pune) to do workshops on youth leadership. Most likely youths from other WFBY regional centres like Nepal, Sri-Lanka and Bangladesh will also take part in this program.

We are currently fundraising for this and other youth work in India, please do contribute if you wish to assist us.

“Now we are looking forward to our Youth leadership development program in January 2009. The connection we make during the conference help us to be in touch with each other and share what we do and cooperate with each other to help the youth from the world and youth from India.

“Yours in the Dhamma, Yashosagar

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Appeal for a 'caste-free generation'

Ann Dennehy and friends at the Indian Buddhist Youth conference in India in 2007Ann Dennehy, a mitra from the FWBO’s San Francisco center, is launching an appeal for Jai Bhim International. All readers of FWBO News are invited to respond. She says -

"Dear Buddhist Friends - I would like to tell you about a project I have been working on for the past few months. It is a non-profit I have created, Jai Bhim International, registered in the US, to support the social justice work of Dalit (ex-untouchable) Buddhist youth in India. There is detailed information about this community, and about the caste system as an urgent human rights issue, on our website:

"The Dalits, considered "untouchable" in the Hindu caste system (now officially called "ex-untouchable" but still considered low-caste inpractice) have faced oppression in India for centuries. Things have been slowly changing for the past 50 years, thanks to the work and inspiration of the great Human Rights Leader Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, the chief architect of Independent India's constitution. Our organization is named in his honor. JAI BHIM, means "Long live Bhim/Dr. Ambedkar", and is a common greeting between Dalit Indians. Dr. Ambedkar converted to Buddhism 52 years ago in October, as a way of stepping out of the oppressive caste system. His conversion, or "diksha", set off a mass conversion movement which continues to this day, and which has been supported by Bhante Sangharakshita.

"In the past year I have been to India twice, and will return in December for a month to work on JBI projects. I have been so inspired by the Dalit students I have met, their open-heartedness, their creativity, their motivation, and their commitment to justice for their community. It is because of them that I have created our non-profit, in order to encourage and support the projects they are creating themselves. In December we will be providing scholarships for 20 students to attend a national youth conference in Bor Dharan, central India. I will also be leading a teacher training workshop in the city of Nagpur for Indian English teachers, which is the beginning of a long-term ESL teacher mentoring project.

"Sadly, I have just received an email from our Board Member in India saying that recently university students from a Dalit background haveb een violently attacked in cities across India, and that their communities have been prevented by the police from peacefully protesting. There is more on our blog: This news makes the work I am doing in India feel all the more urgent and important, and is a reminder of how caste oppression is a serious, and overlooked, human rights issue.

"I am appealing for your support of our projects. We are currently accepting donations on our website, and your donation of $25 will allow a Dalit student to travel across India and be on retreat at the upcoming National Buddhist Youth conference in Bor Dharan in December. Please consider sponsoring a young member of our sangha in this way, investing in the next generation of Buddhists, a caste-free generation.

"It is the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S., and this Thanksgiving I am reflecting on how thankful I am for Buddhism and for all of you in the sangha, bringing the dharma out into the world.

"Happy Thanksgiving to you, wherever you might be.

"Jai Bhim , Ann Dennehy,
Creative Director Jai Bhim International
San Francisco Buddhist Center

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Introducing NNBY - India's National Network of Buddhist Youth

Dharmashalin, a newly ordained Order Member from the UK, is visiting TBMSG and other projects in India. He’s recently been with the NNBY – a new national network of Indian Buddhist Youth. He sends us this report, very timely in view of their upcoming worldwide fundraising benefit planned for NNBY. See details at the end of this report.

Dharmashalin writes -

“Over the last few years in India a network called NNBY has emerged. It stands for the National Network of Buddhist Youth.

“NNBY is based on the ideals of the Buddha and Dr . Ambedkar and is supported by members of the FWBO/TBMSG – although it’s not controlled by them. Its catch-phrase is 'Of the youth, for the youth, by the youth.' Not surprisingly, NNBY members emphasise the supportive nature of the work they are doing and the intention that the network itself is a self-organising platform for young people (15-35) themselves to develop their skills and confidence.

“Over the past three years it has been working to encourage disadvantaged young people in India to develop themselves. There’s three main aspects to their activity - education, spiritual practice and directly helping others in society. One can see this as growing directly out of what Dr Ambedkar originally wanted for his people, and I’m sure it works better than if adults simply tell them what to do!

“I have spent the last week visiting groups in and around Vidarbha (in Central India) hoping to see for myself how they are organising themselves. One thing that can be said for sure is that I have come away Inspired!

“I was deeply impressed by what I saw on so many different levels, I'd like to tell you just a few of these... Firstly the whole tour was coordinated and organised by the Youths themselves, this included my translator, Arhant, who is only 23 yet did an outstanding job of looking after me, translating and providing more detailed information of how NNBY operates.

“Then in Yavatmal where there is a group which is primarily organised by a 23-year-old girl, many of the other members of that group are in their teens. Not only do they support each other with their studies (there is huge exam pressure in the Indian Education system), there is also inspiration to practise Dharma and also real friendship. I was particularly moved when a young girl from a different caste (inter-caste friendships are still quite unusual in India) spoke about having a death in the family only a week before, saying she’d found support from her friends within NNBY - so they don’t just talk about Bollywood and cricket stars!

“Young people in India are under so much pressure; examinations, family responsibilities, casteism, romance in a traditional society, and the ever-present pressures of money. One of the major challenges facing any Youth-based organisation is how to respond to all this - particularly the need for money, resources and leadership. For NNBY there are encouraging signs - in Wardha we met in an office the local group had found. This is a very positive sign because so often elsewhere in my travels I’ve met passivity and a desire for others to provide everything.

“I'm happy to say that for them I counted as a Youth, despite my lack of hair! A fact which, when referred to, brought much delight to my audiences. What is really impressive is the lead being taken by the young Indians themselves. Their need for material resources remains however.

“If you have found this account inspiring there is a worldwide fundraising meditation event being held on the full-moon night of 13th December. People around the world will be taking part in sponsored night-time meditations to raise funds for them. Please look at and consider taking part or sponsoring someone - you can sponsor me if you like! As well as this ‘special event page’ there’s a great introduction to them on their main fundraising page

They also have their own website at

“So, to finish with. In the last town we visited, there is no local group yet, though a few people had attended previous events and one young lady (another one!) had organised our program. A Headmaster of a local school provided the venue. At one point he became somewhat insistent on the lack of initiative among the young people and doubtful of any possibility of progress. At this point he issued a challenge; 'Who will form such a group here? Alone and without resources...'

“A pause, and then the girl who had organised the program stood up and said 'I will!' and then in short succession the others rose up as well and said 'I too will form a group, for my own benefit and that of others!' I have to say I found it extremely moving. I was reminded of Dr Ambedkar's conviction that true uplift would only come from his own people, others can help, but ultimately we must transform ourselves.

“This is the message of the Dharma and that is what I found inspiring in the youths I visited. Their desire to come together and organise themselves to assist their own education, spiritually develop and help others is an expression of this principle and I feel honoured and inspired to have witnessed their valiant efforts to establish this organisation.

“Do Please look at and consider taking part or sponsoring someone if you would like to support them.

“With Metta


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Monday, October 06, 2008

Clear Vision in Asia - from Bhutan to Bangkok

A year on from an assignment working for Bhutan's Ministry of Education, the FWBO's Clear Vision Trust ( has just returned from an international conference on Buddhism and Ethics, held in Thailand near Bangkok.

As education officer at Clear Vision, Munisha was invited to give a presentation on “Using Video to teach Buddhist Ethics in British Schools” at the first conference of the International Association of Buddhist Universities (IABU). (The FWBO's Dharmapala College is a member of the IABU).

Munisha writes: “It was extraordinary to be part of a gathering of up to 3000 Buddhists, mostly Asian monks, as well as nuns and a small number of westerners. I went with Mokshapriya and Aparajita. Among the robes of yellow or brown or stylish grey linen, our kesas attracted a fair amount of interest, as did our display of Clear Vision DVDs for schools. The Dharma is not yet available in such formats in Asia!

"My strong sense is that young people of Buddhist background are losing touch with Buddhism, both in the UK and across Asia. You have to wonder whether there will be another generation of lay Buddhists as young people often know nothing of the Dharma and are less and less interested in tradition. To be fair, there were conference presentations from people who are running Dharma activities for young people in Burma, Thailand and Sri Lanka, one or two of them innovative, but still I suspect they are exceptions.

Meanwhile, some very good teaching of Buddhism for young people is being delivered in British schools, by and for non-Buddhists, using modern teaching materials such as Clear Vision's. If Asian young people are to be interested in the Dharma, I'd argue Asian Buddhists could benefit from seeing what we are doing here in Britain.

"We went hoping to spread the word about our materials and invite sponsorship and dana. It was a bonus to meet Asian Buddhists who approached us to tell us of their respect for Bhante and the importance of his work for the future of Buddhism. Then there's my favourite souvenir from the conference pack: a mustard yellow umbrella with a limb of the Eightfold Path printed on each section!”

Munisha's paper is available on FWBO Features here. This is a longer, written version of her PowerPoint presentation to the conference, which included video clips.

Click here to see what Clear Vision has to offer school teachers and students.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Youth Dharma: upcoming event

In common with other Buddhist sanghas in the West, the FWBO attracted a lot of young people in the 60’s and 70’s, fewer in the 80’s and 90’s, and even fewer today. Why? Who knows – but we’d like to find out!

Sometimes the spiritual path is spoken of as starting with the experience of Dukkha, or unsatisfactoriness: we are sure that everyone experiences this and finds this painful, the young often more than the old. And sometimes the Goal is spoken of as ‘the Taste of Freedom’, again we are sure that all desire this, the young no less than their elders.

As a first step, in November this year, there’s going to be a weekend gathering of all those with an interest in this area. The weekend is open to everyone – of all levels of involvement and all ages. We’d especially like to get young people from centres along and hear what they have to say and encourage them to get involved. Please tell people at your centre about this event, and also come along yourself, even if you are no longer young! But just for the sake of clarity, the focus will be on folk in their teens through to the end of their twenties.

The aim is to create energy, confidence, inspiration, and ideas. Among other things we’ll be using Open Space Technology’ to maximise everyone’s opportunities for contributions and learning. We hope to encourage centres, retreat centres, teachers, and preceptors to have this as part of their perspective on their work.

There are big questions to be addressed: how can we create a vibrant FWBO culture that inspires young people with the Dharma? What are young people looking for? How can the Dharma touch them? And how can we create a sense of community in which teenage offspring of Buddhist parents will want to get involved?

The weekend is from Friday 7th to Sunday 9th November; the venue is ‘Bilberry Hill’, a little way outside Birmingham, UK. And the cost is £50, including food and accommodation. (If you can’t afford to pay that, please pay less.) Full details will be sent upon booking.

To book, please send a cheque for £50, payable to “FWBO” to: Lokabandhu, 25 St. Edmunds Road, Glastonbury, Somerset, BA6 9HX, UK; or contact him on
for more details.

Finally just to mention there’s a poster promoting the event, you can download it here. Please print and promote!

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Monday, June 30, 2008

Buddhafield Festival 2008 - new site, new line-up - coming soon!

A Papier-Mache stupa formed the centre of the 2007 FestivalThe FWBO’s largest event outside India is the annual Buddhafield Festival, now in its 13th year and going strong. From 350 in 1996 it’s grown to around 2,500 people – small enough to retain the intimacy that’s one of its hallmarks, yet large enough to contain an extraordinary diversity of, well, everything!!!

This year they’re moving to a beautiful new site just a few miles from the old one on the Devon-Somerset border. They’ve written to FWBO News to say –“The new site is secluded and peaceful, away from roads, with coppice woodland, and plenty of space. We’ve been hard at work preparing for this year’s Festival – and it’s coming up soon! We warmly invite you to join us – and please do tell your friends. It’s a great way for them to meet a bunch of Buddhists and get a taste of what we’re about”.

Here is a sneak preview of some of this year's programme (all included in the ticket price!!):

Kids Area: AMAZING and varied range of activities for kids - trampolines, dressing up, carnival processing, crafts, bushcraft and nature awareness, storytelling, toddlers' space, daily theatre extravaganza; Teens Space.

Bands: Gadjo Club (superb Gypsy Balkan Jazz); Seize the Day (protest folk stalwarts); Green Angels (upbeat Breton dance); Vogue Gyratory (Brighton faves, 7 piece funk-reggae); Manjinga 7; Toggy Mess (upbeat Irish folk); Manos Puestas (super-spicy flamenco jazz); a variety of fantastic DJs, including Matt Black of Coldcut (Thurs pm), followed by Cinema

Poetry and art: Inter-Ference; open mike poetry evening; Poetry Slam; 'The Big Q' play written specially for Buddhafield!; The Buddhafield 'Artery'; carnival costume-making from found natural materials; creativity and poetry-writing; Mr Be, mime, clown and family show; Stilted butterfly walkabout; Marionettas giant puppets.

The Dharma Parlour at the 2006 Festival.Dharma Parlour and meditation: talks and discussions on Buddhism, speakers from the Western Buddhist Order and other traditions, including Christopher Titmuss. Meditation teaching from FWBO teachers and others. Ceremonies and devotional practice. Network of Engaged Buddhists; Amida Trust, and others.

Workshops: MASSES of all-day yoga, Tai Chi and Chi Gung. Healing Area, great range of alternative therapies, pay by donation. Dozens of workshops to die for, including Ecstatic Dance with Jewls; 5 Rhythms with Jo Hardy; Brazilian Forro; Indian Classical Dance with yoga/visualisation; Shamanic Trance Dance with Zilia; many more dance workshops; 'Soulful Singing' with Mahasukha; 'Voice as Sacred Instrument'; Tibetan singing bowls; tin whistle, bodhran, drumming; daily Buddhafield Community Rhythm event; 'Work that Reconnects'; Transition Towns; big debate on Climate; Palestine Peace Campaign; Non-violent Communication; Skilful Flirting; Heart-to-Heart tantric workshops; Green babycare on a budget; Shamanic Journeying from Northern Drum….

The Chakra Cleansing ladies leave a festival-goer in tip-top shapeSpecial Spaces: the 12 Step Dome; Women's Space; Land and Permaculture; Radical Midwives Space for pregnant women and new mothers; Queer Spirit Space; Crafts Area; Wildheart Medicine Wheel Space; Dzogchen and Big Mind teachings; bushcraft; tracking; fire making; sky-gazing meditation.

Saunas including Lost Horizon, featuring chillout space and cabaret; cafes including the Buddhafield Café with strolling musicians. And last but not least, wood-fired showers and compost toilets; all power on site from the sun and wind.

The 2008 Festival runs from Weds 16th to Sun 20th July. The site has good public transport links; nearest train and coach station is Taunton (direct trains from many towns); there are a couple of local buses each day from Taunton direct to the site. There's also special festival mini-buses going direct to the site and back from Bristol, Brighton and London. See the Buddhafield Festival website for details. Don't be put off by the rather severe website by the way - look at the pictures to get a sense of what it's really like!

But PS - don't forget to book soon! See you there! ;-)

The Buddhafield Team

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Monday, June 23, 2008

'National Network of Buddhist Youth' Conference in India

Ann Dennehy, a mitra from the FWBO’s San Francisco Sangha sends us this report of TBMSG’s ‘National Network of Buddhist Youth’ Conference in Dehra Dun, northern India, held June 1-7, 2008.

She writes -

“I have just returned from a week on retreat with India’s National Network of Buddhist Youth (NNBY) in the hill station of Dehra Dun, in northern India. I worked as part of a team of 4 Trainers - the Indian Order members Kumarjeev and Kamalasri from Nagpur, and Maitriveer Nagarjuna from Delhi, alongside the NNBY Student Leadership Team.

Altogether we were 35 people on the retreat, practicing in an old colonial school building, miraculously transformed for our use by the local Senior Dhammachari Bodhisagar (who had been ordained by Bhante in India in the 1980's) and his tireless wife Sumitra. They turned classrooms into dormitories, food pantries and shower facilities; hallways into kitchen prep stations and a dining area; and a meeting hall into a shrine room and central study space.

“Dehra Dun is green and peaceful, providing a cool break from city heat, and a chance to practice in a lush, serene environment. Our team worked harmoniously, providing opportunities for students to learn meditation, practice English, study the legacy of Dr. Ambedkar, chant, and do pujas. Students established new friendships, shared tasks, played cricket, sang songs, and even danced. Our last night was a diksha, where two students became Buddhists, followed by a cultural evening, which included comedy and a kirtan.

“The primary goal of the NNBY is to establish a network of Buddhist friendships across India, and train up the next generation of young Buddhist leaders. I am satisfied that such connections were created on this retreat.

“Most of the retreatants were first-timers, and as the week came to a close they told me how much they had learned, how their meditation practice had deepened, how they'd made new friendships, and how much more confidence they felt after a week of supported practice.

“Myself, I leave feeling grateful for my deepening friendships with the team, and inspired by the energy, creativity, and curiosity of all the students. May this Sangha continue to thrive”.

You can check the NNBY’s new website on

They've also got an internet fundraising appeal going, seeking funds for their India-wide youth leaders training programme - you'll find full details on the appeal site.

Meanwhile, a thousand miles south, in Maharastra, there's ambitious plans afoot among the Amaravati sangha for a major Dhamma tour of rural areas this autumn, building in part on their own recent successful Youth Conference - we hope to bring you news of this tomorrow.

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