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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sydney Buddhist Centre:wheelchairs are go!

Nalaka Nick Maddocks writes from the FWBO’s Sydney Buddhist Centre with a rare bit of news from the Sangha ‘down under’ - the first of a number of stories from them, we’re promised...

He says - “Let's roll! Wheelchairs are a go!

“Fabulous news! The Sydney Buddhist Centre (SBC) has received funding to upgrade its building as part of the New South Wales Government's Community Building Partnership. The SBC was one of 13 local community organisations to receive funding and has been awarded $10,000. Winning the grant was the result of a group effort by Order Members, Mitras and friends who completed the application forms and encouraged others to vote for the SBC's application in an online poll.

“The SBC plans to use the $10, 000 funding from the grant to upgrade the building so that it is more wheelchair accessible. The modifications required to make the SBC more wheelchair friendly include:

– Installation of wheelchair access ramps to permit wheelchair movement into and within the SBC
– Widening and replacing internal doorways
– The installation of disabled grab rails in one of the centre toilets
– Repairs and upgrade to damaged tiles on the steps leading to the front entrance

“So where do we go from here? Once the upgrade has been completed at the Sydney Buddhist Centre (SBC) we will begin to promote it as a wheelchair-accessible Buddhist centre. This means that all ongoing meditation courses and Sangha nights will be available to people in a wheelchair. The SBC already caters for about 160 people who attend regular weekly classes, and about 300 people who undertake beginners meditation or Buddhism courses for the first time every year. We are very pleased that our centre will become more accessible to a broader population of people after these renovations. There will also be the option in the near future, if the need arises, for meditation courses for people experiencing chronic pain, illness or a disability. This is very positive news for the SBC.

“To find out more about the SBC and to see our upcoming courses, please visit:

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Abhayaratna Trust - relieving hardship in the Western Buddhist Order

the Abhayaratna Trust’s Founding Trustees:- Dayanandi (Chair), Jnanamitra (Secretary), Shantiprabha (Treasurer), Cittapala, Dharmottara, and Padmadhara (absent)The Abhayaratna Trust is a new and rather different FWBO charity. Instead of focussing on spreading the Dharma, its objects are “To relieve financial hardship among members of the Western Buddhist Order, particularly in the face of sickness, old age or disability”.

They say –
“The scope of this new Charity is to help members of our Order who find themselves in hardship due to poverty, particularly in old age, sickness or disability. The need may be particularly acute for those who have worked for a large part of their lives to bring the Dharma to others, either directly or indirectly, through the structures of the F/WBO, living on incomes which have not allowed for savings or pension.

“The vision is of Order Members helping each other through the transitions of life, in sickness and old age, eventually preparing for death supported by their friends in the Sangha.

“Donations to the Abhayaratna Trust will go directly towards helping individual Order Members in need, or to support relevant new projects or research. Through grants we hope to bring ease to the lives of Order Members in need, helping them to continue leading an active spiritual life within the Sangha for as long as they want to. Help might be given with cost of mobility aids or attendance on retreats, for items of practical or spiritual benefit – where other funding bodies are unable to help. We hope the providing of grants towards projects or research might encourage the initiation of projects of benefit to Order Members in need such as a Buddhist hospice or specially adapted community facilities”.

Sadhu Abhayaratna!

And they’ve just been granted Charitable status! They are delighted as this opens the door for them to receive donations, whether one-off, regular, or in someone’s Will. If you are interested in contributing, contact details are available here.

They hope to make the first of many annual Disbursements towards the end of 2009.

The photograph shows the Abhayaratna Trust’s Founding Trustees:- Dayanandi (Chair), Jnanamitra (Secretary), Shantiprabha (Treasurer), Cittapala, Dharmottara, and Padmadhara (absent).

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Audio books by Sangharakshita now available

Six of Sangharakshita’s books, and one by Vessantara, are now available as audio books, for free download.

Subhadra, their creator, says "The recordings are offered as a free resource for the visually impaired, in the hope they will find them useful and inspiring. They are available for free download and distribution, provided they are not sold in any way". You can access them at his website Buddhist Audio Books.

Subhadra was born in 1952 in London, and ordained into the WBO in 1981. He now lives in Cambridge,England and works for Windhorse Evolution - as you can see from the photograph opposite!

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Friday, May 30, 2008

London Buddhist Centre begins major building work

builders go to work on the LBCThe FWBO's London Buddhist Centre this week moved into top gear as the largest building project in its history really got underway. Over the next 8 months over UK £1,5 million will be spend transforming every floor of the building (all 6 of them!) into facilities worthy of the 21st century and the next 100 years.

Planning and preliminary works have been going on for well over a year and already ‘Phase 0’ has been completed – a major project in its own right. This entailed moving the offices out of the basement and up into ‘Bhante’s Flat’, which had lain empty for several years. Sangharakshita’s old bedroom, which he used for most of the 1990’s while living at the LBC, has been transformed into the ‘Sangharakshita Study Room’ and is now a self-contained space available for study or hire. The rest of his old flat has become beautiful new light and airy offices for the LBC team – a welcome new home after many years in the relative darkness of the basement.

carvers in India create the LBC's new fountainWork on the project is multi-facetted – as the builders smash up the old concrete flooring in the LBC basement, Aloka, in Norfolk, is working on a large new painting which will be the shrine backdrop in the new meditation room. And in far-away India, carvers are shaping a stone fountain that will bring a touch of natural beauty into the basement waiting area. This is scheduled to be shipped in July and installed in time for their opening in mid-September.

The biggest challenge of the project is to convert the basement into the new ‘Breathing Space’, the LBC’s flourishing programme for health and wellbeing.

Aloka shows off work so far on his new painting for the LBC's basementAn indication of the success of the Breathing Space project – even before its new premises are ready – is their waiting list, currently standing at 65 for their next MBCT course. They are looking at ways to offer more courses in response to the demand. As well as MBCT, Breathing Space will offer programs for carers – ‘Caring for the Carers’; also Relapse Prevention; Meditation for Depression, Meditation for Addiction, and Bereavement courses – plus training in all the above for future trainers and counsellors. Breathing Space looks set to add a valuable and much–appreciated dimension to the LBC’s work.

You can read recent articles about the Breathing Space project here - in The Times about addiction courses; in the Guardian about carers retreats, and a short BBC film about the LBC's work with people suffering from depression.

Finally there is a more general interview with Futurebuilders England, a UK government investment agency which has provided some of the funding of the project.

FWBO News wishes the LBC well on what is likely to prove a busy and demanding time - and looks forward eagerly to seeing the new facilities!

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Amoghavajra returns to China - and the Paralympics

Amoghavajra, new chairman of the FWBO's Ipswich Buddhist Centre, has for many years been an enthusiastic practitioner of wheelchair basketball. Besides playing, he is also an ‘international classifier’, or grader, of wheelchair basketball players and an adjudicator on the sensitive questions of how to classify players with varying degrees of disability.

As a result of this he has been invited to China to classify players in the Basketball Paralympics - an event that has, for the hopeful competitors, been many years in the planning. Amoghavajra is especially excited to be going to China because of her ancient connections with his namesake, the Indian Buddhist monk Amoghavajra. “At last Amoghavajra is returning to China”, he says…! He goes on to say -

“I'm at Manchester at the moment classifying for the Paralympic World Cup - it's going very well although a huge culture shift from last week at Padmaloka on sadhana retreat!!

“I did consider the possibility of not taking up the invite but bringing to mind the hugely positive impact on disabled people in China I decided that I would definitely accept. Chine has not devoted many financial resources to assisting its disabled people but by hosting the Olympics part of the deal is to also host the Paralympics. This means that they have to back their disabled athlete programmes and provide them with direct support but maybe more importantly with wheelchair accessible social infrastructure that benefit a much wider range of disabled people - thereby benefiting many people”.

After the Paralympics he hopes to spend some time visiting China's ancient Buddhist sites - a personal journey that will undoubtedly be a test of China's disability-friendliness away from the Olympic spotlights.

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