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Friday, February 05, 2010

The FWBO and the 'New Monasticism'

Munisha, Director of ClearVision - the FWBO's audio-visual centre - writes to say:

"I was on the BBC Radio Four programme 'Beyond Belief' on Monday, in a programme looking at something called The New Monasticism.

"This is a movement within modern Christianity to set up residential quasi-monastic communities, very much like those we are used to in the FWBO.

"I wasn't very happy with the way it went in the studio but it's been well edited and I think the result is pretty good. Judge for yourself if you wish; listen to it online here" - it'll be available to listen to until Sunday".

Community living seems to be somewhat out of fashion in the FWBO these days, but there are still over 40 residential communities listed in the official FWBO Address List, mostly single-sex ie just men or just women in residence.

Another exploration of FWBO experience in this area can be found in 'Living Together', by Sanghadevi - you'll find this reviewed on the Windhorse Publications website.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Clear Vision launch new website

Clear Vision are the FWBO's experts in educational and media work, offering a wealth of  resources for school teachers, students, and young Buddhists, plus a huge photo and video library, much of it available or free on the internet.  

They've been working for a while on a whole new website to display their wealth, and have just written to FWBO News to announce it - and to appeal for a bit of financial support.  They say - 

Clear Vision launches new website!
Our new website contains a mass of information, DVD, online video and pictures, for adults and young people. Please give generously to support this work for the FWBO.

Five hundred video clips
       [yes, that really is 500! - ed]
Over 500 video clips, mainly of Bhante Sangharakshita, organised into themes such as
Young people's section
                             There are a lot of teenagers out there surfing the net looking for the Dharma.
We've always had a section for schools but this new section is for young people following up an independent interest in Buddhism.

As well as quizzes and information, you'll find here our recently completed Life of the Buddha interactive materials for 8-14 year-olds, combining video, questions, information and activities, as well as notes for parents/Sunday school leaders.

We believe that online interactive Dharma materials are the future - especially ones featuring Bodhi, the help lion!

General improvements
Please give money to support this work.
All this free material, for the FWBO and for young people, costs money. Previously supported by sales to schools (now dwindling in recessionary times), we have had to reduce the hours of one of our three workers simply to stay in the black. There is so much Clear Vision is uniquely qualified to do, especially encouraging more young people around the world to engage with the Dharma through modern media. (We're very grateful to the FWBO Chairs for money for materials for teenagers.)

Please make a one-off or monthly donation. It's very easy: check here for information about donations or go straight to our Just Giving page.

With many thanks from
Aparajita, Munisha and Upekshapriya

PS - coming soon - another message from them with suggestions for Christmas at Clear Vision
Watch this space - it's possible it'll be the first time Christmas has been mentioned on FWBO News!

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    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    Videosangha celebrates 360 videos

    Videosangha is a relatively new addition to the FWBO’s stable of websites, it’s been set up to enable people within the FWBO mandala to share what they are doing, what they are inspired by and even just what they look like - through the medium of video.

    They’re just celebrating their first 360 videos - allowing you to watch (if you choose) not quite one/day for a year, but close!

    Among the most recent uploads are a series of talks by Subhuti, entitled the “Seven Trees of Enlightenment”, referring to the legend that the Buddha, immediately after his Enlightenment, spent seven weeks at Bodh Gaya, a week under each of seven trees.

    Fittingly, his talks were given at Bodh Gaya - Subhuti himself, of course, lifts the talks out of the realm of legend and plants them firmly in the realm of our own daily practice. On the theme of India, Amitasuri’s another new addition to the site with an introduction to the plans for the FWBO/TBMSG’s land at Bodh Gaya, filmed at a fundraising evening in Manchester.

    The site is divided into subject areas, ranging from Arts to Questions to Sport - under Questions, for instance, you’ll find a thought-provoking series of clips of young Buddhists offering answers to all those difficult questions Buddhists get asked.- vegetarianism, life after death, Enlightenment and more...

    Contributing to the site is easy - you’ll find the very simple instructions on their home page

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    Tuesday, October 06, 2009

    New edition of Urthona explores 'Landscapes of the Mind'

    Urthona is a privately-published FWBO magazine dedicated to the arts. The latest issue, Urthona 26, explores the theme of “LANDSCAPES OF THE MIND”. Packed into its 64 pages are features on the work of three visionary artists deeply inspired by notions of landscape and mindscape, previews of complete chapters from two recently published novels, an essay on philosophy in the movies, and an interview with translators of the great Sanskrit poet Ashvaghosha - and plenty more besides!

    In their own words, Urthona exists to “present the best of world culture, ancient and modern, from a Western Buddhist perspective. We explore particularly the work of artists and thinkers who are working to bring about cultural renewal by expressing the sacred dimension of the arts in ways which are relevant to the 21st century””. They go on to say -

    “The magazine takes its name from Blake's spirit of the Imagination, Urthona, one of the four Zoas. In his temporal form of Los, Urthona is the archetypal blacksmith who labours at his forge to beat out forms which will awaken mankind from spiritual slumber and remind us that this world is 'all one continued vision of Fancy or Imagination.'

    To give you a little more of a taste of what Urthona 26 contains, there’s -

    * Inner Landscapes, an interview with talented Buddhist painter Vidyalila

    * Golden Sunflowers, an essay in which Vishvapani explores how Buddhist ideas have influenced Western culture over the last 200 years, from Wagner to John Cage

    * Bleakness and Joy, a review of the unjustly neglected Scottish painter Joan Eardley

    * And an exploration by Ratnagarbha, Urthona's editor, of John Burnside, the 'Poet of Absence and Presence', and often held to be the foremost nature poet at work in Scotland today.

    More details, and ordering information, at

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    Saturday, August 15, 2009

    VideoSangha hosts new series of videos

    VideoSangha, the FWBO’s video-sharing website, has begun hosting a new series of videos in which members of the Western Buddhist Order speak about the meaning of their names and how they use them as a path of personal practice.

    The six uploaded so far were recorded on the recent Men’s Order Conventions and include Order Members from a wide spectrum of the Order - Vaddhaka, living and working in Estonia; Harshaprabha, mentor to the small FWBO Sangha in Ontario, Canada;  Aryaketu from Nagpur, in India;  Vajranatha, living and working in Spain;  Suvannavira, en route to Russia; and finally Lokabandhu from the UK.  Look out for more over the next few weeks...

    Others are very welcome to create and submit similar videos: the Order today consists of over 1,600 men and women each with unique and very beautiful names; each potentially a personal ‘Dharma-door’ and path of practice for that person.

    To add a video to VideoSangha simply record yourself, upload it to YouTube, and tag it with ‘FWBO’ and any other relevant tags. The VideoSangha moderators will find and add it if they find it’s appropriate...

    Many other videos have recently been added to VideoSangha and we will be highlighting some of these over the next period: in particular, some of the many excellent talks from the recent Men's, Women's, and Combined Order Conventions held in Norfolk, UK.


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    Tuesday, June 30, 2009

    Thought for the Day with Vishvapani - tomorrow

    FWBO News readers are invited to tune in to BBC Radio 4 tomorrow (Weds 1 July) for another instalment of Vishvapani's 'Thought for the Day'.

    He will be on at 7.50am, perhaps a couple of minutes earlier, on the very popular Today programme. The talk will be available soon after that on the BBC website:; and if you want more; there'll be another chance on the morning of Fri 17 July.

    In addition, all previous contributions are available here.

    The Today programme is one of the BBC's most-listened-to programmes, with a daily audience of over 5 million people. His previous contribution, in the wake of the UK's parliamentary expenses scandal, began "Perhaps it's the end of the culture of deference…"

    Vishvapani's website is at

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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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    Sunday, February 08, 2009

    FWBO News anthology for January 2009

    Every one or two months FWBO News produces an anthology of all recent stories that have appeared on the website. It’s made available in an easily-printable form; this is intended as a way of making the site (and the stories!) more visible to those who don’t find themselves in cyber-space very often.

    The most recent edition has just been prepared and covers the period January 2009.

    You can download it from the Resources section of the FWBO News website, or directly here.

    Comments and suggestions on the site are always welcome.

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    Thursday, February 05, 2009

    Interactive Buddhism from ClearVision

    What would the Buddha have said if he'd known schools would be studying his life 2,500 years later - using online interactive media?

    The ‘Life of the Buddha Interactive’ is an exciting new resource for 8-12 year-olds in Religious Education.

    Clear Vision, the FWBO’s educational charity based in Manchester UK, have a reputation for lively, informative, video-based materials for Buddhism in RE. With their first interactive resource, they've become possibly the UK's first faith group to embrace the new opportunities offered by online learning in RE.

    The Life of the Buddha Interactive features 7 video clips with questions, activities, extra information, teacher's notes and a friendly help-lion called Bodhi. (See if you recognise his voice!)
    Later in the year a home-use version will be available – there’s already a sample section available here.

    Munisha, education officer at Clear Vision told FWBO News - "It's very exciting finding new ways of stimulating young people to examine their experience in the light of the Buddha's teaching. These new materials are really distinctive: we believe that new kinds of activities, involving carefully guided use of the internet, can offer schools unprecedented access to the contemporary Buddhist world."

    The move from DVD to interactive online materials has been made possible through the generosity of a Manchester Friend who specialises in Flash software.

    All product details may be found at, or contact them at the Clear Vision Trust, 16-20 Turner Street, Manchester M4 1DZ. tel 0161 839 9579

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    Friday, January 09, 2009

    Breathworks on the BBC: research vindicates mindfulness approaches to depression

    News has just reached us that last month the ethical and religious news show on BBC Radio 4 ran an interview with members of the Breathworks team at the Manchester Buddhist Centre and Professor Willem Kuyken of Exeter University.

    Breathworks is the FWBO’s very successful right livelihood practice, based in Manchester, UK, pioneers of mindfulness-based pain management and stress management courses for anyone wishing to live a richer life and feel a greater sense of initiative and confidence

    The program focussed on some new research by Professor Kuyken indicating that systematic mindfulness practice is just as effective as drugs or 'talking' therapy for treating depression, and that it was actually more effective for their secondary measures such as improving quality of life.

    The BBC contacted the Breathworks team to have someone leading a meditation, and had Diane Kaylor (a mitra at the Manchester Buddhist Centre) speaking about the benefits of practice.

    A fuller report of the research is available on-line, for instance on the e!science news site.

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    Sunday, January 04, 2009

    Wildmind on spiritual rebirth, materialism, solitude, warriorhood, and more...

    Wildmind logoWildmind is the FWBO’s US-based website dedicated to teaching meditation.

    Besides offering an easy and free way to
    learn meditation on-line, their site hosts a vast library of meditation-related articles from a wide range of sources.

    Every month they issue their meditation newsletter, each one dedicated to one or another theme connected in some way to meditation.

    We've neglected to keep you up to date with these as they've come out, but here they are now -

    · January 2009: Spiritual rebirth
    · December 2008: Spiritual materialism
    · November: Solitude
    · October: Warriorhood
    You can either browse these on their enormous website or subscribe here.

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    Tuesday, December 30, 2008

    FWBO News featured in

    FWBO News has been selected to feature in the Buddhist section of (

    As the name suggests, Alltop is an “online magazine rack” of popular topics. They hand-pick sites offering exceptional content and aggregate articles into themed sections.

    Their Buddhist section is just one of many: they have categories covering everything from addiction to yoga and auto-racing to zoology.

    In their Buddhist section you'll find (besides us of course) a series of glimpses into the extraordinary diversity of Western Buddhist voices: the joys of Zen Coffee, the Dalai Lama's blog, the Strawberry Koan, beer and Buddhism, Buddhist comments on the Pope's Christmas message, and lots more... The FWBO's Wildmind meditation teaching site is also featured (they're the one's writing abouut Zen Coffee!)


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    Sunday, December 28, 2008

    FWBO Websites VII - Facebook

    The FWBO has a growing presence on Facebook, the social networking site, and for this week’s featured FWBO website we’d like to introduce you to some of what’s on offer there.

    First port of call is the FWBO Page which now boasts some 850 ‘fans’ (not our choice of label!) from around the world. The FWBO page is a one-stop stop to the main FWBO websites, photos, books – plus interactive features such as a ‘ Discussion Board’ and a ‘Wall’ for chat. It’s starting to list some worldwide FWBO events, such as the International Urban Retreat, to be held in June next year.

    Besides the FWBO’s main Page on Facebook, there’s a number of groups, all of which have sprung up pretty spontaneously over the past year. One’s simply called “FWBO Friends of Western Buddhist Order” and is for any kind of general purpose networking among folk interested in the FWBO.

    Others are more specialised – there’s thriving communities based around the Vajraloka Meditation Centre and Padmaloka groups, which both now have over 200 members, plus smaller groups for FWBO Sanghas in Finland, Scotland, and elsewhere

    Buddhafield NZ are taking the Buddhafield spirit to – guess where – New Zealand! It’s a good time to check them out if you’re anywhere nearby, with their summer season just starting. The Buddhafield festival group itself is surprisingly small, at just 90 members, outnumbered by the Buddhafield Scotland group – consisting of people who’d love to see Buddhafield up in Scotland! An example of the power of Facebook to connect people up and get something happening in the ‘real world’.

    In the same vein, Karuna Appeals (FWBO) exists to connect past and future volunteers with Karuna’s fundraising appeals – a great place to start if you’re thinking of a Karuna appeal.

    A recent arrival is the Young People in the FWBO group, started after last month’s weekend on the same theme. They’re debating stuff like “What’s it like to be a young person practising in the FWBO – what’s attractive and what’s off-putting?”; “What’s a YOUNG person - what age limits, if any, should this group or activities for younger Buddhists have?” And “Communities and Team Based Right Livelihoods: Are these attractive to young Buddhists Today?” Answers on a postcard please – or join the group and get typing!

    The FWBO presence on Facebook looks set to grow. But it's also got a presence on other sites around the web - the enthusiast will also find us on MySpace and Orkut – which has become TBMSG’s ‘social networking site of choice. And most recent of all is a Twitter feed – try following

    The internet isn't for everyone, of course - if you're desparate for some real human contact, probably none of the above will 'do it' for you. In that case, just go to the FWBO Centres' Address List on our main site for a full listing of all FWBO Centres worldwide. Then log off, and go get on a bus!

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    Monday, December 08, 2008

    What Buddhists do at Christmas - on the BBC

    Dharmacharinis Munisha and Vajramudita, Vajramudita's family and the FWBO's Manchester Buddhist Centre all appeared on BBC1 TV last Sunday morning (7th December).

    Their short series 'Christmas Voices' is taking a very short look each week at how people of other faiths celebrate Christmas. This week it was the Buddhists' turn.

    Munisha says: "The interviewers asked me what Buddhists think about Jesus. I was sorry they didn't use the bit where I said most Buddhists worldwide have probably never heard of him! But it was very good that they featured Manchester's Chinese Buddhist temple as well as us. After all, minority ethnic groups account for about 60% of UK Buddhists but are very marginalised. (In case you wonder, the Chinese Buddhists were invited to be interviewed but none was willing.)"

    Click here to see the programme on iPlayer.
    Skip ahead to about 18 minutes – and stop when you see Munisha! (Note - this link may stop working after Dec 20th)

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    Saturday, November 29, 2008

    Events in Mumbai: reflections by Vishvapani

    “Compassion requires the courage to face suffering steadily with an open, kindly heart. That brings understanding, and that rouses us to action. The intended product of terrorism, by contrast, is 'terror'. Declaring a 'war' on that terror won't show the way out of cycles of violence and reprisal. We can only find a path beyond terror by facing it directly.”

    To all afflicted by suffering we would add, in the words of Shantideva –

    “May all sentient beings possess happiness
    And the causes of happiness;
    May they be separated from suffering,
    And the causes of suffering;

    May they never be separated
    From the happiness that knows no suffering;
    May they abide in equanimity,
    Free from attachment and aversion”.

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    Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    Sangharakshita inverviewed in Holland

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

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

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

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

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    Sunday, October 12, 2008

    FWBO News anthology now available - July-September 2008

    Every two or three months FWBO News produces an anthology of all recent stories that have appeared on the website. It’s made available in an easily-printable form; this is intended as a way of making the site (and the stories!) more visible to those who don’t find themselves in cyber-space very often.

    The most recent edition has just been prepared and covers the period July-September 2008. You can download it from the Resources section of the FWBO News website, or directly here.

    Meanwhile FWBO News’ readership continues a steady growth; the graph opposite shows its progress from 2006 (when the site was launched) to the present.

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    Friday, September 05, 2008

    New reading lists available from Windhorse Publications

    Windhorse Publications have for many years been the main publisher of FWBO books, at least in English, with some 140 books currently on offer. With so many to choose from, where to start...?

    Happily, they have just released four new reading lists - one each for those seeking an introduction to Buddhism, those wanting to go deeper, those interested in meditation, and those thinking of taking up the FWBO Mitra Study course (which can be found on the new website

    FWBO News hopes to bring you more news of their Autumn publications soon - starting with the new edition of the FWBO Puja Book.

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    Saturday, June 28, 2008

    Two lesser-known FWBO journals…

    FWBO News is pleased to be able to mention two lesser-known journals published by members of the Western Buddhist Order – Urthona and the Western Buddhist Review.

    Urthona ( is the fruit of a small but dedicated band of lovers of the arts; for them, Urthona is “a magazine for rousing the imagination”. It’s been published since 1992 and issue 25 is just out: Celtic Connections.

    They say – “It’s an exploration of the myths of the Celtic world, their enduring appeal and their continued relevance. This issue is for those who are trying to make connections with the pagan roots of our culture, who want to make these wonderful old stories meaningful for their lives, and who want to make links with the pre-christian ways of spirituality which existed in the British Isles before the Roman invasion”.

    Back issues are available here, and a generous selection of online articles cover such subjects as The Five Storied Palace (A journey around the symbolic cosmos in the company of Dante with some notes for twenty-first-century travellers); A Fountain Sealed (Reflecting on the tragic split in Coleridge’s poetic Imagination); and Experiments and Values: Sangharakshita talking about the arts in the twentieth century, his likes among its artists and writers, and his new collection of poetry.

    Urthona is available from FWBO bookshops or by online ordering.

    The Western Buddhist Review
    Very different – but equally a product of the meeting of Buddhism and the West – is the FWBO’s ‘Western Buddhist Review’. The WBR takes a more academic approach, and in the latest issue, Issue 4, you'll find Abhaya reflecting on Letters of Gold: Imagery in the Dhammapada; Was the Buddha Omniscient? by Nagapriya, author of the well-known ‘Karma and Rebirth’ ; and the related article Kamma in Context: The Mahakammavibhangasutta and the Culakammavibhangasutta by Manishini (Alice Collett). Many other topics are covered, not least a thought-provoking inquiry into Suicide as A Response to Suffering and Jnanavira’s Reflections on the Feminine in Japanese Buddhism

    Issue 5 is expected shortly and will be published on the WBR website.

    Other on-line FWBO publications include many past issues of Dharma Life and Madhyamavani – at one time the journal of the Preceptors College.

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