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Saturday, January 09, 2010

Google Alerts lead to three little-known FWBO bloggers

Thanks to Google Alerts, we’re able to bring you a couple of little-known references to the FWBO from across the wide world of the Internet.

The Holistic Knitter, somewhere in Wales, posts photos of her retreat at Taraloka - the teardrop-shaped pond and the beautiful Prajna-Paramita, among many others.  You'll find her (we're guessing it's a her) at

Up in Scotland, the mysterious ‘m0ok’, who lives with "a cat who struggles to take me seriously", writes of his first puja in his blog “Adventures of a Dharma n00b”.

Meanwhile the blogger known only as ‘Fireworks with Sound Effects‘ writes “I lost my center somewhere. I've looked everywhere. In my closet. Under the bed...” - and decided to pick up a written Dharma talk entitled "The Taste Of Freedom" by Sangharakshita. Which seemed to do the trick, at least to help matters.  More at

Thanks to our three contributors.  We’ll bring you more as and when we discover them!

Meanwhile you might like to check FWBO People for over 200 personal sites by people associated with the FWBO.  Just go to

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

FWBO People gets a makeover

FWBO People is a website listing over 200 personal websites of Order Members, Mitras, and Friends up and down the FWBO - and the AOBO, VWBO, BBBD, and TBMSG - as the Movement is known in various countries worldwide.

It was created some three years ago by Jayarava and during 20009 has been managed by Lokabandhu of the FWBO Development Team.

Now, thanks to the technical expertise of Dridhamati, it’s had a makeover, and we’re proud to present the new improved version. There’s more people, fewer screens to scroll through, and - most importantly - a ‘snap’ function that lets you preview each site before clicking on it...

You’ll find it at

If you’re an Order Member, Mitra, or Friend, have a personal website, and would like it to be included, please write to us at It doesn’t have to be a ‘Buddhist’ site - blogs, photo collections, YouTube videos - all are welcome...

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

FWBO People lists 199 practitioners - more welcome!

FWBO People is a ‘portal’ website dedicated to showcasing the talents and interests of some of the thousands of individual people who make the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order a living spiritual community.

Specifically, it lists their personal websites, blogs, photo collections and more. A significant number, especially members of the Western Buddhist Order, have also added personal ‘profiles’, giving short accounts of the spiritual journey that led them to join the Order.

The site has just chalked up its 199th member! That seemed a good opportunity to advertise the site and appeal for more members. All we’d ask is that you consider yourself a member of the FWBO - and you like to share your website with others in the Sangha.

To have your site listed, please email

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Three new websites: Canada, Germany, and Buddhist Artists

There’s a few proud owners of new FWBO websites out there just now, and we’re pleased to feature a couple of them.

Karuna Deutschland have a very beautiful site at with photos and links to the projects they support in India and Nepal.

Amoghamati says “We are proud to present our new website! Thanks to Dietmar Becker, Karuna Germany now has a colourful and modern website with many features, pictures etc. Check it out! It's in German though, they say “ Karuna Deutschland e.V. ist ein gemeinnütziger Verein, dessen Ziel es ist, die Lebenssituation von Menschen zu verbessern, die zu den benachteiligsten und ärmsten Bevölkerungsgruppen gehören”.

Over in Ontario, Canada, Harshaprabha rejoices in their new website which opens with the intriguing words “Welcome to the website of FWBO Ontario. This is a website of potential.”

It was designed for Harshaprabha by his friend Mike Cheal in Ipswich, and includes a couple of videos of Harshaprabha, one outlining his vision for what could happen in Canada, and one explaining the meaning of the name ‘Harshaprabha’.

Third is not strictly an FWBO website - it’s the new Dharma Arts Network site, which came out of the recent ‘Buddha Mind Creative Mind’ conference at Taplow Court, UK. It aims to to all Buddhist Artists You’ll find it on the NING network at

 Lokabandhu, who co-founded the site along with Guy Malkerson from the Network of Engaged Buddhists, says "All Buddhist artists (or their agents!) are invited to join and contribute profiles, music, videos, etc. There’s 25 members so far and counting, including around 9 from the F/WBO".

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

FWBO gains 1,000 fans on Facebook

The FWBO page on Facebook  has recently gained its 1000th 'fan'. The page was created late last year to give the FWBO a presence on Facebook - since then it's multiplied!

There are now FWBO groups acting as contact points for the FWBO in Denmark, Finland, Karuna, Vajraloka, Padmaloka, Buddhafield, New Zealand, Scotland, San Francisco, and even India - and probably quite a few more we haven't found yet. There's a special group for young FWBOers which now has nearly 150 members (147 to be precise!).  To access any of these you'll need to join Facebook if you haven't already - then simply click the links above. 

It's also proving a rich medium for interaction between individuals - friends old and new - in the FWBO Sangha around the world. This looks set to expand yet further when the FWBO's International Urban Retreat comes around in June, when a special version of the retreat will be offered via Facebook.

Anyone wanting to participate in the Facebook version of the retreat is invited to visit the Facebook page, become a 'fan' (sorry about the terminology - not our choice of word!) and click through to the International Urban Retreat event.

From there, just follow the links… The retreat will run from June 20-27th and we'll be posting more information soon.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Urban Retreat piloted on Facebook

June sees the first-ever International FWBO Urban Retreat, in which some 40 FWBO and TBMSG Centres around the world will be taking part. It's open to all, and all readers of FWBO News are warmly invited to take part.

The retreat has a special website, at , on which there's links to the participating FWBO Centres and where you can find basic information on what an Urban Retreat is. We are expecting well over 1,000 people world-wide to participate.

If you don't live near a Centre, that's not a problem, as there is also an on-line version of the retreat. This will start from the FWBO's page on Facebook  and lead participants through a series of day 'Events', each containing a full programme of Dharma and meditation material. Already over 150 people have signed up.

If you're interested in the on-line version, click the link above (you may need to log in to Facebook), go to the FWBO page, become a 'Fan', and look for the Events in the left-hand column… You'll see an 'Urban Retreat' event, and if you register as attending it we'll keep you fully-informed as it unfolds.

This will be the first time we've held a 'virtual retreat' and this week a group of 10 volunteers have been piloting it: in fact the pilot retreat ends today - it's gone very well and a lot has been learned about how to make it 'flow'.

To wet your appetite, here's a retreatants diary from an Urban Retreat held at the LBC in London earlier this year, held to mark their 30th anniversary -

Notes on the LBC Urban Retreat

"I thought Sunday would be the highlight with Sangharakshita being interviewed & unveiling the triptych but I was wrong, everyday was a highlight in its own way, each as special as the last.

"Sunday morning we set our intentions for the retreat. After sharing a picnic lunch in the new Breathworks space in the LBC's basement, we head upstairs for Sangharakshita's interview, he talks about the early days - fascinating! We then troop back down for the grand unveiling of the 12ft triptych. It is breathtaking.

"Monday morning my flatmate leaves for the daily morning meditation at the LBC while I head off to work chanting a manta as I go. This is to be our routine for the week. Monday evening Parami gives a rousing talk during which I feel rather envious of the people who helped make this all happen back in 1978 - it seems a very passionate and idealistic time.

"Tuesday night Subhadramati gives a moving account of what it means to go for refuge, five order members speak about the point in their lives at which they realised that their going for refuge had been effective. I love the talks on retreats and hearing of peoples own personal experiences - I come away with something from every speaker, feeling very inspired.

"Wednesday night the 'circle of friendship' talks are kick started by Maitreyabandhu giving a very funny account of the difficult start to his friendship with J---. My friend A---- and I have been thinking about starting a new community and the talks of friendship and community life confirm that this is definitely something we want to pursue. A---- and I both give a talk, I feel nervous but enjoy the experience of sharing the joys of our friendship with everybody in the room. I love her talk which is funny and all about me.

"On Thursday the theme is team based right livelihood, Maria who has taken over the management of the Wild Cherry symbolically lights a candle from Padmasri, who has just told us about the early days of the Cherry and Priyadaka lights a candle from Ratnaguna's candle I have a mental image of Ratnaguna driving around in a van with the side door open selling his wares out of open-topped sacks at markets - I sincerely hope the two businesses survive these tough times. The evening ends on a positive note with Claire handing over a donation from Evolution's profits to the LBC. The full moon puja follows.

"On Friday evening Atula calls up the forces of darkness and later that night there is a fire in the doorway which is to be used as the new entrance - coincidence?

"On Saturday we spent the day reflecting on the retreat and the commitments we made at the start of the week. What an incredible experience this week has been. A huge big Sadhu to Subhadramati and Maitreyabandhu for leading it."

The International FWBO Urban Retreat will run from June 20-27th. If you want to take part, please contact your local FWBO Centre via the retreat website, or register for the on-line version via the FWBO's Facebook page.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wildmind hits a million!

Wildmind logo
Bodhipaksa, founder of the FWBO’s Wildmind meditation teaching website, reports on Twitter –

My meditation site, had over a million page views last month! Looks like April will be about the same”.

FWBO News says, Sadhu Wildmind!

They’ve been branching out, and now have an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, and, most recently, YouTube

Of YouTube, Bodhipaksa says “Wildmind has started putting mantras and guided meditations on YouTube as part of an effort to reach more people with what we're doing, and maybe you could do a story about that on FWBO News as well. There's not much up there yet, but we'll be continuing to add more video over the next few weeks”. 

The YouTube page provides a tantalising glimpse of the more personal tastes of the good folk at Wildmind – of their 19 favourites no less than 17 are ‘Peter, Paul, and Mary’ songs…

Their latest Newsletter has also just been released, on the theme of “Celebrating impermanence”.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Vajraloka launches new on-line newsletter

vajraloka buddhaVajraloka Retreat Centre in Wales is the FWBO’s oldest meditation retreat center, founded in 1979.

They’ve launched a new e-newsletter, which is full of colourful photos, news items, short articles and some poetry. You can sign up to receive a copy by visiting their website at and entering your email address - for a taster, check the first edition, already on the web at Amongst other things, it contains an update on Vajraloka’s finances, details of a future retreat, a poem from Claire, which was written on her retreat at Vajraloka last summer, and exotic tales from ex-team member Kieran - now teaching yoga in Africa!

Balajit, their resident webmaster/photographer/journalist, writes “Its hoped that the e-newsletter will develop organically over time, and capture different aspects of life at the retreat centre, with offerings from the resident community and people who visit”.

The first issue also launches a Shrineroom appeal. If you would like to contribute, please visit their new and rather minimal fund-raising page at .

Vajraloka from the fields below
Balajit spells out why -‘With some spilled contents, frayed edges and fading colours, one by one, our shrineroom gear is falling prey to impermanence! We would like to buy a whole new set of mats, blankets, and cushions. Into the bargain, if possible, we would also like some new shrinecloths and tibetan style puja instruments, to add more colour to our evening rituals. To use the much proclaimed fund raising mantra – ‘every little bit helps!’'

There’s more about Vajraloka on the web – check their photograph albums on Flickr, at; their main website at . A supplementary Newsletter at contains (among other things) reminiscences on the early days of Vajraloka by Vajradaka and Kamalashila. Last but not least there's their Facebook group.

Vajraloka has played a crucial part in the FWBO's ongoing exploration of meditation and Sangharakshita's teaching; you'll find selections of the articles and talks they've produced over the years on Tejananda's (Vajraloka's chairman) personal website at Plus there's a wealth of talks by him and others on FreeBuddhishAudio, of course!


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Saturday, April 11, 2009

FWBO People: Dhivan the poet

Picking up FWBO News’ occasional Saturday series on ‘FWBO People’, today we feature Dhivan, aka Thomas Jones. Dhivan’s an Order Member, a poet, an author and critic, a lover of the Pali Canon, and a bird-watcher. He lives in Cambridge UK, and has recently updated his website,, where he says -

“What’s writing really about? It’s about trying to take fuller possession of the reality of your life” – Ted Hughes

“For some time I've wanted a way to make a good selection of my writing and other productions easily available, for the sake of sharing, and the web is a great way to make this possible.

“I've arranged some of my work in different categories, which you can explore using the links on the right. New to the site is my review of the best Pali Canon anthologies (published in the Western Buddhist Review 5), a talk on 'The Myth of Tristan and Iseult', and information about my first novel 'Green Eros'.

“So please sample, enjoy, and let me know what you think. Here's a sample poem:”

Situation Report
for Padmakara

The path leads to a vast plain, and then ends,
petering into the expanse of grass.
We are lonely as stars out here. Sometimes
I remember the road through the forest,
its smells and colours and the beating drums,
but I don’t wish for that kind of travel,
with its prophecies and wonders.

You’ll also find Dhivan on FWBO People, where he’s posted a short biography.

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Monday, February 02, 2009

FWBO International Urban Retreat: plans take shape

Plans are taking shape for a major new FWBO event: the Movement's first ‘International Urban Retreat’.

Vajragupta, who works for the FWBO’s Development Team, says -

“This year we are running the first ever FWBO International Urban Retreat. All over the world, local FWBO Centres will run ‘urban retreats’, all during the same week in June.

"On an ‘urban retreat’ you carry on living and working in your normal circumstances, but with a difference...

"The week starts with a day retreat at your local FWBO Centre – this will be on Saturday 20th June. During that day you'll be helped and encouraged to set up the conditions to take your practice deeper. To support you during the week, there will be talks, led meditations, and other resources available, both locally and on-line.

"The urban retreat ends with another day event at your Centre on 27th June – this will include the opportunity to reflect on how it went, and where you want to take your practice next…

It’s simple enough but the benefits are many –

* you can gain confidence in your practice... the urban retreat shows you how you can create positive states of mind in the midst of everyday life.

* you can go deeper... link-up with other people at your Centre and help each other to practice more intensively for a week.

* you can be inspired... you'll be part of an international event, practising with people from FWBO Centres all over the world.

"For those who can't attend an urban retreat at a FWBO Centre, there is the chance to do the retreat on-line - for details check the website (coming soon) or via the FWBO Page on Facebook.

"As part of the retreat we’ll be collaborating with various FWBO projects – Wildmind, Free Buddhist Audio, Videosangha, and hopefully Breathworks. Watch this space - we’ll be posting more details over the coming weeks".

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Introducing the Buddhist Recovery Network

This week’s featured website is

Created by the Buddhist Recovery Network, it exists to “support the use of Buddhist teachings, traditions and practices to help people recover from the suffering caused by addictive behaviors".

It’s not an exclusively FWBO site or project; we chose it because of its intrinsic interest and because a number of FWBO members and Order Members have been involved with it since its founding. In particular Lokapala (from New Zealand), Kuladitya (from the UK), and Guy Holden (from Australia) serve on its Advisory Council and Amara (from the US) and Dridhamati (UK) serve as its accountant and webmaster respectively.

The Buddhist Recovery Network describes itself, in its Mission Statement, as “Open to people of all backgrounds, and respectful of all recovery paths”, while being firmly grounded in Buddhist principles and practices.

As they themselves say “the organization promotes mindfulness and meditation, and is grounded in Buddhist principles of non-harming, compassion and interdependence.” And – as should be obvious – it’s international.

In fact, over the past year or so its taken off, with there new website playing a central role in their ability to provide resources for all those able to make use of them. There’s a substantial download library, including guidelines for setting up and facilitating recovery groups. Besides this, and outside of cyber-space, they seek to “serve an international audience through teaching, training, treatment, research, publication, advocacy and community-building initiatives.”

May their work be of benefit to beings…

To quote the great Buddhist poet Shantideva –

“As long as the existence of space
And as long as the existence of the world,
That long may my life
Be devoted to the world's sorrows.

“Only medicine for this suffering world,
May the teaching of the Buddha,
With all honour and glory,
Endure till the end of time.

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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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Sunday, December 21, 2008

FWBO Websites VI: Red Noses Unlimited

FWBO News' editor-in-chief, with a very red nose!Red Noses Unlimited ( is this week’s featured FWBO website.

Created and run by Jayacitta, an Order Member living in East London, it invites one and all to enter the world of the clown. And there is, perhaps, more to clowns and clowning than meets the eye. As she says -

“A Clown is a being that steps into the world afresh. He or she is open to new experiences, meeting things, people, events with wonder, curiosity and a sense of pleasure. Quite different from our pragmatic and often routine way of being, a clown is forever discovering the new. She enjoys being just herself however she is - so being shy, awkward, grumpy, afraid, bossy, falling in love or falling over - all those have a place and can be experienced, seen and celebrated."

More seriously (if one can use the word in such a context!), Red Noses offer professional training in team-work, communication skills, leadership, public presentation, listening & engagement. Jayacitta’s a regular trainer on street-fundraising appeals for the Karuna Trust – she’s found clown training helps people working or living together to meet in deeper understanding and with more empathy for each other, therefore to create a deeper trust and a stronger sense of community and co-operation between them.

Red Noses have also appeared in Scotland – FWBO News reported in September on what was probably the first ever ‘Clowning and Insight’ retreat, held at the FWBO’s Dhanakosa retreat centre.

Red Noses Unlimited emerged after Jayacitta trained in physical theatre at KIKLOS SCUOLA INTERNAZIONALE DI CREAZIONE TEATRALE in Padova, Italy. And according to Giovanni Fusetti, director and main teacher at KIKLOS, part of the training – in fact the final point and highest art – is the development of one’s own Clown, the “poetic transposition of the unique silliness of the actor".

Discover and enjoy…!

Red Noses is (we think) another facet of the multi-facetted spiritual community that makes up the Western Buddhist Order.

To see most (not quite all) the Order at a glance, try the Order Mosaic.

Next week’s website – the FWBO on Facebook..

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

FWBO Websites V: Buddhist Pictures

This week’s featured website on FWBO News is Buddhist Pictures, It’s the showcase for artwork created by Visuddhimati, Chairwoman of the FWBO’s North London Buddhist Centre.

The site includes several collections of beautiful and evocative female Buddhist figures – Tara, the ‘ Prajnas’ (the consorts of the Five-Buddha Mandala); Mamaki; Dakinis; and Prajnaparamita.

There’s finished work and work-in-progress - which Visuddhimati calls ‘Buddha Jottings’. Among these is the enigmatic African Tara, drawn in 1999, of which she writes “the idea for an African Tara hinted at in the above sketch has yet to work its way into a more developed painting...”

Alongside Visuddhimati’s Buddhist images there’s more personal work – the ‘Bestiary’ and ‘Handmade Books’. Of these she writes “To fully appreciate these works the viewer needs to hold them and carefully turn the pages of the exquisite papers. What lies within is gradually revealed. That may include carefully constructed sculptural elements. The time it takes to discover the contents is part of the experience of the work, as is touching and enjoying the texture of each page. There is an inherent contradiction in engaging with this work in glimpsing it on your computer screen!”

Finally, there’s links to a Commissions page and places to buy or download her work – ClearVision have a special page for this at

Next week will feature Red Noses Unlimited – Jayacitta’s exploration of the world of the clown – a being who "steps into the world afresh"…

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

FWBO Websites III: Buddhist Images

Some of Dhiramati's stock displayed on a recent Western Buddhist Order Convention - Vajrasattva to the foreNo 3 in our weekly series showcasing websites created by members of the Western Buddhist Order features Buddhist Images.

Buddhist Images is an on-line shop run by Dhiramati, an Order Member from Manchester UK – but a regular traveller to Nepal where he buys his fine quality Buddhist statues (rupas), Buddhist paintings (thangkas) and Buddhist ritual items of all sorts.

Dhiramati takes particular pride in his relationships with the local craftspeople and their families - most of whom run fairly small scale family operations that have been handed down generation to generation.

On the website (besides the shopping opportunity it affords!) there’s a video showing how the thangka paintings are made; and step-by-step guides to the making of the metal or wooden statues (rupas) – the raw copper being poured into clay moulds, and then worked on until the figure is finally painted carefully by hand; the wood slowly moving through stages from tree trunk to Buddha….

Due to the close relationship with the artisans themselves, Dhiramati is able to say “If you don't see what you are looking for please contact us and we can advise - we have many happy customers who have used us to source something special or have something made to order.”

Buddhist Images: a great resource for all Buddhists.

The photograph shows some of Dhiramati’s stock on display at an Order Convention.

Next week we’ll feature Sagaravajra and his Buddhist Sanctuary site, a virtual guide to his real-life “woodland sanctuary to the goddess Prajnaparamita”.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

FWBO Websites II: Visible Mantra

Welcome to Part II of our series showcasing websites created by members of the FWBO or Western Buddhist Order. Please email us if you would like to suggest a site for inclusion.

Visible Mantra is a remarkable resource created by Jayarava, an Order Member based in Cambridge, UK. Starting with the shapes of simple seed syllables, or bijas, it progresses to beautifully-calligraphed representations of over 40 of the best-known Buddhist mantras and chants - Avalokitesvara, Tara, Prajnaparamita, as well as lesser-known ones such as the Five Female Buddhas Ākāśadhātvīśvarī, Locanā, Māmakī, Paṇḍāravāsinī, and Tārā.

Jayarava has been interested in mantras for many years, and says of them, “We often ask what does a mantra mean, but a better question is what does it do? A Buddhist mantra evokes and invokes qualities of the Awakened Mind. Mantras bring us into relationship with Enlightenment, and are a vehicle by which our consciousness can awaken to the way things really are. They are rooted in age-old traditions emphasising the interconnectedness of all things. For Buddhists a mantra may also be an expression of devotion towards, or faith in, the Three Jewels.

“As writing encapsulates sounds, so a written mantra captures something of the symbolism of the mantric sound. Visible Mantra presents calligraphy of the seed syllables or bījas and mantras used in the most common Buddhist visualisation and devotional practices performed in the Western Buddhist Order. Additional mantras from the Shingon School and Tibetan lineages are included. The main script used on Visible Mantra is Siddhaṃ, but it also features Tibetan, and Lantsa/Ranjana examples”.

Besides the mantra's and seed-syllables, there’s sections on pronunciation, instructions for writing many of the syllables, and a number of thoughtful essays on one or another aspect of mantra. A wide range of more experimental work can be seen on Jayarava's associated Flickr site, and finally, through a clever piece of internet wizardry, there’s the not-to-be-missed Visible Mantra "Shirt City" shop, which allows you to design a range of clothing and gifts, such as cups and mouse-mats, with a selection of original Visible Mantra designs.


Next week we’ll feature the Buddhist Images website – Order Member Dhiramati’s very beautiful and comprehensive online shop for Buddhist images, thankhas; and all associated items.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

FWBO websites 1: Gratitude Unlimited

This is the first of a a series of occasional articles which will be looking at websites - many less well-known than they should be - created by members of the Western Buddhist Order or FWBO. All have come out of that person's practice, or out of some aspect of their connecton to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha -

Gratitude Unlimited was created some five years ago by David Waterston (a mitra from the FWBO’s London Buddhist Centre) and Lokabandhu, with Dridhamati as their technical wizard. David had the idea after creating a ‘Gratitude Book’ for his father’s retirement. – it was a lot of work and he thought – why not do it on the internet? The story as he himself tells it goes like this -

"The Short Story of GU

"In 2003, Lokabandhu and I were traveling with a little band of brothers called 'buddhafield/Q' around Britain's festival circuit getting up to all sorts of antics (mostly teaching meditation - but all that is another Story).

"At that time I was collating a present for my father. He was retiring as a headmaster and I thought I would contact as many of his old pupils as possible using FriendsReunited and ask them to contribute to an album of gratitude and recollections and photos. I got an unexpectedly good response - about 50 or so. What struck me was that people clearly enjoyed writing and recollecting and having the opportunity to express their thanks. Naturally my father enjoyed reading the album as well.

"I had the idea that it might be possible to devise a website which give people the opportunity to express their gratitude. Almost everyone has someone they would like to thank. What is missing is not the desire to thank, but the means, the opportunity, or they don’t know where the person lives, or maybe they need some encouragement. All of these obstacles can be overcome by an online facility.

"Lokabandhu and I chatted the idea through as we toured around the stone circles of Devon and Cornwall and came up somehow with the idea of Gratitude Unlimited. The concept was to provide a facility which had the potential for creating online the sort of 'album' that I painstakingly glued together for my father..."

And so Gratitude Unlimited was born. Of course it also hopes to celebrate Gratitude in general – one of the great Buddhist virtues. Sangharakshita has spoken about gratitude in his talk “Looking at the Bodhi Tree”: he links gratitude to the Pali word ‘Katannuta’, which translates as ‘Knowledge of benefits received’.

The site itself is divided into categories, including Authors, Colleagues, Friends, Good Samaritans, Heroes, In Memoriam, Parents, Partners, Siblings, Spiritual teachers, Teachers – and of course the ever-present ‘other’. Which, FWBO News couldn’t help noticing, includes expressions of gratitude to “A Taxi Driver” and “Mother Earth”!

David ends by saying - “In particular you might like to use this site to thank someone with whom you are no longer in contact or whom you never knew personally. Who knows, one day they may come across this site and find your expression of gratitude”.

Enjoy! The site is of course open for new expressions of gratitude.

And by the way, it also comes in a French version...

Next Sunday we’ll feature ‘Visible Mantra’, a rich and wonderful resource for visualising and calligraphy of Buddhist mantras and seed syllables.