Today we are reporting on the publication of a new set of writings by Sangharakshita, the founder of the Triratna Buddhist Community.
Just before Sangharakshita’s 90th birthday in August 2016, his friend Paramartha, was called away to the other side of the world where his mother was seriously ill. As it turned out he stayed away for nearly six months.
It was this rather unfavourable set of circumstances that was, apparently, the galvanising force that led to a resurgence in Sangharakshita’s creative or literary output. It began with a Letter to Paramartha which took the form of a Reverie or Reminiscence and was followed by eleven further pieces, all dictated over the course of many evenings and taken down by Suvajra, one of Sangharakshita’s team at the Urgyen Annexe at Adhisthana. When the twelve pieces were complete they were gathered together under the name, Adhisthana Writings and are published on Sangharakshita’s web-site.
Kalyanaprabha, one of Sangharakshita’s literary editors, writes:
“Vidyadevi and I did not imagine there would be further works to add to the list of Bhante Sangharakshita’s Complete Works which we compiled a couple of years ago - but we were mistaken! In the Adhisthana Writings we have a fascinating collection of pieces from his pen. They begin with Bhante’s account of his 90th birthday celebrations, and go on to include what is really a miscellany of writings whose subject matter is both broad and deep and which move easily between many worlds, between the spiritual and the mundane, the visible and the invisible.
There are, for instance, recollections of his father and mother, and other family members, and of a diverse selection of friends from Bombay in the 1950s to hippy friends of the 1960s to Dharmachari Alaya in the earlier days of the FWBO. Intriguing indeed are the stories of his ‘Encounters on the Underground’ and ‘On the Edge of the Etheric’ which include a very mysterious encounter with an asura.
Elsewhere Sangharakshita reflects on his own life: his life with Terry Delamare, the close friend whose tragic death is recounted in Moving Against the Stream. He wonders ‘What Might Have Been’ had he not been drafted into the army and not ended up in India. (Included here are reflections on the effect of growing up knowing oneself to be gay in a society where homosexuality is a criminal offence.) Colin Wilson’s The Outsider stimulates a string of musings on that theme in relation to his own life; and the study of the Mahayana Sutras give rise to some very different reflections.”
As well as finding the Adhisthana Writings on Sanghararkshita’s website, you can find them in several different file formats below.
In June we also announced the release of a set of Poetry Interviews between Sangharakshita and Saddhanandi.
|Adhisthana Writings - PDF||224.23 KB|
|Adhisthana Writings - standard eReaders and apps e.g. iBooks||81.01 KB|
|Adhisthana Writings - Amazon Kindle||144.72 KB|
|Adhisthana Writings - Amazon Kindle app on other devices||148.69 KB|
For the next week, the extraordinary, redeveloped Vajrasana Retreat Centre in Suffolk plays host to Triratna’s European Chairs’ Assembly. Sixty leaders of European Buddhist centres and enterprises, including retreat centres, are gathered here, with guests from further afield (and a family of ducks), for meditation, ritual, discussion and business, all in the context of spiritual friendship.
See more pictures and f ollow the meeting over on the ECA’s own space.
The ECA is a very long established and well run body of Triratna leaders who meet for 7-10 days twice a year to discuss matters of shared interest and make sure they are in harmony and pursuing common aims. They employ a Development Team to support them with services they all need, such as Safeguarding policy and advice, fundraising and project management.
This June saw another successful Buddhist Action Month (BAM) unfold. We take a look at what it was all about and how the Triratna Buddhist Community around the world took part.
So what is BAM?
“At the heart of Triratna is the Bodhisattva Ideal – the aspiration and heartfelt wish to benefit others and the commitment to act in ways that help all beings to thrive. Buddhist Action Month is an opportunity to reach out and engage with friends or local communities in ways that we may not be able to do for the most part during the year. ‘BAM’ is an invitation for one month to take part and get involved in actions that express our care and concern for our planet and our environment – for all living beings that exist on it – in a practical way.”
Buddhist Action Month is a project initiated by the Network of Buddhist Organisations UK in 2012.
Over on the dedicated BAM 2017 space for the Triratna Buddhist Community we saw an abundance of posts from across the globe.
Here are just a few examples of what groups and Centres got up to:
- climate change workshop (Dublin, Ireland)
- jumble sale to raise money for a local charity supporting the city’s refugees and asylum seekers (Bristol, UK)
- writing letters for Amnesty International (Taraloka, UK)
- participating in National Gun Violence Awareness Days (Aryaloka, New Hampshire, USA)
- geurilla gardening (North London Buddhist Centre, UK)
- helping at an animal rescue centre (Cuernavaca, Mexico)
- art project called ‘Turning Hatred into Compassion’ (Manchester, UK)
- beach clean-up and phasing out individually wrapped tea bags (Wellington, Australia)
- litter picking and flash meditation (Cardiff, UK)
- recycling Tetra Paks (Adhisthana, UK)
Sarah Thorne from Bristol, UK, wrote: “It’s been an inspiring and heart opening time filled with the energy of reaching out into the vast jewelled web of interconnection and feeling the power and potential of our practice and aspirations for a better world.”
Triratna Buddhists also contributed to the Facebook page created for the broader initiative, where it was wonderful to see posts from other Sanghas such as Soka Gakkai International- UK, Amida Trust and the Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement (DANCE), initiated by Gaia House.
For example, Carl Hodson and Loretta Lee, from Leicestershire, UK are part of Soka Gakkai International (SGI- UK). They wrote :
” With the help of the Local Area Co-ordinator we identified a lady with extra needs. The lady is in her 80s and is partially blind. Her garden, front and back, was very over grown with weeds, to about four to five feet or more. Due to her disability, she is not able to maintain it. So five of us went to help tidy up the garden. We were joined by two other ladies who are regulars at the local community centre in Barwell. It was hard work, but fun. We built fellowship among us, members, and friendship with our newfound friends.”
Visit the BAM 2017 space on The Buddhist Centre Online for more inspiration, but not before you have taken a look through our slideshow of photos - capturing just a tiny amount of the amazing events that happened.
Would you like to live in a London community for men that’s relaxed and easy going, but serious about practice, centred on friendship and mutual support?
Uddiyana Community in Leytonstone, London, is looking for a new person to join them from 1 October.
Here’s what the community have to say:
“We’re a men’s community of five - currently one order member (Vajradaka) and four mitras training for ordination. There’s a lot of laughter, great conversation and sharing of creative interests, some top notch cuisine, and we host a great party. We’re an open community, so partners are welcome to stay over sometimes. And underpinning all of it is a serious commitment to Dharma practice. There’s meditation and breakfast together every morning, and a couple of day/weekend community retreats a year. When things get tough, we make sure we’re there for each other. Weekly community night is a mainstay.
We live in a spacious house, which we make an effort to take care of, with a lovely garden full of roses and fruit trees, about 10 minutes from Leytonstone Tube and from Leyton Midland Road Overground (25 mins to the LBC). The green open space of the Hollow Ponds area of Epping forest is also about 10 minutes away. More information on our blogsite: https://uddiyanacommunity.wordpress.com/
Rent is £434 per month including all bills and we have a food kitty of 25 pounds a week that pays for all communal groceries.
We are looking for someone who actively wants to live in a community, and has a regular meditation practice. Other than that, we’re open to anyone from the Triratna sangha, regardless of your age or level of experience.
If you are interested, do get in touch with a short email about yourself and why you would like to join to uddiyana.community [at] gmail.com”
New View Residential is looking for a new team member to join a dynamic and professional Team-Based Right Livelihood in Cambridge.
Team-based Right Livelihood’s offer fantastic opportunities to deepen our practice with other Buddhists, integrate our values into our every day lives more fully, and contribute our energy and skills to projects that have a positive impact on the world.
New View Residential is one such organisation, and is now advertising a new position for a man or woman to join it.
Watch this great short video to get a sense of the atmosphere and ethos of the team.
“We are looking for applicants who are keen to share in the broad development of the business with particular interest in property management.
New View Residential is an ethical letting and property management business owned by the Windhorse Trust. It offers a vital service in helping to provide accommodation on an ethical basis and plays a key role in the activity of the Windhorse Trust. The Windhorse Trust in turn provides significant financial support for projects across Triratna. We are also part of the Cambridge Triratna Buddhist Mandala.
Our team currently consists of four Order Members (Kulapriya, Prasannavira, Keturaja and Samamati), all with very extensive experience of Team-Based Right Livelihood (TBRL) within Triratna. The business is a social enterprise giving half its surplus to Triratna and the other half to charitable projects designated by our landlord-clients. As well as offering valuable Right-Livelihood opportunities to practice within the workplace and participate in kalyana mitrata, the business also aims to support the accumulation and dissemination of knowledge and experience in the field of property management for the benefit of the whole of Triratna.”
We are delighted to announce that the following women received their public ordination at Adhisthana yesterday afternoon, Sunday 2nd July 2017.
Public preceptor: Parami
Bec Remigio becomes Amaladipa
(long ‘i’, long final ‘a’)
Westernised spelling: Amaladipa
Sanskrit name meaning ’She who is a light or lamp of purity’
Private preceptor: Mokshini
Emma Bulley becomes Abhayamāla
(long penultimate and final ‘a’)
Westernised spelling: Abhayamala
Sanskrit or Pali name meaning ’She who has a garland of fearlessness’
Private preceptor: Samacitta
Pat Roberts becomes Bodhinita
(long second ‘i’, long ‘a’)
Westernised spelling: Bodhinita
Sanskrit name meaning ’She who is led by awakening’
Private preceptor: Kalyanaprabha
Public preceptor Sanghadevi
Sabine Deiringer becomes Sarvatajnana
(long third, fourth and fifth ‘a’s, and tilde above the first ‘n’)
Westernised spelling: Sarvatajnana
Sanskrit name meaning ‘She who has supreme awareness of totality’
Private preceptor: Padmajata
Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!
This heartwarming Newsbyte video from Clear Vision trust documents a day held at Croydon Buddhist Centre, UK, to dedicate its beautiful shrine room.
On Saturday 13th May, I joined Sanghadhara (Clear Vision) to cover the event. We were both struck by the sheer number of well-wishers there and the evident friendship they had with each other. Some had travelled from afar and others who could not make it had sent in messages of encouragement. Some were no longer based at the Centre, having been part of the Sangha years ago, but had returned for the occasion.
This video captures the positive atmosphere on the day and the energy and momentum at the Centre more generally. It also shows the exquisite new rupa that I could have stared at for days. Do visit if you are near London - they also have a fantastic charity shop called Hidden Gems next door.
Listen to the lively talk, A Sangha doesn’t happen in space, that Nagabodhi gave on the day:
“Nagabodhi shares memories of being in Croydon during the 1970’s. He describes the beautiful symmetry of the fact that he opened the first shrine room in the Croydon Centre and is now here to open the newly rebuilt shrine room in 2017. Nagabodhi considers the many eras of Croydon’s history and shares the idea that a new shrine room is the seed of incalculable journeys for the future.”
It’s 50 years since San Francisco’s ‘Summer of Love’, and with Buddhist Action Month in full swing across many countries, it’s a great moment to celebrate American Order member Vimalamoksha and his Tiny Homes Project, making innovative small wooden mobile homes for those living on the streets of San Francisco. Video by Prasadachitta.
Read more about the Tiny Homes Project.
Watch another video about the Tiny Homes Project.
emblems766 [at] hotmail.com (Email Vimalamoksha.)
Visit Vimalamoksha’s website.
Support Vimalamoksha with money.
See what what Triratna people all over the world are doing for BAM.
Triratna Buddhist Centres from across Europe, Adhisthana and Buddhafield are joining forces for the fifth Triratna International Gathering Thursday 24th August to Monday 28th August 2017 at Adhisthana, UK. The title of the event is ‘Our Future Dharma: What the World Needs Now’.
The International Gathering is a very special opportunity to experience a large outdoor gathering of people from all over the Triratna world, mostly (but not all) camping, in beautiful countryside. Come and get an inspiring, deep and moving sense of the wider Triratna sangha.
Come and join us! Book now.
Over 50 years Triratna has developed into an international spiritual community with a distinctive vision and a wealth of experience of Dharma practice. At a time when there seems to be increasing uncertainty, upheaval, polarisation, intolerance and conflict in the world the International Gathering will explore what we have to offer the world in the next 50 years.
To get a sense of this type of event, check out the pictures and recordings from the International Retreat 2014.
Talks by Prajnaketu (European Young Buddhist Co-ordinator), Dhammamegha (secretary to the International Council) and Arthakusalin (Chair of Ghent Buddhist Centre, Belgium) will explore the Three Jewels as our gifts to give the world.
The evenings will see us gather for spontaneous entertainments around the camp fire.
Every afternoon there will be workshops exploring the transformative message of the Dharma and what we personally have to offer - mindfulness and meditation, art, ‘engaged’ Buddhism, and Dharma study groups, yoga and much more.
Follow updates to the programme.
We will also hear about FutureDharma Fund, Triratna’s new and ambitious fundraising project helping Triratna offer even more to the world.
The world needs what you’ve been given. Pass it on.
Clear Vision’s latest NewsByte video reports on some of the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the founding of Triratna (as the FWBO) on 8th April 1967.
We visit the joint northern English centres’ celebration at Sheffield Buddhist Centre, the events at Adhisthana and Dhanakosa (UK) and the mainland European celebrations held at Essen (Germany). We hear about the culture and zeitgeist of Britain in the late 1960s, in which the FWBO and WBO were created. And we hear from Ratnaguna about Pete Townshend’s Meher Baba practice…
Jnanacandra is Chair of Triratna’s Essen Buddhist Centre, in Germany. She writes about their recent Jugendfeier – a rite of passage for adolescents – held on 5th June for four teenage boys. Open the pictures fully to see the very evident love and appreciation of the boys and their parents!
“This beautifully designed ceremony ritually marked the end of the boys’ childhood and their embarking on the path toward adulthood. About 60 people were present, mostly from the boys’ families, and also friends from our sangha. The ritual, wonderfully led by Shraddhaghosha and accompanied with musical offerings from some of the boys’ siblings, first invited memories from the past, honouring the precious bond between parent and children. This was enacted by parents and teenagers bowing to each other and exchanging a symbolic gift that expressed what they valued in each other.
After this, the parents cut a lock of hair from their child which they later dropped into a river – symbolising the importance of a gradual letting-go of your child in adolescence, creating the space that allows them more and more to take their own steps and decisions.
In the last stage of the ceremony, each boy was thoroughly rejoiced in and reminded of his many precious qualities that will help him find his way into adulthood well. The ritual ended with the singing of the blessings and a loud and heartfelt threefold “sadhu”!
This was the fifth such ceremony in Essen and many enthusiastic guests commented that they were keen to have this ritual for their children too, when they reached 14.”
Visit Essen Buddhist Centre’s website.
Young Buddhists at Essen Buddhist Centre.
Padmadaka is director of Triratna’s Karuna Trust. He writes to let us know about ’Untouchable’, a new play about the life of Dr Ambedkar (including an appearance by a certain ‘Private Lingwood’) to be performed for the first time, in London, at the RADA festival, 30th June-8th July. More details here.
“ ‘Untouchable’ is directed by Kathryn Hunter, a theatre and film actor, and longstanding supporter of the Karuna Trust’s work with the poorest people in India and Nepal. Together with her Assistant Director, they came to our offices where we discussed various aspects of Ambedkar’s significance in the fight against caste discrimination as well as Karuna’s work in India and Nepal.
The play will chronicle some of the key stages in Ambedkar’s life. ‘At school, he wasn’t allowed to sit on a chair. He had to sit on the ground on a sack. He couldn’t drink water out of the jug provided for the others, but had to wait till it was poured for him into his special cup.’ It will also cover the period when he became independent India’s first Law Minister and the chair of the committee which wrote its constitution. It also explores his conversion, and that of millions of his followers, to Buddhism.
One of the most tricky questions it tackles concerns Ambedkar’s relationship with Gandhi and how his vision was starkly opposed to Gandhi’s. This play shows their separate colliding paths and Gandhi’s ‘fast to the death’ against Ambedkar’s policy.
The play will run 30th June - 8th July. Although not a full-budget production, it may develop into a bigger production, depending on the success of the festival. Do go and see it!
Kathryn came across Dr Ambedkar about 12 years ago when she picked up a copy of Ambedkar and Buddhism by Sangharakshita. Indeed, Bhante’s character makes an appearance in the play, both as ‘Private Lingwood’ and later as a monk! The writer of ‘Untouchable’, Peter Oswald, is a well-known playwright, and recently interviewed Bhante about his meetings with Dr Ambedkar.
Many of us from Karuna will be there and we’d like to invite anyone with an interest in Ambedkar to come and see what should be an excellent piece of theatre!”
Kalyanaprabha is one of Sangharakshita’s two literary editors. (The other is Vidyadevi.) She writes to tell us about a new set of interviews with him, about his poetry.
“Recently there appeared on Sangharakshita’s website a link to some rather unusual interviews on The Buddhist Centre Online: over 10 separate sessions, Saddhanandi* interviews Sangharakshita about 10 of his poems.
Each interview opens with a sensitive reading of the poem by Saddhanandi and then the conversation begins, her questions leading Sangharakshita to reflect on the poem’s meaning, or layers of meaning, its imagery, how he came to write it, its significance, whether personal, historical, or spiritual - or perhaps all three.
The delight in these interviews is to feel one is present at an intimate exchange between friends, and at the same time Sangharakshita is the elucidator of matters both ordinary and profound. There are throughout messages, especially to members of the Triratna Order, about what it means to lead a spiritual life, to be an aware individual, to be a member of the Order, and so on.
The scope of the poems chosen - like the scope of his Complete Poems published in 1995 (and there have been quite a few more written since then; see his website) - is broad, from ‘Meditation’, which came to him when he was a young man of only 21, without any conscious composing, to ‘The Root Speaks’. Here the twisted root speaks to the pure white rose beneath the brilliant stars. There is ‘An Apology’, which Saddhanandi introduces as a prose poem, a response to the damage wreaked by mankind on Planet Earth; and one of three Arthurian poems, ‘Love and Duty’ - another poem that ‘just came’, this one in 2009.
They are beautifully presented on The Buddhist Centre Online, each interview being divided into 10 or so tracks so that one can choose to pause, and pause again, before continuing. I found myself listening to just one or two of these interviews at a time and then coming away to let the words, the images, the elucidation, sink in before returning for more. There are so many riches there - and even so one feels at times the conversation was only just beginning to reveal the deeper meanings to be fathomed in these poems.”
* Saddhanandi is Chair of Adhisthana, in Herefordshire, UK, home to Sangharakshita and a community of women and men.
Sthanashraddha is Bhante’s secretary. He writes:
“May has been a month of large changes around the Adhisthana land. Diggers and dumper trucks have been shifting tons of earth around for some of our largest works since opening. Inside the buildings there has also been much work taking place in several areas, not least in the shrine room where the shrine is undergoing a major transformation. Even though the machines have been rumbling away most of the month there have been gaps and breaks and it’s during these pauses in work that one enjoys the roses coming into bloom or the large red poppies exploding into colour, or hearing the cuckoo or blackbird sing out from the hedgerow.
Bhante himself has been no stranger to work either this month. While he has been writing new pieces, he has of course also been engaging with his editors looking at previous works and has therefore been answering questions and queries on the Complete Works and the ‘Adhisthana Writings’. Sometime last year, Bhante was interviewed in over 20 sessions by Saddhanandi and discussed 10 different poems from the many he has written over the years. These 10 interviews are now all available to listen to and his ‘Adhisthana Writings’ can be found on his website.
Bhante has also been spending some of his evenings going through Advayacitta’s book, Thinking at the Crossroads: A Buddhist Exploration of Western Thought with Paramartha which they have finished. Having read it, Bhante recommends it, in particular the chapter on psychology and Buddhism, but all the chapters are of interest too.
The month has also seen many visitors to the annexe, so from 1st to 31st May Bhante has met with the following: Ben Lindsey-Bloom, Ratnadharini, Dharmapriya, Ratnaprabha, Manjuvajra, Eduardo Visuet, Sraddhasiddhi, Tom Robinson, Saddhanandi, Acharashraddha, Marcus Lagerqvist, Filip Sobczak, Parami, Matthew Hibbert, Prajnaketu, Dharmasri, James Brodie, Vidyadevi, Buddhadasa, Nissoka and Sarah, Mark Childs and Munisha.
As well as guests there have been trips out. Firstly, one of the more usual trips for Bhante was to the hospital for a meeting with his consultant ophthalmologist, who has recommended for the moment one more Lucentis injection some time next month. The other outing was a social call, something Bhante has not done since before his attack of pneumonia over Christmas. So a short trip into Great Malvern took him to Paramartha’s flat, where he met for tea with Deji, Paramartha’s partner.”
The picture here shows Bhante with the women from last year’s Young Women’s Dharma Life Course, an annual 4-month residential course at Adhisthana. There is also an annual course for young men.
We are delighted to announce the public ordinations of the following women, at Akashavana Retreat Centre in Spain on Saturday 3rd June 2017.
Public preceptor: Parami
Monika Podgorska becomes Upeksanandi
(dot under the ‘s’, long ‘i’)
Sanskrit / Pali name meaning: She who delights in equanimity
Westernised spelling: Upekshanandi
Private preceptor: Dharmavasini
Mairead Keane becomes Prajnamayi
(tilde above the ‘n’, long ‘i’)
Sanskrit name meaning: She who is filled with wisdom
Westernised spelling: Prajnamayi
Private preceptor: Paramachitta
Theresa O’Leary becomes Kusalacitta
(long final ‘a’)
Sanskrit / Pali name meaning: She whose mind is skilful
Westernised spelling: Kusalachitta
Private preceptor: Sudrishti
Jenny Roberts becomes Sakyapada
(Acute accent on the ‘s’, long first and last ‘a’)
Sanskrit name meaning: She whose path is with the Buddha
Westernised spelling: Shakyapada
Private preceptor: Vijayasri
Public preceptor: Paramachitta
Patricia Wolff-Peron becomes Aryanita
(long first and last ‘a’ and long ‘i’)
Sanskrit name meaning: She who is guided by what is noble
(Celle qui est guidée par ce qui est noble)
Westernised spelling: Aryanita
Private preceptor: Vassika
Sarah Jones becomes Akasalila
(acute accent on the ‘s’, long first, second and last ‘a’ and long ‘i’)
Sanskrit name meaning: The play of luminous space
Westernised spelling: Akashalila
Private preceptor: Amritamati
Public preceptor: Punyamala
Erica Law becomes Akasasri
(acute accent on both ‘s’ s, long first and second ‘a’ and long ‘i’)
Sanskrit name meaning: She whose radiance is vast like space
Westernised spelling: Akashashri
Private preceptor: Vajrajyoti
Bev Wilson becomes Anavajja
(long last ‘a’)
Pali name meaning: Irreproachable (ethical behaviour)
Westernised spelling: Anavajja
Private preceptor: Atulyamati
Kate Hunt becomes Satyamegha
(long last ‘a’)
Sanskrit name meaning: Being like a cloud of truth
Westernised spelling: Satyamegha
Private preceptor: Khemasiri
Mary Wild becomes Kamalamati
Sanskrit name meaning: Lotus mind / heart
Westernised spelling: Kamalamati
Private preceptor: Saddhahadaya
Lynda Rose becomes Anudaya
(long last ‘a’)
Sanskrit name meaning: She who is full of compassion
Westernised spelling: Anudaya
Private preceptor: Prajnadevi
Lydia Morris becomes Siladevi
(acute accent on the ‘s’ and long first and last ‘i’)
Sanskrit / Pali name meaning: Goddess of virtue
Westernised spelling: Shiladevi
Private preceptor: Vajratara
Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!