Mindful Carers Limited is a very small company with a project as vast as the ocean -
to bring more Buddhist values into long-term care (LTC). Co-Director, Dayasara has worked for many years in nursing and nurse education; his final paid job was in dementia care and he continues to volunteer in this field. Dayasara would like to see a residential care home run on Buddhist principles, but the current social care funding situation makes that rather challenging to achieve, so at the moment his particular focus is on frail, older people and others who need support to live
He writes about this project:-
I became a Buddhist and was ordained in 2001. Around that time I got to know an older Order Member who was in failing health, and visited him at home, then in hospital, and finally in two care homes.
Our friendship prompted reflection on the particular needs of Buddhists in LTC, and I did a PhD on this. In parallel I argue that the care sector provides many opportunities for Buddhist work projects (Team Based Right Livelihoods).
But where to start? Two years ago I was approached by a mitra friend who works in care, the company name emerged, and suddenly we were Co-Directors. Our initial business plan didn’t progress, but then I did some home support work with a relative of a Sangha friend. That came to an end when the lady was admitted to a care home. However, the company continues with a quarterly newsletter, and I often visit Buddhists who have care needs.
A “Buddhist atmosphere” is difficult to define but, I think, easy to recognise. I now feel that the best care context to develop this would be a care home. This would be especially sensitive to the needs of Buddhists and those of Buddhist sympathy, whilst being open to all who wish to be there. Quite a high proportion of people die in care homes, so there could be an overlap with Buddhist involvement in hospice care.
That is some distance away. I am 64 and due to my own health issues I haven’t driven for 3 years. It may turn out that a previous venture, Buddhist Care Network may be more suitable for promoting interest and
sharing information on all forms of LTC and the Buddhist values involved with them.
For more information about this project or to subscribe to the ‘Mindful Carers’ newsletter email Dayasara at dayasara2012 [at] gmail.com.
While Buddhist Action Month is no doubt a busy time for the many Centres and groups taking part, several have taken the time to keep us updated on how it’s been going for them.
From Padmasambhava’s arrival in Adelaide, Australia, to the Tree of Intentions in the North London Buddhist Centre to the colourful newsletter produced by the Mid Essex Centre aiming to raise awareness and funds for the homeless and refugees groups have been responding to the theme of ‘Transforming Self, Transforming World’ in their own unique way. So we can see on the Buddhist Action Month facebook page, the West London Buddhist Centre are holding three events this coming Saturday: a workshop on cultivating wisdom and compassion, a fundraising skills auction followed by a vegan feast. And In Deal the Buddhist group there even made it into the local newspaper as a result of their activities!
In addition, the Triratna Group in Scottish Highlands are getting set to wish all life well during their 24-hour midsummer meditation at Chanonry Point this weekend. Members of the Triratna Buddhist Community Highlands and guests from further afield will be taking it in turns to meditate at the world famous dolphin watching site from midday on Saturday June 23rd until midday on Sunday June 24th and will raise funds for Scottish homeless charity Social Bite and Whale and Dolphin Conservation.
“We want to make a positive difference in the world through our actions,” explained event organiser Gerry Beasley from Rosemarkie. “The theme of Buddhist Action Month is ‘Transforming Self, Transforming World’ and this is what we aim to do when we meditate. Mediation looks passive, but it is actively and radically transformative. As well as practising for our own benefit, we meditate for all beings, so we thought it fitting to meditate at this spot to raise money for whales and dolphins as well as for people who find themselves homeless.”
Sadhu to all and do keep an eye on the dedicated Buddhist Action Month space and share what your Sangha is doing!
The Rohingya people need your money, urgently.
A new Buddhist global project has been set up to help the Rohingya people, a million of whom are living in the world’s biggest refugee camp, Bangladesh, as a result of Buddhist-led violence in Myanmar/Burma. After fleeing their burning villages, many of them now find themselves living in very difficult conditions facing monsoon rains.
Late in 2017 a number of senior Order members published a strongly-worded statement pointing out that there is no Buddhist justification for violence against non-Buddhist minorities, urging Buddhists everywhere to condemn the cruelty and brutality and the Burmese Buddhist leaders to halt the violence.
The Rohingya people have not been forgotten by Buddhists, as shown by the the new global project that recently has been set up to bring help to them: The Buddhist Humanitarian Project is a non-sectarian initiative in response to the current crisis.
The project came out of a visit to the camps by Richard Reoch, former President of Shambala, and Alan Senauke, a prominent American Zen Buddhist teacher and social activist. In his report, Richard gives an account of the testimony of people who have had to flee Myanmar, and who have been shot at and tortured. They speak of the ‘Buddhist Terror’. Women and girls have been subjected to horrific sexual violence and remain vulnerable to trafficking and sexual exploitation in the camps.
We can offer help to Rohingya refugees: by signing an appeal to be handed to the Myanmar State Committee and, crucially, making a donation to the Buddhist Humanitarian project (in US Dollars) or in other currencies via one of the international agencies working with the Rohingya people.
Don’t see your country or currency here? Google Rohingya crisis + your country to find a local agency.
Read Richard’s account of his visit to the Rohingya camps
Read both statements against Buddhist violence against mostly Muslim Rohingya people in Burma/Myanmar, signed individually and personally by senior members of the Triratna Buddhist Order including Sangharakshita in 2017 and an earlier statement in 2013.
Listen to Vishvapani’s broadcast in 2017 on BBC Radio Four’s Thought for the Day: ‘Burmese atrocities: the problem with a Buddhist state’
Image Creative Commons
We are delighted to announce that the following 21 women were ordained at Akashavana on June 2nd, 2018.
Public Preceptor: Subhadramati
Fiona Johnston becomes Suvarnajyoti
A Pali name meaning ‘She who is or has a golden light’
Westernised spelling: Suvarnajyoti
Private Preceptor: Maitrivajri
Elaine Jackson becomes Maitrimati
A Sanskrit name meaning ‘She whose mind turns to loving kindness’
Westernised spelling: Maitrimati
Private Preceptor: Kalyanaprabha
Rachel Green becomes Karunatara
A Sanskrit name meaning ‘She who is a guiding star of compassion’
Westernised spelling: Karunatara
Private Preceptor: Dayanandi
Sue Haynes becomes Bodhilehi
A Sanskrit name meaning ‘She who licks or sips at awakening as if tasting a sweet medicinal liquid’
Westernised spelling: Bodhilehi
Private Preceptor: Atulyamati
Michaela Bueschler becomes Aryajiva
A Pali name meaning ‘She who has a noble and distinguished soul or life-principle’
Westernised spelling: Aryajiva
Private Preceptor: Kulanandi
Sarah Thorne becomes Amrtanadi
A Sanskrit name meaning ‘She who is like a river of the nectar of immortality’
Westernised spelling: Amritanadi
Private Preceptor: Jvalamalini
Karen Leibenguth becomes Vimoksini
A Sanskrit/Pali name meaning ‘She who has liberation’
Westernised spelling: Vimokshini
Private Preceptor: Srivati
Eileen McCarney becomes Atulyamitra
A Sanskrit/Pali name meaning ‘Incomparable or unequalled Friend’
Westernised spelling: Atulyamitra
Private Preceptor: Prajnagita
Savanna Luraschi becomes Upayadhi
A Sanskrit name meaning ‘She who has both wisdom and skilful means’
Westernised spelling: Upayadhi
Private Preceptor: Viveka
Public Preceptor: Dayanandi
Tanja Stevanovic becomes Maitrilila
A Sanskrit name meaning ‘She who has the play of loving kindness’
Westernised spelling: Maitrilila
Private Preceptor: Vidyamala
Ros Murphy becomes Prakasadhi
A Sanskrit name meaning ‘She whose wisdom shines’
Westernised spelling: Prakashadhi
Private Preceptor: Sucitta
Jolanda Acquoi becomes Tarodaya
A Sanskrit name meaning ‘Rising up to Tara, Dawn of Tara’
Westernised spelling: Tarodaya
Private Preceptor: Akasasuri
Annika Buchheister becomes Viryadhi
A Sanskrit name meaning ‘She whose wisdom is energy’
Westernised spelling: Viryadhi
Private Preceptor: Prasadavati
Public Preceptor: Karunadevi
Nora Judd becomes Shraddhadharma
A Sanskrit name meaning ‘She who has the virtue of shraddha’
Westernised spelling: Shraddhadharma
Private Preceptor: Vimalasara
Kerstin Gleim becomes Amaradhi
A Sanskrit name meaning ‘She who has immortal wisdom’
Westernised spelling: Amaradhi
Private Preceptor: Ashokashri
Sue Yeo becomes Muditalila
A Sanskrit name meaning ‘She whose play is sympathetic joy’
Westernised spelling: Muditalila
Private Preceptor: Ratnavandana
Public Preceptor: Ashokashri
Holly Murray becomes Garavavati
A Sanskrit/Pali name meaning ‘She who possesses reverence’
Westernised spelling: Garavavati
Private Preceptor: Subhadramati
Mary Schaefer becomes Saddhavasini
A Pali name meaning ‘She who dwells in trust and confidence’
Westernised spelling: Saddhavasini
Private Preceptor: Amala
Jules Jackson becomes Akasaruci
A Sanskrit/Pali name meaning ‘She who delights in limitless space’
Westernised spelling: Akasharuci
Private Preceptor: Mokshavajri
Anne Lavergne becomes Viriyasati
A Sanskrit/Pali name meaning ‘She whose mindfulness is heroic’
Westernised spelling: Viriyasati
Private Preceptor: Padmatara
Bettye Pruitt becomes Shraddhavani
A Sanskrit name meaning ‘She whose speech is of faith’
Westernised spelling: Shraddhavani
Private Preceptor: Karunadevi
Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!
“I had an idea of what team-based right livelihood was but, actually, working in this way has definitely exceeded all my expectations - I feel like I’m so much happier” - Abhayanandi
This Clear Vision Newsbyte takes a visit to Lama’s Pyjamas, a charity shop around the corner from the London Buddhist Centre in Bethnal Green. In the last year approximately £61,000 was raised in dana, which went towards supporting the activities in the London Buddhist Centre.
The Lama’s Pyjamas team speak about their experience of working in this shop selling second hand clothes as part of a team based right livelihood, and what it means to them: really being yourself at your workplace, renouncing status, embodying friendliness, being part of a team and more!
Visit the Lama’s Pyjamas’ website
Sthanashraddha is Bhante’s secretary. He writes from Adhisthana, UK:
“As we come to the end of May, Adhisthana has become quite steamy. What with the hot summery weather and then the last few days of heavy showers and thunderstorms the air is humid and the hills have disappeared in a white haze of moisture. Having said all that, it’s been a glorious time for the gardens and gardening. Many new plants have gone in and now they have all been very well watered.
Though the gardens have been a hive of activity, the annexe has felt a little quiet compared to last month, which saw some 55 visitors meeting with Bhante, one or two of them more than once. So this month Bhante has seen the following people from 1 May to 31 May:
Amalavajra, Rijusiddha, Upekshalia, Robert Ellis, Ewan Cushan, Dharmaprabha, Valentina Cartei, Pasadadipa, Shantipada, Guhyasiddhi, Dr Bhawana Sonaware, Lilamati, Kamalasiri, Olmer Rendon, Jack Stephenson, Mirko Meyer, Chris Blankendaal, Vinod Gaikwad, Pablo Sierra, Dennis Jagestad, De Ji, Lalitaratna, Sanghadarsini, Bodhamayi, Maitrisambhava, Acalagita, Parami, Vessantara, Aryadhi, Padmadrishti, Suryagupta, Amoghamati, Viryajyoti, Karunada, Vairocana, Saddhanandi, Akasalila, Karunavajra, Subhanandi, Gus Miller, Maitrivasin and Maitripushpa.
Along with visitors Bhante continues to enjoy a healthy amount of incoming correspondence from around the order and movement and various friends, relations and even occasional researchers and academics.
And then, of course, he also continues to have Shabda read to him and also many of the pieces written by Order members on the Buddhist Centre online.
Currently Bhante is listening to Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time, for the second time, and recently enjoyed the autobiography of Rumer Godden author of Black Narcissus and a whole host of other books. Suvajra, in the evenings, has also been reading to him Analayo’s recent book Rebirth in Early Buddhism and Current Research.
Bhante also completed writing two shorter pieces this month sharing some of his dreams: Dreams Old and New 1 and 2.
And finally a very fine Rupa of Jambhala (with a bit of Padmasambhava about him) was blessed by Bhante for the FutureDharma office, soon followed by a Padmasambhava rupa who arrived in the post having been very carefully packed by Akuppa. He to was blessed and returned to Newcastle in time for their opening ceremony on 2 June. With metta, Sthanashraddha.”
Here are some updates on what’s going on in Windhorse Publications.
Mindfully Facing Disease and Death by Analayo won a Nautilus Award in the category of ‘aging consciously’. Analayo’s book is a practical guide for those facing disease and death by helping them to access the ageless wisdom of the Buddha’s teaching. The Nautilus Award was established in the U.S. in 1998 is an annual award in the genre of social and environmental justice. Sadhu!
A new expanded edition of Eight Step Recovery: Using the Buddha’s Teachings to Overcome Addiction by Vimalasara and Paramabandhu has just been released. The This book uses Buddhist teachings, personal experiences, and case examples to provide an illustration of the fundamental processes underlying a broad range of addictive behaviors. The new edition includes a foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a guide to running an Eight Step Recovery meeting, and how to teach a Mindfulness Based Addiction Recovery (MBAR) programme, including teacher’s notes and handouts.
Looking forward, I’ll Meet You There by Shantigarbha - a practical guide to empathy, mindfulness and communication - will be released in mid-June. You can sponsor this book to help cover publication costs. And finally, Analayo’s newest book, Satipatthāna Meditation: A Practice Guide, will be released in August. This book is a thorough-going guide to the early Buddhist teachings on Satipatthāna, the foundations of mindfulness, following on from his two best-selling books, Satipatthāna: the direct path to insight and Perspectives on Satipatthāna. Satipatthāna Meditation: A Practice Guide is also up for sponsorship at the moment.
+Follow Windhorse Publications on The Buddhist Centre Online
Stay connected to Windhorse by keeping an eye on their blog, signing up to their mailing list, checking out the news page on the Windhorse Website, or on social media.
The 1st June marks the start of Buddhist Action Month, a festival of social action which is being marked by many Buddhist groups across the UK and Europe. In Triratna, Sanghas across our community have been preparing for this event and incorporating events and activities in their various programmes.
In Southampton in the UK there will be talks on the theme of transformation, a workshop exploring Engaged Buddhism through the work of Joanna Macy, an India evening and a special puja - as well as an invitation to join in a weeklong digital detox. In Birmingham, Sangha night has been dedicated to BAM, and there will be talks and rituals as well as awareness-raising about a local homeless charity. And in Oxford there’s an outdoor meditation, litter picking event and a film night and more.
Over the water in Dublin there’s a range of events from a film night showing Angry Buddha (about Hungarian Gypsies who were inspired by Dr Ambedkar) to a biodiversity tour and cycle to ‘writing for transformation’ workshop and more besides. The Dublin Buddhist Centre are also inviting individuals to make pledges for the month and share their tips on a padlet.
‘Down Under’ in Wellington, New Zealand, the five positive precepts are being explored as part of ‘transforming self, transforming world’. The Sangha there is also being invited to address the question “The future we want for our world and its inhabitants is…” and help create a feather cloak out of the various responses. And in Adelaide in Australia, things kicked off early to include Buddha day, as “what better example could we have of ‘transforming self transforming world’ than the Buddha Shakyamuni”. The Adelaide Sangha will be exploring what kind of new collective myth we can bring into being over the course of the month.
Keep in touch with what’s going on through our community during Buddhist Action Month by clicking +Follow on the dedicated Buddhist Action Month page and do share what you or your Sangha are doing.
Continuing work begun in 2013, Triratna’s Ethics kula and Safeguarding team present the 2018 updated model Ethical guidelines and model policies for Safeguarding children and adults in Triratna.
The Ethical guidelines are an internal statement of our values, complementing our model Safeguarding documents, which follow national requirements of charities in England and Wales.
These documents are made available to every Triratna Centre and Group, to use as the basis for their own documents.
Further documents are in development, concerning, for example: disability; bullying and harassment; the Safeguarding of teenagers; and confession, confidentiality and the law. (A separate group, the Trans and Gender-diverse working group, is working on policy for the inclusion of trans and gender-diverse people in Triratna.)
What is ‘Safeguarding’?
Safeguarding is the duty of legally established bodies in England and Wales to protect from harm children (under 18s) and adults who may be ‘vulnerable’ or ‘at risk’. (In Scotland it’s called ‘Protection’; similar duties may apply to Triratna centres/enterprises in some other countries.)
Who are the Ethics kula and Safeguarding team?
Triratna’s Ethics kula was formed in January 2017 to ensure that serious ethical questions could be addressed by a more senior body where they went beyond the remit of the Safeguarding team; for example where a Safeguarding concern had implications for a person’s membership of the Order.
The Kula presently comprises Saddhaloka (Chair of the College of Preceptors), Parami and Lokeshvara (Order convenors) and Jnanasiddhi (Triratna Restorative kula) as well as the Triratna Safeguarding Team (Munisha and Sthirajyoti, who are part of the European Chairs’ Assembly’s Development Team) and their voluntary Safeguarding adviser, Amaladipa, who is very senior in the criminal justice system in Britain.
The Kula is now also the place where new documents can be reviewed and discussed before going out to the Order and Movement.
It is also a clearing house for ethical concerns, ensuring that matters brought to the Safeguarding team are passed to and dealt with by the most appropriate person or body, inside or outside Triratna.
safeguarding [at] triratnadevelopment.org
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June is Buddhist Action Month (BAM) and Triratna Sanghas all over the world have been planning activities as part of this festival of Buddhist social action. Beginning in 2012 as a day, this is a pan-Buddhist initiative from the UK’s Network of Buddhist Organisations.
This year we have an invitation to explore two particular angles of ‘transforming self, transforming world’:
transforming self: looking at the effect of digital technology on the well-being of us as individuals and on society
transforming world: exploring our society’s need for a positive collective narrative for the future.
Read more about this theme on The Buddhist Centre Online’s dedicated BAM space where you can follow all the Triratna action day by day.
On the Buddhist Action Month Facebook group, you’ll find news from Triratna and the other Buddhist traditions taking part.
If you haven’t yet got planning, it’s not too late and you’ll find plenty of ideas in those spaces, and in the Triratna BAM handbook.
+Follow Buddhist Action Month in Triratna on The Buddhist Centre Online.
Follow Buddhist Action Month on Facebook.
Sthanashraddha is Bhante’s secretary. He writes from Adhisthana, UK:
“Spring only really fully arrived towards the end of April, and it was less than a month ago that the gardens were covered in our last batch of snowfall. But, yes, eventually after what felt like weeks of watching tulip flowers develop buds and slowly watching them rise up on their stems, and slowly see buds swelling, we had a few days of warm weather and sunshine, and the Adhisthana gardens burst into spring colour, with tulips and tree blossom all arriving at once. People began sitting out in the courtyard and eating meals outside, rather than simply walking across it from one warm dry building to the next.
Bhante too has enjoyed the warmer dry weather and when possible has enjoyed some sunny spring mornings walking and sitting by the pond at the front of the main house. There has even been a little trip out with Paramartha one day, to a nearby village called Hollybush, which close by has a rather lovely view out across the countryside and on to Worcester.
There was also another trip to the hospital for an injection of Lucentis into the left eye, these are now every six weeks as opposed to the previous monthly ones.
On the literary front Bhante completed his latest piece of writing, which should be in this month’s Shabda. This one is entitled ’Disparities’. Having completed this one he has embarked on his next already.
Not only this but I’m sure you can imagine to some extent the delight and gratitude with which Bhante received the latest four new volumes of the Complete works released in April. Which now means 8 of the 27 volumes are in print, 1, 3, 9, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21.
Of course Bhante’s continued good health and sleep have allowed him to see many people visiting Adhisthana and here’s the list of those visitors during April:
Luke Doherty, Jnanavaca, Lydia Parusol, Hannah Peat, Jas Sambi, Mosaic Williams, Deane Banning, Alison Litherland, Natascha Trolle, Dhammarati, Marcin Wojcik, Candan Inan, Pauline Westernbroek, Jane Turner, Jenca Disney, Dawn Summers, Ania Markiewicz, Stuart Stoter, Chris Devlin, Sagaraghosa, Maitrivajri, Daibhidh Grannd, Bob Pluyter, Sucimani, Amitashuri, Vidyaruci, Punyamala, Vassika, Phil Marston, Moksavajri, Munisha, Robert Ellis, Vajraguta(m), Subhuti, Akasaka, Atula, Manjuvajra, Padmavajra, Virginie Van Mol, Padmajyoti, Vivekaratna, Manjugita, Dharmavasin, Prajnasahaya, Jyotipala, Acharashraddha, Jinaraja, Akasajoti, Anke Renmel, Srisambhava, Saddhanandi, Padmadakini, Andrea Wurdinger, Peter Milton and Satyapurna.
There have also been a couple of more public appearances by Bhante, most notably during a weekend event at Adhisthana at the beginning of April, when in front of a large audience Saddhanandi interviewed Bhante over celebratory tea and cake for the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Order. A video of this can be found on the Buddhist Centre online. Right at the end of April, Bhante also joined a retreat for German speakers held here at Adhisthana and again enjoyed some tea and cake, though rather than an interview he simply engaged in conversation with some of those present. With metta, Sthanashraddha.”
We are delighted to announce the names of the seventeen new Dharmacharis who were publicly ordained on the 30th April at Guhyaloka Retreat Centre.
Public Preceptor Arthapriya
Martin Harris becomes Maitrisimha
A Sanskrit name meaning “Lion of Loving Kindness”
Westernised spelling: Maitrisingha
Private preceptor: Paramabandhu
Dominic Reynolds becomes Moksaghosa
A Sanskrit name meaning “Voice of Liberation”
Westernised spelling: Mokshaghosha
Private preceptor: Ratnaghosha
John Halsall becomes Hrdyavaca
A Sanskrit name meaning “He Who Speaks from the Heart”
Westernised spelling: Hridayavaca
Private preceptor: Rijumitra
Tom Sangster becomes Karunanatha
A Sanskrit name meaning “Compassionate Protector”
Westernised spelling: Karunanatha
Private preceptor: Bodhivamsa
Alan Worrell becomes Amaladana
A name meaning “He whose Generosity is Pure”
Westernised spelling: Amaladana
Private preceptor: Jnanavaca
Daniel Champ becomes Maitrivaca
A Sanskrit name meaning “He who has Loving Speech”
Westernised spelling: Maitrivaca
Private preceptor: Sujana
Daniel Allen becomes Pradaya
A Sanskrit name meaning “He who has Much Kindness”
Westernised spelling: Pradaya
Private preceptor: Achara
Paul Whitehead becomes Vidyapala
A name meaning “Protector of Wisdom”
Westernised spelling: Vidyapala
Private preceptor: Arthavadin
Graham Dellow becomes Amaradaya
A name meaning “He whose Kindness is Undying”
Westernised spelling: Amaradaya
Private preceptor: Aparajita
Will Proctor becomes Satyakirti
A Sanskrit name meaning “He whose Glory is Truth”
Westernised spelling: Satyakirti
Private preceptor: Satyaraja
Robin Allan becomes Prajnahrdaya
A Sanskrit name meaning “He who Places his Heart in Wisdom”
Westernised spelling: Prajnahridaya
Private preceptor: Satyaraja
Jimmy Simpson becomes Subhanaga
A Pali name meaning “The beautiful or pure naga”
Westernised spelling: Shubhanaga
Private preceptor: Arthasiddhi
Christopher Redman becomes Kamalanaga
A Pali name meaning “The Naga who is Like the Red Lotus”
Westernised spelling: Kamalanaga
Private preceptor: Arthasiddhi
Public Preceptor Ratnavyuha
Harvey Tuck becomes Maitrikasin
A Sanskrit name meaning “He who Shines with Metta”
Westernised spelling: Maitrikashin
Private preceptor: Arunamalin
David Vella becomes Sanghapurna
A Sanskrit name meaning “He who is Fulfilled in or by the Sangha”
Westernised spelling: Sanghapurna
Private preceptor: Arunamalin
Peter Jury becomes Siladeva
A name meaning “He who is like a God through his Virtuous Conduct”
Westernised spelling: Siladeva
Private preceptor: Dharmadhara
Tony Shaw becomes Vijayamuni
A name meaning “Victorious Sage”
Westernised spelling: Vijayamuni
Private preceptor: Guhyasiddhi
Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!
On the 7th April 2018 - exactly fifty years after the first public ordinations into the Triratna Buddhist Order - Saddhanandi interviews Sangharakshita, the founder of the Order and movement. The interview took place during a seminar on the Bodhicaryavatara held in Adhisthana. To mark the 50th anniversary of the Order, Saddhanandi and Manjuvajra re-visited the ‘Endlessly Fascinating Cry’ which was one of the first seminars that Sangharakshita led in 1973.
The interview covers a wide range of topics including a typical day in his life, the moment when Sangharakshita realised that a new Buddhist movement was necessary and why he chose to found an Order, rather than any other kind of structure. Sangharakshita also talks about the original seminar on the Bodhicaryavatara and how teaching is not just about conveying the meaning of a text but also about trying to convey your own feeling for that text.
Saddhanandi draws the interview to a conclusion with a quote from the original seminar in 1973: “In other words, he [Shantideva, the author of the Bodhicaryavatara] is trying to talk us into devoting ourselves - in the Bodhisattva spirit - to helping relieve the whole mass of human suffering without going too much into whether it’s your suffering, or my suffering, or anybody else’s suffering. There’s a big black cloud hanging over the whole human race, and it needs to be dispelled by the united efforts of us all.“ May the Order and Movement be such a united force for dispelling the cloud of suffering in the world as we move into the next 50 years!
Find out more about the Complete Works of Sangharakshita which include seminar material.
From the 10th to the 13th May 2018 the Dutch and the Belgian Sanghas are holding an Order-Mitra Convention at the Dutch retreat centre Metta Vihara, to which they have invited some Mitras from the Hungarian gypsy community. The Convention will be held in English and any Mitra or Order Member are welcome to attend. Future Dharma have provided funding to enable these Mitras, as well as Maitriveer Nagarjuna - who will be giving a key talk on Dr Ambedkar - to attend this event.
Subhuti has been working with the Gyspy community in Hungary for over a decade, and he is a Kalyana Mitra (spiritual friend) of the Hungarian, Triratna-affiliated Jai Bhim network. The impact that Dr Ambedkar had on the lives of hundred of thousands of Dalits in India, raising them from the oppression of the Caste system which deemed them ‘untouchable’, has found a resonance with the Gypsy community in Hungary who face similar discrimination and segregation from their society. They have been inspired by Ambedkar’s example, and through the work of the Dr Ambedkar School, the Jai Bhim Network has been helping Gypsies in Hungary complete their education, so that they may have better opportunities in life.
The theme of this Convention in the Netherlands is the Bodhisattva Ideal and this will be explored in terms of how we can express this ideal in very different conditions and cultures. Maitriveer Nagarjuna will give a talk on Dr Ambedkar and the transformative power of the Dhamma, whose example is of relevance today and who continues to provide a guiding light to those suffering from oppression.
As mindfulness has entered the mainstream of Western societies, one of the most striking developments is the popularity of mindfulness practice among British Members of Parliament and the connections they have made to public policy. Triratna has had a significant presence in this process. Vishvapani, one of those involved, updates us on this work and writes: “A few years ago, when these discussions started, I don’t think any of us imagined that their potential ramifications could be so far-reaching.”
Mindfulness courses run by the Oxford Mindfulness Centre started in 2014 and since then 175 MPs and Lords and several hundred political staff have taken a mindfulness course. They were so impressed that a year later, some of the politicians formed the Mindfulness All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) to explore how public policy could support the spread of mindfulness.
A third group, comprising academics and others in the mindfulness field and called The Mindfulness Initiative, also started to support the APPG and over the next year it organised a series of meetings in Parliament for the APPG that looked at mindfulness in several policy areas. Vishvapani joined the core group to help with the Report, and others from Triratna contributed to the discussions, including Vidyamala, the founder of Breathworks and Amaladipa who has a senior position in the Probation Service and Kulananda, who runs Mindfulness Works.
The Mindful Nation UK Report was published in Autumn 2015 and three government ministers spoke at the launch in Parliament. This was ground-breaking work - the first time any Parliament had looked at mindfulness in this way.
Last Autumn the Mindfulness Initiative held another meetings to review progress since 2015. The main issue driving the report was rising stress levels and mental health problems in every area of society, and it looked at how mindfulness teaching can be offered more effectively in the areas of Health (both physical and mental), Education, Criminal Justice and the Workplace. The 2017 meeting presented the progress that has been made in all those areas and Amaladipa spoke about the large mindfulness teaching programme she has worked on with Vishvapani for men in prisons and on probation (we’ll let you know more about this programme when the findings are published).
The second meeting reflected the interest the report and the Westminster mindfulness courses have generated in parliaments around the world. Parliamentarians from fifteen countries gathered in Westminster, with Jon Kabat-Zinn presiding, to hear about what has been happening in the UK, and the speakers included Vishvapani and Amaladipa. This was an unprecedented event and the parliamentarians responded warmly to what they heard.
Finally, the Advisory Group, including Vishvapani and Vidyamala, met recently to plan the future direction of the Mindfulness Initiative as it responds to growing interest in the significance of a mindful approach beyond policies connected to mindfulness teaching. Amid concerns about the nature of politics in the UK and elsewhere, some in Westminster are exploring what it might mean to develop a more mindful culture there.
There’s also growing interest in its relevance to a range of global issues. The power of ‘the Attention Economy’ makes the art of paying and directing attention a central concern. For example, the Fourth Industrial Revolution threatens to replace jobs with robots, automation, 3D printing and other new technologies, raising an existential question about the need to find meaning outside work. Climate change threatens us in many ways, and proffers the need to move away from a culture that prizes consumption. And, as government has become increasingly technocratic and public services have become focused on targets and profitability, many politicians have been asking how a more human dimension can be restored.
These are huge issues and while there are no panaceas, the growing interest in mindfulness offers a way to speak about the impact of unconscious biases, beliefs and unhelpful mental states. In these settings ‘Mindfulness’ means much more than what Buddhism means by the term, and these discussions can also include Buddhist perspectives, ethics, compassion and the power of views.
Find out more about Triratna and the Mindfulness Initiative
Follow Vishvapani’s blog, Wise Attention.
Vishvapani will be speaking and debating on topics connected with mindfulness and Buddhism in several events at the How The Light Gets in Festival in Hay on Wye on 27th May. Vishvapani says: “Do come along if you’re interested, it would be great to have support from others in Triratna.”