Here is a further update from the Adhisthana kula about how we intend to take our work forward. Some of the steps we outline below are already in discussion or in process, and we recognise the need for much greater visibility of process and outcomes. We also recognise that we have been slow to implement some of our intentions.
A further update from the Adhisthana kula as to how we are addressing controversial aspects of Triratna’s past and what we are putting in place for the future.
Our initial response to The Observer article (21st July) concluded: “We remain determined to meet ethically all unresolved issues – past, present and future – based on a deep concern for the welfare of anyone affected negatively by their experience within Triratna”. Using this framework of past, present, future, we will outline the way we intend to take this work forward.
We want to spell out very clearly what’s already been done, and also lay out what still needs to be done, and what plans we have for implementation.
As a result of the recent article there have been renewed calls for an independent review or inquiry as the only way to rebuild trust. Below are nine steps we would like to implement first, as soon as possible. After that, with the help of others, we will make an assessment as to whether a further or more substantial independent review is necessary.
We have added timelines in brackets after each point as a rough guide as to how long each step will take. If something is taking longer we will communicate this, and why.
Responding to the Past
1. We will issue a clear statement of acknowledgement, regret and undertaking, inviting other Order members to add their name or support to it. (1 week)
2. We will summarise the work of the Adhisthana Kula in a way that is clear and readily accessible, on a stand-alone website, making it clear what we have done so far and our next steps. (3 months)
3. We will present this with clear pathways for comments, questions and suggestions. (3 months)
4. Anyone can report misconduct to our Safeguarding team at safeguarding [at] triratna.community . In addition, we will appoint an external body for receiving such complaints, for the benefit of anyone who feels more comfortable in reporting to an external body. (3-5 months)
5. We recognise this work needs to be a priority (1-4) and will give it the resources it needs. (Ongoing)
Working in the Present
6. We will review the membership of the Adhisthana kula, bringing in a next generation of Order members with fresh perspectives and skills, who have joined the Order since the era in which many of the historic difficulties took place (broadly, this means the 1970s and 80s). (1 month)
7. Our current UK Safeguarding provision will be reviewed by the Social Care Institute for Excellence, to ensure it meets the Charity Commission’s requirements. (6 months)
8. In consultation with external communication specialists we will create new forums for discussion within Triratna, with a view to promoting greater harmony and engagement, and improve external communications. (6 months)
9. We will develop training in ethical awareness for teachers and mentors, both among existing Order members, and those training for ordination. (Initial plans 3-4 months)
Creating the Future
10. When this work is done we will assess, with others, whether a further external, independent review would be helpful. (6-7 months)
11. We will bring on a new generation of leaders, training and equipping them to share responsibility for taking our community forward. (Ongoing)
12. We will do all this whilst honouring our inheritance and recognising the gifts Sangharakshita and the elders of the Order created for us. (Ongoing)
We share a deep love and concern for our community with all those who choose to practise within it. We want to address whatever limits us as a spiritual community, and to be able to move forward with confidence and trust that we have fully addressed the issues and concerns of the past, without losing touch with all that is good. We need to do all this within the spirit and ethos of our community, recognising our imperfections as human beings, acting with compassion and understanding, in order to transform suffering in the world.
The Adhisthana Kula
Mahamati, Parami, Ratnadharini, and Saddhaloka (Triratna’s College of Public Preceptors)
Aryajaya and Lokeshvara (International Convenors to the Triratna Buddhist Order) Dhammarati (Convenor of Triratna’s International Council)
With the assistance of Amaladipa and Munisha (Triratna’s Safeguarding team), and Candradasa (The Buddhist Centre Online).
For further information about safeguarding or to report anything please contact the Safeguarding team at safeguarding [at] triratna.community.
Contact the Adhisthana Kula at kula [at] adhisthana.org
View our work as a team to date
|Further Response from the Adhisthana Kula to the Observer Article, July 2019 (PDF)||63.45 KB|
On July 21st 2019, The Observer featured an article critical of the Triratna Buddhist Order and Community. As senior members of Triratna, we wanted to respond to some of the content, and to the general areas of concern raised around the conduct of members of the Order as they relate to the wellbeing of anyone connecting with our community.
The Adhisthana Kula is a grouping of senior members of the Triratna Buddhist Order who hold particular responsibility for the wellbeing of our community around the world. It was formed in February 2017 in response to renewed concerns about past controversies within Triratna, including sexual misconduct in the 1970s and ‘80s by our community’s founder Urgyen Sangharakshita. In 2016, Sangharakshita wrote a statement of acknowledgment and apology about this.
Read about our work around misconduct in Triratna and about what we do and do not teach
More recently, along with Triratna’s Ethics Kula (including our Safeguarding team) we have come back together to engage with the work of meeting any new concerns that may arise, being as open and clear as possible using the following principles:
- To prioritise the wellbeing of anyone coming forward with accounts of harm experienced within our community, past or present, providing clear and well-publicised channels for reporting them to us safely.
- To ensure the Safeguarding policies and procedures we have in place at our Buddhist Centres meet the highest standards and are compliant with regulatory and legal requirements for charities in the UK. This includes making sure that wherever a case may be criminal it is reported to the police, without exception.
- After legal process has been addressed, when reports of ethical misconduct are made and the parties involved ask for support, to provide processes for reaching meaningful resolution. (See below for more on Restorative process and the specific work of the Ethics Kula around disputed cases).
- In cases of serious ethical breaches by members of the Order, to have clear policies and procedures around probation, suspension or expulsion.
- To provide clear and consistent information about our work online and elsewhere (including its difficulties and challenges) in as open and transparent a way as possible when, as is often the case, issues of confidentiality are involved.
We were somewhat surprised therefore to hear from The Observer newspaper last week that they intended to run a new critical article about Triratna, based initially on someone having sent them a survey report by the Interkula group of Triratna Order members, which refers non-specifically to anonymous accounts of misconduct within our Order. We had seen the survey report some time ago and took note of its recommendations.
We will write more in the next few days about this survey and its subsequent interpretation by The Observer, as well as addressing some other details and inaccuracies in the article.
For now, our focus properly remains on supporting individuals seeking resolution of past painful experience within Triratna, and on reviewing and updating annually our own Safeguarding practices and recommendations for when things go wrong in future (as they inevitably will at times in any community).
As ever, we urge anyone who feels they have experienced harm in connection with our Order and community – and anyone who has anything they wish to bring to our attention – to please email us at safeguarding [at] triratna.community .
A formal statement from our Safeguarding officer
Triratna’s overall Safeguarding officer Munisha made the following statement to The Observer, some of which was used in the piece itself:
As Triratna’s overall Safeguarding officer I share the concerns of the Interkula and their survey respondents that misconduct in Triratna be addressed thoroughly and effectively. I and senior members of the Order have been working on this since 2015, and all our work is documented publicly here on Triratna’s main web platform: Questions around controversy
I’m extremely sorry if misconduct reported to any member of the Order was not properly addressed at the time. Triratna has had Safeguarding procedures in place since 2015 and today every Triratna centre in the UK has a Safeguarding officer to whom concerns can be reported. It’s recommended that Centres post details of how to reach this person on their noticeboards and websites.
The Interkula’s survey includes accounts of misconduct which we would be keen to address. However, some of these are references to misconduct experienced by unnamed others and we can only address a case where a named complainant is willing to tell us their story first hand. Since the survey was anonymous it’s not possible to identify and reach out to these respondents or the people they refer to, and the survey did not provide respondents with information on how to report to us.
However, given the confidentiality required in Safeguarding work it is possible that some third-party cases referred to by survey respondents have in fact been addressed without the respondents knowing about it. It is not uncommon that people report rumours or concerns about others which we have dealt with months or years ago.
It is the policy of Triratna’s central Safeguarding team that anything reported to us of a criminal – or even potentially criminal – nature is reported to the police, without exception. Anything reported to us has been dealt with according to the requirements of law, the Charity Commission and Safeguarding best practice and thoroughly documented in case of external review. If there is anything we have not dealt with, this is simply because no complainant has approached us to make us aware of their experience, or we have not been able to identify and contact them. I would strongly encourage anyone who has not yet come forward with an account of their own experiences, or with information about cases involving others, to contact me at safeguarding [at] triratna.community ( ) or make a report to the Charity Commission at https://forms.charitycommission.gov.uk/raising-concerns/.
Keen to make sure Triratna’s Safeguarding meets the highest standards, in May this year the Safeguarding team began dialogue with the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) with a view to an external review of our work so far.
Safeguarding in Triratna and our responses to legal and ethical issues
Our collective work around addressing past ethical misconduct within the Triratna community has been broad and relatively deep:
We continue to encourage the formal reporting of harm or misconduct and, in full compliance with the law, we are committed to doing whatever is necessary in order to bring any issue to an appropriate resolution. We continue to strengthen our community’s proactive Safeguarding work to ensure the wellbeing of all who wish to engage with Buddhist values as a way of making sense of life.
Through the work of the Triratna Ethics Kula, our Order has also been developing new procedures enabling us to address more effectively instances where a serious allegation is made against an Order member which they don’t accept, and which cannot be addressed by legal process. This is work in progress and will develop as our understanding and experience grow.
As mentioned, much of this kind of work necessarily happens behind the scenes and often involves respecting confidences required by law or requested by someone making a complaint. With that in mind we will also continue to seek external input to the ways in which we address these matters, and to check that our work so far has been conducted in line with best practice.
We remain determined to meet ethically all unresolved issues – past, present and future – based on a deep concern for the welfare of anyone affected negatively by their experience within Triratna. If there is anything you wish to bring to our attention, please do email us at safeguarding [at] triratna.community . We will always be glad to make ourselves available to you.
The Adhisthana Kula
Mahamati, Parami, Ratnadharini, and Saddhaloka (Triratna’s College of Public Preceptors)
Aryajaya and Lokeshvara (International Convenors to the Triratna Buddhist Order)
Dhammarati (Convenor of Triratna’s International Council)
With the assistance of Amaladipa and Munisha (Triratna’s Safeguarding team), and Candradasa (The Buddhist Centre Online)
Triratna’s model Ethical guidelines and policies for Safeguarding children and adults are published today, updated for 2019 by Triratna’s Safeguarding team, part of Triratna’s Ethics Kula.
(See ‘Who are the Ethics kula and Safeguarding team?” and ‘What is Safeguarding?” below.)
Safeguarding and ethical policies and procedures can be seen as a practical expression of ahimsa, non-harming, the value underlying Buddhist precepts and the Bodhisattva activity of protecting living beings from harm.
The model Ethical guidelines (first published in 2015 on the initiative of Triratna’s International Council) are an internal statement of values for those teaching in Triratna centres, groups and retreat centres. Based on the five precepts, they complement our model Safeguarding documents, which follow external legal and regulatory requirements of charities in England and Wales, home to half our Order worldwide.
There has been no material change to the Ethical Guidelines since 2018 but the Safeguarding polices have been substantially updated in the light of new regulations and improved understanding, and in response to requests for guidance from Triratna centres.
Who uses these documents?
These model documents are made available to Triratna charities and other enterprises, to use as the basis for their own documents, or to adapt, translate or replace with other documents better suited to their local cultural, regulatory and legal requirements. They’re intended to provide guidance on in the prevention of harm in various situations, and how to respond when harm is reported.
What happens when someone brings a serious allegation?
All Triratna centres in the UK now have Safeguarding policies and Safeguarding officers to whom local concerns can be reported, or reports can be made directly to the Triratna Safeguarding team. (See below.) Triratna centres in other countries are encouraged to have the same, or to do whatever is required locally.
Where an allegation is made of a criminal nature it is the Safeguarding team’s policy that it be reported to the police, without exception. However, where for any reason an allegation cannot be pursued by the police and yet is too serious to ignore, we now have a publicly accountable internal ‘Panel process’ for addressing allegations of serious ethical misconduct.
Alongside developing our policies we have continued to address controversial matters in Triratna’s past, as can be seen in the Frequently Asked Questions document produced 2017-2018 by the Adhisthana kula.
Anyone with concerns or information regarding the ethical misconduct of members of Triratna in the past or present is requested to email the Safeguarding team at safeguarding [at] triratna.community - or to raise a complaint with the Charity Commission.
What is Safeguarding?
‘Safeguarding’ is a term used in England and Wales to refer to the duty of organisations to protect children and adults and adults from harm. (In Scotland it’s referred to as ‘Protection’ or Safeguarding.) While there are parallels in some other countries, there are many in which there is no such concept or requirement.
The Charity Commission for England and Wales and the Scottish Charity Regulator hold trustees responsible for Safeguarding/Protection in the course of their charity’s activities. If concerns are reported to the Commission or Regulator about misconduct connected with a charity, they will immediately ask to see its policies.
However, Safeguarding is not merely a matter of meeting external requirements. All Triratna charities are expected to have Safeguarding policies and officers because these are recognised as among the best means of avoiding or addressing the suffering caused by failures in Safeguarding.
Who are the Ethics kula and Safeguarding team?
As Triratna’s overall Safeguarding officer, I set up Triratna’s Ethics kula in January 2017 to ensure that serious ethical questions could be addressed at a more senior level 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 and Ratnadharini (Chair and Deputy Chair of the College of Preceptors), Aryajaya and Lokeshvara (Order convenors), Jnanasiddhi (Triratna Restorative kula) as well as the Triratna Safeguarding Team: me and our volunteer Safeguarding adviser, Amaladipa, who is very senior in the criminal justice system in Britain.
The Kula reviews new or updated documents and ensures that matters brought to the Safeguarding team are dealt with in the most appropriate manner, whether they require formal disciplinary action or a simple referral to the Triratna Restorative kula.
Read more about Safeguarding and Ethical guidelines in Triratna.
Read more about Restorative process in Triratna.
Metta Vihara, the retreat centre for Belgium and the Netherlands, opened in 2012. To help fund that project they asked a bulb grower to create a tulip, which was named Urgyen, after Sangharakshita, the founder of the Triratna Buddhist Order and community.
Now the grower has stopped producing it but a Triratna friend, Kees van den Berg, son of a Dutch bulb grower himself, has collected some 18 remaining bulbs and over the coming years is going to restart the production. He will start it in his own small garden near Amsterdam and later continue on the Metta Vihara grounds, with the help of the Metta Vihara Garden Team.
Here’s an update from Kees:
The process just started, is going steady but in its nature rather slow. The 18 bulbs are still in England and will brought to The Netherlands by Sanghadasa (currently living at Padmaloka) around the end of July.
Then my work begins with preparation of the bulbs (eventually splitting and keeping them dark and dry). The intention is to plant the bulbs at the end of October in a sunny place in the garden of Metta Vihara. Then we have to wait to see what nature does.
Flowering is expected begin of May and digging them up around the beginning of July. Then the whole process starts over again.
Most importantly is the process of digging them up, preparing and planting. So I hope the bulb population will grow by some 30% per year. We need a couple of years (up to ten to twenty) before we can offer a substantial amount of bulbs for flowering in gardens, while the population will be maintained.
But that is music for the future!
It is still early days but plans are afoot to design a website for this project - watch this space!
Windhorse Publications has been publishing books on mindfulness, meditation and Buddhism for 45 years. Over that time, thousands of people’s lives have changed as a result of reading a Windhorse book. As well as running a 3 for 2 book promotion for the summer, they have now launched their #lifechangingbooks campaign where readers can share which Windhorse book has changed their lives.
Join them on social media (Instagram, Twitter or Facebook) to watch people talking about a Windhorse book that has changed their life. You can also make and share your own video using #lifechangingbooks.
Windhorse Publications is hoping to raise £20,000 so that it can continue to publish life changing books such as Mind in Harmony, Buddhism: Tools for Living Your Life, and Mindfully Facing Disease and Death as well as publishing new books with the potential to change lives, like Free Time!, The Myth of Meditation and I’ll Meet You There.
“It’s a crucial practice if we want to look after the environment - we have to learn to appreciate it, just take it in, and love it, because what we love, none of us will destroy.”
Gunaketu and other members of the Oslo Buddhist Centre recently took part in an inter-religious climate pilgrimage from Oslo to Hope Cathedral, an interfaith project, in Fredrikstad (south of Oslo). The purpose of this four day walk was to encourage dialogue between different faiths and to explore their engagement and responses to the climate crisis. The Clear Vision team was in attendance and they made this short film of the walk, capturing conversations along the way as well as the beautiful Norwegian landscape.
Read The Three Jewels meet the Climate Emergency (including an extended discussion around some of the issues raised here).
Buddhist Action Month 2019 kicked off this week! Buddhist Action Month, or BAM, is an annual festival of Buddhist social action, an opportunity to explicitly bring Metta - or loving-kindness - off the cushion into the world around us. As in previous years, a number of Sanghas across Triratna are participating in this year’s BAM. Here’s a quick look at what some have in store.
At the North London Buddhist Centre there will be opportunities to make pledges on their ‘tree of intentions’ as well as special BAM themed Sangha nights and an early morning meditation. A highlight for the Mid Essex Buddhist Centre will be a visit from Akuppa, the author of Saving the Earth: A Buddhist View. Meanwhile at the Bristol Buddhist Centre a variety of events will take place, including a talk by Shantigarbha on empathy and non-violent action as a tool for social change, as well as an evening exploring simplicity and lifestyle, with Sagaravajra from the East Devon Forest Garden.
This year the Vancouver Sangha will take part in BAM for the first time! They are planning a number of different events including a solstice camping weekend retreat and going the ‘No Trans Mountain Pipeline’ rally.
And, here’s an interesting event - members of the Oslo Sangha have taken part in an ’ Inter-religious Climate Pilgrimage’ from Oslo to Fredrikstad, Norway. The Clear Vision team have been there filming so watch this space for more!
“At the heart of our movement is friendship and Sangha and being [at the Triratna International Gathering] is a really strong experience of a positive community. There’s a lot of love and generosity and mutual help…and you can’t do that by email or Facebook…You have to be together and eat together and sit together, be in the shrine room with 340 people and meditate together, chant together to experience the power of Sangha and mutual appreciation and love.”
The Triratna International Gathering is a biennial event which brings together large numbers of the Triratna Buddhist Community from around Europe. But what’s it like? Here’s a short video, with some highlights from the last Gathering in 2017, to give you a flavour of what this inspiring, fun and family friendly event is like.
This year’s Gathering takes place on 22 - 26 August at Adhisthana and the theme is ‘Alchemy of the Dharma’ which aims to help us transform the ‘base material’ of ourselves, our spiritual community, and the wider society into ‘gold’, into ‘personal’ riches, shared riches and the sustaining riches of loving wisdom. The diverse programme includes Dharma talks, workshops, meditation, body work, story-telling, children’s activities and much more besides!
We are very happy to let you know the names of the Dharmacharinis ordained today.
Public Preceptor Parami
Lynne Thompson Campbell becomes Dhicitraka, a Sanskrit name meaning “She who paints wisdom” (long first ‘i’, long last ‘a’).
Westernised spelling Dhichitraka.
Private Preceptor Amritamati.
Ania Markiewiecz becomes Saddhajala, a Pali name meaning “Flame of Faith” (long second, third and fourth ‘a’s).
Westernised spelling Saddhajala.
Private Preceptor Saddhanandi.
Gerry Beasley becomes Danabhaya, a Sanskrit / Pali name meaning “She whose generosity makes her fearless” (long first, second and last ‘a’s)
Westernised spelling Danabhaya.
Private Preceptor Sridakini.
Margo Winning becomes Satyavandana, a Sanskrit name meaning “She who reveres the truth”. (long final ‘a’)
Westernised spelling Satyavandana.
Private Preceptor Gunasiddhi.
Hanka Dilley becomes Prajñanita, a Sanskrit / Pali name meaning “She who is led by wisdom”. (tilde above the ’n’, long second and final ‘a’s and long ‘i’).
Westernised spelling Prajnanita.
Private Preceptor Saddhanandi.
Public Preceptor Santavajri
Marjolijn Stoltenkamp becomes Mañjudhi, a Sanskrit name meaning “Gentle wisdom”. (tilde above the ’n’ and long ‘i’)
Westernised spelling Manjudhi.
Private Preceptor Akashasuri.
Hannah Leonie Prinzler becomes Simharava, a Sanskrit name meaning “She who has a lion’s roar”. (dot under the ‘m’ and long second and third ‘a’s)
Westernised spelling Simharava.
Private Preceptor Parami.
Public Preceptor Maitreyi
Sarah Nixon becomes Moksadhi, a Sanskrit name meaning “She who has the wisdom of liberation”. (dot under the ’s’and long ‘i’).
Westernised spelling Mokshadhi.
Private Preceptor Parami.
Meg Hughes becomes Maitrisamudra, a Sanskrit name meaning “She who is an ocean of loving kindness”.(long second ‘i’ and long final ‘a’)
Westernised spelling Maitrisamudra.
Private Preceptor Santavajri.
Rosemarie Kosche becomes Acaladhi, a Sanskrit name meaning “she whose wisdom is unwavering” (long final ‘i’).
Private Preceptor Taracitta.
Jayne Osgood becomes Kalyani, a Sanskrit name meaning “She who is noble and authentic”. (long second’a’, dot under the ’n’ and long ‘i’)
Westernised spelling Kalyani.
Private Preceptor Varasahaya.
Alex Suffolk becomes Akasanandi, a Sanskrit name meaning “She whose delight is in infinite space”. (long first and second ‘a’s, acute accent above the ’s’ and long ‘i’)
Westernised spelling Akashanandi.
Private Preceptor Sraddhamayi.
Public Preceptor Punyamala
Ruth Rudd becomes Tarajyoti, a Sanskrit name meaning “She who is or has the light of Tara”. (long ‘a’s).
Westernised spelling Tarajyoti.
Private Preceptor Karunacitta.
Andrea Würdinger becomes Viryapadma, a Sanskrit name meaning “She who is a lotus of energy”. (long ‘i’ and long last ‘a’).
Westernised spelling Viryapadma.
Private Preceptor Kalyanaprabha.
Jan Osborne becomes Anantamati, a Sanskrit name meaning “She who has a boundless or infinite mind or intelligence; she who has a sky-like mind”.
Westernised spelling Anantamati.
Private Preceptor Sagaraghosa.
Siobhan Ford becomes Padmasakhi, a Pali name meaning “Lotus friend”. (long ‘i’).
Westernised spelling Padmasakhi.
Private Preceptor Ratnavandana.
SADHU! SADHU! SADHU!
“Suppose a man wandering in a forest wilderness found an ancient path, an ancient trail, travelled by men of old, and he followed it up, and by doing so he discovered an ancient city, an ancient royal capital, where men of old had lived, with parks and groves and lakes, walled round and beautiful to see. So I too found the ancient path, the ancient trail, travelled by the Fully Enlightened Ones of old” (Nidanasamyutta, Samyutta Nikaya ii.105-6)
During Buddha day we celebrate the fact that Siddhartha Gautama became an Enlightened human being, an Awakened One - a Buddha. This festival is celebrated by many Buddhists around the world - and, of course, throughout the Triratna Buddhist Community! Take a look at some of the photos in our gallery of Buddha day festivities in Triratna.
Among the first to mark this occasion was the Melbourne Buddhist Centre, who held their celebrations on 4 May. After the usual Saturday morning meditation class there was a shared lunch followed by a talk from Manjusiddha on the early life of the Buddha to his Enlightenment and a slide show presentation of the pilgrimage sites in India from Apada. The puja was conducted by the Chair, Dantacitta, with musical accompaniment and two Mitra Ceremonies - the Shakyamuni and Padmasambhava mantras were particular highlights.
Meanwhile in Britain, the Norwich Buddhist Centre decamped to the countryside for Buddha day. Vajragupta, the chair of the Centre writes:
Our Buddha day saw around 50 men, women and children gathering on Saccaka’s land in the Norfolk countryside for a day celebrating the Buddha’s Enlightenment. Preparation began the week before to erect the marquee and build a wonderful log shrine upon which, in the context of a Buddha Day ritual people were invited to place a favourite rupa or Buddha image. A children’s tent appeared on the day, where parents and children ranging from three months to ten years could have some respite and share activities. Highlights of the day included a talk by Ratnaghosa on ‘The Three Rs’: Reverence, Receptivity and Responsiveness and in the afternoon a dramatisation of the Buddha’s Enlightenment by Jessica and a special Touching The Earth Puja compiled by Suryadarshini. Thanks to Bodhivajra for organising the day.
In Dublin a more contemplative day took place with meditation and reflection on the Buddha and the joy that renunciation can bring, inspired by Prajnagita’s talk, ‘The Buddha and his begging bowl - the courageous practice of simplicity and the joy of letting go.’ There was also an opportunity for good conversation and delicious food. A sevenfold puja brought an enjoyable day to a beautiful end.
“What the Buddha overcame, we too can overcome” was the theme of Buddha day at the Amsterdam Buddhist Centre. The day was led by Jayavajri and Tarodaya and it was a mixture of meditation, reflection, sharing experiences, input and a threefold puja.
Parina, who attended the Amsterdam Buddhist Centre’s celebrations, writes:As a participant I enjoyed the atmosphere of celebrating the Buddha jewel: his remarkable attainment is very moving. We reflected on our own going forth and what is holding us back and it was moving to listen to each other’s open and honest reflections. One woman walked into our Centre for the first time and she was moved to tears by the Shakyamuni mantra. One other Sangha member shared her wish to care more for the earth by buying organic food. It was a rich, intimate, joyful celebration.
Sunday afternoon found the London Buddhist Centre attempting to celebrate the Buddha in a new way. Gus writes: “Over the course of an hour, we attempted to evoke the living presence of the Buddha with a cycle of meditation, atmospheric accordion music and stories told from the first-person perspective of some of those who met the Buddha (via some recognisable faces from the sangha!). Altogether with meditation, shared meals, Mitra ceremonies and a rousing talk from Jnanavaca, the LBC sangha was at its vibrant best, in tune with one another and alive to the ideal of the Buddha.”
In São Paulo, Brazil, Buddha day was celebrated on Wednesday night. Manjupriya writes:
Our little Sangha is almost 17 years old and last night we celebrated Wesak with a Seven-Fold puja with a reading of the story of the Buddha meeting Kisagotami. The shrine was very carefully built by the Wednesday night team and it focused on the Buddha Shakyamuni and Enlightenment in its five Jina forms. None of this would have been possible without the Buddha or Sangharakshita’s vision and dedication. Sabe Satta Sukhi Hontu!
Mitra ceremonies - an occasion to make a formal commitment to practice Buddhism in the context of the Triratna community - played an important role in many Buddha day celebrations in Triratna. From Berlin, Aryabandhu writes: ”a wonderful Buddha day at Buddhitsches Zentrum Berlin with Buddhanusati meditation, walking and chanting and a 7-fold puja with 3 Mitra ceremonies. About 50 people celebrated Buddha Day in Berlin……3 new mitras….Sadhu!…the Sangha grows.” Also at Nagaloka in Nagpur, India 45 people became mitras!
And in Valencia Buddha day celebrations commenced with an all-night meditation. Maitrighosha explains:
We started celebrating the Buddha’s commitment to awakening with a vigil through Saturday night, preceded by a light dinner at 21:00, and a lovely three fold puja and meditation at 22:00. There were 18 people at the beginning - through the night numbers decreased and there were 7 people by early morning finishing with a breakfast around 09:00.
On Sunday we began with a meditation, then Saddhakara gave a touching talk about seeing the Buddha’s Enlightenment through a child’s eyes, with awe-inspiring fascination… and finally we finished celebrating Buddha day with a traditional seven-fold puja taking the opportunity of incorporating mitra ceremonies in this context with a joyful atmosphere of rejoicing in merits, heart-felt offerings and mantra chanting. We were around 50 people there with a full shrine room. Many of us went later on to a restaurant to carry on the celebration in the traditional Spanish manner!
Recently TBCO featured Helen Lewis of Windhorse Publications interviewing Vajragupta about his new book, Free Time! From Clock-watching to Free-flowing – a Buddhist Guide. Here Vajragupta reveals more about the book… and about the mystery of time.
Your new book is now available from Windhorse Publications, and it is about Buddhism and time, and our relationship with time… can you say more?
As we know, the Buddha said that experience is shaped by mind; we become what we think. This is true of everything we experience, even the time that we seem to experience things ‘in’! So the book is exploring the ‘mind made’ nature of experience on a deep and fundamental level. If your time usually feels speedy, bitty, or frothy, then there will be something you are doing with your mind that is creating that sense of time. It will be profoundly effecting the quality of your whole life. So it is an important issue, especially these days. There are surveys showing just how many people feel they never have enough time, that they are always in a hurry. There is something badly awry with our culture’s attitude to time. I know this from my own personal experience. I have found exploring time, and unpacking how I ‘do time’ very revealing and freeing. So my hope is that the book can help people discover how to live more from a sense of time that is deep and flowing.
Can you give an example? How does what I do with my mind lead to a particular experience of time?
The book mainly explores how craving and aversion – pushing or pulling towards or away from our experience – condition our sense of time. The old proverbs ‘time flies when you are having fun’ and ‘a watched kettle never boils’ express what goes on. If we are craving something to last, then it seems to be over in a flash. If we are craving something to stop, then it seems to drag on for ages. Perversely our mind produces the opposite sensation of time to what we want! The book explores how that happens in much more detail. Perhaps the main point for now is that there is a mind-made, even ‘karmic’ or ethical, aspect to time. If you are in mind-states of craving and aversion, that will distort and tense-up your sense of time. If you do that habitually, the sense of time it creates is more constant and all-pervasive, and so seems more real… which leads you into fighting time even more… which re-creates that tensed experience of time… and so on. Seeing how it is mind-made can be liberating. You realise you have a choice about the time you live in.
OK, so our subjective experience of time varies. But surely time itself is real and objective? Things do take a certain time to complete and we only have so much time to do them in. So isn’t it an exaggeration to say that time is mind made?
It is true on one level that we only have so much time. There is a subjective feel to our time, but also an objective world we have to deal with. However, changing our attitude, and therefore transforming our subjective experience of time, can help us keep a clear head and deal with the world more skilfully and helpfully. Having said that, we can also deconstruct our idea of time more deeply and profoundly, and that is what the book goes into.
Well, the book explores the Buddhist teaching about the nature of the self. Part of how our mind works is by structuring experience around a sense of an observer, or perceiver – a ‘me’ that is having this experience, and also structuring experience in terms of past, present, and future. If you think carefully about it, there can be no ‘now’ without an observer, a ‘me’. ‘Now’ is where I am, it is the point from which I look. It is subject-dependent. That means past and future are also subject-dependent, because they only exist relative to now. So, whilst there may be an ever-changing flow of life that exists separate from me and others, there is no past, present, or future separate from the minds that perceive them. Time – at least time tensed into past, present, and future – is inherently mind-made. It is not that consciousness is in time. It is more true to say that time is in consciousness. Time is part of how our mind structures and makes experience.
We seem to have gone from something practical and everyday into something much more philosophical…
This is still very much about looking at our actual experience. There are a number of mediations and reflections in the book that help us to do this – to see what’s really there in our experience of time. Buddhism encourages us to examine and unpack our experience in this way, and to get beyond our assumptions. It says that in doing this there is a freedom to be found. We see that self and time aren’t so fixed and real as we maybe thought. They are something that we do, something that we create or fabricate, through our perceptions and volitions, our views and emotional reactions. So we have a choice – on a very profound level – about what kind of self we become, and what kind of time that it lives in!
What about science and time? Physics says very strange things about time; do you go into that in the book?
When I was researching the book I did read Carlo Rovelli’s ‘The Order of Time’ which was recently in the bestseller lists. He is an Italian physicist who has specialised in the science of time. He writes quite beautifully and opens up the sheer mystery of time from the point of view of modern physics. Einstein discovered that time varies according to our relative position and motion. This is not just a theoretical idea; it has been tested out and found to be true. One experiment used three of the most accurate clocks we have. Two were put in a couple of very fast planes and one left on the ground. The planes then travelled at top speed round the world in opposite directions. When they returned, all three clocks showed a different time had elapsed. The rate at which time occurred varied according to the speed and motion of the clock. So my book references these things, but I am not qualified to really go into them! I find them mind-boggling! The book is more focused on our mind-state and time – how certain attitudes and our quality of attention to life alter our experience of time. Having said that, one thing that is interesting about science and time is how our ‘common sense’ view is that time is a real, objective, external, regular, linear thing… ticking away like clockwork all over the universe. This is the Newtonian notion of time and it has been entirely superseded by a more Einsteinian view. But in the popular mind it is still that old idea of time that prevails, and that we tend to believe in.
Anything else you want to tell us about the book?
I really enjoyed writing it! Time is such a rich and fascinating topic. For example, I talk in the book about the whole culture of clock time and how we are socially and culturally conditioned into certain modes of time. The book also goes into our relationship with the past and future – how humans are storytelling creatures, and how past and future are actually just stories. Again, bringing awareness to how we are telling the story of our past and our future will change and transform them… it can change the past and future, it can change time!
One last question. Buddhism famously teaches that all things are impermanent; everything changes. Doesn’t that mean Buddhism is inherently about time? Yet you are suggesting it doesn’t exist!
I am suggesting that time is part of how the human mind works and structures experience. That is not the same as saying time doesn’t exist. Time is a real experience we humans have, but it is not a real thing that exists separate to us. So, yes, we experience things changing. We experience events moving past that supposedly fixed point of reference we call ‘me’. We experience the changing-ness of life and we call it ‘time’. We say that things change because time passes. But, actually, it is more like we experience time passing because things change. To say that things change because time passes suggests that there is a time separate from change. But how could that be? How could there be a time that does not pass?! Time is not why things change, or pass. Time is changing, passing. So you are right; part of exploring time from a Buddhist point of view is looking at change and impermanence. There is a chapter in the book with three ways of reflecting on impermanence – life-to-life, day-to-day, and moment-to-moment. We do need to be aware of time and transiency in order to make the most of our lives and not waste our opportunity. There is an aphorism I quote in the book: ‘live life as though today is your last day, but it will last for a thousand years’. This expresses one of the paradoxes of human life. We do need a sense of urgency, an awareness that time is finite – living from the mode of ‘one day’. But, if we are to touch into a deeper creativity, then we also need to have a sense of abundance, or even timelessness; we need to feel we have all the time in the world – living in the mode of ‘one thousand years’. Part of the art of a life well lived is doing both of these at once!
We are happy to announce the public ordination of ex-Dan Roberts from the Seattle Sangha at the Dharmadhara Retreat Center on 15th May, 2019.
Dan becomes Karunashanti. His new name means “He whose peace is through or from compassion.”
Shantinayaka was Private Preceptor and Viradhamma was Public Preceptor.
Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu!
We are delighted to announce that the following women received their public ordination at Adhisthana on 12th May 2019.
The public preceptor was Parami.
Mary Hastings becomes Dhipalita, a Sanskrit name meaning ‘She who is protected by Wisdom’. (Long first ‘i’ and long final ‘a’).
Westernised spelling: Dhipalita.
Private preceptor: Saddhanandi
Denise Carlyle becomes Advayagita, a Sanskrit name meaning ‘She who sings of non-duality’. (Long ‘i’ and long final ‘a’).
Westernised spelling: Advayagita.
Private preceptor: Santasiddhi.
Irene Hardy becomes Amayika, a Sanskrit name meaning. ‘She who is without deceit’. (Long second and final ‘a’s).
Westernised spelling: Amayika.
Private preceptor: Santasiddhi.
Tracey Smith becomes Satyanadi, a Sanskrit name meaning ‘She who is a river of truth’. (Long ‘i’).
Westernised spelling: Satyanadi.
Private preceptor: Amritamati.
Marilyn Williams becomes Prajñasisya, a Sanskrit name meaning ‘She who is a disciple of wisdom’. (Diacritic mark over the ‘n’, long second and final ‘a’s, acute accent over the first ‘s’ and dot under the second ‘s’).
Westernised spelling: Prajnashishya.
Private preceptor: Kalyacitta.
Lynda Taylor becomes Abhayamani, a Sanskrit name meaning ‘She who is or has the jewel of fearlessness’ (dot under the ‘n’).
Westernised spelling: Abhayamani.
Private preceptor: Kamalagita.
Pam Cooper becomes Saddhajivini, a Pali name meaning ‘She who lives from faith’ (long second ‘a’, long first and final ‘i’s).
Westernised spelling: Saddhajivini.
Private preceptor: Moksanandi.
Jeanette Forman was reordained taking once again the name Vijayanandi (no diacritics), meaning ‘She who delights in spiritual victory’.
Westernised spelling is also Vijayanandi.
Vijayanandi’s private preceptor was Srimala.
SADHU, SADHU, SADHU!
We are delighted to announce that the following men were publicly ordained on Sunday 5 May 2019 at Saddhamma Pradip Retreat Center, Bhaja, Maharashtra, India.
Here are their new names:
Public preceptor Amritadipa
Private preceptor Adityabodhi
Prakash Jadham, from Mumbai, becomes Danakirti (Having the fame of generosity)
Shashikant Sonawane, from Yerwada, becomes Karmasena (King of action)
Private preceptor Amritadipa
Vasant Kamble, from Yerwada, becomes Viryashila (Having the virtue of energy)
Private preceptor Jutindhar
Bansi Kate, from Yerwada, becomes Amitruchi (Having Infinite light)
Somanath Bhalerao becomes Shakyadhar (Upholder of Shakya lineage)
Public preceptor Ratnasila
Private preceptor Adityabodhi
Krushana Oval, from Dapodi, Pune, becomes Karmasiddhi (Accomplishment of action)
Private preceptor Anandbodhi
Vishwas Nikam, from Dehuroad, becomes Dharmayash (Fame of Dharma)
Private preceptor Anomadassi
Baccharam Kamble, from Thane, becomes Viryachandra (Moon of energy)
Ragho Jadhav, from Thane, becomes Dhairyamitra (Friend of courage)
Private preceptor Chandrabodhi
Sudhakar Gaikwad, from Kalburgi, becomes Vajraraj (King of Vajra-like wisdom)
Private preceptor Jnanadhvaja
Sanjay Gaikwad, from Dapodi, Pune, becomes Akasharatna (Sky-like jewel)
Private preceptor Surangam
Pralhad Lalsare, from Solapur, becomes Shraddhasena (King of Conviction)
Private preceptor Yashosagar
Vinod Shejwal, from Busaval, becomes Satyavajra (Vajra-like truth)
Tushar Alhat from Dapodi, Pune becomes Sanghasiddhi (Having accomplishment of Sangha)
Avinash Bansode, from Dapodi, Pune, becomes Jnanasambhava (Born of Knowledge)
Maruti Wankhede, from Thane, becomes Kshitiratna (Jewel of determination)
Public preceptor Yashosagar
Private preceptor Adityabodhi
Rajesh Tambe, from Mumbai, becomes Danasagar (Ocean of generosity)
Private preceptor Amrutadipa
Bajirao Kamble, from Dapodi, becomes Karmashur (Hero of action)
Ramesh Babar, from Dapodi, Pune, becomes Sudipta (Extremely luminous)
Private preceptor Anandbodhi
Devidas More, from Dehuroad, becomes Kshantimitra
Private preceptor Anomadassi
Sudhakar Ingavale, from Navi, Mumbai, becomes Uditakumar (Arisen prince)
Satyaprakash Kamble, from Latur, becomes Viratkumar (Detached prince)
Private preceptor Jutindhar
Ravindra Bansode, from Dapodi, Pune, becomes Jnanaghosh (Sound of Knowledge)
Private preceptor Ratnasila
Deepak Adhainge, from Busaval, becomes Jinachandra (Moon-like conqueror)
Guniratna Jadhav, from Thane, becomes Akshyaguna (Having imperishable virtues)
Vishal Gade, from Pune Camp, becomes Samasiddhi (Perfect accomplishment)
Abhijit Vighne, from Bhaja, becomes Ratnachandra (Moon-like jewel)
SADHU, SADHU, SADHU!
In this short film Aryanita, the current Chair, and Vassika, the former Chair, give us an update on their search for a new home for the Paris Buddhist Centre. A lovely, light, spacious place has been found in a peaceful part of Paris, around the corner from a beautiful park. The purchase will be complete in May and building work will start to transform it from a doctors’ surgery into a Buddhist Centre, with the plan for it to open in September.