Triratna News

Safeguarding in Triratna: an update

Posted 3 weeks ago

Since 2015, ‘Safeguarding’ has become an integral part of the life of Triratna organisations in the UK, and indeed those in many other countries, even where Safeguarding as understood in Britain is unknown. (See below for an explanation of Safeguarding.)

All Triratna centres in the UK now have Safeguarding policies and named Safeguarding officers. Triratna centres in other countries are encouraged to do the same, or to do whatever is required locally; and many have done so.

Earlier this year Triratna’s Ethics kula (including the Triratna Safeguarding team) published updated model Safeguarding policies for 2018 and the complementary model Ethical guidelines 2018. Triratna Centres and other charities are invited to use these as the basis of their own policies.

More recently we have drawn up a publicly accountable ‘Panel process’ for addressing allegations of serious ethical misconduct by members of Triratna, and we are continuing to address controversial matters in Triratna’s past, as can be seen in the recently updated version of the Frequently Asked Questions document produced by the Adhisthana kula.

Working with other Buddhist organisations
Following the Triratna Safeguarding training days we offered in 2016 and 2017 (Safeguarding children and adults), further child protection training is being provided on 1st December in Birmingham, this time for all UK Buddhist organisations, via the Network of Buddhist Organisations UK. (An earlier NBO day in November (Safeguarding adults) has had to be postponed as it clashed with Sangharakshita’s funeral and most of the bookings were from Triratna.)

As with the first two training days, the training will be led by an external trainer from Thirtyone:eight (previously the CCPAS) who specialise in Safeguarding for faith groups.

Booking and details for the child protection training day on 1st December.

Sexual misconduct by Dharma teachers is a growing concern among western Buddhists. It was a key theme at September’s meeting of the European Buddhist Union at Adhisthana, where I was among the speakers, explaining what Safeguarding is and how we do it in Triratna. Those present published a Statement against abuse in Buddhist communities.

Sexual misconduct was also a key topic at the April meeting of the German Buddhist Union, where I was invited to speak about Safeguarding and how we have been addressing the controversial aspects of Triratna’s past.

Safeguarding in Triratna’s development and fundraising charities
Safeguarding is now recognised as a very important aspect of the work of UK development charities, such as Triratna’s Karuna, working in India and Nepal. Karuna is actively contributing to the Safeguarding work led by BOND, the consortium of UK development charities. As required by the Charity Commission, all Karuna’s partner projects in India are now required to adopt Safeguarding standards as a condition of funding and many have now received training from the Indian Safeguarding charity Arpan.

India Dhamma Trust, which funds Triratna’s ordination process in India, is also developing its Safeguarding in co-operation with its Indian partners.

Since 2017 Triratna’s central fundraising charity, FutureDharma Fund, has required evidence of Safeguarding provision as a condition of funding.

Read more posts about Safeguarding and Ethical guidelines in Triratna.

+Follow news of Triratna work with other Buddhists on The Buddhist Centre Online.


What is Safeguarding?
‘Safeguarding’ is a term used in England and Wales to refer to the duty of legally established bodies to protect from harm children and adults. (In Scotland it is 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 charitable trustees responsible for Safeguarding/Protection in the course of charities’ activities. Though it’s not a legal requirement to have policies or officers, 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.


Large worldwide audience for live funeral video

Posted 4 weeks ago

It’s become clear that the apparently large gathering of 1,200-1,400 people in the barn at Adhisthana on Saturday for Bhante’s funeral was, in fact, a small fraction of the international audience taking part by following the day live on Facebook and YouTube, and by participating in simultaneous events at Buddhist Centres around the world.

Watch the complete edited livestream.

For a start, it’s estimated that those watching at public screenings across India numbered at least 61,000 – not including all those who watched at home or in social projects such as children’s hostels.

Often doing the same puja at the same time, often at very different times of day, many thousands of us watched together at at Buddhist Centres round the world. Some of us watched at home: in a small village in Wales; in Sweden, sitting in front of a shrine, dressed in blue.

Some viewers registered their presence and gratitude with posts on Facebook while watching from New Zealand, north America, Mexico, India, China, Singapore, Taiwan and Mongolia.

The numbers are all the more amazing given that much of the broadcast came via Candradasa’s iPhone, which he and I took turns holding up in the air for three hours – the more sophisticated livestreaming arrangements having failed at the last minute.

Here are just two reports, from India and New Zealand, but you are welcome to add yours to the comments section below or add to the remembrance page.

India Most of the Indian photographs here were sent to Lizzie Guinness, Programme manager at Karuna Trust, who writes: “I’ve spoken to people in Goa and Wardha today. They have said how special and amazing it was to be able to screen the funeral. They felt very connected with the atmosphere at Adhisthana and were participating along with the mantras and meditation and puja. It meant a great deal for them to be able to watch live.”

Vandanajyoti writes: “As the sun set in Aurangabad, about 120 people clad in blue saris and shirts gathered in front of the boys’ hostel. It was the last day of the Diwali holiday family retreat so many had been taking part in pujas every day at 7pm since Bhante’s death, holding him in mind in love, reverence and gratitude and now they were ready to participate in this final farewell. The retreat leaders were hard at work setting up the projector, battling against time pressure but meanwhile many retreatants had found better reception on their mobile phones tuned to YouTube.

Gradually the atmosphere settled, the projector started to work and the Shakyamuni mantra began. We had a sense of the mantra spreading across the world to us and beyond, starting with the crowds of people at Adhisthana but also knowing that more than a thousand more were gathered in Nagpur, in Pune at the Mahavihar, and that more were watching at many other Centres in India.

It was so moving to be part of this Indian crowd sitting on the dusty ground of the hostel compound chanting the mantras and joining in with our sevenfold puja, some in Marathi, some in English and most in Hindi. Then as the light began to fade at Adhisthana, everyone marvelled at the beauty of the pale English setting sun with those magical rays of golden light on the autumn leaves beside Bhante’s grave.

For many watching, Bhante had already become a mythic inspiration, a symbol of aspiration and an encouragement to practise. Many people told me how they had longed to visit him as they had heard from others how kind he was, how interested and understanding of their lives, even speaking Hindi to them at times. But we felt his presence strongly around us as we joined in the mantras and recited the puja, knowing that we were chanting with other sangha members across the world. And now people here long to make a pilgrimage to Bhante’s burial place in Adhisthana which looked so mysterious and magical in the misty golden beauty of the fading winter light.”

New Zealand Zoe Lim writes: “Meanwhile in Auckland, 30 Order Members and Mitras braced themselves for a sleepless night with an overnight puja held in tandem with Bhante’s funeral. People were arriving at the Auckland Buddhist Centre from 9.30pm, some traveling from Thames and Waiheke Island, two hours away.

As there is a 13-hour time difference between New Zealand and the UK, live-streaming of the funeral would start only at 1.30am local time. Before that, sleeping bags and snacks were laid out for topping up late-night energy. Hugs exchanged and words whispered in low voices. The atmosphere was solemn, tender and warm. Devotion for Bhante was gently and keenly felt. Video clips of Bhante’s life, compiled by Clear Vision, were played from around midnight. When livestream finally got through at nearly 2am, (silent) cheers of relief were mixed with joy and reverence at the sight of Adhisthana and familiar faces. In the next three hours, speeches were listened to and mantras chanted alongside Adhisthana, sending Bhante metta, gratitude and blessings from the southernmost part of the Sangha. It was a beautiful farewell with Bhante, with heartfelt solidarity with Adhisthana and the Sangha worldwide.”

Read a report on the day at Adhisthana.

See more photographs from the day at Adhisthana

+Follow posts on the Sangharakshita memorial space on The Buddhist Centre Online.

Would you like to thank the teams who made this worldwide livestream possible?
Support Dharmachakra’s work on The Buddhist Centre Online and Free Buddhist Audio.

Support Clear Vision with a monthly or one-off donation.


A Selection of Photos from Sangharakshita's Funeral

Posted 5 weeks ago

On Saturday 10th November the funeral of Urgyen Sangharakshita took place with an estimated 1,200 to 1,400 people attending the ceremony and burial in Adhisthana. Here are some of the photographs taken by Dhammarati during this significant day in the life of our community.

See the full album of pictures here

Read Munisha’s reflections from after the funeral

Watch the complete live stream of the funeral and burial


After the funeral

Posted 5 weeks ago

Today Adhisthana welcomed 1,200-1,400 friends from many countries. They arrived throughout the morning by coach, train and car, drank 1,800 paper cups of tea and later disappeared into the darkness - after a few momentous and beautiful hours in which we said goodbye to our teacher, Bhante Sangharakshita.

I’d like to offer two impressions from today and some of Dhammarati’s photographs. (Click to see full-frame.)

The arrangements for a high quality Facebook Live online video transmission from the funeral mysteriously failed at the last minute, which meant transmitting the whole thing from a hand-held iPhone (and Clear Vision did manage to broadcast a lot of the ceremony on YouTube). For Candradasa and me, who had intended to present the event live to camera, the prospect of holding this iPhone up in the air for three or four hours wasn’t attractive.

But then messages and hearts started flowing up the Facebook Live screen from some of the thousands of viewers joining in from all over the world: “Hello from Pune”, “Thank you from Taiwan”, “Joining you from China”, “Dawn is breaking in Seattle. Very magical to be a part of this with you all.” There were greetings from Singapore and Mongolia, and from 100 people watching together from a group of villages in India – just one of many such Indian audiences. I knew my own sangha were watching together in the Stockholm Buddhist Centre too, as in many other Triratna centres around the world.

Realising just how many people were watching in so many countries, it was really no problem to hold up an iPhone for several hours.

The Facebook Live footage does not include the burial itself and the YouTube footage includes the burial but lacks some other parts. Happily Clear Vision filmed everything and will produce a properly edited video programme about the day in due course.

Those gathered here included four people from Bhante’s own family, a few of his non-Buddhist friends and about 15 Buddhists from other traditions. Many of them were deeply affected by taking part and commented on what a wonderful experience it had been, what an extraordinary feat of organisation the event represented, and how marvellously they had been taken care of.

To finish, here is the English translation of the text of the song with which the funeral opened: ‘Sunset’ (Abendrot) one of the ‘Four Last Songs’ composed by Richard Strauss.

We have passed through sorrow and joy,
walking hand in hand.
Now we need not seek the way:
we have settled in a peaceful land.

The dark comes early to our valley,
and the night mist rises.
Two dreamy larks sally
forth – our souls’ disguises.
We let their soaring flight delight
us, then, overcome by sleep
at close of day, we must alight
before we fly too far, or dive too deep.

The great peace here is wide and still
and rich with glowing sunsets:
If this is death, having had our fill
of getting lost, we find beauty – No regrets.

+Follow the dedicated Sangharakshita memorial space on The Buddhist Centre Online.

See more photographs from the day at Adhisthana

Support Clear Vision with a monthly or one-off donation.

Support Dharmachakra’s work on The Buddhist Centre Online and Free Buddhist Audio


Adhisthana prepares for Bhante's funeral

Posted 5 weeks ago

Here at Adhisthana many people have been hard at work preparing for Bhante’s funeral tomorrow, and the arrival in the small village of Coddington of an estimated one thousand people via narrow country roads.

Join us online at 12.20pm UK time.

Watch this space for the live stream embedded on The Buddhist Centre Online.
We’ll also be streaming live on YouTube and on Facebook, with a feed of regular online updates throughout on Instagram and on Twitter.

Download the order of service.

The funeral service starts at 12.30pm, in the old barn, to be followed by the burial in the circular plot already landscaped and made ready.

Though we are all very busy, there is a warm and kind atmosphere of teamwork; work as practice. Since last Tuesday hundreds of us have already been visiting from across the UK and other countries for short periods to spend time sitting with Bhante’s body in the Amitabha shrine room. He is dressed in a slate blue robe with his mala in his hand and, as he requested, his head is resting on Dhardo Rinpoche’s yellow robe. Meanwhile, in the shrine room, members of the community, volunteers, visitors and local sangha have maintained a 24 hour vigil with meditation and mantra chanting since Tuesday.

Bhante having died just before a College meeting, College members from around the world have been here all week. While they get on with their meetings, an ever-growing band of volunteers has been working with the Adhisthana community. A number of different teams have been preparing the grave, planning the shuttle service from the station, building the shrine, cleaning, laying out chairs, cooking, booking portaloos, and installing wheelchair accessible non-slip matting to enable easy access to the barn.

Guests from other Buddhist traditions will be attending and four members of Bhante’s family are coming too.

To enable people to take part all over the world, Clear Vision and The Buddhist Centre Online have arranged to livestream video here on The Buddhist Centre Online. Whilst we obviously cannot guarantee flawless coverage, we are doing everything we can to make it possible - meaning the installation of much faster internet, and a drone to film from the air! Join us there tomorrow.

+Follow the stream of remembrance posts on The Buddhist Centre Online.


Urgyen Sangharakshita 1925-2018

Posted 7 weeks ago

With great sadness we inform you of the passing away of Urgyen Sangharakshita, today, 30th October 2018, at approximately 10 am in Hereford Hospital. He had been diagnosed with pneumonia and this morning the consultant said that he also had sepsis, from which recovery was not possible.

Please join with us as we direct our metta towards Bhante, recollecting his wonderful qualities and remembering with gratitude all that he has given to so many of us. Local Centres around the world may be holding daily meditations and pujas and you may wish to arrange additional activities in your communities and homes.

Bhante asked that the following mantras be chanted at the time of his death: Shakyamuni, Green Tara, Manjushri, Amitabha and Padmasambhava.

After a few days Bhante’s body will be laid out at Adhisthana where the funeral and burial will also take place.

All details of the arrangements for sitting with Bhante’s body, online coverage of the rituals that will be taking place there, and the funeral arrangements, will be announced on the dedicated public space on The Buddhist Centre Online. Here, too, you may read an obituary, contribute an online post to the Remembrances section, and contribute to the Book of Gratitude if you wish, in any language.

+Follow the dedicated space on The Buddhist Centre Online.


The Celebration of the 62nd Anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar's Mass Conversion to Buddhism

Posted 7 weeks ago

On the 18th to the 20th October the Nagarjuna Institute in Nagaloka, India, organised a celebration of Dhammachakra Pravartana day or the 62nd Anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar’s Mass Conversion to Buddhism. This event included an international conference on the theme of ”The Revival of Buddhism in India and its impact on Buddhist Dynamics in South Asia.”

The Nagarjuna Institute, located in Nagpur Maharashtra, India, each year celebrates the anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar’s Mass Conversion to Buddhism by organising a public programme with guest speakers coming from the Buddhist world. The programme this year was inaugurated by:

  • Ven. Master Ren Da (Abbot Boshan Zhengjue Monastery, China)
  • Ven. Master Chong Hua (Abbot, Chong Sheng Temple, China)
  • Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Theor, (M.P., Sri Lanka)
  • Harsha Kumar Navaratne, (Chairman Sevalanka Foundation, Sri Lanka)
  • Pro. Sukhadev Thorat, (Former Chairman, UGC & ICSSR, India)
  • Dhammachari Lokamitra, UK
  • Prof. Jia Da Quing, China
  • Raymond Lam, China
  • Dong Dong Yu, China
  • ​Rem Bhadur B.K, Nepal

This year the special guests came from South Asian countries such as China, Sri Lanka and Nepal to commemorate this important event and participate in the international conference. The aim of the conference was link up with Buddhists of South Asian countries and share with them the revival of Buddhism in India.

As part of the celebrations, the visitors laid a foundation stone for a hostel for boys, were present at the opening of Nagaloka’s solar panel as well as the unveiling of a large Tibetan Wheel of Life.

Watch the short film about the commemoration and conference.

Read more news from India


European Buddhists gather at Adhisthana

Posted 8 weeks ago

The last weekend in September saw the annual gathering of the European Buddhist Union (EBU), this year hosted by Triratna at Adhisthana, followed as always by the annual meeting of the Buddhist Teachers in Europe (BTE).

For the EBU meeting, around 30 people from national Buddhist unions and individual Buddhist traditions across Europe, and including some young Buddhist guests, spent three days together, concentrating on two topics: 1) Young Buddhists and 2) preventing abuse in Sanghas. It was a really happy weekend, the visitors and the Adhisthana community seemingly delighting in each other, and in the beauty of Adhisthana in autumn.

Prajnaketu spoke about his work as Triratna’s Young Buddhist Co-ordinator and as Triratna’s Safeguarding officer I gave a talk explaining what Safeguarding is and how Triratna’s Safeguarding policies complement our Ethical Guidelines. (‘Safeguarding’ as understood in Britain is unknown in many European countries.) Those present signed up to a Statement against sexual abuse in sanghas.

Bhante had a steady stream of visitors all weekend and received a number of presents including a musical box playing Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ (the European anthem), a present very thoughtfully chosen by the secretary of the Austrian Buddhist Union because Bhante has such limited sight.

In the closing circle, the president of the Norwegian Buddhist Union, obviously moved, said he had first met Bhante in the 1970s and meeting this “towering pioneer in Western Buddhism” again that day had been the highlight of his weekend; something he would remember for the rest of his life.

“I really loved to be in Adhisthana. It’s a place where you can feel the Dharma everywhere.” Thank you message from an Italian Buddhist

The subsequent Buddhist Teachers in Europe (BTE) meeting was a meeting of 8-10 people. I very much enjoyed seeing Bhante attending the talks, sitting in a group of teachers listening intently and commenting carefully. It was a particular joy to see the friendship between him and Lama Shenpen Hookham. Now 93 and 72 respectively, they first met 50 years ago when he was her first Dharma teacher. She later founded the Awakened Heart Sangha in north Wales.

Read about the EBU meeting in more detail.
Read about the BTE meeting in more detail.
+Follow Triratna in the Buddhist world.

Read the EBU Statement on abuse in Buddhist communities.
Read the EBU Young People’s report.


Sangharakshita's Diary

Posted 9 weeks ago

Sthanashraddha is Bhante’s secretary. He writes from Adhisthana, UK:

August continued to blaze with sunshine and heat, though eventually it did break and the rains fell with a downpour here or there and rainy days mixed between sunny ones. Wonderful for slowly rejuvenating the very dry and crispy gardens, less attractive for Bhante’s morning walk and sit by the pond.

The wet weather was very noticeable during the Order weekend at the end of the month when we also celebrated Bhante’s 93rd birthday, wishing him well for the start of his 94th year. Cards had begun arriving earlier in the month and carried on arriving after the day. Some small and handmade, some very large, others having travelled all the way from India and Australia.

On the day itself Bhante came out of the front door of the men’s community after lunch to be greeted by a couple of hundred Order members sheltering under umbrellas and raincoats while we sang him a happy birthday, presented him with a very large cake made by a Mitra from London, Laura, who was on the Mitra team and a large card from the Weekend gathering.

The following day Bhante joined us in the marquee for the handing over ritual of International Order Convenor, from Parami to Aryajaya. Remaining in his wheel chair he also took the time to look at the shrine and circumambulate it not once but three times.

Of course the earlier part of August saw the usual activities of meeting with people mostly one-to-one but also the occasional group, such as some Spanish speaking women from Mexico and Spain on their way to Tiratanaloka. It was during August when the Men’s Dharma Life course ended and so Bhante met with them one last time all together for a photograph in front of the main house.

Here follows then the monthly list of meetings during August:
Utpalacitta, Dyotana, Priyavadita, Kalyanaprabha, Sally Murray-Jones, Maitreyi, Saccanama, Sanghapurna, Sraddhasara, Prasadavati, Cittapala, Satyajyoti, Alyssa Fradenberg, Padmadharini, Carmen Valle, Graciela Huerta, Monica Tamarit, Susana Navarro, Reme Rojo, Alma Mendoza, Vilasini, Sraddhabha, Moksavadini, Kalyanadhi, Vajrasri, Amoghavajri, Vajragupta(f), Kulanandi, Joseph Undaloc, Fred Radley, Daniel Canning, Vanessa Grundy, Paul Johnson, Jonathan O’Keeffe, Satyanandi, Maitrijit, Tobias Thamm, Cany Navarro, Parami, Prajnahridaya, Sadhanaratna, Viryanaga, Aranyaka, Gunasara, Lokamdhara, Peter Ran, Kamalanaga, Guilhem Monin, Sujiva, Sonja (Berlin), and Kularatna.

There was also one of Bhante’s trips to the hospital, for his eye checkup and injection of Lucentis.

Finally, writing in August, Bhante wrote three pieces ‘Buddhism and Islam’, ‘My Muslim friend’, and ‘Islam and the Buddha’.

After the rainy weekend in August the weather shifted and September had some gloriously beautiful days and some stormy wet and windy days but all of them were increasingly tinged with autumn. The nights began to draw in faster and faster. And the leaves are beginning, if not to turn, then certainly toughen up and dry out.

Bhante met with various people including a group of men from Mexico on their way to Guhyaloka and at the very end of the month Adhisthana hosted the AGM of the European Buddhist Union (EBU), during which a few of the other union members met with Bhante. He was particularly pleased that Adhisthana was hosting the meeting and concerned that we made a good job of hosting and looking after the various union members well. And he is looking forward to hopefully meeting with an old friend, Lama Shenpen Hookham, during the Buddhist Teachers in Europe meeting which follows on immediately after the EBU finishes.

Here follows then the list of people Bhante met with in September:
Gabriel Tona, Juan Carlos Martinez, Mauricio Garcia, Sachin Bhongadee, Pradaya, Paramajyoti, Saddhanandi, David Culver, Subhuti, Dharmananda, Nagamani, Nirmala, Upekshanandi, Akshobyini, David Elliott, Guhyaprabha, Prajnamala, Prajnajaya, Suryaka, Abhayanandi, Catriona (Teen) Ross, Ania Markiewicz, Vidyadevi, Sthiranaga, Sinhadakini, Dayachitta, Sara Khorasani, Saddhaloka, Lokamitra, Vishangka, Vivekaratna, Deborah Creed, Claire Morris Vajrapushpa, Karunasri, Ratnadeva, Robbert Harrap (EBU), Egil Lottie (EBU), Elaine Devonian (EBU), Matthias Grumaye (EBU), Klaus Kraler (EBU), Ron Eichorn (current president (EBU), Gabriele Maas (EBU).

After writing ‘Science and Poetry: a note’ Bhante received a few notes and letters from Order members who are similarly exploring, either for the first time or over many years the subject of Science. Among those notes have been several book recommendations, some of which Bhante is following up, at present he is just dipping into ‘Shadows of the Mind’ by Robert Penrose, subtitled ‘A search for the missing science of consciousness’.

Metta, Sthanashraddha.”


Suryagupta becomes Chair of the London Buddhist Centre

Posted 9 weeks ago

In a special ritual on Monday 9th March 2018 Suryagupta became the new Chair of the London Buddhist Centre - one of Triratna’s oldest and largest urban Buddhist Centres, outside of India. Suryagupta is the first woman to become a chair of the LBC. Furthermore, as a mother and a woman of African Caribbean heritage, she brings a breadth of experience to this important role in the Triratna Buddhist Community.

Here is an interview with Suryagupta.

1. Can you say a little about your background?
I was born in Mile End, East London, which is the next tube stop from Bethnal Green, where the London Buddhist Centre is based. So I am very much a local girl - with Caribbean parents! I spent quite a lot of my early years in Caribbean with my grandparents and came back to England when I was about six or seven. I grew up in East London but always had a sense I wanted to leave – while I appreciated the community spirit, I experienced 1970’s East End of London as a largely hostile place as there was a great deal of racism as well as poverty. When the time came I went off and studied law at Bristol University. It was in Bristol that I first got involved in Buddhism. After living in Bristol for a while I returned to Bethnal Green and to the LBC for the first time and was delighted to experience a very different place than the one I had left.

2. What kind of jobs did you do before becoming chair?
While I briefly worked in a ‘team-based right livelihood’ in London I mostly worked ‘in the world’. I was a youth worker, working with refugees, a social worker. I then became a professional storyteller, which I loved and after a number of years transitioned to coaching and leadership development. I also co-founded an orchestra and a professional network seeking to create more racial diversity in classical music. My son was an inspiration as he’s a cellist and we worked with leading organisations such as The Barbican and The Royal Academy of Music. I enjoyed all the work I did but I had a growing need to serve the Dharma and after a car accident, I knew that this need and wish to serve had to take centre stage.

3. What was the process of becoming Chair like?
I was very reluctant at first but quite a lot of people wanted me to put myself forward. I knew it would certainly not be comfortable for me as, apart from serving such a large community, I also have a different lifestyle than previous Chairs and I wasn’t sure how it would work. However, after a great deal of thought, I felt that if it were what the situation required I would put myself forward and see what happened. I also work with women in leadership and in the end I asked myself ‘is there a good reason I shouldn’t put myself forward?’ In December when I was told by the Council that they wanted me to be the next Chair, I was in shock. I was also moved to tears, feeling a mixture of gratitude, shock and awe.

4. How has your family reacted to you taking on this responsibility?
My nineteen-year-old son attended the ceremony and loved it. I often talk to him about the Dharma but it is sometimes interspersed with ‘don’t forget to clean your room’ so I think he really only saw the whole context and the commitment I’ve made when I was giving a talk at the ceremony. He’s been extremely supportive and encouraging all the way - all my family has been.

5. What has it been like so far being chair of one of Triratna’s Largest Buddhist Centres?
It’s been full, exciting, demanding and has definitely stretched me. It also feels like such a privilege to serve such a vibrant and inspiring community. I am happy to be doing it. It’s not comfortable but it’s energising for sure.

6. Looking ahead - are there any areas you would like to focus on in your role as chair?
Well, the first thing is to maintain and continue to develop the positive and creative environment we have at the LBC. Many people describe the LBC as like an oasis and so many Order Members, Mitras and many volunteers all help create this. It takes energy, skill and really love from from us all to just continue this. So this is my first priority, to maintain the positive and then share the Dharma more and more widely. I also want to support activities for under 25’s and for black, Asian people as both groups are currently under-represented in Triratna.

Other than that I’m just going to see what the situation requires. I have been Chair for 6 months so it’s still early days.

7. Anything else?
Inspiration has been my guide in all the roles I have had. It was inspiration and a need to serve that led me to put the LBC at the centre of my life and becoming Chair is a powerful expression of that. Being a Chair also requires me to continue to create the right conditions to deepen my Dharma practice. So along with the many projects and activities I am engaged with, it’s important that I also make time for doing nothing, enjoying silence, dwelling in nature, personal study and friendships.

Watch a short video of the handover ceremony in March.


I Can't Believe It's Not Buddha!

Posted 10 weeks ago

Did the Buddha actually say “all worldlings are mad”, “all descriptions of reality are temporary hypotheses” or “all things are perfect exactly as they are”? These are just some of the sayings that Bodhipaksa, author of Vegetarianism: A Buddhist View and of the Wildmind Buddhist Meditation site, investigates in his new book I Can’t Believe It’s Not Buddha!, an entertaining search for the truth amidst the haystack of ‘Buddha quotes.’

The book is Bodhipaksa’s response to encountering many dubious ‘quotes’ attributed to the Buddha on social media and elsewhere over many years. Sayings from people such as Osho (Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh), Robert Louis Stevenson, Marie Curie…even quotes originating from the film ‘Fight Club’ or unlikely ‘literary’ quotes (such as “ennui has made more gamblers than avarice, more drunkards than thirst, and perhaps as many suicides as despair”) have been, at various times, attributed to the Buddha.

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. - A real quote from the Buddha?

With great humour Bodhipaksa explores the ‘fake Buddha quotes’ phenomenon, using them as teaching opportunities to succinctly elucidate what the Buddha actually taught.

Published by Parallax, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Buddha! is available in book shops from the 6th November.

Visit to find out more about this book and where it is available.


Fundraising Concert in support of Triratna Order members

Posted 11 weeks ago

Join the Abhayaratna Trust for an exciting 10th Anniversary Concert that brings together some of the finest classical and jazz musicians in the Triratna Community on Saturday 27th October in the Cambridge Buddhist Centre from 7pm to 9pm!

Be serenaded by Ratnadhya’s Schubert; inspired by Manidhara singing some of Sangharakashita’s poems, accompanied by composer and pianist Akashadeva. Then be thoroughly entertained by Ratnadhya’s gifted musical parodies, before being stirred by Yashodaka’s five piece jazz group ‘Change of Sky’, and enjoying complementary refreshments.

All the performers are giving their time and talent free to help raise money for the Abhayaratna Trust, now in its 10th year of supporting individual Triratna Buddhist Order members, many of whom have dedicated their lives to teaching Dharma and building our Sangha.

The concert is the start of the Trust’s BIG 10:10 Appeal, to raise £10,000 in its 10th year. If you cannot make the concert, donations are very welcome.

Find out more about how the Abhayaratna Trust supports over 100 Order members a year with its grant programme.

Book here for this very special event.

Sign up for the Abhayaratna Trust’s email newsletter.


Public Ordinations at Guhyaloka

Posted 11 weeks ago

We are delighted to announce the names of twelve new Dharmacharis who were ordained on Saturday 29th September at Guhyaloka Retreat Centre.

Preceptor Público / Public Preceptor: Moksananda

Juan Carlos Martinez se convierte en Visuddhiketu
nombre pali que significa “Estandarte de purificación”
(Ortografía occidentalizada Visuddhiketu)
Preceptor Privado: Virasiddhi.

Juan Carlos Martinez becomes Visuddhiketu
a Pali name meaning “Banner of purification”
(Westernised spelling Visuddhiketu).
Private Preceptor: Virasiddhi.

Mauricio Garcia se convierte en Khemarati
nombre pali que significa “Él que se deleita en la paz que es la iluminación”
(Ortografía occidentalizada Khemarati)
Preceptor Privado: Nagapriya.

Mauricio Garcia becomes Khemarati
a Pali name meaning “He who delights in the peace of enlightenment”
(Westernised spelling Khemarati)
Private Preceptor: Nagapriya.

Sachin Bhongadee se convierte en Ariyanātha
nombre pali que significa “Él que tiene los nobles como sus protectores”
(Ortografía occidentalizada Ariyanatha)
Preceptor Privado: Nagapriya.

Sachin Bhongadee becomes Ariyanātha
a Pali name meaning “He whose protectors are the noble ones”
(Westernised spelling Ariyanatha)
Private Preceptor: Nagapriya.

Gabriel Tona se convierte en Sīlarāja
nombre pali que significa “El rey de la ética; el líder en la conducta ética”
(Ortografía occidentalizada Silaraja)
Preceptor Privado: Nagapriya.

Gabriel Tona becomes Sīlarāja
a Pali name meaning “King of ethics; Leader in ethical conduct”
(Westernised spelling Silaraja)
Private Preceptor: Nagapriya.

Preceptor Público / Public Preceptor: Mahamati

Marcel Wolfkamp se convierte en Sangharati
nombre sánscrito que significa “Él que se deleita en la Sangha”
(Ortografía occidentalizada Sangharati)
Preceptor Privado: Arthamitra.

Marcel Wolfkamp becomes Sangharati
a Sanskrit name meaning “He who delights in Sangha”
(Westernised spelling Sangharati)
Private Preceptor: Arthamitra.

Bob Pluijter se convierte en Dhammapitika
nombre pali que significa “Él que se entusiasma por el Dharma”
(Ortografía occidentalizada Dhammapitika)
Preceptor Privado: Ksantivadin.

Bob Pluijter becomes Dhammapitika
a Pali name meaning “He who is enthusiastic for the Dharma”
(Westernised spelling Dhammapitika)
Private Preceptor: Ksantivadin.

Preceptor Público / Public Preceptor: Paramabandhu

Kenny Squire se convierte en Kuladīpa
nombre pali que significa “Él que es una luz o lámpara de la comunidad”
(Ortografía occidentalizada Kuladipa)
Preceptor Privado: Ratnaghosha.

Kenny Squire becomes Kuladīpa
a Pali name meaning “He who is a light or lamp of the community”
(Westernised spelling Kuladipa)
Private Preceptor: Ratnaghosha

Eamonn Lawlor se convierte en Dayāsāgara
nombre pali que significa “Él que es un océano de amabilidad o bondad”
(Ortografía occidentalizada Dayasagara)
Preceptor Privado: Vajrashura.

Eamonn Lawlor becomes Dayāsāgara
a Pali name meaning “He who is an ocean of kindness”
(Westernised spelling Dayasagara)
Private Preceptor: Vajrashura

John Bell se convierte en Dhammasāra
nombre pali que significa “Él cuya fuerza es el Dharma”
(Ortografía occidentalizada Dhammasara)
Preceptor Privado: Dharmananda.

John Bell becomes Dhammasāra
a Pali name meaning “He whose strength is the Dharma”
(Westernised spelling Dhammasara)
Private Preceptor: Dharmanada.

Dàibhidh Grannd se convierte en Amarapāla
nombre pali que significa “Protector de lo inmortal”
(Ortografía occidentalizada Amarapala)
Preceptor Privado: Mahamati.

Dàibhidh Grannd becomes Amarapāla
a Pali name meaning “Protector of the Deathless”
(Westernised spelling Amarapala)
Private Preceptor: Mahamati.

Onur Pinar se convierte en Nāyadīpa
nombre pali que significa “Él que es una luz guiadora; Luz de guía o líder”
(Ortografía occidentalizada Nayadipa)
Preceptor Privado: Ratnaghosha.

Onur Pinar becomes Nāyadīpa
a Pali name meaning “He who is a guiding or leading light; light of guidance”
(Westernised spelling Nayadipa)
Private Preceptor: Ratnaghosha.

Preceptor Público / Public Preceptor Saddhaloka

Ivo Fridolin se convierte en Jñānākara
nombre sánscrito que significa “Él que es una fuente rica de conocimiento”
(Ortografía occidentalizada Jnanakara)
Preceptor Privado: Vaddhaka.

Ivo Fridolin becomes Jñānākara
a Sanskrit name meaning “He who is a rich source of knowledge”
(Westernised spelling Jnanakara)
Private Preceptor: Vaddhaka.



Ratnaprabha Becomes Chair of the North London Buddhist Centre

Posted 11 weeks ago

Sunday the 16th September at the North London Buddhist Centre was multifaceted:
* Celebrating Padmasambhava Day,
* Holding four Mitra ceremonies (Afra, Charlie, Laura and Remi),
* Rejoicing in the outgoing chair, Visuddhimati,
* And inaugurating Ratnaprabha as the new chair.

Look out for the ceremonial Vajra (a brass thunderbolt symbolising transformation).

Ratnaprabha will kick off with a series of public lectures on Saturday mornings at 11:30, inspired by the Buddha’s teaching to the Fire Worshippers, “The World is burning with the fires of greed, hatred and delusion”. They are on 6 October, 3 November and 1 December.

Find out more about ‘The World is Burning’ series at the North London Buddhist Centre

Listen to the first ‘Budcast’ - ‘Needing Nothing’

Photo credits: Dharma Reddy and Matthew Peglar.


Pride 2018 in the Dublin Buddhist Centre

Posted 12 weeks ago

To celebrate Dublin Pride 2018, and Buddhist Action Month (BAM), the Dublin Buddhist Centre hosted a special Pride celebration on the 25th June. Kasey Tobin, a GFR Mitra involved in the event gives us a flavour of the event.

“This event was facilitated by a number of us in the Dublin Sangha with LGBT+ experiences. As LGBT+ people we have seen a lot of progress in securing our human rights in the last few years in Ireland (for example the Marriage Equality Referendum, and Gender Recognition Legislation). However, many of us can still carry a sense of shame or guilt around who we are, and sometimes those roots of discrimination, or being treated differently, can run quite deeply both in society and our own psyches.

Open to those who are Buddhism Curious
The event was open to all those who were Buddhism curious! A lovely diverse mix of 27 people came. We had people of all colours of the LGBT+ rainbow, with diverse experiences of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and physiological sex. There were some who were new to the Dublin Buddhist Centre and some who were regulars. Along with this mix of people with LGBT+ perspectives, family members, loved ones and allies joined us as well.

During this evening, we had an introduction and a practice of the Metta Bhavana meditation, a great way of building on the positive mental states, true individuality and community that Pride celebrates. There was also discussions and break-out groups exploring the diverse range of experiences in the LGBT+ community, as well as a very important break for some non-alcoholic bubbly!

LGBT+ people can unfortunately still be excluded from many spiritual traditions, so it is to explicitly communicate that our Sangha is a place where everyone is welcome. This was one of the things we wanted to communicate this evening, to open up the Centre to people who might have felt hesitant about it, that it might not be for them.

LGBT+ Experiences in Triratna
We explored how for many of us, Triratna had been welcoming to us with our LGBT+ experiences. Triratna was founded in 1967, around the time of decriminalisation of homosexuality in England. A few of us talked about how we had felt accepted with our identities within the Dublin Sangha, and also by the wider Triratna community. It had not been a big deal, meaning we could just get on with practice, but also that we could talk about it and it wouldn’t be ignored. At the same time, we also tried to examine the ways in which there may be challenges or barriers of entry for some LGBT+ people engaging in the Sangha.

The Buddha’s Example
We looked at the Buddha’s life and how he began his spiritual quest by realising a dissatisfaction with life, his seeing the four sights of old age, sickness, death and then the holy man. For a lot of us with LGBT+ experiences, we can come up against this dissatisfaction at an early age, particularly if we don’t feel we can be who we truly are. We can be forced into asking pretty fundamental questions about our identities and our place in the world. Also we may not fit into many of the traditional patterns for living within society, and experience a sense of suffering or dukkha as a result. This can be even more so if we can’t be open about who we are, and also how the process of coming out, while liberating, can cause problems and difficulties. This can bring about a desire, or a sense of searching, to find an end to this suffering, to begin the quest to freedom, as some mentioned was their experience.

The Buddha then through his quest became completely awakened, gaining a freedom from all negative mental states. Through a deep solidarity and care for all that lives, he taught a path to this awakening, through ethics, meditation and wisdom.

Sexual Ethics and Gender Roles
The ethical principles in Buddhism are very different to other forms of authoritarian morality, which often are the basis or justifications used to suppress and harm those in the LGBT+ community. This is particularly true of ethics around sexuality. Members of our LGBT+ community have been outlawed, shamed, made illegal, simply because of who they love, and unfortunately this is still the case in many parts of the world today. Going outside tightly defined gender roles was, and sometimes still is, prohibited, which was a large contributing factor to the Stonewall riots, which proved a major catalyst for the LGBT+ human rights movement.

So it’s understandable that we might be a bit apprehensive about exploring sexual ethics. This is why it’s so important to emphasise that the Buddhist ethical precepts aren’t rules or commandments to be obeyed out of fear, but instead are guidelines based on love, helping us to develop a solidarity with other living beings. But it’s really important to say - and we stressed this at the evening - that Buddhist sexual ethics has nothing to do with the gender of the person, or persons, you’re having a relationship with, nor with your experience of your own gender. We emphasise this quite strongly in classes in the DBC. It’s more about refraining from causing harm to others, or ourselves, in our sexual relationships, coming as it does from that sense of solidarity and care for all beings that the enlightened state represents.

A few of us were quite nervous before this event, as it felt like something very significant and meaningful for us, and a way of quite visibly bringing a particular aspect of ourselves into our spiritual practice. But we were really delighted with the outcome. There was a great sense of community and mutual support between people at the evening, showing the power of Sangha and Metta to bring people together. This is the first time that we were holding a Pride celebration here at the DBC, and hopefully there will be other events like this in the future.”

Read more about gender diversity in Triratna

More on diversity from The Buddhist Centre Online

Follow the Gender Diverse Group on Facebook