Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sangharakshita in 2007 - part 2

Following yesterday's post, this is Part II of Sangharakshita’s activities in 2007 –

Bhante's daily routine: Whist at home, in Madhyamaloka, Bhante continued his daily routine of 'reading' correspondence (all correspondence is now read to him), dictating replies, dealing with any other business, taking his daily morning walk and receiving personal visitors. Over the year he saw 245 people individually at Madhyamaloka. If we include people he saw during his many trips during the number of individuals he met with would be approaching 300.

Bhante's Health: As mentioned above Bhante's general health continues to be good. At the beginning of the year he was able to read large type, and smaller type with the help of a magnifying glass. Unfortunately, from about the middle of the year there was a return of the macular degeneration to one of his eyes. A course of treatment of Avastatin intraocular injections was started in October. This will only arrest further deterioration and his eyesight is unlikely to improve. He continues regular acupuncture with Rosie Roper.

August: He travelled to Padmaloka staying there during the combined Order Convention and for the first weekend of the Men's Convention. There he attended a number of events and gave talks. He had lunches with groups of Order members from India, Australasia, US and Canada and the Spanish speaking world.

September: He attended the Meditation forum at Madhyamaloka and visited the Glasgow and Edinburgh centres giving a talk on one of his 'Precious Teachers' at both centres, plus a Q&A for Order Members in Glasgow.

October: He attended a seminar led by Subhuti entitled 'Sangharakshita as Teacher'. He was visited by a group of Hungarian gypsies and led study on the Heart Sutra at Taraloka for the Women's Mitra Convenors.

November: This began with a visit Germany, again accompanied by Nityabandhu, where he first went to the Vimaladhatu retreat centre, then the Essen centre where he gave a Q&A session for Order Members and a talk on another of his 'Precious Teachers'. He concluded the trip to Germany with a visit to the new centre in Dusseldorf. He visited the Cambridge Buddhist centre where he gave a Q&A session for Order members and a talk and book launch on 'Precious Teachers'. The month was concluded with a trip to the Bristol Buddhist Centre where he also gave a Q&A session for Order members and a talk on his 'Precious Teachers'.

December: He spent at home but was visited by Dayaratna's chapter from Cambridge.

At each of the centres he visited, apart from talks and Q&A sessions, he met with small groups for meals and people individually. Bhante made the comment that wherever he visited FWBO centres he saw them to be in a very healthy state.

Recent News and Future Plans: At present, Bhante is working on a new Spoken Word book with the help of Samacitta. The book is based on a seminar he led many years ago on Nagarjuna's Ratnamala or Precious Garland. Samacitta reads the transcript to him, which has already been lightly edited by Vidyadevi, and he dictates to her any corrections or alterations. They have already completed more than two-thirds of the work. The book will probably be published under the title 'Mahayana Ethics'.

Bhante has also been having read to him a very interesting online book called 'In the Shadow of the Dalai Lama' by Victor and Victoria Trimondi.

And finally, a few weeks ago, Bhante received a visit from two members of the Rigpa centre near Montpellier in France. The purpose of their visit was to interview him about his connection with Jamyang Khyentse Rimpoche. They are creating a film archive of interviews with people who had been so fortunate as to have personal contact with this great Lama. In particular they wanted to interview the two westerners who had known him, namely Bhante and John Driver. Bhante, as far as he knows, was the only westerner to have received initiations from this eminent Lama. They spent four hours over two days conducting film interviews with Bhante.

By the time this report goes to press, Bhante should have been to Tiratanaloka to lead study with the community on the Ratnagunasamcayagatha. Dates have already been set for visits to the Manchester and Amsterdam centres, and a meeting with Windhorse Trading in Cambridge. Future plans for the year includes trips to Sheffield, Berlin, Leeds, Liverpool and Brighton, plus the ‘British Buddhist Landscape’ conference hosted by the Network of Buddhist Organisatons at Taplow in Buckinghamshire. As well asall these he will be attending various events for Mitra Convenors, Chairs and Preceptors. So as you can see Bhante really has been getting 'out and about' and long may it continue!

On a personal note the thing I have noticed, since becoming Bhante's secretary, apart from the great energy as illustrated by this report, is his care, concern and love, not just for the movement he initiated, but each and every Order Member.

I hope to continue these reports every two months. Please also see Sangharakshita's website, where many of his books are available for free download.

Dharmamati (Bhante's secretary)
Madhyamaloka, 18th February 2008.



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