Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sangharakshita's news: an update

Sangharakshita in a study seminar at MadhyamalokaSangharakshita’s diary last appeared in FWBO News in early October. Dharmamati, his secretary, has sent us this update. He writes -

Bhante's health:
Bhante continues to be in quite good health since the last report. His eyesight has been stable and he is still able to read large print, with the aid of a illuminated magnifying glass. He is also able to draft his own correspondence by hand.

The main event for September was Bhante's visit to Krakow, Poland, where he opened the small but beautiful Krakow Buddhist Centre. Nityabandhu and others had put much hard work into creating a very welcoming space for Buddhist activities. This was Bhante's second visit to Krakow.

His first took place six years ago, when he launched the publication of a Polish translation of 'The Survey' Since then three more of his books have been translated into Polish and published. At the opening he cut the ribbon to the Shrine room. After everyone was seated Nityabandhu led a short meditation followed by an introduction. Bhante followed this with a short talk on 'Sanghaloka' the name Nityabandhu had given the centre. This was followed by the dedication ceremony led in Polish by Nityabandhu.

The opening ceremony concluded with a fanfare from a trumpeteer. This was inspired by the golden trumpet that resounds, every hour, from the municipal tower above Krakow's central square, originally signalling the approach of enemy forces. This was followed by light refreshments in the reception area.

In October Bhante spent 12 days at Padmaloka, leading study for the Men Mitra Convenors, on his 1975 lecture 'Enlightenment as Experience - and as Non-Experience. He also performed a Kalyana Mitra ceremony for Nityabandhu in the shrine room. Nityabandhu's Kalyana Mitra's are Satyaraja and Paramabandhu.

On Sunday the 9th of November Bhante took part in the 30th anniversary celebrations of the London Buddhist Centre. In the morning he cut the ribbon, marking the sunday opening of Friends Organic. The afternoon started in the main shrine room of the LBC where Maitreyabandhu publicly interviewed Bhante on his recollections of the early days of the LBC (this interview was filmed by clear vision). After this Bhante proceeded to unveil the "magnificent" painting by Aloka in the new basement shrine room.

Aloka's new painting installed in the LBC's new basement shrine roomThis painting is a triptych depicting the Buddha Shakyamuni with his two chief disciples in the central panel, flanked by the Bodhisattvas and the Arahants in the left and right hand panels respectively. Bhante spoke briefly about this painting.

A few days later Amitasuri came to interview Bhante at Madhyamoloka on the importance of the FWBO's land at Bodhgaya. He spoke about his own experience of Bodghaya, why he wanted the FWBO/TBMSG to purchase some land there and the use that he thought this land should be put to. This was significant given that Bodhgaya is the location of the next International Order Convention.

During the above period Bhante continued to see individuals virtually every day both at Madhyamaloka and wherever he travelled. He also worked on the 'Precious Garland Seminar' with Samacitta and completed study on the Parayana Vagga of the Sutta-Nipata with a local Men's chapter. The Precious Garland is due to be released by Windhorse in 2009.

For the rest of November and December Bhante will be staying at Madhyamaloka and does not intend to do any travelling. He will, however, continue to meet people individually, do editing work on the 'Precious Garland Seminar' and, weather permitting, go for his daily walk in the large Madhyamaloka garden.

The next planned visit will be to the European Chairs Assembly at Taraloka in January, where he will give a talk and a question and answer session.

In 2009 he'll be making a tour of a number of FWBO Centres to launch 'The Essential Sangharakshita' - a handsome 750-page compendium of his writings now available for advance orders from Windhorse Publications. FWBO News hopes to carry a review of this very soon.


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