Tuesday, September 29, 2009

News of Sangharakshita

Dharmamati, Sangharakshita's secretary, writes from Madhyamaloka, where he lives, to say -

"Here is a report of Bhante's various outings during the summer months.

"After Bhante's visit to Cambridge, detailed in the last report, his next visit was to the Glasgow and Edinburgh centres, accompanied by Dharmamati. Bhante and Dharmamati were accommodated by the very warm and hospitable Shantiketu and Jyotipakshini at their house in a pleasant suburb of Glasgow. From there on the following day Bhante made an excursion to the Edinburgh Buddhist Centre in time for an evening meal with Order members. After this the doors were opened to the public and Bhante launched his two new books The Essential Sangharakshita and Living Ethically, by giving a short talk followed by a book signing.

"The following evening Bhante gave a slightly longer talk at the Glasgow Centre. Again he introduced both books, and to the delight of his audience included a commentary on his poem 'Meditation', composed in 1947. The poem has been included at the end of this report. Bhante also met people individually and in small groups for meals.

"A week later, again accompanied by Dharmamati, Bhante found himself 'royally' accommodated by Saccavicaya, at his house near Blackburn. This was the base from which visits to the Northern Centres of Liverpool, Lancaster, and Blackburn would be undertaken. On the day of arrival and after Bhante's afternoon rest he was driven to Liverpool where he had an evening meal with the local Sangha, at a mitra's home. After that he was taken to the hired room that the Liverpool Sangha use as their centre. There, as in the Scottish centres, he gave a short talk introducing his latest books followed by a book signing. The next day Bhante went to Vidyacitta's house near Lancaster where he had a meal with the local Sangha.

"After that he was taken to the Friends Meeting House (Quakers) in Lancaster, where the local Sangha hire rooms for classes. There he gave another talk to launch his books and sign copies. The following evening Bhante enjoyed a meal with the Order members from Liverpool, Lancashire and Blackburn at the Blackburn Buddhist Centre. This was followed by an informal Q&A session with those Order members. The next day's event was at the Blackburn Buddhist Centre again. This time it was their turn to hear Bhante launch his two books, and have their copies signed. Bhante also saw some people individually during his stay.

"Only a few days later, accompanied by Paramartha, Bhante found himself winging his way to Valencia. Bhante was primarily in Valencia to officially open their new centre, but also took the opportunity to run two Q&A sessions, one for Order members, and the other for women who had asked for ordination. He opened the centre by giving a talk. He also acquired a Panama hat, which some of you may have seen him wearing during the conventions. Two days after their return from Valencia, Bhante and Paramartha were off again, though this time only as far as Ipswich to open the new centre. There he gave a talk to open the new centre, as well as launching his latest books. The following weekend Bhante gave a Q&A session for Public preceptors at the Birmingham Buddhist Centre. The weekend after that Bhante led a second session of study at Madhyamaloka, on the Ratnaguna Samcayagatha, for a group of men ordained by Arthapriya.

"During both the Combined and Men's Order conventions Bhante stayed at Padmaloka. During the combined convention Bhante attended all of the colloquia sessions and met with small groups of Order members for meals. On the last full day there was a book launch during which Bhante gave a long talk, the highlight of which was his emphasis on sila not only being ethics, but including manners. On the men's convention Bhante did not go to any events apart from a talk by Subhuti. He did, however, meet Order members individually and eat meals with small groups.

"Over this period, when at Madhyamaloka, Bhante continued, as usual, to see people individually. The most noteworthy of such occasions was the two visits by David Brazier from the Amida Trust. He is the author of the book New Buddhism, which Bhante has been recommending Order members to read, particularly the chapters on Critical Buddhism. He also continued his daily walks in the garden.

Bhante's health

"Bhante's health continues to be reasonably good. He has recently completed a series of Lacentis injections to inhibit macular degeneration, which appears to have been successful.

"Lastly, Vidyaruci recently returned from being ordained at Guhyaloka and he has now taken over fully as Bhante's secretary. For me personally it has been a great privilege and honour to work closely with Bhante over the last three years. I have said more about this period in the 'thank you' leaflet recently sent to Order members, so no need to say more here. So this is the last of Bhante's diaries I shall be writing, and I wish Vidyaruci well in his new responsibilities".




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