Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Compassion in Action: Karuna Women's Appeal in February 2011

At a loose end or between things in the New Year?

Want an experience of intensive Dharma practice, living and working with a team of other women?

You could raise £16,000 in six weeks to help Dalit women, children and men in India to free themselves from the prison of caste. Children like Vidhya.

Vidhya Salgare attends one of Karuna's education hostels in Latur, Western India. A delightful family atmosphere is created by its 65 girls and 3 wardens; a mixture of exuberance, intelligence and care. At the village school she attended, Vidhya was made to sit at the back of the class because she was considered to be low caste. She says, "It's not like that here at Latur. I am very happy here." Vidhya is one of many thousands of children who have benefitted from the generosity of members of the UK public, who gave to Triratna volunteers on the doorstep.

We are putting together a women's appeal team to fundraise door-to-door in Brighton from the 5th February to 19th March 2011. Sanghadevi (author of Living Together) will be on the team. We are looking for 3 or 4 women to join her. All of your costs -both in Brighton and back at home - will be covered.

To learn more about how Karuna is helping children like Vidhya visit www.karuna.org/.

If you are interested in joining this appeal, please contact Amalavajra by Friday 10th December 2010 on 0207 700 3434 or amalavajra@karuna.org.

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Launch of the ‘100-Minute Buddha’

Jinananda, Chairman of Triratna’s West London Buddhist Centre, has just celebrated the publication of his third book, the ‘100-Minute Buddha’. Published by the 100-Minute Press, it joins a family of titles including the ‘100-Minute Bible’, the ‘100-Minute Torah’, and ‘100 Minutes with the Koran’.

Designed to be read in exactly 100 minutes, each book consists of 50 two-page chapters, each readable in just two minutes. The series originated as a years’ worth of bible summaries published in a local parish magazine, and has grown from there, with the 100-Minute Bible selling over 150,000 copies and being translated into 13 languages.

Returning from the launch at London’s Inter-Faith Centre, Jinananda commented “all four of the authors were there, and we each made short presentations on our work. What struck me most was that none of us pulled our punches - we were each determined to emphasise that ours was a distinct tradition that couldn’t be “mushed-up” with any others. And yet the atmosphere was amazingly friendly - it was hard to believe that such various traditions could meet in the same room and get on so well”.

The 100-Minute Buddha (and the others in the series) are intended for the inter-faith market and people interested to learn more about the world’s major spiritual traditions. At the same time, every section of the 100-minute Buddha is meticulously grounded in Buddhist scripture, mostly the Pali Canon. Highly recommended!

To purchase, enquire at your local bookshop (ISBN - 978 09556695-1-4) or go to  100-Minute Press website.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Rivendell celebrates 25 years of retreats

Triratna’s Rivendell Retreat Centre is located on the edge of a small village in the East Sussex countryside a few dozen miles south of London. For over 25 years they've provided a place where the relevance of the Buddha's teaching in our modern world can be explored and experienced through a wide variety of retreats for men and women across all levels of experience. Now Viryapuspa writes with news of their 25th anniversary and all that’s been going on there over the past year. She says -

“In 2010 we celebrated the 25th Anniversary of Rivendell Retreat Centre. The year has been one of significant change in terms of the team, how we operate and upgrading our facilities. It has also seen the launch of our fund raising appeal to raise £25,000 to improve our bathroom, toilets and bedroom accommodation.

“In order to improve our booking service a decision was made to relocate the bookings office from Croydon Buddhist Centre to Rivendell. As a result with a lot of help and assistance from friends in the Sangha we have now installed a new office at Rivendell.

“We are also very pleased to welcome Janis to the Rivendell team as our new receptionist, responsible for bookings and retreat enquires. From the beginning of October we have a new bookings line 01825 733764 open Mon-Fri 1.30pm to 5.30pm. We also plan to provide an on-line booking facility from our web site in early 2011.

“During the 2010 'Friends of Rivendell week', with the help from our generous volunteers, we completed the first phase of our 25th Anniversary building project. Building a corridor in the North wing between two bedrooms will now allow separate access to these rooms.

“Thanks to people's generosity we have so far managed to raise over £5000 for our 25th Anniversary Appeal in January 2012 we plan to use the funds raised so far to refit the bathrooms and add another toilet and shower in the North Wing. One of the major areas of feedback from retreatants is we need more bathroom and toilet facilities, and we really want to respond to this need. However, we still need further funds to complete this phase of the project. If you would like to help us and donate to our appeal please go to www.rivendellretreatcentre.com/donate.html.

“2010 has marked a significant point in Rivendell's history and we are sure these changes will enable Rivendell to flourish as a place of Buddhist Practice for at least another 25 years.

“To celebrate our anniversary we have an excellent retreat programme for 2011. Including retreats led by Vimalachitta, Nagabodhi, Paramananda, Atula, Vajradarshini, Kamalashila and Tejananda with a diverse range of themes from Feeding your Demons, Wabi Sabi, Arthurian legends to intensive silent meditation retreats.

“Full details can be found on our website www.rivendellretreatcentre.com, or to keep up to date with news and events you can also find us on Facebook Friends of Rivendell Retreat Centre”.

Triratna has eight retreat centres around the UK, and you can find full details of their retreats at www.goingonretreat.com

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Real Tuesday Weld's Christmas offering

The Triratna Buddhist Order contains over 1,600 men and women from all over the world and a remarkable variety of lifestyles including many artists and musicians. Padmamati , aka Stephen Coates, from West London has for many years been the brains behind The Real Tuesday Weld.

The Real Tuesday Weld was formed by London based songwriter and audio provocateur Stephen Coates in 1999 inspired by dreams of crooner Al Bowley and the American actress Tuesday Weld and influenced by 1930s jazz, Serge Gainsbourg and Ennio Morricone.

After a series of low key releases on British, US and Japanese labels the band became known for wedding the suggestive hiss of ancient shellacs and vintage radio transmissions to samples, loops and glitchy beats. The first full-length albums When Cupid Meets Psyche (2001), I Lucifer (2004) and the US only The Return of the Clerkenwell Kid (2005) have garnered a huge amount of critical acclaim including The Times, Independent, Telegraph and Guardian albums of the week. I Lucifer spawned the multi-award winning animation 'Bathtime in Clerkenwell' and a host of imitators.

Now, publishing on the ‘antique Beat’ label, they’ve just launched ‘SEASONS SONGS’, their new mini seasonal album that’s packaged as a limited edition greetings card. Padmamati and the band are joined by Martyn from The Tiger Lillies, Marcella from The Puppini Sisters, Mara Carlyle and Joe Coles from Lazarus Plane Crash for a weird and wonderful winter cabaret. We won’t say any more - just give you the link to explore further should you wish...


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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tick the Box for Buddhism

Triratna is an active partner in the UK’s main inter-Buddhist forum, the Network of Buddhist Organisations, or NBO. They’ve been hard at work preparing for next year’s UK Census, the first for 10 years. This will include - for only the second time - a voluntary question asking for people’s religion and they’re keen to ensure Buddhists across the UK ‘Tick the Box for Buddhism’. More than this, they’d like everyone who’s sympathetic to Buddhism to join in too - potentially a much wider circle.

They say -
To: all UK Buddhist Organisations, Sanghas, Mindfulness Centres, groups and individuals
From: The Network of Buddhist Organisations UK
Please circulate this email to your friends and networks

Please encourage all supporters to complete the census in March 2011, and Tick the Box for Buddhism.  Help us achieve 500,000 Buddhists in the UK!

For more information please see

Why Tick the Box for Buddhism?
27th March 2011 sees the next UK census - the first since 2001. It will include a voluntary question about your religion. Now is your chance to show just how many people live by Buddhist values in this country.

Please help to change the picture of religion in the UK. Please -

• Tick the Box for Buddhism when you fill out your Census form
• get all your friends and fellow practitioners to Tick the Box for Buddhism too.

There could be as many as 500,000 Buddhists in the UK, but we believe many did not Tick the Box for Buddhism at the last Census in 2001. Many thousands of British people support or live by the teachings of Buddhism in various ways: they may meditate, practise mindfulness, agree with the Buddhist approach to life – and still prefer to avoid labelling themselves Buddhist. This is understandable - however, accurate Census figures make a real difference.

We want the next Census to represent more accurately the level of support for Buddhism in the UK. If we achieved a figure of 500,000 or more, the result could be:

• Increased funding for Buddhist initiatives; for example, offering mindfulness training in hospitals and the NHS

• Much better representation in the school curriculum. Buddhism plays a distinctive part in Religious Education and the teaching of secular mindfulness meditation has much to contribute to young people's wellbeing.

• A clear indication of the number of people in the UK supporting positive behaviour and policies based on: common-sense; genuine concern for the well-being of others; non-violence; free, rational and open discourse; and liberal social attitudes.

Please use your census wisely. A vote for Buddhism will have an immediate impact on the picture of faith in the UK. There will not be another census for the next ten years. This is your chance to make a real difference – now.

Buddhism has a distinctive contribution to make to British life. Of the six major faiths it's the only one not to worry about ‘God’ and it's free of many things commonly considered problematic about religion. Teaching wisdom and compassion for all, it offers mindfulness and meditation practices which are scientifically acknowledged to lead to wellbeing and happiness.

To find out more, go to our campaign site:

Please cascade through your organisation, networks, groups and Sanghas

Buddhism UK is the NBO’s Facebook site focusing on the campaign - if you want regular updates please join now!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

ClearVision launch FREE Buddhism for children and teenagers

Clear Vision are proud to launch their free Dharma web pages for children and teenagers, for use at home and Centre.  You’ll find it at www.clear-vision.org/Young-People

Clear Vision's director, Munisha, said -

"Since 1994 we've become specialists in Buddhism, video and online learning for schools.

“ Whether or not they see themselves as Buddhists, we know a lot of teenagers are interested in Buddhism outside school, too. What particularly seems to interest them is linking Buddhist ideas to modern issues. We also know they are now very experienced users of online and interactive media - and that the Buddhist online world lags way behind them! So we wanted to present the Dharma as utterly modern, both in content and in the way it's presented.

“ We're really delighted to offer these web pages, free, to children and young people at home, temple and Buddhist Centre."

The two main products, both of which you'll find on the Young People's section of the ClearVision site, are -

for 8-14 year-olds: The Life of the Buddha, interactive
Seven illustrated videos with information sheets, questions, games and a parent/teacher handbook

for 12-16 year-olds: Us and Them: Buddhism and Community
Ten videos examine aspects of identity and community using the Four Sangrahavastus and featuring young people in the UK and Bhutan. Information, questions, activities and parent/teacher handbook.

The Four Sangrahavastus - meaning, the four ‘Means of Unification of the Sangha’ - are of course a popular topic in the Triratna Buddhist Community. Since the materials are free and online, there is nothing to stop you using them in adult classes and study groups too!)

Alongside these resources you'll also find -

• quizzes, games, information and carefully selected weblinks to the Buddhist world and
• Ask A Buddhist! Our free video FAQ section, answering young people's questions about Buddhism

If you'd like to support Clear Vision's work for young people, please make a donation!

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Sangharakshita's Diary

Vidyaruci, Sangharakshita’s secretary, writes with some news of his past month. He says -

“Autumn is upon us, and its rich scent and changing colours are enhancing Bhante's daily walks round the Madhyamaloka garden. Impermanence is on my mind in other ways, having heard this morning that my grandmother died last night. I am thus writing this piece in rather more of a rush than I would prefer, as I will soon be heading off to Norfolk to see my family.

“The last month has in any case been uneventful, as Bhante has been concentrating on writing about his search for traces of his Lingwood ancestors, and the discoveries he made thereby. The second instalment can be found in this month's Shabda. Among Bhante's many visitors a few are of particular interest. Firstly, Olivia Moore, a postulant mitra from Manchester, who is a violinist, came to Madhyamaloka, and, with a local tabla player named Mohinder Singh, gave a performance of Indian classical music for Bhante and others in the Madhyamaloka community, which Bhante enjoyed and appreciated very much. Then came four members of Byoma Kusuma Buddhadharma Sangha, a Buddhist movement whose principal teacher Mahayogi Shridhar Rana Rinpoche, or Ratnashri, lives in long term retreat in Nepal, which is the native country of three of the four visitors. Bhante found their discussion interesting, and photographs were taken. They are very appreciative of Bhante's writing, and sympathetic to Triratna; and Bhante, in his turn was favourably impressed with what I read him of Ratnashri's writings, which I obtained from the organization's website.

“Audio book highlights include The Condition of the English Working Class, by Friedrich Engels, which Bhante described as 'a vivid account of the terrible human cost of the Industrial Revolution'; Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann, 'a fascinating double biography of the great explorer Mumbolt and the great mathematician Gaus'; and finally Yet Being Someone Other, by Laurens Van der Post. Bhante commented that the book was very interesting in parts, but rather prolix.



Friday, November 19, 2010

Keep the Three Jewels Shining: Part III - Sangha

Keep the Red Jewel Shining!

21st November is the full-moon night when we celebrate Sangha Day. Traditionally the time when the monks gathered for the start of the rainy season retreat, it is also when our Centres hold gatherings of their sanghas to celebrate the support and inspiration to be gained from spiritual community.

So, as we approach Sangha day, Triratna News brings you the third in a series of short, six-minute films celebrating spiritual community. In each, Triratna practitioners have talked about their relationship to each of the Three Jewels – Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. In this last film, they talk about what they love and appreciate about our Triratna Sangha.

The three films are part of a campaign "Keep the Three Jewels Shining" which is about encouraging people to make a will, and also asking them to consider leaving a gift in their will to the Triratna Buddhist Community. Watch it in the embedded player below or watch it direct on Vimeo

As Vajragupta, one of those behind the campaign, explains: "There are lots of ways to support the sangha and help it to thrive in the future. A gift in your will could be one way of doing this. You may have family and friends who are going to be foremost in your mind when you make your will. But you could, if you wished, also leave a gift to your local centre, your favourite retreat centre, or project. Any gift will make a difference, be really appreciated, and help ensure that others can experience the help and support of sangha after you."

"Quite a number of our centres have received gifts in wills in recent years. At the Krakov Centre - our first centre in Poland - a gift has helped pay for translations of Dharma texts. At Taraloka, a surprise gift helped buy badly needed new furniture that the retreat centre hadn't expected to be able to afford. There are lots of other similar stories of generosity that help keep the Three Jewels shining."

There is a brochure with a easy, ten-step guide to making a will, available at all UK Centres soon. Alternatively, you can download it at www.triratnadevelopment.org

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Buddha Celebrations in Gujarat

 Third in a series of ‘Triratna India’ stories this week comes a report from the small Centre in Gujarat, north-western India. Order Member Anand Shakya has been working for many years to build up the local sangha there - ever since Triratna’s Karuna Trust first started to fund social projects there following the devastating earthquakes there in 2001.

He writes - “Dear Brothers n Sisters in the Dhamma, Jai Bhim ... Namo Buddhaya...

“Karuna Vihar in Gujarat has celebrated Dhammakranti Day, Ashok Vijayadasami and Buddha's Garbha Mahostav every year in Kutch (Gujarat) since 2001. For the last three years we have been trying to arrange big programmes on these days so that we can be successful to spread Buddha's teaching and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar's spiritual and social vision, as well as recreating the Buddhist culture according to the ancient Buddhist traditions which have disappeared.

This year we inaugurated our new Buddha's statue (6 feet high) and published a translation into Gujarati of "Dr. Ambedkar’s Dhammakranti" (Dr. Ambedkar’s Dhamma Revolution) by Urgyen Sangharakshita.

Please see the photos of celebration. You may find us at Karuna Vihar, c/o Dhammachari Anand Shakya, Adipur. Our address is Ward No. 5/A, Plot No. 523...526, Opp. Rambag Hospital, Adipur (Gandhidham) Dist: Kutch, Gujarat.PIN 370205. INDIA,  Mobile: +91 9426218205

Triratna has Buddhist centres and social projects all across India; which you can find on the Triratna India Google map embedded below.

View Triratna Buddhist Centres India in a larger map

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Construction starts at Achalabhumi Vihara, India

More stories are coming in from India - today Triratna News brings you a photo report on progress at the Achalabhumi Vihara - a new Triratna retreat centre in the hills above Amaravati, in Central India. They’ve been fundraising locally and on-line for the past couple of years, and construction work has recently started.

The new retreat centre is set in Chikaldara, a range of beautiful hills which according to Wikipedia,  “Englishmen found particularly attractive because the lush green hue of the place reminded them of England”. The green comes, of course, from the rain - which makes access difficult during the rainy season - though not impossible, as our cover photo shows!

The presentation is available on Flickriver , or check their fundraising page at

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Jai Bhim group in Kerala plan big retreat

Arun and Rejimon, two mitras from the Triratna Buddhist Community, write from Kerala in South India with news of their upcoming ‘communicative English retreat’ in Kerala - a unique hybrid of English coaching and Buddhist practice. They say -

“Dear friends Jai Bhim!  We are very happy to introduce the second annual communicative English retreat in Kerala led by the Dhammamitras of the Triratna Bauddha Mahasangha Kerala, Southern India.

“Last year we had our first Communicative English Retreat in Kottayam, held on December 23- 27, 2009. It was led by Ann Dennehy from the USA along with Arun, Rejimon, and Jayan Babu, who are graduates of Triratna’s Nagarjuna Training Institute at Nagpur . Ann is the Creative Director of Jai Bhim International, a Triratna not-for-profit based in San Francisco who run many fundraising and awareness-raising events in the USA.

“This year's second annual Communicative English Retreat will be offered on December 24 - 28, 2010 at the Govt High School in Payyanalloor, Adoor, Pattanamthitta district. It will be led by the graduates of Nagarjuna with guidance from Ann. This time we will assure maximum participants of ex-trainees of Kerala.

“Last year 15 selected youth were attended that retreat. Every day was started with meditation and concluded with puja and short meditation. In between for the whole day we were studied communicative English, Ambedkarism and basic Buddhist teaching through English. The speaking practice was conducted through games and informal discussion, it was a very fantastic experience. On the last day of the retreat we had very nice cultural program. It was new experience to our participants; every participants explored their potentialities of English speaking.

“At the end of the retreat we formed a team, which we called “Jai Bhim Kerala”; we chalked out the whole year work plan and we conducted a lot of discussion about Ambedkarism and Buddhism . Now our second annual retreat is conducted by the initiative of Jai Bhim Kerala team. This year we expect 30 girls and 30 boys, slowly Dr Ambedkar ‘s vision is going to spread throughout Kerala
Please join us”.

For more details check their new still-under-construction website www.jaibhimkerala.org; find Jai Bhim International on Facebook, or email arunboudh@gmail.com or rejimonpk@gmail.com.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Living like a River - exploring the Six-Element practice

Last month Triratna News carried breaking news of Bodhipaksa’s new book, ‘Living like a River’. Positive reviews have continued to flow in and we thought we’d highlight a few.

Bodhipaksa is founder and director of Wildmind, a US-based website and publishing house offering on-line meditation courses and a vast array of free meditation-related material. ‘Living like a River’ is his fourth book. Subtitled “Finding Fearlessness in the Face of Change”, it explores one of the Triratna Buddhist Order’s central insight practices - the Six-Element Practice. But more than that, it’s a guide to life itself. As the book’s introduction makes clear, “To face reality is to embrace change; to resist change is to suffer.”

It continues - “This is the liberating insight that unfolds with Living as a River. A masterful investigation of the nature of self, this eloquent blend of current science and time-honored spiritual insight is meant to free us from the fear of impermanence in a world defined by change.

“The primary vehicle for this journey is Buddhism's traditional Six Element Practice, a deconstructive process of deep reflection that helps us let go of the belief in a separate, static self-the root of unhappiness. Readers are led through a systematic yet poetic analysis of the self that supports the realization of:

• A sense of spaciousness and expansiveness that transcends the limitations of the physical body
• Profound gratitude, awe, and a feeling of belonging as we witness the extent of our connectedness with the universe
• Freedom from the psychological burden caused by clinging to a false identity
• The relaxed experience of "consciousness, pure and bright"

Out in the US for about a month now, it’s been attracting some great review. Here’s a few...

"An interesting, lively, and genuinely illuminating teaching of Dharma." - Jack Kornfield
"An engaging fusion of science and spirituality, without dumbing down the science or marginalizing the spiritual. A difficult task. Bravo!" - Rapid City Public Library
"At a time when it's increasingly challenging to find clear and honest direction on the spiritual path, Living as a River offers contemporary insight into an ancient practice and wise counsel we can trust. This book is both beautifully written and useful to ... all serious seekers." - Mariana Caplan, PhD, author of Eyes Wide Open and Halfway Up the Mountain
"Keep flowing Bodhipaksa, the world is hungry for your words." - Claudio Basso, Amazon Reviewer

There’s also a long interview with Bodhipaksa available on Buddhist Geeks where he speaks about Triratna’s new name - as well as the book, of course!

For further details visit the book's website livingasariver.com, or buy on-line

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Triratna Ontario news

Harshaprabha writes with news of a recent visit to the slowly-growing Triratna sangha in Ontario, Canada - which he has been patiently mentoring for over 10 years now. He writes -

“I recently visited Ontario for the second time this year to meet family, friends and those interested in the Triratna Community. Most of our small Sangha came together for a weekend retreat; we stayed in a delightful house and cottage lent us by a sangha member - who went on to cook up some fantastic food over the weekend! The theme was The Buddha's Enlightenment and its impact on our lives. The discussion groups on both days were engaging, lively, informative and inspiring.

“Besides this we were able to hold two Newcomers style evenings at Kathy's home in Guelph. These were well attended and took the format of an introduction to one of the two meditations taught within the Triratna Community, a tea break and then a short introduction to a Dharma topic followed by discussion. The group now plans keep these meetings weekly - should you live in or near Guelph then get in touch with Harshaprabha for details, or check our website.

“An unexpected bonus of my visit was discovering the grave of Sangharakshita's great grandfather's brother, Robert S Lingwood, who died in August 1875 - this proved to be in Belsyde Cemetery, Fergus.  Alongside it were those of his baby daughter and son. I very much hope - perhaps on my next visit - to try and meet some of the descendants of this family and let them know of their relative and what a remarkable man he is.

“Also visiting the area was Buddhapalita, an Order Member from Missoula, Montana and director of the very successful Tipu’s Chai Right Livelihood business, who was over to exhibit his Chai at the Canadian Coffee and Tea Show. We were able to meet and chat which was a pleasure".


Monday, November 08, 2010

Triratna 2011 calendar launched - and sold out!

Sudarshanaloka and datesLast weekend’s Order gathering at Padmaloka saw the launch of the first-ever Triratna calendar, a handsome production with 12 full-size images each celebrating one or another facet of the worldwide Triratna Buddhist community.

Lokabandhu, its creator, commented - “Most people involved in Triratna are focussed on their local Centre - and perhaps their nearest retreat centre. But we’re an amazingly rich and diverse worldwide community with lots of great projects going on. They’re all on the internet, of course, but I wanted to make something which would make that visible on as many kitchen walls as possible around our Sangha. If it proves popular it could become an annual production - I’m already collecting ideas for next year!”

This is probably the first time a Triratna calendar has been produced, and so popular did it prove that the first print run of 150 was sold out!

However, you can enjoy the images using the embedded Flickriver window here, or directly on the Triratna Photos website.

If you’re interested to order five or more for your Centre bookshop, please contact Lokabandhu on lokabandhu@fwbo.org

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Saturday, November 06, 2010

Vidyamala Radio Interview on Mindfulness and Pain

Vidyamala - the founder of Breathworks, a not-for-profit organisation teaching mindfulness approaches to help people living with chronic pain, illness or stress - has recently been interviewed for the internet radio show Airing Pain. The interview will be broadcast on Tuesday 9th November at 11am and 8pm. Airing Pain aims to provide information and support to the 7.8 million people in the UK who live with chronic pain. Vidyamala has become well known and respected in the UK pain-management world for her writing and her work in bringing mindfulness approaches to managing the "secondary suffering" that comes with chronic pain.

You can listen to the interview broadcast via the website www.ableradio.com, or via a podcast of the show to be posted later that day (click "Airing Pain podcast", scroll down to "Episode 4" and click Listen Now).

Friday, November 05, 2010

Sangharakshita Land Project take Bhante on location

Triratna News last reported on the Sangharakshita Land Project back in August.  It’s a major initiative that will see a move of some of Triratna’s central institutions - and Sangharakshita himself - away from the Birmingham suburbs to a new and large piece of land and property somewhere in the British countryside. The search has not been easy - Sangharakshita has specifically specified that he wants elemental and sublime landscape rather than pastoral - a place that uplifts, inspires and supports meditation, a mythic environment which is, in itself, a place people will want to be and can make their own.

However the team has been busy and a recent post on their blog gives a hint of what’s been happening - plus a tantalising video of what may be on the way! Moksapriya writes -

“There’s a site in Staffordshire, north of Birmingham, that we’ve been seriously interested in for the last few weeks/months. We haven’t made an offer on it (yet) so I can’t say too much about it right now. It’s possible that we might eventually decide against it but for now we are preparing a feasibility study. Sangharakshita was interested to see the site for himself and we were keen to gauge his response so he joined us for a visit on a dry autumnal morning..."

To see the video , visit their blog and click on the picture... www.sangharakshitalandproject.co.uk


Thursday, November 04, 2010

Western Buddhist Review Volume 5 Out Now!

The Western Buddhist Review is an on-line journal produced by members of the Triratna Buddhist Order and publishing articles of interest to practicing Western Buddhists. Volume 5 has just been completed and is available online at www.westernbuddhistreview.com/vol5/index.html.

Jnanaketu, its editor writes - “Volume 5 has a remarkable range of material. In it you’ll find six good articles, an interesting collection of book reviews, and a critical note from Sangharakshita. Although the articles will speak for themselves, I’d like to give you a taste of what they contain.

“The first piece is a substantial critique of D. T. Suzuki. Nagapriya investigates the origins of Suzuki’s presentation of Zen to the West, his relationship with militarism and Japanese nationalism and his attitude to non-Japanese people. Nāgapriya concludes that Suzuki’s legacy has probably been deeply damaging to the development of the Dharma in western countries:

“In stripping away the rituals, traditions, and practices of Zen, as well as its cultural and historical development, Suzuki dismantled Zen as a religious phenomenon. While his emphasis on the goal of Zen is perfectly legitimate, his lack of attention to the path removes the possibility of its realization”.

“An American academic, Bill Ferraiolo, compares the teaching of the Stoic philosopher Epictetus with the teaching of the Buddha, and considers to what extent the Dharma can be successfully mediated through Hellenistic philosophy. It’s good to be able to publish this piece since its aspirations are very much aligned with the Triratna Buddhist Community’s interest in excavating affinities between the Dharma and the work of western philosophers. This topic cries out for further treatment.

“The (very sadly) posthumous article by Adarsha examines the role of rights language and practice in the policies and practices of an international development agency active in India – the Karunā Trust. The author traces the origins of ‘rights’ in western discourse and suggests that rights are philosophically inconsistent with the Dhamma. He goes on to claim that whilst this is the case, there is an argument to be made for using rights language tactically, within a context of duty, and supports this contention with reference to the work of Dr Ambedkar, the Indian Dalit leader, and of Sangharakshita and others. He surveys Chambers’ “Obligations-Based Approach” which supports such a tactical stance from the angle of development, and outlines what he calls a “Dhamma-based Approach”. He concludes that “in relation to the ‘have-nots’, it is possible to use a language of rights since there does not seem to be a better language that our partners can use which enables them to tackle the systemic discrimination they suffer, and because this perspective does lend itself to bringing about meaningful social change. In relation to the “haves”, the emphasis would be on duties, as currently is our [Karuna’s] approach when fundraising on doorsteps or among the team in terms of lower salaries…..It seems to be the rule that when Buddhism enters a new culture some adaptation has to take place in order for existing paradigms and practices to be assimilated into what can be recognised as Buddhism”.

Bodhiketu seeks to shed new light on the traditional account of the stages of spiritual maturity: Stream Entrant, Once-returner, Non-returner and Arahant. After exploring the matter of ethical development, Bodhiketu suggests that this schema has been understood in such a way that the bar has been set discouragingly high, which runs the risk of undermining the confidence of Dharma practitioners. His investigations lead him to recommend a more encouraging reading of the schema, which he hopes will benefit readers’ Dharma practice. A version of this piece appeared in Shabda, but I’m sure that you’ll find this revised version valuable.

Jayarava offers a annotated translation of and detailed commentary on the one hundred syllable Vajrasattva mantra, which should be of considerable interest not only to Vajrasattva devotees, but those who are curious about the way in which mantras have come down to us. He draws attention to important themes in the mantra, and considers the nature of authenticity in relation to mantras in general.

“Last, but by no means least, Sāgaramati offers a scholarly exploration of the claims made by an eminent Indian scholar that the progressive nidāna sequence can be traced to the Cūlavedalla Sutta of the Majjhima Nikāya. In the course of this exploration, he discusses the enormous significance of the progressive sequence as it appears in, for example, and convincingly reiterates the contention that, had the implications of the progressive sequence been grasped earlier, the way in which the Dharma has been presented to the West could have been fundamentally altered.

“In addition to these articles, you’ll find substantial book reviews embracing a wide variety of topics: mindfulness and depression, money, sex, war, karma, literary theory and Buddhist scriptures, Aung San Suu Kyi, recent translations from the Pali Canon, Buddhism and science, the origins of Buddhist meditation, what the Buddha taught, and the British Buddhist scene”.

The Western Buddhist Review is produced as a labour of love by Jnanaketu and others but it welcomes donations - please visit their donations page to make a contribution.

Jnanaketu ends by saying “If you would like there to be a sixth volume of the Western Buddhist Review, please consider giving at least something - or, even better, putting us in touch with people who might consider making regular donations. Cheques can be made out to Western Buddhist Review, and sent to me at 11, Park Road, Moseley, Birmingham B13 8AB. Or you can send straight to the WBR bank account: Western Buddhist Review, HSBC, sort code 40-18-14, a/c no 51061550”.

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Monday, November 01, 2010

new land and building project at Guhyaloka

For over 20 years Guhyaloka, a retreat centre high in the Spanish mountains behind Alicante, has served as the main venue for men’s ordinations into the Triratna Buddhist Order, with over 400 men having been ordained there. Besides their annual four-month-long Ordination retreats they run a full program of other retreats - but they’re now adding a significant new dimension to their facilities.

Late last year they purchased ‘El Collao Blanc’ (the White Collar), a beautiful piece of land nearby, with a vision to develop it into a venue for a one-year-long communal retreats for men. Although there’s a small building already on site, there’s more to do - building huts, a shrine room, providing electricity, composting toilets etc and of course some fundraising - about £40,000 - to fund the work.

The land has been described as “rather like a fat banana” - which doesn’t do it justice at all! It is a 15,000sqm strip of terraced land that follows the contours high on the side of the mountain on the way up to Guhyaloka itself - about 40 minutes walk away. The terraces have been lovingly tended, and produce over a tonne of almonds, and 200 litres annually of olive oil, plus much grape juice. There is also a ramble of small terraces around the house planted with a variety of fruit trees fig, plum, pear, persimmon, pomegranate, cherry and so on.

But perhaps the finest feature is a really magnificent 200 degree vista of the mountains that surround it on all sides. Everyone who has seen the land has fallen in love with it - Yashodeva, a local artist, being inspired to say it was “like a balcony in a god realm”.

 Now Achaladeva, an Order Member living at Guhyaloka, introduces it on video - just click the embedded player below or see it direct on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzn8D9-_J3o .

 For more information see www.guhyaloka.com

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