Friday, April 29, 2011

Young Buddhists flourish in Melbourne

More and more Triratna Buddhist centres in the UK have groups catering specifically for the younger Sangha members - under 35 or even under 30. Now Jodie Dempster writes from Triratna’s Melbourne sangha with news of a similar initiative ‘down under’. She says -

“Just wanted to let you know that our young Dharma activities are going very well here in Melbourne. Last month we ran a practice day, with 16 people attending - some for the first time. Most are in their 20's; a few in their early 30's. Manjusiddha and Shantidevi came as honorary youngish order members to help lead meditations and a puja, helping Shane and I run the day. There is a lot of energy and enthusiasm coming from the youth group and I find it personally very supportive too.

“In 2010 the Melbourne Buddhist Centre started offering activities specifically ran by young people for young people. We called the new venture the Young Dharma Discussion Group (YDDG). In recent years the number of young people coming to the centre has gone up considerably, but not many continued coming along regularly so we started to wonder if there might be better ways to engage young people.

“We decided to offer informal, varied, fun, inexpensive sessions for people aged 18 to 30 who are exploring similar questions and experiences. A few curious people well into their 40’s asked to join us, arguing that they are so young at heart! We will continue to meet new people and catch up with old friends, practice meditation together, discuss the difficult questions in life, share meals and hopefully inspire each other to live as fully and creatively as we possibly can.

Jodie and Shane (Melbourne, Australia)

Triratna's Melbourne Buddhist Centre
More generally, in Triratna there’s a Facebook group for ‘Young People in the Triratna Buddhist Community’, which carries news of events specially for younger practitioners.

Coming up soon in the UK is “The New Society in Principle and Practice” and, in October, the large Annual Young Buddhists Retreat where up to 100 young Buddhists will be gathering for a weekend of practice, inspiration and fun.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Windhorse celebrate giving Dana to Triratna and social projects

Deborah Harward writes from Windhorse:Evolution, Triratna’s largest and most successful Right Livelihood business, with news of some of the dana they've been able to give over the past year - to a mixture of Triratna and non-Triratna projects. She says -

“Making money in order to give it away is fundamental to the purpose and ethos of Windhorse. One of the five principles that Windhorse is based on is generosity. Our profits are given to Buddhist projects around the world and to social projects in the communities associated with our suppliers.

“Since Windhorse started in 1980 it has donated millions of pounds to many different projects in the Triratna Buddhist Community. Over the last 5 years, when financial times have been more difficult, Windhorse has still given over £248,000 to different projects within the movement. The Buddhist Evolution shops have also given over £235,000 to their local Buddhist Centres. So far this financial year, Windhorse has donated to several Buddhist projects:

Free Buddhist Audio
“Free Buddhist Audio will use their donation of £10,000 to help maintain their well used and very useful web resource which provides free access to the Buddha’s teachings. Around 40,000 people download talks every month, and the site now has around 20,000 regular podcast users. Users come from over 180 different countries, and talks are available in 9 different languages.

“In a recent interview with Sangharakshita, he said, “We know that speech is a very powerful medium of communication. We know that the Buddha’s words spoken from, as it were, from his enlightened consciousness changed the lives of so many people. So that tradition of oral presentation of the Dharma has continued right down to the present day. It makes me particularly happy to think that talks that I myself gave years, even decades ago, to relatively small audiences, are now through reaching perhaps tens even hundreds of thousands of people all over the world.”

“The creators of Free Buddhist Audio are now working on a new web presence for the whole Movement. Windhorse wanted to support this effort, which will be available to tens of thousands of people, and serve to unify the Movement.

Clear Vision
“A donation of £2.500 to Clear Vision is especially to help them with providing online materials for teenagers. Clear Vision is well known for the materials they make for schools but now their focus is on the needs of young people who have learned about Buddhism in school and want more. On the website they’ll now find loads of free Dharma materials. There are games, quizzes and links to Buddhist projects around the world. Most importantly, there are two sets of interactive video-based materials: The Life of the Buddha, and Us and Them: Buddhism and Community. Have a look online at

“The donation will enable Clear Vision to work on two new sets of online interactive materials, for school and home use. One is about the Kalama Sutta, using animations by the young Indian students at the Aryaloka Computer Institute in Nagpur. The second is about the Five Precepts and uses Manga style cartoons created by an American Buddhist of another tradition.

Windhorse Publications

“Windhorse Publications aims to communicate Buddhism for the contemporary world, and specifically to bring alive the Triratna system of practice. They place great emphasis on producing books of high quality that are accessible and relevant to those interested in Buddhism at whatever level.

“The £2,500 donation they recieved is helping to fund the production of two books due for release this Spring. The first, Dhivan’s This Being, That Becomes, explores the Buddha’s core teaching of conditionality, and is the second in our new Buddhist Wisdom in Practice series. The second is a new edition of Sangharakshita’s A Guide to the Buddhist Path, featuring a brand new cover, format and content. Published originally in 1990, this is one of Sangharakshita readers’ favourites and has been of tremendous value to those seeking ordination and the teachers guiding them towards it.

Social Dana
Project workers from the Green Tara Trust conduct a rural workshop in Nepal  
“Windhorse has given over £60,400 to social projects over the last five years. We mostly choose these by asking our suppliers to recommend projects which support their local community. These have included help for schools in Guatemala, China and Bali, building a well in Kenya, earthquake relief in Indonesia and a charity for disabled people in Bali.

“One example from this year is the donation of £4000 to the Green Tara Trust.. We got to know about the work of the Trust through Karunamati, an Order member and doctor who is involved with the work of the Trust. The following details from her gives you some background to the work of the Trust and how our gift will help women in Nepal.

“Nepal is one of the poorest countries in South Asia with 1 in 2 people living in poverty. This has been compounded by worsening civil conflict. Ingrained gender discrimination results in women having less access to education, facilities & decision-making. This results in poverty, poor health & disempowerment.

“4,500 Nepali women die each year in childbirth due to lack of medical care. 1 in 13 children die before the age of 5 mainly due to hypothermia, infectious diseases, and poor nutrition. In this society, women and girls do not get enough food or medical care because of their gender. The Green Tara Trust is working to change this.

“I was in labour for five days but my motherin- law wouldn’t let me go to hospital. I don’t want to repeat the same mistakes. When my daughter-in-law is pregnant, I will make sure she goes to the hospital and gets nutritious food. This is my responsibility.” 
Indu - now an advocate of the work of Green Tara

“The money Windhorse has given will pay the wages of the 3 full-time Nepalese health-workers (Ishwori, Manita and Santosh) for 10 months. They provide care in pregnancy and childbirth for 10,000 people in rural Nepal, working to empower communities to take responsibility for their own care. They are all skilled in communicating and promoting health issues, especially in engaging the poorest and most marginalised in community programmes.

“The project has been running for just over 2 years, and is already seeing significant changes in attitudes and behaviour, and an improvement in the lives of many women and children”.

For more on Windhorse and their ethical approach to business check their evolution - ethical trade statement. There are occasional vacancies in the Windhorse teams, and those interested are invited to check Windhorse's adverts on the Triratna Jobs site.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New book from Windhorse: This Being, That Becomes: The Buddha’s Teaching on Conditionality

News is just in of a new book released by Windhorse, Triratna’s prublishing house.  Sarah Ryan, their publishing manager, writes to say - “We’re very happy to announce to the readers of Triratna News that Dhivan’s new book, This Being, That Becomes: The Buddha’s Teaching on Conditionality is out now.

“It’s the latest title in our Buddhist Wisdom in Practice series, and is an insightful and practical exposition of the Buddha’s central insight into the nature of existence. We are very proud to be bringing out a new book on such an important topic. As well as using new translations and being a thorough study of the Pali sources and the teaching of the historical Buddha, at the same time it brings these teachings right into the contemporary world”.

You can read a short extract here and it’s available to buy online and from Triratna bookshops across the UK. 

Conditionality is one of the most central yet least-understood of the Buddha’s teachings.  Known as the doctrine of Pratitya Samutpada, it’s most succinctly expressed in the classic formulation "This being, that becomes; from the arising of this, that arises." This formula, recorded in texts and carved in inscriptions throughout the Buddhist world, is said to summarise the whole of the Dharma, the teaching of the Buddha.  But how can such a simple summary be the conceptual formulation that characterises the experience of a Buddha, an ‘Awakened One’, a state beyond all words and concepts?

Dhivan (whose English name is Thomas Jones) tells us how, and takes us into the heart of the Buddha’s insight that everything arises in dependence on conditions. With the aid of lucid reflections and exercises he prompts us to explore how conditionality works in our own lives, and provides a sure guide to the most essential teaching of Buddhism.

"Clearly and intelligently written, this book carries a lot of good advice."
Professor Richard Gombrich, author of What the Buddha Thought

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jayaraja publishes the 'Yellow Book' - Games, Energizers and Playful Group Activities for Exploring Identity, Community, Emotions and More!

Jayaraja writes with news of the publication of his first book - the first of its kind, certainly within Triratna. Called ‘The Yellow Book of Games and Energizers’, it’s subtitled ‘Playful Group Activities for Exploring Identity, Community, Emotions and More!’ and Jayaraja says ““You could mention that it has loads of ideas for working with groups, icebreakers, communication games, plus playful and creative evaluation ideas and activities”.

Co-authored with his Belgian friend and colleague Erwin Tielemans, it’s available on Amazon, where they describe it in a little more depth, saying “People of all ages learn important life skills through playing games, and recognising this can be the key to enhancing their social, educational and personal development. Incorporating play into teaching and training not only makes learning fun, but it can also open minds to the value of cooperation, communication and reflection. The book is a collection of tried and tested games for use in workshops, youth groups and the classroom, covering everything from icebreakers and group forming ideas, to brain-bending word games like Napoleon Has Lost His Pipe and hilarious high energy games like Group Juggle .

“With clear instructions, delightful illustrations and discussion ideas for every game, this book makes it easy to encourage everyone from age 6 to 86 to think for themselves, use their imagination, and interact positively with those around them. Packed with exciting and energizing games that will entertain everyone involved, this book will be a vital resource for teachers, youth group leaders, trainers, and anyone else wishing to enrich their work with playful games and ideas”.

Jayaraja has been ordained for over twenty years and has many talents - he’s a master fundraiser (currently heading up Karuna's One-Year Appeal), a veteran of team-based Right Livelihood at Windhorse:Evolution in Cambridge, a workshop leader at Buddhafield (where he’s famed for his Skilful Flirting lessons!), a Gestalt psychotherapist, and a qualified Physical Education and Drama Teacher to boot.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Buddhists and Schools Conference in Birmingham

Munisha reports from the first ever conference for UK Buddhists working with schools, organised Clear Vision.  She says “Saturday 26th March saw nearly 30 Buddhists of various UK traditions gathering at Triratna’s Birmingham Buddhist Centre - whose magnificent shrine is shown opposite. They were all active, or interested  in, working with schools as part of mandatory Religious Education, visiting schools or welcoming group visits to their temples and centres.

“We started with three 10-minute talks on “What I want to communicate as a Buddhist”, by speakers from the Theravada, Triratna and Soka Gakkai traditions. These were followed by a keynote talk on “What Religious Education asks of us”. The speaker, Dr Joyce Miller, is a Theravadin laywoman, as well as deputy chair of the Religious Education Council of Great Britain. Workshops and presentations covered meditation with primary-age children, a prayer-flag-making workshop on the Six Perfections, 18 years of Clear Vision video for schools and Engaging with Teenagers.

“I thought the event was a great success and evidently others did to as their evaluations forms gave scores of 4/5 out of 5 on every count. Suggestions for future events were an emphasis on more practical workshops, and some small groups. I think this was a great start, and now we have the makings of a network, someone can more easily find a range of speakers and workshops for next time".

The event was organised by myself from Clear Vision, in association with Birmingham Buddhist Centre and the Network of Buddhist Organisations UK.

Notes from the Teaching Meditation to Children Workshop  is available on the Triratna News resources page, as is Munisha’s presentation to the conference.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ordination at the London Buddhist Centre

Parami writes from Triratna's London Buddhist Cetnre to say - "In the presence of many friends, at the London Buddhist Centre on Friday 15th April, Helen Jeffries had her Public Ordination.

"She becomes Samavahita (long final 'a'), a Pali name meaning 'She whose attention is great'. Her private preceptor was Dhammadinna and her public preceptor was Parami".


Samavahita has asked that there be no cards or gifts following her ordination, she has set up a page for donations/messages, with Bodywise (Triratna's alternative health centre near the London Buddhist Centre) as the beneficiary.

Meanwhile, both the men's and the women's long ordination retreats have begun at Guhyaloka and Akashavana respectively, Triratna's two retreat centres in the mountains of Spain.  We look forwards to welcoming them back in June or July.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sarvananda on Radio 4 Afternoon Play - today!

Sarvananda, an Order Member playwright from Norwich, writes with news of his latest radio play, to be broadcast TODAY on BBC Radio 4.

He says “Hi folks - Just to let you know that my next radio play, "The Sensitive: a Casualty of War" is on the Radio 4 Afternoon Play slot - today Tuesday 19th April at 2.15pm - and you can get it on i player for a week afterwards. It's the fifth outing of my psychic detective and this is a particularly spooky episode... “

You’ll find him on the BBC iPlayer under his English name Alastair Jessiman.

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ipswich Buddhist Centre hosts upcoming Festival of Enlightenment

Triratna's Ipswich Buddhist Centre is celebrating its 25th anniversary of activities in Ipswich. It's a big year for them - and they're celebrating in style! Bodhivamsa writes with the details - and an invitation. He says - "This year is the 2600th anniversary of the Buddha's Enlightenment. If you don't think that is enough to celebrate then it is also 25 years since Triratna activities first started in Ipswich.

"So we have decided to take our double celebration to the people of Ipswich on Sunday 8th May 2011. To achieve this we have booked the town square (known locally as Cornhill), from 10am-4pm. We will be creating a sacred space on Cornhill for meditation, puja, talks, and a delicious lunch too! The town square is quite big so we are going to need some help from you if we are going to fill it. If you would like to take part, in whatever way you can, then please let us know by contacting the Centre - phone us on 01473 211516, e-mail to - or just turn up on the day".


Friday, April 15, 2011

Wildmind celebrate ten years of online meditation teaching

Just over ten years ago — on March 12, 2001 to be exact — Wildmind’s first-ever online meditation course kicked off. Founded by Bodhipaksa, it offered an innovative combination of online readings, audio guided meditations, discussion forum, and a personal journal in which students could have an intimate discussion about their evolving meditation practice with their teacher, and receive personal guidance and encouragement.
He says - “The fact that we’re still running these classes after 10 years is a testament to their success. (Heavens! Ten months is a long time on the internet!) And we plan to keep running these courses. But we’re also offering something new, and very, very exciting...”

On their website you’ll find details of their new offering - live meditation courses by videoconference. These started in April, with Bodhipaksa leading an ongoing donation-based workshop for people beyond the beginners’ level, exploring techniques for freeing the mind from negative states such as fear and anger, showing participants how to cultivate positive states such as calmness, contentment, and loving-kindness. He goes on to say, “Videoconferencing is no longer just for executives in glass towers. Advances in videoconferencing technology mean that it’s now possible, using Skype’s free software, for us to have live classes online. Live teleconferencing allows for a sense of closeness and intimacy, spontaneity, the ability to have your questions answered and for discussion to emerge. This is an incredible opportunity to join a small online community of people committed to deepening their meditation practice”.

Details are on the Wildmind website here .

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

News from Windhorse Publications

Sarah writes from Windhorse Publications, Triratna's Cambridge-based publishing house, to say - "I hope you’re well and getting some glorious sun! Some news from us below!

"We’re very pleased to announce that after just over a year Life with Full Attention, Maitreyabandhu’s best-selling book on mindfulness, has gone into its second press. It’s been tweaked a little and corrected where necessary and it’s available again now. To celebrate this, we’ve got a short video of Maitreyabandhu talking about why he wrote the book and the ways doing so has informed his own practice. We hope you enjoy!

With metta, Sarah

Maitreybandhu talks about Life with Full Attention
Buy the book

Life With Full Attention from Clear Vision Trust on Vimeo.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

San Francisco Buddhist Center purchase Retreat House, helpers needed!

Suvarnaprabha writes from Triratna’s San Francisco Buddhist Center  with news of their new retreat house.  She says - “The SFBC has purchased a modest two bedroom house on five acres of land in the mountains of Lake County, California, a two and a half hour drive north from San Francisco. We've had two weekend work parties so far (one with a snow storm and a power outage!) and have made an amazing amount progress on getting it ready for use.

“The house is rustic and basic. It is manifesting simplicity in a lovely setting.  Our first small retreat will happen in mid-April. After that it will be available beginning mid-May for solitary retreats, small retreats, and mindful vacations - we welcome inquiries from friends in the broader Triratna community who would like to come and do a solitary here.  It’s very affordable!

“For us there is still a lot of work to be done, for example adding another bathroom (so there will be two.) We are aiming to raise $9,000 US from donations from friends, Mitras, and Order Members  in the broader worldwide Triratna community who are inspired to create retreat spaces for our community.  Dana (no amount too small or too big!) is appreciated and can be offered by clicking 'Payments/Donations' at (specify it's for "the land").

You will be hearing more about this in the coming months!  In the mean time we have a blog on which we regularly post updates - check it out:  There you’ll find their beautiful piece ‘Spirit of the Land Project’, where  they say -

With open handed generosity

As a community of spiritual practitioners and friends,
we practice in many ways.
This land project is a wonderful opportunity
to develop in our practice
in our spiritual friendships with one another.
What is paramount
in all we do as a community
is to support each other
to Awaken
for the benefit of all beings.
One way we can do this is
through the practice of Dana.
The generosity that is needed to make this project a reality
is given by all the members of the sangha,
in one form or another.
Regardless of the level of generosity
any one member provides,
access and utilization of the facilities
will be equal
all sangha members.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

New Chairs for Triratna in Belgium

Following last week’s story about the upcoming European Triratna weekend to be held in Gent, there’s more news from there, with the announcement of their recent change of chairmanship. Dhammaketu, founder of the ‘Triratna-boeddhistisch centrum Gent’ is stepping down after 15 years at the helm, to be replaced by two of his younger students. Arthakusalin (shown right), and one of the new co-chairs, writes to say -

“On Thursday 24th March there was a change of guards in the Triratna centre of Ghent, Belgium. For fifteen years Dhammaketu was an excellent chair and now he is handing over his responsibilities to myself and Upekshadaka (shown below).

“This event was well attended by the sangha as well as by a Belgian zen teacher and two people from the Jikoji tradition. After a rejoicing in the many qualities and merits of Dhammaketu, the responsibilities were handed over in the context of a sevenfold puja.

"The new chairs even received a real hammer to use in a skilful but decisive way! It was an evening where joy, friendship and the Three Jewels were celebrated.

“With metta! Arthakusalin

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Vishvapani discusses his new book 'Gautama Buddha' on the BBC

Vishvapani’s new book ' Gautama Buddha: The Life and Teachings of the Awakened One'  features  in a new episode of the award-winning BBC program All Things Considered, a weekly exploration of religious, spiritual and moral issues.  It’s available for the next two weeks as a podcast from .  His interview starts about ten minutes in and is about 15 minutes long  (in the first ten minutes you’ll hear singer/songwriter Nia Price reflect on her 25 years in the Christian music business).

The programme blurb says “Gautama Buddha and his journey of self discovery is one of the major religious narratives of history - but separating fact from fiction has often been a challenge for his followers.   In this week's programme Peter Baker talks to writer and broadcaster Vishvapani Blomfield who has presented his own view in a new biography, in which he seeks to define the truth about the life and teachings of this seminal cultural figure”.

There's a number of reviews of the book appearing on Amazon, and the book itself should be available from all Triratna bookshops and other stores.  

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Saturday, April 09, 2011

Poetry and the Provenance Of Pleasure - new article by Maitreyabandhu

Maitreyabandhu, an Order Member from Triratna’s London Buddhist Centre, winner of a number of poetry prizes (and well-known to readers of Triratna News as a result), writes with news of his recent article in the current Poetry Review. He says “It’s called ‘The Provenance Of Pleasure’ and aims to explore what a Buddhist vision of poetry might look like. You can read it on a PDF at this address. Hope you like it. Love, Maitreyabandhu ”.

We’ve taken a look, and discovered a whole issue devoted to the theme of poetry and spirituality. The editors introduce the topic by saying "It’s easy to assume that spirituality is an old-fashioned topic: one that poetry outgrew when modernity began. Yet we can reclaim the term, and use it to glimpse what various faiths feel like from the inside. Spirituality isn’t just a way to get lyric lift into a poem – it must colour the poet’s whole relationship to poetry…"

Maitreyabandhu begins by quoting David Constantine’s poem ‘Pleasure’, from his 2004 collection A Poetry Primer, going on to say “I want to explore the kind of pleasure described in David Constantine’s poem from a Buddhist point of view. I want to do this because I believe Buddhism offers fresh insights into the spiritual value of poetry. I use as my model an ancient Buddhist Sutta (literally “thread of discourse”) called the Honeyball Sutta, which describes how our mind is patterned and structured. What I hope to show is that the human and spiritual value of poetry is to be found in the end-in-itself pleasure that David Constantine’s poem affirms.

After introducing and discussing quite a number of Buddhist technical terms, he ends with a reflection on why he’s driven to write poems (and enter them into poetry competitions!), by saying “I’m writing to give myself, and hopefully others, non-appropriative (niramisa) pleasure. I want to participate in that strange magic of poetry – its capacity to enhance creaturely life, mature vitarka (self-awareness) and suspend the ruminations of prapañca”.

To find out more - and to discover the meaning of those terms - you’ll have to read the full article! It’s available at

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Friday, April 08, 2011

One-Year Ordination Training Course offered at Padmaloka

Aryabandhu writes from Triratna's Padmaloka Buddhist Retreat Centre with breaking news of a great opportunity for any men seeking ordination into the Triratna Buddhist Order.  He says "We are planning to run a one year intensive ordination training course for men from January to December 2012.  There aren’t many places in our movement these days where you can fully immerse yourself in a spiritual life and train for ordination. So we’re creating one here at Padmaloka.

"Come and live at Padmaloka for a year and take part in all the Going for Refuge retreats, and most of our other retreats - we will finalise the programme later in the year. There will also be time for your own study and travel and a bit of time to work with the community.

"We don’t guarantee that you get ordained at the end of it … but we do hope it can significantly speed up the process! The Ordination team is enthusiastic about this initiative.

"We think it will cost about £5000, but as an introductory offer we are asking for £3000, which includes board, lodging and all retreats. You may even be able to reduce this by up to 50%. Windhorse:Evolution might be able to offer £1000 off, if you work there for 3 or 4 months this autumn, and also Karuna might be able to offer £500, if you do a six-week fundraising appeal with them, half way through the course in June 2012.”

Places are limited to 4 men.  Apply by writing to Aryabandhu at Padmaloka: or call 01508 538112, or visit the Padmaloka homepage.

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Thursday, April 07, 2011

Central European Triratna Day - all invited

Sanghadarsini writes from Triratna’s centre in Essen, Germany, with news of their upcoming Central European Triratna day. She says - “This year we will celebrate in Gent (Belgium) on the 9th and 10th of April. 'We' are the Triratna Sanghas from Holland, Belgium, Germany, France, Poland and Russia. It is a great opportunity to meet up again and to make connections with each other. The theme of this year’s celebration will be “Triratna, We Are Buddhists” - a celebration of what we as a Buddhist movement have to offer the world.

“The weekend begins on Saturday with a more social programme to give us all a chance to get to know each other. Upeksadaka and Bart will give us a guided tour of the historical city of Gent. For the ones who want to get away from the city, there will also be a nature walk. At 6 pm we will all meet up again at the Buddhist Centre in Gent for dinner and a cultural evening.

“On Sunday Triratna Day will be celebrated at the beautiful Seminar Centre owned by Chris and Katelijn, both mitras, who have kindly made the place at our disposal. The place is the 'Blauwe Poort' in Melle. It is set in large gardens, with sculptures, ponds and wet lands, just inland from the banks of a wide river. It has the taste of a retreat centre, being away from the busy world. The day will have a Meditation; presentations from the different Centres; a talk by Arthamitra and a 7-fold Puja celebrated in 3 languages (German, Dutch and French).

“All are welcome, including visitors from the U.K, so if you want to come from please get in contact with us through

"With metta,Sanghadarsini

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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Two Gifts for Aryaloka Buddhist Center

Viriyalila, an Order Member from Aryaloka, Triratna's retreat center in New Hampshire, USA, writes with news of two art projects that contributed to their 25th anniversary celebrations. She says -

"Last fall I had the opportunity to work closely with three long term friends in the Order to coordinate Aryaloka's 25th Anniversary celebrations. There were two artistic projects that I was closely involved with, that when finished, turned out to be the perfect gifts to give to this "Noble Realm" that has helped to build such a vibrant spiritual community.

"The first gift was initiated five years earlier in the form of a talk I gave marking the 20th anniversary. I had contacted Manjuvajra, the founder of Aryaloka, to see if he could provide me with some stories of the early days. Well, what he gave me was a draft of a book he was writing, which was pretty amazing! Using this, along with personal stories collected from some of our early pioneers, I was very happy to produce a fun and inspiring booklet telling at least one version of Aryaloka's story of coming into the world."

"From the very early beginnings, in a rented apartment/Buddhist gathering place in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts:

"One day...while sorting through a pile of unopened general mail, Manjuvajra came across a flier that had been sent to the previous occupants - a yoga group. It was advertising the sale of an interesting property in Southern New Hampshire. It was an unusual place - a pair of geodesic domes joined in the middle, to form a sort of space ship resembling building. There were several large rooms as well as a number of smaller rooms and thirteen acres of woodland with a beaver creek running through the land. He took hold of the flier and put it aside with nothing more than an idle thought that this would be the sort of place that would make an ideal retreat center.

Bob [Thiradhamma] and Manjuvajra had often talked about the possibility of a country retreat place. Bob found the city to be quite noisy on Friday nights with all the traffic and city sounds, the conditions were not well suited for medit
ation. Bob was envisioning a quiet deserted cabin, or even a shack, deeply set in the woods where 2-3 people could sit in peace and without external interruptions. Manjuvajra’s ideas were a little bit grander – a house perhaps, where a residential community could live and practice and work together, with extra buildings and rooms to accommodate visitors for large retreats.

On one Friday night, after completing their weekly meditation and puja, the subject of having a place of their own in the country in which to practice came up again. Manjuvajra hopped up off his seat, trotted off to the back room, and when he came back, he half jokingly, yet excitedly grabbed the flier advertising the domes in NH and thrust it into Bob’s hands.

“This is the place we want - big enough, close to Boston, quiet - and only a quarter of a million dollars!” They both laughed and then Bob, being an American, suggested that they actually go and look at the place. Manjuvajra, being British, thought he was joking but realized he wasn’t and when he’d overcome his reluctance to get too involved too fast, they called the owners and agreed a date to drive up to the New Hampshire Seacoast."

The Second Gift to Aryaloka for their 25th Anniversary was a large hand painted rendition of the 1000-Armed Avalokitesvara...

"Early on in the planning [of the 25th Anniversary celebrations] my dear friend Surakshita, who's been around Aryaloka since the very beginning, enthusiastically shared his vision of seeing a very large 1000-Armed Avalokitesvara banner draped over the domes of Aryaloka. He saw it as a cosmic and symbolic welcoming of people to the celebrations, marking this very significant, historical event.

"Having a very busy summer planned, I initially sat quietly waiting to see if anyone stepped forward... but he only had to mention it a few times, before I offered as long as I could find help! Very quickly my dear friend Amala expressed interest in working together to plan and create this magnificent 9 x 5 foot painting of the thousand-armed Avalokitesvara.

"Not really being a fine artist myself, I rejoice in Amala's ability to really bring the piece into its final stages - even right up to the time it was scheduled for hanging she still had her paint brush in hand! I rejoice in her patience, skill and courage to take on such an immense project. The highlight for me, besides deepening friendship with Amala through our working together, was on several occasions when we applied paint to some of the symbols in the image something was happening on a deeper level. Like when we painted the jewels on his crowns and especially when we painted the eyes, something 'other' came alive in the painting. Recollecting the experience now still evokes a similar feeling of awe and amazement."

"With metta, Viriyalila /
14 Heartwood Circle
Newmarket, NH USA
(603) 659-5456

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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Two awards for Triratna social projects in India

Milind Shakya, an Indian Order Member from Triratna’s Bahujan Hitay social project in Pune, writes with news of two major awards recently awarded to their women's projects.  He says - “We are pleased to inform you that our Bahujan Hitay Girls Hostel in Latur and our Jeevak Women’s Project  in Pune have been honoured with two valuable awards in memory of “Ahilayabai Holkar” by the Government of Maharashtra, Child and Welfare Dept.

"The awards were  presented by the hands of Mr. Prithviraj Chawan, Chief Minister of the Govt of Maharashtra,  on this occasion many dignitaries were present, including  Mr. Ajit Pawar, Deputy Chief Minister, and Mrs Varsha Gaikwad, Minister for Woman and Child Welfare, plus. Mr. Laxman Jagtap, MLA.  This award contains Rs. 25000/- a Trophy, and a Certificate".

Karunaprabha, who works for the projects concerned,  adds - “The Award is given in memory of Ahilayabai Holkar a social reformer who worked for the welfare of the Indian Women and fought for the women rights, in the 18th Century.  This Award is for doing Best Work in the Pune Division and also for the Best NGO in the Pune Division". 


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Monday, April 04, 2011

News from windhorse:evolution

windhorse:evolution ( is Triratna’s largest right livelihood business, with well over 100 people at their Cambridge warehouse and a chain of 17 shops around the UK, all aiming to make money to give away to the Triratna Community and to social projects associated with its suppliers. It’s been a challenging time for them with the UK recession, but they’ve weathered the storm so far and Deborah, their new Communications Officer, writes with an update from Keturaja, saying - “Coming towards the end of this financial year, we can say we've done very well. We are expecting to make a similar profit to last year, around £100,000, which is a great achievement in these challenging economic times.

“Everyone in the business has contributed, from increasing wholesale and websales, to careful buying and controlling costs across the whole business. Our wholesale sales have continued their strong performance with sales for the first 9 months of the year 4% up on last year. The trading year for our 17 evolution shops has been more mixed, particularly with the heavy snow hitting our sales in December, although we fared quite well compared to the general market trend.

“Looking ahead, it is a strong aim for the business to increase profit next year, so we can give more money away, to make a difference out there in the world. The effect of the increase in VAT and cuts in government expenditure are likely to provide us with challenges, but we are keen to take advantage of lower property rents and hope to open one or two more shops this coming year. Our altruistic goal is very important - our set up for practice here is great and it gains an edge by having the aim to give money away. This year the Windhorse Trust has donated to several Buddhist projects and social projects in the communities of our suppliers, including: Free Buddhist Audio, Clear Vision, Windhorse Publications, Ban Rom Sai (an orphanage in Thailand , and Green Tara Trust, a maternal healthcare project in Nepal (

Vidyavajra's 'A Show of Hands' artwork,
representing the individual and collective efforts
of those who work at Windhorse
“Another aim for the year ahead is to continue our practice of Buddhist values and ethos at work. Uddiyana, where we work, already feels more like a beautiful shrine than a modern warehouse and offices, and Vidyavajra has been making more great improvements to the building, including his recent artwork 'A Show of Hands'. Arthapriya will be expanding his contribution as right livelihood convenor for the business, and Saddharaja will be giving a series of talks on Right Livelihood (more news on this to come soon).

“For more about us, you can now find us on facebook!  Look for windhorse:evolution to find more images, information and videos, and make friends with us to receive updates. Also, look out for our new magazine, available from Triratna Buddhist Centres around the world this week”.

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Saturday, April 02, 2011

Travels in Orissa, birthplace of the first Dhamma Revolution

Shakyajata writes with news of her recent expedition to Orissa, in the remote north-east of India, where she’s been meeting graduates from Nagaloka, Triratna’s Buddhist social work training institute in central India, and exploring with them opportunities for livelihood and activism. She says -

“In January of this year, Priyadaka, Helen Sullivan, and I travelled to Odisha (Orissa, recently renamed) in the company of Trinath, and Utpal and Nagavajra. The last mentioned are three impressive young Orissan dhammamitras, who arranged our tour and guided and cared for us with great efficiency.

“We did many things there; meetings for mitras and young people to discuss livelihood opportunites; Dhamma programmes; swimming in the Bay of Bengal at sunrise; visiting remote and ancient villages; and visiting a number of fascinating Buddhist archaeological sites.

“ Orissa is actually one most 'fundamentalist' states in India, where foreigners are regarded with suspicion, as mlechhas or Untouchables, and our young Buddhist friends put themselves in danger of violence by being public about their religion. It was very stirring to see the evidence that once it was so different, over a huge area that may even have reached the shores of the Sea of Galilee, 250 years before the birth of Christ. I have heard Indian Buddhist friends talk of the influence of Buddhism on Christianity, and been rather dismissive of this 'wishful thinking', but having seen the evidence of Ashoka's influence, I am not so sure.

“Orissa is full of paradoxes. Despite the reserve of some of the locals, it is a lovely place to visit, with a beautiful coastline and nature reserves; a delightful climate, in January the days warm and balmy, the nights fresh and cool; an amazing cultural heritage, especially of dance; a thriving tradition of skilled stone-carving; the countryside mostly lush and unspoiled, not (yet!) devastated by industrialisation. The Buddhist sites have some wonderful things; huge drum stupas skilfully carved from curving blocks, without mortar, fitting perfectly together; a broken fragment on the ground with a perfectly clear frieze of vajras; the Vajrayana was here! Exquisite Mahayana carvings of bodhisattvas, often damaged, to the grief of our young Buddhist friends; heads of Buddha statues which must have been of colossal much to see.

“We hope to help these very idealistic young people to set up a livelihood in tourism and pilgrimage, to support their Dhamma work. For more information, see ... and consider coming to Orissa!

“To give you a flavour of what you might find if you did come, for me, the most stunning sight was at Dhauli, where there stands a modest monument, virtually unknown, marking the spot where the Buddhist Emperor Ashoka began the revolution of peace that was to spread throughout India, into (modern) Pakistan and Afghanistan and beyond. Here there took place the terrible massacre of the Kalingas, a sight of such dreadful carnage and suffering, that witnessing it, Ashoka resolved to abandon his career of kingly conquest and embrace the teachings of the Buddha - to rule his huge empire as a Dhammaraja, a compassionate monarch.

“There is a huge white marble 'Peace Pagoda' at Dhauli, built recently by Nichiren Buddhists, which can be seen for miles around, and is a popular picnic spot. The day we visited, it was pretty busy! But even Hindu 'pujaris' (priests who are fond of telling Buddhists how to worship at their own monuments, for a fee) and crowds of people taking snaps of each other, could not distract from the peaceful sunset view of the river Daya among its green fields; the river said to have run red with the blood of the piled corpses of the Kalingas, in those terrible days. There are many carved plaques on the pagoda. An especially moving one appeared to depict a man in aristocratic dress, gazing in horror at corpses lying on the ground, with other people being taken into captivity; surely Ashoka at his 'moment of truth.'

“Tucked away at a little distance from the Pagoda however, is something even more impressive. A huge rock, bearing eleven of the fourteen Edicts of Ashoka, with an excellent translation, shows clearly the way that his peaceful and compassionate reign was established. In summary, the first 3 Edicts are 'Prohibited killing of animals in the royal kitchen' ; 'Arrangements were made for medical treatment and the provision of medicinal herbs throughout his dominion'; 'Ordered his officials to set out on tour every five years, to propagate moral codes throughout his kingdom' and so on.

On top of the Rock, an beautifully carved elephant is cut from the stone, emerging from it, which represents the Buddha. Amazingly, the Rock Edicts and the elephant are in beautiful condition, not defaced or neglected as so often happens in Hindu India, where non-Hindu history is often crudely assimilated.

“With metta, Shakyajata”

Shakyajata’s fundraising website is at

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Friday, April 01, 2011

Sangharakshita's Diary, March 2011

Vidyaruci, Sangharakshita's secretary, writes with his monthly portrait of Sangharakshita's life and activity in Birmingham, UK.  He says - "As was mentioned in the last diary, Nityabandhu, along with a friend from the Polish Sangha, came to stay with Bhante for a few days in February. He visited again a few weeks later - this time for a longer stay, and with six friends. As well as spending time with Nityabandhu, Bhante met with the whole group for a couple of question-and-answer sessions, and at the end of one of these one of the men asked for ordination, making him the second member of the Krakow Sangha to have taken this step.

In the last week of February, Bhante attended a talk and book-launch by Vishvapani at the Birmingham Buddhist Centre. Bhante is very happy that Vishvapani's book Gautama Buddha: The Life and Teachings of the Awakened One, has been published. Its appearance is timely, it seems, given the renewed emphasis in the Movement on the importance of a familiarity with, and feeling for, the historical Buddha, and Bhante hopes that Order members and mitras will read the book.  [more information about the book is available on its dedicated website, - ed]

Bhante's correspondence with Claire Jordan, the granddaughter of his old friend the Kazini, has continued, and has remained interesting and illuminating for both parties. With the help of Triratna's Clear Vision photo archive, Bhante has been able to send Claire some photographs of the Kazini. By the way, I would like to make a slight correction: Last month I described Claire as a published poet and professional witch; but actually, though she has won prizes for poetry, she has not published; and she describes being a witch in terms that suggest a vocation rather than a profession.

Audio books that Bhante has enjoyed have included: Charles: Victim or Villain? by Penny Junor, which Bhante described as 'a well researched and objective account of Prince Charles's difficult life'; and Pack My Bag: A Self Portrait by Henry Green, which he thought 'a sensitive and thoughtful account of the first twenty five years of the author's life'. Incidentally, Henry Green, known mainly as a novelist, was the younger brother of Gerald York, who was responsible for the publication of The Thousand Petalled Lotus.

As well as making steady progress with the Gandhavhuya, I have read to Bhante another two essays from The Future of New Religious Movements, this time about ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), who are interesting insofar as their situation as a movement in some ways reflects our own. 

Also, we are coming to the end of Sulak Sivaraksa's eventful autobiography, Loyalty Demands Dissent. Sulak is a well known Buddhist peace activist, and a founding figure in the International Network of Engaged Buddhists. Bhante and Sulak have corresponded, and Sulak has read several volumes of Bhante's memoirs.

And, of course, Bhante's daily routine continues, including seeing people almost every day, and walking round the garden, which must be more enjoyable now that spring is on the way, and the snow drops are out.