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, www.gautamabuddha.info
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.