Thursday, June 30, 2011

Buddhist gives BBC's Reith Lectures!

Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK), Buddhist and leader of Burma's democratic opposition, gives two of the 2011 Reith Lectures on the subject of Securing Freedom
Her lectures, which were recorded in Burma and smuggled out of the country, focus on the struggle for freedom and democracy, the meaning of freedom and dissent and the responsibility of the international community.

Lecture 1: Dissent   BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 28 June 9.00am, repeated Saturday 2 July 10.15pm
Lecture 2: Liberty    BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 5 July 9.00am, Repeated Saturday 9 July 10.15pm

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The 2011 Buddhafield Yatra - an account

Triratna’s Buddhafield project does all kinds of things over their long summer season - retreats, festivals, cafes, and land management.  At the time of writing, many of their core team are deeply immersed in a month-long silent meditation retreat - which will finish just in time to prepare for the annual 3,000-person Buddhafield Festival!  Their previous retreat, however, was an unusual event, and Lokabandhu sends us this report -

“The highlight of last month was, for me, the Buddhafield Yatra.  I thought it was totally great, it’s unlike everything else we do in Triratna and I would like to share an account of it with you - if anyone wanted to organize one themselves I’d be more than happy to advise.

“In essence a Yatra is a walking retreat; over 7 days 30 of us walked 60 miles, from Reading train station (an easy place to get to for the start) to Avebury (a vast megalithic complex dominated by the great stone circle: a fine place to finish).  It’s a walk, but with a distinctive etiquette: we walk in silence, in single file, each hour of walking beginning and ending in a circle, with any words from the leader (or others, who might, for instance, have a poem to share) followed by everyone bowing to one another.  The leader then leads off in a spiral, walking around the outside of the circle with everyone following.  Behind the leader is a map-reader; at the rear is a backstop who ensures no-one gets left behind.  Two vehicles, a van and a run-around car, stay with the day’s team of about 4 people; they tat-down the previous night’s camp, do the shopping, go ahead with the luggage and set up the next night stop, cook dinner, and welcome the weary walkers as they arrive.  The car is available to pick up anyone who can’t walk the full distance.  The roles all swap around, everyone plays their part.  Morning and evening there’s time for meditation, Dharma talks, reporting-in and Puja or other rituals; the silent walking is of course mindful and an excellent way to practice Bhante’s ‘Four Levels of Awareness’. 

“All that by itself would be enough to make a great event, but Yatras are much more too.  Five aspects especially struck me this time - the landscape, the elements, the rituals, the community, and the journey back in time.   The walk took us along the River Thames and up onto the Ridgeway, a 5000-year-old trackway across the high dry ground of the Wiltshire downs.  Water gave way to Earth, Fire warmed us at night, Air buffeted us as Consciousness walked though Space.  For me this was a delight, a week away from computers simply immersed in the present moment and our surroundings: big skies and big landscapes led effortlessly to ‘big mind’.  It wasn’t all easy: we were fully exposed to the elements, even by Buddhafield’s minimal standards.  At night, the only shelters were our tents and an awning hung off the side of the van.  While walking, the only refuge was to be mindful of (and hang loose to) our experience rather than resist it.  And we had weather in abundance - hot sun, strong wind, driving rain, blue skies, cold nights.  Happily none lasted too long - we could see for ourselves that all things passed, the Three Laksanas held true…

Almost every night we camped at one or another ancient monument or hillfort, giving a wonderful backdrop to a series of improvised rituals.  The first evening we started with the Dedication Ceremony, but thereafter took off into realms of creativity. Morning by the river, with rain threatening, saw a ‘baptism’ by Air and Water, based on a Biodanza exercise; that evening another by Fire and Earth - specifically, building and jumping a fire in the woods.  The next morning, finding ourselves next to Scutchamer Knob, an ancient collapsed burial mound, we surrounded it and one by one approached the shrine in the centre of the amphitheatre-like space holding a Vajra, shouting our names to the wind, declaring our intentions for the day’s walk - to “walk with confidence, sensitivity, etc”.  And off we went…  At Uffingdon, on Dragon’s Hill at sunset, in the howling wind, we recited the Ratana Sutta and met, tamed, and befriended our Demons, this time calling their names into the wind.  At Waylands Smithy, an ancient tomb in a beautiful beech-tree grove, we began what came to be several ceremonies connecting us with our Ancestors - those unknown people who first walked the Ridgeway and built (with stupendous labour) the many special places we were passing. 

“We used verses and pujas by Dhiramati, to whom I’m profoundly grateful; he has such a gift with words and poetry.  We began with his verses ‘To the Ancestors’; that night, by a fire in a field under the starry sky, his beautiful puja to Tara and the Elements.  In the wide open space of Barbury Castle Akasaka led us in the Amoghasiddhi mantra and offering our intentions (symbolized by flower petals) to the wind.  By this time Reading train station seemed a million miles and several thousand years away!

“Approaching Avebury, our destination, for two nights our only campsite and kitchen was the public car park and grass verge by the track: happily we were undisturbed.  We’d tried and failed to find a more orthodox campsite for this part of the walk; it was clear how we as Yatrikas had in a sense gone forth from the regular world and (rather like the Buddha and his followers) been forced to take our chances night by night. 

“Soon after our arrival we embarked upon an all-night vigil inside West Kennett Long Barrow; some 25 of us crowding in with almost 20 staying till dawn. Akasaka and I had drafted a seven-round ritual, recapping and building on the many ceremonies already performed.  Each round had several stages, for instance the first, ‘Connecting with the Ancestors’ consisting of a welcome talk by Sean (a Druid as well as a Buddhist); entering the Barrow; creating a shrine and finding our places; Dhiramati’s 'Verses to the Ancestors' and 'Spirit Song'; the Ratana Sutta and an offering of one sunflower seed each inside the chamber; and finally the Aksobhya mantra and earth-touching mudra. The other rounds were ‘Setting our intentions for the night’; ‘Evoking our potential’ (verses and mantras to Amoghasiddhi and Tara, ending with extinguishing all lights and holding hands in the total darkness); ‘Confession and Acknowledgement of Regrets and Limitations’; ‘Aspirations and Next Steps’; ‘Rebirth and Re-emergence’ (in the first light of dawn); a ‘Retreat Metta and Transference of Merits’ and finally the recitation of Kalidasa’s wonderful 'Exhortation to the Dawn' at sunrise at 5.06am.  Followed by the long walk back to our camp and sleep!  The next day saw us end the Yatra by walking the mile-long Avenue into Avebury and reporting-out among the stones - and meeting Terry Dobney, Arch-Druid of Avebury and Keeper of the Stones, for a formal welcome into and most fascinating tour of the site.

“Probably not surprisingly, we were a pretty strong community by this time, even though we’d all spent many hours in silence, simply walking together.  Certainly we’d all lived though an adventure together, ably facilitated by the excellent Buddhafield team.  For me, it was a great combination of a simple and elemental life, a whacky adventure, and a serious contribution to our great shared enterprise of bringing Buddhism to the West, even, to re-imagining the Buddha.  I’m over my word count by now so can’t say more; but there’s photos at

“With metta, Lokabandhu”


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

EcoDharma launch the Sila Network

Last week Triratna News posted a story from Guhyapati outlining the EcoDharma Centre’s five-year vision and current opportunities.  They've just launched a new initiative, The Sila Network, and are looking for people to join them.  He explains -

“The Sila Network aims to help Buddhist Centres across Triratna bring the transformative power of the Dharma into effective relationship with society.  It also seeks to support the application of Buddhist ethics to the 21st century.  A number of Order Members, friends and mitras have been working together over the last year to create it”.  “Central to our thinking was a conviction that as students of the Dharma, and in a time of planetary crisis, it’s essential we engage with the social context in which we find ourselves,” explains Alex Swain, who is taking on an administrative role in the network. “In Triratna,” she continues, “we speak of this in terms of ‘transformation of self and world’, and this initiative seeks to help make that a reality.”

The Sila Network team, which includes Guhyapati from the EcoDharma Centre, Lokabandhu from the Triratna Development Team, and Ben Jackson who is currently based in Berlin, has drafted the following mission statement:

The Sila Network seeks to support institutions throughout the Triratna Community to exemplify ethical ideals, as applied to ecological sustainability and social justice issues. We want to help Buddhist Centres, businesses and communities to address ethical consumption, energy descent and radical simplicity, and to communicate about these choices in a way that inspires and encourages similar change in others. Applying Buddhist ethics to a 21st century context, we are seeking to support institutions within Triratna (including: Urban Buddhist Centres, Rural Retreat Centres, communities, Right-Livelihood initiatives and businesses) to embrace and exceed the best practice already evident in society at large. The network emphasises the “power of community” to address our shared ecological and social problems in the belief that, together, we can work towards a transition from non-sustainability and social injustice to a sustainable future and culture of compassion”.

“Dharma practitioners are aware that our ethical precepts need to be upheld consistently through all aspects of our lives,” says Lokabandhu. “It’s increasingly evident that the choices we make in how we consume, where we bank, who our energy supplier is, and so on, really do matter, especially when we stand together in bigger numbers.”  With this in mind the Sila Network team feel that the Triratna Community has great potential to set an inspiring example for a culture which is too often preoccupied with individualism and consumption. It aims to assist our Triratna Centres to become beacons of ethical practice contributing meaningful solutions. “We hope,” explains Guhyapati, “ to support our shared aspirations of compassion and concern for the world, so that the power of the Dharma can continue to transform society, helping our Centres and institutions become exemplars and sources of inspiration.”

How can you help?
The team have already written to Triratna Centres in the UK and mainland Europe (where the initiative will focus for the time being), looking for one or two people within each local sangha to become ‘Sila Network Contacts’.  They’re hoping to find,  within local Triratna Sanghas, people with expressed concerns about sustainability and other social issues who might be drawn to work with the Network. Or people in local Buddhist Centre teams who’re interested in the help the Network could offer. Some Centres are already doing excellent work in these areas. So, there may be someone in your local centre team already engaged in this kind of work, and if there is, the Sila Network team would love to speak to them!  They might also be able to help share their experience around the movement.

Can you recommend someone, or would you like to get involved?  If so, please put yourself or them in touch with us, through our email address

There will also be a meeting in the EcoDharma space at the Buddhafield Festival in mid-July. If you’re planning to attend, look out for it on the program and come and meet the team there.

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ordinations in India

Triratna News is delighted to report that the following men were ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order on June 19th at Bhaja Retreat Centre, India:

Public preceptor Chandrashil
Private preceptor Amoghasiddhi:
Rangrao Rangari becomes Shraddhapriya, one who loves faith 
Subhas Pudke becomes Alokvajra, Luminous diamond
Shilvant Nagarale becomes Kumarvajra, Prince diamond
Satyam becomes Asangavajra, unattached diamond
Nagvajra becomes Dhammasen, leader of dhamma
Utpal becomes Ratnakumar, Jewel Prince
Dilip Shende becomes Sugatpriya, beloved of Buddha
Vinod Dighade becomes Asangapriya, one who loves detachment
Dhruva Gajbhiye becomes Buddharatna, Buddha Jewel
Prajnavant Shende becomes Akshayamitra, indestructible friend

Private preceptor Lokamitra:
C.N.Nandeswar becomes Dhammanaga (meaning of name not yet given)
 Trinath becomes Maitreyaratna (meaning of name not yet given)

Public preceptor Amoghasiddhi
Private preceptor Adityabodhi
Sikandar Ughade becomes Karunaditya, Sun of Compassion
Chandanshive becomes Shakyaditya, Sun in the shakya clan

Private preceptor Ratnashila:
Sunil Ghodke becomes Jinaratna, the Victorious Jewel
Ajay Patre becomes Nagdeep, the Luminous Buddha

Private preceptor Jutindhar:
Tulanand Barsagade becomes Jinasagar, Ocean of Conqueror

Private preceptor Yashosagar:
Jagdish Parmar becomes Vajradhvaja, banner of determination
Narendra Masaram becomes Vimaldassi, one who has pure vision

Private preceptor Amrutdeep:
Chandrakant Dhoble becomes Amrutsur, bravely striving for Nirvana

Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

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Friday, June 24, 2011

News from the Sangharakshita Land Project - and the 'Wise Building' at CAT

Mokshapriya writes:

As part of my research for the Sangharakshita Land Project I was recently shown around the brand new 'Wise Building' at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, Wales. When I think of us engaging in sustainable responsible and creative new build I would be truly delighted if we were able to follow a similar path to this complex.

The building is constructed out of low embodied energy materials such as hemp and lime, rammed earth and sustainably sourced timber. At 7.2 metres, the circular walls of the auditorium are the highest rammed earth walls in the UK and were my favourite element in the whole building. To make rammed earth walls, loose, moist subsoil is compacted in thin layers between shuttering or formwork. Mechanical compaction forces clay molecules to bond with the aggregate (a physical rather than a chemical bond), giving the wall its strength. The rammed earth provides structural support for the roof, but does not form the external walls – these are timber-framed glazing (on the south side) and hemp and lime. There is a corridor around the auditorium, between the rammed earth and the external walls. The rammed earth wall has a delicious texture and acts as a passive heat store as well as providing substantial sound insulation.

Apart from the 180-seat theatre the building holds seminar rooms, workshops, restaurant, outdoor spaces and 24 en suite twin bedrooms. It's  heated by solar panels, biomass and passive solar. Basically it's a showcase building in sustainable technology and as well as being 'worthy' it's well designed. I've just read that the Daily Telegraph has awarded it the 'Top Building of 2010' and although I wouldn't agree that it's 'ravishingly beautiful' it is a building we can learn from and perhaps, with the right architects, even go beyond….

See also


Thursday, June 23, 2011

EcoDharma Centre announces Five Year Plan and New Opportunities

Last month the steering group for Triratna’s EcoDharma Centre gathered in Catalunya in the mountains of Spain to give shape to the project’s five year plan. The group of ten people including Order Members and others closely associated with Triratna came together to take an important step in the development of the EcoDharma project.

“We have been carefully bringing this project to fruition for many years now,” explains the project’s founder Guhyapati. “We have taken an organic and patient approach, enabling the project to take root and mature gradually. That has felt like a wise approach for a land-based project. Now we are entering into a new and exciting phase, and our 5-year plan gives a clear and achievable focus to our shared vision.”

While organic and carefully paced, the project is an ambitious one with a number of different strands. It includes the continued development of the EcoDharma Centre as a centre of excellence in hosting retreats and educational courses. There will be a focus on Dharma and meditation, and especially on bringing the Dharma into relationship with socially engaged and ecological concerns. There is an important land-based dimension to the project, with intentions to develop and implement long-term sustainable land use including organic and permaculture-based agriculture and forest gardening.  All of this rests on the foundation of a commitment to collective living and working, in an effort to exemplify the power and creativity of community.

The EcoDharma Centre is blessed with a stunning area of 50 hectares of woodland, fields, and rugged mountain land, flanked by Spanish national park and other common lands - shown in the photograph. The centre itself is just visible as the tiny white dot just to the left of the centre. This situates it in one of the wildest and most secluded settings in Triratna – ideal for the development of long-term retreat facilities and solitary retreat cabins. There are negotiations in process to purchase more adjacent land, with a vision seeking to preserve supportive conditions for the project for many generations to come.

Several opportunities have arisen out of the visioning process, and EcoDharma is currently keen to attract some additional long-term community members plus shorter-term interns and volunteers.

Long Term Land-Based Opportunity
For longer-term involvement, they are particularly interested in people who are passionate about land-based sustainability, permaculture, forest gardening, land and woodland management, ideally already with experience in these areas, or an especially keen capacity to learn! They are interested in individuals who want to contribute to the long term planning and implementation of these areas of the vision.

Internships for Younger People
The centre and community are also keen to support internships aimed at people keen to become acquainted with living in a practice-based community and exploring how the Dharma can interface creatively with the ecological and social issues of our times. These internships are aimed to support younger people to gain skills and experience in value-based collective and community project development.

During the next year or so the Centre will also be interested to hear from people with building skills and experience (especially sustainable building techniques and interests, although conventional experience is also a great asset) to take part in some forthcoming building projects.

If you, or anyone you know, would like to learn more about these opportunities, contact Guhyapati at

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Triratna Barcelona reports...

Rijumati, part of the team developing the new Triratna Buddhist Centre in Barcelona, writes with an update, saying -

“Things have been very active on the Sangha front here in Barcelona. In April we organised to erect a large meditation dome at Barcelona's big alternative festival La Fira per la Terra. We taught about 150 people to meditate and gave out lots of publicity for our classes. Then I attended the Encuentro de Pascua, the Valencia Buddhist Centre's version of a Buddhafield retreat. We camped out at a venue near to the town of Caudiel, set in some lovely hills. Several of our friends from Barcelona attended. The weather was very British, it poured unrelentlingly most nights, several of the tents didn't survive. I gave a couple of workshops - in Span-glish - on community living and team based right livelihood.

Sinhendra and Rijumati
“The weekly introductory class in Barcelona itself continues to thrive, often there are 10-12 of us there. Since I am the only Order Member involved in the class who lives here I tend to lead the class when the others can't make it (Amalamati, Padmadharani, Paramachitta). It has been rather an initiation by fire to lead the class in my faltering Spanish, but the Catalans are very forgiving. Usually I get my good friend Obi to teach the meditation in Catalan, and then I lead a workshop on some aspect of meditation or Buddhism. The Sangha here is small, very warm and loves to meet up after the class. It is a delight to be part of it. Additionally Sinhendra and I have started a weekly practice night on Sunday evenings (Sinhendra still works in Valencia several days each week) where we meditate together, do puja and share a light meal afterward - meditacion, puja y tapas. That is quite popular with anything from 4-10 of us practising together. 

“On 15th May we celebrated Buddha Day, the first Triratna celebration of Wesak in the city. We did a ritual on the Montjuic hill near the castle (one of five we are planning in the city) to help establish the Dharma here. Then I gave a talk about the Buddha's awakening - in a mixture of Spanish and english - followed by meditation and supper. It was a lovely half-day event with about 15 people and one dog attending.

“I have been doing some meditation teaching in English, a contact via Vajranatha. Currently I go to their home, but I am hoping to find a venue for an English language class soon, there are clearly many anglophones in the city who would be interested in learning meditation.

“I am also very busy in other ways: continuing to arrange the details of life here, ongoing work on my book (checking copy edit version, sending off images for the proofs), attending an intensive Spanish course each weekday, rebuilding the Barcelona Triratna website, administrative matters for the piso, and a regular flow of guest: things are busy. Siddhisvari is visiting for a month, she is considering moving here next year along with Nagesvara and Nuria Murcia.

“The summer is retreat season and I am currently setting up a couple of weekend retreats for the local Sangha. One will be in the summer somewhere close to the city. The other will be in the autumn and hosted by the Ecodharma community. Both we in Barcelona and the community at Ecodharma are keen to make the most of our mutual connections. Additionally in August I will be attending the annual summer retreat in the mountains of Montseny in Catalunya, organised by Triratna's Valencia Buddhist Centre. Several of our friends from Barcelona are intending to come.

“There is plenty of work to do and the money we receive through our Triratna Barcelona Just Giving Fund-Raising Page will be dedicated to paying for Sangha events like setting up weekend retreats (and for example covering expenses for the meditation classes at the Fira per la Terra ) or buying useful equipment like meditation cushions and mats.

“With metta,


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Monday, June 20, 2011

Street meditations in Barcelona

Just noticed on Facebook - a Spanish post by Rijumati, an Order Member currently engaged in setting up a Triratna Buddhist Centre in Barcelona. He’s been joining in the recent demonstrations there - but by meditating. He says -

Saludos para todo el mundo

Ayer hicimos una meditación en Plaza Catalunya con la gente del movimiento indignado. Fue un éxito. Hubo 20 personas ahí y dimos una introducción a la meditación. Era algo mágico que fuimos concentrados así en el centro de la ciudad. La gente del espacio armonía quiere que lo hagamos otra vez. Entonces hemos arreglado un programa de tres meditaciones cada semana.

Las fechas son: cada lunes, miércoles y viernes a las 18:30 en la Espai Harmonia (Plaza Catalunya, al lado de la fuente, casi haciendo "esquina" con Rambla Catalunya).

Quiero formar un equipo para dar la introducción al seguimiento de la respiración, si puedas ayudar escríbame un correo.

Espero que puedas asistir unas veces.

movil: 633099661

We’ve translated it using Google Translate - crude, but good enough to get an idea of what's happening (and often funny!)  What we think he’s saying is -

“Greetings to everyone.

“Yesterday we did a meditation in Plaza Catalunya with the movement of people angry [the demonstrators there]. Was a success. There were 20 people there and we gave an introduction to meditation. It was something magical and were concentrated in the center of the city. The space people [the organisers] want us to harmony again. So we arranged a three meditations each week.

“The dates are: every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 18:30 at the Espai Harmonia (Plaza Catalunya, next to the source, almost making "corner " with Rambla Catalunya).

“I form a team to provide an introduction to monitoring the breathing [the Mindfulness of Breathing meditation], if you can help drop me an email.

“I hope you can attend a few times".


On Wednesday we’ll bring you a fuller report from the Triratna Barcelona team .

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

News of Metta Vihara: construction work begins!

Parina writes from the Netherlands with news of Metta Vihara, Triratna’s new retreat centre in Europe’s Low Countries, saying:

“On June 20th Metta Vihara finally starts to build our new retreat centre!  It’s taken us over 5 years to find a good location and 2 years of preparation for the building project, but here we are: it is actually happening!  There’s no need to tell you all that starting a project like this means a lot of patience, persistence and faith.  Sometimes it is good not to know what is coming next!

“We have felt many times that Mara is trying everything to obstruct our initiative. To mention a few: we found asbestos when demolishing the old barns and that meant a delay and 35,000 extra euros to remove it.   Then the local authorities made some mistakes that delayed us by 3 months.  Also the first design was too expensive so we had to start all over again. But... we didn't let ourselves be discouraged and moved on.

“The photograph shows an architect’s impression of the new retreat’s centre design (with its many white windows), set in its actual landscape.  We think it might be the first purpose-built retreat centre of the Movement. Are we right?  It is designed by Peter van Assche who has been a mitra for many years and an outstanding architect. He likes to think “out of the box”- an approach which is visible in the form and materials he uses.  One of his statements about this building is that it has a beauty that is not too comfortable: it may even be confronting but it is a beauty that can help the guests experience or learn things on a deeper level, out of their comfort zone.

“The retreat centre will have a capacity of 22 guests in either one or two person bedrooms, plus a shrine room, dining room and library. We will use it for our ‘own’ retreats - we run over 20 per year already - and we will rent it out to other Buddhist and non-Buddhist groups as well.

“So, on June 19th we will celebrate the start of the building with a ritual called "the first stone"  by Dhammaketu and Vajragita who are two of the founders of Triratna in the Netherlands and Belgium. A touring car with Sangha members from Amsterdam and Utrecht and many friends from Gent will come and we have invited the whole of the local (small) village to join us.

“We are very much looking forward to this ritual since it is also a way to express our gratitude to everyone who has been of great help for us, in all different ways.  We will keep you posted in the coming months of the progress we make!

“With metta, Parina”

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Ordinations at Guhyaloka

Maniraja writes from the Guhyaloka Support Team  to say “the Public Preceptors are pleased to announce that the following men were publicly ordained on Monday 13th June 2011 in Guhyaloka:

Ray Force becomes Silanatha (bar over the “i” and the second “a”) a Pali name meaning “Protector of Ethics”, westernised spelling Silanatha, Private Preceptor Dharmadipa.

Allan Kirkman becomes Bodhinaga (bar over the first “a”), a Sanskrit name meaning “Serpent of Awakening”, westernised spelling Bodhinaga, Private Preceptor Amoghavamsa.

Andreas Kahari becomes Kusalananda, a Pali name meaning “He who finds joy, happiness and delight in what is Skilful”, westernised spelling Kusalananda, Private Preceptor Satyaraja.

Jari Ahvalo becomes Karunasiha (bar over the second “a” and the “i”), a Sanskrit name meaning “Lion of Compassion”, westernised spelling Karunasiha, Private Preceptor Saddhaloka.

Gabe Branbury becomes Prasadacitta (bar over the second “a”), a Sanskrit name meaning “He whose mind is Tranquil”, westernised spelling Prasadachitta, Private Preceptor Shantinayaka.

Phil Daly becomes Dayabhadra (bar over the second “a”), a Sanskrit name meaning “He who is auspicious and excellent through Kindness, westernised spelling Dayabhadra, Private Preceptor Jnanavaca.

Andreas Fisher becomes Sanghasevaka, a Pali name meaning “Servant of the Sangha”, westernised spelling Sanghasevaka, Private Preceptor Bodhimitra.

Steve Hart becomes Sajjana, a Sanskrit name meaning “A Good Man”, westernised Spelling Sajjana
Private Preceptor Maitreyabandhu.

John Bunting becomes Suvannamani (dot below every “n”), a Sanskrit name meaning “He who is like a Golden Jewel”, westernised spelling Suvannamani, Private Preceptor Vajragupta.

Rob Cloke becomes Maitridasa (bar over the second “a”), a Sanskrit name meaning “Servant of Loving Kindness”, westernised spelling Maitridasa, Private Preceptor Padmavajra.

Ady Griffiths becomes Vidyadasa (bar over the second “a”), a Sanskrit name meaning “Servant of Knowledge”, westernised spelling Vidyadasa, Private Preceptor Padmavajra.

Christian Richard becomes Ujumani (dot below the “n”), a Pali name meaning “He who is an Upright Jewel”, westernised spelling Ujumani, Private Preceptor Paramabandhu.

David Waterston becomes Satyadasa (bar over the third “a”), a Sanskrit name meaning “Servant of the Truth”, westernised spelling Satyadasa, Private Preceptor Ratnaghosha.

Jonathan Heddle becomes Sanghanistha (dot over the first “n” and a dot below the second “s” and the “t”), a Sanskrit name meaning “He who is devoted to the Sangha”, westernised spelling Sanghanistha, Private Preceptor Saddharaja.

The Public Preceptor for all the above was Satyaraja.

Ross Pearce becomes Dharmagatu (bar over the last “a”), a Sanskrit name meaning “Singer of the Dharma”, westernised spelling Dharmagatu, Private Preceptor Buddhadasa, Public Preceptor Manjuvajra.

Jonny Jimenez becomes Padmasalin (accent over the “s” and a bar over the last “a”), a Sanskrit name meaning “He who is rich in Lotuses”, westernised spelling Padmashalin, Private Preceptor Saddharaja, Public Preceptor Moksananda.


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Thursday, June 16, 2011

A death in the Order

Nayaka writes from Dhanakosa, Triratna’s retreat centre in the north of Scotland, with the sad news of the death of Manjusvara, at Dhanakosa co-leading a fully-booked Wolf at the Door retreat with his colleague Ananda. This was following a serious stroke he suffered on Monday evening. Nayaka says -

“Dear Friends, I am sorry to have to inform you that Manjusvara passed away at 3.30 this afternoon. His brother was with him. The family have been very respectful of Manjusvara’s Buddhism and are intending to involve the Bristol Buddhist Centre in Funeral arrangements but have asked that in the meantime we do not contact them, but wait for them to contact us through the Order members they are already in contact with.

“With Metta, Nayaka.

Manjusvara was a much-loved poet, author of The Poet's Way, veteran fundraiser and mentor to many generations of Karuna fundraisers, and co-founder of Wolf at the Door, created with his friend Ananda to “to bring the wildness of imagination into our everyday lives”. He will be much missed.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ordination in Manchester, UK

Dayanandi  writes from Manchester, UK with news of an ordination, saying - “I'm very pleased to announce that Kate Walsh received her Public Ordination at  Triratna’s Manchester Buddhist Centre on Thursday June 9th at 6pm. The  Public Preceptor was Dayanandi and the Private Preceptor was Dharmottara.   

“Kate Walsh becomes Dharmakasara.  This is a Sanskrit name meaning 'She who possesses or has access to a lake of Dharma'.  (bar over third and fourth 'a').   The Westernised spelling is Dharmakasara.

“Sadhu!  Sadhu!  Sadhu!

“With metta  Dayanandi 

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Poetry in Manchester

Aryamati, an Order Member and writer from Manchester UK, writes saying - “When there’s a space, l'd be grateful if you'd include this in Triratna News:

"Triratna’s Manchester Buddhist Centre has formed a weekly Poetry group, where The Poet’s Way by Manjusvara has guided recent work.

"It's good to report that Aryamati has just won a Poetry prize at the University theatre, for a poem on Manchester - copied below. Also, the serious Manchester-based writing group Womenswrite is celebrating its 20th birthday with a book of short stories entitled ,'life, death...the whole damn thing' which impressed the UK’s Arts Council to renew its grant. One of Aryamati's stories, to be published in the book, was inspired by Ananda and his Wolf at the Door workshops: to make a story out of a list, in this case recalling a saintly godmother's life and death.

"Bhante encourages us to use our imaginations, to deepen meditation - and re-imagine the Buddha. He has helped those of us who try to write, with his own volumes of poetry. We owe gratitude to the encouragement we receive in Triratna for the developing of creativity, sharing ideas and practice.

I was young once – now old at twenty-four
each unlit dawn I walk five miles to work
to lay rough-hewn blocks along their canal.
But towpaths we build stretch right to the sea.

This labour separates my skin from my bones
its grime slimes our mouths, hands, feet, clothes
the muck we dig out for their freshwater canal –
It all started here, in Manchester's guts.

Foreman strides up, warm coat on, early as usual
‘We'll finish the towpath this month, if it kills me'
May not kill you, but a mate's sure to die.
Spades on tired shoulders, we march to his orders,

We dig hours all morning, we dig with bruised shoulders
weeks of hoisting stone on stone over rough rope
Some days we sing - till our throats stop croaking;
after 600 wounded, too scared to revolt.

And storms brew in this muddied, dank air
girders drown, locks sink, our names drown.
We build while they dance, we dig vast tombstones.
It all started down here, from our bodies and guts.

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

I never expected to be visiting Dorset (news from the Sangharakshita Land Project search)

Mokshapriya writes:

For the past little while we’ve been investigating a property and site as far south as Dorset. Hardly central I know and far from ideal given that the journey time for central and northern UK centres is the same as to Padmaloka.

I could list it’s other faults but despite them all it does offer something we’ve not come across before - enough accommodation for 300 as well as a few other useful buildings which means we could be up and running in some sort of shape very quickly. Oh it also features a large and beautiful stone Grade I listed manor house dating from the early 17th century which has been beautifully maintained and could possibly accommodate the Dharma Training Centre and Sangharakshita Library. At the entrance are two huge 20th century imitation cottages which serve as lodges.

It’s last function was as a christian retreat centre. Let me share their blurb with you:

“Driving up the winding wooded lane to Chantmarle, you enter a world where historic charm, peace, spiritual inspiration and contemporary convenience blend beautifully together to offer all the needs a Christian Residential Resource Centre could possibly have. The Centre is nestled in 100 acres of beautiful Dorset countryside. Thomas Hardy country, and whether you are a family or a group of up to 222, we have the facilities to cater for your every need. If you are looking for a beautiful retreat centre to hold seminars, meetings, courses or just be together, then we have accommodation to suit every need.”

For many years Chantmarle was the Dorset Police Training College and in the fifties they built some remarkably inappropriate buildings to provide the accommodation, sporting and training facilities they needed. So, if we bought it, we’d have a beautiful mansion house, listed gardens, at least 100 acres and facilities to run large events. The obvious questions include: Why on earth would we want to take on the maintenance and running costs of a grade 1 listed mansion? Aren’t the other buildings horrible and in need of replacement? How do we make a place like that our own? Isn’t it just too far South? What about the ecological costs of running such a poorly insulated site? And so on.

So do we dismiss it and move on? Well we feel the need to carefully consider the pros and cons as with everything we come across that has some potential. At the moment we are costing the replacement of the entire oil fired heating systems and considering other immediate cost implications. If it still seems at least considering further we’ll arrange to book more people on site to get other perspectives. Otherwise we’ll put it down and move on a little wiser and better informed than before. Maybe we’ll find another gravel quarry next....

See also


Friday, June 10, 2011

Latest news and developments from The Karuna Trust

Andrea from The Karuna Trust writes:-

Dear Readers of Triratna News
Last week on Triratna News, Bodhiketu wrote about his experience of being on the pioneering Karuna ‘One Year Appeal’, known as Viramandala.  They're a team of 5 men (Bodhiketu, Priyadaka, Silajala, Sanghanath and Jayaraja) who have been door-knocking in London since September 2010 to raise money for Karuna’s projects in India. In that time they have raised £400,000 to help India’s Dalit community. Here’s just some of the ways we spend the money raised on the doors.

Education - giving Indian children a good start in life
In India, as in many developing countries around the world, education is one of the key ways to reduce poverty and inequality. We're funding early childhood projects in Maharashtra, which teach parents how to interact with their child through touch and play. Through this we’re reaching 5000 parents and children aged from birth to 3-years.

Human Rights - placing forgotten people on the map
Nomadic and 'de-notified' tribes live in extreme poverty, have low levels of education and face extreme discrimination. With money raised on the doors, we’re about to fund a new partner, the New Initiative for Reclamation of Mankind (NIRMAN) who work with these forgotten people in the state of Maharashtra. NIRMAN's main aim is getting these people included in the India census. This means they'll be able to claim their state entitlements such as school places.

Women's Empowerment - creating a network of connection and support across India
The 2nd Karuna Women's Conference took place in India in February. It was attended by 24 female delegates from 12 of Karuna's partners. It's a unique event because it's specifically for Indian women working in NGOs.

The main outcome of the conference was the strengthening of 'Maitri for Development', a network of organisations addressing women's issues across India. Maitri will be a platform for women working in NGOs to share their skills and experience through a mentoring programme.

Karunadeepa, an Indian Order Member & NGO worker who works for Jeevak (a Karuna project partner based in Pune) was at the conference. She says "For me seeing so many projects do such good work and making a difference to people's lives was a learning experience."

Leadership development - encouraging Dalit women to become leaders
Dalit women especially lack self-confidence and access to proper information. This means, for example, they're often unwilling to meet with government officials to claim their state entitlements. This is especially the case in North Indian states such as Bihar where Dalits live in extreme poverty.

In response to this, we're initiating a leadership development programme for Dalit women in Northern India. This network will give Dalit women a supportive platform to voice their concerns and share their issues. Through this we'll be able to identify other women-led NGOs to join the 'Maitri' network.

Mind Change - reaching out to young Dalit and Tribal people
Young people from 'low-caste' backgrounds in India rarely have the opportunity to become community leaders. They often feel they have limited opportunity to influence change.

We're changing this by reaching out to 3000 young Dalit and Tribal people through our partner, the National Network of Buddhist Youth (NNBY).

The NNBY organise programmes & events across India specifically for young people enabling them to come together in large numbers to discuss the issues concerning them.

Award winning work
Jeevak, a long-standing Karuna partner, recently won an award in recognition of many years work in the Dapodi slums of Pune. This was the starting place for Karuna's work in India over 30 years ago. Sadhu to the Jeevak team!

If you’d like to know more about our work in India, please visit

More than anything we rely on the generosity of Friends, Mitras and Order Members from The Triratna Buddhist Community who give their time to join 6-week door-to-door appeals or phone campaigns.

If you feel inspired by our work in India and would like a taste of fundraising as a spiritual practice we have plenty of opportunities. Click here for more information.

You can always call us on 0207 700 3434 or email

Warm Regards
The Karuna Team

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Thursday, June 09, 2011

LBC Charity Shop makes £18 000 profit in first year of trading!

Santavajri from Triratna’s London Buddhist Centre writes with news of their new Right Livelihood charity shop, Lama’s Pyjamas - and the healthy profit they’ve made in their first year of trading!

She says - “Lama’s Pyjamas is the London Buddhist Centre’s new charity shop in Bethnal Green. We sell clothes, bric-a-brac, CDs, DVDs, videos, toys, cards, jewellery, small items of furniture, books, and more. In fact, the only things we don’t sell are electrical goods and larger pieces of furniture. During the 17 months we’ve been open, we’ve sold all manner of weird and wonderful things, including bicycles, designer watches, and a wedding dress!

“The shop is a women’s team-based right livelihood business managed by a team of three, with another 10 or so volunteers and casual workers.

“In our first year, our gross takings were £73 000, of which £18 000 was profit. We employed three full-time workers on Right Livelihood support and paid a market rent for the premises. After re-investing some of the profit in the business, we were able to give £11 000 in dana to the LBC.

“It would seem that, in these times of economic hardship, charity shops can do very good business! We would be happy to share the experience we’ve gained over the last year with anyone in Triratna who is considering setting up a similar venture. Please email, or for more information.

They have a website at

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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Still a few places left on New Society event in Birmingham, 17-19 June

Jnanarakshita writes: 

Dear Friends,  This is to let you know that we’ve had lots of bookings for this event, but there’s still a few places left if you want to join us.

On the weekend we’ll explore some of the principles and practices of creating Sangha together. What are the advantages and the challenges of Dharma work and of communal living? 
The emphasis will be on achievable action and practical next steps, and the programme will include:

- a presentation by Vajragupta: "the New Society – why we need it and how to get involved"
- the launch of a new guide to starting a community, devised by Lokabandhu and others
- mini-talks from 5 or 6 young people who've recently joined or pioneered communal projects
- puja and shrine room practice
- time to meet with others

The New Society in principle and practice
7.30pm Friday 17 June to 4.00pm Sunday 19 June at Birmingham Buddhist Centre
 Cost: dana (by donation).  Accommodation available.
To book, or for more information: email Vidyaruci, matt.notmatt [at]

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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Twelve women ordained in Spain

Parami  writes from Akasavana, Triratna’s ordination retreat centre for women in Spain, to say - “The Public Preceptors are pleased to announce that the following women were publicly ordained on Saturday 4th June 2011 in Akashavana:

Jo Bennet becomes Lokadhi, a Sanskrit name meaning "she who is wise about the world" (bar over the "i", westernised spelling Lokadhi); Private Preceptor Dhammadassin.

Juliette Durance becomes Sukamala. A Sanskrit name meaning "a beautiful or excellent lotus flower" (Westernised spelling Sukamala); Private Preceptor Kalyanasri.
 The Public Preceptor for these was Ratnadharini.

Karenza Fullerton becomes Bhadrakari. A Sanskrit (and Pali) name meaning "she who creates auspiciousness" (bar over the last "a" and the "i", westernised spelling Bhadrakari); Private Preceptor Dharmanandi.

Yvonne Greenaway becomes Kulajalini. A Sanskrit name meaning "she who is equipped with the net of community" (bar over last "a" and the "i", westernised spelling Kulajalini); Private Preceptor Samachitta.

Tricia Leggat becomes Amlanadhi. A Sanskrit name meaning "she who has bright, unclouded wisdom" (bar over the second "a" and the "i", westernised spelling Amlanadhi); Private Preceptor Dhammadassin.

Ann Dennehey becomes Dayamudra. A Sanskrit name meaning "gesture of compassion" (bar over the second and the last "a", westernised spelling Dayamudra); Private Preceptor Viveka.

Val Blomfield becomes Vijayadipa. A Sanskrit name meaning "she whose light is victory" (bar over the last "i" and the last "a", westernised spelling Vijayadipa); Private Preceptor Srivati.
The  Public Preceptor for these was Parami.

Judith Tomlinson becomes Acarasraddha. A Sanskrit name meaning "she whose shraddha is immovable" (an accent over the "s" and bar over the last "a", westernised spelling Acharashraddha); Private Preceptor Parami.

Lis Whitelaw becomes Danasamudra. A Sanskrit name meaning "she who has an ocean of generosity" (bar over the first and last "a", westernised spelling Danasamudra); Private Preceptor Parami.
The Public Preceptor for these was Vajragita.

Mieke Philips becomes Satyapara. A Sanskrit name meaning "she who is absorbed in, solely devoted to Truth" (bar over the last "a", westernised spelling Satyapara); Private Preceptor Akasasuri, an dPublic Preceptor Padmasuri.

Claudia McLoughlin becomes Akasadevi. A Sanskrit name meaning "goddess of infinite space" (bar over the first and second "a" and the "i" and an accent over the "s", westernised spelling Akashadevi); Private Preceptor Subhadramati.

Susanne Burtsche becomes Utpalacitta. A Sanskrit name meaning "she whose heart / mind is like a blue lotus" (bar over the last "a", westernised spelling Utpalachitta); Private Preceptor Kulanandi.
The Public Preceptor for these was Maitreyi.

“Please note that, in order to avoid confusion and inaccuracy, the Sanskritists who check our names point out that the westernised spelling of the name should be used where it is not possible to indicate all the diacritical marks required in the proper Sanskrit / Pali spelling.

“With metta,  Parami.

Two further batches of ordinations are expected soon, of men currently on retreat at Guhyaloka and at Bhaja retreat centre in India.


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Sunday, June 05, 2011

Vishvapani's ‘Thought for the Day’, on Karma

To read more, or listen to the full piece, please visit the BBC website here, an Order Member and regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day’ program, writes -

“Here’s a link to my most recent ‘Thought for the Day’, on karma.

He begins his piece by saying “My relief that the Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic is at last being subjected to international justice has a personal dimension. My father’s family were Jewish victims of the Nazis and my grandfather died in Sobibor Concentration Camp, so I feel a particular resonance with accounts of Central European genocide. Most chilling for me, and most reminiscent of the Nazis, was the cool deliberation behind the Srebrenica massacre when the state turned its power on Bosnian Moslems killing 8,000”.

His previous post, is also available. Celebrating the recent Buddha Day festival, he manages to explain ‘What is Enlightenment?' in 2 mins 45 secs!

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Saturday, June 04, 2011

Sangharakshita's Diary, May 2011

Vidyaruchi, Sangharakshita's secretary, writes with his monthly update on Bhante's activities, saying -

"There is little to say this month, for, aside from a visit to the acupuncturist, there have been few disruptions to Bhante's usual routine of visitors and walks in the garden. Even the audio books have been largely unheeded, as most of Bhante's attention has been occupied with his current writing project, called 'Reveries and Reminiscences', the first instalment of which appears in this month's Shabda, and the dictating, typing, and editing of which generally takes much of our morning session.

"As well as progress with a new literary project, the last month has seen previous publications receiving attention from outside of Bhante's typical readership. The novelist Robert Irwin published in the Guardian his list of 'top 10 quest narratives', which included The Thousand Petalled Lotus at number 8 (as well as Lama Anagarika Govinda's The Way of the White Clouds). In praise of the book, Irwin says 'since Sangharakshita has a razor-sharp mind, this book can be read with profit even by those who have no interest at all in religion'. Unfortunately, now that the book has been conflated with Learning to Walk, and is published as The Rainbow Road, interested readers may not know how to obtain copies themselves.

"Fame may also be looming for What is the Dharma, which is due to play a key role in the plot of a Hollywood Film. The Fourth Noble Truth will star Harry Hamlin as a wayward movie star and Kristen Kerr as the meditation teacher assigned to rein in his excesses. What is the Dharma will be a gift from teacher to student, and an inner change in Hamlin's character will be reflected in his changing responses to the book. We hope such exposure of Bhante's books will help them become better known, and thereby further their purpose and message.

"With metta, Vidyaruchi."

A new piece of writing by Sangharakshita, 'Reveries and Reminiscences', has recently been completed and will be posted on his website -


Friday, June 03, 2011

Six New Talks on Buddhist Right Livelihood Practice: new series of talks from Windhorse:evolution now available

Saddharaja, a long-standing Order Member and Staff Welfare Officer at Windhorse:evolution, Triratna’s largest and most successful Right Livelihood business, has embarked on an ambitious series of six new talks on Right Livelihood. The first of these, Meaningful Work and Values (The pleasures and sorrows of work) is now available on Free Buddhist Audio at, and others will follow as soon as they are given. You can track their progess on Windhorse’s scrapbook blog (which doubles as a fascinating archive of their history)

In the talks he draws on his 20 years experience of Right Livelihood (team-based and otherwise ), saying -

“I aim to make conscious a path of spiritual practice and a healthy, human way of working within the modern world. A way of making our work at Windhorse:evolution (w:e) a genuine vocation. Hopefully, the talks will be interesting to everyone – Buddhist or not. I often ask myself the question what is Right Livelihood? What are the practices and how do we deepen them? Can anyone practice them, Buddhist or otherwise? What are the core teachings of Right Livelihood (RL)?

“We have a body of right livelihood experience and teaching within w:e, but my impression is that it isn’t coherently communicated and presented. Precious teachings, but not easily available. In Triratna, we have Sangharakshita’s Perfect Livelihood chapter in ‘Vision and Transformation’. There are other texts and teachings in our Movement too, but no one main source.

“So this is 2011, and society continues to change apace. Some of the traditional (and Triratna) approaches to right livelihood, while completely sound, can seem to me a bit dated – they don’t reflect how we live and work now.

“In the last three years I’ve been exploring ideas on Right Livelihood with Vajragupta (he who wrote The Triratna Story and other books). We’ve come up with six themes which might form a fresh look at Buddhist right livelihood practice – relevant to the needs of society today, whilst retaining the best of the traditional practices. The aim is that these approaches may form the basis of a book. Hopefully the ideas of Vajragupta and myself will stimulate discussion and experimentation within the business, and who knows – might even lead to some of us breaking through into something greater.

“The chart below outlines the themes of the 6 Talks. Each talk looks at a particular ‘challenges’ we can encounter in modern working, and how we might find solutions to them. The first talk is now out, more coming soon!

“There are many more teachings on RL in the Buddhist tradition, but these are the absolute essentials. You don’t think you need to be a Buddhist to appreciate many of these teachings, they are relevant to anyone – whether secular or belonging to another religious tradition”.

Windhorse:evolution is based in Cambridge, UK, where it employs over 100 people. Vacancies arise from time to time, those interested in applying are invited to check their latest adverts on Triratna Jobs.

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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Seven women ordinained in Australasia

Purna writes from New Zealand with news of the ordinations of seven women in Australasia, saying -

“At a Public Ordination ceremony held at 8pm on Sunday 22 May at Shambhala Retreat Centre, Golden Bay, New Zealand, Clare Feeney was ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order as Muditanandi, a Sanskrit name meaning ‘She who delights in sympathetic joy’.  Her private preceptor was Varadevi and her public preceptor was Megha.

"At the Public Ordination ceremony held at 2pm on Thursday 26 May, also at Shambhala Retreat Centre, Golden Bay, the following Dharmacharinis were born:
Cheryl Hyde became Kamalamayi (Pali) – 'She who is full of the lotus'. Private preceptor Chittaprabha.
Anne Barrey became Dharmamodini (Sanskrit) – 'She who rejoices in the Dharma'.  Private preceptor Chittaprabha.
Helen Commander became Vimalashri (Sanskrit) – 'She whose radiance is pure'.  Private preceptor Varadevi.
The Public Preceptor for these was Megha

Janet Hughes became Viryaja (Sanskrit) – 'She who is born from energy in pursuit of the good'.  Private preceptor Megha.
Jenny Cornish became Yashokaruna (Sanskrit) – 'She whose compassion is beautiful'.  Private preceptor Megha.
Lisa Raby became Dantachitta (Sanskrit) – 'She whose mind is tamed'.  Private preceptor Megha.
The Public Preceptor for these was Varadevi.

With Metta, Purna, (sent on behalf of Varadevi)

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