Friday, July 22, 2011

Sangharakshita's Diary, July 2011

Vidyaruchi writes with news of some of the highlights of Sangharakshita's diary during the past month, saying -

“The last month has seen Bhante engage in a number of encounters that are somewhat unusual. The first was with Maitrivir-Nargarjuna, an Indian Dhammachari based in Hyderabad, who came to England for a month or so. Over three days he interviewed Bhante for 'Lord Buddha TV', a Buddhist cable channel in Maharashtra, on various topics, such as his impressions of Dr Ambedkar, Buddhist art and iconography, and the challenge of effectively communicating the Dhamma in modern India. The interview is a significant one, not least because when it is eventually broadcast it may potentially be seen by several million people. 

"On another occasion Bhante fielded questions in a context with perhaps less far-reaching implications, though it was nonetheless appreciated by the participants. I refer to a Q&A he conducted with the students of the Triratna Training Course, then in its penultimate week. Topics ranged from the meaning of anatta and transcendental insight, through the relationship between time and pratitya samutpada, to sex and relationships. 

"Bhante has met with some luminaries from the wider Buddhist world. About a dozen members of Byoma Kusuma came to visit, including Ven. Narayan Prasad Rijal, one of their senior teachers. Byoma Kusuma is a Nepal-based Buddhist group, some English members of which visited Bhante last year. This time, he first met with the whole group, and spoke a little about the structure of the Sevenfold Puja, and then he and Ven. Narayan were left to discuss together alone, while Paramartha and I served tea and chatted with the other members of the party. Their teacher, Ven. Ratnashri, has written many essays, a few of which I read to Bhante, who was impressed by the clarity about the Dharma that they evince. To celebrate Ven. Ratnashri's birthday Byoma Kusuma are planning to produce a magazine, and they have asked Bhante's permission to publish one of his articles in it. He has, of course, given his permission, and the article they have chosen is 'The 'Problem' of Ahimsa' from Crossing the Stream. It will be translated into Nepali by Ven. Narayan himself. 

"Then there was David Loy, who came to Madhyamaloka for a visit. His main objective in doing so was to meet with Bhante, though he also spent time with the students on the course, talking about Buddhism and the modern world. Bhante has been recommending David's book, Money Sex War Karma, after having had it read to him last year.

“Other than these interesting and pleasant diversions, and the usual round of visitors and daily walks, Bhante has continued his current piece of writing, 'Reveries and Reminiscences' - the second installment of which appears in the July issue of Shabda - with help from Nityabandhu, whose knowledge and recollection of certain details has been called upon several times. 

!Bhante has found time to enjoy some audio books, including Marlborough, England's Greatest General by Richard Holmes; and a CD of Philip Larkin reading his own verse. He has also had me read to him from a number of sources, including Sulak Sivaraksha's new book (a gift from the same) The Wisdom of Sustainability; a special issue of Contemporary Buddhism, focusing on U Dhammaloka, one of the first Westerners to ordain as a Buddhist, whose life demonstrates a different kind of Western monk to the scholarly types, such as Ananda Metteya, previously thought to be the earliest Western converts to Buddhism; and some chapters from God: Being an Introduction to the Science of Metabiology by John Middleton Murry, which is interesting to Bhante insofar as it touches on ideas similar to his 'Evolution, Higher and Lower'.




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