Uddiyana - Sangharakshita Funding Report 2018

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A FEW QUESTIONS FOR BHANTE PARAMARTHA With Parami at August order gathering

Some time ago I asked Bhante a question. Was there an age at which he had started to feel old? Without hesitation he replied, ‘At about eight’. A momentary pause. ‘But I feel much younger now!’ Having entered his 94th year, I am delighted to report that Bhante is indeed well and happy and appears not only to be coping with the vicissitudes of old age but actually thriving. Rather than give a blow by blow account of Bhante’s day I thought I would ask Bhante a few questions that touch on aspects of his daily routine. Paramartha: Bhante, what would you say is the most enjoyable part of your day and why? Bhante: I think in many ways the most enjoyable part of the day is in meeting people, that is to say, Order members and mitras, especially those who are in training for ordination. Sometimes one comes across

At August order gathering

With Saddhanandi

Meeting visitors from India

surprising things, especially when one asks whether the person has any special interests apart from the Dharma, and I might get a reply like ‘well I’m a gemologist’ or ‘I’m a mathematician’, which can be a bit unexpected. Paramartha: I don’t know whether you are aware of it but over the last year you have seen over 400 people (for at least half an hour each). Is there any other question you commonly ask your visitors? Bhante: Well if they are in training for ordination I ask them how near they feel to ordination and what sort of feedback they are getting from Order members. They usually tell me what sort of feedback they are getting. Paramartha: Reading (i.e. listening to audio books) or being read to is also an important part of your day and you cover a very wide range of material – both fiction and non-fiction. Has there been a book that you have read in the last year that stands out as having made the greatest impression on you? Bhante: I have read several books on quantum mechanics recently, starting with Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. I had heard of this book but had not read it so I listened to it twice and it did make an impression on me. Well, more than an impression. It opened up wholly new vistas of thought, especially scientific thought, and obviously that is a very different area from my usual areas of concern i.e. the arts, religion, and philosophy. So I really did feel that I had entered a wholly new area of thought and experience. Later, at a friend’s suggestion, I listened to Carlo Rovelli’s Reality is Not What it Seems and The Order of Time and these go rather further than Stephen Hawking does and they are also rather delightfully written. Paramartha: I know this last year has been a particularly creative period in terms of your writing? Can you say how important that is for you personally? Bhante: My writing has always been important to me, especially when I am writing about the Dharma. It has been the main way in which I express my creativity and I am glad I have been able to keep up with that. I am very happy to be able to communicate some of my recent thinking, though nowadays I do have to dictate rather than write with my own hand. Recently I have been thinking about Islam and Buddhism and writing a little on that subject. I have been very glad to do that. I believe it is quite important as we need to know at least a little about the beliefs of our fellow citizens who happen to be Muslims. Paramartha: You have said that this last year has been one of the happiest of your life? Bhante: I don’t think that is really an exaggeration because it goes back to something written by a follower of Jung (James Hillman) that old age is not just a preparation for death; it is a stage of life in its own right and I think I have experienced that. I have no major problems. I am now sleeping regularly. I am meeting with interesting people. I am able to express my thoughts in writing. So, yes, I am living here at Adhisthana where a lot of spiritual activity goes on and this creates a very beautiful atmosphere. The place is situated in the midst of gardens and fields of course, and I have the support of my carers. There is nothing I really need other than what I already have. So yes, it is a great time for me.


With European Buddhist teachers

In September I gave a presentation on Adhisthana and Triratna to the European Buddhist Union (EBU), a European organisation with members from many different Buddhist movements and sanghas. They were holding their annual three-day AGM at Adhisthana. My presentation started with one of Bhante’s early teachings on ‘direct and indirect’ methods of working on and transforming the mind which is a teaching that communicates a whole Dharma life. In front of me sat monks, nuns, and lay people. As I continued describing the vision of Adhisthana and of Bhante’s vision of the Dharma, including the Six Distinctive Emphases of Triratna, it was easy to see how impressive and significant Bhante is in this contemporary world of Buddhism. Just a few days before giving this presentation I had met with Bhante for an hour or so. We shared tea and cake (Bara Brith that I had brought back from my stay in Ratnavandana’s bungalow in mid-Wales) and we talked about the forthcoming EBU and the meeting of European Buddhist Teachers that immediately followed. He was as lively and engaged as ever, wanting to hear about the content planned for the meetings and determined to attend the talks and presentations on the ‘teachers meeting’ which would follow the EBU. We also talked about death – his death – and he mentioned how very little intervention he wants in his dying process. And we talked about ‘old age’ as a process that has value in its own right, as something to be embraced and engaged with as an important stage in one’s life. Whilst we talked with lightness and humour about death, I also saw an old man taking seriously what needs to be in place in order to die well; having conversations he needs to have with some of his friends; reflecting on his life; and giving away some of the possessions he wants to share with friends – I have received a piece of greenstone (a type of jade) from New Zealand. I remember how one day, when pointing to a Mexican skull in his room I exclaimed ‘Bhante, it has your name written across its forehead, does this worry you?’ His reply was simple and obvious ‘Saddhanandi, it makes no difference!’ (‘Of course’, I thought, ‘good reply!’) Recounting some of these moments to the members of the EBU, I was struck by how many of them were interested in Sangharakshita, his work, and the sangha he has developed around him. They know from their own experience how hard it is to create a living sangha of committed Buddhists. At the end of my presentation, many people came forward and requested to meet with Bhante, and this was duly arranged. It wasn’t hard to see the respect and appreciation that members from other Buddhist movements have for Bhante and his work – Sangharakshita, our controversial, creative, and unusual teacher.


I have been getting to know Bhante for nigh on 48 years, and am now occasionally called upon to leave my solitary home in mid-Wales to ‘fill in’ at Adhisthana so that his usual carers can be away on errands of mercy elsewhere. Here is what happened on my recent one-week tour of duty serving him in the Urgyen Annexe. It’s nearly 11 a.m. and I am on Sanghadasa’s list of duties to be with Bhante from now until midday, and then I will be cooking Bhante’s lunch and eating with him. I have slept well, taken a shower and had breakfast, checked my emails and Facebook, and been for a short walk around the grounds of Adhisthana. I am comfortable, breathing easily, and my mind is refreshingly clear. Bhante, I imagine, will want to sit quietly or listen to an audio book. But no, I am mistaken! He wants to be taken out in his wheelchair on this windy morning, and what’s more, after listening to me reminiscing, and making the occasional comment while we sit well wrapped on a bench near the pond, he walks himself back to the Annexe with his stroller rather than have me push him there in the wheelchair. My sessions in the Urgyen Annexe are wonderful opportunities not only to serve my ageing preceptor, but to try to see his actions or comments as teachings. Whether or not Bhante intends them as such, they do often seem to me to point to something. That ‘something' might be, by implication, my own imperfect understanding or limited vision, or a demonstration of a concern for others that puts mine to shame. Furthermore he has a recollection of events in the distant past, as well as of literature and poetry, that is truly astounding in a man of 93. And there is his humour, always good natured, though sometimes ironic. How good to be able to learn and to laugh with him! I love caring for Bhante, regarding it as a great privilege to be able to serve him in his old age. According to Cicero: The harvest of old age is the recollection and abundance of blessing previously secured. In Bhante’s case, the harvest may indeed have been previously secured, though not without trials and tribulations. However, he seems to be generating and conferring blessings in the present too, bestowing them on all who come into contact with him and on those who visit Adhisthana, whether they see him or not, as well as continuing to write short articles and reminiscences. I notice the change of demeanour, sometimes dramatic, of those who visit him for half an hour or so – there are often one or two such visitors between midday and 1 p.m. I don’t always know them myself, though some may turn out to be old friends, and sometimes it falls to me to call them when Bhante is ready and to show them to his living room. Later, while I am cooking his lunch, they may pop their heads into the kitchen to say a brief cheerio or perhaps I will catch a glimpse of them as they pass along the corridor. And almost always they will have a little smile on their faces and a spring in their step. Sometimes a visitor will still be happily chatting with Bhante as lunch approaches, in which case I knock gently on his door, which is the signal for them to leave so that he can listen to the headlines on BBC News at One. One of the most challenging and mysterious aspects of being with Bhante is his silence. With me, at least, he is on the whole much more receptive than talkative, and his silences are impressive for their depth. I used to find those silences rather intimidating, but nowadays I see them as an opportunity to sit quietly savouring their meaning. At other times, Bhante might be listening, headphones on, to a radio programme or to an audio book, which leaves me free to do my own reading, supported by the friendly atmosphere that emanates from him. Seeing Suvajra, Paramartha, Sthanashraddha, Sanghadasa, and also Mahamati is another pleasing aspect of my times being of service to Bhante in the Annexe, even though usually one or other of them is away, which is the reason I am there. And last but not least, there is the opportunity to meet the members of the men’s community, the women’s community, and some of the many visitors to Adhisthana on retreat or just visiting. How fortunate I am!


Tea party with Adhisthana Sangha

With Mexican and Spanish Mitras

With Akashavana 2008 reunion

In 2003 Bhante wrote a ‘statement of wishes’ for his Literary Executors. Those wishes included bringing out ‘a complete, uniform edition’ of all his writings, published and unpublished. No doubt he saw the absolute imperative that those writings be preserved intact if the Movement and Order he founded was to maintain its integrity, and if the Dharma as he has taught it was to continue far into the future reaching as many people as possible all over the world. I don’t know whether Bhante expected to see this in his lifetime. It would depend on how long he might live; and whether there would be the money, the imagination, and the skills for such a project to get underway. But then, in 2015, the year of Bhante’s 90th birthday, the necessary conditions came together: money, imagination, and skills – and the project began! Now, only three years later, I can hardly believe how far we have come. The Complete Works of Sangharakshita will amount to twenty-six fat volumes, each with a specially written Preface and a wealth of new notes, and with a twenty-seventh as a concordance. Vidyadevi and I, the co-editors, have worked on twelve, that is to say almost half, of the volumes, eight of which are already published; the next four are ‘in process’ and will come out in April 2019. The volumes published in 2018, the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Triratna Buddhist Order, included two bearing the titles Milarepa and the Art of Discipleship I and II. Vidyadevi took the extensive, unpublished seminar material on Milarepa, edited it, wrote introductions to each chapter, compiled copious notes, and composed a Foreword. It is a remarkable achievement. With their beautiful covers showing Milarepa and Rechungpa (and, when you put the two together, the dakini of communication coming alive between them) these volumes have already received considerable praise. The proudest moment comes when we hear Bhante has received his complimentary copy. ‘I was delighted to receive the latest four volumes of the Complete Works,’ read the email he sent us. It continued, ‘I feel very grateful to all those whose efforts are bringing the project from dream to reality. May you all be blessed in your labours, which will surely bear fruit for many, many years to come.’ Those blessings surely extend to all those who have supported this project in any way, from digitising texts and designing to proof-reading, copy-editing and indexing, to all the dedicated team at Windhorse Publications, and crucially those who take out subscriptions for their own library or as a gift, or encourage others to do so. Sadhu to all. In order to subscribe please go to: https://www.windhorsepublications.com/sangharakshita-complete-works/

With Ania from Krakow

With German speaking retreat



Interest Donations from Individuals 1

244 72,457

604 72,363




Bhante Personal Support Rent/Food (Bhante & Companion) Bhante's Car & other travel Carers & Secretary's Support and Travel Other Charitable Donations 2

3,218 12,129 972 31,982 50,589

3,009 11,459 2,702 24,071 44,759




7,308 3,192 0 975

6,798 2,979 216 975













CHARITY OVERHEADS Office Rent, Admin and Accountancy Insurance Equipment and Furniture Depreciation TOTAL



1.This figure includes £5,000 previously pledged for 90th Birthday fund 2.This figure includes grants from 90th Birthday fund: £23,605 for Complete Works Project; £23,984 for translations and also £3,000 donated to Dharmachakra for sangharakshita.org & other communications work 3. This figure includes £22,932 remaining from 90th Birthday fund for Complete Works Project

With the 'Elders' If you have any queries about your donation please contact Shantavira or Mahamati at:

Triratna Buddhist Community (Uddiyana) 11 Park Road Moseley, Birmingham B13 8AB United Kingdom sangharakshita.appeal@gmail.com Triratna Buddhist Community (Uddiyana) (UK charity reg 1046398) provides for the care of Sangharakshita The Trustees are: Mahamati (Chair), Paramartha, Subhuti and Amalavajra Please find information about the charity and ways to give here: https://thebuddhistcentre.com/stories/order/sangharakshita-support/ Design Alokavira; Photographs Š Akasajoti, Alokavira, Sthirabandhu, Suvajra & others.

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