Uddiyana Report 2017

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A SINGLE THREAD OF ACTIVITY SANGHADASA Fiftieth anniversary appearance

Younger Order members with Bhante Fiftieth anniversary with Sanghadasa

'Elders' with Bhante

My name is Sanghadasa and I joined the Uddiyana team full-time at the start of 2017. Thank you all for making this possible: because of your generosity I can be fully supported to help take care of Bhante’s needs. I would like to introduce myself. I became involved with Triratna in the Netherlands in 1994 while I was a student. I’d studied nursing and this made me interested in human suffering, its causes and cures. I soon became a Mitra, asked for ordination, travelled in India and Nepal and then moved to Cambridge in England to work with Windhorse Trading, first in the warehouse and later as the chef. I was ordained in the spring of 1999 during a Guhyaloka ordination retreat. After ordination I spent a few years living in Amsterdam helping to run our Buddhist centre there. However, having also to support myself financially by working full-time as a nurse in a busy hospital proved to be unsustainable and I returned to join a right livelihood team in the UK. I was the chef at Padmaloka for a while and also worked at the London Buddhist Centre where I assisted the treasurer doing bookkeeping. In 2010 I returned to the Netherlands to spend time with my ageing parents. After a few years, and with their blessing, I returned to the UK once again and eventually ended up at Adhisthana, initially working as the site manager. When Buddhadasa left Bhante’s care-team in August 2016, Suvajra suggested that I step in to attend to Bhante for two hours a day. I was planning to carry on as site manager, but it soon became clear that Bhante’s team could do with a full-time member, especially somebody with a nursing background. This became even more apparent when Bhante became ill with pneumonia at the end of 2016. So now a year has passed. Joining the Uddiyana team and being with Bhante, taking care of his needs, has been a really good move. My rather scattered past, with its seemingly unrelated collection of work experiences, has become integrated into a single thread of activity: that of caring for Bhante and his household. I do the shopping and cook his lunch; I drive him to the hospital for his eye injections or to the barber for a haircut; I even look after the car and do the bookkeeping. And whenever needed, I can scan my nurse’s eye over Bhante’s health situation and adjust accordingly. Fortunately, Bhante does not need any specific nursing care at the moment. His recovery from pneumonia was remarkable. His resilience and his determination to be independent is very strong. Back from hospital the physiotherapist gave him some walking exercises which I further adjusted to fit his circumstances. These exercises contributed to a speedy recovery and meant that when winter turned to spring we could step outside for morning walks. Bhante is a very good disciple! Together with a change in medication and regular sleep Bhante is now, for a 92 year old, in a very good state of health. This fortunately means that he can enjoy his recorded books or listen to music, keep up with correspondence, meet people and engage in writing. He was also able to attend the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Triratna here at Adhisthana, and I was very happy to support him as he walked into the Library atrium. Long may this time of well-being continue.

A CONSTANT FLOW OF VISITORS STHANASHRADDHA 92nd birthday during International Gathering

With Sthanashraddha

With Bodhinita and friends

With Ziggy

Adhisthana is a hive of activities and meetings, retreats and gatherings, a place for personal study and retreat as well as a Sangha with two residential communities at its core. There’s a constant flow of Order members, Mitras and Friends coming here to spend time. Sangharakshita very much holds the central position, not just for those of us who live here around him, but for all those who visit as well. Whether they intuit it or not, Adhisthana is on so many levels a space that is centred on Bhante. During 2017 Bhante has enjoyed remarkably good health and sleep, having made a full recovery from his attack of pneumonia over Christmas 2016. With good health and sleep has come a great deal more energy and capacity, some of which has gone towards meetings with a constant flow of visitors. Sometimes it’s old friends, some of the earliest Order members who have known and practised with him for forty or more years; sometimes it’s a member of the Preceptors’ College wishing to discuss a particular issue of Dharma or teaching; then there are a great many Order members who simply want to come and say hello, pay their respects and say thank you: so many thanks expressed! And of course, there are ever more Mitras and Friends (and a growing number of Order members) wishing to meet with Bhante for the very first time. Some of them have been involved with Triratna for years; they’ve practised the Dharma, read and listened to Bhante’s talks and lectures for years too, but knowing he’s getting on in years, and not wanting to disturb him, have refrained from asking to meet. But then something strikes them, a question bubbles up, or a solitary retreat opens a new level of appreciation that needs expression. Other visitors are brand new, fresh to the Dharma, often brimming with questions, or shy and nervous, but the significance of what they have embarked on has reached them. They too wish to meet the man and offer their thanks. Occasionally there are surprises, like the time a local woman came to one of Adhisthana’s drop-in classes and then realised we were the Buddhist movement set up by Sangharakshita, whose lectures she’d attended at the Hampstead Buddhist Vihara back in the 1960s. Or there was the time when a well-known playwright came up from London to interview Bhante about Doctor Ambedkar, for a play he is writing.

Bodhinita writes: The photo (see above) of Sarvatajnana, Amaladipa and myself was taken on 3 July this year 2017. We had been publicly ordained at Adhisthana the day before. In the week prior to our private ordinations several of us had the opportunity to meet Bhante individually. I was lucky enough to spend about half an hour with him and he was in good spirits. We talked about the step I was taking and he said something I found particularly lovely; he said a couple of times that the little group of us getting ordained at Adhisthana was a blessing for Adhisthana, which was most touching. After our individual meetings with him, Bhante suggested that if we wanted to go back to him on the Monday after our public ordinations, we could have our photo taken together with him, which, of course, we were delighted to do. Lilavati, Ziggy's mother, writes: Ziggy (as seen in the photo above) has been seeing Bhante regularly since he was a baby. When he was born Bhante sent him some lavender he had picked himself from the garden. He has always been very caring and interested in him. Ziggy says he thinks Bhante is a good person and is of benefit to the world.

CONSERVATORY EVENINGS SUVAJRA Satan: illustration by William Blake to Paradise Lost (the Butts set)

‘I once thought of writing something about Tharpa Nagpo from The Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, Satan from Milton’s Paradise Lost and Mr Bounderby from Dickens’ Hard Times,’ said Bhante. I couldn’t have been more astonished. The following night he said there was another figure he’d intended to include in the list. ‘Can you guess who?’ he asked. ‘Toad of Toad Hall, from The Wind in the Willows!’ he announced. I must have looked bemused. ‘You have read The Wind in the Willows, haven’t you?’ I had not. ‘Ah, your education is not complete!’ he said. ‘It's not just a children’s book, you know.’ I didn't know, but his teasing wasn’t finished. ‘You do realise what connects each of the figures?’ The Mara-like figure of Tharpa Nagpo and Mr Bounderby, that ghastly, hard-nosed, self-made man, were familiar to me, but I’d hardly any acquaintance with Satan from Paradise Lost, and none at all with Mr Toad. ‘Well,’ said Bhante, ‘they are all personifications of egotism.’ Each of these figures, I realised, despite their differing literary contexts, were in thrall to the spiritual poison of ‘self-preoccupation’, the exact opposite of the Bodhisattva spirit. Such were the themes of our evenings together in Bhante’s conservatory at Adhisthana as I began to receive from him a kind of informal education in English literature. Another time, having just listened to Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham, he recounted for my benefit one of Maugham’s short stories, Rain, complete with its setting, the names of the main characters and even the exact final words of Sadie Thompson: ‘You men! You filthy, dirty pigs! You’re all the same, all of you. Pigs! Pigs!’ When had he read this story. I wondered? ‘Oh, I’m not sure. Many years ago.’ Another night, though frail and weak, inspired by the rising full moon, he quoted lines of poetry, and as he spoke his voice grew stronger and his frame seemed to swell with the life of the lines. This would happen often. ‘Bhante, how do you remember so much poetry? Did you set out to memorise lines?’ ‘Oh no, somehow they just seem to stick.’

In the Urgyen Annexe

For many nights I would act as his hands and eyes, taking dictation as he reminisced over the nine decades of his life, about people who have influenced him and events that have shaped his life. He’d write about his parents, his grandfather, and even some of his uncles. There were encounters with Buddhists in London and encounters with strangers on the London Underground. There were accounts of friends in Mumbai, and much more. Essays that stay in my mind are Colin Wilson Revisited, his reflections on what it means to be an ‘outsider’, What Might have Been which speculates on what might have happened in his life had he taken an alternative course, and Alternative Lives speaks of his friendship with Terry Delamare. Then there is On the Edge of the Etheric which offers a glimpse of some ‘other-worldly’ experiences. In one of these he was an asura or anti-god, a denizen of one of the six realms depicted in the Tibetan wheel of life. ‘We met in 1962 or thereabouts, when I was on a visit to Bombay.… The two of us would have to fight, he told me. We would have to fight with rapiers, and whichever of us drew blood from the other would be the winner. He fought very well, but so too did I, and eventually I succeeded in drawing a thin red line diagonally across his chest with the point of my rapier. ‘You have won,’ he told me, ‘And I shall have to give you something. In a few days time you will be in danger from fire and I will give you something that will protect you from it.’ He then gave me the seed-syllable rang, which I knew to be the seed-syllable of the element of fire… There never seems to be any discernible process by which Bhante choses topics to write about, but he is always turning something over in his mind and it is never many days before something emerges. To have such a clear and creative mind in one’s tenth decade is a blessing; how much more so to be able to set down one’s reflections as one reminisces. Long may our ‘conservatory evenings’ continue. Note: During 2017 Bhante has produced a number of new writings, many of which are available here: http://www.sangharakshita.org/writings.html You will also find here ‘Adhisthana Writings’ which include the essays referred to by Suvajra.

UPCOMING NEW VOLUMES IN THE COMPLETE WORKS OF SANGHARAKSHITA THE COMPLETE WORKS OF SANGHARAKSHITA IS GOING STRONG WITH FOUR VOLUMES PUBLISHED These are: Dr Ambedkar and the Revival of Buddhism I, The Three Jewels II, Mahayana Myths and Stories and The Rainbow Road from Tooting Broadway to Kalimpong. Nearly 200 people (including Centres) have subscribed for the complete set, with the Hardback + eBook option the most popular one. The volumes are also sold individually, and we have especially noted purchases of Mahayana Myths and Stories and also The Three Jewels II. Both these volumes contain texts explored in Triratna’s Mitra study course. A number of people are helping support the Complete Works. Special thanks to: Kalyanaprabha and Vidyadevi, the two editors of the volumes, who have also been raising awareness in Triratna about the Complete Works, Ruth for her design and typesetting work, Dhammarati for the cover designs, Satyalila for her indexing, and Michelle for coordinating so much of the production. Yesterday I received my copies of numbers 3, 16, and 20 of the Complete Works. Like their predecessor they are handsome and heavy and I very much appreciate all the energy that has gone into their production; yet again, you have all done a splendid job. Please pass on my grateful thanks to all the people who have assisted you in what you have done. My blessing goes out to you all. With much love,

WHICH VOLUMES ARE COMING? We are pleased to announce four new upcoming volumes for March 2018. They are as follows: A SURVEY OF BUDDHISM/THE BUDDHA'S NOBLE EIGHTFOLD PATH (VOLUME 1) This volume includes two foundational texts that have inspired readers for decades. In A Survey of Buddhism, out of print for a couple years, Sangharakshita's beautiful prose, shot through with poetry, combines with an exceptional clarity of thought to make this one of the most inspiring elucidations of the Dharma. The Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path: Vision and Transformation makes clear one of the best known formulations of the Buddha's teaching. MILAREPA AND THE ART OF DISCIPLESHIP I AND II (VOLUMES 18 AND 19) The story of the spiritual journey of the famous Tibetan yogi Milarepa is often told, but less well known are the stories of his encounters with those he met and taught after his own Enlightenment, eleven of which are the catalyst for volumes 18 and 19 of the Complete Works. The main emphasis is simply on how to overcome the difficulties that are sure to befall the would-be spiritual practitioner, how to learn what we need to learn – in short, how to practise the art of discipleship. FACING MOUNT KANCHENJUNGA (VOLUME 21) This volume includes Facing Mount Kanchenjunga and Dear Dinoo. Facing Mount Kanchenjunga covers the period 1950-1953, beginning with Sangharakshita’s arrival in Kalimpong as a twenty-four-year-old novice monk. The twenty-nine letters collected together in Dear Dinoo span the period 1955-1974, giving a sighting of Sangharakshita’s life as he experienced it at the time, including what happened on the day of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s untimely death in 1956. If you haven’t heard Vidyadevi’s beautiful and evocative talk on Sangharakshita’s teachings and writings, we think it’s worth a listen. https://soundcloud.com/windhorsepublications/vidyadevi50 With all best wishes, Priyananda, Michelle and Giulietta (Windhorse Publications) Note: subscription rates for the Complete Works will increase in the second half of 2018. Subscribe now for yourself or take out a gift membership for a Centre, library or individual to receive the lower subscription rate. https://www.windhorsepublications.com/sangharakshita-complete-works/

With Paramartha

Visiting 50th anniversary exhibition

With Suvajra

Viewing new shrine with Yashodeva



Interest Donations from Individuals 1

604 72,363

488 145,528




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

3,009 11,459 2,702 24,071 44,758

3,648 17,190 3,147 16,029




6,798 2,979 216 975

6,766 2,765 265 975













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



1.This figure includes £15,000 donations pledged in previous year for 90th Birthday appeal. 2.This figure represents grants given from 90th Birthday appeal to Complete Works Project, translations and Dharmachakra. 3. This figure includes 90th birthday appeal special funds. Further information: As of 15 December 2017 the reserve held was £78,838 (this excludes 90th birthday appeal special funds) and the surplus for the year with two weeks remaining was £1,530.

With the Adhisthana community 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, Nagabodhi, 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 Alokavira, Ashavjit, Akasajoti, Paramartha, Suvajra, Viramati & others.

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