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Sangharakshita's Diary 2018

August 2018

Rain is falling at Adhisthana! Usually this would be nothing out of the ordinary, however it’s been nearly two months since we had any actual rain, having gone through one of the hottest sunny dry spells I’ve seen in many years. So, yes, the rain is falling and has been now for most of the last couple of days, long constant refreshing showers, which the gardens and plants are drinking in deeply, like a thirsty man filling his belly at the oasis.

Not that the sunshine has been unwelcome, Bhante has certainly enjoyed the warmer dry weather getting out into the garden most days either once or twice a day, in the morning or early evening, where he has been able to get some sense of the continuing work of landscaping the grounds.

Of course, Bhante has enjoyed another month of visitors and guests meeting with him, some 52 from the 1st July to the 31st.

Earlier in the month Bhante made a trip to the hospital, not, as is usual for his eye tests and injection, but for a minor surgery to remove a small cyst on his neck. Although he had had the cyst for at least a decade or more his GP decided it was better to remove it. Thus it was removed during an outpatients appointment, and by all accounts is healing well.

Bhante’s recent interest and reading around science has born fruit in a small piece of writing entitled Science and Poetry, which is published here in Shabda and recently on thebuddhistcenter.com online.

And finally towards the end of the month, a small retreat of some of the order’s musicians was held here at Adhisthana during which they invited Bhante along to meet with them and then also treat him to a small piano and tenor recital, between them the two musicians performed settings of eight poems by Bhante, of which he very much appreciated the settings and the performance.

With Metta,

July 2018

Coming to the end of June and having passed the summer solstice, summer has indeed been evident here at Adhisthana. Our rich clay soil is drying out and cracks are opening up in the flower beds here and there. The roses are at their peak and the occasional plant hasn’t made it through the hot dry days

In the early half of June the Adhisthana resident communities had their summer at home days, time for us to all return from all over the map and to spend time together without any retreats or meetings talking place here. Towards the end of the days Bhante joined the Sangha here for afternoon tea and cake. There have been a few such tea parties recently where Bhante can come along and spend informal time with a group of people not engaging with more than a small table of people directly but nonetheless able to get a sense of the larger gathering. One of these occasions was on the German speaking retreat that was held here, organised by Sanghadarsini for German speakers from Germany and elsewhere (UK).

Of course Bhante has been meeting with people as usual so from the 1st of June to the 30th June he met with 30 people.

One of those meetings was with Gus Miller, who specially travelled over from London, he interviewed Bhante about the London Buddhist Centre and some of his early memories of it.

Bhante has also continued his exploration of science through reading. Having listened to Steven Hawkins ‘A Brief History of Time’ for a second time, he listened to Carlo Rovelli’s ‘Reality Is Not What It Seems’, is presently going through it for a second time, and is waiting to start a gift of an audiobook of another of Rovelli’s titles, ‘The Order of Time’.

Running Parallel to this, and maybe by way of balance, in the evenings Bhante has sat after dinner with one of his household and they have selected one of Bhante’s poems at random, read it to him and then they have discussed it. Sometimes just a little and at other times with more to be said.

With Metta,

June 2018

As we come to the end of May, Adhisthana has become quite steamy. What with the hot summery weather and then the last few days of heavy showers and thunderstorms the air is humid and the hills have disappeared in a white haze of moisture. Having said all that, it’s been a glorious time for the gardens and gardening. Many new plants have gone in and now they have all been very well watered.

Though the gardens have been a hive of activity, the annexe has felt a little quiet compared to last month, which saw some 55 visitors meeting with Bhante, one or two of them more than once. So this month Bhante has seen ​42 ​ people from the 1st May to the 31st May ​.​

Along with visitors Bhante continues to enjoy a healthy amount of incoming correspondence from around the order and movement and various friends, relations and even occasional researchers and academics.

And then, of course, he also continues to have shabda read to him and also many of the pieces written by Order members on the buddhist centre online.

Currently Bhante is listening to Stephen Hawkins A Brief History of Time for the second time, and recently enjoyed the autobiography of Rumer Godden author of Black Narcissus and a whole host of other books. Suvajra, in the evenings, has also been reading to him Analayo’s recent book Rebirth in Early Buddhism and Current Research.

Bhante also completed writing two shorter pieces this month sharing some of his dreams: Dreams Old and New 1 and 2.

And finally a very fine Rupa of Jambhala (with a bit of Padmasambhava about him) was blessed by Bhante for the future dharma office, soon followed by a Padmasambhava Rupa who arrived in the post having been very carefully packed by Akuppa. He to was blessed and returned to Newcastle in time for their opening ceremony on the 2nd of June.

With Metta,

May 2018

Spring only really fully arrived towards the end of April, and it was less than a month ago that the gardens were covered in our last batch of snowfall. But, yes, eventually after what felt like weeks of watching tulip flowers develop buds and slowly watching them rise up on their stems, and slowly see buds swelling, we had a few days of warm weather and sunshine, and the Adhisthana gardens burst into spring colour, with tulips and tree blossom all arriving at once. People began sitting out in the courtyard and eating meals outside, rather than simply walking across it from one warm dry building to the next.

Bhante too has enjoyed the warmer dry weather and when possible has enjoyed some sunny spring mornings walking and sitting by the pond at the front of the main house. There has even been a little trip out with Paramartha one day, to a nearby village called Hollybush, which close by has a rather lovely view out across the countryside and on to Worcester.

There was also another trip to the hospital for an injection of Lucentis into the left eye, these are now every six weeks as opposed to the previous monthly ones.

On the literary front Bhante completed his latest piece of writing, which should be in this month’s Shabda. This one is entitled ‘Disparities’. Having completed this one he has embarked on his next already.

Not only this but I’m sure you can imagine to some extent the delight and gratitude with which Bhante received the latest four new volumes of the Complete works released in April. Which now means 7 of the 27 volumes are in print, 1, 3, 9, 16, 18, 20, 21.

Of course Bhante’s continued good health and sleep have allowed him to see many people visiting Adhisthana​, some ​55 visitors from the 1st of April through to the 30th ​.​

There have also been a couple of more public appearances by Bhante, most notably during a weekend event at Adhisthana at the beginning of April, when in front of a large audience Saddhanandi interviewed Bhante over celebratory tea and cake for the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Order. A video of this can be found on the Buddhist Centre online. Right at the end of April, Bhante also joined a retreat for German speakers held here at Adhisthana and again enjoyed some tea and cake, though rather than an interview he simply engaged in conversation with some of those present.

With Metta,

April 2018

As March draws to a close, and the clocks have sprung forward an hour, spring is poking its head up through the soil and swelling in buds on branches all around Adhisthana. Though we have had some terribly cold and snowy days there have also been some sunny ones, and when bright and dry if maybe not so warm, Bhante has taken what opportunities he could and enjoyed a morning walk in the garden.

Spring has also been having other effects too, there has been a large increase in emails and notes from people all around the Movement inquiring and asking to meet with Bhante over the next couple of months, so much so I’ve been struggling to reply promptly to everyone.

Bhante met with 37 people​ from February 28th, to March 31st.​

One of those meetings was with Buddhadasa, whom of course is not only an old community member and one of Bhante’s household before he moved back down under, but of course a dear friend of many years. They were able to meet as Buddhadasa was visiting Adhisthana for his last college meeting.

Many of Bhante’s meetings with Order members also included accounts and anecdotes of trips to India for either the order retreat and convention or pilgrimage. So in the end he has been left with a rich and varied impression of the international convention at Bodhgaya. On the Literary front, this months Shabda will see another new piece of writing from Bhante entitled ‘A Passage to America’, this will be his 18th piece written in the space of a year, and of course Bhante hopes many order members and others are reading them. Though they are not all exclusively written for the order alone they are certainly intended for us.

During the evenings this month Bhante has also been, with the help of Paramartha working his way through ‘12 rules for life, an antidote to chaos’ Jordan Peterson’s book.

And to close this month, Bhante was very pleased to receive a large Parcel in the post, within which was a khatvanga (Padmasambhava Staff), which was bound for the London Buddhist centre. Firstly though it was to be ‘blessed’, some of which included Bhante (with some help) winding the staff with a white offering scarf and tying the ends off himself and sealing them with a breath. It now resides with the new Chair as her symbol of office and will no doubt be passed on from one to the next for many more chairs to come.

With Metta,

March 2018

Coming to the end of February here at Adhisthana and the UK is griped in a cold snap, which the media are calling the Beast from the East, while the ponds are frozen over and the garden is dusted in snow, Sanghadeva gets to take it easy, Yashodeva on the other hand is installing a new kitchen in the Dharma life course community, and a new tea bar in the lower dinning room.

At the end of January around 11 or 12 of the Adhisthana Sangha including myself travelled to India for the convention, so Adhisthana was exceptionally quiet, with no events on and very few people in the communities. Bhante too had a fairly quiet time, seeing just a few people from the communities and further afield. During this time Mahamati was covering the secretarial work and spending time with Bhante.

Bhante met with 18 people ​ between the 24th January and the 28th February.

On the 24th of February, Bhante was invited over to the lecture hall where the Adhisthana Sangha threw a small celebratory tea party with bunting and home-made cakes in honour of the fifth anniversary of his moving to Adhisthana. Saddhanandi interviewed Bhante for us and they talked about that time and some of the last five years, how it’s been for Bhante living here, and choosing the name etc. Bhante seemed on good form and very much enjoying Saddhanandi’s interviewing style and hopefully something will be made of the video recording.

On the writing front Bhante is currently not working on anything having finished his piece on Rainbows, which is a quite important piece as it does offer a clarification on the use of the term ‘a re-founding of the order’.

Bhante is also reorganising the books in his living room, many of which have been sent over to the library with Sanghadasa’s help. The space that has been created seems to be filling up with different objects and images.

Also at the end of February I joined Bhante and Sanghadasa for the drive to Worcester on an exceptionally cold afternoon with passing snow clouds and bursts of brilliant winter sunshine, for his most recent visit to the eye clinic. While I sat in reception Bhante went for his eye examination with the consultant who prescribed further treatment. The journey back being somewhat drawn out by rush hour traffic and road work delays saw us home late for dinner arriving after 6:30.

With Metta,

January 2018

January rolled on and the year began peacefully in the Urgyen Annexe, Bhante enjoyed meeting various chairs during the European chairs Assembly, and then it was time for the Adhisthana community days. Time for the men’s and women’s community to come together without any retreats or guests visiting, and everyone home from their travels. It was during the community days that Bhante was invited for a tea Party, which he enjoyed very much, talking with a few of us and also Aryajaya who has just moved here to become the new International Order Convenor, taking over from Parami who steps down later this year.

Though the weather has been cold, Bhante has been out for several walks when it has been dry, including a rather snowy morning. Even when going out hasn’t been possible, Bhante keeps up regular exercises of various kinds.

December and January has of course seen Bhante continuing to ‘write’ in the evenings with the help of either Paramartha or Suvajra, finishing both ‘Green Tara and the fourth Lakshana’ and ‘Bodhisattvas are also necessary’.

Other than the usual clinic visits for Bhante’s eyes, there was a visit to the local surgery to see his GP about a minor infection in mid January, for which he’s taking a short course of antibiotics.

A gift of Philip Pullman’s latest book ‘The Book of Dust’, is now being listened to and Bhante is enjoying it.

Bhante met with 26 people in​ January then, from the 1st January to the 24th January.

With Metta,

Diary by year: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009