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Sangharakshita's Diary 2017

May 2017

April has certainly been a month of growth and birth, it seemed as though every day a new plant or flower was sprouting or coming into bud and blossom. The various nesting ducks have all hatched their ducklings and the swallows and house martins have returned.

Bhante himself seems no less effected or part of this springtime growth, as he has entered into a rich period of writing, going from one set of reflections to the next, addressing one theme after another. Earlier in the month he finished his piece entitled 'Living with Carter', then moved on to his recent piece on the Garava sutta, which he wrote/dictated with Paramartha's help. And there is another piece on the way which will probably be entitled 'A good friend, the false friend and the spiritual friend'.

While 'writing' in the evenings has taken up some of his time he has also been going through Advayacitta's book, again with Paramartha. And for some enjoyment there has been an audio set of short stories by Oscar Wilde.

There has of course been time to meet with various people throughout the month, so from 1st April up to the 30th April Bhante met with 24 people.

Kathy Wu an old friend from Madhyamaloka and a practitioner of traditional Chinese herbal medicine visited from the states and very much enjoyed her two weeks here at Adhisthana, and was able to meet with Bhante three times to catch-up and impart a wealth of medicinal knowledge to Suvajra and Sanghadasa.

Another guest to mention was Peter Oswald a well known playwright, who came to interview Bhante about his meetings with Dr Ambedkar for a play he is writing looking more at the life of that great man.

During the month Bhante made another trip to Kidderminster for his 16th injection of lucentis into his left eye, and there was a visit from the local matron towards the end of the month who was pleased to find Bhante quite well and thought that he would need only one more visit from her.

And just yesterday Paramartha drove Bhante over to the Adhisthana library to see the 50th Anniversary exhibition. Bhante has been pleased to hear of all the various celebrations around different parts of the movement celebrating our first 50 years. And of course as some will have seen in a short video clip taken by Suvajra, Bhante indeed made his own surprise appearance at the celebrations here at Adhisthana. So in some small way we were in person able to publicly thank Bhante with some words, flowers and a round of applause.

With Metta,

April 2017

Calm has descended at Adhisthana, the ponds have shifted from the place of mating ducks and squabbling groups of Mallards. To a silent realm of morning and evening sunlight slanting golden across the fields, and groups of drakes meandering about and bobbing the surface together while the ducks are now all hidden around the buildings, under bushes, hedges and even in the balcony bedding troughs, nesting and protecting their eggs. Even the Sadhana retreat has spent today in silence going deeper and focusing more on Avalokiteshvara.

Bhante’s health continues to be very good since his illness over christmas, and his energy is more fully present and available to him than it has been for such along time. Consequently he is able to listen to more correspondence, more shabda reports, and has even been taking quite an interest in the stories of the past and present on the Buddhist Centre Online, and particular interest in any responses to his two pieces there.

Following on from those writings Bhante has continued to delve into his past memories and has just finished writing another paper entitled ‘Living with Carter’, and this month has also been talking with people about publishing his ‘Adhisthana Writings’; a series of reminiscences which were written over several months to Paramartha while he was away in New Zealand caring for his Dying mother.

Of course Bhante has also been able to see people this month and sometimes even two the same day. So from the 1st of March to the 31st March he has seen 21 People.

Lyn who met with Bhante this month, has been living in Colwall for many years and had heard there were meditation classes happening at Coddington Court. Having come along she was pleased to discover that we were not only part of what was the ‘FWBO’ but that Sangharakshita lived here, whom she had met many years ago at the Hampstead Buddhist Vihara and had attended some of his lectures there.

Bhante also heard this month from Mokshini who has just returned from india, where she met with Awn Zakhari who wanted her to remember him to Bhante and pass on a photo of them both together. He had very strong memories of touring with Bhante during his 1992 lecture tour and being responsible for taking care of the multitudes of flower garlands Bhante received at that time.

Now the weather has changed enough with the onset of spring, Bhante has made several trips out into the garden with Sanghadasa. To walk along the pond side path, sit in the sun and enjoy the warmth of it.

With Metta,

March 2017

As this short month of February comes to a close here at Adhisthana it's clear the seasonal battle between summer and winter is on. We have enjoyed a few delightful days of blue skies and warm sunshine as the snowdrops blossom all around the hills, but the winds have howled too! The rain has lashed the window panes on more than one side of the building and the temperature has fluctuated. None the less summer is winning, as it always does, even if the victory can seem a little weak in England sometimes.

During some of the worst weather this month we lost an old friend. Toppling over one morning, one of the beech trees by the front pond crashed to the ground. Apart from this Adhisthana suffered no loses even during storm Doris. Just to further my usual opening verses on the natural world around Adhisthana, Bhante thought a nature note was in order: the ducks and drakes here are all pairing off and beginning to roam around the buildings searching out their familiar nesting sites before they settle and lay their eggs. Bhante mentioned a Pheasant spotted outside the conservatory recently. Some of you on more than one occasion will have already spotted a robin in the main dinning hall which also visited the annexe kitchen once or twice while Sanghadasa was preparing Bhante’s lunch.

Bhante’s health is continuing to be very good since his recovery from the attack of pneumonia in December. Though he has taken to using his zimmer frame about the house for support, he has also commented on feeling health-wise, better than he has done for some time. There have also been two hospital trips this month, one for his 14th Lucentis injection in the left eye, and the other trip to see Mr Gandhi, his consultant Ophthalmologist, one of a team of six eye consultants at his hospital, who is a very talkative and friendly man with a turban.

With his recovery and renewed energy levels, Bhante has begun to meet with people here at Adhisthana, so from the 1st of February to the 28th February he has met with 15 people.

As I mentioned last month Bhante has received many personal replies to his personal statement and clarification, these continue to arrive and are almost all expressions of understanding and much appreciation and gratitude, there being just two or three replies of a more searching or critical nature which were also expressed in an overall mood of gratitude. Along with these letters Bhante is also aware of the recent article in the Observer magazine which was read to him later on the day it was published.

This month Bhante has been going through a Book about the book of Job with Paramartha in the evenings. Though as he pointed out to me this was not his first encounter with Job. He has something to say about the book in his own book 'From Genesis to the Diamond Sutra' including this “when I was in my teens my favourite books of the Bible were the Book of Job and the Song of Solomon, especially the former, which I read over and over again.” (p17)

On the 24th of February, four years ago Bhante arrived at Adhisthana, apparently it was very cold with ice and snow around. This month then, on the 24th, the Sangha here marked the anniversary with a photo outside the men’s community in the sunshine with Bhante, followed by a more than usual festive tea break and homemade cake, some of which was sent through to Bhante.

And finally on the subject of past events and memories, Bhante is working on more than one set of personal reminiscences at the moment, which he hopes before too long will be ready for ‘publication’.

With Metta,

January - February 2017

As Bhante pointed out, when I finished writing the last diary, back at the end of November, we didn't know there would be so much to write in this one!

There is not much to report from the early part of December apart from Bhante having a rather quiet time having recovered from a long spell of poor sleep over the summer and autumn. ​ ​ During that time he saw three people having seen almost no one in the previous month or two.

Then Bhante caught a cold which quickly deteriorated and he was admitted on the evening of Tuesday 20th December to Hereford County Hospital suffering from pneumonia. ​ ​ Whilst in hospital the Uddiyana team, arranged 24 ​ ​ hour attendance between Sanghadasa, and Paramartha and Suvajra who took it in turns to stay overnight with Bhante. ​ ​ He was in hospital for ten days and left in the afternoon of Friday, 30th December.

As soon as he was out of hospital, that evening, he dictated his personal statement to Paramartha before going to bed, which has been circulated to the Order and others. There have been many emails cards and letters posted in reply, the vast majority expressing appreciation and gratitude, which I must say even as secretary has been deeply moving to read to Bhante. ​ ​ It has taken several weeks for his health to improve and only now does he feel fully recovered. ​ ​ Bhante hopes to write something about his hospital experience but in the meantime said it would surface to say that the experience was very different from his life at Adhisthana and he was glad to return home.

However, this recent illness does seem to have marked a change in Bhante's life. ​ ​ Things are, and will be, quite different now and Bhante will be receiving quite a bit more help and care from the health care services. ​ ​ He has already received a new hospital-style bed that can be raised or lowered at the touch of a button, and a visit from a physiotherapist who has given him a set of exercises to help him keep mobile (these are done every day with the help of Sanghadasa). ​ ​ Soon there will also be a visit from an Occupational therapist and a Community Matron. ​ ​ Bhante also had another visit to the eye clinic on Thursday the 19th at Kidderminster Hospital for his 13th lucentis eye injection.

Apart from the world of health of course other things continue, such as study with Paramartha. ​ ​ At the time of going into hospital they had gone through the first chapter of The Lotus Sutra: A Biography, by Donald Lopez on the White ​ ​ Lotus Sutra and after his return from hospital they picked up where they left off and have now finished it. ​ ​ Listening to Audio Books also has resumed - at present it's Evelina by Fanny Burney, the daughter of Charles Burney, a friend of Doctor Johnson.

With returning strength and energy Bhante has also been able to begin seeing people for short meetings again and has during the later half of January seen seven people. And as the days begin to lengthen and slowly but surely the spring bulbs make their way up through the earth, I know Bhante is looking forward to once again walking out in the garden by the pond and feeling the sun shining on his face.

With metta,

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