Latest News

Each month a letter from the College Chair will be published here to regularly communicate their work to the Order and Movement, as well as a link to the latest College Newsletter and the blog page on The Buddhist Centre Online.

Ordinations within the Triratna Order take place throughout the year and world: the UK, Spain, India, Australia, New Zealand and the US, all have ordinations taking place regularly. This section also lists who’s been ordained recently, where they’ve been ordained, and what their new name means.

The College consists of 44 members, with retirements and new appointments on an annual basis. When a new member joins the College, we’ll introduce them here.

Lastly, there is a section for remembrance of College members who have passed away.

 

LETTER FROM THE CHAIR – JUNE 2020

Dear Order members and friends,

June was my last month of solitary lockdown in South Wales. In practice that meant spending even more time than usual on my computer, although I did manage one week offline. I also read Analayo’s Compassion and Emptiness and re-read The Glass Bead Game, and went for long walks along deserted lanes and footpaths in the national park.

I emerged from my week off to the deluge of discussion around the subject of race. The murder of George Floyd had been the catalyst for an international wave of largely peaceful demonstrations, followed by instances of legislative and representational change. There was a demonstration in the small town of Brecon, where I’ve been living.

I’m aware that I carry a particular responsibility as College Chair, and I try to do that as ‘ideologically neutrally’ and ‘ethically positively’ as possible, but I’m going to write a bit more personally this month.

I was completely politically naive when I went to live in Brazil for a year in 1977/78, and it was many months before my new friends trusted me enough to share their stories of police torture and murder under the dictatorship. Hitch-hiking down through Argentina, and dropped outside what turned out to be a police station in the middle of nowhere, our backpacks were searched; I was carrying a copy of The Open Veins of Latin America, which was banned, and when I asked what was happening and the police said ‘now we shoot you’… I believed them. In Chile, and not long after the overthrow of Allende, I’d arranged to meet a woman who had been a university professor; she was now unemployable, and her family sundered. I swore I would not return to South America unless I could make a difference, and in 1979 I turned up at Bhante’s lecture ‘On Being All Things to All Men’ from the Vimalakirti Nirdesa.

Interestingly, in that lecture Bhante describes the ‘seventh paramita’ of skilful means (upaya-kausalya):

Similarly, the Bodhisattva, however sincere and well-intentioned, is not going to get very far if he approaches everybody in the same way or speaks to everybody in the same language – least of all if he tries to speak to them as a Bodhisattva. People, as we realise more and more the older we get, are very diverse indeed. We all have our different backgrounds, our different conditioning. We have our different ways of looking at things, our different attitudes. We live in different circumstances, and we pursue different occupations and interests. We have different tastes and prejudices, and even different virtues.

To be effective – and a Bodhisattva who is not effective is not a Bodhisattva at all – the Bodhisattva has to take all this into account. To communicate with people, you have to speak to them in their own language, literally and metaphorically. More than that: to be able to speak to them at all, you first have to establish contact with them. And to do that, you have to appear like one of them. You have to be ‘all things to all men’…

The Bodhisattva is simply himself… And because he can be himself, he can approach people and communication with them in a natural unselfconscious way…
… upaya-kausalya is essentially a matter of being able to be with people, of empathising with them, encouraging them to be open with you and to you.

That lecture changed my life. Not just the lecture itself, but the experience of Bhante’s communication. If I had to choose a manifesto, it would probably be: ‘This is one of the reasons why I am a Buddhist. I believe that humanity is basically one. I believe that it is possible for any human being to communicate with any other human being, to feel for any other human being, to be friends with any other human being. This is what I truly and deeply believe. This belief is part of my own experience. It is part of my own life. It is part of me. I cannot live without this belief, and I would rather die than give it up. To me, to live means to practise this belief.

I’ve witnessed this in many positive connections between Order Members. At the same time I take seriously that members of our community have found it a challenge to share their experience of the impact of racial discrimination and violence. I want to respond to their request that ‘when talking about race… we start from a position of being open to others’ experiences and to what we don’t know’, and to their appeal for ‘support, action and deeper awareness’.

Although I trust and believe in the spiritual efficacy of individual transformation, which includes looking deeply at our own conditioning and cultivating a deep empathy with others, I also sense that collective unskillfulness can take generations to change. I see younger women a step freer from a lack of confidence that I experienced and shared with other women of my generation. I can understand that black people, and other people of colour, are not yet free from racial injustice, in the same way the Dalit community is not yet truly free from the stigma of caste. Though legislation in itself is never going to fully address Samsara, we can’t ignore the social dimension. We have a duty as citizens to influence our structures to support ‘happy, healthy, human’ lives in whatever way we think appropriate; at least to vote, and some will want to do more.

Nelson Mandela says at the end of Long Road to Freedom: ‘When I walked out of prison, that was my mission, to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both. Some say that has now been achieved. But I know that that is not the case. The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.

As Triratna Order members, we cultivate a compassionate response to suffering in the world. The verse at the heart of the Bodhicitta practice emphasises the suffering we cause ourselves and each other due to our ignorant pursuit of happiness and avoidance of pain. However compassion is essentially a wish to alleviate suffering of whatever kind, and is state of of consciousness that manifests in action. Most Order members I know are having a beneficial effect on the world around them, in all sorts of ways. Some are deepening their practice of meditation, some are ethical activists…; I rejoice in what we are all doing as hands of Avalokitesvara. But whether our focus is apparently inward or outward, it will involve a move towards transcendence of the polarisation between ‘self’ and ‘other’.

With Metta,

Ratnadharini

 

RECENT ORDINATIONS

The College is delighted to announce that the following men and women have been ordained:

We are delighted to announce that Gus Miller from London, UK was publicly ordained in London on 5th April, 2020.

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Ex-Gus becomes Sthiramanas. Name meaning: Steadfast Mind. 

Public Preceptor: Paramabandhu
Private Preceptor: Maitreyabandhu

The ordination was not public, but was live-streamed. You can see it here.

Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

We are delighted to announce that Itir Binay from Melbourne, Australia was publicly ordained in Melbourne on 28th March, 2020.

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Ex-Itir becomes Varadhī (last letter long i). Name meaning: She who has the highest wisdom. Westernised spelling: Varadhi

Public Preceptor: Maitripala
Private Preceptor: Chittaprabha

The ceremony was witnessed by over 100 members of our Sangha live on zoom. Here is the link of the recording which ends with a beautiful wave of sadhus around the world.

Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

On January 11 at Chintamani Retreat Centre, Mexico, we welcomed two new Dharmacharis into the Order from the Mexico City sangha.

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Ex-Juan Antonio Diaz becomes: Subhananda which means He who has the joy of beauty or él que tiene la alegría de la belleza.
Private preceptor: Samamati
Public Preceptor: Virasiddhi

Ex-Pablo Sierra becomes: Satyabodhi which means Awakening to Truth or El despertar a la verdad.
Private preceptor: Virasiddhi
Public Preceptor: Nagapriya

Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

The following men had their Public ordinations on 20th October 2019, at the Hsuan Tsang Retreat Centre, Bordharan, India.

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Public Preceptor: Adityabodhi                                                                                                                

1. Aurn Baburaoji Ingale from Amaravati becomes Vishuddhavacha

Private preceptor: Nagaketu

2. Dilip P. Khadase from Akola becomes Kripaveer

Private preceptor: Lokanath

3. Vinod Mahadevrao Thamake from Wardha becomes Dhirchitta

Private preceptor: Lokanath  

4. Bhimrao Gulab Gade from Pune becomes Dharmaprabha

Private preceptor : Surangam

5. Raju Aba Chandanshive from Pimpri Pune becomes Kushalabandhu

Private preceptor: Surangam

6. Bhagvan Kisan Jondhale from Nanded becomes Samantachakshu

Private preceptor: Chandrabodhi

7. Vishvanath Limbaji Kamble from Pimpri Pune becomes Maitrichandra Private preceptor: Chandrabodhi

8. Kishor Sukhadevrao Maitriveer from Amaravati becomes Sugatananda. Private preceptor: Chandrabodhi

9. Bhalachandra Tambe from Khed becomes Amoghasen

Private preceptor: Yashosagar

Public Preceptor Amrutdeep                                                                                                            

10. Gautam Sukhadas Borkar from Nagpur becomes Pramodaditya

Private preceptor: Amrutdeep 

11. Sandeep J. Rakshit from Amaravati becomes Ratnaraj

Private preceptor: Amrutdeep 

12. Divyanshu Boudh from Nagpur becomes Kshantiprabha

Private preceptor : Amrutdeep

13. Milind Devidas Patil from Amaravati becomes Sucikirti

Private preceptor: Amrutdeep 

14. Vishnupant Kedar from Amaravati becomes Anshulbodhi

Private preceptor: Ratnasiddhi

15. Santapal from Delhi becomes Anshulraja

Private preceptor: Ratnasiddhi 

16. Deepak Tayde from Amaravati becomes Anshulvajra

Private preceptor: Ratnasiddhi 

17. Harendra Kumar from Bordharan becomes Anshulratna

Private preceptor: Ratnasiddhi 

18. Raghunath Nandeshver from Nagpur becomes Buddhadatta

Private preceptor: Nagaketu     

19. Gangadhar Shamraoji Sonone from  Amaravati becomes Kulanishtha. Private preceptor: Nagaketu

20. Prabhakar Daulat Walke from Nagpur becomes Kulachandra

Private preceptor: Nagaketu

21. Krushnarao B. Khobragade from Amaravati becomes Nirajbodhi

Private preceptor: Lokanath

22. Pitambar Ramchandra Gajbhiye from Nagpur becomes Lalitmitra

Private preceptor: Lokanath     

 

23. Bhimrao Gunaji Wankhede from Nagpur becomes Bodhikiran

Private preceptor: Maitreyasagar    

Public Preceptor Yashogar                                                                                                                         

24. Rahul Pandurang Bhaisare from Bordharan becomes Akshobhyamati. Private preceptor: Amrutdeep

25. Sachin Madhukar Pudke from Bordharan becomes Sanghakumar

Private preceptor: Amrutdeep 

26. Shankarlal from Kanpur becomes Anshulsiddhi

Private preceptor: Ratnasiddhi 

27. Ramesh Sahebrao Dhaotre from Pimpri Pune becomes Prabodhsen. Private preceptor:Surangam   

28. Rajesh Bhimrao Bhange from Nagpur becomes Yashosiddhi

Private preceptor: Maitreyasagar      

29. Dilip Namdev Gajbhar from Dapodi Pune becomes Amritketu

Private preceptor: Jnanadhvaja

30. Kumar Devidas Kamble Yerwada Pune becomes Vinayaditya

Private preceptor: Adityabodhi

Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

The following women had their Public ordinations on 20th October 2019, at the Buddhist Centre in Mexico City.

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Paula Michelangelli se ha convertido en Abhayasara, nombre Sánscrito cuyo significado es: ‘Ella cuya naturaleza es la valentía (de Amoghasiddhi)’. 

Paula Michelangelli becomes Abhayasara, a Sanskrit name meaning ‘She whose nature is fearlessness.’ (long 3rd and 4th ‘a’s)

Anglicized spelling: Abhayasara.

Private preceptor Jnanadakini, Public preceptor Parami.

Chela Huerta se ha convertido en Vidyavani, nombre Sánscrito cuyo significado es: ‘Ella que está en el Río de la Sabiduría.’

Chela Huerta becomes Vidyavani, a Sanskrit name meaning ‘She who is in the River of Wisdom.’ (long 1st ‘a’)

Anglicized spelling: Vidyavani.

Private preceptor Jnanadakini, Public preceptor Parami.

Lupita Honda se ha convertido en Dhammasukhini, un nombre Pali cuyo significado es ‘Aquella que es feliz siguiendo el Dhamma.’

Lupita Honda becomes Dhammasukhini, a Pali name meaning ‘She who is happy following the Dhamma.’ (long final ‘i’)

Anglicized spelling: Dhammasukhini.

Private preceptor Dayachandra, Public preceptor Parami.

Elsa Cobos se ha convertido en Suryatara, un nombre Sánscrito cuyo significado es: ‘La que es radiante como el sol.’

Elsa Cobos becomes Suryatara, a Sanskrit name meaning ‘She who is radiant like the sun.’ (long 2nd and 3rd ‘a’)

Anglicized spelling: Suryatara

Private preceptor Dayachandra, Public preceptor Parami

Jo Wace becomes Khasanti, a Pali name meaning ‘She who finds peace in the open sky.’ 

Anglicized spelling: Khasanti

Private preceptor Taraprabha, Public preceptor Karunadevi

Gail Yahwak becomes Subhramani, a Sanskrit name meaning ‘She who has a radiant jewel.’ (acute accent above the ’s’, dot under the ’n’ and long ‘i’)

Anglicized spelling: Shubhramani.

Private preceptor Amala, Public preceptor Sanghadevi.

The following women had their Public ordinations on 29th September 2019, at Golden Bay, New Zealand.

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Public Preceptor Varadevi

Judy Gray becomes Padmapuspa (dot under the ‘s’, long final ‘a’), a Sanskrit name meaning “(She who is like) a lotus flower”.
Anglicised spelling: Padmapushpa 
Malini was her Private Preceptor.

Ainslie Hannan becomes Sraddhanaya (accent over the ‘S’, long last three ’a’s), a Sanskrit name meaning “She who guides to faith”. 
Anglicized spelling: Shraddhanaya
Megha was her Private Preceptor.

Kate Ewing becomes Maitrikirti (long second and third ‘i’), a Sanskrit name meaning “She who is renowned for her love”. 
Vajrajyoti was her Private Preceptor.

Public Preceptor Malini 

Maree Beverland becomes Suvarnadhi (long last ‘i’), a Sanskrit name meaning “She whose wisdom is like gold”. 
Malini was her Private Preceptor and Vidyamala was the Giver of the Name.

Prue Treadwell becomes Prasantacitta (accent over the ‘S’, long second and last ‘a’), a Sanskrit/Pali name meaning “She whose heart is calm”.
Anglicized spelling: Prashantachitta.
Varadevi was her Private Preceptor.

Kirsten Gracie becomes Priyada (long last ‘a’), a Sanskrit name meaning “She who gives love and kindness”.
Chittaprabha was her Private Preceptor.

Public Preceptor Vajrajyoti

Helen Clack becomes Vajrasarasi (long last ‘i’), a Sanskrit name meaning “She who is like a vajra and a lake”.
Akampiya was her Private Preceptor.

Public Preceptor Megha

Sam Sammut becomes Sraddhanita (accent over the ‘S’, long second and last ‘a’), a Sanskrit/Pali name meaning “She who is guided by faith”.
Anglicized spelling: Shraddhanita.
Varadevi was her Private Preceptor.

With metta and much rejoicing,
Vajrajyoti

NEW COLLEGE MEMBERS

The College is delighted to announce that the following have recently become members of the College.

Jnanavaca

London, UK

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I was born in Mombasa, Kenya in 1965 to Indian parents. I have no real memories of Africa as we moved to London when I was two.  The sudden death of my father when I was eleven accelerated my questioning about the meaning of life, and in my early teens I decided I was a Buddhist. However I had almost no idea of what Buddhism was apart from what I had gleaned from a few popular books on Zen.

I studied physics at University – looking for answers to the big questions. I also tried to practise with a Zen group while I was a student – mostly trying to be mindful and have a routine in my life.  I soon realised that physics wasn’t going to provide me with the answers I was looking for, and my attempts to practice Zen Buddhism left me disheartened and feeling that I lacked the determination and discipline that was needed.  After graduating, I decided that my spiritual questioning was going nowhere and that I should get a ‘real’ job. So I ended up working for Marks and Spencer in their I.T. department. I can remember feeling lost and disillusioned and that I’d betrayed my ideals.

It wasn’t until 1994 when I was 28 that I came across the London Buddhist Centre and it was after my first retreat the Christmas of that year (led by Maitreyabandhu and Ratnadharini) that I realised that the Dharma was something I could really practise. 

Soon after I moved into one of the LBC communities started by Maitreyabandhu and Paramabandhu (where I have lived ever since).  I started working for the LBC in 1998 as a (not very good) fundraiser having finally found the courage to leave my job in the corporate world.  I was ordained in 1999 by Subhuti at the Bordharan retreat centre near Nagpur, India. It felt completely right at a mythic level to be ordained in India and to have my public ordination fall on the anniversary of my father’s death twenty-two years previously.

Back at the LBC I took on being the Treasurer and a few years later, the men’s Mitra Convenor. For nine years from 2009 I was the Chair of the LBC which was both demanding and fulfilling – particularly the phase during the building of the new Vajrasana retreat centre.  I handed on that role to Suryagupta in 2018 and shortly afterwards went on a 6 month solitary retreat – possibly the happiest period of my life.  I am President of the Cambridge Centre and am currently co-writing a book with Maitreyabandhu on ‘Insight in our System of Practice’.

Vajrashura

Dublin, Ireland

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I first came across Triratna (then the FWBO) in Dublin, Ireland, in 1999, at the age of 22. After being convinced by a friend, I learned meditation from Ratnabandhu of the Dublin Meditation Centre and really enjoyed it. A little while later I realised I was a Buddhist, and that without some deeper meaning in my life I would continue to live existentially adrift and feel unfulfilled. I was particularly struck by the clarity of Bhante’s expression of the Dharma. I was finishing my studies in Theoretical Physics in Trinity College Dublin, but decided to leave my Ph.D. unfinished and look for something more meaningful.

In 2002, I had a very significant time participating in a Karuā door-knocking appeal in London, and once back in Dublin I became a Mitra and asked for ordination, started working for the Dublin Buddhist Centre as Centre Manager, and moved into a new men’s residential community.

I very much enjoyed the ordination process and was ordained in 2007 in Guhyaloka, my Private Preceptor being Kulananda and my Public Preceptor being Saddhaloka.

In 2009, I became the Men’s Mitra Convenor for Dublin, a role I have loved doing and still do to this day. It’s a very pure experience of being able to help people to connect with and grow in the Dharma, and the friendships that are formed are meaningful indeed. In 2018, I became a Private Preceptor, and I continue to work closely with the ordination team in Padmaloka to help men in Ireland prepare for ordination.

I recently started working for the Sikkha Project on a part-time basis. I still live in a men’s community and enjoy that very much. I am happy to be part of the College so that I can support the continued development and growth of the Triratna Sangha, particularly in Ireland.

Nagapriya 

Cuernavaca, Mexico

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I first met Triratna in Leeds, England in 1988.  I was studying for a degree in philosophy and was, so it seems now, searching for the meaning of life. I quickly realized that I had found my spiritual home and, after moving to Manchester, I was ordained in 1992. I worked for some years at the Manchester Buddhist Centre and then at Dharmavastu Study Centre.

After a period of academic study and work, I moved to Mexico in 2013 and, somewhat inadvertently, co-founded Centro Budista de Cuernavaca of which I am current and founding Chair. I also ended up as the director of Editorial Dharmamegha, a project dedicated to publishing Sangharakshita´s and other Triratna works in Spanish. I got involved in the men´s ordination process in Latin America shortly after arriving in Mexico and form part of the ordination team.

There is huge potential for Triratna in Latin America and I feel privileged to be able to contribute to this process in some small way. Mexico particularly seems a receptive field for the Dharma and our sangha here is growing rapidly.

My published works include: Exploring Karma and Rebirth (Windhorse, 2003), Visions of Mahayana Buddhism (Windhorse, 2009), and The Buddhist Way (New Holland, 2018).

OBITUARIES

Remembering former College Members who have died in recent years.

Dharmacharini Anagarika Ratnasuri

1 April 1923 – 13 September 2019

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Ratnasuri was born on 1 April 1923, in Norwich, one of triplets. She and one sister survived – after a difficult start; they were so small they had to be fed by their parents with a dropper from a fountain pen. They joined a family that included a brother and another sister. Their father was a tailor. He made the family’s clothes and they were always smartly dressed. Having such a talented father is perhaps where Ratnasuri’s love of art and design started. At thirteen, she went to junior art school and enjoyed drawing, painting, dress design and poster design. At sixteen, she did an apprenticeship as a window dresser in a very smart Norwich department store, but any dreams of progression were abruptly halted by the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. In 1942, at nineteen, she decided to join the war effort. She said later, “I really wanted to defeat Hitler!” Her boss at the department store was furious, but Ratnasuri had bigger concerns.

All who experienced the war witnessed the fragility of life, but perhaps especially those who saw conflict directly. Ratnasuri worked in the anti-aircraft battery guiding the guns and the men firing them. One night in Antwerp, after a frightening overhead air-raid, she set off to meet a boyfriend and found out he had been killed in a direct hit.

Ratnasuri was already looking for some deeper meaning to her life, but like many women she ended up getting married and settling down. Her marriage wasn’t a happy one, but she did have two sons, Kevin and Peter, who she loved and cherished. She found employment doing quality control in a chocolate factory and as a lab technician for the Milk Marketing Board. The years passed and the children grew up.

In her mid-fifties, having left home, Ratnasuri took up yoga with Sona. Through him she started to read books about Buddhism. She also came across the magazine Mitrata, which was produced in Norwich by Srimala. Ratnasuri started attending classes at the Norwich Buddhist Centre. Typically, she threw herself into the sangha with youthful verve, even though, being in her fifties, she was regarded as ‘old’ by younger members. Eventually she was going to every class the centre offered! She worked with Aloka and other Order Members in the wholefood café, Rainbow, latterly Oranges. She had been involved for two years when she became a mitra. It was five years after first coming along to the Norwich Centre when, in 1983, she was ordained, alongside Ratnavandana and Ratnadakini. She was given the name Ratnasuri, which means ‘Heroine of the Three Jewels’. At sixty, most people are thinking about retirement. Ratnasuri was just getting started!

After ordination, she lived and worked around the Croydon Buddhist Centre for a year. Then, in 1983, the women members of the Western Buddhist Order decided to hold a month-long intensive retreat on the Isle of Muck. There were just twenty women Order members at the time and they joked on the journey that if the ferry went down on the way to Muck, that would be it for the women’s wing of the Order! Fortunately, it didn’t. On the retreat Sanghadevi announced that she wanted to set up the FWBO’s first women’s retreat centre and wanted someone to go with her. Guess who put up their hand and volunteered?

So at sixty-two years old, Ratnasuri found herself going down the long, bumpy track to Cornhill Farm, Shropshire, now known as Taraloka. There were four women who were the founder members of the Taraloka community: Sanghadevi and Ratnasuri and the mitras who would become Karunasri and Kulanandi. The fifth member was Ratnasuri’s cat, Tansy. It wasn’t easy; they were pioneers, and pioneers in boiler suits and hard hats as well, having to undertake much of the restoration work on the old farm themselves. Ratnasuri cooked valiantly for everyone on a camping gas stove, frequently with bits of ceiling falling in the food! She also co-led many of the meditation retreats with Sanghadevi.

Not long after moving to Taraloka, Ratnasuri became an ‘anagarika’. This meant following the example of the Buddha by committing oneself to a simple life where one does not pick and choose; and also taking vows of celibacy. At her ceremony she wore the orange robes that symbolically connect with the Buddha and his early followers, a tradition stretching back over 2,500 years.

But Ratnasuri’s heroism didn’t stop there. In 1987, while on retreat at Taraloka, Ratnasuri received a phone call from Srimala. She told her that Sangharakshita’s mother was ill so he couldn’t go to India to conduct ordinations as planned. Now he wanted to ask if Ratnasuri would go with her, Srimala, to India to conduct the first ordinations of Indian women along with Padmasuri, who was living there. Ratnasuri was startled, but she couldn’t mention it to anyone. A retreatant commented to her, “Something happened to you on that retreat!” and she thought, “If only you knew!” Having never been to India before she was scared by the prospect and wondered how she would cope with speaking in front of so many people. But she told herself, “I get nervous speaking in front of five people, what difference does it make if there’s five hundred?” So, aged sixty-four, she went to India to conduct the public ordinations of Jnanasuri and Vimalasuri. As an anagarika, she wore her orange robes for the ceremony, which would have been a powerful visual symbol about women’s spiritual potential for the Indian community.

The ordinations of the women in India were conducted ‘on behalf of’ Sangharakshita. Two years later he asked three senior women Order members to perform ordinations acting now ‘on their own responsibility’ – a very significant development for the Order. Srimala, Sanghadevi and Ratnasuri were the first women private preceptors acting in this way. But it was Ratnasuri who was asked to perform the public ordinations. In summer 1989, on a retreat at Taraloka, she received into the Order Cittaprabha from Sydney. A few weeks later, on 11 September, another six women received their ordinations. These were historic events, not only for the Western Buddhist Order, but for the whole Buddhist world where full ordination of women – a lineage started by the Buddha himself – had long since largely died out. Because Sangharakshita was able to entrust her with this responsibility, and she was willing to take it on, Ratnasuri opened the door for a new ordination lineage of women ordaining women to come into being. She went on to ordain many more women into the Triratna Buddhist Order. As a preceptor she privately and publicly ordained 45 women in total, as well as being a kalyana mitra or friend to countless others.

Ratnasuri was a lover of meditation and as well as living in the community at Taraloka, she took part in many retreats held there. She was frequently the oldest in community situations, but her joie-de-vivre and youthful spirits belied that. During all this time, she maintained her love and inspiration for the arts. She was a poet and a photographer. She loved relaxing to classical music in her reclining chair. And she was a print-maker, making prints from her own woodcuts.As well as her passion for creativity, meditation and friendship, she was a lover of technology and could be seen at the Genius Bar of an Apple Store whenever she got a chance!

At the end of 2005, Ratnasuri had a huge shock. She was celebrating a birthday in the Taraloka community when she had a phone call to say that her son, Peter, had died. His death was a great loss to Ratnasuri. Previously, she had been suffering with anaemia and later confided that had she still been anaemic, the shock might have killed her. Characteristically she responded to old age and anaemia by taking up the Vajrayogini meditation practice because “I needed more blood” and to “let go more”. She could be seen frequently at Order events manifesting the dakini energy on her pedal scooter!

In 2014, she made the decision to leave Taraloka, her home of nearly thirty years, and move into sheltered accommodation in nearby Wrexham. A retreat centre is a busy place to live and, aged ninety-one, she was ready for a quieter, more reflective life. She also relished the idea of shopping and cooking for herself, going about town, having adventures. Unfortunately, her eyesight was deteriorating quite rapidly due to macular degeneration, so she couldn’t be as independent as she would have liked. One of the hardest things about sight loss, she said, was not being able to see the faces of her friends.

In 2019, it became clear that independent living was no longer viable for Ratnasuri, even though her friends, carers and the Taraloka community had helped considerably. With their help, she moved into a residential home in Wrexham with her beloved budgies, who gave her so much joy.

‘Ratna’ means jewel and Ratnasuri was a kind, generous, creative and multi-faceted person. ‘Suri,’ means heroine: she broke down barriers of what it means to be a woman Buddhist in the west and what it means to practise the Dharma in mid to old age.

She leaves behind an Order with a flourishing women’s wing, and a lineage of women’s ordinations that she helped inaugurate. She leaves behind many devoted friends and admirers, and her son Kevin. She will be sadly missed.

Dharmacharini Kamalagita, 17/09/19