College members bring to the College a broad range of backgrounds, life experience skills and knowledge. Some have lived and worked within Triratna institutions all their adult lives, others have worked in various professions outside the Triratna community, some have raised families, while others have undertaken vows of celibacy. Not all senior and experienced Order members are College members. Those who are have chosen to serve the Order and community in this particular way, overseeing and supporting ordination training. At present, the College consists of 44 members and they are located across the world: the UK, Australia, India, New Zealand, USA, Mexico, Spain and Germany.
Chair & Deputies
Chair. Adhisthana, UK
The plan to continue my life travelling, programming computers and teaching English was thwarted by the impact of Bhante’s 1979 public talk on ‘Being All Things To All Men’ from the Vimalakirti Nirdesa. Aged 25, I realised I really wasn’t a Christian and turned up at the London Buddhist Centre to learn meditation. Meditation wasn’t easy, but Dharma and Sangha made complete sense. I moved into a community, and left my job to do an ‘Aid for India’ (Karuna) door-knocking appeal. The intensity of conditions catapulted me into an expansive state of universal metta for the first time, lasting several days.
I joined a women’s team-based Right Livelihood business, Windhorse Typesetters, which struggled on for another eight years – when typesetting became redundant. In 1989 I was one of six women ordained by women preceptors – the first time outside of India – although our names were chosen by Bhante. I moved to the Cherry Orchard cafe, where finances and painful dynamics made a complete review necessary. We became a small dedicated team living and working together in what, for me, was a formative experience of harmony.
By the mid 1990s I was ready for change and spent six months at our Melbourne Centre, and while there I was invited to move to Tiratanaloka, the newly-opened retreat centre for women training for ordination. I did my first Private Ordinations in 2001, first Public Ordinations in 2003. I lived in a small hut I’d built in the garden. I then became involved in the project that took over my life for a couple of years and became Adhisthana.
After spending a few years living near Tiratanaloka, in Brecon, and working as Deputy Chair of the College, I became the new College Chair in 2019 and have returned to live at Adhisthana. I’ve been involved in the Adhisthana Kula / College Chair’s Council / International Council / Future Dharma; president to Stockholm, Helsinki, and Tiratanaloka; and in work with the Restorative project.
Deputy. Nagpur, India
I was born in 1964. I was ordained on 19th March 1992 at Bhaja, India. My Private and Public Preceptor is Subhuti. I was living at that time in a community in Pune. After I was ordained I initially worked in publications, printing books, then I moved to work in the main office in Dapodi, Mahavihar as Executive Director.
I became a Private Preceptor in 2011. I’ve ordained 8 men. I became a Public Preceptor in 2012.
I now live in Nagpur. As a Preceptor I’m part of the Ordination team, which involves leading retreats and getting to know men who’ve asked for ordination. I’m also Chair of the National Area Council of India. I’ve also responsibility as one of the Deputies of the College Public Preceptors.
I have a wife, who has asked for ordination, and one daughter, who is 19 years old and is studying Computer Engineering.
Deputy. London, UK
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’.
Deputy. Sheffield, UK
I was born in 1952 into a Christian, English, middle class family and I am the eldest of 5 children. During my teenage years I lost my faith in Christianity and then felt something was missing. After university, I trained as a clinical psychologist. I first encountered Buddhism through my boyfriend who subsequently became Advayacitta and my husband. We both attended the Norwich Centre in the 1980s. My first encounter with Bhante was hearing him give the talk entitled ‘The Taste of Freedom’. This had a profound effect on me but being naturally cautious, it took me some time to commit myself to the FWBO (as it was then). The highlights of my years in Norwich were being part of a strong women’s situation and in particular the Lion’s Roar project which produced Mitrata. I was ordained in 1987 by Urgyen Sangharakshita when my eldest son was 2 years old.
The context for my Dharma life has been the family and I have worked part-time in the NHS as a Clinical psychologist until I was able to retire in 2015. In 1989, I moved from Norwich to Sheffield and I was one of the founder members of the Sheffield Buddhist Centre. I have remained closely involved with the development of the Centre ever since. I have also served as a trustee of several Triratna charities and for many years I was a Chapter convenor working both locally and nationally. I also lead Mitra study which I find fulfilling.
I became a Private Preceptor in 2005 and in 2015 I was appointed a Public Preceptor. I am closely involved with the ordination of women particularly on the 3 month ordination course. I have a deep love of sadhana, ritual and puja.
Deputy. Auckland, New Zealand
UK & EUROPE
I started visiting the Norwich Buddhist Centre in 1992, having decided to explore Buddhism during an extended cycling tour of Ireland in the summer of the previous year. I became a Mitra and asked for ordination in 1993, the same year in which I participated in a door-knocking appeal for the Karuna Trust. I moved to Padmaloka and joined the Support Team as gardener and second cook, where I remained for six years. In 1997 I was Privately ordained at Guhyaloka by Ashvajit.Following the ordinations my Public Preceptor Sona gave a talk in the course of which he encouraged every new Order Member to leave their native land within two years and start a Buddhist centre overseas. A few days later I awoke with a strong sense of ‘knowing’ I would move to Berlin, despite never having been to Germany before.I moved in 2000. Anomarati and Dayaraja had recently opened the first centre in 1998. I co-founded the Chintamani men’s community, where I still live. Three years later Anomarati moved to Nepal, and I became Chair of FWBO/Triratna Berlin. Helping establish a thriving Triratna presence in Berlin became the main focus of my practice, and I am proud to have overseen the purchase of new premises for a significant new centre. I handed on my responsibilities as Chair when I turned sixty in 2017.Since 2003 I’ve partly supported myself by teaching English. One of the most enjoyable aspects of my life in Berlin has been exploring the arts, especially the world of classical music, and since 2012 I’ve been learning to play the piano. I now have dual English/German citizenship and intend to remain in Germany.
My first significant contact with Buddhism was back in 1983 when listening to the radio I heard the story of Kisagotami, the quest for the mustard seed and the Buddha’s compassionate wisdom gripped me and changed the course of my life. I was 28 and approaching the dreaded age of 30 feeling if I didn’t change now I never would.I moved city looking to find meaning in my life and hoping I would finally meet some Buddhists. In Bristol in early 1984 I met my first Buddhists when I attended a drop-in class led by Tejananda. I quickly got involved in the FWBO (as Triratna was then known) becoming a Mitra on Buddha Day in 1985. I met Bhante at Padmaloka and knew I had found my teacher. I left my job with the Civil Service and moved into the men’s community. I asked for ordination and got ordained at Guhyaloka in Spain in 1987. Bhante gave me the name Arthapriya, ‘the one who loves the Meaning’, perhaps because I was always asking questions.In 1989 I moved to Manchester, eventually becoming the Men’s Mitra Convenor (and for a time the Women’s too) and later becoming the Chair, for a time I was all three at once! During this period we bought and refurbished a dilapidated six-storied warehouse (a Herculean task!) located right in the city centre. In 1999 I moved to Padmaloka to join the Men’s Ordination Team and became a Private Preceptor in 2001. I moved to Cambridge in 2005 and worked for 10 years at Windhorse:evolution helping out in the warehouse. I continue to be very involved with training men for ordination and regularly lead the four month ordination course at Guhyaloka. I became a Public Preceptor about 5 years ago. I am also an Anagarika.
In 1976 I met Devamitra who invited me to the Norwich Centre which he had just begun. I dropped out of university and was ordained in less than a year; I was just 22 years old. The ordination by Bhante remains the defining moment of my life, however there was a lot of integration to do and I would always recommend a longer period before ordination! From 1982 I was Director of Karuna which led to my moving to India in 1992 where I was based for seven years. As well as Karuna work I supported the ordination training there. Returning to England at end of the millennium, I lived at Madhyamaloka community where Bhante was based for 13 years during which time I became an International Order Convenor as well as helping Bhante in various ways, and this continued when he moved to Adhisthana. I am president of the Centres in Essen, Germany and Ghent, Belgium, and in particular support the ordination training for men in the Low Countries. These days I live in Malvern close by Adhisthana with Kalyanaprabha.
I was born in Henley-in-Arden, a small town in Warwickshire, UK. My parents ran a small transport business: taxis, coaches, and a lorry. I have three older brothers and a younger sister. The family was quite poor. For me, it was a largely unhappy childhood. I did badly at school and at one point I was thought to be ‘educationally sub-normal’ (as they called it in those days). I later trained as a nurse in Coventry. I left nursing shortly after becoming an SRN (State registered Nurse) to go to art school. I attended Goldsmiths College of Fine Art (London) where I had a studio just down the corridor from Damien Hirst. I first went to the London Buddhist Centre (LBC) during the second year of my art degree. I was 25. It changed my life. On that first visit I knew I was a Buddhist, had always been a Buddhist, and always would be a Buddhist.
I was ordained in 1990. Suvajra was my Private Preceptor, Subhuti was my Public Preceptor. I have lived and worked in the LBC for over thirty years, in one of the men’s communities. In that time, I have been the men’s mitra convenor, helped to open a Right Livelihood café, painted a mural outside the LBC, and produced and directed an opera, The Triumph of Life, about the last days of the Buddha. I founded PoetryEast and was a co-founder (along with Paramabandhu) of Breathing Space – the LBC’s health and wellbeing project. I have written three books on Buddhism (with Windhorse Publications) and published two books of poetry (Bloodaxe Books).
I was born in North London in 1956. Dad was a plumber and heating engineer. Mum worked too sometimes and made the home. I have two much older sisters. In 1958 we moved to a village near Brighton. I loved sport and mischief. I was a complete failure at school, leaving at 16 to work as a gardener. From early in my life I was searching for something, finding my way to books by Lama Govinda, which thrilled me. At 17 I went to a Buddhist class run by Buddhadasa in Brighton. My first night included the sevenfold puja, by the end of the concluding mantras I joyously knew what my life would be. A few months later I left home and moved in with Buddhadasa in the Buddhist centre he had made. I met Bhante early on when he visited Brighton and became a mitra.
I moved to London sometime in 1976, joining the famous 5, Balmore Street community very near our then London centre. I was ordained by Bhante in June 1976 and I can never repay Bhante for the great gift of ordination, which continues to unfold. Not long after, I moved to Sukhavati, doing labouring work to help make the London Buddhist Centre. In September 1978 I moved to Poona in India to support Lokamitra when he was starting things there. I had the great good fortune of being in Poona when Bhante returned to India and was present at the first ordinations there. In 1980 I moved to Aryatara and was very active in the Croydon Buddhist Centre until 1986 when I returned to India, living mainly in Bombay. Until 1990 I mostly lived in India, working in Bombay and Nagpur, as well as doing many retreats at Bhaja, near Poona.
In 1990 I was invited to move to Padmaloka to join the ordination team. I have been here ever since doing Going for Refuge and Order retreats. I became a Private Preceptor in 1994 and a Public Preceptor in 1998. I have also been the Overall Men’s Mitra Convenor for Europe for a number of years and I am also the President of the Sheffield Buddhist Centre.
I’m based at the London Buddhist Centre, where I’ve been living in communities for over 30 years. Between 2003 and 2009 I was Chair of the London Buddhist Centre where I helped to establish Breathing Space, the health and well-being wing of the Centre that teaches mindfulness-based approaches to help with depression, addiction, stress and carers. Until 2017 I worked for the National Health Service as a psychiatrist specialising in addiction. Currently I’m President to the Norwich and Brixton centres. I’m also author of Practical Buddhism: Mindfulness and Skilful Living in the Modern Era; with Valerie Mason-John (Vimalasara) Eight Step Recovery: Using the Buddha’s Teachings to Overcome Addiction; and with Jed Shamel Mindful Emotion: A Short Course in Kindness.
I grew up in a small village called Sion on the small island of Jersey in the Channel Islands, part of a large extended family. It was a wonderful place to grow up in the 50s and 60s, but by the time I was eighteen I was ready to spread my wings. I did community service in Luton for six months and then went to university in Leeds, where I studied history. It was also there that I first read about Buddhism and Eastern religions and took up Transcendental Meditation. When I finished my studies my girlfriend and I got married, and a couple of days later set out to travel overland to India, where we spent some fourteen months. On returning go the UK it was ‘getting back down to earth’, and five years living and working on farms. For the last three of those years we were in Ireland, in a village community for adults with learning difficulties run by followers of Rudolf Steiner. I greatly respected their work, but felt more and more I was a Buddhist, and wanted to be around other Buddhists. I wrote to various Buddhist groups I had heard of in the the UK. Eventually, on the strength of the reply to a letter I wrote to Bhante, we moved to Norwich with our young family in the summer of 1979 to try out the FWBO.I was ordained on the first three month ordination course in Tuscany in 1981, and my wife in Norfolk in 1984. I worked around the Norwich Buddhist Centre, serving as Chair for eight and a half years until 1994. In 1995 I moved to Padmaloka and joined the Ordination Team, which I worked with for 20 years. During that time I took part in eight of the four month Ordination Course and came to love life in the Spanish mountains. During that time I also developed connections in Finland, Estonia, Russia and Ukraine. Then came an unexpected request to serve as Chair of the College of Public Preceptors, and in April 2014 I left Padmaloka and moved to Adhisthana. After five years as College Chair, I handed on to Ratnadharini at the end of 2019.
I came across Buddhism in India in 1977 while travelling, aged 22. I moved into the Aryatara community in Purley, South London in 1980 and started working for Rainbow Builders, a Team Based Right Livelihood business. I trained as a carpenter. I was Ordained by Bhante in Tuscany in 1984. On returning I helped renovate and then run the Rivendell Retreat Centre and taught at the Croydon Buddhist Centre. In 1990 I moved to Vajraloka. I also began teaching meditation in India and this continued when I moved to Stockholm, Sweden in 1996 where I helped establish the movement there. In 2002 I moved to Padmaloka and joined the Ordination Team. I find my work here, my friendships and the regular semi-monastic lifestyle, deeply satisfying. It is how I want to practice and I feel very fortunate. I have continued to deepen meditation practice and teaching and in the last few years have done several long solitary retreats. I became a Public Preceptor in 2008.
I was born in 1948 in Stepney, East London to working class parents. I grew up in Ilford, went to Grammar school, did a 5-year Maintenance Fitting and Turning Apprenticeship in a factory in Barking, gained an OND in Electromechanical Engineering and became a Draughtsman. I learned to drive, was a member of a cycling club, was gormless, naïve, emotionally blocked and very confused. I didn’t want a family or an ordinary career and was looking for the meaning of life.
I met Subhuti and Buddhism in 1973 and knew that this was ‘it’. I was ordained at Padmaloka in 1976 whilst living and working in Sukhavati. In 1977 I went to India with Lokamitra and spent a month doing Yoga in Puna with Mr Iyengar. In 1979 I spent 7 months in France trying to sort out my attitude to women and their place in my life and then went to Brighton. I joined the Order team on the Tuscany ’82 Ordination retreat. In 1984 – 86 I did a 2-year Post Graduate Counselling Course and became Men’s and Women’s Mitra Convenor, led Men’s and Women’s Mitra study, ‘Regulars’ classes and Yoga at the Brighton Centre. In October 1988 Bhante and Subhuti invited me to join the Ordination Team at Padmaloka.
I went on several Guhyaloka Ordination courses as team member and was told in1995 I was a Private preceptor and performed 3 Private ordinations. I was invited to join the College of Public Preceptors in 2000 and performed my first Public Ordinations in 2001 at Guhyaloka. In 2005 I began 2 years of training in Scaravelli Inspired Yoga. I still live at Padmaloka and work in the Men’s Ordination team. I love my work and the ever-changing life in an active and vibrant Men’s community. Yoga keeps me sane.
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 Karuṇā 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.
Back in 1981, I was 20 and became Yashodeva on the first 3-month Ordination retreat along with Saddhaloka. I was an art student and thought of the Buddhist life and an artistic life being one, and that that was what I was going to do. I have increasingly found that I have wanted to be involved in team-based projects. I was Chairman of the Brighton Buddhist Centre and then, whilst being an Anagarika, I was chair at Guhyaloka for 12 years, building, cooking, fire-break making, and supporting and leading Ordination Courses. In 1999, whilst at Guhyaloka, I became a Private Preceptor. I hit a mid-life crisis towards the end of this phase and decided I wanted to have a new perspective of myself. I got married and worked as a builder in Valencia, Spain. Then, when Adhisthana was being bought I came here. I wanted to be once again involved in a big team-based project. I will be splitting my time between my work here looking after the buildings and helping our sangha in Spain. And continuing to paint pictures.
I was born in a small village near Peterborough, England in March 1954, one of a pair of identical twin girls. Having wanted to be an artist most of my childhood, practicality prevailed and I studied Architecture at London University. It was 1973, an era of positive optimism that we could change the world. Going along with friends, I discovered meditation and then Buddhism at the newly founded London Buddhist Centre aged 25. I fell deeply in love with the Dharma, left my job to work in right livelihood and after ordination at 32 moved to Taraloka where I lived for 16 years. At first I was in charge of (and did) a lot of building work, never having done any before(!) later developing the retreats and programme and was Chair for 9 years.
Then it felt time to go back into the wider community. I enjoyed a sabbatical year of travelling around Triratna centres in Australasia and the USA, then accepted an invitation to become Order Convenor for Women (in the West) and a Private Preceptor, based at Madhyamaloka. In 2004 I became a Public Preceptor. At that time I co-founded the Abhayaratna Trust, a Charity supporting Order Members in need and was involved in supporting the women’s Ordination process in the USA & Canada for 9 years, work which felt extremely worthwhile. Unexpected change came when my twin sister became ill with cancer then sadly died after a 3 year illness. I moved to live with friends in Manchester at that time and had a break, going on some long retreats after which I worked as Mitra Convenor at the Manchester Buddhist Centre for 5 years. At present I give my time partly to my work as Preceptor and KM and partly to art and ceramics. It feels great to be giving time to that more artistically creative side of myself after so many years!
I was born in 1951 in Wigan, England, into a Catholic family. My father was a chemist, my mother a teacher. I have three brothers.
I went to La Sainte Union College of Education in Southampton to do a B Ed with Music and German as subjects. I had a ‘gap year’ to study in Berlin, a year as Sabbatical President of the Students’ Union and another year in Berlin teaching English.
I returned to Wigan to teach Music in a Comprehensive whilst studying for a qualification as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language. I then returned to Germany to teach Music and English. Encouraged by an English colleague in Minden, Annette (Prasadavati) I attended my first FWBO open Winter retreat in Seaford in 1980/81.
Whilst at Lancaster, I visited Manchester Buddhist Centre regularly. On hearing a request for women fundraisers for ‘Aid for India’, I moved to London to do an Appeal. I then moved to Vajracchedika women’s community as part of the fundraising team for what became Taraloka, becoming a Mitra at the LBC in 1984.
In 1985 Sanghadevi, Ratnasuri, Tessa (Karunasri) and myself founded Taraloka and in 1988 I was ordained there by Bhante.
In 1990 I returned to Germany with Jayacitta and Jayaprabha to start women’s activities in the Essen Buddhist Centre, eventually becoming women’s Mitra Convenor for Germany and Sweden. I became an Anagarika in 1994. My Kalyanamitras are Anjali and Jayaprabha.
In 2004 I became a Private Preceptor.
From 2004–2018 I spent almost 6 months of each year working in India; initially doing Dharma work and then as Project Manager and Consultant for Karuna Trust. In Essen, I continue to live in women’s communities and engage in the women’s ordination process in Germany and Sweden.
In 2018 I became a Public Preceptor.
I encountered Triratna in 1978 in East London, shortly before the London Buddhist Centre opened. At the time I was in Leeds working in a Women’s Aid Refuge, so it was a year later that I moved back to London and started attending classes regularly. Having lived and worked collectively most of my adult life, I responded enthusiastically to the single-sex communities and team-based contexts, initially working in the Cherry Orchard restaurant and later, having trained as an Alexander Technique teacher, set up Bodywise, an alternative health centre, together with other women mitras and dharmacharinis. The LBC was a vibrant and flourishing Centre and this was a very creative period of my life; the Centre still feels like my spiritual home.
I was ordained in 1989, a very significant year in our Order’s history, in that it was the first year that women ordained women in the West. I feel gratitude to Sanghadevi, Srimala and Ratnasuri, who is both my private and public preceptor, for being the pioneering preceptors taking on this responsibility from Bhante. In 1997 I joined the team at Tiratanaloka leading retreats training women for ordination, another very rich period, meeting and working with women from many different backgrounds and nationalities. During the next 21years I became both a Private and Public Preceptor and president of Akashavana and had the privilege and joy of conducting the ordinations of many women and regularly visited the Akashavana community. During this time also, my elderly mother became increasingly in need of care and together with my sister and brother we managed to look after her in her home until shortly before her death. The support of the Tiratanaloka team and other friends was invaluable during this period.
2018 was a year of much change, I left Tiratanaloka, attended life drawing classes in London, had my 70th birthday and am currently spending 3 months in the south of Spain prior to the 2019 Ordination retreat at Akashavana.
I was born in County Durham in the North-East of England in 1962, the only child of two teachers. My childhood was happy and secure, whereas my teenage years were more mixed: I did well at school, had many friends and some enjoyable times, but struggled with my parents at not being allowed the degree of freedom and independence I longed for.
I went to university in Bradford to study Modern Languages, and spent a year in Paris and East Germany. These experiences changed me – I saw that it was possible to have a very different outlook on life than the one I’d grown up with.
At 22 I went to Nepal with Voluntary Service Overseas, living in a remote, conservative Hindu area. The experience was rich and fascinating, as well as shocking and challenging, especially witnessing the commonplace discriminatory practices towards women and girls and the so-called “Untouchables”.
By the late 1980s I was living in London. I had all I wanted: a good teaching job, a flat, friends, and regular holidays abroad. But something was missing. I went to the London Buddhist Centre in 1990 for an introductory evening, and cried my eyes out at the bus stop on the way home. Something had opened up, and the following years saw me moving away from “worldly” contexts, to live more of my life within the Triratna Sangha.
I was ordained in Tuscany in 1999 by Karunamaya. I have since spent time working with her and Vajrasuri in the Indian women’s ordination process, have fundraised and/or led 17 Karuna appeals, worked in Lama’s Pyjamas, and lived in six different communities. I joined the team at Tiratnaloka in 2012, and have privately ordained two fine women. I became an Anagarika in 2015, and a member of the College of Public Preceptors in March 2018.
I came along to the London Buddhist Centre in 1987, aged 23. Dhammarati taught me to meditate and, although I thought I’d left everything to do with religion behind for good, I was immediately intrigued by Buddhism and wanted to learn more. I soon moved into my first community and gave up my job (as a science editor) and worked in The Cherry Orchard – a Buddhist cafe – for the next ten years. I was ordained during that time and on our ordination retreat Sanghadevi showed us a map of the world. On this map were highlighted centres where there were no dharmacharinis – that convinced me to move to Dublin and work for the Dharma there. I arrived on New Years Day 1999 and stayed for seven years.
Now I’m back at the LBC, living in Samayakula community with eleven other women and working as one of the Mitra Convenors. I teach at our public classes two or three evenings a week and co-lead plenty of retreats, working with a team that I love. Living and working at an urban Buddhist centre means I get to see people right from the beginning of their involvement. In fact the first person I was Public Preceptor to – Danayutta – was someone who I’d met on her very first retreat.
I came across Buddhism in 1995 when, through the recommendation of my friend’s mum, I started attending classes with Triratna in South London. The Buddhist Centre was at the end of my street where I lived with my parents. I remember being introduced to the Metta Bhavana and being overwhelmed by a feeling of relief that I had found what I was searching for: a path of transformation towards a greater love. I listened to, and made notes on, Sangharakshita’s lectures which I borrowed from the tape library as well as reading ‘The Three Jewels’. It seemed to me that Sangharakshita expressed every profound thought I’d ever had and then took it much further. I remember standing up on the bus on the way to school and saying to my friend, “This is it!”. I haven’t substantially changed my mind since then.
I studied Philosophy and Religious Studies at Leeds University while running the University Buddhist Society and attending classes. In 2000 I moved to Sheffield to work in the Windhorse:Evolution shop and live in a women’s community. I started working for the Sheffield Buddhist Centre four years later, and was ordained in 2004 at the age of 26. Maitreyi is my Private Preceptor and Ratnadharini my Public. I was Mitra Convenor in Sheffield as well as being part of setting up the young person’s project. I moved to Tiratanaloka Retreat Centre in Wales in 2011 to be a member of the women’s ordination team and I became a Private Preceptor in 2016.
One of the things that inspired me when I first came to the Buddhist Centre was watching ‘newsreel’ videos about our Movement in India. I was moved by the intensity of feeling amongst the Indian Buddhists towards Buddhism, a feeling which I share. I was also inspired by the teaching and example of Dr Ambedkar, his confidence that Buddhism is a force for good in the world and precipitates positive social change. It has added depth to my practice to be involved with our Movement in India through being Chair of India Dhamma Trust.
I feel very fortunate to lead a rich and happy life of meaning and purpose, with good friends and conditions in which I can deepen my Dharma practice. It is a privilege to help make that life available to others.
AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND
I came across the Dharma in 1991 when I attended a weekend course led by Buddhadasa and Guhyavajra in Melbourne. Both Buddhadasa and Dayamegha were my first main dharma teachers. I was bringing up my three daughters in the lovely forest town of Emerald about an hour and half from Melbourne. I taught for many years at the local Primary School and was passionate about facilitating learning environments for children in which they could move towards their own vast potential. Due to initial help from Order Members from Melbourne, the Dandenong Ranges Buddhist Centre came to life and I delighted in experiencing sangha on my doorstep.
I benefited greatly from my KM relationships with Malini in NZ and Ratnadharini in the UK, as well as many local Order Members and visitors to our region who reflected my own potential for growth and transformation back to me. When I was ordained in 1999 at Il Convento Tuscany, Sanghadevi was my Preceptor, giving me the name Maitripala ‘Guardian of loving kindness’
With my family now grown I was able to finally visit the UK for the first time (15 years after being Ordained ) and had the great pleasure of being on the team for a year at Tiratanaloka 2014/15. In 2016/17 I completed a 14 month ‘Buddhas in my Pocket’ pilgrimage to the main Triratna Centres and groups throughout Australia. I have always been deeply grateful to the pioneers who arrived from the UK.
Along with others who were inspired by this sharing of the Dharma we saw the first Australian Triratna centres and groups emerge. Those Order Members tirelessly provided study, retreats and friendship so we could benefit from Sangharakshita ‘s presentation of the Dharma.
It is largely this gratitude that now fuels the courage needed to step up to the responsibilities that are involved in becoming a Public Preceptor.
I love preserving traditions when they are worthy, whilst also delighting in change and innovation when it’s useful. I feel the best way to look after something one might value highly is to step right into the middle of it and be fully engaged in its ‘life’.
Auckland, New Zealand
I got involved in the Movement in 1967. I was extremely shy and emotionally and mentally shut down. Meeting Bhante opened a door for me, his very presence showed me there was meaning to life. I learnt to meditate which was painful, and I listened to talks and was able to absorb a little, I was delighted in meeting people who also had meaning to their lives. I got ordained in 1969 not really knowing what it was about but I knew I wanted to lead a Buddhist life and mostly that I wanted to be around Sangharakshita.
In 1971 I moved to Cornwall to find out who I was by living alone. I returned to London when Bhante took his sabbatical in Cornwall and realised it was now a different movement and Bhante of course was not around. I moved to Glasgow 1974 and ended up chairing the Centre. I felt totally inadequate but that is how things were. Two years later I moved to Norfolk to help set up the first women’s retreat Centre feeling this situation was more suited to my personality than a City Centre. This was a very difficult period with the single sex situation being very polarised and very few ordained women, and no role models. After 2 years again I moved to London where I set up a soup kitchen with Jayaprabha that later became the Cherry Orchard. However, I decided to train as an acupuncturist. I met Vajrasuri in 1980 and later tried unsuccessfully to get residency in Australia. In 1987 I married Purna and moved to New Zealand in 1989. For about 25 years I have been involved in the women’s GFR process in NZ, the Australasian retreats, and the one-month Ordination retreats here that started in 2007. I did my first Private Ordination in 2014.
South Kempsey, Australia
I was born in Wellington New Zealand and am now 66 years old. I met the movement via an Order member called Gotami who visited New Zealand in 1973. Urgyen Sangharakshita then visited in 1974/5. In my 21st year I was ordained on the first ordination retreat that Bhante conducted in New Zealand. I have lived in communities for most of my Order life except for one year when I was on a 12 month solitary.
Early 1982 l left NZ for London to experience team based livelihood, as I was disappointed in how teams worked in the hospital system. Eight months stretched to 9 years. Most of that time I worked in the Cherry Orchard cafe associated with the LBC and lived with 6 others in one of the community houses in Approach road that was dedicated to those working in the restaurant. Though hard work the livelihood was very important for those outside the UK to have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the FWBO and strong bonds where created during that time. Definitely I find one of the pathways into the unknown has been in communication with others.
Since mid 1991 I have been living in Australia. I lived at Naganaga Vihara with a number of friends for 15 years, which were very fulfilling. Providing solitary venues, running small retreats for the local people, the Order and those training to be ordained. This happened within the context of a wild life sanctuary, an eco-permaculture approach to the land and having willing workers, usually travellers, helping us on the land.
From late in the 1990’s Sanghadevi very generously came out to Australia and New Zealand for a number of years to help women prepare for ordination and Varadevi, Dharmanandi and myself worked with her in this. Within this context the three of us became private preceptors in 2003 and then Public Preceptors in late 2005. Since 2007 we have been running month long Ordination retreats in NZ for women in New Zealand and Australia.
I was born and grew up in Sydney, Australia. I spent a good deal of my twenties travelling the world and this included some exposure to Buddhist cultures. Then, after returning home to Australia, at the start of 1991 I attended the Sydney Buddhist Centre for my first meditation course – but dropped out! Then six months later a friend committed suicide and this propelled me into an existential crisis. I returned to the Buddhist Centre in my desperate quest to find meaning in life. And I never stopped going. The Dharma made sense to me and it gave me actual tools for changing: learning that I actually had agency over my mind and mental states was a revelation! Discovering about the Bodhisattva Ideal was the thing that allowed me to commit wholeheartedly to the Buddhist path. I became a mitra in 1994 and was ordained by Sanghadevi at Il Convento in 2001.
I have been deeply involved in the life of the sangha, particularly in Sydney. I was a member of the management committee of the SBC for several years; was the women’s mitra convenor for about 8 years and have been leading dharma study for nearly 20 years. I have been a member of the Australasian ordination training team for the past 12 years. While my home sangha is in Australia, I have spent much time visiting Triratna centres and sanghas in other parts of the world, making and deepening friendships.
I feel a strong commitment to this precious Order. I believe that the Order was founded by Bhante influenced and supported by the Bodhicitta and that as a consequence it has infinite potential as a force for good in the world. That, of course, is now up to each of us.
Auckland, New Zealand
It’s November 2018 and I’ve just attended my first College meeting. I’ve also just attended Urgyen Sangharakshita’s funeral so it’s been a very rich and moving few weeks. I live in Auckland, New Zealand so feel fortunate that I happened to be in the UK when Bhante’s funeral was held although I was sorry not to be with my sangha friends in Auckland during the weeks when they marked his death.
The network of events that led me to the College meeting and Bhante’s funeral is impossible to trace but showing up at the Wellington Buddhist Centre to learn meditation in about 1994 was certainly a key moment. I had just been diagnosed with Hepatitis C and due to uncertainty about the virus’s prognosis was forced into facing my mortality for the first time. This was extremely uncomfortable and led me to realise that the life I was leading was terrifyingly empty of purpose or meaning. I became a mitra after a couple of years of deepening practice and asked for ordination soon after, realising that the dharma as taught by Bhante and the sangha that he had created was worth dedicating my life to.
I work as a psychotherapist, mainly in the areas of addictions and trauma work. This is both satisfying and gruelling. I live with my partner Vikasini and our cat Bindi. We’re very fortunate to have our own house and garden to play in.
In terms of Triratna responsibilities, I’ve mainly been involved with the Auckland Buddhist Centre and Sudarshanaloka Trust Board. I’ve also been fortunate to spend time at various Triratna events around the world: working at Taraloka for a year, attending International Council meetings, and joining the team on the three-month ordination course at Akashavana in 2017. Becoming a Public Preceptor seems like a natural, if large, step to take. I hope I can contribute to our thriving and inspiring Triratna Buddhist Order.
Wellington, New Zealand
Hi, I’m Varadevi and I live in Wellington near one of the 3 Triratna Centres in New Zealand. I live alone although I often have friends to stay. I was ordained in ’88 at Taraloka by Bhante and became a preceptor in 2006. I’ll be 73 in July so nearing the end of my active involvement with Triratna at least in an official capacity. I am currently involved with the women’s ordination training in NZ and Australia so I spend time overseeing that along with the 5 other public preceptors in the area. As well I attend most the various GFR training retreats we hold annually and the ordination retreat every two to three years. I also keep up my friendships with the women I have ordained most of whom live in Wellington and some of the mitras in the ordination training. We also endevour to get together once a year as preceptors. All this keeps me fairly busy and I balance this with long periods spent at home on solitary retreat. I aim to do 3 months each year although that does not always work out. Solitaries have been an important part of my practice since I was ordained 31 years ago and my house is well situated being within walking distance of nearby hills and forest reserves. I have neighbours close by so its not always quiet but these days I rather enjoy practicing amidst others going about their everyday life. As well I enjoy working in my garden, swimming and learning Taichi.
I’ve been a member of the Triratna Order since 1974.
Shortly after joining the Order I set up Windhorse Publications, our publishing wing and directed its growth, and edited our community’s in-house, magazines for the next twenty five years. I’ve also been involved as a Trustee, Chair and President of several Triratna centres over the years, and was a founding Trustee and one-time Chair of the Karuna Trust, a project that raises funds for social and Dharma projects in India.
As a President and Preceptor my work has been based in the UK, the Netherlands, USA, Australia and New Zealand.
I lived in communities with Sangharakshita on two occasions, and traveled with him throughout an extended ‘lecture tour’ in India— an experience I chronicled in my book, Jai Bhim – Dispatches from a Peaceful Revolution.
Auckland, New Zealand
I was attracted to Buddhism as a teenager and travelled to India in my early twenties to find a Buddhist meditation teacher. Returning to New Zealand I connected with Sangharakshita through reading ‘A Survey of Buddhism’ and listening to as many lecture recordings as I was able to get hold of. The series ‘Parables, Myths, and Symbols of the White Lotus Sutra’ was particularly transformative in terms of my appreciation of Sangharakshita, his depth of insight and his unique approach to the Dharma.
I was ordained into the Triratna Order in 1975 during the course of Sangharakshita’s first visit to New Zealand. My varied Order life has seen me living for periods in the UK, India and New Zealand. In Bethnal Green in London in the late 1970’s I lived and worked in the burnt out shell of the old fire station that was subsequently opened as the LBC. In India, in the early 1980’s, I lived as an anagarika for three years and worked closely with Lokamitra with the early setup of the Movement there. I now live in Auckland, New Zealand, on an offshore island called Waiheke, along with my partner Malini.
I have been a Private Preceptor since 2005 and joined the Public Preceptors’ College in 2015. Retired from paid employment, I am currently part of the team responsible for the men’s ordination training process in New Zealand and Australia, am active in the Preceptors’ College and men’s Order Convening in New Zealand, lead Dharma study, and give talks.
Born 1955, raised, educated in Adelaide, South Australia. I sought to explore the mind as the way to Truth out of teenage existential angst aged 14 then heard about meditation and read about the Buddha and his Noble Eightfold Path. However, TM was the only avenue available in 1974. While studying medicine in my 20s, I realised the need for a Teacher and a Sangha and that I had to leave home to find them.
The London Years 1985-88: A fellowship to complete neurology training took me to London and I found the LBC and became a Mitra in ’88.
The Melbourne years: I returned to Australia in 1989 with partner Kathryn (later Vagisvari) to get closer to the Order knowing that Buddhadasa and friends were beginning activities there. I needed to know if the Triratna would ‘take’ in my home country.
The Cambridge Years 1992/3: Returning to UK in 1992, based in Cambridge, I was ordained by Subhuti that year and returned to Melbourne in 1994 to help Buddhadasa with the Centre. Kathryn stayed in the UK.
Melbourne, 1994 on: I immersed myself, succeeding Buddhadasa as Chair in 1998, handing onto Sudaya in 2007. We opened a city centre that ran for 3 years in parallel with the Brunswick Centre. I acted as Men’s Mitra Convenor for at least 5 years and supported our Dandenong Ranges’ group and ran outreach classes in Geelong. I engaged with the GFR training programme since 1995 and ordained Apada in 2014.
Bhante and the Order, friendship, nature in all its forms, the fine arts and music especially remain sources of inspiration, as isThe Way of Tea.
Professional life: I shall retire from medicine by end 2020. It has been a very privileged and rewarding livelihood.
Abhayadana worked for 20 years as project leader for an Ashavaghosha project, spreading the teaching of the Buddha, Dr Ambedkar, and Bhante, as well as awareness of social issues, through drama, storytelling and songs. She also brought the Dharma to children through art and games, and helped empower other women with skills based training and self defence. Abhayadana was ordained in 1998, began working with the women’s ordination team in 2016, and became a private preceptor in 2019.
Abhayavati was ordained in 1994. She worked in a Bahujan Hitay girls hostel, as a managing trustee, for six years, and has been very involved in studying and teaching Dhamma to mitras. She helped Srimala with an ordination retreat, and then joined the ordination team in 2015. Also in 2015 Abhayavati’s husband passed away, and her sangha friends were a great support to her at this time. She has been a private preceptor since 2017.
Shubhajaya started working in a Bahujan Hitay kindergarten soon after coming in contact with Triratna in 1991. She was ordained in 2004, and as well as leading Mitra classes and being a kalyanamitra to many women, she worked as a Chapter Convenor for several years. She joined the women’s ordination team in 2011, became a private preceptor in 2014, and has ordained five women.
Vijaya worked in the Bahujan Hitay social project for 15 years. She was ordained in 1994 and began supporting Srimala with ordination training, becoming a full time member of the ordination team and working with Karunamaya and Jnanasuri from 2007. She has been concentrating on leading retreats, and being a kalyanamitra to other women. She became a private preceptor in 2012.
I was born in 1956. I was ordained in 1985 in Bhaja. My Private Preceptor is Suvajra and Kamalashila is my Public Preceptor. I live in Pune.
Since my ordination I have taken on a lot of responsibilities: first, I became Chair of the Pimpri Centre, then I worked with Lokamitra in his office doing administrative work, then in 1994 until 2008 I was the overall Mitra Convenor for India, at the same time I was started working on the Ordination Team. I became a Private Preceptor in 2003, and since then I have ordained 50 men privately. In 2015, I became a Public Preceptor and I’ve ordained 70 men publicly.
I have a family – a wife and three grown up children; my wife and middle son are also Order members!
I was born in 1962. I was ordained in 1991. My Private and Public Preceptor is Subhuti. I live in Nagpur.
After I was ordained I became Chapter Convenor for some time, Mitra Convenor for some time, and then Chairman, all in Nagpur. Since 1997, I’ve been working with the Ordination Team, and have privately ordained more than 50 men.
I’m married to Vijaya, who works full-time on the women’s Ordination Team. I have one grown up son.
I came in contact with the Sangha in 1988 in Nagpur, and was ordained by Subhuti in 1992. After ordination I established Right Livelihood projects, including a publishing house and bookshop. I became a mitra convenor, and the main coordinator of Mitra convening in India in 2010; in which role I participated in the International Council from it’s conception.
I am currently working for the Ordination team, which I joined in 2011; becoming a private preceptor in 2014. For the last two years I have worked in establishing online activities in India for the movement in general and for the ordination teams in particular.
I was born in August 1965, and was ordained in 1992 in Bhaja. My Private Preceptor is Suvajra, and my Public Preceptor is Subhuti. I now live in Pune, before that I lived in Mumbai.
In 1990 I was living at Bhaja retreat centre and for seven years I was organiser of the Centre, then after I got married I moved to Pune. There I became Secretary to Adityabodhi, who was Mitra Convenor for India, and Sudarshan who was Order Convenor for India. From 1999, I’ve been working with the Ordination Team.
I became a Private Preceptor in 2011, and I’ve privately ordained 19 men. I became a Public Preceptor in 2013 and have publicly ordained 13 men.
My wife is a Dharmacharini, Amitashri, and I’ve two grown up kids.
I was ordained on 19th march 1992, Suvajra being my Private Preceptor and Subhuti being Public Preceptor. I was one of the community members from Mahavihara Training Community in early 90’s. Soon after my ordination I went to Aurangabad to work as a hostel warden to look after the twenty four boys and later sixty boys in the hostel with my friend Yashoratna and later joined by Yashobhadra. We were working very closely with Jutindhar and Manjuveer for the local Aurangabad Triratna centre. I contributed there as Mitra Convener for three years and was involved in leading Mitra classes and classes for beginners. We were able to form a very good community and brought lots of young men into the community, some of them eventually becoming Order members.
I received an invitation to work on the newly formed full-time Men’s Ordination Team, led by Suvajra, and I joined it in May 1996; I’m still working on the Team to this day. In the first few years, working with ordination team and particularly working closely with Suvajra and Subhuti and other senior Members, I got lots of experience, which has helped enormously in my involvement with leading GFR retreats, workshops, visiting centres, Kalyan Mitrata and helping Order members to understand the ordination process. I’ve also been able to help some of the centres in times of crises. I was involved in creating Golden Net Youth Foundation to attract young people to the movement. I was secretary to the team and become Chair for the institution that runs the Ordination team.
I become a Private Preceptor in 2012 and then a Public Preceptor. I was a representative for International Council meeting, and now I’m involved as a mentor for Triratna youth. I am trying to give my contribution as much as I can.
New Hampshire, USA
Amala was ordained by Sanghadevi in 2000 and became a private preceptor in 2015.
She has been involved with the Aryaloka Retreat Center since the early 90’s, where she has been chair of the Spiritual Vitality council for the last 7 years and has been on the council since 2010. Currently she is handing on some of her responsibilities as chair.
From 2012-2020 she was one of the regional Order Convenors in North America, with Shantinayaka and then Sravaniya.
Amala has been involved in Ordination Training Retreats since her ordination; and she regularly visited and taught at EcoDharma in Spain for many years.
I discovered the movement in 1977, having discovered I was a Buddhist several months before. I was ordained by Bhante Urgyen Sangharakshita at Padmaloka in 1980. For the next 7 years, I lived in a women’s community, working in the team-based livelihood (a café and shop), was mitra convenor and taught at the Croydon Buddhist Centre. During those years, I was also involved in leading activities for women throughout the UK. In 1985, Sanghadevi, Vidyasri and I set up the first women’s preparation for ordination (POP) series of retreats.
I moved to Norwich in 1987, continuing with the POP retreats for a few more years and taught at the Norwich Buddhist Centre. I helped form a new community and began working in Windhorse:Evolution: working with others to set up shops in Norwich and Great Yarmouth and later visiting other shops around the country. After moving back to London in 1997 to take a sabbatical and care for my ageing mother, I went to university to study English Literature and History of Art.
For the last 18 years, I’ve been visiting the USA to help women there deepen their practice and understanding of the TBO. I’m part of the Ordination Team responsible for GFR retreats and women entering the Order. I was also one of the North American Order Convenors for a couple of years. When not doing that, I work for a local authority in London in Adult Community Learning. And with whatever spare time I have, I like making stitched and printed textile art.
Brisbane, California, USA
I was born in Burlington, Iowa, the oldest of 3 children. My family moved around a lot during the first 14 years of my life. I was a very shy, introverted and reflective child. An only child for 7 years, I often dwelled in an imaginary realm and began to be quite interested in the spiritual at around 10 years old. After university, I married and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1967 where I taught elementary school and got involved with antiwar work and the counter culture’s movement toward establishing alternative institutions.
In 1980 I was introduced to Buddhism through Lama Govinda’s teachings. In 1988 I met Manjuvajra, Chair of Aryaloka Retreat Center in New Hampshire, who was giving a talk and workshop at Stanford University. On April 8 Alan (now Saramati), his wife Jean (now Varasuri) and I hosted the first weekly meditation and study group. This was the beginning of the San Francisco Buddhist Center. Since 1991 it has resided officially in San Francisco as the SFBC. That year I also started working to found the Daly City Youth Health Center and became its Director when it opened in 1990. In 1993 I was ordained by Bhante at Aryaloka. I became Mitra Convenor then and committed to working with women who wanted to join the Order.
In 2004 I became a Private Preceptor and continued to coordinate the women’s ordination training retreats in the US and Canada. In 2011 I became a Public Preceptor and since then have conducted 13 Public ordinations in Spain, New Hampshire, and San Francisco.
I am presently living with my husband Acarasiddhi in a small town just south of SF. I continue to coordinate the ordination training process and serve as mentor, preceptor and kalyana mitra for those who want to deepen their Going for Refuge.
In 1977, very confused and mixed up I stumbled into the Glasgow Centre of the Triratna Buddhist Community (then known as the FWBO or Friends of the Western Buddhist Order). I was met with welcome and friendliness by an energetic, charismatic group of young men.
I had come across Buddhism before this and had been fascinated by what I had read but it had seemed to me that Buddhism was for those who wanted to navel gaze about life and not for activists. The world needed changing: injustice; poverty; war; racism; sexism; homophobia were the battles I wanted to fight, an end to the world’s suffering.
However, I had seen a poster which captured my attention. I had already been reflecting that, to change the world, I needed to change my life and the poster said Change your Life! OK, I thought, I’ll give it a go.
Now, forty two years later, I have absolutely no regret that I found my way to that centre. Having moved to London in 1978 to live in a community, I was ordained in 1980 and lived and worked around the LBC until moving to Valencia, Spain in 1992. I was chair of the centre there for 9 years. While living there I became a private preceptor in 2002, ordaining a Spanish woman and a Mexican woman. Since then I have continued to be involved with the Ordination training in Spain and Latin America.
I became a public preceptor in 2004, moving back to the UK in 2005, living first in Taraloka and then, for a couple of years, in Birmingham while we searched for what has become Adhisthana where I have lived since 2013. In that time I have publicly ordained women from Spain, Mexico, the UK, the USA and New Zealand.
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).
I was 23 when I was ordained by Urgyen Sangharakshita in 1977. I have spent most of my Order life living with other women involved in the Triratna community. I was involved in helping plan, organise and run retreats for women from soon after my ordination. In 1978 I was invited to join the centre team of the newly opened London Buddhist Centre. I became Women’s Mitra Convenor there and in 1982 fundraised for and eventually helped establish Taraloka, which offered its first retreats to women in late December 1985. I was involved in developing ordination training retreats for women and in 1989 Bhante asked Ratnasuri and Srimala and myself to help him conduct ordinations of women in the west. I conducted my first private ordinations that summer and in November 1993 conducted my first Public Ordinations at Dhanakhosa.
In 1994 I began annual visits to USA, initially working with Vidyavati, a New Zealander involved in running dharma activities at Aryaloka, to help establish an ordination process for women living in North America. In 1997 I made one of three visits to Australia and New Zealand to help support the ordination process there. In the same year I moved from Tiratanaloka to Birmingham to help establish a new womens’ community with Srimala which was linked to Madhyamaloka where most of the men Public Preceptors, Centre Presidents and Bhante were then living. 2005 was a watershed; I chose to live on my own for three years. I spent about half my time painting and meditating and the other half meeting with those I had ordained and other friends. I then spent 20 months visiting with sangha friends in India, Australia, NZ and USA, returning to UK in late 2010. I moved into Saddhahadayas’ house in Cambridge at the end of that year and have continued to share with her ever since. For many years now my contribution as a kalyana mitra in our world-wide community is largely in informal ways.
I first encountered Triratna in 1980 at one of the first centers in America in Boston but I only became seriously involved in 1989 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Along with Karunadevi and Viveka and other friends I helped start activities and worked to purchase the current San Francisco center where I was a Council member for 25 years. During that period seventeen people have joined the Order and the Center has been a vibrant hub for classes and retreats.
I was ordained in 1994 on the first international ordination retreat in India along with eleven Indian men and three other Westerners. My connection with the Order in India has been very strong and since 2005 I have made yearly trips to volunteer at Nagaloka. I believe that the international and multi-cultural aspect of Triratna is one of the most important things we have to offer, and since 2012 I have arranged for delegations of Buddhists from Europe, the US, Canada and Japan to visit India and meet the people who are participating in the Buddhist Revival.
For the past twenty years I have been Chair of the Men’s Ordination Team in North America and I became a Private Preceptor in 2011. I was appointed to the College in 2019 and recently led my first Public Ordination at Dharmadhara, our new retreat center in northern California.
Throughout my life I have been very engaged in social justice, environmental and international development movements.
I have been married since 1982 to Mary Jean Moore and we have one son (Robert) who currently lives in Vietnam. In my spare time I am an amateur cellist and play in local orchestras and chamber ensembles. My personal practice is focused on the Avatamsaka Sutra and my sadhana is Samantabhadra.
Mexico City, Mexico
During October 2018 was at Adhisthana as a participant in the International Course, this was a great experience to connect with Order members from different parts of the world and a learning opportunity. Unfortunately Bhate died that month. His death was a catalyst to make my mind about entering the consultation process to become a Public Preceptor.
RETIRED PUBLIC PRECEPTORS
My first contact with Triratna was at an Easter retreat in1970, when I was 24. Sangharakshita made a huge impression on me, and I felt that I had received a glimpse of the Dharma as Truth, through him. A couple of years later I moved, with other young people, to live communally, near the first North London Centre and shortly after became the first supported Triratna Order Member, as Secretary of the Centre, receiving the grand sum of £3 per week.
A couple of years later, as the Movement was growing, Bhante asked me to be overall women’s Mitra convenor, organising events and retreats for women mitras. This took me all over the UK, to mainland Europe and eventually to New Zealand for a long visit.
When I came back, I settled at the London Buddhist Centre, living in women’s communities and teaching at the Centre. In the late 80’s I went to King’s College London to study Philosophy and Religious Studies.
After I graduated I returned to teaching at the Centre, but also became re-involved in helping women to become Order Members. Some friends and I realised that the women in Triratna needed their own ordination training retreat centre, and so we set off to fundraise and property search for what eventually became Tiratanaloka retreat centre in the Brecon Beacons. I lived happily there for many years, being on retreats, becoming a private preceptor and then a Public Preceptor and College Member in the late 90’s. In 2005 I took a sabbatical and moved back to London where I still live. I continued with my preceptor and College ‘duties’ until 2017 when I formally retired.
I now live in a community of 12 women near the London Buddhist Centre, meeting people, looking out of the window, wandering in the park, meditating, and generally having a relaxed life.
Auckland, New Zealand
I always had wish from the childhood to do something for society, and I was trying to do that, that’s why when the movement started to give Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkars names to Aurangabad University, lots of atrocities happened on Dr. Ambedkars people in Marathwada region. In response to that there were lots of marches, meetings, public talks and satyagriha (political resistance) were arranged to make people aware and I was involved in that. As a result I was imprisoned. During that time in 1982 Lokmitra led one retreat in Aurangabad and I got opportunity to go on that retreat, the atmosphere in that retreat was very different than outside which attracted me and I got involved with sangha.
1984 I become a mitra and in 1987 I become an Order member, then I started actively working for the sangha. Responsibilities of my family could not stop me working for the sangha. When the new centre and hostel in Aurangabad started, only me and Dhammachari Nagsen were there, and I played my part in that on my level best.
It was necessary to be present in the retreat of Padmasuri and Srimala. Vimalsuri and I was only two Dhammacharinis were there. When Karunamaya came to India that helped to increase the number of retreats for women and we were going out in different places to spread awareness of the Dhamma amongst women. That result being that I was mostly away from my house and that created some bitterness in my family. I was so devoted to the work. Now women’s movement in India is in good shape, and with Karunamaya’s help the Women’s Ordination team is becoming stronger.
In 2003 I become a Private Preceptor and become very busy after that, and since last four years I’ve been taking responsibility as a Public Preceptor. I am working effectively that gives me satisfaction, lot to write but I cannot. While working I had good and bad experiences, I learnt not to get caught up in that but to keep working hard.
After ordination (1974) I looked after Pundarika, the Archway centre and worked briefly on the Sukhavati project before founding FWBO (West London). In 1979 I moved to Vajraloka, staying fifteen years. I did many solitary retreats there, and practiced meditation with many who are now senior teachers, like Vessantara, Prakasha, Vajradaka, Paramananda, engaging with a range of practice including sadhana and the mula yogas. Deep experience enabled us to develop our meditation programme. I wrote a book, Meditation: Imagination, Tranquility and Insight, and became the UK’s first Anagarika and the first Public Preceptor to confer ordinations in India on Sangharakshita’s behalf. I also founded Vajrakuta, our first study centre. We hosted Order, Mitra Convenors’ and other study events for many years. 1994 I joined Sangharakshita’s community Madhyamaloka, where I enjoyed friendships with many leading OMs and gave teaching tours in Russia, Finland, Estonia, Germany, USA, Australia, New Zealand and India. The responsibility I now felt made me face some doubts: despite twenty years’ intensive practice, there was only slight experience of insight. I gave away my possessions and began exploring formless meditation and Mahamudra with Shenpen Hookham, an old friend of Sangharakshita’s. She guided me during an 18-month solitary retreat in woodland above Cwmdu, SW Wales — a huge turning point resulting in some major insights. I remained four years, and on emerging in 2005 saw that despite all that celibacy had taught me over 20 years it limited the scope of my practice. After much consideration I took a Bodhisattva Vow with Sangharakshita, returned my gold kesa and later, married Yashobodhi. Wanting to stay living in the elements, I tried and failed in forming a land-based community. Moving then to Ecodharma in Spain was even more humiliating: insurmountable conflicts forced us to leave after three years. It seemed ironic afterwards returning to West London— but city life has worked well for me in later age. I love teaching, writing and communicating what I understand of the Dharma.
In recent years, the most useful and satisfying thing I have done, as a College member, is to sort out all the sadhanas, editing and referencing them correctly and making them available online. That finally completed a responsibility Bhante gave me years ago when he gave me his box of sadhana texts and miscellaneous material. It now seems like time to go and do something new. So I thank you everyone for your companionship, and everything you have given me, it’s a lot. I won’t forget. I wish you all well for the future and may the college flourish and may it find all the means it needs to develop and establish our approach to the dharma.
For a fuller biography, please visit my website, http://kamalashila.co.uk/page0/page0.html
I grew up in rural Kent, UK. I was part of the first generation of my family to receive higher education. During a one year break from study I travelled as much as I could on a shoe-string, and found Triratna in Archway, North London.
After completing a science degree, I moved to London in 1976 to get involved with the early days of community living and team based right livelihood. This included selling whole-foods on market stalls, helping establish a women’s painting and decorating business, vegetarian restaurants and yoga teaching. During this period I acquired skills in electric wiring and demolishing walls to refurbish a burnt out short term women’s community.
In 1981 I spent 7 months in India, including 3 months yoga training in Pune and a Buddhist pilgrimage. During this visit I made contact with the beginnings of Triratna in Pune, which had a strong impact.
Returning to the UK, I retrained as an Osteopath, subsequently helping to establish a Buddhist health centre near the London Buddhist Centre (LBC). The centre worked with the local NHS to give free treatment to the elderly and those on low income. Team members shared their money (common purse) aiming to give the surplus to the LBC.
I was ordained by Urgyen Sangharakshita in 1988.
In 1997 I was asked to go to India and support the development of the women’s situation. I set off with a broad brief to help in whatever way possible and initially supported the women working in the social projects, retreats and other Dhamma events.
Currently, I’m supporting and encouraging the development of the women’s Ordination Team and training in India. In 1997 there were 11 Indian Dhammacharinis and since then approximately 170 Indian women have joined the Order.
I was born in 1960 on the south coast of England. As a young boy I discovered classical music and knew that I did not want a life of conventional values. I also had a life changing encounter with the figure of Christ. While studying at Warwick University I became a sannyasin with Rajneesh, now known as Osho. After university I moved to Norwich and first attended the Triratna centre there in 1982. I was ordained in 1985, while living in the men’s community and working in a team-based right livelihood building business.
In 1987 I moved to Spain to help build the retreat centre at Guhyaloka. In 1988 I moved to Valencia to start Triratna activities and founded our Buddhist centre there in 1990, becoming the first Chair. With others I also started a men’s community and later an Evolution shop.
I left Valencia in 1997 and returned to Guhyaloka. Towards the end of that eighteen month period I began travelling to Latin America, and became the President of the Mexico City Buddhist Centre. I joined the old Preceptors’ College Council in 1999, while in the midst of a five year homeless period, travelling between Spain, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil and the UK. I also became the President of the Merida Buddhist Centre in Venezuela.
I led the 2003 Guhyaloka four month ordination course, before returning to live in Valencia when I became a father. In 2004 Windhorse published my book ‘Ordination’. I also joined the College of Public Preceptors that year. I continue to live in Valencia, with my family.
In 2017 I passed on the Presidency of the centres in Mexico and Venezuela, and I’ve now handed on responsibility for the men’s Spanish speaking ordination process, which includes Spain, Mexico and Venezuela, to Nagapriya and Virasiddhi. I sense very strongly that the time has come to open more fully to other dynamics, other horizons and other ways of dwelling in the Dharma that have always been with me. To do so I must leave behind aspects of what my life has been, and who I have been – let go identity and roles, and particularly a way of being and relating that comes (in my case) with holding the formal responsibilities that I have assumed in the movement since early on.
In making this decision I feel I am being true to the fundamental decision I made all those years ago as a young man, to live a life of meaning based on entering deeply into the ’Dharma wondrous and strange’, and particularly to the sadhanas that Bhante gave me. That is a joy for me. Not that I wasn’t being true to them before, but things move on. I am deeply grateful for all I have been able to do, and all that I have received.
I was born in London in 1949 to a poor London family. However, I managed to qualify as a consulting engineer in my early 20s. I married Srimala when I was 21 and subsequently we had two daughters who have given us six grandchildren.
Lokamitra introduced me to Bhante in 1972. I was the first ever mitra and was ordained in 1974. I moved into the new Padmaloka community and became Chair for about four years.
In 1980 I moved to Stockholm, Sweden to establish a Buddhist centre, and started the first men’s Triratna community there. During this period Subhuti and I made a friendship pact that I found deeply supportive. We remain close friends today.
I returned to the UK in 1988 to join a new men’s ordination team at Padmaloka. Once again I became chair and lived there for about 10 years helping to develop the retreat centre and ordination training for men in UK, North America and Australasia. Wishing to do as much I could to develop Triratna I became President of six centres during this time. My first Private ordinations were in 1992 and Public Ordinations in 1994. I ordained over 140 men and one woman during this time. This was a very stimulating and satisfying period of my Order life.
After Padmaloka I moved to Madhyamaloka and I lived there for a number of years before moving to Manchester in 2003, where I founded Breathworks with Vidyamala and Ratnaguna and have found much satisfaction helping people in pain to lead better lives through mindfulness and kindness.
Currently I live close to Adhisthana with Vidyamala and feel very much part of the Adhisthana mandala.
Now nearly 70, I have withdrawn from most institutional responsibilities. I continue to visit centres and teach Dharma whenever opportunities arise. I’m also reflecting on how best to use the remainder of my life. The ‘Path of the Inner Life’ is calling.
Ordained in 1975, aged twenty-four. Living in Norfolk with Sona and our eighteen-month-old daughter, Shanti. Second daughter, Sundari, was on the way. I’d been helping to establish the Norwich Buddhist Centre and after ordination I became the local Mitra Convenor for women.
Working to ease out of dependence within marriage we tried various alternative living situations, together and separately. Finally I ended up living just with our daughters, in Norwich.
With other Dharmacharinis and women mitras, set up ‘Lion’s Roar’, producing a number of publications, notably Mitrata.
For some years I was Overall Convenor of Women Mitras.
In 1986 Bhante asked Padmasuri, Ratnasuri and me to conduct the ordinations, on his behalf, of two women in India. In 1989 he asked Ratnasuri, Sanghadevi and me to form a team of preceptors to take responsibility for women’s ordinations. In 1992 I began visiting India regularly, once a year at first and then twice a year. I worked with Jnanasuri and Vijaya to get an ordination process under way.
In 1995 I spent a year in France and wrote my book ‘Breaking Free’.
1996. Left my daughters to fend for themselves and I moved to Birmingham to live in a community as part of Madhyamaloka.
2005. Moved to Maes Gwyn in Wales. Semi-retired as a Public Preceptor but kept up visits to India. I’ve lived here since then, mostly very quietly, sometimes alongside Subhuti, and occasionally with visitors or retreatants – caretaking. Favourite occupations: rearranging piles of wood and moving stones around. But getting a bit old for that now. I’ve written a few poems and done a bit of editing work.
In 2018 I officially retired from the College but I continue to work in India. I want to see a team of women Public Preceptors established there.
I was ordained in 1973 and played a central role in the establishment of the London Buddhist Centre, which opened in 1978; I’m currently its President. I was also involved in the establishment of Guhyaloka, the men’s retreat centre in Spain where I lived for a number of years and which has become a focal point for ordination for many men. For many years I was based at Padmaloka, the retreat centre in Norfolk where I helped develop the present ordination training for men, including writing much of the study material. I’ve also been Chair of the College of Public Preceptors and was involved in the establishment of the men’s ordination process in the United States.
For the last 25 years, I’ve been involved in the growth of the Indian wing of the movement, currently spending 6 months a year working particularly closely with the men’s ordination team there. I also visit Hungary regularly where I support the Jaibhim Network, which brings me into relationship with the Gypsy Buddhists of Eastern Europe who are working to help bring the Dharma, and Dr. Ambedkar`s teaching, to the Gypsy community.
I’ve written a number of books on Buddhism including The Buddhist Vision, Buddhism and Friendship and Sangharakshita: A New Voice in the Buddhist Tradition.
I was born the third child into a clergy family in 1951, middle England. I grew up in vicarages, living an innocent, protected and happy childhood. At 11 I was sent to boarding school, left at 16 with a meagre handful of O levels. My life opened up as I then went on to do a great variety of jobs, trainings, and have near-miss careers both in the UK and Italy. By the age of 21 I trained as a nurse in the heart of London. In 1976 I travelled the hippy trail overland though the middle east to Kathmandu. Then I went to live in Cornwall.
It was that same hot summer of 1976 that I had my first contact with the FWBO, in a small upstairs room of a derelict building in Truro, listening on tape to Bhante speak about the Noble eightfold path. I was hooked! Rapidly I immersed myself in Buddhism and the FWBO, became a mitra, went to live at Mandarava – the women’s first retreat centre, in Norfolk, then to live around the LBC during it’s opening weeks. I was the first manager of the all women’s Cherry Orchard restaurant next door to the LBC. I was ordained, by Bhante, in Jan 1980 along with Ashokasri. 1982 I went to work in India with TBMSG, initially helping Doctor Virabhadra set up medical and other social projects, then moved into Dharma teaching primarily with women for much of the 1980’s. Alongside Srimala and Ratnasuri, Bhante asked us to preside over the ordinations of Vimalasuri and Jnanasuri, at Bhaja in 1987. I returned permanently to England, and Cambridge in the early 1990’s, lived first in communities, then alone, working in various capacities in Windhorse Evolution.
I became private preceptor to a few, and was asked to join the college in 2004. I became a deputy chair to the college for 10 years in Dhammarati’s reign, and during that time was heavily involved in the leading and overseeing of the 3 month Akashavana ordination courses for the next decade. My life to date has unfolded in extraordinary and unforeseen ways. Buddhism, Bhante and the Triratna Buddhist Order and community and has been the most precious of gifts which has given meaning, focus and richness to most of my adult life. I feel deep gratitude for it all: the clarity of Bhante’s teaching, our remarkable community and it’s network of kalyanamitrata, so that the Dharma can be made known and practised in a very turbulent world.