NEWS LETTER

BIRMINGHAM BUDDHIST VIHARA

A Registered Charity No. 513368


Summer 2001 CE ¤ 2545 BE

Spring 2001 CE ¤ 2544 BE

Winter 2000 CE ¤ 2544 BE

Autumn 2000 CE ¤ 2544 BE

Summer 2000 CE ¤ 2544 BE

Spring 2000 CE ¤ 2543 BE

Winter 1999 CE ¤ 2543 BE

Autumn 1999 CE ¤ 2543 BE

Spring 1999 CE ¤ 2542 BE

Winter 1998 CE ¤ 2542 BE

Autumn 1998 CE ¤ 2542 BE

Summer 1998 CE ¤ 2541BE


Summer 2001 CE ¤ 2545 BE ¤ Published Quarterly

GENERAL NEWS

        The Monday and Thursday evening meditation classes are going well. Most times new people come to hear the teachings and learn about the meditation techniques. Bhikkhu Nagasena leads the Monday classes, or sometimes Bhante will lead them if Bhikkhu Nagasena is away, and Bill Strongman takes the Thursday classes. As usual we also have visits from schools and colleges every week during term time, most of these groups being welcomed by Yann Lovelock. Many of the students show a lot of interest in the Pagoda, and in its structure (which of course is rather unfamiliar to western eyes), and also in the many Buddhist artefacts, which are installed in it. Some students are moved by the way Buddhist teachings do not make reference to a Creator God. They ask how can it be a religion without a Creator? We explain to them that Gotama Buddha is a Great Teacher, he is not a Creator. We point to the paintings of the Twenty Eight Buddhas which line the inner circumference of the Pagoda dome. Gautama was just the most recent Buddha in the historical sense. Truly speaking Buddhism is not a religion of grace. It is a religion of practice. No one can achieve salvation or enlightenment unless they practise. On the other hand all beings have the potential to become Buddha if they practise.

        We have two distinguished visitors: Ven. Pannya Vamsa and Ven. U Jotika. Ven. Pannya Vamsa is a very senior monk from Myanmar. He lives in Malaysia, Singapore and the US (Los Angeles). He is a very close friend of Bhante's. Both of them trained at the same monastery in Myanmar, and both have worked hard during the past thirty years to make the Dhamma available in the West. He came to the Vihara on 24th May to take part in the ceremony to lay the foundation stone for the new Vihara. He returns to Los Angeles on 13th June.

        Ven. U Jotika is also a teacher of the Dhamma and is very well known in Myamnar.

        Originally he was trained as a civil engineer. But he became a Buddhist monk and has given teachings in many parts of Myanmar, where his teachings are very popular — especially with young people. Prior to a planned visit to the US he arrived in England on 6th May. He has mainly given talks to the Myanmar community, although his talk at the Dhamma Talaka pagoda on 9th June was also well attended by Myanmar and local people.

        Elisabet Eppler, came to the Vihara from Switzerland on 16th April for a six week retreat returning on 1st June. Like her similar retreat last year she found the time very useful. Another lady Barbara travelled from Germany in mid June for a four week retreat. Both stayed at Mar Mar Lwin' s house opposite the Vihara, as do all female practitioners who spend an extended period here. We are very grateful to Mar Mar for providing this accommodation.

Ven. Dr. Rewata Dhamma

        Since his return from Portugal on 5th April Rhante has spent much of the time at the Vihara, with mainly only local meetings such as with the Patient Advisoiy Council meeting at the City Hospital on 20th April. He also went to Manchester to give a Dhamma talk and one day retreat at the Ketumati Buddhist Vihara on 2nd June. on 16th June he plans to go to Geneva for a meeting with UN officials, after which he will travel to Belgium to lead a one day retreat, after his return he will attend Spiritual and Religious Workshop in Worcester on 20th June. In addition he has been invited to attend an International conference on Religious Cooperation in Taiwan on September l9th. He also plans to attend the World Buddhist Sangha Council in Sydney, Australia in November; which takes place just after our Kathina Day.

Bhikkus in residence

        Nagasena Bhikku teaches Buddhism every Sunday in the City College, in addition to leading meditation sessions and retreats at the Vihara. On 26th April he traveled to the Czech Republic to lead a ten day retreat. He then attended Buddha Day in Prague, before returning to England on l1th May. The teachings he gave were well received and much appreciated. Sayadaw U Gandhasara and Ashin Rahtapala have both been very busy with their duties at the Pagoda, including the movement of their mobile home and its subsequent redecoration. Thanks to their efforts the Pagoda site is now much improved.

Laying Vihara Foundation Stone

        On 26th May we held a ceremony to lay the foundation stone for the new Vihara at the Pagoda site. According to astrology midday (1pm) on this day was a very auspicious time to do this, which is why we chose this particular date and time. Although we didn't publicize the event widely it was well attended by our Trustees, Patrons and well wishers. Before the ceremony at 11am Dana was offered to the monks. After this Sayadaw U Pannya Vamsa spoke about the significance of the Vihara. He said that it is a great achievement for us to build a Pagoda and a Vihara in a foreign land. The devotees then carrieed 9 bricks from the Pagoda: 3 in a gold colour, 3 in silver and 3 in ruby. Our patrons then offered these to Bhante and Sayadaw U Pannya Vamsa. It was only a small ceremony, but its traditional nature and the chanting moved those who attended. Now we are ready to start building the main structure of the new Vihara. Our builders are all set to go on this, having already consulted in detail with the City Engineers and also structural engineers. Again we offer our sincere thanks to John Beard for all his very hard work and determination on this project.

        With regard to the sale of the old Vihara we did report in the previous newsletter that interest had been expressed by the Community of Inter-being, which is the organisation representing the UK followers of the Vietnamese monk, Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh. Unfortunately for reasons beyond their control they have had to withdraw. Therefore we will contact our Estate Agents again to progress the sale of the house, which we hope to finalise in due course.

One Day Retreats

        Over the past few months we have started running regular one day retreats at the Vihara, led by Bhikkhu Bodhidhamma, Bill Strongman and Nath Kottegoda. These one day retreats have been very successful, and we therefore intend to hold them monthly from now on — every second Saturday of the month. Each retreat will be led either by a monk or by a senior lay devotee.

Rains Retreats

        According to the Myanmar calendar the Rains Retreat this year will start on 4th August. This day is the full moon day on which the Buddha delivered his first discourse at the Deer Park. In Thai monasteries the Rains Retreat starts in July, the difference with the Myanmar Viharas being only caused by our different traditional calendars.

Anniversary of Pagoda Opening

        We will celebrate the third anniversary of the opening of the Pagoda on 1st July. You are cordially invited to attend this day. All are welcome. The celebration will start at l0 am, with lunch for the monks and lay people at 11am. This will be followed by Dhamma talks at 1pm together with an interfaith discussion. There will also be a bring and buy sale.

Kathina Day

        This years Kathina day will be celebrated on Sunday 4th November at the Pagoda. The Kathina Robe will be sponsored by the families of three senior Myanmar doctors: Dr. Aung Thein, Dr. Aung Myin and Dr. Mya Thaung. We will be sending out invitation letters to all our devotees shortly. But even if you are not on our mailing list you are most welcome to attend, together with your family and friends.

Donations for New Vihara Project

        We have now received planning permission and our builders have started construction work. We have also invited two Myanmar carpenters to come to the UK to do the internal decoration. Many of our devotees have are making generous donations towards the Vihara Project. If you would like to share in the merit of building the new Vihara please send a donation. Those giving over £500 will have their names inscribed within the Vihara building after its completion. Giving in installments is fine. Whatever donation you may be able to make, whether it is large or small, will be much appreciated.

May All beings Be Happy.


Birmingham Buddhist Vihara

47 Carlyle Road, Edgbaston, Binningham B16 9BH

Phone 0121-4546591 (Vihara), 0121-455 0650 (Pagoda):

Fax: 0121-4540374

E-Mail: dhamrna@gobalnet.co.uk

Website: www.nibbana.com/vihara.htm

May All Beings Be Happy


Pagoda opening times

Weekdays:
7:00 - 9:00 am
3:00 - 8:00 pm

Weekends:
7:00 am - 8:00 pm

Other times:
By Appointment

Chanting at the Pagoda:

Every Full-Moon day: 5th June, 5th July, 4th August, 3rd Sept.

Daily Chanting at the Vihara
Every Morning 6:30 am

Weekly Meditation at Vihara
Monday Vipassana Meditation 7:30 pm
Thursday introductory Class 7:30 pm

Devotees Day at the Vihara
First Sunday of the Month 10.30 am
1st July, 5th Aug., 2nd Sept. 4th Oct.

One Day Retreat
Saturday 14th July, Saturday 11th August, Sept 8th September

Dhamma School for Children at Vihara
Last Sunday of the Month
11:00am to 1:00 pm

June 24th, July 29th Aug 26th, Sept 30th


Birmingham Buddhist Vihara

47 Carlyle Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16 9BH

Phone 0121-454 6591 (Vihara), 0121 455 0650 (Pagoda): Fax: 0121 454 0374

E-Mail: dhamma@globalnet.co.uk

Website: http://www.nibbana.com/vihara.htm

Direction to the Pagoda

Spring 2001 CE ¤ 2544BE ¤ Published Quarterly

GENERAL NEWS

        As usual the Monday evening classes are going well and we are very pleased to be seeing some new people coming and to see an increase in attendance generally. The sessions are led by Bill with the dhamma talk being given by Nagasena Bhikkhu. During the half hour before the 7.30 pm start we are now running very successful chanting classes, with Bill, Lee, Linda and Ranbir being amongst the most enthusiastic students. Bhante had originally initiated these classes during the Devotees Day sessions held on the first Sunday of each month, with the aim that his western followers would be able to participate more fully in the various ceremonies held at the Vihara and at the Dhamma Talaka Pagoda. He is very pleased that such interest is now being shown on the Monday nights also. He has said many times that it is very important for westerners to balance their interest in meditation by also taking an interest in traditional ceremonies and chanting, otherwise they will miss much of the richness that Buddhism has to offer and their development will be one sided. The Thursday meditation classes for beginners are also going well, but with not such a consistently good attendance as on the Mondays.

        We have had many visits from schools and colleges, including: King Edward VI High School, Moor Hall Primary School, Newman College of Higher Education and also the University of Wolverhampton. The groups are welcomed mainly by Yann and Nagasena Bhikkhu, and also by Bhante when he is available. Explanations are given about Buddhism in general and also about our local activities and ceremonies. In conjunction with the nearby St. Johns Church we also jointly run a group for very young children, who are taught about Christianity and Buddhism side by side. Pam, Ramona and Nagasena are responsible for our contribution to this group.

Ven. Dr. Rewata Dhamma

        Since his return from the Far East in January Bhante has spent much of the time staying at the Vihara. On 26th February he travelled to London to attend the reception ceremony for the new Cardinal in Westminster Cathedral. Bhante attended a conference on 'Inter-religious Dialogue' at the Graduate Institute of Theology and Religion at the University of Birmingham from 14th - 15th March. On 16h March he attended a meeting of the Patients Advocacy and Liaison Service at the City Hospital in Birmingham. He is a member of this group, whose aim is the total reform of the NHS. On 24th - 25th March he attended a seminar in Cambridge on ‘The Environment, Education and Religion’; the seminar was organized by the Islamic Academy of the Cambridge University School of Education.

        Bhante has been invited to speak at a two day conference in Lisbon, Portugal on 1st and 2nd April. It is being organized by the North South Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity (Council of Europe, Portugal). The theme is ‘Religion and Globalisation: Perspectives for the New Millennium’. Many senior figures will attend the conference, including the Prime Minister of Portugal. Bhante will give a talk about ‘Buddhism and Society’. He will fly to Lisbon on 31” March and return to the UK on 5th April.

Bhikkhus in residence

       Nagasena Bhikkhu returned to the Vihara at our invitation last year from Sri Lanka, where he had completed his MA with distinction. Since his return his English has improved to such an extent that he has now been able to take over much of the teaching load from Bhante at the Vihara and Pagoda. He is teaching Buddhism to the students from City College every Sunday at Buddhavihara Temple in Aston. Also Bhante arranged for him to practice a ten day intensive retreat in the Goenka tradition at the Dhammadipa Vipassana Centre in Hereford from 28th February to 11th March. Ven. Nagasena will be going to Czech Republic on 26th April to lead a ten days meditation Retreat with Ashin Ottama, a Czech Bhikkhu who trained at Mahasi Meditation Centre in Myanmar and he will return to the Vihara on 11th May.

        Ashin Rahtapala has now been in residence at the Dhamma Talaka Pagoda for three years. His duties include the day to day running of the pagoda, and welcoming visitors and school groups. He is studying English at Brass House School, and we hope that he will in due course also be able to take up a teaching role. Ashin Gandhasara arrived here last year to help with building work at the pagoda and other activities. He carries out his duties very mindfully. We are very grateful for the perseverance and example of these monks, who live happily in their mobile home - even during the very cold weather!

        At present we also have a visiting monk - Sayadaw U Thundara. He came to the Vihara from Los Angeles on 8th March. He has lived in the US for the last 13 years and is head of the Los Angeles Vihara. He is a great friend and close colleague of Bhante's, both of them having trained at the same monastery in Myanmar. This is the first time that the Sayadaw U Thundara has been to Europe. He has invited Bhante to lead the annual ten day retreat at the Los Angeles Vihara from 21st to 31st December. Bhante has accepted.

Dhamma Talaka Pagoda and the new Vihara

        John Beard has been maintaining close contact with our architect and builders, but we have been unable to start construction of the new Vihara yet due to the bad weather. When the weather improves we will start laying the foundations. We hope to have a small ceremony shortly after Easter to lay a foundation stone. We will invite Ven. Pannavamsa (head of the Singapore and Penang Viharas) to jointly perform this ceremony with Bhante. He has worked closely with Bhante over the years in the development of Buddhism in the West.

        We have several offers for the purchase old Vihara premises at 47 Carlyle Road, including from property developers. However we would much prefer the Vihara to stay as a Buddhist centre. We are therefore very pleased to have received a letter from the UK followers of the Vietnamese monk, Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh. Their group in this country is called the UK Community of Interbeing, and they are very interested in buying the Vihara. If their price offer is not very much different from the others we have received we would very much prefer to sell it to this group. We would welcome having another Buddhist group in the area, in addition to our Tibetan neighbours at Karma Ling. We intend that the Dhamma Talaka Pagoda, and the new Vihara we will be building alongside it at the Osler Street site by the reservoir, will be made available for use by many groups. The Throssel Hole Zen group has been regularly using the old Vihara for their meditation sessions for several years now. Also the Thich Nhat Hanh group has held a very successful day retreat there recently, and they will be holding a meeting of their Trustees at the Vihara in April. Our view is: Unity in Diversity!

Buddha Day Invitation

        This year's celebration of the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and attainment of Nibbana falls on Sunday, 6th May, a full moon day in the Myanmar Calender. It is very auspicious that the ceremony at the Dhamma Talaka Pagoda will take place on the actual Full Moon day. The celebration will start at 10.30 am with chanting and flower offerings and the offering of a meal to the monks. For those wishing to offer a meal to the Sangha please arrive at the Pagoda by 11 am. The main programme of Dhamma talks will commence at 1 pm and the day will end at about 2.30 pm. You are most welcome to attend all or part of the day. Please bring friends and family and share in the merit of this auspicious day.

Pagoda opening times

Weekdays:
7:00 - 9:00 am
3:00 - 8:00 pm

Weekends:
7:00 am - 8:00 pm

Other times:
By Appointment

Chanting at the Pagoda
Every Full-Moon Day at 7th April, 6th May, 5th June, 5th July

Daily Chanting at the Vihara
Every Morning 6:30 am

Weekly Meditation at Vihara
Monday Vipassana Meditation 7:30 pm
Thursday introductory Class 7:30 pm

Devotees Day at the Vihara
First Sunday of the Month 10.30 am
1st April; 6th May; 3rd June; 1st July

One Day Retreat
Second Weekend of the Month
Sunday 22nd April lead by Nath Kottegoda,
Saturday 28th April Interbeing Community,
Sunday 13th May lead by Bodhidhamma Bhikkhu

Weekend Retreat
Second Weekend of the Month
April 13-15;May 11-13; June 8-10; July 13-15

Dhamma School for Children at Vihara
Last Sunday of the Month
11:00am to 1:00 pm
Apr 29; May 27; 24th; Jul 29


Birmingham Buddhist Vihara

47 Carlyle Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16 9BH

Phone 0121-454 6591 (Vihara), 0121 455 0650 (Pagoda): Fax: 0121 454 0374

E-Mail: dhamma@globalnet.co.uk

Website: http://www.nibbana.com/vihara.htm

Direction to the Pagoda

Autumn 2000 CE ¤ 2544BE ¤ Published Quarterly

GENERAL NEWS

        We apologize for the late appearance of this newsletter. This has been caused by Bhante having been abroad with teaching and other engagements for the past three months. Bhante left the UK soon after Kathina Day; the ceremony took place as usual at the Pagoda site and went very well with the Pagoda being unexpectedly full. We were very pleased to have completed the full installation of the night storage heating system shortly before the day of the ceremony. During the ceremony the sponsors, Drs. Mehm Tin Thaung and Cho Cho Khin, kindly donated an extra £1,300 towards the cost of the heaters. In addition we received over £7,000 in general donations. Many thanks. During Bhante's absence abroad the regular activities at the Pagoda and Vihara proceeded as usual. Day to day running of the Pagoda is handled by Ashin Rahtapala and U Gandhasara. Yann Lovelock and Nagasena Bhikkhu welcome visitors to the Pagoda, and offer explanations about its history and significance. The Monday and Thursday evening meditation classes at the Vihara are led by Bill Strongman.

Ven. Dr. Rewata Dhamma

        Bhante left the UK on 26 th October to travel to Thailand to attend a conference there.

        But owing to a postponement in the start of the conference he flew on to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to attend a Kathina ceremony there. At the ceremony he gave a dhamma talk. He then travelled to Penang and on to Singapore to attend another Kathina ceremony on November 5th. Then he flew to Taiwan to address the 7th General Conference of the World Buddhist Sangha Council. Bhante is Vice President of the Council. He stayed in Taiwan for a further nine days visiting various other Buddhist groups and communities. Then he returned to Singapore and from there to Sydney in Australia to attend the opening ceremony of the new Myanmar Vihara. The newly built Vihara (and Dhamma Hall) was opened on 26th November with over 1,000 people attending. The building project has been a major one, with the total cost being over $ 700,000. During his stay in Sydney Bhante visited a Goenka meditation centre in Blue Mountain (a beautiful area, also known as The Black Heath). He also visited several other centres in Australia to give dhamma talks.

        From Australia he flew to Myanmar via Singapore, arriving in Yangon on 1st December. He spent the whole month teaching Abhidhamma and Vipassana meditation at the Intematknal Theravada Missionary University. The authorities have invited him back at the end of this year to take more classes. Bhante has accepted this invitation and will again be teaching there during December this year and on into January next.

        Mar Mar Lwin arrived in Myanmar on 9 th December, and offered Sangha Dana on the occasion of Bhante's 70th birthday on 20th December. This ceremony was held at the Karawaik Palace Hotel, which is set in a beautiful lake within site of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda. The hotel is very famous, being built in the shape of a boat and recently having had major renovation work. It is used mainly for major state functions. For Bhante's birthday seventy five senior monks attended, including the Chainnan of the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Council and many other leading Sayadaws. It was also attended by Secretary 1 of the State Peace and Development Council, Lt. General Khin Nyunt together with over 200 other lay devotees. Mar Mar Lwin and family donated 500,000 Kyats towards a beautiful new marble statue currently being made in Yangon. The statue will be over twenty seven feet high. It will be called the Lawka Chantha Abhaya Labba Muni Image. In translation these words mean: Lawka=Ecompassing the whole world; Chantha=Happiness; Abhaya=The Fearless Mudra of the Buddha; Labha=Prosperity; Muni=Great Teacher. After the birthday ceremony Bhante and U Win Sein (Mar Mar Lwin's father) family went on a pilgrimage to the Kyaikhtiyoe Pagoda. This pagoda is one of the wonders of the world, being built on the very edge of a mountain. They also travelled to Mandalay, Sagaing Hill and Pyin On Lwin. After this Bhante went to Kachin State in the far north of Myanmar, near the border with Tibet and China. Most of the Kachin tribes are Christian, and during his visit Bhante met the Christian leaders. It was a very special occasion in Myanmar that such a friendly dialogue should take place between a Buddhist monk and the Kachin Christians. The Kachins were particularly interested and pleased to hear about how many Christians in the West are practicing Buddhist meditation.

        After his visit to Kachin State Bhante returned to Yangon, where he had a meeting with UN Special Envoy Mr. Razali Ismail to discuss the UN's relationship with Myanmar. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan had recently welcomed news that talks between the Myanmar Government and the National League for Democracy (NLD) have been underway since October, and hoped they would intensify with the visit of Special Envoy Razali Ismail. Mr. Annan had also said that he hoped that the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) would seize the momentum and work to achieve national reconciliation at an early date.

        From 8 th January Bhante led a ten day meditation retreat for monks at the Dhamma Joti Meditation Centre in Yangon. Over 155 monks attended, many of them very senior and well educated. This centre is specifically in the tradition of the well known and renowned lay meditation master Goenka, who had personally asked Bhante to lead the retreat. This is the second retreat that Bhante has led at the Dhamma Joti Centre. They have been very appreciative of Bhante's teachings about technique and practice and have invited Bhante to return to the Dhamma Joti Centre as well as other centres.

        On 19 th January several Christian leaders came to Bhante's residence for interfaith discussions, including the Archbishop of Myanmar Rt. Rev. Andrew Mya Han and also the Principal of the Myanmar Christian Theological College. Bhante is encouraging dialogue between Christians and Buddhists in Myanmar, and reported to them on his experiences of such dialogue in the West. Although the Christian community in Myanmar is small, they are nevertheless very strongly rooted in their Christian faith; and also many of them are very well educated. Bhante is aware that currently there is little dialogue between the Christians and Buddhists in Myanmar. His hope is that this will gradually gather momentum so that both groups will have mutual understanding and respect and will be able to coexist in harmony.

        Bhante returned to the UK on 20 th January, and arrived back at the Vihara on the 21 st. On his arrival in Birmingham he participated in the opening ceremony of the new Prayer Room at Birmingham International Airport. The room will provide a space which has been consecrated by all the major religions. Airport workers and also those passing through will now be able to perform their religious practices there, On 14th and 15th, March Bhante will attend a conference on 'Inter-religious Dialogue' at the Graduate Institute of Theology and Religion at the University of Birmingham. On 24th and 25th March he will attend a seminar in Cambridge on 'The Environment, Education and Religion'; the seminar is being organised by the Islamic Academy of the Cambridge University School of Education. Up to the time of writing Bhante has no further plans to go abroad for any significant periods.

Dhamma Talaka Pagoda and the new Vihara

        Last November the City Council gave the go ahead for the start of the construction of the Vihara and Dhamma Hall. John Beard who is leading this work for us has now made contact with the builders and engineers who will be involved. As soon as the weather improves we hope to start the construction work on the new Vihara, and also we may be able to make a start on the Dhamma Hall as well. We already have a prospective buyer for the our existing premises at 47 Carlyle Road; we hope that we will be able to complete negotiations with them prior to the commencement of the new construction work. With help form our generous devotees in Myanmar and elsewhere we hope that our finance will then be in reasonable order. We also very much appreciate the work that John Beard is doing for us; he has devoted a lot of time and energy to the project. In the meantime Ashin Rahtapala and Ven. U Gandhasara continue to look after the Pagoda and the surrounding site and, despite the cold English winter, they are very happy.

Donations for the new Vihara

        Although we will have some funds available from the sale of 47 Carlyle Road we will again need a lot of help from our devotees and welt wishers in order to fund the new construction work. We will be producing an Appeal Pamphlet to distribute shortly. We very much depend on your generosity and support. Any donations large or small will be very much appreciated. Please make any cheques etc. payable to 'Birmingham Buddhist Vihara Trust' and send them to the address on the back of this newsletter.

Pagoda opening times

Weekdays:
7:00 - 9:00 am
3:00 - 8:00 pm

Weekends:
7:00 am - 8:00 pm

Other times:
By Appointment

Chanting at the Pagoda
Every Full-Moon Day at 7:30 pm

Monday 8 January

Wednesday 7 Febmary

Thursday 8 March

Saturday 7 April

Daily Chanting at the Vihara
Every Morning 6:30 am

Weekly Meditation at Vihara
Monday Vipassana Meditation 7:30 pm
Thursday introductory Class 7:30 pm

Devotees Day at the Vihara
First Sunday of the Month 10.30 am
Jan 7; Feb 4; Mar 4; Apr 1

Weekend Retreat
Second Weekend of the Month
Jan12-14;Feb9-11; Mar9-11; Apr 13-15

Dhamma School for Children at Vihara
Last Sunday of the Month
11:00am to 1:00 pm
Jan 28; Feb 25; Mar 25; Apr 29


Birmingham Buddhist Vihara

47 Carlyle Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16 9BH

Phone 0121-454 6591 (Vihara), 0121 455 0650 (Pagoda): Fax: 0121 454 0374

E-Mail: dhamma@globalnet.co.uk

Website: http://www.nibbana.com/vihara.htm

Direction to the Pagoda

Autumn 2000 CE ¤ 2544BE ¤ Published Quarterly

GENERAL NEWS

       Bhante was not able to attend several of the Monday evening meditation sessions. Most of the sessions are now being led by Bhikkhu Nagasena and Bill. Unfortunatelu Yann is unable to attend many o f the sessions due to other commitments. The Thursday evening beginners sessions, which are mainly led by Bill, are going very well with increased numbers attending. The Zen group now meets monthly, on the first day of the month. Owing to the summer holidays we had not have so many school children visiting, but we have had a group of students coming for help with their studies in Buddhism and comparative religion.

Ven. Dr. Rewata Dhamma

       On 26th. August, Bhante travelled to New York to attend the Millenium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders. Mar Mar Lwin also attended as an observer. The conference started on 28th August. The first two days were held in the United Nation General Assembly Hall, and the next two days in the Walford Astoria Hotel (which is the biggest hotel in the world!) Over 2000 people attended, some as delegates some as observers. Generally twelve religions are recognised as being the main world faiths, and there were representatives from all of them. Bhante did note however that Buddhism and Hinduism were particularly well presented. Over 400 Hindu delegates travelled from India to attend the conference, this was made possible by generous sponsorship by Hindu lay devotees.

       Kofi Annan addressed the conference on its second day. The main aim of the summit was to unite all religious dominations in a common aim of working together for world peace. Many of the conflicts of the world, some of them extremely violent, need another dimension to solve them - politics alone is not enough. Religious leaders have a vital role to play in bringing ethical and spiritual values to bear on these conflicts. They were urged to found inter faith councils in all countries where they are currently not yet established, and to encourage the growth of these and similar organisations which are already in place. The conference believed that active and continuing dialogue between the different religious groups will have a profound effect and will assist greatly in conflict resolution.

       Many senior figures attended, including Dr. Ted Turner and the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Sadly the Dalai Lama was not invited. The official reason for this was that the Dalai Lama is a head of state as well as a spiritual leader, and the UN does not recognise Tibet as an independent state.

Bhante's future programme

       Bhante will be going to Switzerland on 30th September to lead a one week meditation retreat. This has been an annual event for Bhante for nearly 20 years. He will return to UK on 8th October. He will then attend a Sangha Dana at the Dhamma Dipa Meditation Centre in Hereford. The centre is run by Dr. Gandhi and his wife, who are both senior meditation teachers in the Goenka tradition. They have invited several monks to attend to celebrate their 80th birth day. On 26th October Bhante will travel to Thailand to attend a conference on the Ariya Vinaya (the Holy Discipline), from 27th October to 2nd November. The conference aim is to promote Buddhist Ethical principles. The Dalai Lama will be attending the conference.

       After the conference Bhante will fly to Singapore on 4th November to attend Kathina Day. He will stay in Singapore for one week before flying to Taiwan to attend a meeting of the World Sangha Council Conference from 10th to 16th November. Bhante is Vice President of the council. Meetings take place every two years. After the conference Bhante will travel to Myanmar to teach in the Theravada Mssionary University in Yangon for one month. During his stay in Myanmar, Bhante hopes to lead a 10 day Vipassana course in the U Ba Khin tradition at the Dhamma Joti Meditation Centre. He will return to the UK in mid January.

       In his address to the summit, Bhante said: 'With regard to the declaration for peace which is the primary purpose of our gathering, I would wish to see as part of its text the plea that a less one-sided political and economic view is taken of human suffering. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that we should declare ourselves as opposed to the naked materialism and greed that lies at the heart of the false religion of politics and economics and, indeed, of so-called globalisation. Then, in addressing ourselves to individual governments, we should make clear that suffering and need should be recognised wherever it occurs and aid be offered to all rather than simply to the friends of whatever regime is in power. Statesmen too often pay only lip service to the humanistic values of the UN Charter. Their actions show them to be far more concerned with the pragmatism of power. They speak of and champion Democracy and Human Rights without ethical values. Political gain and economic profit are their main priorities. But we must realise that it is our very often fault, as religious leaders, that politicians are so often able to profit by stirring up religious hatred and strife. If we conferred more often together, if we were truly united in respect for each others faith and teachings, we would be a little nearer to a solution to some of the problems now facing the world'.

DHAMMA TALAKA PAGODA

       The pagoda continues to attract people of all races and religions, from nearby and far away. The recent local TV coverage of the pagoda has generated much interest from our neighbours. Local devotees are beginning to use the pagoda on a regular basis. Myanmar people from all over the country come to make offerings and to meditate. Our hope is that the pagoda will serve as a focus for the spiritual activities of Asian people and westerners alike.

       During the month of August special prayers and chanting were held in the pagoda for Daw Mi Mi Khin, wife of U Ko Ko (ex minister and ambassador of Myanmar). Daw Mini Khin died following a period in hospital when she was in a coma. Before and after her death traditional religious ceremonies were performed in the pagoda by monks from Tisarana Vihara in London, and from our own Vihara. U Ko Ko and children living in the UK also participated. This year we have three monks residing at the pagoda site during the Rains Retreat. Ashin Rahtapala has now taken up permanent residence there. During the Rains Retreat he is joined by Ven. U Gandhasara and Ven. U Tiloka from Singapore. The monks duties include looking after the pagoda on a day to day basis. They are also attending English classes at the nearby Brass House School.

       In previous newsletters we have announced plans for completion of the gilding of the roof with gold leaf. Unfortunately we have not been able to get this work underway. There are two main reasons. Firstly the workmen due to come from Myanmar to perform the preliminary work of laying the brass base for the gold leaf were not able to come when we hoped. Secondly much of the existing gold leaf already in place towards the top of the pagoda is in fact in very good condition, and its replacement is not urgent. We have therefore decided to postpone this project till next year, it should be completed by the end of the summer. Donations already received will be held until that time.

       The construction of the new vihara at the pagoda site has also had to be delayed. John Beard is again working very hard for us on this project. He has reported however that there is going to be some unavoidable delay, due to a change of personnel in the City Planning Office. Even so John says that he hopes that it will be possible to start construction work before the end of this year. Let us be patient.

       On the full moon day of 12th. October we will celebrate Abhidhamma Day at the pagoda. According to the Theravada tradition the Buddha preached Abhidhamma in the Tavatimsa Heaven during the whole of one Rains Retreat, returning to Sankasa on this full moon day. This auspicious day is celebrated in Theravada countries, particularly in Myanmar where at many temples and viharas Abhidhamma texts are chanted, and in some cases the whole of the Abhidhamma Pitaka is recited. All are welcome at the Dhamma Talaka Pagoda, where we will have meditation and recitation of Abhidhamma texts starting at 7.30pm.

Kathina Day

       This year’s Kathina Robe offering ceremony will take place on Sunday 22nd October at the Pagoda. If you would like to offer the Kathina Robe on this occasion a suitable Robe at a cost of £30 will be available, at the Pagoda, on the day.

       Dr. Mehm Tin Thoung - Dr Cho Cho Khin and sons: Zar Ni and Moe Zaw Thoung will be sponsors. We will be sending out invitations nearer the date. If, for some reason, you do not receive a personal invitation you would nevertheless be very welcome to attend the ceremony with your family and friends and share in the merit.


Pagoda opening times

Weekdays:
7:00 - 9:00 am
3:00 - 8:00 pm

Weekends:
7:00 am - 8:00 pm

Other times:
By Appointment

Chanting at the Pagoda
Every Full-Moon Day at 7:30 pm

Tuesday 12 September

Thursday 12 October

Friday 10 November

Sunday 10th December

Daily Chanting at the Vihara
Every Morning 6:30 am

Weekly Meditation at Vihara
Monday Vipassana Meditation 7:30 pm
Thursday introductory Class 7:30 pm

Devotees Day at the Vihara
First Sunday of the Month 10.30 am
1st October; 5th November,3rd December, 7th January

Weekend Retreat
Second Weekend of the Month
Oct 13-15; Nov 10-12, Dec 8 - 10, Jan 12-14

Dhamma School for Children at Vihara
Last Sunday of the Month
11:00am to 1:00 pm
Oct. 29th, Nov. 26th Dec 31st, Jan 28th


Birmingham Buddhist Vihara

47 Carlyle Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16 9BH

Phone 0121-454 6591 (Vihara), 0121 455 0650 (Pagoda): Fax: 0121 454 0374

E-Mail: dhamma@globalnet.co.uk

Website: http://www.nibbana.com/vihara.htm

Direction to the Pagoda

BIRMINGHAM BUDDHIST VIHARA
KATHINA DAY CELEBRATIONS

Sunday 22nd October, 2000

The Birmingham Buddhist Vihara is celebrating its 23rd Kathina Day Ceremony on Sunday, 22nd October 2000 at Dhamma-Talaka Peace Pagoda, Osler Street, Ladywood, Birmingham B16 9EU. This year's Ceremony will be sponsored by:

Dr. Mehm Tin Thoung—Dr. Cho Cho Khin,

Sons: Zar Ni Thoung and Moe Zaw Thoung.

You are cordially invited to attend the ceremony

with friends and family and participate in the offering of the Kathina Robe.

(On the close of the Ceremony a Trustees' Meeting will be held at the Pagoda)

DIRECTIONS TO THE PAGODA

From south via M6: At Junction 6, follow to A38(M) (Birmingham Central) sign. Take the 2nd exit to the Inner Ring Road (West), following the sign to Edgbaston / Ladywood. At the 1st. roundabout take the 3rd exit. Go straight on the 2nd roundabout (2nd exit), At the 3rd roudabout go straight again (past the garage on the left). At the 4th roundabout take 2nd exit (straight). At the 5th roundabout take the 3rd exit into Icknield Port Road. Finally, 4th left into Osler Street.

From South Via M40 and M42: Follow the signs for M6 and A38(M) (Birmingham Central). Then follow as above from the Inner Ring Road (West).

From North via M6 and M5: At Junction 1 follow the A41West Bromwich sign. And follow A41 Birmingham sign. Continue into Holyhead Rd, Soho Rd and Soho Hill. Just before Hockley Flyover, filter left to pass under it, following the signs to Edgbaston / Ladywood and Ring Road. At the 3rd roundabout take the 3rd exit into Icknield Port Rd. Finally, take the 4th left into Osler Street.

From South-West via M5: At Junction 3, follow A456 Birmingham sign. Continue into Hagley Rd, at the 4th set of traffic lights, turn left into Monument Rd at the Ivy Bush Pub. Then take the 4th left into Reservoir Rd. Then take 3rd right into Osler Street..


SUMMER 2000 CE ¤ 2544BE ¤ Published Quarterly

GENERAL NEWS

        Over the last few months Bhante has continued to hold the meditation classes on Mondays and Thursdays. These are going well. On most occasions Bill leads the class; because of his other commitments Yann has been unable to make the sessions. However, since his return from the East, Ven. Nagasena has led the classes giving Dhamma talks. We have one special programme for children. Christians at our local church of St John’s join together with our Buddhist group and a local Jewish group to run a joint education programme. The aim of this programme is to teach the young children who join in about all three religions. The children on this programme have been meeting at the Pagoda once each month. A Buddhist and Christian Contemplative group meet on the first Saturday of each month, meeting alternately at the Church and at the Pagoda. Groups of school and college students have continued to visit the Pagoda to learn more about Buddhism. These groups are all instructed by Yann Lovelock on the subjects of the Pagoda and Buddhism in general.

        We celebrated Buddha Day (Wesak) on Sunday 21st May when over one hundred people attended. The Myanmar Ambassador H.E. Dr. Kyaw Win, his wife Daw Kyi Kyi and members of the embassy staff attended. People of many nationalities participated in the event. On this auspicious day the Vihãra awarded senior members with certificates of Patron and also Dhammacariya for recognition of their services to Buddhism.

        Mrs Aye, U Khin, Dr. Aung Myin, Dr Nath Kottegoda, Mr. Rattan Lal Sampla and Bill Strongman received the certificate of Patron. Yann Lovelock has been teaching Buddhism and Meditation for many years, not only at the Vihãra and Pagoda but also may other places, including H.M. Prisons. For this he was awarded the certificate of Dhammacariya.

        We celebrated the second anniversary of the Pagoda together with the celebration of Dhammacakka Day (Turning the Wheel of the Law) on 16th July. About one hundred people also attended on this occasion. On the day we organised a Bring and Buy sale to help support the running of the Pagoda.

Ven. Dr. Rewata Dhamma

        Although we mentioned in the last Newsletter that Bhante had no plans to go abroad, he had to leave for the USA on 7th June to visit New York and California. He was needed to organise the forthcoming ‘Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders.’ This conference, sponsored by the UN will convene 28th-31st August in the UN Assembly hall. The conference will be attended by the UN’s Secretary General, Kofi Anan, and by other world leaders. It is expected that 600 to 1,000 spiritual and religious leaders from many different faiths will take part. Bhante was asked to take responsibility to invite Buddhist leaders from Asian countries. We hope that senior members of the Sangha from Myanmar will be able to attend.

        Bhante will be going to a consecration ceremony at Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist Centre in Scotland on 3rd Aug. Following that he will be leaving for the United States on 26th August to attend the Millennium Summit Conference at the UN on the above dates. He will be presenting a paper on 'the role of religion in world affairs' before returning to the Vihãra on 1st Sept. On the 30th September Bhante will be going to Switzerland to lead a week-long meditation retreat.

DHAMMA TALAKA PAGODA

        As was mentioned in an earlier Newsletter the fitting of the eve board which was carved out of Teak has been beautifully completed, as was the gold painting on the outside wall. However, the gold covering of the Pagoda could not be done, as the weather has been unsuitable for this work. Unfortunately we have not experienced sufficient summer weather this June or July. Already we have received donations towards the cost of the gold and we hope to cover most, if not all, of the Pagoda sometime this year. The monks, U Gandhasara and Ashin Rahtapala, are both expert in this field of work so we hope they will be able to complete the job before winter. Donations for the purchase of gold leaf, large or small, would still be most welcome. If you would like to donate by cheque towards completion of this job, please make these payable to ‘Dhammatalaka Pagoda.’

        We hope that the construction of the new Vihãra on the Pagoda site will start very soon. John Beard is responsible for organising the building of the new Vihãra in consultation with the city Planning Department.

Kathina Day

        This year’s Kathina Robe offering ceremony will take place on Sunday 22nd October at the Pagoda. Dr. Mehm Tin Thoung - Dr Cho Cho Khin and sons: Zar Ni and Moe Zaw Thoung will be sponsors. We will be sending out invitations nearer the date. If, for some reason, you do not receive a personal invitation you would nevertheless be very welcome to attend the ceremony with your family and friends and share in the merit. If you would to offer the Kathina Robe on this occasion a suitable Robe at a cost of £30 will be available, at the Pagoda, on the day.

Turning the Wheel of Truth

On Full-moon Day of July, 528 BCE

        The Buddha thought to himself, "With difficulty have I realised the Dhamma. There is no need to proclaim it now; this Dhamma is not easily understood by those who are overwhelmed by lust and hatred. The lust-ridden shrouded by the mass of darkness cannot see this Dhamma, which goes against the stream, is abstruse, profound, difficult to perceive, and subtle."

        At first, the Buddha had no intention of teaching, but then a certain Brahma, knowing his thoughts, appeared before him and implored him to teach the Dhamma. Eventually, much to the Brahma’s delight, the Buddha agreed to impart his knowledge to others out of compassion for them, and for the welfare of all beings who could benefit from his teachings during his lifetime, and in the future. At first, the Buddha thought that he might teach the Dhamma to his first two teachers, Alara and Udaka, but by the power of clairvoyance he saw that they had both passed away. Finally he thought of teaching his five fellow ascetics, and consequently he went on foot to where he knew they were staying in the Deer Park at Isipatana not far from Kasi (Varanasi).

        The group of five (pañcavaggiya), were five ascetics — Kondañña, Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahanama, and Assaji. They all withdrew from the world to follow the ascetic way of life. In due course they joined up with the bodhisatta while he was practising austerities and seeking the path to enlightenment. These five ascetics were destined to be the first to hear the Dhamma from the Buddha.

        After the Buddha arrived at the deer park (the sage’s resort) near Varanasi, he said to the five ascetics, "O bhikkhus, one who has gone forth from the worldly life should not indulge in these two extremes. What are the two? There is indulgence in sensual pleasures, which is low, vulgar, worldly, ignoble, unworthy, and unprofitable, and there is devotion to self-mortification, which is painful, unworthy and unprofitable."

        "O bhikkhus, avoiding both these extremes, the Tathagata has realised the Middle Path; it produces vision, it produces knowledge, and it leads to calm, to higher knowledge, to enlightenment and to nibbana."

        "What is that Middle Path, O bhikkhus, that the Tathagata has realised, that gives vision, knowledge, and leads to calm, to higher knowledge, to enlightenment, to nibbana? It is simply the Noble Eightfold Path namely, Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Awareness and Right Concentration. This is the Noble Path realised by the Tathagata, which gives vision, which gives knowledge and leads to calm, to higher knowledge, to enlightenment and to nibbana."

Sadhu! sadhu! sadhu!


Pagoda opening times

Weekdays:
7:00 - 9:00 am
3:00 - 8:00 pm

Weekends:
7:00 am - 8:00 pm

Other times:
By Appointment

Chanting at the Pagoda
Every Full-Moon Day at 7:30 pm

Monday 14 August

Tuesday 12 September

Thursday 12 October

Friday 10 November

Daily Chanting at the Vihara
Every Morning 6:30 am

Weekly Meditation at Vihara
Monday Vipassana Meditation 7:30 pm
Thursday introductory Class 7:30 pm

Devotees Day at the Vihara
First Sunday of the Month 10.30 am
6thAugust; 3rd September;
1st October; 5th November

Weekend Retreat
Second Weekend of the Month
August 11 – 13; Sept. 8 – 10; Oct. 13 – 15; Nov. 10 – 12

Dhamma School for Childrens at Vihara
Last Sunday of the Month
11:00am to 1:00 pm
August 27th, Sept. 24th,
Oct. 29th, Nov. 26th


Birmingham Buddhist Vihara

47 Carlyle Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16 9BH

Phone 0121-454 6591 (Vihara), 0121 455 0650 (Pagoda): Fax: 0121 454 0374

E-Mail: dhamma@globalnet.co.uk

Website: http://www.nibbana.com/vihara.htm

Direction to the Pagoda

SPRING 2000 CE ¤ 2543BE ¤ Published Quarterly

GENERAL NEWS


        During Bhante's long absence abroad the Monday and Thursday meditation classes at the Vihara were taken care of by Bill, Mark, Nat and Yann. The Zen group meets on the first Friday of every month (not weekly as previously). Yann welcomed groups from schools and colleges wanting more information about Buddhism in general and about our activities locally. We have also had university students visiting the Vihara and Pagoda as part of a study project. A new monk, Ven. U Gandhasara, is in residence at the Pagoda. He has looked after the Pagoda on a day to day basis during Ven. Ashin Rahtapala's visit to Myanmar with Bhante. Ven. Ashin Rahtapala has now returned to Birmingham via Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.

VEN. DR. REWATA DHAMMA

        As we mentioned in our previous newsletter Bhante traveled to India on 12th January. He stayed at the Igatpuri Vipassana Research Academy for a one month retreat. This centre is the headquarters of the U S N Goenka tradition. The centre is very well organised. Each meditator has their own room and cell for meditation practice. Bhante felt a very good energy there, strong yet peaceful. The centre can accommodate up to 700 people. Over 400 people attended the retreat for the whole month. Besides the main one month retreat, two ten days courses were also held; the attendees of these had separate accommodation and meal arrangements. After the retreat Bhante traveled to Bombay for a meeting with Goenka to discuss future programmes and courses. He returned to England on 14th February. Bhante stayed in England for only a few days before flying to Brazil on 18th February. He stayed for several days at the Casa de Dharma in Sao Paulo with Arthur and Christina who organized talks and Retreat during his stay in Sao Paulo. He gave evening talks, which were well attended by up to 75 people each day. Bhante found Brazil to be a very beautiful country. He had some interesting comments about Brazil. Because of the very forgiving climate there is no need for running hot water or fans or air conditioning! Bhante found the people of Brazil to be very outgoing which he found to be a contrast to our British reserve! Finally it turns out that Brazil is the only country in Latin America where Portuguese is the official language, but there are hardly any Portuguese who actually live there! The people are very eager to learn about Theravada tradition. There are some Japanese centres Zen and Pure Land, and also some Tibetan centres. There is much interest in the cultural aspects of Buddhism, not just meditation.

        From 24th to 29th February Bhante led a five day meditation retreat at a Catholic convent outside Sao Paulo. The centre was very well organised, with immaculately clean accommodation and very good vegetarian food. The centre is in very beautiful surroundings. The retreat was attended by about 25 people. Bhante was sad to notice that, due to the lack of any social security system in Brazil, only professional people can afford to be involved in the support of the centre. Bhante then made an hour long flight to Belo Horizonte, which is said to be the most beautiful area in the whole of Brazil. The city of 3 million people has very beautiful architecture and is set among rolling hills, about 100 km from the first Portuguese settlements. Again Bhante was struck by the warmth and friendliness of the people. There is a strong Theravada group in Belo Horizonte, founded by Ricardo Sasaki. Nearly 100 people attended Bhante's talks each day. It was Ricardo who had set up Bhante's visit to Brazil. Both Ricardo and his wife are psychologists. The group is relatively new but has many members throughout Brazil. Bhante was impressed that such a new group should have a good selection of Pali texts, much of it with Portuguese translations available; and also many members of the group are proficient at chanting in Pali. Ricardo, who is in his early forties, is a very determined person and a gifted leader. The group has bought nearly 20 acres of land in the forest and plans to build a meditation hall as well as individual kutis (huts).

        From 3rd to l2th March Bhante led a ten day vipassana retreat, again in a Catholic convent, about 60 km outside Belo Horizonte city. The retreat was attended by about 50 people from all over Brazil. It is a huge country and many of them had traveled long distances. They were very happy at their opportunity and very much appreciated the teachings that Bhante gave. The group has expressed a desire to invite Bhante next year to lead further retreats. After the retreat Bhante returned to Sao Paulo, flying back to England on 12th March and arriving in Birmingham on 13th. As a footnote to Bhante's trip to Brazil, it it is interesting to note that from his observation Christianity there is in decline, even though it is nominally a Christian country.

        On 15th March Bhante flew to Myanmar via Thailand, with Ven. Ashin Rahtapala and Mar Mar Lwin accompanying him as far as Bangkok. The purpose of Bhante's visit was to receive the title of Aggamahapandita. There is no direct English translation of this, but Agga means Excellent, Maha means Great and Pandita means Scholar. It is a very prestigious title given to eminent scholars. Bhante was greeted at Bangkok airport by members of the Myanmar Embassy who arranged for overnight hotel accommodation, where several other monks were staying en route to Yangon for the awards ceremony.

        On 17th March Bhante flew to Yangon by Myanmar airways International. At Yangon International Airport a large welcoming ceremony was held in the traditional style, attended by many government ministers and officials from the Ministry of Religious Affairs. A ceremonial procession then took place from the airport to the Kaba-aye where the monks stayed.

        On 19th March saw the main State Ceremony for the Awards Convocation, held in the Pasana Cave (originally constructed in 1954 for the Sixth Buddhist Council). The Convocation was a national occasion and was very well organised. Each of the senior monks receiving titles was given a white umbrella and was accompanied by an attendant carrying his name on a plaque. The number of monks receiving awards was 249, of which Bhante was 17th in seniority. Overall the cave seated 500 monks, with about half of these seated in tiers around the edge of the cave. Those monks receiving titles were seated on the stage and in front of it. Each of the senior monks receiving titles were presented with a certificate and seal from the Head of State. Several lay people also received awards. All the lay people attending wore traditional dress, the ladies in long sleeved dresses and scarves. After the awards ceremony the monks circumambulated the cave and received offerings and requisites from the lay people, this part of the day taking nearly two hours to complete. Bhante has a video of the proceedings, which he hope to be able to show on Buddha day in the Dhamma Talaka Pagoda. Receiving a title at a ceremony of this kind of ceremony is a great honour and we congratulate Bhante on his achievement. After the ceremony Bhante stayed in the State Guest House for the rest of his time in Myanmar.

        On 20th March Bhante was invited to the Mahasi Meditation Centre. Of the monks who had received awards 19 were from this centre, and Bhante received congratulations as one of them. On Myanmar New Year's Day Bhante received similar congratulations from the Mogok Meditation Centre, the second largest meditation centre in the country. This certainly knows that Bhante is very far from being sectarian! The Mahasi, Mogok and Goenka schools all recognise him as one of their teacher. He had been asked to lead a 10 day meditation retreat at the Dhammajoti Meditation Centre which is in the Goenka tradition, but he was unable to do this due to lack of time. He did visit the centre twice however, to give a dhamma talk and then to open the retreat.

        During his stay in Myanmar Bhante flew to Sri Lanka to attend the World Buddhist Conference. He was joined in Thailand by Mar Mar Lwin, who had by this time completed her pilgrimage in Thailand. In Sri Lanka Bhante visited Kandy and the ancient cities of Polunaruwa and Anuradhapura, and other Buddhist sites. He then returned to Myanmar and traveled to Mandalay and other areas of pilgrimage. He then flew to India on 13th April and returned to Myanmar again on 15th April, then to England on 24th April returning to Birmingham on 25th April. At the moment he has no further plans to travel abroad, except to Thailand during the first week in July. We hope he stay in England for some time.


DHAMMA TALAKA PAGODA

        We are very fortunate that Sayadaw U Gandhasara is very skilled in carpentry. Eave boats for the Pagoda roof arrived from Myanmar several months ago, and the Sayadaw has fixed these in place very professionally. Another senior monk from Myanmar, Ven. U Kumuda who is also assisted. We are very grateful for the skilled work these two monks have done. The Pagoda is now very much in the pure Myanmar style, and we hope very much that you will be pleased when you see it. As we mentioned in the previous newsletter we are shortly going to gold leaf the entire Pagoda: (i.e. the roof space), as well as completing internal painting work Bhante has arranged for three experts to come over from Myanmar for this stage, the first part of which will be to cover the Pagoda with bronze. We hope it will all be finished by the summer.


Pagoda opening times

Weekdays:
7:00 - 9:00 am
3:00 - 8:00 pm

Weekends:
7:00 am - 8:00 pm

Other times:
By Appointment

Chanting at the Pagoda
Every Full-Moon Day at 7:30 pm
(According to the Myanmar Calender)
Wednesday 17th May
Friday 15th June
Saturday 15th July
Monday 15th August

Daily Chanting at the Vihara
Every Morning 6:30 am

Weekly Meditation at Vihara
Monday Vipassana Meditation 7:30 pm
Thursday introductory Class 7:30 pm

Devotees Day at the Vihara
First Sunday of the Month 10.30 am
4th June, 2nd July, 6th August

Weekend Retreat
Second Weekend of the Month
May 12th - 14th
June 9th - 11th
July 7th - 9th
August 11th - 13th

Dhamma School for Childrens at Vihara
Last Sunday of the Month
11:00am to 1:00 pm
May 28th
June 25th
July 30th
August 27th


Birmingham Buddhist Vihara

47 Carlyle Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16 9BH

Phone 0121-454 6591 (Vihara), 0121 455 0650 (Pagoda): Fax: 0121 454 0374

E-Mail: dhamma@globalnet.co.uk

Website: http://www.nibbana.com/vihara.htm


[SUPPLEMENTS]

INVITATION TO BUDDHA DAY

2544 B.E. - 21st May 2000

        The Trustees and Members of the Birmingham Buddhist Vihara will be celebrating Buddha Day (Vesakha), the Anniversary of Buddha's birth, enlightenment and passing away into Nibbana on Sunday 21st May this year. This will take place at Dhamma Talaka Pagoda between l0am - 3pm.

        The Government of the Union of Myanmar recently honoured Venerable Dr. Rewata Dhamma by conferring on him prestigious title of Aggamahapandita on the full moon day of March. We will be congratulating him on this award during ceremony.

        It is our pleasure to invite you, your family and friends to be with us on this auspicious occasion. Please bring food to offer Sangha and share in a communal meal.

May all beings be happy!

Direction to the Pagoda

DONATIONS WELCOME

DHAMMA - TALAKA PEACE PAGODA

        Built in traditional Myanmar style, the Dhamma Talaka Peace Pagoda is the sole one of its kind in the West. Its opening in June, 1998, was attended by several hundreds from all over the world and of many religious backgrounds.

        Recently we have received eaves of carved teak from Myanmar which we hope to install this summer. At the same time we are planning to redecorate the pagoda's exterior by painting the stone work and applying gold leaf to the spire. The latter is known traditionally as the Golden Robe Offering and we are pealing for donations towards this from all our supporters. Our aim is to finish the work by the end of millennial year so as the start the 21st century with a shinning example, a beacon of peace and hope.

        A square foot of gold leaf costs approximately UK £30 or US $5O, but sums less than this are also welcome. Offerings of gold leaf itself would be appreciated as well.

Please make cheques payable to Dhammatalaka Pagoda

and send them to The Treasurer,

Birmingham Buddhist Vihara,

47 Carlyle Road.

Birmingham B16 9BH, UK


Winter 1999CE ¤ 2543BE ¤ Published Quarterly

GENERAL NEWS


        Day to day activities at the Vihara are proceeding as usual. While we have a strong core of regular attendance at our meditation classes we see many people come and go. Newcomers to the Monday evening sessions are welcomed by Mark Scan. If Bhante is absent teachings and meditation instruction are given by the new resident monk Bhikkhu Pesala and by Dr. Kottegoda and Yann. The Thursday beginners classes are led by Bill. We are very grateful to Bill for the energy he has put into getting this relatlively new venture up and running. We have also received appreciation of his guidance and experience from people who have attended his classes.

        Frequent visits from schools and colleges continue. We have had several visits recently from Westhill Religious Education Centre, University of Birmingham. In addition to personal visits Bhante also has quite a lot of written correspondence with students of comparative religion from various establishments.

       Kathina Day was held on Sunday 7th November and was sponsored by members of the Myanmar Embassy in London, and their families. The day went very well, and the Pagoda was full. Bhante did remark however on the absence of many of the local Westerners, who faithfully attend meditation sessions but seem to be less interested in the more traditional practices and festivals. The main reason for this, Bhante says, is that the main initial attraction of Buddhism for many (even most) Westerners is meditation. They do not so easily go on to embrace what they see as the more general aspects — such as attending festival; chanting and making offerings in the Pagoda. In reality meditation is only part of the story — albeit a vital part. Meditation is the way to liberate oneself from the cycle of suffering (Samsara). But until that final liberation is achieved we have to somehow 'peacefully coexist' with Samsara as it manifests itself in our daily lives, and make use of it to further our spiritual efforts. According to the Buddha's teaching we have to practice good actions (or 'paramis' — the perfections) in order to be reborn in a better life, whether this means after our death or on a moment to moment basis and we enter new mental states. This 'happy rebirth' will put us in a better position from which we can progress in our meditation practice, which will then in its turn help us to live happily and positively in the midst of Samsara. This is why in traditional Buddhist cultures people put so much emphasis on chanting, making offerings and attending festivals — they help them to practice the perfections. If one can see the whole picture in this way then one will see the benefit of balancing meditation practice with more traditional activities. While slightly saddened by the lack of interest he sees from Westerners in this respect he is — as ever — philosophical about it. Provided the Dhamma becomes firmly rooted in the minds of the peoples of the west it is inevitable that, in time, their understanding will grow to allow them to embrace traditional ceremonies and services more positively and in a way that is appropriate for their needs and background.

NEW PATRONS

       Many of our patrons accepted that role back in the early 1980s. Some of them can no longer continue actively due to their age, ill health or other reasons. Therefore at this year's Kathina celebration we announced patrons from our among our long term devotees: Dr. Kottegoda, Mr. Rattan Lal Sampala, and Bill Strongman. They have all served the Vihara well in their respective roles and our Trustees sincerely welcomed them as patrons. We believe that their guidance over the coming years will be invaluable.


Summer 1999CE ¤ 2543BE ¤ Published Quarterly


GENERAL NEWS

       Now that the Rainy Season is here, the Monday and Thursday classes will be going on regularly. Our senior member, Yann Lovelock, explains about Buddhism and the activities at the Vihara to visiting groups. Our senior member and group leader, Bill Strongman, cakes a keen interest to lead the Thursday Evening meditation session. Ellen Parker continues her teaching of the Sunday Children's Dhamma class. John Beard is supervising the new plans for the pagoda site. His support is very much appreciated by all our members. Mar Mar Lwin is looking after the day-to-day work of managing the Vihara. Pye Kyaw Thu, a young Myanmar student, who recently came to England to study English is now staying with us and helping to look after the monks.

        On Sunday 16th May, we celebrated Buddha Day at the Pagoda. Most of our devocees and friends attended. Ven. Dr. Rewata Dhamma and Ven. Sanghabodhi from Sri Lanka gave Dhamma talks. The day concluded with loving-kindness meditation and a Trustees' meeting.

Ven. Dr. Rewata Dhamma

       On 11th May Ven. Dr. Rewata Dhamma attended a lecture given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Lambeth Palace, London. After the lecture the Archbishop gave a reception and Bhante had a chance to talk with the Archbishop and the Dalai Lama. It was a good opportunity to meet the leaders of many different religious organisations in Great Britain.

       Bhante left on the 4th June for Prague in the Czech Republic to lead a ten-day vipassana retreat. Forty-eight people participated in the retreat, which ran very smoothly. Before he left the country, Bhante gave a public talk in Prague, which was attended by over a hundred people. Since the end of Communist domination, Buddhist activities have begun to thrive in the Czech Republic, and interest in Buddhism is growing steadily among intellectuals. Bhante is a leader of two Buddhist groups — he is a Patron of the Inter national Buddhist Foundation, and Spiritual Guide of Bodhi Praha. Several organisations are working for the development of Buddhism in this newly liberated land. Classes in Buddhism and Pali are now taught; in universities. This is largely because one of Bhante's chief disciples, Dr. Mirko Fryba (now Bhikkhu Kusalananda in Sri Lanka), made zealous efforts to support, teach, and inspire Buddhist groups in the Czech Republic. After Bhante's Dhamma calk in Prague, there were many questions from the public. From the quality of the questions it was apparent that although Buddhism is in its infancyin the Czech Republic, the depth of the people's knowledge is remarkable. Bhante therefore hopes that Buddhism will continue to thrive there.

        Ashin Ottama, who ordained in the Mahisi tradition, lived in Myanmar for about five years. He returned to his native land of the Czech Republic and is now promoting the development of Buddhism there. Ashin Ottama is very keen to maintain Myanmar traditions, especially the Mahasi meditation method. He planned to come to Birmingham for the Rains Retreat this year, but because of his commitments to take retreats in the Slovak Republic he has to take his Rains Retreat in Prague this year. If he stays longer in Prague it will be very beneficial for those who study Buddhism there.

DHAMMA TALAKA PEACE PAGODA

        The Peace Pagoda is fast become a focal point for Buddhism. Since it opened last year we have had visitors nearly every day, and some people like to meditate in the Pagoda. Many groups from schools and colleges come to study Buddhism at the Vihara as part of their curriculum for religious studies, and most groups also visit the new pagoda. The children are fascinated to see the Pagoda, the Buddha images, and many other Buddhist artifacts.

        On Sunday 25th July we celebrated the anniversary of the Pagoda with an Open Day. At the same time we celebrated the anniversary of the First Discourse of the Buddha. In the morning, Tibetan Buddhists ftom Karma Ling chanted, and Sri Lankan Bhikkhus recited protection discourses (parittas).

        Our devotees organised a bring-and-buy sale, selling food, plants, and bric-a-brac to raise funds for the Vihara. They collected over £1,500 from the sale — including donacions we received over £2,700. We would like to express our appreciation to everyone who organised the bring-and-buy sale, which was so successful, although it was the first time such an event had been organised at the pagoda. After lunch, the congregation took precepts, and listened to Paritta chanting. Then Ven. Rewata Dhamma and Ven. Piyatissa from Manchester gave Dhamma talks. On this occasion Dr. Kyaw Myint Oo, the master of ceremonies, said that the co-operation of teachers and the laity is very important. U Maung Khin, our lifelong supporter from London, unveiled a brass plaque dedicating the Pagoda to His Holiness the XIVth Gyalwa Karmapa.

Interfaith Dialogue

        As announced previously, every anniversary of the pagoda will be an opportunity for Inter-faith activities. Ramona Kauth and Yann Lovelock organised this event. More than twenty people participated and discussed the topic, "Who is our neighbour." Bhikkhu Pesala gave the first presentation on "Helping others by helping oneself through medicttion." The meeting was concluded with loving-kindness meditation, but continued with friendly discussions over tea afterwards. Sonny manned the tea stall for the benefit of everyone.

Resident Monks

        This year Ven. Dr. Rewata Dhamma has been joined by Ashin Rahtapala, who lives at and looks after the Pagoda site. His dedication is sincerely appreciated. Bhikkhu Pesala arrived in the middle of June to stay with us. He lived in Birmingham in the early days before we had our own Vihara, helping Bhante by driving him everywhere. When the Most Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw came to England in 1979, he ordained as a bhikkhu. He has practised meditation in Myanmar and Thailand under eminent teachers. His stay here will be of great benefit to the Vihara, as we need an English- speaking monk who can communicate easily with the local people. He will take up some responsibility for the Vihira activities and publications. We hope that we will now be able to provide even more opportunities for local people to pursue their interest in Buddhism.

Another Myanmar monk, U Tilokasiri, will arrive next month to take up the second rains retreat. He is currently residing in the Singapore Myanmar Vihara. He will stay with us for a few months, helping with the activities at the pagoda.


KATHINA DAY

This year we will celebrare the Kathina ceremony on

SUNDAY 7TH NOVEMBER

We will send out invitation letters in the near future.

Pagoda Opening Times

Weekdays: 7:00 - 9.00 am 5:00 - 7:00 pm

Weekends: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm

Other times: by Appointment

Chanting at the Pagoda

Every Full-Moon Day at 7:30 pm

Thursday 26th August
Friday 24th September
Sunday 24th October
Monday 22nd November

Chanting at the Vihara

Every Morning 6:30 am

Weekly Meditation at Vihara

Monday Vipassana Meditation 7:30 pm
Tuesday Soto Zen Meditation 7:30 pm
Thursday Introductory Class 7:30 pm

First Sunday of the Month

Vihara Devotees Group 10.30 am

August 1st
September 5th
October 3rd
November 7th

Second Weekend of the Month

Weekend Retreat at Vihara

August 13th- 15th
Septomber 10th - 12th
October 8th - 10th
November 12th - 14th

Last Sunday of the Month

Children's Dhamma School at Vihara
11:00am to 1:00pm

August 29th
September 26th
October 31st
November 28th

Birmingham Buddhist Vihara,

47 Carlyle Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16 9BH

Phone 0121-454 6591 (Vihara), Fax: 0121 454 0374 (Vihara); 0121 455 0650 (Pagoda):

E-Mail: dhamma@globalnet.co.uk


Spring 1999CE ¤ 2543BE ¤ Published Quarterly


GENERAL NEWS


       Firstly an apology for the late appearance of this newsletter, which has been caused by Bhante's recent visit to the Far East. During the past few months we have had several eminent monks and lamas visiting the Vihara and the Pagoda. One of them, Sayadaw U Thirenda, is Vice Chairman of the State Sangha Nakaya Council of Myanmar. Vie visited us in April from the United States, where Bhante has been sponsoring him. Another eminent visitor was a high reincarnate Lama, Ven. Panchen Otrul who is head of Jampa Ling Tibetan Buddhist Centre in Co. Cavan, Ireland. He is an old friend of Bhante's, and they spent many years together in India.

       During Bhante's absence of six weeks abroad groups continued to visit the Vihara and Pagoda regularly. As well as groups from schools and colleges we also had a group from the Catholic Seminary in Oxford, who came to learn about Buddhist teachings and practice. They were received by Ven. U Rahtapala who is resident at the Pagoda, a visiting monk Ven. U Ottaranyana, and Yann Lovelock.

       This year Wesak (Buddha Day) fell on 29th April, and we celebrated it on 16th May. Although we had not advertised the event widely still a good number attended, and it was a lively and joyful occasion. The Dhamma Talk was given by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi from Sri Lanka, with Bhante leading Metta Meditation.

VEN. DR. REWATA DHAMMA

        BHANTE went to Myanmar on 17th March to lead a ten day vipassana retreat at the Dhamma Joti Centre in Yangon. The full ten days of the course were attended by 120 monks. Bhante also gave a series of three Dhamma Talk about vipassana meditation, this time to Myanmar lay people. He also gave a talk to the Hindu community in Yangon about how diversity and unity between the Hindu and Buddhist cultures.

       Bhante was invited as a special guest at the State ceremony to re-install the umbrella of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda. This was a great occasion, the original umbrella having been installed by King Mindon some 128 years ago. Over 100,000 people attended with millions watching on TV. The new umbrella is made of steel, and is decorated with over 100kg of pure gold, together with many jewels and diamond ornaments, rubies and other precious stones. The people of Myanmar are said to be poor materially, but they certainly have an abundance of generosity.

        Bhante remained in Myanmar for the Water Festival, which started on 13th April and for New Year's Day (17th April). He then left for Singapore, flying on to Sri Lanka on 18th April. In Sri Lanka he participated in the World Buddhist Sangha Council Conference, of which he is Vice President. Over 200 people attended, Sangha members and lay people. He returned to Singapore on April, then back to Birmingham on the 28th.

       On l1th May Bhante attended on invitation an inter faith lecture by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, given at Lambeth Palace. He has accepted a request to lead a meditation retreat in the Czech Republic and will travel there on 1st June, returning to the UK on 15th June.

DHAMMMACAKKA DAY AND PAGODA ANNIVERSARY

       We plan to celebrate the anniversary of the opening of the Pagoda near to the date of Dhammacakka Day - the celebration of the Buddha's First Sermon, which this year falls on the full moon day of 27th July. It marks the start of the annual three months Rains Retreat for the resident Sangha. We will have a joint ceremony for both the First Sermon and the pagoda anniversary on Sunday 25th July. We will send out invitations closer to the date. All are most welcome to attend. Bhante has decided that the day will also be very much of an inter faith nature, as well as for our own devotees and supporters, in much the same way as it was during the first day of the opening ceremony itself. Our local vicar, Rev. Richard Tetlow is very enthusiastic about this and is giving us a lot of support.

DHAMMA TALAKA PAGODA


        Every full moon day according to the Myanmar calendar we have chanting and meditation at the pagoda. The pagoda is open every day from 7am to 7pm. Ven Rahtapala is taking responsibility to look after the running the pagoda on a day to day basis including welcoming the many visitors that come. As well as groups from schools and colleges we are also very happy to welcome our Christian friends, who come to the pagoda to meditate from time to time.

       Our supporter John Beard is continuing to do a lot of work for us on the pagoda, as he did prior to its opening. We are in the process of studying ground plans and drawings for the new Vihara and Dhamma Hall, which we have received from Myanmar. When the ground plans are finalised we will apply for planning permission for both buildings. If our application is successful we hope to start construction work before the winter sets in.

DONATIONS

Decorative artwork on the pagoda exterior is proceeding well. Carvings for the roof and stairway are complete and are awaiting shipment from Myanmar. We hope the carvings will reach the UK in early July, and we will install them as soon as they arrive. This work has been funded by our generous Myanmar supporters. We are also receiving donations towards improving the interior of the pagoda for such items as offerings tables, bookcases etc.

        The pagoda has no central heating and so we have to use stand-alone electric heaters. These, together with the internal and external lighting, run up a quarterly electricity bill of over £700. We also have to pay over £1,000 a year water rates.

        In order to maintain the pagoda we need your generous donations. Whether they are large or small they will be gratefully accepted. Given the ongoing nature of the expenses please consider making a regular monthly donation if possible, although of course lump sum donations are also welcome. We give below our account details. If you would like any further details, including information on making a deed of covenant please contact the Vihara.

        Account Name: Birmingham Buddhist Vihara

        Sort Code: 20-07-82

        Account Number: 40178659

        Bank Address: Barclays Bank, 38 Hagley Rd.,

        Edgbaston, Birmingham B16 8NY


BLESSING


        Wedding blessings were given in the pagoda on 10th April to members of the Mahey family, from our Indian devotees. On 22nd, May wedding blessings will be given to Dr. Angela Thanda Aung Thein, daughter of Dr. Aung Thein and Daw Than Than, on her marriage to Dr. Christopher Alan Birt. The blessing ceremony will take place at the pagoda.


TEN DAY SUMMER RETREAT

This year's ten day course in vipassana meditation will be held at the Vihara from Friday evening 20th August to Sunday afternoon 29th August. It is open to all, experienced and beginner alike. Also attendees of our weekly classes may find it a marvelous opportunity to deepen their practice. This year Bhante is going to use the course to teach samatha (concentration) meditation more fully, as a solid foundation for vipassana insight practice which this year will take place only in the final days of the retreat. As such it may serve as an interesting and useful variation in approach for people who have attended previous courses.



Winter 1998CE ¤ 2542BE ¤ Published Quarterly


GENERAL NEWS

   As we announced in the previous newsletter Bodhidhamma Bhikkhu led the weekend retreat in mid November, about 10 people attending. Bodhidhamma then stayed at the Vihara for several more days. He returned just after Christmas to lead another retreat, leaving for the Isle of Man on 6th. January for a period of personal rneditation practice.

    Groups from schools and colleges continue to visit the Pagoda, with Yann taking the responsibility to welcome them and answer their questions. The Pagoda is becoming very popular with between 20 and 30 visitors each day. Some of them spend time meditating in the Pagoda and experience its tranquillity.

    Because Bhante has been abroad for the past couple of months there have not been so many events at the Vihara. However all the usual activities continued in his absence: the Monday and Thursday meditation classes, the Devotees Group meetings on the first Sunday of the month, weekend retreats on the second weekend of the month, and the Dhamma School for Children on the last Sunday of the month.

VEN. DR. REWATA DHAMMA

    As mentioned in the previous newsletter Bhante left for India on 3rd November after attending the London Vihara Kathina Day on the 2nd. The Government of India had invited him to attend a four day Buddhist conference at Varanasi and Bodh Gaya. He presented a paper on The contribution of Buddhism to the world of art and architecture. The conference started on 5th November with a great celebration of Buddhism opened by the President of India His Excellency Shri K. R. Narayanan. The opening took place in the Deer Park near Varanasi. A huge marquee had been erected and more than 5000 people attended, including senior ministers of the Government of India. On the 6th and 7th November the conference continued at the Tibetan Institute for Higher Studies in Sarnath. About 150 scholars and other interested people attended the seminar. The final day of the conference took place in Bodh Gaya on 8th November. Delegates and other invited people travelled from Varanasi to Bodh Gaya. The Prime Minister Of India gave a special address for this occasion, with over 200,000 people attending.

   After the conference Bhante travelled to Kushinagar, to Lumbini and Kathmandu in Nepal. The Nepali Government had also invited Bhante to attend their international conference in the Lumbini Garden on the 1st and 2nd December, but he could not do so due to other commitments he had in Myanmar. From Kathmandu he returned to Varanasi again, to give lectures at the Tibetan Institute and other organisations. He spoke about Buddhism in general and about the development of Buddhism in the West.

    He travelled to Myanmar on 24th November at the invitation of the Myanmar Government, to attend the opening ceremony of the International Theravada Buddhis Missionary University in Yangon on 9th December. Bhante welcomed Ven. Lama Yeshe from Scotland with his students, and conducted them on a tour of Yangon and other places. Ven. Lama Yeshe told Bhante that he was very happy to be in Myanmar because he could feel the life and energy that Buddhism has there. Everywhere there are temples and pagodas, and devotees practising either meditation or rituals according to their temperament and background. Although Myanmar is known as a Theravada country it is not quite the same as Thailand or Sri Lanka. This is because of the Vajrayana practices which continued in upper Burma (Pagan) up to the 11th century. So even today a Vajrayana culture continues alongside the Theravada practices. Ven. Lama Yeshe (who is himself a Tibetan) said many of the thing he saw were just like in his homeland - special mudras while meditating, the use of mandalas as meditation objects, the recitation of mantras with rosaries. Also many of the yogis he saw are of the same lineage as the Vajrayana tradition. For these reasons Ven. Lama Yeshe and his disciples felt very happy in Myanmar, and said they would like to return there. One of these, a monk from Spain who had ordained in the Tibetan tradition under the name of Phunsok, decided to remain in Myanmar to study Theravada Buddhism and Abhidhamma. Dr. Mar Mar Lwin sponsored his ordination as a Theravada monk on 19th December. He was given the name Ven. Kassapa and is now staying in Myanmar; he is allowed to continue his Vajrayana practices alongside with Theravada meditation.

    One of the places that Bhante took Ven. Lama Yeshe and his group was to the Kyaikhtiyoe Pagoda - one of the wonders of the world. The pagoda is built at the top of a rock, on an enormous boulder at the very edge. It was built many hundreds of years ago. You can push the boulder and feel it move, but it never falls. The pagoda is situated some 200 miles south east of Yangon, and Bhante made this trip on 7th. December. On the way they stopped at a monastery where over 1000 monks study the Buddhist scriptures. Ven. Lama Yeshe was very pleased to see so many monks. They stayed overnight at the Pagoda which was crowded with visitors, including several Europeans.

    Bhante returned to Yangon for the opening ceremony of the new university which took place on 9th December. This was a state occasion and took place in a vast man made cave built in 1954 for the 6th. Buddhist Council. Over 2500 monks took their specially arranged places and about 40 invited senior monks sat on a stage at the front. Ven. Lama Yeshe and his disciples were invited as special guests. Senior government ministers and diplomats also attended. The ceremony was held very much in the Myanmar tradition, which was of great interest to the foreigners attending. The new university has had applications from more than 200 foreign students applying for admission from 17 different countries, of which 54 have been accepted this year. Bhante has been appointed Visiting Professor, and so from time to time he will be helping with teaching there.

   Of all the Buddhist countries Myanmar is the only one to have monasteries of over 1000 monks. In particular one monastery in Mandalay has 2600 monks. This, together with the innumerable temples and pagodas, makes Myanmar a worthy place of pilgrimage and many people from Singapore, Taiwan, Korea and Japan visit to make offerings. After giving a series of three lectures after the opening ceremony Bhante travelled to his home village to see his relatives and friends. He then visited Mandalay before leaving for India on 30th December. He arrived back in England on 5th January.

   Bhante's future engagements are as follows. On 27th January he will attend joint Christian Buddhist discussions at the FWBO centre on Mosely. He has also accepted an invitation to give a talk to the Cambridge University Buddhist Society on 29th January.

    He is also going to attend a Christian Buddhist study Group Meeting in Munich Germany on 26th / 27th February. Before this he plans to visit the Netherlands and Belgium. He will go back to Myanmar on 18th March to lead a 10 day meditation retreat for monks at the Dhamma-Joti Meditation Centre. There will be over 200 monks attending. This meditation centre follows the meditation technique taught by Dr. S. N. Goenka. Bhante was asked to lead the retreat by Goenka himself. After the retreat Bhante will remain in Myanmar for the Myanmar New Year from 13th to 16th April. Bhante has not seen these New Year celebrations for over 45 years due to his being abroad. He will then attend a conference of the World Buddhist Sangha Council from 18th to 20th April to be held in Sri Lanka. He then plans to visit Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan before returning to the UK by the end of April.

DHAMMA TALAKA PAGODA

   As you may know the Dhamma Talaka pagoda was officially opened on 26th to 28th June last year. However we are still continuing to finish the detailed work. Currently we are installing a ramp to allow disabled access, and we hope this will be completed in the next few days.

   We are now looking at plans for a new Vihara to be built alongside the Pagoda. Our young architect, Mr. Lal's son Ran Bir Lal, is producing drawings for this. We have previously successfully obtained planning permission, but must reapply as more than 5 years has elapsed. As soon as we get planning permission we will start building, and will take steps to sell the existing Vihara at 47 Carlyle Road. We have also received (from Myanmar) a drawing for the Dhamma Hall, in the traditional Myanmar style with a cellar and two upper stories. We have already passed this drawing to our solicitor Martin Walker. John Beard is also helping. Again we will need planning permission for this. If we obtain this we will then bring to the UK craftsmen and builders from Myanmar to do the work. We have received many promises of help and donations from devotees in Myanmar. If we are successful in building the new Vihara and Dhamma Hall alongside the Dhamma Talaka Pagoda then we can say our project is complete.

Retreats to be led by Bodhidhamma Bhikkhu

   Bodhidhamma Bhikkhu (an English monk of 13 years standing) will lead the following Vipassana Retreats (Insight meditation) in the tradition of the Mahasi Sayadaw.

    1. Easter Retreat 2nd to 5th April at the Vihara, 47 Carlyle Road, Birmingham

   2. Saturday July 17th to Sunday September 26th Eight Day to Eight Week courses at Southwoods Hall, Nr. Thirsk, North York Moors National Park

£15 per day (concessions available)

    For further information on the retreats to be led by Bhikkhu Bodhidhamma please contact:

    Bryan Lester, 16 Brandon Court, 188 West Heath Road, West Heath, Birmingham B31 3HB. Tel: 0121 477 9490


Autumn 1998CE ¤ 2542BE ¤ Published Quarterly


GENERAL NEWS

After having completed all the work to make this summer's Pagoda Opening Ceremony such a success, things have now slowed down somewhat allowing those involved a period of rest and renewal. However work is still proceeding, including the completion of a beautiful painting, by our artist Win Tin, of the Buddha sitting in meditation under the Bodhi Tree; this painting covers the entire wall behind the main Buddha statue. We have also fitted perspex at each side of' the entrance to the Pagoda, to act as a windbreak and to keep the tiled floor and the area for shoes dry. Six benches for the Sangha and two glass tables for offerings have been donated by Dr. Them Myint and family.

We generally receive between 20 and 25 visitors at the Pagoda every day; some come just to look, others come to meditate, some are local, others have come long distances from Thailand and Myanmar. The joint Buddhist Christian Contemplative Prayer Group has held two meetings in the Pagoda. Yann uses the Pagoda to run classes for school children. It is useful for children to be able to see at first hand what a pagoda looks like, and the artifacts and requisites it contains. This gives them a richer cultural and religious context in which they can better appreciate the fundamental teachings of Lord Buddha. We are planning to further enhance this aspect of the Dhamma Talaka Pagoda by setting aside an area specially for the display of religious paintings and other objects from various Buddhist countries.

On the full moon day of each month we hold special chanting and meditation at the Pagoda. If you would like to come to any of our full moon celebrations at the Pagoda you are most welcome, dates are given at the back of this newsletter. Chanting starts at 7.30pm, followed by a period of silent meditation and then a dhamma talk.

The full moon day celebration, on Monday 5th. October, was very significant for us. According to the Theravada tradition the Buddha took his seventh Rains Retreat in the Tavatimsa Heaven preaching the Abhidhamma to his mother (who had died seven days after his birth). The Buddha then descended to the town of Samkassa, some 400 miles from what is now New Delhi. The people of Samkassa welcomed the Buddha with the light from Thousands of candles, and this is still commemorated in Theravada countries. It is a particularly special day in Myanmar where it is called Abhidhamma Day, and monks and lay people chant the entire Abhidhamma. In our case the English weather (especially the wind) prevented us from lighting candles outside the Pagoda as we had hoped, but we still managed to decorate the interior with nearly 1000 candles. The monks did a short chant from the Abhidhamma, and then sat in a circle and each in turn recited another chant asking forgiveness for any misunderstandings or tension that may have occurred during their time together in the Rains Retreat that they had just completed.

WHAT IS ABHIDHAMMA?

Abhidhamma is the third great division of the Pitaka (Scripture). It is a huge collection of systematically arranged, tabulated and classified doctrines of the Buddha, representing the quintessence of his Teaching. Abhidhamma means Higher Teaching or Special Teaching; it is unique in its abstruseness, analytical approach, immensity of scope and conduciveness to one's liberation.

The Buddha Dhamma has only one taste, the taste of liberation. But in the Suttanta discourses, the Buddha takes into consideration the intellectual level of his audience, and their attainments in parami (perfections). He therefore teaches the dhamma in conventional terms (vohara vacana), making references to persons and objects as I, we, he, she, man, woman, cow, tree etc. But in the Abhidhamma the Buddha makes no such concessions; he treats the dhamma entirely in terms of the ultimate reality (paramattha sacca). He analyses every phenomenon into its ultimate constituents. All relative concepts such as man, mountain etc. are reduced to their ultimate elements which are then precisely defined, classified and systematically arranged

Having resolved all phenomena into ultimate components analytically (as in Dhammasangani and Vibhanga) it aims at synthesis by defining inter-relationships (paccaya) between the various constituent factors (as in Patthana). Thus Abhidhamma forms a gigantic edifice of knowledge relating to the ultimate realities which, in its immensity of scope, grandeur, subtlety, and profundity, properly belongs only to the intellectual domain of the Buddha.

The Suttanta Pitaka also contains discourses dealing with analytical discussions and conditional relationship of the five aggregates. Where the need arises subjects such as the five aggregates, ayatanas, etc. are mentioned in the sutta discourses. But they are explained only briefly by what is known as the Sutta Method of Analysis (Suttanta bhajaniya), giving bare definitions with limited descriptions. For example khandas, the five aggregates, are enumerated as the corporeal aggregate, the aggregate of perception, the aggregate of mental formations (volitional activities) and the aggregate of consciousness.... The Sutta Method of Analysis does not usually go further than this definition.

But the Abhidhamma approach is more thorough, more penetrating, breaking down each corporeal or mental component into the ultimate, the most infinitesimal part... Then each constituent part is minutely described with its properties and qualities and its place in the well arranged system of classification is defined.

A complete description of things requires also a statement of how each component part stands in relation to the other component parts. This entails therefore a synthetical approach as well, to study the inter-relationship between constituent parts and how they are related to ocher internal or external factors.

From: 'Guide to Tipitaka" compiled by U Ko Lay, Yangon 1986.

THE VIHARA

Activities at the Vihara are proceeding as usual. This year three monks took the Rains Retreat at the Vihara, while Asbin Ratthabala stayed at the Pagoda (for which he was also responsible for the day to day running). U Candavara, a lecturer from the Buddhist University of Yangon stayed the whole Rains Retreat at the Vihara and attended English classes at Brasshouse School; after Kathina he returned to his work in Myanmar. Ven. Nagasena, who comes from Bangladesh, had been staying at the Vihara since April helping with day to day running and also teaching at the Monday and Thursday evening classes, has now gone to Sri Lanka (via Thailand) to continue his studies for one more year, after which he intends to return to the Vihara. We have provided for his fees and expenses while he is in Sri Lanka.

Two nuns from the Tibetan tradition stayed with us for several days. Anil Pema Zangmo is founding a Tibetan nunnery in India. Tenzin Palmo is an English nun who has ordained in the Tibetan tradition and is the most senior Bhikkuni of Western origin. She stayed until Kathina Day after which she returned to India.

Our Kathina Day celebration this year, held on Sunday 11th. October, did not attract quite as many people as usual - due no doubt to people having already put so much effort into the Opening Ceremony. However it was a very pleasant occasion with 10 monks being present, Theravada and Mahayana. The day was sponsored by our patron Daw Olin Myint Aye and family. Over £4,000 was received in donations.

In early August Yam made his annual visit to Atlantic College where he is invited to take part in the multifaith conference for second year students. Canon Roger Hooker also attended.

Adrian and Mike have returned from their pilgrimage to Tibet. They brought back many memories of Lhasa and nearby monasteries including the great Drepung Monastery, the Potala Palace, the Jhokang Temple and then an arduous (but incredibly beautiful) overland journey to Kathmandu in Nepal. Their overriding impression was one of sadness at the destruction that had taken place during the Cultural Revolution, but of great respect for the Tibetan people who although they are materially very poor have great spiritual riches.

VEN. DR. REWATA DHAMMA

As we mentioned in the previous newsletter the usual ten day meditation retreat for lay people at the Vihara was not held this year, due to the work needed for the pagoda opening. However at the beginning of September Bhante travelled to Belgium to lead a weekend retreat. This was held at the home of Marie Cecile, who acted as Bhante's assistant and translator. At the end of September Bhante went to Switzerland to lead a one week retreat, as he does each year. The retreat took place as usual in a village called Dicken, near San Gallen, in a house owned by a Theravada Buddhist family and which is run as a centre for Buddhist studies and meditation. Bhante has been involved there for over 15 years. He was assisted during the retreat by Matthias Barth.

Bhante has been invited to attend a four day Buddhist conference at Varanasi and Bodh Gaya in India during early November. There will be many senior dignitaries at the conference. It will be inaugurated by the President of India, His Excellency Shri K. R. Narayanan. The closing ceremony will be presided over by the Prime Minister of India, Sh. Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Bhante has been asked to preside over the second day which will be on 'The Contribution of Buddhism to the World of Art and Architecture'.

After attending the Kathina Day at the London Vihara (on 1st. November) Bhante will fly to India on 2nd. November. After the conference he will give talks at several Buddhist institutions. In the third week of November he will go to Myanmar where the government has invited him to attend the opening of the new Theravada Buddhist Missionary University at the Dhammapala Hill in Yangon. Bhante will be delivering several lectures to both the academic staff and students, and will therefore remain in Myanmar until the end of December, returning to England in the New Year.


Number XXVII ¤ Summer 1998CE ¤ 2541BE ¤ Published Quarterly


PREPARATIONS FOR THE PAGODA OPENING CEREMONY

In the months leading up to the Opening Ceremony we had been announcing the dates (26th. to 28th. June) far and wide. However there were so many things that had to be done that there were those who though that meeting these dates was completely impossible. In retrospect it seems that the power of the Buddha worked several miracles. The land at the pagoda site was very uneven and pot holed, and desperately in need of some even preliminary landscaping. This work (and indeed all external work) had been seriously postponed by six weeks of more or less continuous rain. We made a start by buying 2 lorry loads of base soil for £120. However something like a miracle then happened when we explained our plight to Council workmen who happened to be landscaping ground on a nearby park. Just one week before the opening they donated completely free of charge over 40 lorries full of base soil! And not only that! They also provided JCB earth movers and labour free of charge! The work was completed on Thursday (25th June) - anyone who may have passed by on the Wednesday must surely have thought: 'It isn't going to be ready on time'.

The months leading up to the opening ceremony saw much work from many people. Our patron Dr. Aung Myin from Blackpool sent his son-in-law Jackie to help; Jackie is a skilled builder, including decorative tiling work. His Excellency U Win Aung (the Myanmar Ambassador) came with all his staff workers for three full days.

We hit a serious problem to get the diamond bud from Myanmar. Just a few weeks before the opening our devotee U Aung Ye Myint in Myanmar, arranged for it to be brought to England by Dr. Kyi Kyi Sein who happened to be visiting Myanmar at the time. However on her arrival in England there were further problems, because it is not easy to bring such a valuable item, studded with precious gems, into the country. The Myanmar Embassy in London came to our rescue by sending their officials to collect it from the airport and transport it safely to Birmingham, where is now at the apex of the spire of the pagoda.

After we put the umbrella on the spire we found that passing cars would nearly always slow down and people would stop and look, and sometimes ask to be allowed inside the pagoda. Many people have reported to us a feeling of peace that they feel when they are in the Dhamma Talaka Pagoda; and we hope that it will provide peace and happiness to many over the years to come, and will live up to its name of a 'reservoir of truth'.

OPENING CEREMONY

Everyone who attended the opening ceremony was very happy at its great success. In total this auspicious occasion was attended by about 1000 people, including about 100 monks and lay people from Myanmar, and several guests from other countries, who travelled to Birmingham specially to attend the ceremony. We were very fortunate indeed that the occasion was attended by Ven. Bhaddanta Sobhita Maha Thera who is the Myanmar Sangharaja (Supreme Head of the Myanmar Sangha), The Most Venerable Dhammananda, Mahanayaka of Malaysia and Singapore and also Bhikkhu Aniruddha, the Head of Nepalese Sangha, from Kathmandu, Nepal. Many other Buddhist traditions were represented, in all more than 100 monks and nuns attending, both Theravada and Mahayana.

Many of our visiting devotees from Myanmar said how pleased they were to see so many different Buddhist traditions (and indeed other faiths) practising together in harmony.

Much practical work had to be done to make sure everything went so smoothly (or at least reasonably smoothly - see our 'Apologies' section below!), We arranged for accommodation in the Selly Oak Colleges and Birmingham University, and also bed and breakfast in local hotels. We also arranged for transport and other hospitality such as catering at the Pagoda site. Altogether we spent about £30,000 for the Opening Ceremony including accommodating and providing hospitality for our guests coming from abroad, and we are very grateful for the generous donations made during these days of the opening ceremony which have more or less paid for this part of our expenses.

Multi Faith Dialogue (Friday 26th. June)

The first day of the opening ceremony was taken up with a multi faith dialogue on the subject of how each faith approached 'Devotion' within its own tradition. The Pagoda was full with representatives of the different faiths and also people just sitting and listening. The meeting was co-ordinated by Ramona Kauth (Buddhist) and Rt. Rev. Roger Hooker (Christian), and was presided over by Ven. Ashin Nyanissara (Sitagu Sayadaw of Myanmar). Short presentations were given by: Ven. Dr. U Zagara from Australia, Ven. Hoge-tzu (Zen Buddhist) Throssel Hole Zen Priory, Northumberland, Rabbi Margaret Jacobi (Jewish) Birmingham.

The day ended with meditation and Dhamma teachings in the Pagoda.

Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Coun Susan Anderson arrives

Religious Ceremony (Saturday morning 27th. June)

Just before the start of the religious ceremony the Lord Mayor of Birmingham Susan Anderson arrived and was introduced by Ann Lovelock (Treasurer of the Vihara) to Ven. Dr. Rewata Dhamma and to trustees. The very first part of the ceremony was to cut the ribbon at the entrance to the pagoda. The Lord Mayor offered scissors to the Sangha, headed by the Myanmar Sangharaja Ven. Sobhita. The doors were then opened and the Sangha entered the building, led by the Myanmar Sangha and then the Sri Lankan Sangha, followed by the Lord Mayor and other laity. Each of the traditions then chanted in turn, beginning with Tibetan prayers and chants by sangha members from Karma Ling in Birmingham and Samye Ling in Scotland. Then Japanese chanting. Then a procession in front of the Buddha statue and chanting in the Zen tradition led by Master Daishin Morgan from Throssel Hole Priory in Northumberland. Then chanting in the Thai tradition led by Ven. Sumedho from Amaravati and Maha Samboon Siddhiyano from Wolverhampton. Finally chanting by members of the Western Buddhist Order. (As a footnote we would like to add that many Myanmar people expressed their interest in and appreciation of the western style chanting by the Throssel Hole and WBO sanghas, this being the first time that many of them had witnessed the translation of traditional Buddhist chants into a western style).

The morning concluded with an offering of a meal to the monks and then to the laity by the Ambedkrite Indian Buddhist community. We are very grateful to them for provide the catering.

Buddha's relics and statue are carried to the Tower Ballroom in the procession

Civic Ceremony (Saturday afternoon 27th. June)

At 12.30p.m. we began the procession from the Pagoda to the conference hall in the Tower Ballroom located nearby alongside the Edgbaston Reservoir. The procession was led by the Myanmar Ambassador His Excellency U Win Aung, and Vihara Trustee U S.T. Aung who carried the Buddha relics, and by U Kyaw Thein who carried a small Buddha statue. Following these were members of the Sangha, then the Lord Mayor and the other lay people. Some way in front of the main procession itself was a group of Sri Lankan drummers in traditional costume.

We arrived in the conference hall at about 1.00p.m. and after the relics and Buddha statue were put in place five senior monks took their position on the stage. The proceedings started with a religious song by Myanmar superstar Mar Mar Aye accompanied by harpist U Naywar. Yann Lovelock and U Nay Win acted as Masters of Ceremony and (after the Five Precepts had been given by Dr. Rewata Dhamma) they introduced a series of talks from: the Lord Mayor of Birmingham; Daw Ohn Myint Aye (Founder patron of the Birmingham Buddhist Vihara); Ven. Dr. Rewata Dhamma; His Excellency U Win Aung (Myanmar Ambassador) and other diplomats; Rt. Hon. Claire Short MP (Secretary of International Development); Most Ven. Dhammananda (Sangha Nayaka of Malaysia and Singapore); Rev. Master Daishin Morgan (Abbot of Throssel Hole Zen Priory); Message from Situ Rinpoche (Regent Karma Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism) presented by John F.M. Maxwell; Ajahn Sumedho (Head of the Western Forest Tradition); Deva Mitra, a member of the Western Buddhist Order; Right Reverend John Austin, the Bishop of Aston; Canon Roger Hooker (Special Advisor to the Bishop of Birmingham); Chanan Ram Chahal, an Ambedkarite Indian Buddhist; Rev. Richard Tetlow (Vicar of Ladywood); Ven. Bhaddanta Sobhita (Myanmar Sangharaja, Supreme Head of the Myanmar Sangha). Finally there was a summing up and vote of thanks by Ven. Dr. Rewata Dhamma and the civic ceremony ended with another devotional song by Mar Mar Aye and U Naywar. The civic opening ended at about 4p.m.

Many of our devotees from abroad and also locally, and also many of other faiths, said how impressed they were to have so many different faith traditions speaking from the same platform. Many people said how impressed they were that so many Myanmar people attended wearing traditional costume.

The day ended with meditation and Dhamma teachings in the Pagoda.

Myanmar Traditional Ceremonies and Seminar on Myanmar Culture

(Sunday 28th. June)

The traditional religious ceremonies on the Sunday morning were given almost entirely in the Myanmar language. Even so several westerners sat through the whole proceedings even though they could not understand much of what was being said; one devotee said that she felt a great sense of peace and ease just being in the Pagoda.

The order of ceremonies was: Five Precepts given by Sayadaw U Kundala (Maha Gandhayon Sayadaw). Chanting of the Parittas by the Sangha. Dhamma talk by Sayadaw U Kumara. Offering of requisites to the Sangha and Transfer of Merit. This was followed at 11a.m. by an offering of alms food to the monks and a meal for the laity.

From 2p.m. to 5p.m. a Seminar was held in the Pagoda on 'Myanmar Culture, Buddhism in Myanmar and Myanmar's contribution to the development of Buddhism'. This was chaired by U Khin (Founder Patron of the Birmingham Buddhist Vihara Trust). Several presentations were given by invited speakers. Anna Abbott (School of African and Oriental Studies London): The contemporary Myanmar novel. U Thaung (Myanmar writer): The nature of Myanmar songs. John Okell (Senior Lecturer In the Myanmar Language, School of African and Oriental Studies London): The Myanmar Epic. Ven. Dr. U Zagara, Australia: Myanmar Buddhist Literature Ven. U Dhammasami: A Brief History of Buddhism in Myanmar.

The day ended with meditation and Dhamma teachings in the Pagoda.

Thanks (and Apologies!)

Although we formed a management committee several months before the opening, some members of this committee had to withdraw due to other commitments.

We are aware that some people did experience some inconvenience in attending the ceremonies, and for this we apologise. A unique event like this stretched our organisational (and financial) resources to the limit. We sincerely thank to those who worked hard for the Opening Ceremony and also wish to thank those who came from Sweden, Belgium, Canada and the USA to assist us in our preparations. Our local devotees also worked very hard. We would also like to express our gratitude to the members of both Myanmar Viharas in London and members of the Myanmar Embassy for looking after so many monks, for receiving guests at the airport and arranging for their accommodation in the London area. Also we pass on thanks from our guests from abroad. At the end of the Opening Ceremony many overseas guests went to visit Lake District and Scotland by coach. They were very happy during their stay in the UK.

The International Sangha headed by the Most Venerable Sobhita, The Supreme Head of the Myanma Sangha opens the Dhamma-Talaka Pagoda

The Pagoda and the future

So the Dhamma Talaka Pagoda is now officially opened. We hope to develop a full programme of ceremonies and events as time goes on. There will be chanting at 7.30p.m. on every full moon day, as determined by the Myanmar calendar - please see the back page of this newsletter for details. Also groups from schools and colleges which have previously come to the Vihara will now switch to the pagoda.

We intend that the pagoda will be open every day from 7a.m. to 9p.m., but we have not announced this formally yet. However we are finding that there is a steady number of visitors already, who have heard of the pagoda from TV reports or from the press, or by word of mouth.

Our main aim is that the pagoda is open to all regardless of race and religion.

Ven. Dr. Rewata Dhamma

Bhante has been working very hard indeed in the months leading up to the opening ceremony, co-ordinating and encouraging the final preparations. People have said that he will be tired. However, almost immediately after the ceremony was over, he took some of our visitors from the USA on a guided tour of London, and also a day trip to Paris! He also took them to Stratford, the Black Country Museum, and Stonehenge.

When they had left for the USA Bhante then took some visitors from Myanmar to Oxford, Blenheim Palace and Stratford.

Bhante will remain at the Vihara until the end of the rains retreat, except for leading a retreat in Belgium on the second weekend in August and in Switzerland on the last weekend of September. Please note that due to this having been a very busy year for the pagoda there will be no organised long retreat for lay people at the Vihara this year.

General News

In addition to Bhante we now have three monks in residence. U Sandavara is a senior lecturer at the Buddhist University of Myanmar; he is staying for the whole of the rains retreat - and hopes that his English will improve. Ven. Ratthapala is taking retreat at the pagoda, and is responsible for looking after the pagoda site including welcoming visitors - we intend that a monk will always be present at the pagoda. Ven. Nagasena is living at the Vihara looking after day to day work.

Weekend Retreat with Ven. Bodhidhamma

Ven. Bodhidhamma (a western monk) will lead a weekend Vipassana retreat at the Vihara from Friday 13th. to Sunday 15th November 1998. All are welcome.


APPRECIATIONS OF THE DHAMMA TALAKA PEACE PAGODA

The opening ceremony of the Dhamma Talaka Peace Pagoda inspired many of those who attended, in different ways and depending on their faith and cultural background, We give below two reactions, one from an English Christian and one from a Myanmar Buddhist.

Pagoda brings a special dimension:

(From Very Revd. Canon Peter Berry, Provost, Birmingham Cothedral writing in the Birmingham Evening Mail, Saturday 4th. July.)

'I attended the official opening of Birmingham's new Buddhist Temple with its golden Pagoda last Saturday and I was most impressed by the addresses and spirit of so many people gathered in Birmingham.

I was particularly touched by the references being made by the Buddhist community in Birmingham who said that, now they have a special temple and a number of other learned and spiritual leaders with them in Birmingham in the city, Birmingham was in their eyes now 'a holy city'.

How wonderful it was to hear our city given such an accolade. The Buddhist community have a deep tradition of concern for peace and compassion in all their relationships and they bring a real and special dimension to the life of the city'.

Dhamma-Talaka Peace Pagoda


THE AUSPICIOUS DAY

Dawned the auspicious day ........

The Opening Day

of the Dhamma Talaka Peace Pagoda

What a day! celebrated in a magnificent way!

listen! ...... Hear the bells ......The bells of

the Dhamma Talaka Peace Pagoda

Unceasingly ringing ...... Loud and Clear.

LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP ... AMONGST ALL

PEACE AND HARMONY SHALL PREVAIL ......!

Ringing ... Its peal reaching far and wide

All over the world .... on every side


Rejoice! Be Merry! Join in ...... one and all

United we stand, as brethren.

Make this world a happy place for all!


With Understanding, Tolerance, A Helping Hand,

Should start off good and well.

Together with sympathy and Loving Kindness

to beings, great and small,

Would crown the happiness of all.


Oh!...hear the bells ...... hear the bells of

the Dhamma Talaka Peace Pagoda.

LOVE AND PEACE FOR ONE AND ALL

MAY THE LAUGHTERS OF JOY AND PEACE

ECHO AND SPREAD THROUGHOUT THE WORLD!

(From Daw Khin Myint Myint Swe, a Myanmar Buddhist from Wolverhampton)


Kathina Day

This years Kathina Day celebration will be held in the Dhamma Talaka Pagoda on Sunday 11th October.


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