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Launch of the New Mitrata

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by Sangharakshita

Tape 158

Sangharakshita: The Launching of the New Mitrata Abhaya and friends First of all I want to say simply that I am very glad to be here this evening in the midst of you all. And as Abhaya has just so delicately hinted I don*t come here to the Norwich Meditation Centre all that often. In fact I*m very rarely seen indeed and considering the fact that I live only six miles from this place that might seem to be a rather remarkable fact. And perhaps we have to produce some sort of Buddhistic version of the old proverb: `the nearer the Church the further from God* or in this case of course we should say: `the further from no-God.* But my says, as Abhaya has in fact so kindly suggested, making my excuses for me as though I can*t make them for myself, I have been very busy. Busy of course with FWBO affairs. And especially in the course of this last year I must say I*ve been very busy indeed and it really is no exaggeration that I could do with, I didn*t actually say six more secretaries, I said six secretaries for the sake of the record, that is to say four more in addition to those I have already, one of whom is winging his way back from the south of France at the moment where he went strictly on business, and the other I believe is in Brighton. Neither are at Padmaloka at the moment, but that*s by the way hmm. It did occur to me when I was thinking what I was going to say to you this evening, it did occur to me that a year ago I was in India. And when I was in India I kept just for those three months a diary. It was just a very brief note, a very brief record indeed, a very sketchy record, of where I went, what I did, what lectures I gave, who I met, what time I went to bed and so on. So it did just occur to me when I was preparing this talk this morning that it might be interesting to just look at that diary and see what I was doing this time last year. On this very day, 22nd of February. So looking in my diary of those three months in India I discovered that on this day a year ago I arrived in Alchemere(?). I arrived in Alchemere on my way from Bombay via Alchemebad(?) where I spend a week giving lectures on my way to Deli(?). Alchemere by the way is in the state of AubadPutana(?). So I arrived in Alchemere on the morning of this very day a year ago and I arrived in the company of Lokamitra, Kovala(?), Nagabodhi and Dharmarakshita. Most of whom I*d know to quite a few ..?.., though I don*t think everybody knows all of these Order Members. We arrived after a night-journey, we spend the whole night on the train, I believe we did get some sleep and early in the morning we arrived in this very pitoresce city I think I can call it of Alchemere, which ..?..got all sorts of historical remains and monuments, temples, palaces, towers, minarets, the whole lot. And I remember that in the course of the day we did quite a bit of sight-seeing, that first of our two days in Alchemere. We went I remember to a place called Pushcar(?) which is a Hindu holy place, a place of pilgrimage for Hindu*s. It*s a sort of, well one could say holy city or at least holy bazaar. It consists of a vast lake and all around that lake there are temples and there are ghats, that is to say flight of steps and they are going down into the water. And there were very very pictoresc Sadhus and you know holy men just like you see in the illustrated books on India. They are sitting there with their matted hair and smeared with ashes and all sorts of priests doing all sorts of things for all sorts of people. And I remember one of the friends who was with us, an Indian Buddhist friend into quite an argument with one of these priests because he happened to go down one of these ghats with his shoes on which one(?) was not supposed to do in holy places. This particular place by the way, Pushcar, is associated with the god Brahma who, as some of you know, appears in the Pali scriptures even in a rather humble and subordinate . .2.. but anyway he has some places of pilgrimage dedicated to him, some holy places in India though not very many and this is one of them. And I also remember in Alchemere on that day which happened actually to be D..?..y, the night of Sheba, I gave talk at the local Buddhist centre, just as I*m doing this evening. I could not help recording these few memories. And I remember that I spoke on that occasion to about 60 or 70 people most of whom were not Buddhist,in fact but(?), but (?) Hindus. And in the course of my talk I told them about the FWBO and about various other things. Now, after my return to England just over a year ago I spend some time at Padmaloka, spend a few months at Padmaloka but from time to time I paid quite a number of visits to London, where I took study-groups and so on. And then of course in the autumn, last autumn, the beginning of September I went off to Tuscany to Ii Convento, for the three months pre-Ordination-course from which I returned early in the month of December. And since then I*ve been at Padmaloka, only six miles away even though you haven*t seen here very much of me. And some of you might have been wondering well, you know what has Bhante been doing. How does he pass his time have visions no doubt of all these secretaries madly scribbling away and banging on there typewriters and answering telephones and arranging interviews But what does Bhante actually do? It is something perhaps of a mystery. Now, I must confess that nowadays I*m occupied mainly with literary work, that is to say I*m trying to get on with literary work in between the telephone calls, and the interviews, and the study-groups and the weekends and so on. And only a few days ago I was sort of trying to take stock of what I*ve done in the way of literary work in the course of the last two and a half months. So it might be of interest to some of you to know. First of all I finished editing the transcript of a seminar I took some years ago on a little book entitled `The Threefold Refuge.* And in the course of that seminar, which I think lasted a week, we went into I think almost every aspect of the Threefold Refuge. That is to say, Refuge in the Buddha, Refuge in the Dharma and Refuge in the Sangha. So that*s now entirely written out. I think there is about 350 pages awaiting a typist. I*m sure we can find one. So after doing that I wrote a preface to Subhuti*s book. I*m sure you all know, which you should know by this time about Subhuti*s book. Subhuti*s book on the FWBO entitled `Buddhism for today* which is coming out I belief next month, perhaps there will be another celebration in connection with that. In addition, in the course of the last 2½ months I*ve edited - that is to say completely rewritten - three of the lectures that I gave when I was in India a year ago. I*d written them up, I*ve edited them for translation into Maharathy(?) and publication into our Maharathy quarterly which is called Buddhayana. I don*t know if any of you know about, well if many of you know about this Maharathy quarterly. Perhaps I should say a few words about it. It is in its fourth year of publication. It comes up as I said quarterly and it contains articles on Buddhism, lectures, mostly I*m afraid by me. Perhaps I shouldn*t say afraid because there seems to be a demand for these things so one supplies the demand. I*ve just send off three, these three lectures " all of which will appear in one issue. At present between 4 and 5 thousand copies of each issue are printed and it goes all over Maharastra. And in India one must remember that people being poor, a magazine or a newspaper is not just read by one person. In England people are a bit individualistic, everybody likes his own copy of the Times, everybody likes his own copy of the news-letter or his own copy of Mitrata. People like to buy their own copy, they don*t share. But in India people can*t afford to do that. So you can find quite easely a dozen or 20 people reading one copy of a newspaper, not all at ones of course. Although sometimes you do see 4 or 5 people reading a single copy of a newspaper at the same time, different sheets. So in this way we can be quite sure that 15 to 20 people read every copy of Buddhayana in India, or rather in Maharastra, the state of Maharastra where it circulates. So that adds up to quite a number of people who have been influenced by the FWBO, by the ideas of the FWBO, through this Maharathy publication of ours, Buddhayana.

So, in addition to preparing that material I*ve also edited during the last 2½ months the material for the next issue of Mitrata. That is to say Mitrata 41, the material for Mitrata 40, the one that is bein 1 this evening, was prepared in Tuscany J~o, having given you that little resume, this brings us right down to the present, right down to this very evening. And we are gathered as you all know very well to launch this new/old Mitrata. I call it new because it*s in a new format and to some extend with a new content and old because it is after all Mitrata, which has now been going for so many issues. And as I said at the beginning I am very glad to be here on this occasion this evening. But perhaps I*d better say where here is. This might sound rather strange but the proceedings are being tape-recorded. The talk is being tape- recorded and the practise now is that as soon I give a talk and it is tape-recorded, copies sometimes the next day go to the four corners of the earth practically. Or at least they go to Pune, and they go to Sydney, and they go to Boston, and they go to Auckland and a few other places. So for the benefit of the people who might be listening to the tape in a weeks or so time I*d better make it clear exactly were I am. I*d better actually spell it out and say that I*m at the Norwich Meditation Centre in Norfolk. England. And I*m upstairs or we are all upstairs in the Shrineroom having just had a really excellent buffet-supper downstairs. Perhaps I could even you ...

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