Returning from the WildernessOn Wed, 9 August, 2023 - 09:45
In this episode of the Buddhist Voices podcast, we delve into the life of Dharmachari Jyotipala. Ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order in the late 1970s, Jyotipala’s spiritual journey has taken in many different contexts within the Order, including a spell living in India wearing formal Buddhist robes. However, his spiritual life started much earlier than that. Raised a catholic he became inspired by Thomas Merton and joined a then new monastery in Utah, ‘Our Lady of the Holy Trinity’, with the intention of becoming a Trappist monk.
In this insightful interview conducted by Satyalila in 2018, Jyotipala’s remarkable level of honesty and humility shines through. His path in the Order has taken a number of unforeseen twists, and he candidly discusses his own challenges and shortcomings with a charm that’s deeply endearing. His conversation exudes an unmistakable sense of contentment, coupled with a strongly resonant faith. Indeed, he describes himself simply with the Indian term ‘japawolla’, someone who finds solace in the chanting of mantras.
In 2002, after distancing himself from the Order, Jyotipala’s life took another turn as he made plans to relocate to New Zealand with his then second wife. Amid these shifts he resigned from the Order, leading him into what he refers to as a phase ‘in the wilderness’. He sought refuge at Throssel Hole, a Buddhist Abbey and retreat center nestled in Northumberland, England, a place that felt like home and offered what he describes as a simpler practice of ‘just sitting’.
For eight years, he found peace in this phase of his life, until receiving an unexpected phone call and card from an old friend, Padmavajra… Join us as we explore Jyotipala’s heartfelt story of challenge and faith, and witness something of the serenity he carries within him.
Extracts from this interview were used in the Fifty Years, Fifty Voices project.