Community Highlights

Gyproc & Flares: Sukhavati in the 1970s

On Sat, 8 April, 2017 - 23:46
Centre Team's picture
Centre Team

Siddhiratna sent this amazing short archive film of the very early days of the FWBO (former name for Triratna) in London in the 1970s as the new community there were preparing to build what would become the London Buddhist Centre in an old fire station…

“The videos were shot on Standard 8 film in what I think would be the mid ’70s, maybe ‘76, ‘77. The corrugated iron still up on the windows and Subhuti, Ratnaguna, Dharmapriya (?) and others are shopping in Brick Lane on a Sunday for wiring, toilets, tools- stuff to get the community up and running so they can start work on the Centre, at some point. Lots of gear from backs of lorries, and Subhuti on the phone arranging electricity, gas, water connections, and deliveries of sheet upon sheet upon sheet of Gyproc (dry wall)…

Fast stop motion car ride from East to North London to Pundarika as we still maintained that Centre [the first dedicated one] for classes. Frenetic times.

Cut to Sponsored Walk across Hampstead Heath/Run with Subhuti and Surata to raise money. Balmore Street at the start of this sequence was nearly all FWBO “squats” - where would we have been without squats? Much further back!

Ends with work on Sukhavati itself. A lot more years to go before completion, with lots of ups and downs. Next big step were the Right Livelihood Co-ops….. But that’s another story!”

Log in or register to take part in this conversation


Singhashri's picture

Gorgeous, thanks for sharing. Loved the music. Now I know who all the hipsters in Bethnal Green stole their look from!

arcismati's picture

wow, what a blast! Thanks Siddhiratna. What a smile Padmaraja had! Never one to miss a camera opportunity!

jayarava's picture

Nicely done. What about some captions identifying people? I think I saw Vessantara, but I didn’t recognise anyone else. In a few decades no one will recognise anyone. 

Candradasa's picture

So far, identified are Alaya, Ananda, Ashvajit ,Danavira, Devaraja (?), Jinamata, Kamalashila, Nagabodhi, (ex-) Padmaraja, Ratnapani, Sagaramati, Sangharakshita, Subhuti, Surata, Vessantara. Any others?

sanghadevi's picture

Anoma, ex- Rintrah, Annutara [ fur coat and wheeling pushchair with Jinamatas’ daughter sitting in it] , Siddhiratna, 

sanghadevi's picture

and [ex-]Jitari and Vimalamitra

jayarava's picture

This doesn’t help me (or prosterity) at all. 

kamalashila's picture

Here’s a way to identify people. I’ll start with a couple screen shots. 

Starting in my first screen shot you have Cintamani picking up a sheet of Gyproc, Danavira grinning at camera and Alaya with his back to us. 

In the second, it’s me holding a sheet.  

Soon after that (I won’t bother with more screenshots) you get a genial wave from Padmaraja, then Alaya turns to his left to Siddhiratna at the back of the truck.  Then a somewhat Bhantoid Ashvajit mindfully takes a sheet with Padmaraja who enroute gives us a devastatingly winning smile.  Then you get Ananda bursting in very joyfully - then a shot with me burning off some dry rot infested timber.  
Then a scene with Subhuti on the phone and then with the punk music he and Lokamitra trace the route from Bethnal Green to Pundarika in Archway.  

File NameSize
Cintamani Danavira Alaya4.2 MB
Kamalashila4.71 MB
Centre Team's picture

When we know who everyone is (which this thread helps us with, we can think about re-editing Siddhiratna’s video to add captions…

kamalashila's picture

(1) Vimala, Aryacitta, Ratnajyoti, Jinamata

(2) Anoma, Rintrah, Dipankara, West London Jim, Atula

ratnaguna's picture

Yes, I’m in there too. In the first shot in the market - skinny guy wearing the sky blue jumper, just before the goat.. And later, on the walk on Hampstead Heath.

Vessantara's picture

The person you’re calling ex-Rintrah was originally called Roger Cawkwell. He was then ordained by Bhante as Mahadeva. It was only after his subsequent resignation that he began calling himself Rintrah.

Rintrah, of course is a name taken from Blake. There was also another guy around the same time who adopted the Blakean name Luvah. But although he may have toyed with the idea, Bhante never gave anyone a Blakean Order name.

with love, Vessantara.

sanghadevi's picture

thanks so much Siddhiratna. I think it may have been before 76; maybe early 75 or even bits from 74. love sanghadevi

Vidyasri's picture

Hey that was absolutely lovely to watch! Brings back so many memories… thankyou so much Siddhiratna! Love the music choice too… xxxx

Kalyanasri's picture

Thanks Siddhiratna. Great to get a glimpse of that era again and I loved your choice of music. The car journey was a bit hairy! Kalyanasri 

Vassika's picture

Fabulous! Thank you very much for this.

And the music is very well chosen, though it was Beethoven and not Tchaikovsky who wrote the choral symphony.

khemajoti's picture

Fascinating! What a different world it was! Good to have film footage of the times - really brings it alive.

moksananda's picture

Wonderful. Thanks so much for that.

Vessantara's picture

Wow, Siddhiratna, this is far out! I didn’t remember you taking this footage. I’m so pleased you did.

I just gave a talk about the past for our Triratna East Anglia 50th anniversary celebrations in which I showed a whole bunch of imaginary slides to illustrate bits of our history. I described one from 1973, with me with an Afro and flares. The next thing I know there I am - hair, flares and all - in your film. And along with a whole crew of early OMs…

I’m relieved to see that the main archive material of me from the ’70s will document me being helpful: offering round biscuits and taking a turn with the pushchair, rather than some of the other things I could have been filmed doing…

All good wishes, Vessantara.


Munisha's picture

I loved this, not least for its representation of Hampstead Heath in the 1970s. And the great music. Thanks so much. Love, Munisha

samudradaka's picture

Lovely video Siddhiratna, very evocative. Reminded me of some of my Dad’s home movies of our family at Barsham Fayre in the 70’s!

ratnachuda's picture

Thank you Siddharatna

Wish I could have been there instead of trying to change the world…Dundee with Ian Linn now Vaddhka through the International Socialists (now Socialist Worker) and the Trade Union movement. At least I found the FWBO in Birmingham twelve years later and have had chance to meet and know nearly everybody on the film

With much gratitude