Vidyaruchi, Sangharakshita’s secretary, writes with his usual update on some of Sangharakshita’s activities over the past month, saying - “As befits the time of the year it has been a quiet month for Bhante, with what may be the last Christmas he spends at Madhyamaloka marked, as usual, only by a meal with the community and a few guests followed by a chat round the log fire. This year there has been no snowy weather to preclude his walks in the garden, nor to check the flow of guests from here and there, which has included a group of women from Paris, on their way back from a retreat at Taraloka.
Bhante is in the thick of the seventh instalment of his ‘Reveries and Reminiscences’, which is turning into the longest of the series so far, and which should be ready for publication in next month’s Shabda (the Triratna Buddhist Order’s monthly newsletter). It is on the subject of his five literary heroes. The identities of the five I will leave for readers to find out for themselves, and to speculate about in the meantime if they are so inclined. Meanwhile, Bhante is enjoying revisiting the lives of these great men, and his memories of their impact upon him.
Literary discoveries of less long standing have been brought to Bhante from the audio book service, including Beyond a Boundary by CLR James, a history of cricket in the West Indies and much else; Ugly and Beyond Ugly by Constance Briscoe, a very moving autobiography by a black woman who, despite an awful childhood at the hands of a sadistic mother, managed to become a barrister and a judge; and Man of Wars by Alan Hankinson, a biography of William Russell, the famous Times war correspondent. Bhante found all these works fascinating, in their various ways.
As was foretold in the last diary, on 3rd January Bhante underwent a cataract operation on his left eye. All went smoothly, and, though there has been no dramatic change in Bhante’s vision, a slight improvement is discernible - in particular a greater vividness in his perception of blue and white.