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Sthanashraddha is Sangharakshita’s secretary. He writes:
“There is not much to report from the early part of December apart from Bhante having a rather quiet time having recovered from a long spell of poor sleep over the summer and autumn. During that time he saw Subhuti, Lokamitra and Devamitra, having seen almost no one in the previous month or two.
Then Bhante caught a cold. He quickly deteriorated and was admitted on the evening of Tuesday 20th December to Hereford County Hospital suffering from pneumonia. Whilst in hospital the Uddiyana team arranged 24-hour attendance between Sanghadasa, and Paramartha and Suvajra who took it in turns to stay overnight with Bhante. He was in hospital for 10 days and left in the afternoon of Friday, 30th December.
As soon as he was out of hospital, that evening, he dictated his personal statement to Paramartha before going to bed, which has been circulated to the Order and others. There have been many emails, cards and letters posted in reply [including 125 from Order members], the vast majority expressing appreciation and gratitude, which I must say even as secretary have been deeply moving to read to Bhante.
It has taken several weeks for his health to improve and only now does he feel fully recovered. Bhante hopes to write something about his hospital experience but in the meantime said it would surface to say that the experience was very different from his life at Adhisthana and he was glad to return home.
However, this recent illness does seem to have marked a change in Bhante’s life. Things are and will be quite different now and Bhante will be receiving quite a bit more help and care from the health care services. He has already received a new hospital-style bed that can be raised or lowered at the touch of a button, and a visit from a physiotherapist who has given him a set of exercises to help him keep mobile. (These are done every day with the help of Sanghadasa.) Soon there will also be a visit from an occupational therapist and a Community Matron. Bhante also had another visit to the eye clinic on Thursday 19th January at Kidderminster Hospital for his 13th Lucentis eye injection.
Apart from the world of health of course other things continue, such as study with Paramartha. At the time of going into hospital they had gone through the first chapter of The Lotus Sutra: A Biography, by Donald Lopez on the White Lotus Sutra; and after his return from hospital they picked up where they left off and have now finished it. Listening to Audio Books also has resumed - at present it’s Evelina by Fanny Burney, the daughter of Charles Burney, a friend of Doctor Johnson.
With returning strength and energy Bhante has also been able to begin seeing people for short meetings again and has during the later half of January seen the following people: Jnanavaca, Saddhanandi, Nityabandhu, Rijupatha, Parami, Kalyanaprabha, and Sue Shepard. And as the days begin to lengthen and slowly but surely the spring bulbs make their way up through the earth, I know Bhante is looking forward to once again walking out in the garden by the pond and feeling the sun shining on his face.