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Sthanashraddha is Sangharakshita’s new secretary. He writes:
“A few days into September and it’s clear that we have passed the midpoint of the year. Though the days are often gloriously sunny here at Adhisthana, the mornings and evenings are colder now with the one or two overcast days being noticeably chilly, and the wasps have become sluggish and irritable in their hunt for food.
Since the end of July Bhante has been continuing to enjoy regular nights of sleep and rest, with nights of poor sleep becoming more the minority. This has meant that Bhante has not only been able to keep up a fairly healthy amount of correspondence via email and one or two letters, but also listened to all the Shabda letter reports from August.
Of course August has also seen Bhante meeting people, mainly for 10 or 15 minutes after his lunch. A wide mixture of Order members, mitras, friends, and community members and even our first pilgrim to arrive on foot, having completed some 17 walks, starting back in February at the Tooting Public Library.
And of course along with the emails and letters quite early on in the month Bhante began to receive birthday cards! Which steadily increased in volume and often length as we approached 26th August. They do now seem to have almost ceased arriving, but you never know - there may be one or two making their way in late! At present they number 132, all of which Bhante has listened to carefully - and one or two quite literally, due to their audio nature!
Messages of wellwishing and happy returns have also come attached to donations made towards Bhante’s birthday appeal; these numbered 658 in total and we compiled them into smaller groupings: simple messages wishing Bhante a happy birthday or with thanks or in gratitude, of which there were some 323; messages either in thanks for the Dharma or a wish for it to continue down the ages (also several messages wishing for the success of the Complete Works project) which numbered 145; then there were 83 messages that came from either groups such as centres, teams, chapters, Going for Refuge groups etc and/or individuals outside the UK; there were 50 messages in reference to Bhante having a life-changing impact on the authors; 48 noteworthy messages mentioning some Dharma reference or memory in connection with Bhante, or some humorous event; and finally 9 messages that were devotional prayers in nature.
Of course Adhisthana also hosted its first in-house mixed area Order weekend for some 400 of us, entitled ‘Conscious surrender to the Beautiful’, in celebration of Bhante’s birthday the following week, during which Kalyanaprabha launched Bhante’s new book, A Moseley Miscellany. Bhante was very pleased to be able to attend this launch, arriving in parallel with a short but powerful rolling summer thunderstorm, complete with rumbling skies, monsoonlike rain and rainbows overhead.
Before settling down to the launch however there was time for Bhante to be garlanded by one of our newest Dharmacharinis attending the weekend, to be presented with a birthday cake while we all sang him a happy birthday, and for Amalavajra to present him with a card informing Bhante that not only had the Order and Movement raised the sum needed for his birthday wish of publishing the Complete Works but that we had exceeded that by at least GBP 20,000.
Following the end of the Order weekend, things have been very quiet at Adhisthana, though Bhante has made three more little excursions from the Urgyen Annexe: once on his birthday to see the Nine Decades exhibition for himself, having Saddhanandi and Danasamudra to show him around.
And just the other day Suvajra drove myself and Bhante down past the women’s community into the lower field and down to the far end of the swales (wetlands area), then back up and into the farmyard and through our big barn with the car, Bhante remarking that this was the first time he had been able to visit the wetlands but also to have completed a circuit of the property since he arrived. And then also during the weekend retreat of Order members ordained by Bhante, he walked over after lunch for a group photo with them all.
Unfortunately the celebratory mood has not been complete, as Bhante’s close friend Paramartha was unable to attend either the Order weekend or Bhante’s actual birthday, as, his mother being seriously ill, he had to leave for New Zealand just a few days before. This has understandably cast something of a shadow over an otherwise sunny event.
Bhante has also been spending some of his afternoons and evenings ’writing’ with the help of Suvajra, and has recently completed his most up-to date piece of writing, not to mention the longest, when its some 4,000+ words are compared to often brief emails and letters. The title is ‘A Reverie-cum-Reminiscence in the Form of a Letter to Paramartha’.
So this concludes Bhante’s diary for this period, and also my first month or so of time as Bhante’s secretary. I hope to be able to write for you many more.”