Interview with Vajragupta on Wild Awake: Alone, Offline and Aware in NatureOn Thu, 19 October, 2017 - 09:23
Vajragupta is ordained within the Triratna Buddhist movement, and the author of a couple of our bestsellers. Sailing the Worldly Winds and Buddhism: Tools for Living Your Life provide clear introductions and guidance to incorporating meditation and Buddhist practices into daily life. Vajragupta also wrote The Triratna Story, which provides perspectives on the Triratna Buddhist movement from its beginnings in the 1970s to the modern day.
Vajragupta is currently working on two books – Wild Awake, which we will publish next year (2018), and Free Time! to be published early in 2019. He has been kind enough to share his personal stories and thoughts. Below are a few highlights from the interview. The full, 30-minute interview in audio format is available as a podcast on Soundcloud.
Vajragupta, can you tell us a little bit about Wild Awake, and what motivated you to write it?
Wild Awake is the story of my solitary retreats over the last twenty-five years or so. So, solitary retreats are going away by oneself and spending time alone, usually somewhere quiet and beautiful, in nature. Some of my happiest, most significant, most beautiful experiences have been on solitary retreats. When I’m on solitary I do feel strongly about the places I’m staying in. I wanted to write about that, partly as a way of exploring – why does nature affect us so strongly?
Wild Awake includes an A-Z about how to go about a solitary retreat in nature. Who is the audience – newcomers to solitaries, or seasoned practitioners?
I hope to encourage people who haven’t done solitaries to think about giving it a go. Many people, once they’ve had that taste of solitude, discover something really precious. Hopefully the story of how I developed my solitaries over twenty-five years will also be interesting to people who’ve done solitaries. I’m also hoping the way I write about nature, the descriptive writing, will appeal to people who love nature.
A question about you as an author – how did you first get into writing?
I was working at the Birmingham Buddhist Centre, and probably teaching 4-5 nights a week. I was meeting a lot of people from different walks of life who were new to meditation and Buddhism. I got a feel for the kind of issues that were there for people who were encountering Buddhism. Often people would say, ‘Can you recommend a book about how to put these wonderful ideals into practice in my busy life?’ At the time, there weren’t that many books about how to put them into practice. There are more of those types of books now. So I thought, ‘Maybe I need to write that book.’
If you had to choose something, what would be the most fulfilling feedback you’ve had about one of your books?
The book I think I’ve had the most feedback about is Sailing the Worldly Winds. I think most people read that when their life is in a bit of a storm, and they are looking to the Dharma for help. I’ve often had people write to me saying, ‘Thank you for that book, it was really helpful for me,’ when something major, difficult, happened in their lives.
Please tell us a little bit about the other book you’re currently working on, Free Time!
The subtitle is going to be something like A Buddhist Exploration of Our Relationship with Time. I’m currently writing it. There are the famous words of the Dhammapada, saying our experience is shaped by our mind. So I’ve been thinking about that in terms of time. I think our experience of time is conditioned by our state of mind. I’m interested in this idea that time is a state of mind.
Thank you, Vajragupta, for your time.
Wild Awake is due to be released in February/March 2018. This book can be sponsored – if our readers would like to help support this book, please go to our sponsorship page on the Windhorse Publications website. £30 or more will get you a complimentary copy (in both paperback and eBook format) immediately upon publication. Thank you.
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Vajragupta is co-leading a retreat here at Dhanakosa with poets Larry Butler and Linda France. ‘Wild Awake in Winter’ 26 Jan - 2 Feb 2018.
Please visit our website for more information and to book https://www.dhanakosa.com/retreat/2018/wild-awake-winter