A Message of Appreciation to the Sangha, family members and friends My 80th birthday occurred on 22 April (Earth Day) 2024.

Last year, Nshorna (my daughter) said to me I need to be in Totnes (Devon, England) on Sunday 21-22 April. I agreed.

She then began to organise a secret birthday event and make the primary preparations. Martin Aylward (a beloved friend and Dharma teacher based in France) gave support to the organisation of the gathering. They contacted friends worldwide, who had attended my retreats, pilgrimages, courses, trainings and more It was quite an undertaking.

Photo taken at home noting 80 years in this phenomenal existence.

I did not know the location, nor time until my arrival in the upstairs hall of the restaurant/hotel a few minutes walk from home on Sunday afternoon of 21 April.  More than 50 were waiting for me. Some people I had not seen for decades were in the hall, plus photos on screen or short clips.

It raises the eyebrows to see the aging process with us all. We cannot hold onto a single day but we can find a freedom to move with the rhythms and changes of life.

The four grandchildren, Kye, 23, D’nae, 17, Milan, 15, and Joziah 8. were all there.

There was a big screen with hundreds of  rotating photos, taken of this wallah with others over decades – sent in by people.

Then the screen showed more than 70 one minute worldwide appreciations filmed on mobile phones, lots of presents, cards, books to read and literally hundreds of emails, texts etc. With vegan food, (some vegetarian) and a big birthday cake.

How did so many hear about the birthday?

Martin gave me a birthday card, which included the amount of dana sent to my account during this week. The sum took my breath away. I’m sure my blood pressure went up. It was worth it!

I spoke to friends in the hall, introduced all four grandchildren, saw a video message from my Judy (my sister) and her three children, Paul, Mark and Cathryn in Australia. Rhiannon (Nshorna’s half sister) also joined us.

I spoke for a few minutes to the group to thank everybody. I mentioned that  Rahula (the Buddha’s son), probably organised a similar secret event for the Buddha’s 80th birthday. People travelled from all over India to be with him in Kushinagara in northern India. Rahula had to tell the Sangha on their arrival that Gotama had just died some hours earlier on his birthday. A few unenlightened ones were probably irritated having walked a hell of a long way. Why couldn’t he choose to die a day later?” one might have asked.

I added that Nshorna brought my birthday event forward a day earlier, as she and the grandkids probably agreed I was looking older. Just in case….

I said to D’nae it is “quite tiring to be the centre of attention for a few hours. I’m glad it only happens once every 10 years.”

I enjoyed every minute with everybody and the magnificent metta (loving kindness/friendship/love) shared everywhere. My eyes were  often wet with soft tears.

I taught my first retreat in Dharamsala, India  in 1974. It has been an ongoing privilege to be a servant of the Dharma for 50 years and experience 80 years  on this Earth, including such a joyous day with the Sangha, via people’s presence and benefits of technology.

On Thursday, 25 April, I start the journey to the Waldhaus Zentrum to teach the annual retreat for a week starting on Friday.

A huge thank you for all your countless kindnesses.

Lots of love



1 thought on “A Message of Appreciation to the Sangha, family members and friends My 80th birthday occurred on 22 April (Earth Day) 2024.”

  1. Rosemary Dupray

    Happy Birthday Christopher fitting that your Day.ia also Earth Day. Thank you for your wonderful and kind spirit and Wisdom. Your words have helped to liberate me from old constricted patterns. Have a wonderful rest of your life. May you always be happy! Rosemary????

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