Tea and Strawberries

I attended for the third year the five day Buddhafield Festival near Taunton in Devon, England, last month along with 2500 others. Where else can a dharma teacher go and give an hour or two of teachings in the morning and afternoon, hang out with dharma friends, find shady spots to read a book, and dance in the evening? FWBO provide us with a marquee, called Dharma Inquiry, where we offer teachings. Jane Blissett and Jeanette Karlsson from Brighton, Ken Street and Rick Lawrence from Totnes, all participants in the Dharma Facilitators Programme and myself put on a programme between us in the morning and afternoon.

Incidentally, I am currently reading “Dreams of Love and Fateful Encounters. sub-title:The Power of Romantic Passion” by Ethel Spector Person, MD, – an excellent read thoughtful, intelligent and a cut way above the “Men are from Mars” books that border on romantic fiction. I am also reading the Per Enquist’s the Swedish author’s latest novel Lewis Journey that tells of love, passion and the life of a preacher in an expanding Christian sect in Sweden during the last century. Please don’t ask me why such a book should interest me. I read his previous book “The Royal Physician’s Visit” – an enthralling story of power and love. After the rain and wind on the Friday, the sun shone at the festival on the Saturday in a variety of ways. In the afternoon, Venerable Sangharakshita, who 40 years ago founded the Friends of the Western Order (FWBO) paid his first visit to Buddafields in its 12 years since annual festival was launched. Now an esteemed 82 years of age, he gave a talk on freedom, exceptionally insightful reminding us of the way our freedom is becoming curtailed through legislation, identity with nationality and being caught up in fetters such as clinging to personality beliefs or chronic doubts.

The FWBO and its founder had to endure a few years ago some fairly tumultuous storms, and to their credit they have engaged in much soul-searching . With longish,unkempt hair, totally in place at Buddhafields, and a talk peppered with good humour, Venerable Sangharakshita received an extraordinary level of applause afterwards. It showed the tremendous esteem that he is held in not only by the FWBO members in the audience but the rest of us who must have outnumbered tenfold order members.

Afterwards, Ven. Sangharakshita and I spent about 45 minutes together, over tea and strawberries, talking about the Dharma, the West, India, Dr. Ambedekar, the writings of Stephen Batchelor, psychology, ageing and health. He is kind and curteous, refers to others in the considerate ways, and treats guests as an equal. Domka took three pictures of Ven Sangarakshita and I together which have been uploaded onto my website in the “England” folder. I’ll be back at Buddhafield next year. Thank you to music DJ, Claire (Eddison) who gave me the initial push to go some three years ago. Let’s Keep dancing as well as sitting.