Buddhas in my pocket

An Australian Buddhist Pilgrimage


Order hands

A Buddha for Bhante

There’s been a pause in handing on the remaining 80 little donated Buddhas.  My energy needed to be directed to supporting family more intensively for a while, so the trips to the town square were put on hold. I have really missed those random, uplifting encounters.

So today I was delighted to receive this communication from a friend who chose some of the little Buddhas to take with her to the UK recently.

I never imagined one of these precious donations would make it all the way to Adhisthana into the hands of my main teacher Sangharakshita-the  man who in many ways gave me the gift of the dharma.

Here is my friend’s letter …..

“Hello dear Maitripala,
Today I went to see Bhante to say goodbye and I wanted to give him a gift. I didn’t have many things with me that I could have given  Bhante. Then I remembered the Buddhas  you gave me. First I felt a bit shy about it but my community members encouraged me to do it, so I put it in my pocket.

It was so wonderful seeing Bhante again. He was in a great mood. We talked about the birds at Vijayaloka and the trams of Melbourne. Then we talked about how to make decisions, the significance of commitment and of faith.

Bhante said ‘Faith is your connection to what is higher.’  He said “Faith is the seed of the spiritual life”.

I told him that sometimes when I think about rebirth I feel so overwhelmed about having to come back again and again to samsara and he leaned back and laughed. He said the Bodhisattva doesn’t tire of samsara. He said I should never give up and take advantage of every opportunity.

I felt the arising of faith so overwhelming that it brought me to tears. I had a sense that this wasn’t the first time we were having this conversation.

I gave him the little Buddha as a parting gift and told him about your project which he seemed to know about.

Here is a photo of the Buddha (donated by dear Dhiracharita) in the hands of Bhante.

How very wonderful. This was a moment I will reflect on again and again. “


In the hands of the Order – Nagasuri

This is my gold kesa and a beautiful black bowl given to me by a great friend, Chittamodini, on the occasion of my Ordination. It is a symbol of the Buddha’s begging bowl and that for me represents renounciation.
Although I was Ordained with a white kesa I knew in my heart of heart’s at my Ordination that I would take the gold kesa as an Anagarika as soon as was possible.
Now I am so attached to my gold kesa it is quite ironic!
In the year that I had a white kesa I forgot it a number of times but in the 16 years with the gold one I have only done that once or twice.
It’s amusing to me because of course when becoming an Anigarika, underlying the celibacy vow is homelessness, careerlessness and possessionlessness.
The bowl has meant more and more to me over time. In my sadhana practice of Buddha Shakyamuni one imagines a lotus floating in the top of it. It’s a symbol of wisdom and compassion as well as emptiness.
It also seems it as a beautiful symbol of stillness, simplicity and contentment.
I really like this quote by Sharon Salzburg.
“She who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.”IMG_0397

In the hands of the Order – Aryadharma

“This is my father’s drawing box.
It’s commonly used as fishing tackle box but he adapted it and used it to keep his drawing tools in.
It had his name Steve on the front. I have been using it now and the name is still just legible.
Art was the main thing throughout his life. He had this box when he and I were trying to revive the Paddington art school. He taught drawing there for 20 years.
I was thirty years old before I really got to know my Dad.
There was one particular day when I nearly didn’t go to see him but fortunately I turned my bike around and just went off to see him anyway. And that was the last time I saw him alive.
He was living with constant pain and the only creative response he could manage to his dilemma was to take his own life.
It’s like the love I had for my Dad transferred into his objects so I had a great thirst to get his things to safety- this box and his drawings.
I remember the best of my Dad as I open the box.
It’s a workman’s toolkit. I even love the smell of it.
It has pastels wrapped up and an amazing Swiss-made holder for pencil lead.
When I hold these things I connect with them having been in his hands.
When I open it up I can sense him as a working artist. I sense his presence.
And then I feel like I am working, too.
This box of items represent potential, inspiration and aspiration. It even surpasses, in terms of containing potency, the drawings that I have of his, I think because I can hold it and use it.
When I open it up there is the excitement of tapping into potential again.”


Buddhas in Brisbane

My short stop on the Buddhas in my Pocket pilgrimage in Brisbane has come to an end. A day retreat we called Metta Makeover went well. I just love doing what I can to boost people’s metta practice.
Hrdayaja gave me a couple of days alone in her wonderful flat- what a treat. And we finished the visit having dinner out with Nagadeva, Hrdayaja and Chandramalin.

I hope to return for longer next year.



Thanks Viryaja

What a pleasure it was to spend time with my Order sister Viryaja.

Week after week she sits in circles sharing the Dharma. I see the community blossoming with the friendship she offers those who wander into the Toowoomba Buddhist Centre.

A big thank you to both Viryaja  and her husband Peter who fed me lovely food and made sure I had a bed every night. A trip to the Japanese gardens was a highlight.



Goodbye Toowoomba

Tomorrow I leave Toowoomba and catch a bus to Brisbane. Thank you to the Toowoomba sangha – I was warmly scooped up and looked after so well.

The courage and commitment of people in quite isolated situations practicing the Dharma and developing  a spiritual community is always impressive.                                Inspired by the Buddhist teachings they pitch in and help where needed.

A weekend retreat, at a lovely country rented venue complete with mist in gumtrees, on the topic of ‘The True Indivual ‘ left us open hearted and connected.

Sadhu to Viryaja, Roger , the management committee and friends, who together have already achieved the purchase of a building to hold classes in.

Stitched with kindness

As an addition to my previous post about wearing my kesa…..let me introduce you to a wonderful woman from India , Vajradharini , who hand stitches all our kesas.

Thank you Carunalaka for your Facebook post which reminded us of Vajradharini’s gift to the Order.


In the hands of the Order – Viryaja

Viryaja explains this item that has meaning for her……..

“This quartz stone was given to me as a gift after I was ordained in 2011 at Golden Bay, New Zealand.
It was the first time I had met Akasamati, who was on the team.
She was doing the shrines and helping make our Ordination retreat very special.
She is a beautiful woman and did everything so beautifully.
Akasamati invited those of us who had just been Ordained to choose from wrapped gifts she had arranged on a tray.
When I unwrapped the one I selected it was this white, round stone.
I love the smoothness and feel of it in my hands.
Circles are really quite important to me so I love the shape and the spiral of paua shell through it.   Paua shells are unique to New Zealand.
This stone is always in sight in my room either on the shelf above the Buddha or on my desk.
It is very special to me.”


Thank you Adelaide Sangha

It was delightful to meet many of the Adelaide sangha on my pilgrimage visit a few weeks ago.

I had lovely catchups with people in beautiful places. I loved the lush gardens and the visits to the ocean which is so close by.

There’s nothing like walking along the ocean edge or better still bobbing up and down in the salty water, talking Dharma with people wanting to grow and be the best they can be.

The giant Kuan Yin looking out to the southern ocean reminded me of my connection with her at my Ordination nearly 18 years ago.

I led day retreats on Metta and Compassion and enjoyed meeting up with Dharmamodini , Saddhavijaya and Ratnadaka …appreciating all they are doing to share the Dharma in the lovely city of Adelaide.

Meditating on the cool, lush grass of Dharmamodini’s  retreat-like  back yard is another fond memory. Thanks for looking after me with such warm care.

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Buddhas in my pocket

An Australian Buddhist Pilgrimage