Buddhas in my pocket

An Australian Buddhist Pilgrimage

Return journey

As I headed off for a short trip to New Zealand I quickly plucked 3 little buddhas from my remaining stash to take with me. It’s a good opportunity in airports and traveling for little Buddhas to find a new home

Whilst staying with a dear friend on a small island I had the opportunity to meet up with another lovely friend from the UK. We had lived and worked together at a retreat centre in Wales. That 14 months had been such a rich and fruitful time of my life.

I had the urge to send one of the buddhas back with her to perhaps sit at a base of a tree in the retreat centre grounds.

I took the three out and chose the smallest one to ask her to take back in her luggage.

I was surprised and delighted when I looked up my list of donors to find the Buddha I had chosen had been donated by another team member and good friend from my time at the retreat centre.  She had recently just moved on from the Centre and it felt totally appropriate for her donated Buddha to make a return journey and dwell in the beautiful gardens as a testimony to all these amazing women offer in sharing the dharma in that setting.



Buddha donated by Amritamati -Wales, Spain and beyond ….



Friendship in the palm of their hands

Update from Itir

A little over a year ago I left Melbourne to go to Adhisthana in the UK and join the Women’s Dharma Life Course. Before I left, Maitripala gave me 10 little buddhas to find new homes for during my trip

A few buddhas had already been passed on by the time I got to Adhisthana but I still had enough for each of the women who finished the course.

I even had one for dear Akasajoti, who coordinated the course and looked after us, as we each fell apart and re-emerged a little freer, over and over, in those 5 months.

So during my final project in our last week together I was able to hand these buddhas to my friends.

I don’t think have I cried so intensely in front of other people in my whole life, as I did when presenting my project. Acknowledging how friendship has changed me was just very overwhelming. As I gave each person a little buddha I came up with a name that contained their wonderful qualities. It’s been almost 8 months since the course ended and I am still so very impressed and moved by the women I had the great privilege to live in community with. It was a very special time that will continue to support me in opening my heart. I believe the effects of the course will carry on throughout my life and beyond and I hope I can really honor what we collectively created. Thank you for the buddhas dear Maitripala, it was lovely to be able to give them all a little parting gift,……although I don’t feel we are really apart.”


Buddhas donated by 

Alex Carr-Malcolm, UK

Tegan, Australia

Akasalila, UK

Shantipala, UK

Linda, Australia

Prasadajata, Australia




Clear sight in difficult times

I am really inspired when I see people take on illness or a change in their health outlook as a chance to embrace life and living even more fully……..taking the truth of impermanence as a factor to deepen their knowledge of what this crazy universe has to offer in richness and peace.

A few weeks ago a woman I met embodied this sense of having come to peace with something big, something that needed courage to face. And as we spoke, it was clear that had indeed been the case. A life changing medical event that affected her sight and quite literally changed how she saw the world in a much deeper sense as well.

So I placed my little Buddhas on a shelf and offered her to choose one. As often happens one of the Buddhas caught her attention immediately.

Why that one ?

She told me it was something about the earthy stability of this Buddha and also how the Buddha’s hands hands were placed, at once both settling and receiving.

She thought it was exquisite. With this tiny Buddha in her hands she explained  that since her illness her path has been opening her heart to everything without preferences.

And I know this little Buddha will keep her good company in this noble task.

Buddha donated by Amritamati. Wales






A mother’s gift

Feeling irrational fear is not usually a pleasant sensation, however this time it led to a lovely connection with a stranger. I had stepped onto the small plane and felt the rising of an old ancient fear I hadn’t had to deal with for a couple of years. I was puzzled and taken back by its strength.

The woman I sat next to intuitively began talking to me in a supportive way. She was so open and friendly that it took my mind off the well known rising, irrational panic.

The conversation wove it’s way to a mutual landscape of sharing stories about our daughters.  Grandbabies ….about to arrive and already arrived.

We were both familiar with the type of worry that at times inhabited this landscape.

After sharing a bit about my Buddhist life she smiled and showed me her necklace. It had the Avalokitesvara ( Buddha of compassion ) seed syllable on it.  We had more in common than we would have initially expected.

I learned of her wonderful years of volunteer work raising money to help rebuild a village damaged in the Nepalese earthquake. She had also visited the local monastery nearby.


Pema Namding Monastery is a Nyingma Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Nepal which was opened in April 2008. Trulsik Rinpoche of Thupten Chholing Monastery named this monastery

Acknowledging our Buddhist connection, I wanted to offer her a little Buddha to give to her daughter who was about to give birth.  However, I had unmindfully packed them in my luggage which had ended up in the belly of plane rather than my cabin luggage.

She kindly gave me her address and after sending pictures for her daughter to choose one of my little Buddhas , I carefully packed the chosen one and sent it on.

From one mother to another mother ….firstly handed on to her daughter and then on again to that daughter’s new baby daughter.


This Buddha, donated by another mother, Kiranada in USA , has finally arrived in at its new home.


The hard to find gift

It was so uplifting hearing someone describe the journey they had been on with their daughter’s mental illness as a gift. 

From personal experience in my own family this comment did not surprise me.

To an outsider watching on, as families deal with mental illness, the obvious suffering is what they see so clearly and are drawn to focus on. 

But something else can happen in that painful arena that brings growth, richness and compassion for self and others to the fore. 

So I invited this woman to choose from my bag of little Buddhas. 

Her hand alighted on a tiny little Buddha encased in a bodhi leaf, hands gently clasped in meditation mudra. 

Even in the midst of the extremes of mental states,  wisdom and compassion are to be found. 

In this person’s eyes I could see that she knew that too. 

Buddha donated by Akashamani      Port Fairy Australia BAE8ABE7-4609-4216-8F88-3A6C4AB3E3BD

The guesture of fearlessness

Sometimes we come to a turning point in our life where we see a decision is forming from our depths…..a decision to commit to a path we know will be difficult but rewarding and necessary. There is just a deep knowing that it has to happen.
I met a woman not long ago, at a moment like this, in her life. I offered her a Buddha.
She connected immediately with this Buddha, Amoghasiddhi, who has the hand gesture of fearlessness.
“Oh, “ she said when I told her about the quality of fearlessness that was embodied in this tiny Buddha.
“ Interestingly last year a thought had arisen for me that I needed to become more fearless.”

So in company with this Buddha may she stay in touch with that quality.

Buddha donated by Prasadadipa UK


Company for a quest

How many people have the patience to stay on course skilfully on a long journey to connect with what we deeply love or with who we deeply love?

It’s so easy to give up as the difficulties of the terrain can become just too much.

When a parent is separated from their child, there is an ache known universally by all parents.  Loving kindness is the balm that soothes that ache.

This man was gentle and patient with his deep wish to be with his child again.

I offered him a Buddha and from the collection he chose the goddess of compassion, Kuan Yin.


She is often associated with children. He felt she had an aura of quiet, unbounded joy and beauty. Just what he needed for his quest. He said he was looking forward to her accompanying him on the journey as it unfolded.

Buddha donated by Wendy, Emerald Australia

You never know when you are talking to angels.

As I brought a copy of the Big Issue off the woman sitting on the crate just near Bourke St mall I couldn’t help but notice her jewellery .
Statement rings garlanded every finger and many necklaces shared the space peaking above her jumper rim. It was easy to start a conversation about these bold pieces that she wore so proudly. She told me she called them her ‘heroin jewellery.’ She was so pleased she had money to these days to spend on these second hand treasures, money that in the past would have been spent on drugs.
She had been drug free for years and now made her living selling the magazine. It was a job she loved because it connected her back to the community she knew when she lived on the streets. She felt it allowed her to “keep an eye on them- especially the young and vulnerable.”
She now lived in a house with her husband and from what I could gather they had a simple and happy life.
When I offered her to choose a Buddha she quickly chose what she called ‘ the happy Buddha’.
“ I am attracted to cheerful things.” she said.
As I paid for my magazine she said almost as an aside,  “I have an article in this edition.”
And so she did.
I read her wise words from the magazine I had purchased ……

I gave one old lady who begs for money a bottle of water because that’s what she wanted the money for, and now she tells me she wishes I was her daughter because I cared.  And that’s it- I care. So many people feel it’s not their problem so why bother? 

But you never know when you are talking to angels. There is such a colourful array of people – I could go on about it all day. They all bring something with them and I am glad I am part of the show. “

Sharon sells the Big Issue in Melbourne

Buddha donated by Khemajoti UK


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. “

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Buddhas in my pocket

An Australian Buddhist Pilgrimage