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Dolores Watson met Bhante in 2009, while Bhante was teaching at IMS in Barre, Massachusetts. She asked him to be her teacher and Bhante accepted.  Later, Dolores spent three days driving all the way from New Orleans to meet Bhante at Bhavana Society in West Virginia. The culmination of this meeting was the establishment of Flowering Lotus of which Bhante Buddharakkhita became a Spiritual Advisor. However, both Bhante and Dolores are no longer affiliated to Flowering Lotus Meditation Centre. She founded Radiance Retreat Center in Magnolia, Mississippi, where Bhante is the current Spiritual Advisor.

After ten years, their friendship culminated into the arrival of Dolores to the Uganda Buddhist Centre to show her support for Bhante and his Dhamma activities in Uganda, Africa.  Dolores came along with her friend, Dawn Perryman to Uganda on the night of August 3, 2019.

On the following morning, Dolores and Dawn distributed items that they had carried to UBC’s women economic empowerment group and teenage girls. Some of the items offered included clothing, detergents, chocolates and sanitary towels. The two demonstrated to the young girls how to use the sanitary towels that they offered.

On August 6, 2019, Bhante took the visitors to the Peace School, where they interacted with the children and the staff. On their arrival to the school, two children offered them flowers, a moment which was very humbling and touching for Dawn and Dolores. Dawn and Dolores also offered chocolates and candies to the children, and had a grand tour of the whole school while Bhante Buddharakkhita highlighting the development plan of Peace School.

Remember: Peace School is an education program of the Uganda Buddhist Centre, established to provide holistic and high-quality education while embracing African values, Buddhist values and the Uganda National Curriculum to children.

Thereafter, they were taken to St. Paul Bulega Primary School and Bugabo Primary School, where they had a grand welcome and cultural entertainment by the Primary Six pupils. Bhante has offered boreholes to both schools, thus providing access to safe and clean water for children and the nearby communities.

Later in the afternoon, they travelled to Ssese Islands to see the land that Bhante is planning to buy for expansion and establishment of a retreat center.

Together with Bhante, Dolores, Dawn and other UBC members visited the Source of River Nile, the longest river in the world. While in Jinja, they also visited the Palace of Obwa Kyabazinga Bwa Busoga (Busoga Kingdom).

Dolores’ visit to Uganda coincided with her 77th birthday on 12th of August. The UBC team and members of the community surprised her with a birthday celebration gifts. She was moved to tears by the generosity of the UBC members. On the same event, Bhante offered gifts including umbrella trees for both Dolores and Dawn to plant at UBC.

Dolores had plans to travel to Kenya and Rwanda, but she canceled the trips on the grounds that she needed more time to experience Uganda. In the afternoon, Bhante took Dolores and Dawn to visit Golden Hearts Kindergarten and Day Care Centre in Kasenyi, Entebbe. The school was established by Counsel Joseph Kalemba, a volunteer legal adviser at UBC.  Later on, Dolores donated USD 1,000 towards the installation of a borehole. Moreover, in appreiciation of Kalemba’s legal advice, Bhante donated USD 312 towards plastering the floor of classrooms.

UBC team and the local communities, are eternally grateful for her continued generosity towards the Centre.

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As we join the rest of the world to overcome hunger and malnutrition, the UBC organized its campaign of the “Third Walk to Feed the Hungry” on Sunday, August 18, 2019.

The walk was led by Bhante Buddharakkhita and over 500 people including UBC members, people from the village, children from 3 local schools, and distinguished guests participated in this campaign.

Hunger and malnutrition are a very big global challenge. In the villages surrounding the UBC, many children including orphans cannot afford a square meal.  Some children in schools cannot afford lunch and yet they have to study the whole day. The causes of hunger include endemic poverty, wastage of food and lack of knowledge of the potential foods available in Uganda. Poor people cannot afford food rich in health-sustaining nutrients. According to the Buddha, “Hunger is the worst diseases, conditioned things the worst suffering. Knowing this as it really is, the wise realize Nibbana, the highest bliss.” (Dhammapada 203). Certainly, if one is hungry, one cannot listen to the Dhamma thus hindering one’s spiritual growth and development.

To overcome this challenge, Uganda Buddhist Centre started a program called, ‘Hunger Relief Program’, which offers nutritious food to over 50 children monthly from Bulega village.

Purpose of Walk to Feed the Hungry

The “Walk to Feed the Hungry” campaign is intended to create awareness about global hunger and resources to develop sustainable food security system. The gift of food is the gift of life.”

The walk campaign was started by the Buddhist Global Relief (BGR) chaired by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi in New York, USA. Ven. Buddharakkhita is a Spiritual Advisor at BGR and he has led a couple of walks since their inception. Ven. Buddharakkhita introduced these kind of solidarity walks in 2015 in Uganda. Since then, the number of participants has been increasing.

This year’s walk featured the feeding of over 500 people by the Sri Lankan community in Uganda. Furthermore, Kamal and his Sri Lankan friends demonstrated the number of foods wasted in Uganda such as potato leaves, banana flowers, cassava leaves and green papaya.

Part of the cultural show included a poem presentation on how hunger affects mental and physical health by Bugabo Primary School. Finally, Venerable Bhante Buddharakihtta gave a brief talk on the significance of the walk before he flagged off the walk.

 

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With the generous donations from VietCare.org (Vietnamese organization), the children of Lake Side Primary in Gerenge have a sustainable future of plentiful clean and safe water. We are drilling a borehole to provide the school with safe and clean water. The school has been relying on water from the lake and sometimes rain water catchment systems.

The borehole will benefit over 150 school children and hundreds of households neighboring the school. This new borehole is expected to be completed towards to the end of August 2019.

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In our previous newsletter, we posted part of Bhante Buddharakkhita’s talk on Defense Mechanisms. We discussed repression and aggression. In this newsletter, we take you through Projection as the third defense mechanism. Read more here.

Again, when the bhikkhus are reproving a bhikkhu for an offence, he attributes an offence to the reprover himself, saying; you have committed such and such an offence. Make amends for it first.

Here is a bhikkhu saying first make amends before you come to me. Of course, the instruction that the Buddha gave is that first learn yourself before you reproach another person. That is the instruction we have even in monastic tradition. Before you go to reproach another bhikkhu or person you make sure you are clean. So, no wonder this monk is saying make your amends first before you come to me. The Buddha goes on that;

“I say this person is similar to the wild colt when told go forward, and when spurred and incited by its trainer loses its thigh from the chariot pole and crushes the chariot pole. There is such a kind of a person here like a wild colt. This is the third fault of a person.”

This in modern terms, we call it projection. This is more of a person defending oneself against one’s conscious qualities whether positive or negative by denying their existence in oneself while attributing them to others. This is very common during retreats. It takes the form of judging others. Usually, when we judge, we start judging others. These qualities we don’t like in ourselves. We judge others because they are doing something, we don’t like ourselves.

Let me start with an example. As a lay person, I went to a boarding school. They taught us that we have to be smart; combing hair and in uniform. When you are not smart, the teacher will say you are not allowed to go to the parade. Even day schools, smartness was very important. When I became a monk first time in 2001 in California, I was given these robs. These robs were not easy to put on. I am telling you, this is a rob; it is not a dress. It is like a bedsheet (audience chuckles). So, you have to wrap it around yourself. You think you practice mindfulness? You put on this; it keeps falling apart. You don’t want to do it in public. I think Guy can relate to it since he has been a monk. Every time I was so disappointed with this thing falling off. You have to be mindful to keep it on. Otherwise it will fall apart when you have just ordained. There is even the tie-full rob; you go to the public and you are always worried that it may fall apart (chuckles). You haven’t seen me tie it around because we usually do that when going out. This is even terrible. Your arms always have to be raised so that your robs don’t fall off. Now, I got the trick how to tie it together. When I learned it, it became my judging point when I see monks who don’t do it properly. I started judging other monks because there is not a lot to do in a monastery. I was so preoccupied because I didn’t want this rob to go off. So, whenever I go to a monastery, the first thing is to look at the monk whose rob is going down; whose rob is uneven. I was struggling with judgment in first two years. I asked myself, did I become a monk to judge? Or I came to attain liberation? I found out I am actually here to attain liberation. I don’t know if I can finish this story. Maybe I break it apart because it is very interesting. Sometimes the monk was senior than me. And I look at how is his rob his uneven and how it is falling off. That is where I learned that actually when I judge others, it is because I don’t like this behavior in me. Here are the solutions I came up with. I am sharing with you. They are around six of them. These are from my practice and consolidating Buddha’s teaching.

  • The first one is MYB—Mind Your Business (audience chuckles). It worked. Every time I would see a monk with robs going and sometimes stepping in robs, I would say mind your business. You came here to liberate yourself not to judge monks. It worked. You can use it next time you see yogi walking slowly or too fast. You can use it in anyway, I have no copyrights.
  • Another one which is very helpful—non-judgment day is here. You know I was born in Uganda. It is a Christian country, so I learn about judgements days coming. So, what I do is just play with it. Non-judgement day is here. That also worked.
  • Another one, you can use some teaching by Anne. It is called reflection on the law of Kamma. Anne gave a talk on that. That is my Kamma. If I put on a rob so smartly, it is my kamma. If others put it badly, it is their Kamma. It has nothing to do with me. That is kind of mind your business. If they put on a rob in a bad way, it is not going to affect my kamma. So, reflection on law of Kamma also helps. I am not going to talk about Kamma. I think she did a very good job.
  • Another, it also works. If you have a judgmental mind or projecting others. You don’t want to eat too fast but others eating too fat. These things actually happen during retreats.
  • Reflect on your thoughts first. Have you never done anything wrong? You do of course many things wrong. Why are you a fault finder? Trying to find what others are doing wrong. It happened to me when I was in Burma in 2003. I was meditating for two months with Sayadaw U Pandita. This is a big retreat at the end of the year bringing monks, nuns and lay people together. It is wonderful. They taught us how to do walking meditation. I started doing walking meditation; lifting, moving and placing. I had of course done walking meditation in our monastery in California. But all of a sudden, I saw a monk coming close to me. He was taking pictures with a digital camera, all my moves; lifting, moving and placing. I said, we are not supposed to take pictures. The monk took all these pictures. I was wondering what I did wrong that this monk took pictures. During evening time, as monks don’t do dinner, we give to other people out of compassion. But we go for juice though. All monastics will sit together and take juice. The monk pulled out a camera, and I said you are doing wrong. You see, he didn’t mind his business. He said you should walk like this. He started running back all the pictures showing me exactly how my feet were raising and not going properly. Amazing! What yogis go through? He was judging my walking. I thought I was doing it well. I went to Burma after a three months long retreat at forest refuge. I had done retreats and I knew how to walk (chuckles). Look at what you are doing. I think he was not doing it right. But because he wanted to do it right, he doesn’t want to go wrong, and thought I was doing it wrong that is why he took pictures. Find out what you are doing wrong before you go to others to point out what they are doing wrong. That also works.
  • Another one is more of discernment—judgmental mind; you become a judge. You judge others. We call it judging mind. What if you shift your understanding to what we call judicious? To be judicious is not the same as to be judgmental. Judicious is more of discernment. You need some wisdom and understanding to be judicious. So, you want to be judicious but not judgmental. With judgment, we are acting on our prejudices. With judiciousness, we are bringing in wisdom to discern what is skillful and unskillful. That is the difference.
  • Finally, whenever judgment comes, make a note of judging, judging, judging. Not so loud but a soft mental note. ‘Oh, this is my judging mind’. That works.

 

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On July 28, 2019 the UBC celebrated the purchase of 2 acres of land stretching from the east to the south of the Centre.  The purchase was finalized on Wednesday, July 24, 2019.

This newly purchased land sits just adjacent to the Temple’s perimeter walls in the east with a breathtaking view of Lake Victoria in the south. These 2 acres are covered with pine trees and eucalyptus which makes it perfectly convenient and conducive for a forest monastery. UBC now sits on 4 full acres of land, with prospects to further expand in the future. Before the purchase of this land, UBC’s master plan for development called for more land for both residential and office space, and other programs such as Peace School, youth and women economic empowerment program.

We are eternally grateful to all our supporters for this great achievement. The next step is to raise funds to build accommodation for the Abbot and other monastics on the newly acquired land.

A blessing and purification ceremony for the land was conducted on Sunday July 28, 2019. Members of UBC, Burmese community, Sri Lankan community in Uganda and the nearby communities participated in this event led by the Most Ven. Bhante Buddharakkhita, Ven. Sangharakkhita and Ven. Dhammakami, the nun. They led the chanting to bless the land, taking refuge and the five precepts, meditation and Bhante Buddharakkhita delivered a Dhamma talk on the importance of giving. He emphasized the five kinds of giving which including; giving time, effort, respect, space and materials things. In his talk, Bhante used an African proverb to reflect on the Dhamma teaching of Dāna (giving). The proverb goes that “No one is too rich to receive, and no one is too poor to give. Giving brings happiness and peace to both the giver and the recipient.”

Moreover, Bhante Buddharakkhita offered food items (sugar, rice and soap) to members of the youth and women economic empowerment program, and other people from the village. He also offered chocolates and candies to over 100 children.

Furthermore, along with the blessing of the land, there was a celebration to remember the passing away of Moe Moe’s mother, Daw Win Yee who passed away April 29, 2019. Moe Moe is a Burmese lady who has continuously supported the Uganda Buddhist Centre since its inception in 2005. She offered alms to the venerable Mahāsanghas and to over 100 children from the neighboring villages who participated in the event. Moe Moe also offered food items which included posho flour, milk and sugar to the staff and children of the Peace School. We are so grateful for her endless support. May her generosity be a cause and condition for her happiness and freedom from suffering! We also send our merits and metta to her departed mother. May she attain final liberation!

On the same day, the Sri Lankan Buddhist community in Uganda led by Kamal and Dhammika who have also supported the UBC from the beginning, offered robes to the Mahāsangha (Great community of monks and nuns), food items like rice, sugar and other items.

Dr. Juuko Ndawula and his family, donated food items to the temple, an act that rarely happens since the temple began. The local people have now started to learn and appreciate the Buddhist culture of generosity to the monastics. Traditionally, the temple survives on the charity and generosity of lay devotes for material requisites. However, since the temple began in Uganda, people have always expected and sought to the temple for material support. Thus, the act of Dr. Juuko and his family, is a significant sign that the local lay followers have now started to understand the traditional culture and practice of Buddhism. We thank Dr. Juuko and his family for being an example to the rest of the community in Uganda.

 

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After participating in the celebrations of the United Nations Day of Vesak, Bhante paid a courtesy visit to the Most Ven. Dr. Ashin Nyanissara (Sitagu Sayadaw) at Sitagu International Vipassana Academy (where Sitagu Sayadaw resides) in Sagaing, Myanmar. Bhante delivered copies of a book that highlights Sitagu Sayadaw’s visit to Uganda in April 2017.

The visit also intended to once again invite Most Ven. Sitagu to Uganda in the year 2020, and to update Sitagya Sayadaw on the construction plans at UBC. Construction of decent accommodation for both monastics and laities was postponed as there was a timely need to acquire more land for UBC. Resources were used to purchase land adjacent to the Centre for expansion. The price of land in Garuga area (where the temple is situated) keeps skyrocketing every day, so buying it now is timely and an indispensable investment. Construction is expected to start as soon as funds are available.

 

Furthermore, 5 children are expected to travel to Myanmar to train as novice Buddhist monks under the guidance of Most Ven. Dr. Sitagu Sayadaw.

Bhante later witness a convocation of Diploma graduates at SItagu International Buddhist Academy (SIBA). During the convocation, Sitagu Sayadaw asked his audience to repeat after him 3 times:

  • Ethical conduct supports wisdom; wisdom support Ethical conduct
  • Ethical conduct supports wisdom; wisdom support Ethical conduct
  • Ethical conduct supports wisdom; wisdom support Ethical conduct.

 

 

He added that,

To achieve wisdom we have to practice Vipassana (insight meditation) in order to uproot greed, hatred and delusion. Insight meditation is the way to peace. Without insight meditation we cannot achieve peace!

He established Sitagu International Vipassana Academy to training people in Vipassana meditation.

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Thousands of delegates attended the 16th United Nations Day of Vesak (UNDV) celebrations held in Ha Nam Province in Vietnam from May 12-14, 2019.

Bhante Buddharakkhita participated in this year’s celebrations and represented Uganda at this auspicious occasion.

In his speech, Bhante invited celebrants to take a moment of silence to remember and pray for people who perished in the recent series of bombings in Sri Lanka. “I would like us to spend one minute in silence to remember the tragedy that happened in Sri Lanka just recently. Death is certain, life is uncertain”

Given the big mess happening all around the world, this year’s main discussions centered on “Buddhist Approaches to Global Leadership and Shared Responsibility for a Sustainable Society. Delegates extensively discussed solutions to the UN’s sustainable development goals, placing emphasis on mindful leadership for sustainable peace, global education in ethics, harmonious families, healthcare and sustainable society, and responsible consumption.

Bhante said that “The world is a global village. What happens in Africa, or another continent affects Asia, America and other parts of the world probably the whole universe. What happened in Sri Lanka is affecting all societies in the world.”

The Buddha’s timeless message is a message of “peace and ultimate happiness”, Bhante said. It is this message that inspired Bhante to go forth as a Buddhist monk.

Bhante also spent a few minutes of his speech to invite Buddhist monks, nuns and others to join him in Africa to spread the noble teachings of the Lord Buddha for the happiness and wellbeing of all.

“I am alone. Please come join me in Africa to spread the Dhamma”, Bhante cried out.

He expressed that there is a greater need for Buddhist monks in Africa, and less of them in traditional Buddhist countries. He reminded his audience that “Buddhism is very powerful, but we are weakening it by only focusing on traditional Buddhist countries. There are bigger parts of the world where Buddhism is not established such as Eastern Europe, South America, and Africa.

Bhante also invited the next United Nations Day of Vesak to be conducted in Africa.

Bhante also recognized the coming and support of the Most Ven. Dr. Ashin Nyanissara (in presence) to Uganda in 2017, and other Sri Lankan monks who came in 2016. There were also other monks who came from Germany, Myanmar, India and Bangladesh.

During the event, Bhante met with Most Ven. Dr. Ashin Nyanissara (Sitagu Sayadaw).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To listen to Bhante’s speech during the 16th UNDV, please follow this link

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Recently, we have experienced heavy soil erosion which has left bumps and rough surfaces on the temple grounds. Furthermore, the grounds have been left bare making it muddy and slippery during rainy seasons. To eliminate all these environmentally unfriendly effects, we have embarked on paving the compound.

Due to limited financial resources, we have only been able to pave 154 square meters over the total 750 square meters. We are therefore taking it in phases. But our plan is to pave the entire compound.

We would like to take this chance to invite you to support this effort. The remaining part will cost USD 7,000 to be paved from the face of the temple stretching down to the gate area.

If you would like to make a donation towards this effort, please follow the link below.

Thank you!

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A couple of Russian engineers working in mines in Uganda visited the Uganda Buddhist to meet Bhante with a prospect of building a stupa at the Uganda Buddhist Centre. Bhante told them that the Uganda Buddhist Centre development master plan doesn’t have space.

However, he introduced them to his friend Dr. Juuko who has land at the bank of River Nile. Bhante together with the Russian Buddhists travelled to Jinja to see the site if the future stupa. The group also included Dr. Aung from Myanmar who had just come to visit the Uganda Buddhist Centre.

The spot was determined and Dr. Juuko also offered space for constructing a future meditation centre in Jinja.

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