Honour Thy Fathers: A Tribute to the Ven. Kapilavaddho

The impulse to believe the absurd when presented with the unknowable is called religion. Whether this is wise or unwise is the domain of doctrine. Once you understand someone's doctrine, you understand their rationale for believing the absurd. At that point, it may no longer seem absurd. You can get to both sides of this conondrum from here.

Honour Thy Fathers: A Tribute to the Ven. Kapilavaddho

Postby admin » Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:20 am

Honour Thy Fathers: A Tribute to the Venerable Kapilavaddho ... And brief History of the Development of Theravāda Buddhism in the UK
by Terry Shine
Copyright © 2009


Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho …
The first European to be ordained in Thailand …
He stands out as a man who started and developed the founding of the first English Theravāda Sangha in the Western world …

Table of Contents

• Introduction
• Acknowledgements
• Source Abbreviations
• Light of Asia
• The Pali Text Society
• The Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland and the Buddhist Society
• Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho and the Manchester Buddhist Society
• Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho and the English Sangha Trust (1955-1957)
• The English Sangha Trust (1957-1967)
• Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho and the English Sangha Trust (1967-1971)
• The English Sangha Trust after Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho
• Sri Lankan Buddhism
• Burmese Buddhism
• Thai Buddhism
• Chronology and Historical Sources
• Newspaper Articles
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Re: Honour Thy Fathers: A Tribute to the Ven. Kapilavaddho

Postby admin » Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:20 am


This book is intended primarily as a tribute to the late Venerable Kapilavaddho Bhikkhu (William August Purfurst, known later as Richard Randall) for whom the English Sangha Trust was formed. He stands out as a man who started and developed the founding of the first English Theravada Sangha in the Western world. For the sake of context it includes a very brief history of the development of Theravada Buddhism in the UK. Only the major steps of this development have been recorded here, though many other groups have contributed to the spreading of Buddhism in the UK.

This book has been compiled by the editor as a way of saying thank you to the Venerable Kapilavaddho and to all past Buddhists who, through their interest and hard work, have provided for him, and countless others, the opportunity to benefit from the Buddha’s teaching. Hence the title “Honour Thy Fathers”.

This book is given freely for the use of libraries but due to the expense of printing is not intended for free distribution to the general public. This book may be downloaded/printed from either http://www.aimwell.org (Webmaster Bhikkhu Pesala) or http://www.buddhanet.net eBooks (Webmaster Venerable Pannyavaro).

Reprinting for sale is prohibited.
Copyright © 2009
Terry Shine,
3 Clifton Way,
Middlesex, HA0 4PQ, U.K.
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Re: Honour Thy Fathers: A Tribute to the Ven. Kapilavaddho

Postby admin » Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:21 am


I would like to thank the many people who have given valuable assistance and permission to copy and use their material; some of these organisations are listed below. Many thanks to Bhikkhu Pesala who has given considerable time and effort in helping me produce this book and whose kind words and encouragement kept me going when my mind was at low tide. Thanks also to my niece Joanne Fishman, a computer wiz kid for helping to format this book, and to Gerlinde Fearney — who gave time and effort to prepare this book for printing. Finally many thanks to my friends and family who have had to put up with me talking of nothing else but this book for a few years! It is always a pleasure to be with people who are willing to give of their time and expertise freely towards a project that may be of use to others.

Buddhist Society
58 Eccleston Square
London SW1V 1PH
Tel: 0207 834 5858

English Sangha Trust
Amaravati Monastery
Great Gaddesden
Hemel Hempstead
Hertfordshire HP1 3BZ
Tel: 01442 842455

Pali Text Society
73 Lime Walk,
Oxford OX3 7AD
Tel: 01865 742125

Manchester Buddhist Society
3 Grosvenor Square
Sale, Cheshire M33 1RW
Tel: 0161 973 7588

Aukana Trust
9 Masons Lane
Bradford on Avon
Wiltshire BA15 1QN
Tel: 01225 866821
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Re: Honour Thy Fathers: A Tribute to the Ven. Kapilavaddho

Postby admin » Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:23 am

Source Abbreviations

(MW) Middle Way Magazine, published by The Buddhist Society.

(S) Sangha Magazine (Also known as The Buddhist Path), published by The English Sangha Trust.

(R&B) “Three Cotton Robes and a Bowl” by John Garry Published in the Sangha Magazine (Also known as The Buddhist Path), English Sangha Trust, June 1969.

(CH) Sixty years of Buddhism by C. Humphreys, published by The Buddhist Society.

(MBS) Manchester Buddhist Society.

(EST) English Sangha Trust.

(M-EST) Minutes Books, the official records of all English Sangha Trust meetings.

(A) Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho scrapbook, which is owned by Alan James, Aukana Trust.

(AHM) Alan James, Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho scrapbook (Aukana Trust), “The Wheel Turns” by H. Martin, Article published in the Siam Rath Weekly Review, June 4th 1954.

(AP) Ajahn Paññāvaḍḍho, Abbot of the English Sangha Trust 1957- 1961.

(ART) Article by M. Walshe, Published in the Sangha Magazine (Also known as The Buddhist Path), English Sangha Trust, February 1972.

(ED) Editor: Terry Shine.
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Re: Honour Thy Fathers: A Tribute to the Ven. Kapilavaddho

Postby admin » Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:24 am

Light of Asia


Sir Edwin Arnold

Source: “Light of Asia”, Buddhist Society library

In the following Poem I have sought, by the medium of an imaginary Buddhist votary, to depict the life and character and indicate the philosophy of that noble hero and reformer, Prince Gautama of India, the founder of Buddhism.

A generation ago little or nothing was known in Europe of this great faith of Asia, which had nevertheless existed during twenty-four centuries, and at this day surpasses, in the number of its followers and the area of its prevalence, any other form of creed. Four hundred and seventy millions of our race live and die in the tenets of Gautama; and the spiritual dominions of this ancient teacher extend, at the present time, from Nepal and Ceylon over the whole Eastern Peninsula to China, Japan, Tibet, Central Asia, Siberia, and even Swedish Lapland. India itself might fairly be included in this magnificent empire of belief, for though the profession of Buddhism has for the most part passed away from the land of its birth, the mark of Gautama’s sublime teaching is stamped ineffaceably upon modern Brahmanism. And the most characteristic habits and convictions of the Hindus are clearly due to the benign influence of Buddha’s precepts.

More than a third of mankind, therefore, owe their moral and religious ideas to this illustrious prince, whose personality, though imperfectly revealed in the existing sources of information, cannot but appear the highest, gentlest, holiest, and most beneficent, with one exception, in the history of thought. Discordant in frequent particulars, and sorely overlaid by corruptions, inventions, and misconceptions, the Buddhistical books yet agree in the one point. Of recording nothing — no single act or word — which mars the perfect purity and tenderness of this Indian teacher, who united the truest princely qualities with the intellect of a sage and the passionate devotion of a martyr. Gautama has consequently been given this stupendous conquest of humanity; and — though he discountenanced ritual, and declared himself, even when on the threshold of Nirvāna, to be only what all other men might become — the love and gratitude of Asia, disobeying his mandate, have given him fervent worship. Forests of flowers are daily laid upon his stainless shrines, and countless millions of lips daily repeat the formula, “I take refuge in Buddha!”

The Buddha of this poem — if, as need not be doubted, he really existed — was born on the borders of Nepal, about 620 BC, and died about 543 BC at Kusinagara in Oudh. In point of age, therefore, most other creeds are youthful compared with this venerable religion, which has in it the eternity of a universal hope, the immortality of a boundless love, an indestructible element of faith in final good, and the proudest assertion ever made of human freedom.

The views, however, here indicated of “Nirvāna,” “Dharma,” “Karma,” and the other chief features of Buddhism, are at least the fruits of considerable study. And also of a firm conviction that a third of mankind would never have been brought to believe in blank abstractions, or in nothingness as the issue and crown of being.

Finally, in reverence to the illustrious Promulgator of this “Light of Asia,” and in homage to the many eminent scholars who have devoted noble labours to his memory, for which both repose and ability are wanting to me, I beg that the shortcomings of my too-hurried study may be forgiven. It has been composed in the brief intervals of days without leisure, but is inspired by an abiding desire to aid in the better mutual knowledge of East and West.

The First Truth Is of Sorrow. Be not mocked!
Life which ye prize is long-drawn agony:
Only its pains abide; its pleasures are
As birds which light and fly…

The Second Truth is Sorrow’s Cause. What grief
Springs of itself and springs not of Desire?
Senses and things perceived mingle and light
Passion’s quick spark of fire…

The Third is Sorrow’s Ceasing. This is peace
To conquer love of self and lust of life,
To tear deep-rooted passion from the breast,
To still the inward strife;

The Fourth Truth is The Way. It openeth wide,
Plain for all feet to tread, easy and near,
The Noble Eightfold Path; it goeth straight
To peace and refuge. Hear!

Source: Extract from the Preface and poem—“Light of Asia” by Edwin Arnold, London, July, 1879

The Four Noble Truths

The four are one but can be divided for explanation. Do not take one alone especially the first!

1st Noble Truth — Suffering, both, manifest that the whole world understands and non-manifest that hides behind all the results of good karma. In short it is saṃsāra as we experience it – the ups and downs of life in the full.

2nd Noble Truth — The arising of suffering or dependent co-arising. This is a very deep subject but at the level of the truths is simple. Do good actions — get good results (happiness etc.). Do bad actions — get bad results (sadness, hell states etc.). The law governs both positive and negative. A person does not want to be caught by his bad karma, but remember the good karma is just as sticky. Beings are caught in the net of suffering by both good and bad deeds. Always give away the merit of good deeds — others need it more than one who has decided to go beyond karma …

3rd Noble Truth — Nirvāna cannot say much of any use about this so pass on to …

4th Noble Truth — Path, this comes down to mindfulness at each and every moment of the day. Although right action, speech and livelihood are included do not let this trap you into the merit making trap. The best good deed is to practice non-attachment. Nothing is worth being or getting — let it all go.

• Any thing in your body
• Any feelings
• Any mind states or thoughts

Let it go. Do not own it. That is the Fourth Noble Truth. That is the Dhamma practice — the Noble Path.

The Buddha’s ancient path:

Who can see saṃsāra and nibbāna at the same time?

<<<< Attachment to states (not recommended)
Saṃsāra <<<<<<<<<<<<< >>>>>>>>>>>>> Nirvāna
Non – attachment (go this way) >>>>

The one Truth of Gautama Buddha and all the other Buddhas.

Most people practice ATTACHMENT and stay in saṃsāra. The wise practice NON–ATTACHMENT and end up with nirvāna. The choice is everyone’s.

Source: Dr Michael Clark, former disciple of the Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho

* * * * *

They are not true Bodhisattvas ordained in the gospel of the Tathāgata, who have no application, no power of meditation ecstatic and concentrated, no studiousness, no eager pursuit of learning. Moreover, Maitreya, the gospel of the Tathāgata arises from meditation ecstatic and concentrated, it is fitly framed and compact of knowledge, it arises from earnest application: it does not arise from subservience to the usual ends of the householder’s actions. For such action belongs to those whose application is misapplied, who delight in the chain of existence, by the way of subservience which is longing desire for worldly objects. Not on such an object a true Bodhisattva must set his heart.

Source: Adhyāsanasañcodanā Sutra, page 112
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Re: Honour Thy Fathers: A Tribute to the Ven. Kapilavaddho

Postby admin » Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:25 am

The Pali Text Society

Prof. T.W. Rhys Davids
Founder of Pali Text Society 1881
Founding President of the Buddhist Society 1907
Source: Buddhist Society

Dr I.B. Horner O.B.E.
Pali Text Society
Published with article reproduced below

T.W. Rhys Davids founded the Pali Text Society in 1881. He had earlier served in Ceylon as a member of the Ceylon Civil Service, and had become greatly interested in the history and civilisation of that country, and had learned Pali, the ancient language of Theravāda Buddhism. On his return to England he took up practice as a barrister, but retained his earlier interest in Ceylon and all things Sinhalese. He gradually gave up his legal work and began to write and lecture about Buddhism. In May 1881, in his second Hibbert lecture, he announced his intention of forming a society for the purpose of editing in Pali, and if possible of translating into English such Pali books as still existed in manuscripts preserved in Europe or Asia. In order to render accessible to students the rich stores of the earliest Buddhist literature, which were lying unedited and practically unused.

With considerable vigour he assembled a team of scholars to commence the vast task of editing all the canonical and commentarial texts in Pali. At the same time he enrolled subscribers throughout the world to pay for the fruits of their labours, and every year in the Annual Report he was able to congratulate the former upon their achievements and the latter upon the excellent value they were obtaining for their subscriptions. Such was the success of the Society that by the end of the century he was able to boast that in twenty years subscribers had received 42 texts in 51 volumes, totalling 15,000 printed pages.

Not all that the newly founded Society did was equally successful. An early attempt to include a Jain text in the list of issues, on the grounds that the Buddha and the Jina were contemporaries and greatly influenced one another, met with a howl of protest and the experiment was not repeated. An attempt to reduce the frequent, and to Western ears tedious, repetition in prose texts by introducing abbreviations was also greeted with protests, and the offending volume had to be replaced by another which complied more nearly with the traditional form.

Despite such setbacks, the Society moved onwards towards its goal of publishing the entire canon and the major commentarial works, although shortage of money created many problems in the years between the two world wars. Some of the Annual Reports for years in that period make sorry reading, and works had sometimes to wait many years before they could be published. When they did see the light of day, they frequently did so in irregularly sized volumes (sometimes very slim if money was particularly short) rather than the single large volume which would have been preferable. Nevertheless, the reputation of the Pali Text Society grew. Even when works had not been originally published by the Society, e.g. the editions of the Vinaya Piṭaka, the Jātakas, and Milindapañha, and the translations of the Jātakas, the Dhammapada commentary, and Dhammasaṅganī, and the Dictionary of Pali Proper Names. The Society was entrusted with the task of reprinting them, and they consequently appeared under its imprint. In like manner, the Sacred Books of the Buddhists series, started by Max Müller in 1895, came under the Society’s wing not long after.

Following the death of the founder in 1922 his wife Caroline, herself a Pali scholar of considerable repute, with many editions and translations of Pali works to her credit, became President in his stead. She was followed in 1942 by W.H.D. Rouse, who had contributed greatly to the translation of the Jātakas many years before, and had also edited and translated the Jīnacarita. He was succeeded by W. Stede, who had edited the Culla-niddesa and two volumes of the commentary upon the Dīgha-nikāya, and had collaborated with Rhys Davids in the production of the early fascicles of the Society’s Pali-English Dictionary, finishing single-handed after the latter’s death. Stede died in 1958, and in 1959 Miss I.B. Horner, who had been Secretary since Mrs. Rhys Davids death in 1942, was elected President. She had become interested in Pali whilst carrying out research in Cambridge for a book about women under Buddhism. By 1959 she had already produced editions of the last three volumes of the commentary upon the Majjhima-nikāya and of the commentary upon the Buddhavaṃsa. As well as a three volume translation of the Majjhima-nikāya to replace that made in the twenties by Lord Chalmers, her mentor at Cambridge, and the first five volumes of her monumental translation of the Vinaya Piṭaka, published under the title of the Book of the Discipline. Soon after her election she produced a new translation of the Milindapañha, to replace that made by the Founder for the Sacred Books of the East series more than 70 years before.

This mixture of new and improvement upon the old was to prove typical of the Pali Text Society’s publications during her Presidency. While encouraging scholars to fill gaps in the Society’s List of Issues by preparing editions and translations of works which had been neglected, or were but recently discovered. At the same time she urged the Council to adopt a policy of reprinting every publication which merited it, or replacing them by a new edition or translation where the standard was not satisfactory. Works that had come out in portions in times of financial stringency appeared in a new format as single volumes. Indexes and lists of parallel passages were added to books, which had previously lacked them. Miss Horner herself led the way in the production of these. She was ably assisted by Dr. Hermann Kopp, who not only produced an exemplary index to the commentary upon the Aṅguttaranikāya, which he had completed after the death of his teacher Max Walleser, but went on to make them for the commentaries upon the Theragāthā, Vinaya Piṭaka, Itivuttaka and Cariyāpiṭaka. A reprint of the Peṭakopadesa, soon to appear, will also have an index from his hand, while a recent reprint of the Aṭṭhasālinī was accompanied by an index made by L.S. Cousins. Misprints in their thousands were tacitly corrected when reprints were made, so that the standard of early publications was being constantly raised to bring them up to the levels, of scholarship which had come to be expected, in place of the pioneering achievements of early Pali studies. Many unsatisfactory editions were replaced, and Professor N.A. Jayawickrama has been particularly active in this field. Producing new editions of Buddhavaṃsa, Cariyāpiṭaka, Vimānavatthu, Petavatthu and the commentary upon the Kathavatthu, as well as new editions accompanied by translations of the introductory portion of the commentary upon the Vinaya Piṭaka and also the Thūpavaṃsa. Besides the works already mentioned, Miss Horner produced new translations of the Buddhavaṃsa, Cariyāpiṭaka and Vimānavatthu.

Miss Horner’s Presidency coincided with a great growth of interest in Buddhism in the Western world, and as sales of the Society’s publications increased it was able to expand their range. With the basic aim of editing canonical and major commentarial texts virtually completed, it began to concentrate on the production of translations and other ancillary works. In 1952 publication was begun of the Pali Tipiṭakaṃ Concordance, which was intended to serve the same purpose for Pali scholarship as Cruden’s Concordance had done for Biblical studies. The editor was E.M. Hare, who had already translated the Sutta-nipāta and some volumes of the Anguttaranikāya. F.L. Woodward did much of the listing for the Concordance who had translated the remaining volumes of the Anguttara-nikāya as well as the Udāna, the Itivuttaka, and some of the volumes of the Saṃyutta-nikāya. And had also edited the commentaries upon the Saṃyutta-nikāya, the Udāna, and the Theragāthā. When Hare died in 1958, after producing Volume I of the Concordance and three fascicles of Volume II, the task of completing Volume II were taken over by K.R. Norman, who published the remaining six fascicles between 1963 and 1973. As well as making new translations of the Thera- and Therī-gāthā, provided with lengthy introductions in which the importance of metrical analysis was emphasised, and with voluminous notes. Volume III of the Concordance was taken over by A.K. Warder. With the aid of H. Saddhātissa and I. Firer, five fascicles have been produced, and a sixth fascicle, by Fiser and E. Strandberg, is about to go to the press. Warder has also published an Introduction to Pali, designed to meet the need of those who wish to learn to read and write Pali by themselves, and a study of Pali Metre, and an edition of the Mohavicchedani with A.P. Buddhadatta. Saddhātissa has also produced an edition of Upāsakajanālaṅkāra, and an edition with translation of Dasabodhisattuppattikathā.

The existence of the Sacred Books of the Buddhists series has enabled the Pali Text Society to publish works which, although not in Pali, are of great importance for the study of Buddhism. Following the precedent set by the first volume in the series — the Jātakamālā — the Society has included in recent years translations of other Sanskrit texts, including the Mahāvastu and the Suvarnabhāsottamasutra, an edition and translation of the Manicūdāvadana, and an English translation of Etienne Lamotte’s French rendering of Vimalakirtinirdesa. In the Society’s Translation series have appeared since 1960 translations of the Khuddakapāṭha and its commentary, the Nettippakaraṇa, Peṭakopadesa, Jinakākamāli, and three Abhidhamma texts: the Dhātukathā, Vibhaṅga, and Volume I of the Paṭṭhāna. There is a growing interest in Abhidhamma, and in recognition of this, the first volume of a companion work to the translation of the Paṭṭhāna, entitled “Guide to Conditional Relations,” has been published, and Volume II of the Paṭṭhāna translation is in the press. A translation of the Paṭisambhidā-magga, one of the very few canonical texts remaining untranslated, made by Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli and edited by Warder, is also in the press.

In the Society’s Text series, besides the new editions already mentioned, a number of new publications have also appeared recently. A start has been made to the task of publishing the secondary commentaries, called ṭīkās, and Mrs. Lily de Silva has edited that upon the Dīgha-nikāya-aṭṭhakathā. Two works from Burma are about to appear — Pali Nīti Texts from Burma and Volume I of Paṇṇāsa-jātaka (a set of 50 apocryphal Jātakas). Volume II of the latter is about to go to the press.

When the Council of the Pali Text Society decided to celebrate their centenary year by beginning to produce translations of those commentaries upon canonical texts which had not yet been translated into English. Made by scholars in Burma, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere, it was very appropriate that the first work to appear in the series was Miss Horner’s translation of her own edition of the commentary upon the Buddhavaṃsa. The second in the series was the commentary upon the Petavatthu, made by U Ba Kyaw and P. Masefield. The latter’s translation of the commentary upon the Vimānavatthu is about to go to the press, and work on the commentaries upon the Therīgāthā, Dīgha-nikāya, Vibhaṅga, and other texts is far advanced.

That the Pali Text Society can, at this time of financial stringency, be producing a large number of new publications in addition to keeping the old ones in print, is due entirely to the way in which Miss Horner managed the Society’s affairs. Besides her own generosity, the full extent of which will never be known, her enthusiasm excited the generosity of others. And a steady stream of donations, large and small, flowed in, and helped either to finance the general activities of the Society or to defray the costs of publishing specified works. Editing and translating Pali works and managing the Society’s business did not, however, represent the limit of Miss Horner’s activities. She wrote on all aspects of Buddhism, her first book, Women under Primitive Buddhism, appearing in 1930, and her second in this field, The Early Buddhist Theory of Man Perfected, in 1934. In addition to her other full-length works, she wrote extensively for periodicals concerned with the study of Buddhism. She was particularly delighted to send contributions to volumes published in honour of any of the scholars throughout the world with whom she kept up a voluminous correspondence. And whom she was pleased to welcome, in former years to Dawson Place and more recently to South Lodge, whenever they came to London. In January 1981 she joined with other members of the Council of the Pali Text Society and a selected group of other scholars in contributing to a special number of the Society’s Journal, revived after a silence of many years to commemorate the Society’s centenary.

In the summer of 1980, only a few months before the centenary year, Miss Horner suffered a bad fall, and the surgical operation, which this necessitated, confined her to her bed for some time. Thereafter, propped up with pillows, to her armchair where, a pale shadow of her former self, she showed her determination to see the centennial year in. Despite her growing weakness, she willed herself to continue, but at last, on 25th April 1981, a few weeks after her 85th birthday, her body gave up the struggle.

Miss Horner’s contribution to Pali and Buddhist studies was immense, and cannot be measured by a mere recitation of her publications. But must also include an assessment of the value of the help and encouragement which she was so willing to give to others, particularly young scholars, working in that field of studies. A number of them were delighted to contribute to a volume of Buddhist studies in her honour in 1974.

It is a matter of considerable consolation for all members of the Pali Text Society to know that before she died the vast amount of work that she had done for the Society was recognised, by the award of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honours List for 1980. With her passing goes the last link with the founder of the Pali Text Society, whom she had once met when she was young. The Pali Text Society was Miss Horner, and without her it will never be the same again, but standing firmly upon the foundation which she gave it by her scholarship and generosity, it can, at the beginning of the second century of its life, look forward to the future with hope and optimism.

Source: K. R. Norman, Published in the MW August 1981, pages 71-75

* * * * *

All those memories, in time
We gain,
Are lost,
Like tears in the rain
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Re: Honour Thy Fathers: A Tribute to the Ven. Kapilavaddho

Postby admin » Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:27 am

The Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland and the Buddhist Society

Francis Payne (1870-1954)
Leading figure in the first Buddhist Society
Source: Buddhist Society

Source: Buddhist Society

At the turn of the century the West knew nothing of Buddhism as a living religion fit for all. By 1907 it began to learn. In 1879 Sir Edwin Arnold had produced The Light of Asia, and for fifty years there had been sporadic translations of the scriptures of the various Buddhist schools. Those of the Mahāyāna were for the most part buried in the files of learned journals. Thanks to the work of the Pali Text Society, founded by Dr Rhys Davids in 1881, anyone interested could by 1907 read in English a substantial part of the scriptures of the Theravāda School, and even find them in well arranged anthologies such as Warren’s Buddhism in Translations, (1906). But many of those newly interested wanted more than the bare bones of doctrine; they wanted the Buddhadhamma as a living way of life. The scholar, with his strange insistence on the purely objective approach to religious literature, wanted nothing of the kind. This distinction, old in religious history, was once again to prove of considerable importance, and was early reflected in the Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland, which was born of a somewhat unhappy fusion of the two. The scholars welcomed a forum for learned teaching and debate, but the genesis of the Society came from an utterly different ideal. It was founded to welcome and serve as the vehicle for the teaching of a remarkable young Englishman, Ānanda Metteyya, whose Mission to London was for the express purpose of proclaiming Buddhism as a living religion worthy of acceptance by any Westerner. However austere its announced objects the Society would not have been founded without the tremendous impetus of the bhikkhu’s coming. True, his Mission only lasted for six months, and the Society, after spending much of its time in drafting a Constitution and the like, moved on from strength to strength after the Mission, not entirely successful, had come to an end. Yet the dual need, to study objectively and to practice subjectively, was ever present. It may be that over-emphasis on the former, to the detriment of the latter, prevented the new movement putting down the roots into the English mind which alone might have enabled it to weather the storms and droughts of the succeeding years.

Until but recently our knowledge of the old Society came from The Buddhist Review, (1909-1922) and the memory of those who had been members. But in 1960 the present Society had a dramatic gift from the bank, which held the old Society’s account, no less than two black deed-boxes bearing its name, which had lain unclaimed in the bank for nearly forty years. The contents of the boxes turned a dry record of events into a human story. They included three Minutes Books, from 1907 to 1914. Address books of members and those interested, which provide a roll-call of the pioneers of Western Buddhism; account books and, beloved of any historian, a mass of correspondence which reveals so much of the inner life of the Society which official records can never supply. Here are the splendid but somewhat woolly ideals for proclaiming the Dhamma in the West. Here were the painful records of perpetual insufficiency of funds, of friction between strong personalities, and the old story of the willing few doing too much work to the point, in at least two cases, of actual breakdown.

All this material is now in the present Society’s Archives, but because I knew so many of those whose karma permitted them, so long ago, ‘to beat the drum of the Immortal’ in the West, I will, while I am able, write it down.

Ānanda Metteyya

Allan Bennett was born in London on 8th December 1872, the son of an electrical engineer, and educated as a child at Bath. In 1890, at the impressionable age of eighteen, he read The Light of Asia, and found that a new world of spiritual adventure was opened before his eyes. He thereupon studied translations of the Buddhist Scriptures, and when, in 1898, “ill health drove me from England to the East,” he entered Ceylon as a self-converted Buddhist. There he studied the Dhamma deeply under a noted Thera, and there, in 1901, he gave his first lecture on Buddhism, ‘The Four Noble Truths,’ later published in pamphlet form.

About this time he made up his mind to lead a Buddhist Mission to England, and formed the view that such a Mission could only succeed if carried out by a representative of the Buddhist Sangha. He therefore decided to enter the Order, and in view of the limitations imposed on the Sangha in Ceylon decided to enter the Burmese Order, where such restrictions did not prevail. He therefore sailed for Burma, first to Akyab in Arakan, to be ordained, and later to Rangoon, which he found a more favourable centre for carrying out his plans. He lost no time in making them known. As he said in the course of a long address delivered at his Ordination, “Herein lies the work that is before me, to carry to the lands of the West the Law of Love and Truth declared by our Master, to establish in those countries the Sangha of his Priests.” Note that even at this early stage he was emphatic on the need of planting in England a branch of the parent Sangha, a belief shared twenty-three years later by the Anagārika Dharmapāla when he came to this country on a Mission from Ceylon.

His Ordination

At his Ordination he was given the name Ānanda Maitriya, but later changed this latter name to the Pali form, Metteyya. Even at this date his plans for the future were mature. He was already in touch with “eminent Buddhists in England, America and Germany,” and announced his intention to “found an International Buddhist Society, to be known as the Buddhasāsana Samagama — at first in these countries of the East, and later extending it to the West.” The first meeting of the new Society was held on March 15th, 1903. Ānanda Metteyya himself appears in the printed Prospectus as Secretary-general with Dr E.R. Rost, of whom more later, as Hon. Secretary. The Society at once attracted considerable attention, three hundred persons attending a Conversazione held a few months later in Rangoon, while enthusiastic greetings were received from all over the world.

R.J. Jackson - Ernest Rost - 14 Bury Street

R.J. Jackson, who died but recently, attended a meeting in Regent’s Park at which a Cambridge Senior Wrangler, a Mr. More, spoke on Buddhism. Interested at once, he made enquiries and was told to read The Light of Asia. Some time later he made the acquaintance of Col. J.R. Pain, an ex-soldier from Burma. Both began to speak at open-air meetings, and later they actually published a pamphlet giving the substance of these talks. They heard of Ānanda Metteyya’s work in Burma and got in touch with him. In 1907 they met Dr Ernest Rost of the Indian Medical Service, then home on leave from Rangoon, and between them they opened a bookshop at 14 Bury Street, near the British Museum. The books were placed in the window to attract enquiries, and lectures were given in the little room at the back of the shop. Further lectures were organised in the parks and a portable platform painted bright orange and bearing the device, “The Word of the Glorious Buddha is sure and everlasting,” was the centre of a considerable audience.

Francis Payne

Some time in the autumn the shop attracted the attention of Francis Payne as he came out of the British Museum. He entered and demanded of J.R. Pain, whom he found in charge, “Why are you bringing this superstition to England?“ said Payne, “Don’t be in such a hurry — read the books.” “He showed me Lotus Blossoms, by Bhikkhu Sīlacāra,” wrote Payne years later, and I had to conclude that Bhikkhu Sīlacāra must be inspired, for he knows how to convert. The Bhikkhu Sīlacāra (né J.F. M’Kechnie) had gone to Burma in 1904 to help Ānanda Metteyya with his work on Buddhism, the journal of the Society in Rangoon, and in due course entered the Sangha. Soon after, Francis Payne too was himself giving lectures on the Dhamma, and later played a valuable part in the development of Buddhism in England.

The Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland

The time was now ripe for the formation of a Society to prepare the way for the coming of Ānanda Metteyya. Professor Rhys Davids accepted the office of President, Professor Edmund T. Mills, F.R.S., agreeing to be Vice-President and Chairman, with Capt. J. E. Ellam as Hon. Secretary. Dr Rost gave his time to lecturing at meetings convened in private houses, and supporters quickly arrived. Among the first were Alexander Fisher, a well known sculptor, St. George Fox-Pitt, the Hon. Eric Collier, who held various offices throughout the life of the Society, and Captain Rolleston. Let me now quote from page one of the Buddhist Review, which appeared in January 1909: “At a private house in Harley Street, London, on the evening of 3rd November 1907, there was a gathering of some twenty-five persons, either Buddhists or interested in the study of Buddhism. The result of this meeting was that the persons then present formed themselves into the Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and a Committee of five members was appointed. This Committee was charged with the duties of drawing up a provisional Prospectus, Constitution and Rules, and the convening of another and larger meeting.”

Founding Meeting

Invitations for this larger, public meeting were printed and sent to all interested. That sent to Dr Mills has survived. It is sent from 14 Bury Street, described as “headquarters,” and is dated 20-11-07. The invitation is to a “Meeting of Buddhists and those interested in the study of Buddhism, Pali and Sanskrit Literature, to be held at the Cavendish Rooms in Mortimer Street, near the Middlesex Hospital, on Tuesday, the 26th November, at 4.45 p.m. Rhys Davids, LL.D., Ph.D., etc. will preside.”

Rhys Davids was at this time living at Manchester University with his wife, but came to London to preside at this and other meetings, taking such part in the affairs of the Society as was possible for one living so far away. On this memorable occasion he read a paper to a fully attended meeting, explaining the reasons for the Society’s formation and its objects. It is unfortunate that this paper has not survived. Other speakers followed him, setting forth their reasons for believing that England was ripe for a more systematic study of Buddhism. The then proposed Constitution and Rules, modelled on those of the Rangoon Society, of which the London Society was officially a Branch, were read and approved and a Council elected to control the Society’s affairs.

These founding Members of the Society fell into three categories. First the scholars led by Dr and Mrs Rhys Davids and Professor E. J. Mills, F.R.S., a professor of chemistry who took an active part in running the Society for its first ten years. These were supported in the pages of the journal by Dr Hermann Oldenburg, author of Buddha, His Life, His Doctrine, His Order, 1882; Loftus Hare, a leading Theosophist, F. L. Woodward, famous to many of us for his Some Sayings of the Buddha; and distinguished writers such as Sir Charles Eliot. Leading those who demanded an active Buddhist life was Francis Payne, perhaps the greatest Buddhist evangelist after Ānanda Metteyya. Alexander Fisher, already mentioned, Captain Ellam, first Editor of the Review, with such contributors as Dr D.T. Suzuki, Mme David-Neel, still with us at the age of a hundred. C. Jinarajadasa of Ceylon, later the President of the Theosophical Society, and Dr W.A. de Silva, a great helper of the first Society and a godfather to its successor. The third group included students of comparative religion and intelligent, educated men and women of the type who, dissatisfied with their own religious life, study all new movements, which offer to supply the deficiency. Some, like Howell Smith, proclaimed themselves at once agnostics, and may have provided the basis for the delightful remark of the Anagārika Dharmapāla in his first letter to me in 1925. “We had a Buddhist centre in London but it was composed of sceptics, agnostics and members who had to work for their living!” This dynamic figure, who had already fought for twenty years to recover Buddha Gaya into Buddhist hands, clearly found the old Society insufficiently zealous in the practice of Dhamma! Payne, Fisher and many more would have agreed with him.

Source: “Sixty Years of Buddhism” by Christmas Humphreys, page 1-5


“The society continued until November 1926 when it was dissolved. In 1924 Mr C. Humphrys as a member of the Theosophical Society had helped start a separate section within it for those with Buddhist inclinations. On 19th November 1924 it was granted a charter and called the Buddhist Lodge and in 1926 the Buddhist Lodge became independent of the Theosophical Society. It therefore superseded the old Society though it did not change its name to The Buddhist Society until 1943.

The Society has had various addresses including, South Eaton Place SW1, 106 Great Russell Street WC1 (1943), 16 Gordon Square WC1 (June 1952) and finally its present location at 58 Eccleston Square SW1 (1956). The Buddhist Society represents all schools of Buddhism, has an excellent library, runs a yearly summer school, is a mine of information and might be considered one of the West’s finest Buddhist organisations.”

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Re: Honour Thy Fathers: A Tribute to the Ven. Kapilavaddho

Postby admin » Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:28 am

Venerable Kapilavadho and the Manchester Buddhist Society

Christmas Humphreys and Ven Kapilavaddho
Buddhist Society 30th Anniversary
Source: Middle Way Magazine, 1955

“The founding of the Manchester Buddhist Society was described by a sprightly 81 year old man who preferred to remain anonymous. This gentleman has been associated with the MBS since 1958. No records were kept before the inauguration of the Society in 1951.

In approximately 1947, Mr Purfurst (who later became the Venerable Kapilavaddho) attended a series of lectures given by a gentleman from the USA on nutrition (food rationing which was introduced during World War II was still in force). The latter part of these nutrition lectures took place in coffee bars. When the lectures finished, the group of people who had become quite friendly, wished to continue meeting and thus decided to meet to discuss Buddhism. Mr Purfurst became their teacher as he already was a Buddhist. They met at a property in Didsbury, Manchester, presumably belonging to Mr Cyril Bartlett who became one of Mr Purfurst’s staunchest supporters.” (ED)

“Each weekend Mr Purfurst traveled from London to Manchester to conduct an exhaustive program of theory and practice of Buddhism. By 1951 he had been teaching eleven people the Buddha Dhamma for nearly a year. They had formed themselves into a group called The Phoenix Society. He also introduced them to the Venerable U Thittila, who was the first Buddhist monk they had ever seen or met. Others came and the group grew. Eventually, it became The Buddhist Society of Manchester. Note: They were the first official Society created outside of the London Buddhist Society.” (R&B)

“A Buddhist Society, of which a nucleus already exists, is to be inaugurated in Manchester. As soon as possible a meeting will be convened to bring together prospective members and all who are interested. In the meantime, Mr C. Bartlett, of No. 16 Palatine Road, West Didsbury, Manchester, 20, has very kindly consented to deal with inquiries.”

I ended up back in London and I was working as an attendant in the baths in Islington. One day I had finished work and it was raining, thunder and lightning, it was really pouring down, and I went back to my digs, an attic bedsit in Finsbury Park, and I bought an evening paper, which was something I didn’t normally do, and was looking through the ads, pages full, and there was a talk at a Church Hall in Highgate about Spiritual Healing. It was raining hard but I went, and there was a dozen or so people and a chap at the front with his charts and diagrams and there was a chap at the back making notes. I thought ‘this is a waste of time’. When the chap finished the chap at the back stood up and gave him such a dressing down, tore a strip off him, worse than you hear on the parade ground, and when he’d finished he turned to me and said ‘I suppose you are the chap I’ve come here to meet’.

He was John Gary, some of you have met him I think. He was one of the founder members here (Manchester Buddhist Society). We went for a coffee and talked for the rest of the evening . We discovered we had a lot in common and we were living in each others pockets for 6 months or so, so to speak.

He lived in a basement flat in Brixton. One day he said there is someone I want you to meet, Connie Waterton. She was born in this house (3 Grosvenor Square, Sale, Manchester). She had been visiting on the south coast and she was on her way back and staying over night, on the top floor, in the house where John had his basement flat. So she came down and we talked all night and in the morning we saw her off at the railway station.

Connie invited me up to Manchester and said I could stay at her place. So a month later I went up there intending to stay for a few days and I never left. I arrived in Manchester on New Years Eve 1957.

Cyril Bartlett was the President here, as you’ll see from the plaque there on the wall. They had started the society in 1951 and sent one of their number over to Thailand to train as a monk (William Purfurst, ordained as Kapilavaddho by Luang Pu Sodh Candasaro, abbot of Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen) and he sent back teachings and tape recordings. A remarkably good job he did for them too, I will give him that. We confirmed one another. I hadn’t clue about Buddhism and they asked me questions and it all tied up with what they had learned. So I confirmed them and they confirmed me you see.

-- ‘Not I, Not Other Than I’ :The Life and Teachings of Russel Williams: edited by Steve Taylor

(MW 1951-52)

27th May 1951

“Those present at the inaugural meeting were Venerable U Thittila, Mr W. Purfurst, Mr and Mrs C.J. Bartlett, Mr F. Murie, Mr J. Garry, Mr S.H. Vincent, Mr H. Jones, Miss C.[Connie] E. Waterton, Miss D. Westwell, Miss K. Knibbs.” (MBS)

“This hard-working group of people under the able Secretary Miss Connie Waterton never did much shouting about their accomplishments. They showed their great worth by what their efforts produced. It was this same group, with a few friends in London, who fostered and helped the work of Venerable Kapilavaddho.

They helped create the English Sangha Trust Ltd. and also founded the English Sangha Association from their membership. Additionally, they organised the first week long course in Vipassana in England. They continued to hold these courses while the demand was there. In addition, this group created the Dāna Fund, which was used to support members in distress, maintenance of bhikkhus, and lecturer expenses. The fund was eventually handed over to the London Buddhist Society.”

(5 July 1970)

August 1952

“First Summer School arranged at Cambridge University. The London Buddhist Society was approached; however they elected not to participate but agreed to send books.” (MBS) “It was also stated in- (CH p53) to have been held at Saint Anne’s College, Oxford.” (ED)

August 1953

“From August 1953, the MBS met at 3 Grosvenor Square, which originally was the rented home of Connie Waterton. In October 1960, Connie Waterton obtained a loan of £375 from the English Sangha Trust to purchase this house (M-EST). A good friend helped her to repay the loan and when she died she left it to her friend who subsequently donated it to the MBS. It still remains the home of the MBS.”


11-18th August 1956 Meditation week, Oxford

“History has again been made by the Buddhist Society, Manchester, when they organised a Summer Meditation Week. Sixteen people undertook a week’s strict training in Satipatthana under the guidance of the Venerable Bhikkhu Kapilavaddho. We tender thanks to the Venerable bhikkhu for his unerring skill in guiding his pupils, and to Miss Connie Waterton for her hard work in organising the week.”

(Reported by R Howes, MW 1955-56)

* * * * *

Venerable U Thittila

* * * * *


Wisdom is the power of seeing things as they truly are, and how to act rightly when the problems of life come before us. The seeds of wisdom lie latent in us, and when our hearts are soft and warm with love they grow into their powers.

When a man has stilled the raging torrents of greed. hatred and ignorance, he becomes conscientious, full of sympathy, and he is anxious for the welfare of all living beings. Thus he abstains from stealing, and is upright and honest in all his dealings; he abstains from sexual misconduct and is pure, chaste; he abstains from tale bearing. What he has heard in one place he does not repeat in another so as to cause dissension, he unites those who are divided and encourages those who are united. He abstains from harsh language speaking such words as are gentle, soothing to the ear and which go to the heart. He abstains from vain talk, speaking what is useful at the right time and according to the facts. It is when his mind is pure and his heart is soft by being equipped with this morality and mental development that the sublime seed, wisdom, grows. Knowledge of the properties of the magnetic needle enable the mariner to see the right direction in mid-ocean on the darkest night when no stars are visible. In just the same way wisdom enables a man to see things as they truly are, and to perceive the right way to real peace and happiness, Nibbana.

Source: Extract from “Essential Themes of Buddhist Lectures” by U Thittila
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Re: Honour Thy Fathers: A Tribute to the Ven. Kapilavaddho

Postby admin » Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:30 am

Venerable Kapilavaddho and the English Sangha Trust

We pay tribute to a man who founded the English Sangha Trust and who, after an absence of ten years, returned to lead it from the dolorous state into which it had fallen. He had in the course of his lifetime several different names, as will appear but it is fitting to head this tribute with the name and designation that he twice bore with wisdom, courage and dignity. There will be many, to whom the earlier parts of the almost incredible saga of this man are unknown, and it is with such people in mind that the story is told at some length.

William August Purfurst was born at Hanwell, Middlesex, on 2nd June 1906.

William August Eugene Purfurst, 1906-1971
William August Eugene Purfurst was born ... to William August Eugene Purfurst and Margaret Holland Purfurst (born Woods).

Margaret Holland Woods, 1886-1957
Birth: June 1886, Hanwell, Middlesex, England, United Kingdom
Death : 9 April 1957, Westminster, London, England, United Kingdom

-- Margaret Holland Woods, by ancestors.familysearch.org

William was born on July 20 1880, in Kensington, Middlesex, England, United Kingdom.
Margaret was born in June 1886, in Hanwell, Middlesex, England, United Kingdom.
William had one sister: Margaret Elizabeth Mary Purfurst.

-- William Purfurst, by myheritage.com

As the name indicates, his father was of German origin, and he was an only child. His father died when he was quite small, and he was brought up under the care of his mother, to whom he remained devotedly attached until her death in 1957. Young William soon showed himself to be a man of many and brilliant gifts. There is no doubt that he could have made a career for himself either in business or in the academic world. He had a remarkable gift for acquiring a wide variety of experiences and — what is more — profiting from them. At the age of 20 he was living in Bristol as manager of a branch of an internationally know typewriter firm, but the world of business could not satisfy him. He started studying such things as psychology and philosophy, eagerly seeking to find answers to life’s riddle. But his compulsively inquiring mind was not so easily satisfied with the “solutions” proffered by the books he read. Perhaps already at this time he began to suspect that the scholars and philosophers of the West had no monopoly of wisdom. In any case, he felt that the only place for him to pursue his studies further was London. After two years, he gave up his Bristol job and set out for the capital where he had been born, on foot: an action, which was symbolic of his future career. From then on, he stood on his own two feet, and if necessary walked on them to wherever he felt he had to go.

An expert photographer, he soon got himself a job in Fleet Street. He returned each night from the day’s work to his private studies, his private questing. He was ever trying to find out the nature of things, the reason for man’s existence, and was not going to be fobbed off with any easy answers. But as happens, the deeper he probed the further off the solution to his questions appeared. At the same time, the first of his teachers appeared on the scene. This man, perceiving qualities that resided in the young Purfurst, took him under his wing, giving him an intensive course in the philosophy of the East. Starting with the Vedas and the Upanishads, Yoga and Vedanta — all as a preliminary to the real kernel of the course, which was Buddhism. Discipline under his teacher was strict — he had to work each evening at his studies, and also undertake a regime of strict physical training. He stuck it out, mastered the philosophical course and at the same time gained considerable control over his own body and emotions. All this had been undertaken in his spare time, in the evenings after his journalistic work.

When his friend and mentor died, he continued on his own, extending his studies into other fields such as anatomy and chemistry. As a result of these studies, he was able to develop a new colour printing process which in one form or another, is still in use today. This was his life until the outbreak of war in 1939, when he became an official war photographer. However as a man of action, he found life dull in the early days of the war. Nothing seemed to happen, so he trained as a fireman. By the time his training was completed, the picture had changed. The blitz had begun. As an officer of the National Fire Service in London he soon found all the “action” he could ask for, and more.

He had some hair-raising experiences amid burning, crashing buildings, while bombs rained down and the ack-ack guns opened up, amid burst mains and sewers. Crawling among precarious ruins, digging out the living and the dead, going without sleep, food, drink, or even his precious cigarettes, and of course constantly risking his own life for the sake of others. In his case, though he distinguished himself by his fearlessness, such a life was after all not so very exceptional. He was a Londoner born and bred. Although they had not yet met, there was another man in London doing very similar things, whom one would scarcely have expected to meet in such a situation. This was a Burmese bhikkhu, the Venerable U Thittila, who had come to work in London at scholarly pursuits when war overtook him. He was equal to the occasion and, boldly doffing the robe, he joined the ambulance service and worked in blitzed London under similar conditions to William Purfurst.
This experience gave Venerable U Thittila a unique insight into the British character. And it probably also did much to forge the bond of friendship, which eventually grew between the two men.

As D-Day approached, William Purfurst’s wartime activities changed in character. He became a civilian photographer attached to the Royal Air Force, his job being to take pictures of army parachutists who were dropped on enemy territory. In order to equip himself for this task, he himself volunteered for a parachute course took the full training and did a number of drops. He then went as a photographer on a number of missions until the war in Europe finally ended.

Towards the end of the war he also got married, and having left the service he became a WEA (Workers Educational Association) lecturer in philosophy, in which capacity he travelled a great deal up and down the country.

It was about this time that he met Venerable U Thittila, whose pupil he promptly became. The bhikkhu who had been supported by the Buddhist Society resumed the robe somewhat informally (he had to be re-ordained, later, in Burma) and gave many lectures and classes at the Society’s old premises in Great Russell Street, where William Purfurst was also active as a speaker.

The Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland
Table of Contents of The Buddhist Review, July, August, September, 1911
Frontispiece: The Central Portion of the Temple of Angkor Wat.
The Great Temple of Angkor Wat. By M. George Coedes.
Knowledge and Ignorance. By Dr. Edmund J. Mills, F.R.S.
The Ballad of the Lamp. By Pathiko.
Buddhism and Theism. By Sakyo Kanda.
Buddha Day Celebration in London.
The Daily Duties of a Buddhist. By the Anagarika H. Dharmapala.
The Passing of a Great Man.
Third Annual Meeting and Balance Sheet of the Society.
New Books and New Editions.
Notes and News.

The Society has for its objects the extension of the knowledge of the tenets of Buddhism, and the promotion of the study of Pali, a language allied to Sanskrit, in which the original Buddhist Scriptures are written. The Society publishes quarterly The Buddhist Review, and issues works on Buddhism, which are on sale to the general public at 46 Great Russell Street, London, W.C.

Membership of the Society does not imply that the holder is a Buddhist, but that he or she is interested in some branch of the Society's work.

The Annual Subscription is One Guinea (Members), or Ten Shillings and Six-pence (Associates), payable in advance at any date. Donations will be gratefully accepted.

Meetings are now being held each Sunday at 7 p.m. at the rooms of the Bacon Society, 11, Hart Street, Bloomsbury, London, W.C. Friends are invited to take part in these meetings, which are open to all, and to help by delivering lectures or sending papers to be read. Contributors should, if possible, submit their papers to the Lecture Secretary at least one week in advance.

-- The Open Court, A Monthly Magazine, Volume XXV, Open Court Publishing, 1911

Purfurst’s activities were by no means confined to London. There were eleven people in Manchester who had been studying the Buddha Dhamma under him, for nearly a year. They had formed themselves into a group called the Phoenix Society; and each weekend he travelled from London to conduct an exhaustive program of theory and practice. Others came and the group grew, within months it became the Buddhist Society of Manchester. It was the first active society outside London. Almost at the same time the teacher had taken his own first steps towards becoming a Buddhist monk. The urge to proceed along the Buddhist path is the only way open to a man of his temperament, namely the total devotion to and immersion in the Dhamma implied by the bhikkhu life. It was so strong that eventually an understanding wife gave him the freedom to answer this call. It was indeed she who urged this step on him. Thus they parted, and shortly before Wesak in 1952 William Purfurst adopted the status of a homeless one, an anagārika. Following this he took the Pabbajjā or novice ordination to become Sāmaṇera Dhammānanda, which he did under the Venerable U Thittila on Wesak 1952. Venerable U Thittila remained his mentor until himself returning to Burma to take up a university post in Rangoon.

Now the name of William Purfurst disappears, and instead there is the Sāmaṇera Dhammānanda working for the Buddhist Society, lecturing and conducting classes, travelling up and down the country in his three cotton robes, inspiring and founding Buddhist Societies at Oxford and Cambridge.
During this time the Buddhist Summer School, later taken over by the Buddhist Society, was founded, and continues to this day as an increasingly popular annual event. The sheer physical hardship of his existence at this time should not be under-rated. At one time, in fact, he even “went missing” for a fortnight, virtually starving and sleeping on park benches in his scanty attire, till he almost succumbed to exhaustion and fever. But this was merely typical of the man. He conducted experiments on his own body and mind in much the same spirit as the late Prof. J. B. S. Haldiane had done in the name of science. Nor was he unmindful of the six years of austerity and self-torment, endured by Gautama in the days of his Noble Quest (Ariyapariyesanā, cf. Middle Length Sayings, No. 26), which preceded his enlightenment. Even his sternest critics and it is only truthful to admit that he had many at times, were bound to concede that he had the sheer guts to do many things that most of them would never have attempted.

The Sāmaṇera Dhammānanda

His uncompromising adherence to the precepts and rules of the Sangha, and his determination to prove that the bhikkhu life was liveable in the West, eventually drew respect and support, not just for him as a man, but for the Buddha Dhamma. For his way of life gave new meaning and confidence to many people to whom Buddhism had merely been a remote eastern religion. The new “Apostle” of Buddhism attracted a good deal of attention, not all of it uniformly favourable or kindly, from press, radio and TV.

Incidentally, the sāmaṇera’s wanderings up and down the country entailed a certain amount of organising to enable him to keep the rules strictly — and those included not handling money. Thus when he travelled by train to, say, Manchester, he was escorted to the station where a return ticket was bought for him, met at the other end and taken to the meeting-place by car, and so on. On the other hand, his pupils or listeners did not have to bother about an evening meal for him: all that had to be provided (where he was not staying the night) was a cup or two of tea. His one indulgence, permitted by the rules, was smoking, and a packet of cigarettes was always gratefully received. There were some who criticised him for this, which they might have been entitled to do had they been willing to put up with the other austerities and inconveniences of his life. As a matter of fact, bhikkhus in the East frequently smoke, and if they don’t, they probably chew betel nut instead.

However, it was not possible in the long run to proceed further on his chosen course without going East. It was not only impossible for him to obtain the higher ordination as a bhikkhu in the West — it was also clearly imperative to go to an Eastern monastery for a spell of intensive training before he would be fully equipped to live and teach the Dhamma in Britain. This posed a serious problem of finance. In fact the only way out at that time was to revert to lay life, get a job and earn some money. The Sāmaṇera Dhammānanda therefore once again became William Purfurst. The job he got was that of barman in a Surrey hotel. He was completely careless of the criticism which this action of his aroused in some quarters. It was neither the first nor the last occasion that wagging tongues were set in motion against him. He was no more deterred by these things than by the physical obstacles he had encountered in the past. As usual, he just went straight ahead.

His teacher being Burmese, Burma was the place he might have made for, but difficulties presented themselves here and he could not get a visa. In the end it was Thailand to which he went. In October 1953, Phra Ṭhittavadho arrived in England from Bangkok and it was through his intervention that a visa was obtained. Money for the journey was raised in England, and in March (February according to Life as a Siamese monk) 1954, William Purfurst travelled to Bangkok. The Lord Abbot, the Venerable Chao Khun Bhāvanākosol, accepted him at Wat Paknam, Bhasicharoen, Dhonburi. His Lower ordination took place on 19th April, and on 17th, May 1954 at Wesak, he at last became a fully ordained bhikkhu with the name of Kapilavaḍḍho (“he who spreads the Dhamma,” but at the same time with a reference to Kapilavatthu, the Buddha’s birthplace).

Here he submitted to a severe course of training as a vipassanā bhikkhu. He also passed examinations in Vinaya, Sutta and Abhidhamma, thereby qualifying as a teacher in both theory and practice. Under this great teacher at Wat Paknam he gradually became renowned as a highly skilled meditator and as a scholar in the Dhamma. He lectured throughout the length and breadth of Thailand to vast crowds, and with an ever growing reputation for his qualities as a teacher and for his rigid observance of the traditional bhikkhu life. As a result, he was given permission by the Lord Abbot to return to Britain with full authority to give instruction in meditation as well as the theory of Buddhism.

He became the first European to be ordained a Bhikkhu in Thailand

The long wait…The Sāmaṇera having answered all the questions and paid salutations taken the ten precepts. Having received instructions on the holy life and possessing the eight allowances he waits in meditation for the call of the Upacāriya, the call famous throughout two thousand four hundred and ninety eight years, “come bhikkhu.” On this call he will go into the body of the Saṅgha.

During this period he was interviewed by Robert Samek, Lecturer in Commercial Law in the University of Melbourne, and the text of this interview was later published as An Introduction to Buddhist Philosophy.

The procession, led by Upāsikās (female disciples keeping eight precepts) followed by many happy lay followers, set off on the walk three times around the pagoda. The Sāmaṇera coming for final ordination follows behind, being attended by supporters and walking under the protection of ceremonial sunshades.

On 12th November 1954, the new bhikkhu returned to England. His return was given considerable press coverage. Meantime, on initiative from Ceylon, Venerable Nārada Mahāthera had opened the London Buddhist Vihāra at Ovington Gardens Knightsbridge on 17th May 1954 (since moved to Chiswick). It was here that he took up residence, after a brief stay in Manchester. A picture of the Prime Minister of Ceylon, on a visit to London, prostrating himself before the English bhikkhu, attracted much attention and even appeared in the Italian press.

Office of the Lord Abbot.
6th April. 2499 / 1955.


During his residence here whilst under my instruction, Kapilavaddho Bhikkhu has proven himself to be one of great strength and determination, maintaining the Bhikkhu Fourfold Purity with unbroken discipline and perfection.

He was ordained as a member of the Vipassana Dhura and he applied himself with unbroken practice to Samatha (Calm) and Vipassana (Insight), completing his training on attaining the highest "Dhammakaya" state in nine months. The only national other than a Thai ever to have accomplished this.

Rapidly following this he undertook an examination in Vinaya, Sutta, and Abhidhamma and qualified as Anusavanachariya and officiated in that capacity at the ordination of three English Bhikkus.

He has delivered lectures to both lay and Bhikkhu gatherings throughout Thailand and due to his great scholarship and profound understanding of Buddha Dhamma he has gained the higest of respect from Thai and foreigner alike.

Chao Khun Manga___ Muni.
Abbot of Wat Paknam.

Source: Alan James, (Aukana Trust) Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho scrapbook

"Sunday Times"
21st November 1954

The Prime Minister of Ceylon, Sir John Kotelawala, now on a visit to London, went yesterday to Knightsbridge to Britons only Buddhist Temple to pray at the shrine of Buddha, on which he laid a bowl of chrysanthemums. The saffron-robed monk before whom he kneels is an Englishman, Mr W. A. Purfurst, known as Bhikkhu Kapilavaddho.

Source: Alan James, (Aukana Trust) Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho scrapbook

The Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho’s mode of practice at this time was called the “Wat Paknam” method or Vijjā Dhammakāya meditation (also called Solasakāya) (see warning page p43 ED).

“The technique leads the meditator directly along the path to enlightenment and emancipation by combining concentration (samatha) and insight (vipassanā) meditation techniques. It is thus extremely focused and effective. The technique begins by concentrating on a point inside the body in the centre of the abdomen, two finger-widths above the navel. This point is said to be the place where consciousness has its seat. The words “Sammā Arahaṃ” can be repeated mentally to aid initial development of concentration. A luminous nucleus appears at the centre point, and then develops into a still and translucent sphere about 2 cm in diameter. Within the sphere appears another nucleus, which emerges into a sphere. The process continues with increasingly refined spheres or forms appearing in succession. The high levels of concentration achieved are used in vipassanā to develop penetrating insight. A qualified teacher is important in this practice. The late abbot Venerable Chao Khun Mongkol- Thepmuni (1884-1959) popularised this meditation system. The Wat has a book in English, “Sammā Samādhi” by T. Magness, which explains the technique in detail” (Wat Paknam website). Cyril Bartlett composed a 16 body picture for this purpose (EST library).

Hodderston Summer School 1955
1. Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho
2. Sāmaṇera Saddhāvaḍḍho
3. Maurice Walshe:- Vice Chairman of the Buddhist Society 1957; Chairman of the English Sangha Trust 1962
4. Mr Maung maung Ji

Source: Ajahn Paññāvaḍḍho, Abbot of the English Sangha Trust 1957-61

A principal reason for his return was the establishment of an English branch of the bhikkhu Sangha. This became a possibility once three young men (one English, one Welsh and one West Indian) joined him. The first step was taken when, on 5th July 1955 the first of three lower ordinations took place at Ovington gardens. Those ordained were Robert Albison, George Blake and Peter Morgan. They became the Sāmaṇeras Saddhāvaḍḍho, Vijjāvaḍḍho and Paññāvaḍḍho (He who spreads Faith, Knowledge, and Wisdom respectively), the officiating bhikkhus being Venerable Gunasiri Mahāthera the incumbent, and the Venerable Mahānāma Mahāthera, both from Ceylon, besides of course the Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho himself. The bhikkhu and the first named of these sāmaṇeras made a noteworthy, and much publicised, appearance at the Summer School at Hodderston in August 1955.

1. Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho
2. Sāmaṇera Saddhāvaḍḍho (Robert Albison)
3. Mr Bartlett (EST Chairman)
4. Peter Morgan (To become Venerable Paññāvaḍḍho)
5. Mrs Bartlett
6. Mr Mynssen (EST Director)
7. Mr Bradbury (EST Director)
8. Mrs Bradbury
9. Miss Markuse (Latvian Upasika)

Source: Ajahn Paññāvaḍḍho, Abbot of the English Sangha Trust 1957-61

The need for more organisation and funds to promote an English Sangha arose. Steps were soon taken to implement this. From Manchester he organised the first vipassanā meditation seminars later developing into courses of two weeks every year. It was at one of the early weekend courses that the English Sangha Trust was brought into being.

On the 16th Nov 1955, the first inaugural meeting of the English Sangha Trust took place (M-EST), it was incorporated on the 1st May 1956. The first committee were as follows:-

• Cyril John Bartlett (Chairman),
• Reginald Charles Howes (Secretary),
• Albert Ernest Allen (Treasurer),
• Hans Gunther Mynssen,
• Frederick Henry Bradbury,
• Ronald Joseph Browning,
• Mr Marcus acted as Solicitor for the Trust.

Mr Cyril Bartlett served on both the MBS and EST. (MW 55/56) (M-EST). Initially this new trust was heavily supported by the “Dāna fund” set up by the MBS.

On the 14th December 1955, the party of four set out for Thailand, and on 27th January 1956, the triple upasampadā ordination took place at Wat Paknam(AP) with Venerable Chao Khun Bhāvanakosol the officiating Upajjhāya (preceptor). The Venerable Chao Khun Dhammavorodon, who later became Somdet — Vice- Patriarch of Thailand, assisted as Kammavācāya.

The three sāmaṇeras were ordained together in a ceremony reported to be the biggest higher ordination ceremony known in the history of Thailand. Some 10,000 people crowded the monastery ground and its environs to witness history in the making. For history was made; for these three junior bhikkhus and their elder brother, Kapilavaḍḍho, comprising the minimum number required by vinaya to form a quorum, have established the first English Sangha. (This may be technically correct or incorrect as the four English bhikkhus were in Thailand ED) Some reports attribute the attendance of ten thousand people to Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho’s ordination in May 1954 and others to the following ordination of the three English sāmaṇeras in Jan 1956. However, according to Ajahn Paññāvaḍḍho both ceremonies would have attracted similar numbers.

1956. Wat Tartong (Golden Element) Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok
1. Venerable Saddhāvaḍḍho (Robert Albison)
2. Venerable Vijjāvaḍḍho (George Blake)
3. Venerable Paññavaḍḍho (Peter Morgan)

It will be of interest to English Buddhists to note the special tribute paid to one of their number on this occasion by the nomination of Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho Bhikkhu by the Mahā-Saṅgha of Thailand to act as anusāsanācariya (second assistant to the upajjhāya) for the ceremony. A duty customarily performed by a qualified bhikkhu of not less than ten years in the Order. A bhikkhu of fewer years may be elected to this rank only if he possesses not less than five special qualities as laid down in the vinaya rules; he must, for example, be thoroughly fit to instruct in bhāvanā and Dhamma. Kapilavaḍḍho had not yet completed his third vassa as a bhikkhu. Further more, as the strong discipline of the Sangha in Thailand necessitates the signatures of the Sangha Rāja and H.M. the King of Thailand as qualifying authorities to this nomination, English Buddhists can be justly proud of the honour conferred on one of their brothers. The three new bhikkhus retained the names given them in London: Saddhāvaḍḍho, Vijjāvaḍḍho and Paññāvaḍḍho.

The Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho returned to England alone on 21st March 1956 and resumed his work of teaching and spreading the Dhamma.

“As to the method of meditation that the Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho taught, there are two avenues of thought. Certainly he taught the Wat Paknam method at first. However it is possible that on returning to England from Thailand in March 1956 he could have taught the Mahāsī method of vipassanā meditation (Mahāsī Sayādaw method was available in Thailand from 1952). The extract below supports this:” (ED)

“History has again been made by the Buddhist Society, Manchester when they organised a summer meditation week. From the 11th to the 18th August sixteen people undertook a week’s strict training in Satipaṭṭhāna under the guidance of the Venerable Bhikkhu Kapilavaḍḍho.

Those who have never undertaken a meditation week may like to know what takes place. At the beginning of the week the Venerable Bhikkhu Kapilavaḍḍho gave a talk outlining the procedure, which necessitates every physical movement being undertaken mindfully. Not a limb should be moved without doing it consciously and carefully, thus, walking is slow, and eating is very slow. At the same time, thoughts are carefully watched, and breaks in concentration noted. People stay in their own room, except for meals. No reading is allowed, and as much time as possible is devoted to meditation practice under strict instruction and guidance. Before a session commences the eight precepts are taken, which includes not eating after mid-day.

What are the results? No one can tell you what it is like — you can only experience it, and then know. You cannot fail to learn a great deal. If you want to make real progress in understanding the Dhamma it is advisable that such work should be undertaken, for no amount of intellectual knowledge alone can give real insight and certainty. Dr Suzuki’s words at the beginning of one of his lectures at Gordon Square are the key to the situation. He said, “Throw away all books. For no amount of book learning can give true understanding.”

(Reported by R Howes, MW Nov 1956)

“However, according to Ajahn Paññāvaḍḍho he continued to teach the Wat Paknam method at least until he disrobed in 1957. It could be that he retained the Wat Paknam Method for his own practice and the Mahāsī method for others on retreat. Or it could be that the Wat Paknam method included this slow moving process as well, but I doubt it.

Dr M. Clark, who in 1967 was a disciple of the Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho said that at that time he taught the Mahāsī method, because he had found that the “Wat Paknam” method could have an adverse effect on people’s minds. He suggested that the Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho may have found the Mahāsī method in two books — “The Heart of Buddhist Meditation” by Nyanaponika and “The Way of Mindfulness” by Soma Thera.” (ED)

* * * * *


“RUJING SAID. One of the most essential practices for the training in the monks’ hall is the practice of slow walking. There are many elders here and there nowadays who do not know about this practice. In fact, only a few people know how to do it. To do the slow walking practice you co-ordinate the steps with the breathing. You walk without looking at the feet, without bending over or looking up. You go so slowly it looks like you’re not moving at all. Do not sway when you walk. Then he walked back and forth several times in the Great Light Storehouse Hall to show me how to do it and said to me; nowadays I am the only one who knows this slow walking practice. If you ask elders in different monasteries about it, I’m sure you’ll find they don’t know it.”

I ASKED. The nature of all things is either good, bad, or neutral. Which of these is the Buddha Dhamma?

RUJING SAID. The Buddha Dhamma goes beyond these three.

I ASKED. The wide road of the Buddhas and ancestors cannot be confined to a small space. How can we limit it to something as small as the “Zen school”?

RUJING REPLIED. To call the wide road of the Buddhas and ancestors “the Zen school” “is thoughtless talk. “The Zen school” is a false name used by baldheaded idiots, and all sages from ancient times are aware of this.

Tiantong Rujing: [Tendo Nyojo] 1163-1228, China. A dharma heir of Xuedou Zhijian, Caodong School. Taught at Qingliang Monastery, Jiankang (Jiangsu), at Ruiyan Monastery, Tai Region (Zhejiang) and at Jingci Monastery, Hang Region (Zhejiang). In 1225 he became abbot of Jingde Monastery, Mt. Tiantong, Ming Region (Zhejiang), where he transmitted dharma to Dogen.

Source: Enlightenment Unfolds, edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi. (C) 1999 by San Francisco Zen Centre. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc., Boston, http://www.shambhala.com

* * * * *

A flat was rented in June 1956 at 10 Orme Court, Bayswater, followed by leasing a house in December 1956 at 50 Alexandra Road, Swiss Cottage. The monthly journal Sangha was started under the editorship of Ruth Lester.

Picture of the First Published Magazine
Source: Sangha Magazine

In April 1956 Bhikkhu Saddhāvaḍḍho returned to England and disrobed. In June, news arrived that Bhikkhu Vijjāvaḍḍho was ill, so Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho went to Thailand. He returned to England with the Bhikkhus Vijjāvaḍḍho and Paññāvaḍḍho. Shortly after this, the Venerable Vijjāvaḍḍho disrobed.

The Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho lectured in Europe. Whilst in Germany, he met Dr Lisa Schroeder (philosophy) and twin brothers Walter and Gunther Kulbarz who later came to stay with him in England. Dr Lisa Schroeder became Upāsikā Cintavāsī and the twins became Sāmaṇeras Saññāvaḍḍho and Sativaḍḍho. Arthur Wooster became Sāmaṇera Ñāṇavaḍḍho (see page 105 ED). Venerable Paññāvaḍḍho lived in Sale, Cheshire in charge of the Manchester Buddhist Society for some four or five months.

The pace never slackened and his output of work, writing, teaching, and administration grew. His weekly itinerary was exhausting, almost every weekend he would be in Manchester with a program of classes, talks, and interviews which started at noon on the Saturday and continued usually (quite literally) right through until we took him to his train early on Monday morning. What breaks there were, were for food and a half-hour rest between activities. He went immediately to Leeds, then to Oxford, Cambridge, and Brighton and back to London. To my knowledge he seldom slept more than three hours a night. He would meditate, study, and write throughout the usual hours for sleep and his day was filled by teaching and travelling.

Obviously such a pace could not continue without effect, even allowing for his iron constitution and a similar will to drive it to its limits. His health rapidly deteriorated. He became almost blind at one point and finally he retired from the Order in June 1957, having been given an average estimate of one month to live by four independent doctors, fortunately the doctors were wrong. To preserve his anonymity, he did not revert to the name of William Purfurst, becoming instead Richard Randall. At first he was nursed though the critical stage of his illness by Ruth Lester, who had edited Sangha from its inception. Presently, she became Ruth Randall and the time was to come when he was restored to health and devote his time and strength (apart from holding down a strenuous job) to nursing her in the grievous illness that had befallen her. Ten years elapsed during which time the Buddhist community in Britain knew nothing of the whereabouts of the man who had been Bhikkhu Kapilavaḍḍho.

Sources: The above has been compiled mainly from articles written by Maurice Walshe and John Garry (see chronology) on Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho. However additional information has been added to this from other sources.

5th February, 1957.
Dear Biku,
I am rather pleased with this snapshot I took in the television studio, and thought you might like to have a copy.
Yours sincerely,

Upāsikā Cintavāsī formerly Dr Lisa Schroeder (philosophy)
Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho
Source: Alan James, Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho scrapbook, Aukana Trust

"Manchester Evening News"
21st Sept 1956

Monk Morgan Brings Buddha to the North West

Bhikkhu Pannavaddho (formerly Peter Morgan) sits beside a Buddha statue at the house in Grosvenor Square, Sale where he lives.

Evening news reporter

In the front room in a quiet, leafy, Sale, Cheshire road, sits a young man of history. For he is the first resident minister in the English provinces of a world religion born about 2,400 years ago.

Peter Morgan was the Christening name given to Bhikkhu (monk) Pannavaddho, aged 30 who once worked as an electrical engineer. He spent most of his life in Llanelly, Carmarthenshire.

Then he picked up a booklet on Buddhism. It interested him…and in January this year he was ordained as a bhikkhu in Thailand.

Now Pannavaddho (Pali for “He who spreads and increases wisdom”) has only eight worldly possessions — and exactly 227 rules of life.

HE OWNS: Three robes, a begging bowl, razor, water strainer, needle and cotton.

He is maintained by the small but growing Manchester Buddhist community. His rules forbid him to possess or handle money.

Source: Alan James, (Aukana Trust) Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho scrapbook

* * * * *

People all over the world who are interested in Buddhism and keep in touch with its news and activities must have heard of the Buddha Jayanti celebrations held a few years ago in all Buddhist countries, including India and Japan. It was in 1957 or, according to the reckoning of some Buddhist countries, in 1956, that Buddhism, as founded by Gotama the Buddha, had completed its 2,500th year of existence. The Buddhist tradition especially of the Theravāda or Southern School such as now prevails in Burma, Ceylon, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, has it that on the completion of 2,500 years from its foundation, Buddhism would undergo a great revival. Resulting in its all-round progress, in both the fields of study and practice. Buddhists throughout the world, therefore, commemorated the occasion in 1956-57 by various kinds of activities such as meetings, symposiums, exhibitions and the publication of Buddhist texts and literature.

Source: (Ebooks buddhanet.net) “Buddhism in Thailand Its Past and its present” by Karuna Kusalasaya. First published by Buddhist Publication Society 1965
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Re: Honour Thy Fathers: A Tribute to the Ven. Kapilavaddho

Postby admin » Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:32 am

The English Sangha Trust


“The Venerable Paññāvaḍḍho took over the responsibilities of the Vihāra following the retirement of Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho. Supporting him were the three sāmaṇeras and one sāmaṇerī. He had the task of training the other Sangha members and teaching the laity. This he did until he returned to Thailand on 21st November 1961. He became a disciple of Ajahn Mahā Boowa and has remained there until this day. He is at present the most senior English bhikkhu.” (ED)

“During this time the twin German sāmaṇeras became Bhikkhus Dhammiko and Vimalo, the first bhikkhus to be ordained on British soil in a historic ceremony at the Thai Embassy on the 2nd July 1958.”

(MW 1962-63)

“In September 1959 a large gift of £24,000 was donated to the trust from a Mr H. J. Newlin. And in June 1960 Eve Engle (Sister Visākhā) — a long term supporter who gave valued assistance in the formation of the Trust unfortunately drowned off the coast of Ceylon and left a legacy of £15,000.”


“The Association is most deeply indebted to Bhikkhu Paññāvaḍḍho. Under his guidance the small, young movement grew and gained stability. This led to an increase in the number of members, and a widening of its relationship with the general public. Two magnificent donations given while he was bhikkhu in charge at Sangha House have made possible, among other things, the new Vihāra at 131 Haverstock Hill and the meditation centre; have enabled the Sangha Trust to send the sāmaṇeras he trained to the East for further study. When he returned to Thailand two years ago, he left a movement as firmly established, as is possible in this anicca world. We owe, and will continue to owe a debt of gratitude for his instruction in Dhamma.”

(5 Jan 1964)

“Members of the Association will be pleased to see a translation by Bhikkhu Paññāvaḍḍho in this issue. The Thai original, named, Handbook for the Practice of Dhamma was written by the Venerable Sumedho Bhikshu (Ācariya Lun), who is the Abbot of Wat Vivekaram in Thailand, and a recognised teacher of meditation.

It was while staying at the Wat that Bhikkhu Paññāvaḍḍho was given the book to read, and decided to do the translation. Princess Poon Pismai Diskul read the manuscript, and Her Serene Highness kindly brought it to the notice of the Buddhist Association of Thailand, who gladly accepted the responsibility of its publication. The Association has always been eager to translate some worthy books on Dhamma into English, particularly those, which deal as this does, with the practice as well as the theory of the Buddha’s teaching.

Bhikkhus at the Summer School
Left to Right. Jīvako Sāmaṇera, Dhammiko Bhikkhu, Saddhātissa Mahā Thera, Jīvānanda Mahā Thera, Paññavaḍḍho Bhikkhu, Rāhula Sāmaṇera, Vimalo Bhikkhu.
Source: Middle Way Magazine, 1960-61

The book contains about a hundred pages; the brief extract in Sangha cannot give more than a slight indication of the whole. It has an introduction and notes by Bhikkhu Paññāvaḍḍho, “so that the reader may approach the book from the right view-point, and see how the sections link one to another progressively.” To quote the last sentence of the introduction: “May all who read this book attain that Right View which tends towards Nibbāna even as the River Ganges tends towards the ocean.”

(5 Jan 1964)

Venerable Ananda Bodhi

Source: Middle Way Magazine, 1962-63

“On November 9th 1961, the Venerable Ananda Bodhi (formerly Leslie Dawson), arrived at Sangha House to take over from the Venerable Paññāvaḍḍho. Ananda Bodhi, a Canadian born monk had spent the last three years in Thailand, Burma, and Sri Lanka. His practice came from studying under the same teacher as the Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho (the Venerable Chao Khun Bhāvanākosol also known as Chao Khun Mongkol-Thepmuni). During his stay, the Trust bought 131 Haverstock Hill in September 1962 and 129 Haverstock Hill in January 1963. Also Biddulph Old Hall in the north was purchased as a meditation centre. From 1964 and up to the return of the Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho in May 1967, a number of bhikkhus stayed at Hampstead.” (ED)

Hampstead Buddhist Vihara. Source: Benham & Reeves Auction details

Biddulph Old Hall

Biddulph Old Hall. Source: Sangha Magazine, May 1963

“Who is free from sense perception
In him no more bonds exist;
Who by insight freedom gains,
All delusions cease in him;
But who clings to sense perceptions,
And to view-points wrong and false
He lives wrangling in this world.”

Source; Suttanipāta

* * * * *

The Goal and Essence of Spiritual Life

In a few similes the Buddha showed how easily a person who originally was seeking for Nibbāna gets stuck by identifying himself with virtue, with certain levels of contemplation or even with understanding. Then he goes on to say: "The essence of spiritual life does not lie in virtue, meditation or understanding. The unshakeable liberation of the mind – that is the essence, the goal and the perfection of spiritual life). So easily we tend to lose sight of the real goal of the spiritual quest by identifying ourselves with any attainment and in that way we arrive at inner stagnation. Although many people believe they are searching for Nibbāna, they are really only seeking security in one form or another. As soon as they feel secure they stop going any further. If any discontent arises they often smother it by pursuing the objects of their desires without seeing that they cannot solve the problem in that way. Only he can go very far on the spiritual path who can keep alive the discontent with anything which he has attained short of the highest goal. The Buddha said he had always kept two things in mind: never to become content with (the development of) good qualities and not to become lax in his spiritual quest. "As long as the bhikkhus do not stop half-way by being content with some minor attainments, they can go far and will not fall back.”

Consciously or unconsciously, many Buddhists hold the view that in this unfavourable time it is not possible to reach Nibbāna and therefore they do not exert themselves overmuch. “Far, far away is enlightenment for those who are lazy.” “As long as there is real dedication to the Dharma, Buddhism will not disappear.” “This, the Deathless, has been reached by many and even now it can be won, but only when there’s total dedication. Strive not and you will not attain!” “The realization of Nibbāna – that is the highest blessing.”

(Bhikkhu Vimalo)

Source: Extract from "Awakening to Truth." DFP http://www.insightmeditation.org
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