All the guests were, as you might expect, connected with me in some way.
Ven. Pemasiri is now the abbot of a park-like meditation centre about 15 miles east of Colombo. When I arrived in Sri Lanka he was the chief monk of the order. I wanted to join this particular grouping of monks for they were devoted to the Mahasi Tradition (see below). He was my ordinand. I recommend a visit, should you ever go to Sri Lanka.
Ven. Silavimala is now the chief monk at The London Buddhist Vihara in Chiswick. It was there that I returned to stay while looking after my mother in the last few months of her life. And it was also there that I began to teach. I owe a great deal to the support of Ven Vajiranyana who was the chief monk at the time and who sadly died recently.
Ven. Piyananda is the abbot of Kanduboda Meditation centre which is where I was resident for eight years. He is also the head of the order.
Ven.Pesala is a long time ordained English monk living in London. We share the same root teacher, Ven.Dr.Rewata Dhamma (see below). He has a devotee of the Mahasi Tradition and has an extensive website:www.aimwell.org.uk
Ven. Vinitha and next to him Ven Dhammarakhita are young monks from Kanduboda.
Next to me on the left is an old friend, Ven.Vimalo who lives at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery and has a very good reputation as a teacher. We spent time together at Kanduboda.
Ven Subhado is also an old friend. He used to rent an ‘underground’ flat next to the Buddhist Society near Victoria Station in London. Whenever I taught there he would offer me shelter for the night.
Catherine McGee is a teacher at Gaia House and represents for me the four years I spent there. It was my Dhamma Teacher Training Centre.
Anagarika Niva is also a resident of Amaravati.
I spent a short year with the Thai Forest Order at Amaravati. During that time LunPor Sumedho was teaching. It was one of his retreats that drew me from Zen into Theravada.
Fr. Silouan is an Orthodox monk and lives the solitary life just across the way on the Stiperstone Hills. He has a Buddhist connection and we have co-taught on a course. It’s a blessing for me to have another monk so close by.
Sr.Karen is a student of Fr.Silouan.
Sr.Ruth I have known for a long time and is an Anglican nun, but also a lineage holder in the Chan tradition. We have attended each others course. Hopefully, she will soon have her own hermitage.
These three represent for me the debt I owe to my Christian upbringing.
Others who came but are not in this photo.
Ven. Uttaranyana is the chief monk at the Birmingham Buddhist Vihara. This was where I began my Theravada experience. At that time Ven.Dr.Rewata Dhamma was the resident monk and he became my root teacher in this tradition. He died about 3 years ago and I am sad he was not here. He has left a beautiful pagoda. Worth a visit.
Ven Nagasena is also a monk at the Birmingham Buddhist Vihara and teaches there. Hopefully, he will come to teach at Satipanya.
Mar Mar Lwin is Burmese and has lived in Britain for a long time. She was the one who supported my ordination and offered me the robes.
These three had to leave early.
Finally, last but for me most important of them all, is Vajira Bailey. It was dark, cold January evening that a 30 year old man in crisis knocked on her door. Her instruction had all the simplicity of Zen. ‘Sit facing the wall and watch whatever comes up.’ I never looked back! After our biological mother and father, I don’t think there is anyone you can be more thankful to than the one who gives you your spiritual birth. I subsequently spent three years as a Zen practitioner and took Jukai, lay ordination, after a year at Throssel Hole Abbey in Northumberland. Also worth a visit.
This list by no means exhausts the gratitude I owe to so many people without whose guidance and help Satipanya Buddhist Retreat would never have materialised.