Author Archives: 108

A Sojourn in Nepal.


Kathmandu cityscape from Kopan.

Sunrise from a terrace in Chuchepatti, Kathmandu.


Boudha before the storm.


Girl in a green hat.

Girl in red, Pashupathinath.

Girl in red, Pashupathinath

A fine crop, Sermatang, Helambu.

Tibetan Monastery, Lumbini

Green tea, fresh and dried.

Across the valley to Ganja La

Hanan Goder, the 20th Ambassador of Israel to Nepal.

The Noble Sūtra Teaching the Eleven Perceptions, from the Words of the Buddha


Today we have a very relevant and wise offering from Tsering Paldron. of the Eleven Perceptions from the words of the Buddha
Tsering says about her offering of the Eleven Perceptions below,
“I feel that this teaching is absolutely crucial – so simple and yet so profound on how to die with grace and wisdom, but also how to live and take every breath.”

Here is the offering with the link at the end for LOTSAWA HOUSE TRANSLATION

Wishing you every blessing , a joyful mind and good health,
Margaret Richardson

The Sutra of the Eleven Perceptions

In the language of India: Āryasaṃjñānaikādaśanirdeśasūtra
In the language of Tibet: Pakpa düshé chuchik tenpé do (‘phags pa ‘du shes bcu gcig bstan pa’i mdo)
[In the English language: The Noble Sūtra Teaching the Eleven Perceptions]

Homage to the Three Jewels!

Thus did I hear at one time. The Blessed One was dwelling in the dwelling in the Grove of Twin Sāl-Trees in the vicinity of the Malla town of Kuśinagara. As the time came for his mahāparinirvāṇa, he addressed the monks:

“O monks, at the time of death, a monk should engender the eleven perceptions. What are these eleven? They are:

  1. The perception of non-attachment to this life
  2. The perception of love for all beings
  3. The perception of relinquishing all grudges
  4. The perception of confessing all debauched discipline
  5. The perception of genuinely taking all the vows of discipline
  6. The perception of lightness towards even major wrongdoing
  7. The perception of greatness towards even minor roots of virtue
  8. The perception of fearlessness towards the next world
  9. The perception of impermanence towards all conditioned things
  10. The perception of selflessness toward all phenomena
  11. The perception of understanding nirvāṇa to be peace

As soon as the Blessed One had said this, all the monks rejoiced and praised the words of the Blessed One. This completes Teaching the Eleven Perceptions, the final testament of the Blessed One.

 Lhasey Lotsawa Translations (trans. Lowell Cook, ed. Stefan Mang), 2020.

Personal stories, reviews, poetry, videos, photos, etc are welcome.
Send to:

Wishing everyone peace and happiness
Albert Harris, Ed.




Yeshe:  Centaurea Montana Perennial Cornflower


War is not the answer
A Buddhist peacemaker, Thich Nhat Hanh describes his own efforts to bring succour to villagers in Vietnam suffering from the war in spite of his opposition to the position of the government.  Hanh was a pioneer of Engaged Buddhism involving his activism in both inner and outer conflicts.
Click here for the article

Flowers for peace
Inspired by the present situation in the world, Dorje Lama has posted photos of flowers under the heading Flowers for Peace.  There is also a link should readers be inspired to post some of their own creations on Facebook.
Click here for the article.

n contrast to a situation of turmoil and doubt, the Orcadian poet Edwin Muir portrays the peace and stillness of a child’s life in the islands of Scotland’s north.
Click here for the poem.

The Charcoal Seller
Translated by Arthur Waley, this poem is taken from a series of poems depicting the exploitation of a peasant.
Click here for the poem

Neurodiversity and Creativity
Dr Kai Syng Tan is an artist,  curator, researcher, and consultant who lectures at Manchester Metropolitan University.  She is known for her interdisciplinary/intercultural approach to making interventions in the world around her.

She was diagnosed with ADHD in 2015 and since then has become an advocate for the notion of neurodiversity.

She initiated a major arts/science collaboration to explore ‘mind wandering’
and co-founded the Neurodiversity in/And Creative Research Network.

Jane Clark talked to her in Manchester via Zoom.
The article appears in Beshara Magazine, Issue 21, 2022, Remarkable Lives
Click here for a link to the article


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Personal stories, reviews, poetry, videos, photos, etc are welcome.
Send to:

Wishing everyone peace and happiness 
Albert Harris, Ed.





Photo: Bill Grosart

Flowers have been used to signify peace for millennia.  Lavender is said to be the ultimate peace flower, though many others are recognised as symbolising concord and harmony:  apple blossoms, lotus flowers, lilies, and white poppies are said to help bring tranquillity and peace to our lives.

Below is a link to a public group on Facebook, Flowers for Peace; you can join and contribute your own photos as the seasons roll by.

The following photos are from an album saved on my computer.


Click on the photos for full screen



Dorje Lama, Kathmandu, Nepal


A Buddhist Peacemaker
Born in Vietnam in 1926, Thich Nhat Hanh has been a peacemaker since his ordination as a Buddhist monk at the age of 16. During the Vietnam War, he helped villagers who were suffering as a result of bombing. He opposed his government’s policies and as a consequence was exiled from his country. He later settled in France. He is a pioneer of Engaged Buddhism, which argues that if Buddhists are to achieve true inner peace, they must work on changing the structures of society that influence people’s mental states and behaviour. Inner and outer change go hand in hand.
Thich Nhat Hanh has combined traditional meditative practices with non-violent protest, emphasising how meditation can help to dissolve anger, which is a primary cause of conflict. On one occasion, he was organising the rescue of hundreds of Vietnamese refugees using boats from Singapore. When the police found out his plan they ordered him out of the country and did not permit the boats to leave.

He wrote, ‘What could we do in such a situation? We had to breathe deeply and consciously. Otherwise we might panic, or fight with the police, or do something to express our anger at their lack of humanity.’

Source: Religion, Philosophy and Ethics at Haberdashers’ Abraham Darby




Long time he lay upon the sunny hill,

      To his father’s house below securely bound.

Far off the silent, changing sound was still,

     With the black islands lying thick around.

He saw each separate height, each vaguer hue,

     Where the massed islands rolled in mist away,

And though all run together in his view

     He knew that unseen straits between them lay.

Often he wondered what new shores were there,

     In thought he saw the still light on the sand,

The shallow water clear in tranquil air,

     And walked through it in joy from strand to strand.

Over the sound so slow a ship would pass

     That in the black hill’s gloom it seemed to lie,

The evening sound was smooth like sunken glass,

     And time seemed finished ere the ship passed by.

Grey tiny rocks slept round him where he lay,

     Moveless as they, more still as evening came,

The grasses threw straight shadows far away,

     And from the house his mother called his name.

Edwin Muir (1887-1959)




(A Satire against “Kommandatur”)

An old charcoal-seller
Cutting wood and burning charcoal in the forests of the              Southern Mountain.
His face, stained with dust and ashes, has turned to the
colour of smoke.
The hair on his temples is streaked with gray: his ten fingers are black.
The money he gets by selling charcoal, how far does it go?
It is just enough to clothe his limbs and put food in his
Although, alas, the coat on his back is a coat without lining.
He hopes for the coming of cold weather, to send up the
price of coal!
Last night, outside the city,—a whole foot of snow;
At dawn he drives the charcoal wagon along the frozen ruts.
Oxen,—weary; man,—hungry: the sun, already high;
Outside the Gate, to the south of the Market, at last they stop
in the mud.
Suddenly, a pair of prancing horsemen. Who can it be
A public official in a yellow coat and a boy in a white shirt.
In their hands they hold a written warrant: on their tongues
—the words of an order;
They turn back the wagon and curse the oxen, leading them
off to the north.
A whole wagon of charcoal,
More than a thousand pieces!
If officials choose to take it away, the woodman may not
Half a piece of red silk and a single yard of damask,
The Courtiers have tied to the oxen’s collar, as the price
of a wagon of coal!

From: A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems
Translator: Arthur Waley


Dr Kai Syng Tan is an artist,  curator, researcher, and consultant who lectures at Manchester Metropolitan University.  She is known for her interdisciplinary/intercultural approach to making interventions in the world around her.

She was diagnosed with ADHD in 2015 and since then has become an advocate for the notion of neurodiversity.

She initiated a major arts/science collaboration to explore ‘mind wandering’
and co-founded the Neurodiversity in/And Creative Research Network.

Jane Clark talked to her in Manchester via Zoom.

Click here for the article.



Because you are alive, everything is possible.
(Thich Nhat Hanh: 1926 – 2022)

Welcome to this edition of Many Roads for Bodhicharya

To start the New Year, Dónal Creedon held a week-long retreat on Zoom for more than 90 participants.  The title was Returning to Silence, an apt subject to transport us from a hectic 2021 to a new start for 2022.  Pat Little, a member of Bodhicharya Ireland the Dublin Kagyu Samye Dzong, has written a review on Dónal’s lead in the sessions which were structured around teaching and meditation.
Click here: The Review

From Ianthe Pickles we have another keen observation of the fox that regularly visits her allotment.
Click here:  Fox diary

A revisit to Ringu Tulku Rinpoche’s The Four Reminders in a video from the archives.
Click here:  The Four Reminders

Living and Dying in Peace has a varied collection of Contemplations, Question and Answers.
Click here: Living and Dying in Peace

The Egyptian film “L’ALTRA PAR”, which lasted only 2 minutes, won the award for the best short film at the Film Festival. The director is 20 years old.  The film describes how people isolate themselves in technology and forget one of the best things in life, Human Coexistence with Love and Brotherhood.
Click here:  L’ALTRA PAR

New Life in Thailand offers an insight into the centre in Chiang Rai, Thailand, where visitors can experience counseling, life coaching and therapy.  Julian, the manager, is from Belgium and feels he is the happiest man in the world.
Click here:  An Interview with Juien Grype

Finally, a collection of superb photos by Bill Grosart, Leader of the University of the Third Age Edinburgh Photographic Group.
Click here:  Bill Grosart

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Wishing everyone peace and happiness over the New Year
Albert Harris, Ed.



October 12th 2021 , 4.30ish pm

Dusk, a tub full of freshly picked Autumn raspberries, a warm moody sky, and you appear out of nowhere!

You must have jumped the 8’ high fence, as there you are, to the left of me, the fence on my right, on the top path. Our eyes meet; I am transfixed. I do not want to miss a moment.

You break the stare first; on a mission, you are distracted by something stirring amongst the sage bushes; the sideways movement of your head is almost comical, like a cat at play…perhaps you are playing?

I stand stock still; you respond by feeling at ease, sniff the air, and search amongst the foliage for morsels to eat. You descend into the patch of Chioggia beetroot. Now I can see the full length of your body, your majestic bottle-brush tail balancing your every move.

I know where you are going, and feel pleased that today I have facilitated this feast for you. A newly uncovered patch of compost, from my compost bin, succulent with worms, is your draw. You head that way, as I expect. I dare to turn my body to look, and catch a glimpse of you busying yourself digging down into the rich dark treasure.

November 19th 2021

I have come up here especially to see you! An unfavourable day in the biodynamic calendar, and with no urgency to pick any vegetables, I know I can give you my full purpose…I just want to see you!

It is an auspicious day, a full moon, with a partial eclipse in the Southern Hemisphere; warm, still with no wind, with a temperature of 13 degrees and a cloud streaked sky. It’s about 4.30pm.

I scan the field, but, do you know, you always surprise me? I don’t think I would have caught sight of you had you not moved swiftly through the dead grass (which, by the way, is the same colour as your coat in the fading light)

You do that thing of bounding across the plot, and then turning to give me that full-faced, orange and white stare of yours. There is a gauze fence between us, and we hold each other’s gaze for a few precious minutes. This time, I break the ‘fixed look’, but not before I whisper a few loving words your way, so I hope you catch my drift. I want to let you go, so that you can continue to forage.

Maybe, next time, I’ll have the courage to sing to you?

I’ll have to find a suitable fox-themed song … one that does not involve hunters and hounds!

December 31st 2021, 4pm

My yearning for you never ceases.

I always arrive here, up at the allotment, hopeful that I will see you, or, at least, see evidence of your presence. Two days ago your footprints on bare soil betrayed your existence; this week a fellow allotmenteer saw you early morning!

I know that winter must be a tough time for you, food may be scarce, but who am I to say this? Rats and pigeons are plentiful; worms are driven to the surface by this incessant rain! Perhaps I am wrong to assume that you are struggling? It is unseasonably warm too, at 14 degrees! We have not got the harsh winters of yesteryear, although that may be still to come.

I am heartened by the fact that you are still around, that you can manage to cross busy roads and survive the rigours of this crowded modern life. It is such a joy to be able to write about you.

It is dusk. I am sharing my intentions with friends, and explaining my resolve on this providential Eve. We exchange salutations, best wishes and hopes, building excitement by the promise of a New Year, happy to leave behind the shocking sadness of events from the past.

The pink sky throws a giant counterpane over the vast field, tucking it in, and keeping it safe for tomorrow and a New Year. I turn to lock my shed, and notice that the old boots placed by my hut, next to the Japonica, are no longer a pair! One wizened woody rosemary branch, which I quirkily place inside a boot, has been playfully tossed aside!

One boot remains visible; where is the other? For me, this is the sign I have been waiting for! ‘Foxy’! You have been doing what foxes do!!

You have (I imagine) picked up the gnarled and twisted stick, played with it, and then discarded it, in favour of the sumptuous leather-smelling boot. You then have carried or dragged it (is quite heavy, especially when wet) to another part of my plot!

I declare my excited response to Sam, and he is immediately drawn into the search for the missing boot. Sam finds something, and says, “Is this what you are looking for?” There it is! … discarded, on what I determine is a regular foxy route through my Autumn fruiting raspberry patch.


I’m glad you feel safe here, to have fun and to play, that you follow your natural inquisitiveness and sniff out interesting objects that take your fancy, in this small space of mine. It makes me smile and gives me both thrill and comfort to know that you are still here.

Now, my year is complete.

Ianthe Pickles
Lives in Liverpool
Worked for 37 years as a full-time Primary and later Secondary/Special School teacher and college tutor.
“Writing (especially poetry) was often a release during emotional and turbulent times in the 1980s working in an area of severe deprivation and unemployment in Liverpool. 
When life gets out of control, writing can often help it make sense.”




The Four Reminders can help with facing the reality and preciousness of a human life, the importance of impermanence, and the imminence of death:

Ringu Tulku’s words on the Four Reminders, from the Ngondro book:

“Precious human life endowed with every freedom and assets. It is difficult to get and can be easily destroyed, so now is the time to make it meaningful.

The universe and everything that lives therein is impermanent, particularly the lives of beings, who are like water bubbles. The time of death is uncertain, and when you die, you will become a corpse. Dharma will help you at that time, therefore practise it diligently now.

Thirdly, after your death you will have to experience your own karma, having no degree over what happens.
So give up harmful actions, all your time should be spent in the practice of virtue. Thinking this way, evaluate your life daily.

Your are constantly tormented by the three kinds of sufferings. Therefore, samsaric places, friends, pleasures and possessions are like a party given by an executioner, who will lead you to the place of execution. Cutting through the snares of attachment, strive for enlightenment with diligence.



Photo: Yeshe Dorje

31 December 2021 – 7 January 2022

There is something in the title that Dónal chose for this retreat that only became clear as it progressed: we are to return to silence as our natural state. This silence has been obscured: we have been diverted from it by the noise and bustle of the world and, more fundamentally, by an error of perspective.  But it is possible to find it again. This perception formed a kind of ground bass to the seven days we spent together meditating on the theme.

We were deeply grateful to Dónal for engaging once again with a retreat through Zoom, due to the pandemic still raging throughout the world. The pros and cons of using Zoom are finely balanced. On the negative side, there are the technical hitches that inevitably beset all those participating, including Dónal himself; there is the distancing effect of working through the screen rather than face-to-face and the impossibility of engaging with other participants in a meaningful way; and there is the fact that participants are still having to deal with the intrusive every day, still having to keep the ship afloat in terms of family and professional commitments. The real test of the retreat is therefore how adequately one maintains mindfulness in the storm when one is not ‘on the cushion’, literally or figuratively.

On the other hand, there is the undoubted plus of having participants gathered together from many parts of the world – in this case uniting Ireland with the UK and mainland Europe, but also Southern Africa, in centres where Dónal has been in the habit over the years of conducting physical retreats. The result was that there were over ninety retreatants present in virtual form for some sessions, coming from many different spiritual traditions or none at all.

The daily schedule was similar to that to which we have become accustomed: early morning silent meditation, then a teaching session followed by another meditation session. In the afternoon there were three more meditation sessions, sometimes with a teaching element, or Question and Answer, with the final session of the day given over to silent loving-kindness meditation. The breadth of possibilities this afforded was chosen deliberately by Dónal, reluctant to impose specifically Buddhist forms on the retreat, given the varied backgrounds of the participants. So no Chenrezig, for instance.

This breadth, in fact, reflects Dónal’s own background as he outlined his own spiritual journey from his initial discovery, as a young man still feeling his way, of Krishnamurti’s teachings, with which he still engages, to Tibetan Buddhism and long retreats in Samye Ling, leading to the discovery of many ‘sublime teachers’  such as Ringu Tulku Rinpoche and Thrangu Rinpoche being prominent and with whom he follows with loving attention. But concurrently, he spent several years as Resident Buddhist Scholar at the Krishnamurti Centre in Varanasi, India, refining his knowledge of that teacher’s work and influence.

His itinerary is charted in the study he published in 2017, (The Main of Light: Common Ground and Dividing Lines in the Teachings of Jiddu Krishnamurti and Buddhism in which the two main aspects of his spiritual path illuminate each other with a rare intensity.

On the first morning of this Zoom retreat, Dónal outlined the principles that should guide our meditation. We should bear in mind the traditional approach of the lamas, who emphasised listening with the correct motivation: the noble bodhisattva motivation, at its most basic, reposing on the wish that all beings be happy and free from suffering. This was crucial, he said, whether we felt that the teacher was talking sense or nonsense: we listen with this motivation, and analyse afterwards. The traditional approach includes study, retreat and meditation on the words of great Dharma figures of the past and the present. This is the way of complexity.

There is also, however, the direct path of the yogis, Mahamudra and Dzogchen. In this approach, there is no need for intensive study of texts and teachings: the study involved is that of the mind itself. Simple, but not easy, Dónal emphasised. Outlining the approach, he went through the various stages involved:

  • The body should be firm like a mountain

  • The mind like space

  • The breath free like the wind.

Then again:

  • Rest naturally, without altering

  • Don’t follow thoughts about the past or the future

  • Don’t invite thoughts

  • Trust, don’t doubt the mind’s capacity for spontaneous wisdom

This should be done, at the beginning at least, for very short periods: using the breath as support, counting up to three breaths, resting / not resting, but with total attention. This sounds easy enough, but the meditator needs to discover for him- or herself what this means.

In subsequent teaching sessions, Dónal turned his attention to the sufferings endured by all beings in the world. What is their cause? The Dharma identifies some of these; craving is one basic one, defined here as the movement of the mind in the dualistic situation in which we find ourselves. The solution to the problem is always somewhere else, ‘out there’, in the future. But this is just self-delusion, the condition of conflict and sorrow in the world, both personal and on a global scale.

This craving in its turn is based on ignorance, ignorance of the way the world works and how our minds function. In a fascinating teaching, Dónal compared the interpretation of the self in Western and Buddhist traditions. Using the Western developmental model of the child, he demonstrated that in this way of thinking, an individual has to develop a firm sense of self to be whole and to function adequately. According to the American psychotherapist Jack Engler [See interview with Jack Engler] the self is the organising principle of the psyche, and a lack of a sense of self leads to mental illness. ‘You have to be somebody before you can be nobody’, as Dónal put it.

In Buddhism, on the contrary, it is craving that creates the self, and that leads therefore to many problems of the mind. For Buddhism, the self is not solid, it is a process rather than an entity, and its construction can be defined as a verb rather than a noun. Dónal evoked the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus at this point, for whom all is flow. You never step twice into the same river. This apprehension leads to a great openness, an optimistic perspective that we are capable of change, that we are not stuck in a rigid state from which we cannot escape. The Buddha’s teachings are thus not just about suffering, but rather about the solution to suffering.

To understand this, we need to understand the nature of craving, based as it is on a fundamental split, between me and the object craved for, a dualism so fundamental that we seldom question it. And yet it is fundamentally flawed, an error to be corrected, as Thrangu Rinpoche has ably demonstrated. It is only a step to seeing thought itself as the main problem. This somewhat revolutionary idea is put forward by figures such as Krishnamurti, an inspirational but controversial figure, and the physicist David Bohm, as against our usual perception of thought being one of the glories of the human mind. Dónal ably summarised the problems created by thought:

  • Thought fragments, divides what is undivided. Take the Irish Border, for example, that border is created by the human mind, but has no real existence, in spite of its potential over the decades to create human misery.

  • According to Krishnamurthi, thought is always in the past and, being bound by the past, cannot meet the present.

  • (Related to this point): thought thinks it is free and independent, but in fact it operates in the past, in memory, resembling a computer programme.

  • Thought operates through labelling, shortcuts that have no validity in fact: we say “I’m Irish”, “she’s Russian”, but these statements are meaningless, mere labels created by humans.

  • The mind regards the images it creates as objective reality, but they are in fact mere projections of thought. We try to fix these images, of ourselves and others, but in the end, our world is created by thought.

On the other hand, true wisdom, prajna (knowing deeply, deep perception), realises that what comes up in our minds – its very confusion – is the material of meditation, and beyond rational thought. We should not look on thought as a problem, however: it has a limited function, creating chaos only when it tries to go beyond this. Thought thinks it knows, whereas knowing in the deepest sense belongs to a different realm altogether, accessible only through vipassana, insight. The true nature of thought is dharmakaya, the ultimate truth of things, emptiness. But this is not in fact how we experience things, and the meditator needs to start not with ‘non-duality’, but with ‘me and my thoughts’.

These perceptions help to elucidate another topic to which Dónal gave his attention and which causes problems to Westerners: the ‘accumulation of merit’, as presented in the Diamond Sutra. There is the tendency in the West to interpret this process as a balance-sheet mentality (and therefore to reject it uncomprehendingly), whereas the accumulation of merit does not belong to the realm of cause and effect, operating in a realm that is beyond these. It nevertheless enriches our body-mind in the field of time and becoming. A positive thought or action always leaves its mark, and a compassionate act creates something for the person performing the act, however small or insignificant. In the same way, offerings to the Buddha and to sublime beings create karmic connections with these beings by opening us up to what they represent.

Reflections of this kind brought out in the course of the retreat, and under Dónal’s expert and compassionate guidance, the significance of the title, ‘Returning to Silence’. By paying attention to what is happening, while it is happening, we learn bit by bit to still the chatter of our minds and listen – truly listen – to the sacred silence that is already there within us, that is not dependent on the outer environment, not just an absence of sound.

It is impossible in a limited review to do justice to the richness and depth of the material presented during this short retreat. But we are deeply grateful to Dónal for sharing his wisdom and experience, and giving us the confidence to believe in our natural access to the silence within.

Pat Little

Saint-Geniès de Malgoires, France


Photo: Yeshe Dorje

Thank you to Pat Little for submitting an engrossing account of Dónal’s retreat. (Ed)



Julian Grype, Co-Director: Management

We’re sitting in a little room at the end of a row of units used as accommodation for the volunteers and residents of New Life Thailand. This room is commonly used for counselling, life-coaching and therapy. Julien sits across the table looking calm despite his busy schedule as a meditation teacher and co-director of New Life.

The centre is near Chiang Rai, a busy city in the north of Thailand.  New Life is a project which provides a recovery programme for people who are suffering problems related to substance abuse and addiction, relationship issues and stress. Accommodation is available to people from all walks of life and from many different countries. There is a truly international feel to the place. Julien is from Belgium and the accountant, Rika, is Japanese.



Rika the accountant

Julien says, There are fifty-six rooms, some of which are double.  Two to four people can sleep in a double room.  

Six of these rooms are double rooms and the other fifty are single.  He explains that the centre is going to continue expanding by building smaller rooms which will be in the forest to afford more privacy to those who want it…for solitary meditation practice.

In the beginning there were mainly addiction problems, Julien tells me.  Mostly drugs, secondly alcohol, sometimes maybe sex on the internet; but as we moved along, more and more people came for depression issues, burn-out issues, anxiety, anger-management issues, and now in the last month we see more and more people who are into drink or drugs.  They’re not really addicts.  They’re not really depressed either.  They just feel that their life isn’t going anywhere.  Maybe they’re not happy anymore; maybe they’re burned out; maybe not satisfied with low self-esteem; maybe what they’re doing is not working for them and they want a solution to their problems.

Julien thinks that the application of some of the Buddhist values may be able to help certain people introducing some of the tools that they use to work on themselves.  He says that in the last month more people came simply for self-improvement.

There are nine staff members on the team including a cook, four people doing life-coaching and various auxiliary staff such as gardeners.  Julien says, Four people run the programme and I do more of the management and financial issues, construction and the gardening:  Kruu Kade, she does more of the programme.  She’s the Programme Director.  Thomas and Sabrina do life-coaching.  We don’t really have a business plan: it just kind of grew organically.

Julien is adamant that the process of running the centre is brought about by everybody contributing to the development of the centre.  Everybody has a say, he insists.

Kruu Kade. Programme Director

Everyone who works here has had their part of suffering: me, I was an addict for a long time.  Julien mentions several other people who have come with problems.  The traditional treatment options did not work, he says, and we found a way out of our suffering through mindfulness practice, each in our own way. I was a monk for a long time…the monastery where I lived was a working monastery…just to provide fruit for the community, construction, building homes for monks, social work as well.  I learnt through that.  The Founder of the project, Johan Hansen, is a businessman completely convinced that mindfulness, which he experienced in Thamkrabok Monastery, would be a very useful healing tool and he wants to offer this to people all over the world.  He has projects all over the world so he travels most of the time, Julien says.

Tom Van Den Beemd.  Life Coach

The viability of the centre has to do with certain choices that have to be made.  For all the people who work here it’s important to keep this programme as affordable as possible.  In the beginning we wanted to keep it free – to give everybody a chance to come here because lots of people…don’t have that many resources.  So, if you really want to keep the fee low like it is now, then you have to rely on donations and on the generosity of the people who believe in our project.  So that’s what we do now. Part of our income comes from the fees that we charge the volunteers, the guests and the residents: a part of it comes from donations. Julien says he uses mindfulness in everything he does and that after doing different kinds of rehabs he found that they didn’t work at all and that mindfulness had a transformational power and strength to deal with the destructive habits that had formed.  He goes on to say that mindfulness gave him the capacity not to be clogged up in our thoughts, in our feelings, not let ourselves be like a slave by desires and our cravings.  He found that mindfulness was a powerful tool and that sitting meditation didn’t suit everybody, that different methods like tai chi were more suitable for certain types of people.

Sabrina Zimmerman. Life Coach


A large part of the centre’s income goes to buy food for the people:  but Julien hopes that there will be some development in agriculture to the extent that they will be able to feed themselves in the future and save money.  At the moment the centre has been breaking even since the beginning of the year.

Around the centre, one can hear Julien conversing in fluent Thai, either speaking to people or on the phone.  He says that working in the kitchen for the monks and nuns at Thamkrabok Monastery helped him to pick up the language, working with Thai women who didn’t speak any English, allowing him informally to learn to read and write Thai script.

When asked where he sees himself in the future, Julien says, I love this place; 

I love this place so much.  Every morning I wake up and I walk up here at 5.30, how do I feel? – I feel like the happiest man in the world, just to be able to walk to this foundation and work here…I see people change, I see people grow.  I don’t have any other projects planned.  I can see myself helping someone out, so I can see myself staying here.  Right now, I’m so happy here.

As a guest, I was able to observe that everyone at the centre is kind and understanding towards each other.  There is a certain loving ambience that is quite catching.  I leave the centre with fond memories of the staff, the green fields, the wildlife, the ecologically mindful way in which this young project has taken root over the past two-years, and especially the restful period afforded the traveller looking for a place to find security and understanding.

The Meditation Hall.

Location: Rai, Phu Sang, Phayao 56110, Thailand

Labels: Chang Rai Julien Grype Kruu Kade New Life New LifeThailand Sabrina Zimmerman Thailand Tom Van Den Beemd






The following photos are part of a collection of plants and insects photographed by Bill Grosart.

To enlarge, click on the photos.


Honey bee on Rozanne geranium

Peruvian Lily

Miss Willmott’s Ghost

Orange day lily


Star of Persia


Red shoulder beetles

Tipula (daddy long legs)

Ringlet butterfly


Tortoiseshell butterfly

Bodhicharya Caribbean

About the local monk

My photo

Rinchen came to the Caribbean from England when he was 22 and lived in the Leewards during the ’70s and ’80s working in the islands – and living the life of a lay Buddhist. At the end of the ’80s he went to a zen monastery to train as a monk and teacher and was asked to start up a temple in Scotland in 1998. He returned to the West Indies to teach in 2002 and in 2009 in Bodhgaya was very fortunate to join Rinpoche’s lineage becoming one of his monks. He is currently back in the Caribbean teaching in Trinidad and Tobago as well as Antigua and Montserrat.