Honour Thy Fathers: A Tribute to the Ven. Kapilavaddho

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

Postby admin » Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:33 am

Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho and the English Sangha Trust


It was a heralding of better days when the Thai authorities decided to open a Vihāra of their own in London, and on 1st August, 1966, this was inaugurated by H.M. King Bhumibol at East Sheen, and given the name of Buddhapadīpa. Soon after this, Maurice Walsh as director of the English Sangha Trust managed to make contact with Richard Randall. After some discussion, he agreed to return to teach the Dhamma under the auspices of the English Sangha Trust once again. Within weeks of Kapilavaḍḍho’s return it was obvious that the old drive was as strong as ever. However, it was also clear, that if he continued to work during the evenings and weekends at the pace he set himself, it would swiftly lead to a physical breakdown. He was at that time working with one of the major national publishing organisations in a job involving personal and union management relations — a strenuous occupation. It was also apparent that the state of affairs he found required full-time attention. There was one irregularly attended meditation class a week, and handful of people coming to Sunday lectures. The administrative side was in chaos and the finances were four figures in the red.

With support from old friends he was able to attack the task in typical fashion, and he gave up his job. He again took the eight precepts and began teaching meditation, lecturing and generally restoring order. In May 1967 he became a director of the English Sangha Trust and was formally appointed administrator with full charge of all activities and policy decisions. He received excellent and valuable support and confidence from Venerable Chao Khun Sobhana Dhammasuddhi, for his old reputation within the Thai Sangha was still very much alive.

It became clear that the logical outcome of his invo1vement would lead him back into the Order before very long. Old friends and supporters, many of them long absent from the Buddhist scene, began to return, and on 21st October 1967 he received the double ordination of sāmaṇera and bhikkhu at Wat Buddhapadīpa, with the Venerable Chao Khun as Upajjhāya. He was called back into the Order in the presence of a Sangha largely composed of Chao Khuns and Mahātheras, and many visiting Thais who arrived in two chartered planes for the presentation of robes and for the ordination.

The Vihāra stood high in reputation as a teaching centre, and enjoyed an excellent relationship with the local community. Through the Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho it had many personal associations with official bodies, the Press, mental health organisations, medical and psychiatric practitioners, and with several universities.

Five nights each week were devoted to meditation classes of growing numbers, and some Sunday lectures had been attended by numbers which our accommodation could scarcely hold, with audiences overflowing outside the shrine room to sit on the stairs. Work commenced on an extension to provide accommodation for four resident meditators. This is in addition to the restoration and redecoration, central heating and other improvements already completed at that time. One bhikkhu, the Venerable Dīpadhammo, had been trained by Kapilavaḍḍho as his assistant, and had won increasing respect and admiration for his devotion to the bhikkhu life.

The English Sangha Trust, its financial position restored, had been re-established in its original role of supporting the Sangha, with the Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho as administrator. The Trust had a vital part to play: it held money and owned property, and published journals and booklets.

As can be seen, this rejuvenation of the work of the English Sangha had been a near miracle of sheer grinding hard work. It was the drive and leadership of one man that brought it about. He was no longer young, and the physical body on which he had put such a heavy strain was by no means as fit as any of those around him. However he was up every morning at 4:30 am meditating and working. He was the last to sleep, well after midnight. He was the one around which the activity revolved. He asked no one to do anything he had not done.

Young Thai students at Wat Buddhapadīpa, who were small children when he was first a bhikkhu in Thailand, now call him by the name they called his own great teacher at Wat Paknam. They call him Lung Por — a term usually affectionately given to respected and much loved elder monks. It means, “Father in the Dhamma.” It fitted him well.

Kapilavaḍḍho returned to lay life on the 27th August 1970, his assistant Venerable Dīpadhammo (Alan James) having already disrobed. He continued as administrator and principal meditation master at Dhammapadīpa (name of Haverstock Hill Vihāra). Being known as Ācariya Kapilavaḍḍho he continued with lectures, classes and guiding those using the meditation facilities.

Among those who had rallied round him in these latter days was a remarkable young woman, Miss Jacqueline Gray. A good meditator, she also made herself indispensable in the office, performing secretarial and other duties. She was devoted to Kapilavaḍḍho, now no longer a bhikkhu, but still an ācariya or teacher. Being a layman, he was of course free to marry, and on 1st October 1971, at the Old Town Hall, Haverstock Hill, Hampstead, Jacqui Gray became Mrs Randall. The wedding was a very quiet affair. Only three friends, Alan James, Gerry Rollason and Maurice Walshe being present, and after it the happy couple drove off for a day in the country; after which it was “business as usual.” Many of us will feel glad to know that our old friend and teacher has gained a devoted wife who will look after him and make sure that he has proper meals and does not overstrain himself.

Two and a half months later, she was a widow. A combination of illnesses: chronic arthritis, bronchitis and various complications laid him low, and he had to be transferred to the Middlesex Hospital. Twice he survived dangerous crises, but on 19th December 1971, the old warrior died.

Arrangements were made for a traditional Buddhist funeral ceremony to be held at Golders Green Crematorium on Thursday, 23rd December 1971. The ceremony was to have been conducted by Vichitr Ratna Dhiravaṃsa from the Vipassanā Centre at Hindhead, attended by four bhikkhus from Buddhapadīpa Temple, East Sheen. However, both parties were delayed by the tangle of pre-Christmas traffic so it was found necessary to begin the “ceremony” without them. A short speech was given by Alan James (who was formerly Dīpadhammo Bhikkhu, Kapilavaḍḍho’s assistant when both men were monks) followed by a few minutes of meditation.

As it turned out, one felt strongly that the funeral was just as Kapilavaḍḍho would have wanted it. No rite, no ritual; just a short, warm, sincere speech about a Teacher, given by a man who was not only highly trained by him but who was also one of his closest friends.

A great man has died. Let us honour his memory in the only way we can by the study and practice of the way he taught so thoroughly. As Siddhattha Gotama said those many centuries ago:

“Let the Dhamma be your Teacher, let the Dhamma be your Guide.”

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.

Ācariya Kapilavaḍḍho

“We deeply regret the passing of Ācariya Kapilavaḍḍho who died quietly on Sunday, 19th December at the Middlesex Hospital. He received full training in the Theravāda tradition in Thailand where he was ordained Kapilavaḍḍho Bhikkhu and continued to practice and teach the Dhamma in that country until the time was ripe for his return to England. It is here — and latterly at Hampstead that he has done his pioneer work in teaching the Way of Insight in the Buddha’s tradition and with a native’s understands of our native difficulties.

Though mercifully his final illness was short, he has lived with and transcended bodily suffering for many years. Half crippled by arthritis, he has never flagged in his appointed task of teaching the Dhamma nor has he ever failed with help to those in need of it. On a personal note, I look with admiration and humility at the courage, will and silent power within so frail a frame. We might hope to extend, in this country, the path, which he has carved out for us but, if we are not good enough, let us tread daily the part of it that we know. May he find peace.”

(MW 1971-72)

* * * * *

Wrong Views

“I have been given much food for thought in the immediate past. Firstly my beloved teacher, guide and friend, the Venerable Sayādaw U Ṭhittila returned to Burma. Secondly Mr Christmas Humphreys invited me to conduct a series of classes for members of the Society. Thirdly the Editress of this Journal asked me to write an article, partly to explain the subject and object of the proposed classes and at the same time to give members some details about myself.

I have heard it said, in fact it has been said to me “I hear that you are taking the bhikkhu’s place during his absence.” This is a wrong view. I am not equipped as yet to take his place. In fact I do not know of anyone in this country who could. He is a man of great wisdom and learning, an example to all who meet him. His wisdom, scholarship and smiling face are going to be sorely missed during his absence. The place which he has earned in the hearts of many is his and his alone.

For myself I am deeply grateful to him for my ordination. All that I can hope to do, as a very humble student of such a man, is to sincerely attempt to continue the tradition of the Sangha and Vihāra which he so patiently taught me by his advice, guidance and example. Most of us require help and guidance. Someone to show us in a kindly way when our views are wrong. And to advise on study and practice; much of the confusion of thought, and the holding of wrong views among many sincere people who call themselves Buddhists, would cease, if this were but humbly realised.

Many people in the West, driven by conditions around them and conflict within, are turning to that which they have heard of as Buddhism, hopeful that under this label they will find salvation. Many are urgent in their quest, willing to grasp at any straw. If they follow the usual pattern, they will read avidly, everything and anything which comes within their grasp. In a number of cases they will be utterly confused by what they read. Conflicting statements will be found, because they search with minds conditioned by old patterns, ideas, habits and wrong views. Such ideas as: Self, Great Self, Soul, Oversoul, Permanent Ego, Vicarious Salvation, Faith in a Name. Searching with concepts such as these is the way to confusion and more confusion, wrong view upon wrong view.

Many have turned to Buddhism in the past and many will come who expect to find some short cut, some rapid secret way to Peace or Power. Sincerely thinking that blind faith in the Enlightened One and the Dhamma is enough — how sadly has the term ‘saddhā’ been used in this direction. Many will transfer their ideas of Godhead to the Enlightened One and so continue in wrong views, being blind to the fact that they have changed nothing except a label.

We who are, or call ourselves Buddhists, have a responsibility, firstly to ourselves and then to others who may follow us. This responsibility includes meditations on “Right Views” and the study of the Dhamma in a disciplined way. Additionally, we need to use reason as a guide and not to accept anything just because it is in a book. To accept nothing which may be said, simply because we like the person who says it. To study the Dhamma as a whole and not abstract small portions which we think we like, and call it Buddhism, this it is not. The Dhamma is complete and perfect, it cannot be divided and remain the same. If the spiritual therapy prescribed by the Enlightened One is desired, the whole of the medicine must be taken. It is only by study that we can truly learn that which has to be taken as medicine, and that which has to be practiced to make that medicine effective.

If we can begin by eradicating wrong views, our understanding of the Dhamma will rapidly become clearer. We shall know by growing personal experience, that it is not avid reading, intellectual flights of fancy or new labels, which bring about cessation of suffering, and that blind belief and faith will not do it. When these things become apparent, we shall begin to understand the Enlightened One’s words “Be mindful, work out your salvation with diligence,” and in that understanding put them into practice thereby carrying out our responsibility to ourselves and to others who may follow.

It was with these thoughts in mind that I chose as a title “Atta, Anatta, and Relationships,” for the series of study classes. I hope under this title to give the sincere seeker some understanding of Self, Non Self and of the relationships between man’s so-called inner and outer world. This will entail a study of Dependent Origination, the Four Fundamentals of Mindfulness, Kamma and Re-birth. Where possible I hope to use charts, drawings, models and the scriptures of the Pali Canon for illustration and further study. Any means will be used which will help the sincere student to surmount the confusion that surrounds these central points of the Dhamma.

I am indeed honoured to receive the invitation to conduct these classes and whilst I am happy to accept, I realise the responsibility which has become mine in doing so. I hope that all who attend will look upon me as a friend and know that my time is at their disposal at these classes, or at any other time. As far as I can see it serves no useful purpose to give details about myself. What has been is of importance only as a means of eradicating my own wrong views. What I am, is for the observer to decide. What is to be, relies solely on my own efforts in plumbing the depths of saddhamma.

I would like, however, to take this opportunity of thanking those who have written congratulating me on my ordination. To thank those in London, Manchester and Birmingham, who by their understanding and spiritual and material dāna have helped me to attain my “Going Forth.” To those who have loved and cherished me, and who through their love have set me free to travel my chosen path, let me say, “May you be happy.” May I add to your happiness by wearing The Robe in an honourable and worthy manner.”

Source: Sāmaṇera Dhammānanda (to become the Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho), Middle Way Magazine, 1952-53

* * * * *

When alms giving is done without any expectation or without any wishful hope for better position in the next existence. It is done with the expressed desire for the cessation of the Samsaric force or in other words for the non-attainment of any kind of Khandha in the next existence, it is Vivatta Kusala Kamma which can shatter away kammic force.

At this point one may raise a question. Whereas the Saṃsāra is so long and before attaining Nibbāna one may happen to fall into poor or needy existence. Hence will it not be desirable to wish and long for prosperity and happiness in the higher plane of Devaloka as Prince Deva or King of Universe, etc. in the next existences?

Here it must be clarified. It is universally believed that it is ‘I’ who make alms giving and it will be the same ‘I’ who will reap the benefit of the alms giving in the next existence and in such a belief, there is the idea of ‘I’ or Ego which is Diṭṭhi or wrong view. When the view that ‘I’ the giver and the ‘I’, the reaper of the benefit of merit are the same it amounts to Sassata Diṭṭhi (Eternalistic wrong view). The readers should be very careful of this point because though alms giving is Kusala Kamma, there are two things which are mixed up in the same Kamma, i.e. the desire to reap the benefit is Taṇhā and the wrong view that ‘I’ who will reap the benefit is Diṭṭhi (Atta Diṭṭhi and Sassata Diṭṭhi both combined). Such wrong view has been prevalent and dominant in the minds of Buddhists from time immemorial therefore it will not easily be eradicated.

Good deeds always bear good fruits. It means to say that not withstanding Dāna, Sīla are done without any attendant longing, desire or wishing for better position and prosperity in the next following existences, the good deeds as a matter of course bear fruits. As he soweth so he reaps.

Source: Extract from “The Doctrine of Paṭiccasamuppāda” by U Than Daing
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Re: Honour Thy Fathers: A Tribute to the Ven. Kapilavaddho

Postby admin » Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:33 am

The English Sangha Trust after Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho

“Following the death of the Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho, Alan James became the resident meditation teacher at the English Sangha Trust. He left in October 1973. Dr M. Clark, also a disciple of the Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho became the resident meditation teacher. However, due to social and financial problems concerning the support of his family (he was married with one child) he resigned in early 1974.

A lay person (anon) made a request for Ajahn Mahā Boowa, Ajahn Paññāvaḍḍho and Tan Cherry (Venerable Abhiceto) to visit Hampstead (AP). The invitation was accepted and they arrived in June 1974 for a two week visit. During the visit, George Sharp, at that time Chairman of the English Sangha Trust asked Ajahn Paññāvaḍḍho if he would remain in England in order to make the EST at Hampstead a Vihāra once more. It was not to be. Ajahn Boowa’s advice was to do nothing and wait to see what may turn up.

In October 1976, a request from the Venerable Sumedho to stay at Hampstead for three days was received; he was en route back to Thailand after a visit to the USA. Whilst there, Mr Sharp asked him if he would return to London and be supported by the EST. He agreed provided Ajahn Chah gave his consent.

On the 6th May 1977, Ajahn Chah and Venerable Sumedho arrived at Hampstead, the Venerable Khemadhammo having already arrived on the 5th. The Venerables Ānando and Vīradhammo arrived on 7th July 1977.

The Sangha and lay following began to grow and they were offered the use of “Oaken Holt”, a Buddhist centre comprising some thirty acres in the Oxfordshire countryside owned by a Burmese business man. The Venerable Khemadhammo took on the role of Buddhist prison chaplain (already arranged earlier between the Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho and the Home Office) and in this capacity he visited the Isle of Wight on a regular basis. It was here that a Buddhist group invited him to start a Vihāra, which he did. This has since moved to Warwickshire. In April 1979 the Hampstead properties were sold at auction and the Sangha moved to Chithurst in June 1979. Following this, more Vihāras have been opened in England, USA, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.”


Ajahn Chah

Ajahn Mahā Boowa


“As you use insight meditation to investigate the three characteristics and penetrate the true nature of phenomena, it’s not necessary to do anything special. There’s no need to go to extremes. Don’t make it difficult for yourself. Focus your awareness directly, as if you are sitting down receiving guests who are entering into a reception room. In your reception room there is only one chair, so the different guests that come into the room to meet you, are unable to sit down because you are already sitting in the only chair available. If a visitor enters the room, you know who they are straight away. Even if two, three or many visitors come into the room together, you instantly know who they are because they have nowhere to sit down. You occupy the only seat available, so every single visitor who comes in is quite obvious to you and unable to stay for very long.

You can observe all the visitors at your ease because they don’t have anywhere to sit down. You fix awareness on investigating the three characteristics of impermanence, suffering and non-self and hold your attention on this contemplation not sending it anywhere else. Insight into the transient, unsatisfactory and selfless nature of all phenomena steadily grows clearer and more comprehensive. Your understanding grows more profound. Such clarity of insight leads to a peace that penetrates deeper into your heart than any you might experience from the practice of tranquility (samatha) meditation. It is the clarity and completeness of this insight into the way things are that has a purifying effect on the mind. Wisdom arising as a result of deep and crystal clear insight acts as the agent of purification.

Through repeated examination and contemplation of the truth over time, your views change and what you once mistakenly perceived as attractive gradually loses its appeal as the truth of its unattractive nature becomes apparent. You investigate phenomena to see if they are really permanent or of a transient nature. At first you simply recite to yourself the teaching that all conditions are impermanent, but after time you actually see the truth clearly from your investigation. The truth is waiting to be found right at the point of investigation. This is the seat where you wait to receive visitors. There is nowhere else you could go to develop insight. You must remain seated on this one spot — the only chair in the room. As visitors enter your reception room, it is easy to observe their appearance and the way they behave, because they are unable to sit down; inevitably you get to know all about them. In other words you arrive at a clear and distinct understanding of the impermanent, unsatisfactory and selfless nature of all these phenomena and this insight has become so indisputable and firm in your mind, that it puts an end to any remaining uncertainty about the true nature of things. You know for certain that there is no other possible way of viewing experience. This is realization of the Dhamma at the most profound level. Ultimately, your meditation involves sustaining the knowing, followed by continuous letting go as you experience sense objects through the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind. It involves just this much and there is no need to make anything more out of it.

The important thing is to repeatedly put effort into developing insight through investigation of the three characteristics. Everything can become a cause for wisdom to arise, and that is what completely destroys all forms of defilement and attachment. This is the fruit of vipassanā meditation. But don’t assume that everything you do is coming from insight. Sometimes you still do things following your own desires. If you are still practicing following your desires then you will only put effort in on the days when you are feeling energetic and inspired, and you won’t do any meditation on the days when you are feeling lazy. That’s called practicing under the influence of the defilements. It means you don’t have any real power over your mind and just follow your desires.”

Source: Extract from “Clarity of Insight” by Ajahn Chah
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Re: Honour Thy Fathers: A Tribute to the Ven. Kapilavaddho

Postby admin » Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:34 am

Sri Lankan Buddhism

“The Anagarika Dharmapala was born of the famous family of Hewavitarne in Ceylon in 1865. In 1880 he came under the influence of H. P. Blavatsky and Colonel H. S. Olcott, the founders of the Theosophical Society, and four years later joined that Society. Upon the express advice of Mme Blavatsky he took up the study of Pali and, renouncing the householder’s life, spent the remainder of his days in the revival and spread of the Dhamma in the East and West. In 1886 he assisted Colonel Olcott in his campaign for the founding of Buddhist schools, and with him travelled far and wide under the name of the Anagarika Dharmapala, the “Homeless Protector of the Dhamma.” In 1891, the year of Mme Blavatsky’s death, he visited Buddha Gaya, the famous site of Buddhist pilgrimage, and straightway resolved to agitate for its return to purely Buddhist hands. To this end he formed in Calcutta the Maha Bodhi Society which, founded on May 31st 1891, is the oldest existing Buddhist Society.” (CH, page 22)


“Following a short visit to England in 1925 en route to the USA, Anagarika Dharmapala arrived back in 1926 for a two year visit. He initially bought a house in Madely Road, Ealing, which was unsuccessful, probably due to its distance from central London.”



The Mahā Bodhi Society was born in England. “In 1928 Anagārika Dharmapāla moved to premises in Primrose Hill, and Sri Lanka sent a mission of three bhikkhus under the Venerable P. Vajirañāṇa to stay. A Sangha presence remained there until the outbreak of war but the house itself was not closed until 1940 when Holborn and St. Pancras Council requisitioned it.” (Source: Russell Webb)


“In May 1933, came news of the death of the Anagārika Dharmapāla. He had entered the Order in 1931, at Sarnath, as Sri Devamitta Dhammapāla, and was thus the first bhikkhu to be ordained on Indian soil for over seven hundred years. There he died on 29th April 1933, at the age of sixty-eight, worn out with fifty years’ work in the cause of the Dhamma.” (CH, page 37)


“On 18th April 1948, certain members of the (Buddhist) Society and others founded the Buddhist Vihāra Society in England with the object of expediting the founding of a Vihāra in London where bhikkhus might live, teach and form a nucleus of the Theravāda Sangha. The founder was Mrs A. Rant, the Venerable Nārada Mahāthera of the Vajirārāma Monastery in Ceylon, was nominated as President, with Miss Constant Lounsbery of Les Amis du Bouddhisme in Paris, and Miss I. B. Horner, the noted Pali scholar, as vicepresidents. The idea of a Vihāra for London had been mooted ever since the Anagārika Dharmapāla arrived in London in 1925, and from time to time the Buddhist Society urged the Sinhalese Government to release and use a substantial fund collected for the purpose in Ceylon. The new Society merely added to the vocal demand for such an institution. The most useful work of the new group, however, was to sponsor a visit to London by the Venerable Nārada in the summer of 1949, when he lectured far and wide. His clear and pungent teaching on the Theravāda was as valuable as the impression of English Buddhism he was able to take back with him to Ceylon.”

(CH, page 51)


“10 Ovington gardens London S.W.3. For the first time since the war the Sinhalese have opened a building which, as it will be exclusively used for the housing and the work of bhikkhus, may be fairly called a Vihāra. The house at 29 Belgrave Road, S.W.l, until recently run by the Kappiya Group of Burmese Buddhists in London, housed more than one Burmese bhikkhu. This included the beloved Sayādaw U Ṭhittila. But the building was not used by any visiting bhikkhus from Ceylon, except for a brief visit by the Venerable Nārada Mahāthera in 1949. Not since the nineteen-thirties have Sinhalese bhikkhus been resident in London, and the opening of the new building on 17th May 1954, was an event of importance in the life of Buddhism in England. It was at the suggestion of the Society that the Venerable Nārada himself came from Ceylon for the opening, and will leave behind him one or more bhikkhus to ‘proclaim the Dhamma’ when he has returned. The fine premises included a magnificently enshrined and lighted rūpa in the topmost room, a large Meeting Room, a Library, Meditation Room, and private quarters for bhikkhus and their attendants. This is a great acquisition to Buddhist London, and when H.E. the Thai Ambassador unfurled the Buddhist F1ag, he rightly assessed the importance of that moment. Speakers at the Opening included Sir Claude Corea, High Commissioner for Ceylon, Lt.-Col. Payne for the Buddhist Vihāra Society in England, Mr Maung Maung Ji (in the Chair), and Miss Constant Lounsbery from Paris and myself (C. Humphreys).”

(MW 1954-55)


“The London Buddhist Vihāra is leaving 10 Ovington Gardens, Knightsbridge, and is moving to Chiswick. The Secretary writes: “We are happy to announce that the Mahā Bodhi Society has now purchased a detached house and garden, which will become the permanent home of the Vihāra. The new premises, under the direction of the Venerable Dr Saddhātissa Mahāthera, will be opened on 23rd April. The address is 5 Heathfield Gardens, London W.4. The Vihāra is about five minutes’ walk from Chiswick Park Underground station.”

(S March 1964)


“The Sri Lankan temple moved again on 21 May and is now situated in The Avenue, Bedford Park in Chiswick. The Venerable Vajiragnana is the chief incumbent. There have also developed many small Sri Lankan Vihāras in the London suburbs and UK.”


* * * * *

There are, of course various schools of thought within the Buddhist fold. The Theravāda is based on the Pali Canon. But for those who are in doubt as to what is the ‘true’ Buddhist teaching, here are the Buddha’s own words from the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta (and they are to be found in Sanskrit as well as Pali sources):

“In whatsoever teaching or discipline, Subhadda, there is not found the Noble Eightfold Path, neither is there found a true saint of the first, second, third or fourth degree. But in whatsoever teaching and discipline there is found the Noble Eightfold Path, therein is found the true ascetic of the first, second, third, and fourth degree.”

This may be regarded as a simple test, bearing in mind only that it is the treading of the Path, and not just talking about it, that is meant.

Source: M Walshe, Sangha Magazine March 1969
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Re: Honour Thy Fathers: A Tribute to the Ven. Kapilavaddho

Postby admin » Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:34 am

Burmese Buddhism

“Venerable U Ṭhittila arrived in England in 1938. In March 1949 the Sasana Kari Vihāra in London (29 Belgrave Road, London, S.W.l) was founded by a group of nine Burmese Kappiyas for the purpose of supporting the work of Venerable U Ṭhittila in England. Thus for the first time since his arrival in the West he experienced something nearer to the Eastern traditional support of the Sangha, and became no longer dependant merely upon his own efforts for survival. His personal achievement in teaching continued unabated and in the two years from March 1949 to March 1951 records show that he carried out in excess of two hundred and fifty teaching engagements, quite apart from fulfilling all other types of duties which normally fall to a bhikkhu in the ordinary course of events. Being then the only resident bhikkhu in England those other duties absorbed a very considerable proportion of his time.

Unfortunately, because of the unavoidable floating nature of the Burmese community in England, constant support for the Sasana Kari Vihāra was never certain. And in 1952 when Venerable U Ṭhittila was invited to lecture on abhidhamma at Rangoon University to M.A. and B.A. students he decided to accept at a time when funds for the Vihāra had become virtually insufficient to maintain even one bhikkhu.

So far as the Dhamma is concerned, perhaps the most outstanding feature was his introduction of the Abhidhamma Piṭaka (the psycho-ethical analysis of things in their ultimate sense as against their conceptual form), to the West by way of commencing to teach the small manual, Abhidhammatthasaṅgaha, to a class of students interested in the Buddhist Teaching and who had specifically requested him to deal with that section. For the very first time in the West the primer to the third Piṭaka was systematically taught for a consecutive period of over four years, and this instruction became the bedrock and yardstick for those who sought to learn something of the fundamental teaching of the Buddha.”

Source: Venerable U Ṭhittila E-books (www.buddhanet.net)

“It would be wholly wrong to go on without devoting a paragraph to Burmese monk, U Ṭhittila, a bhikkhu of vast knowledge, kindness and courage, now the Venerable Sayādaw U Ṭhittila was the first bhikkhu we in Manchester had ever met. It was under his guidance that our teacher first took the robe as sāmaṇera, and one knows that Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho would wish this tribute to be recorded. U Ṭhittila spent nearly fifteen years in this country, including the whole of the wartime period. He is remembered thus not only for his work as a teacher, but also a brave man who drove an ambulance through the fiercest of the London blitzes and inspired countless Westerners with his calmness, courage, and compassion. If by chance he should read this in far off Rangoon, I know I represent many people who would wish to send respect and greetings of metta to a much-loved friend in the Dhamma.”

Source: John Garry article on Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho, Sangha Magazine, June 1969


Venerable Dr Rewata Dhamma arrived in England in 1975. At the behest of His Holiness the XVIth Gyalwa Karmapa he opened a Buddhist centre for both Theravadin and Tibetan followers in 1978 at 41 Carlyle Road, Birmingham. However due to popularity and overcrowding, 47 Carlyle Road was purchased as well.


In July 1979 the Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw came to London. He suggested opening a Burmese Vihāra. He returned to England in 1981 and urged more progress in this project. On 6th June 1981 a charity called “The Britain-Burma Buddhist Trust” gained charity status. In October 1985, 1 Old Church lane, Wembley, Middlesex was purchased, the first resident monks being Ashin Nyanika and Ashin Pesala.


“In July 1990 a small Mahāsī meditation centre (Saraniya Dhamma meditation centre) was started at 73 Royden Road, Billinge, near Wigan, Lancashire. After twelve years in operation they have moved to larger premises at 420 Lower Broughton Road, Salford, Manchester.” (ED)

* * * * *


The confusion over rise and fall, and feeling arises because of the translation of vedanā by “feeling”, and the general use of the English word feeling, as in “put your attention on the feeling of the rise and fall of the abdomen.” This latter quote should be “put your attention on the sensation of rise and fall of the abdomen.”

Page 19. Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta, (The Great Discourse in Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta by the Venerable Mahāsi Sayādaw 1988). Thus if one heedfully notes “rising” as the abdomen rises, and “falling” as it falls, one will come to see distinctly the phenomena of stiffening, resisting, distending, relaxing, moving which are happening inside his abdomen. These are the characteristics, function and proximate cause of vāyodhātu, the element of motion.

Thus “the one who knows” (Ajahn Boowa), or sati-sampajāna (mindfulness and clear comprehension) becomes aware of vāyodhātu. This is a direct knowing of the rūpa by a specialised insight citta (one of the sense-desire-sphere profitables, say, citta No.5 accompanied by equanimity, associated with knowledge, unprompted, in Abhidhamma terms).

Page 25. “The equanimous, neutral feeling is generally not prominent. The p1easurable and un-pleasurable feelings only are commonly known and talked about. It is such a pleasure to feel the touch of a cool breeze as sukha vedanā… whilst feeling hot, feeling tired … etc. are classified as dukkha vedanā.

Thus “the one who knows”, which is not a person, self, or being, feels pleasure or pain, and has the opportunity to contemplate vedanā or feeling when it arises as p1easure or pain rather than in the rise and fall which, being rūpa, is devoid of any nāma. The rise and fall is used precisely because it is neutral in these matters, and is easy to contemplate, being prominent.

When the yogi has fully understood that there are only mental and physical phenomena rising and falling (that is rising and falling of nāma-rūpa, not the abdomen!). And that there is no person, self or being knowing them, he is said to have understood nāma-rūpa-pariccheda-ñāṇa, which is the same as nāma-rūpapariggaha- ñāṇa and nāma-rūpa-vavattana-ñāṇa. All these different names correspond to diṭṭhi visuddhi, which is the first part of ñāta-pariññā (full understanding of the known). The diṭṭhi, which has been purified, is of course atta diṭṭhi (self-view). As long as he contemplates, the yogi remains free of self-view. He notes the rising and falling of all rūpa (material phenomena) and all nāma (mental phenomena, i.e. feelings, perceptions, volitional formations, and states of consciousness).

When he contemplates rūpa (e.g. rise and fall of the abdomen) he knows rūpa, knows that it is not his self, and that although he knows it as ‘rising’ or ‘falling’ he is not confused that it is nāma, or part of himself. When he contemplates a feeling of pain (e.g. itching skin, pain in the knees) he knows it as a painful nāma, not a rūpa or as a part of himself. This ability to distinguish nāma fromrūpa, and to realise that neither is his self or anything to do with himself, frees him from the erroneous view that nāmas and rūpas are part of his person or being. He knows them, as they really are, that is just nāmas and rūpas. The rūpas are known, and cannot know, since they are just materiality. The nāmas can know, so they can be aware of rūpa (pure sensation or knowledge of “rising” or “falling”). They can feel (painful or pleasant feeling). They can perceive (recognise objects, such as things seen like other yogis), they can think volitional thoughts (let’s get up and have a cup of tea), they can be conscious (maybe exalted when the practice is going well, or cramped when mindfulness is lacking). Whatever the nāmas do, they are not me or my self; or me or mine. It goes without saying that the rūpa is even less ours!

The problem of having a self will return, as soon as he stops contemplating. Eventually he will understand the relationship between nāma and rūpa (parayapariggaha- ñāṇa), and so becomes a cūḷa-sotāpanna, who is one who will never fall from the sāsana. He is bound to reach nibbāna eventually, by virtue of his attainment. Because of these attainments, this method of practice is called ekayāna magga, the only way to freedom. Provided a practice contemplates the nāmas and rūpas like this, it is the one and only way. It doesn’t matter whether it is called Buddhism, or Mahāsī method, or anything else. Just the noting of the nāmas and rūpas counts as vipassanā practice.

If he continues to contemplate, he will discover the three marks. If he hangs on to the known, he will not like impermanence, suffering and not-self. It is better to let things go and then deal with the desolate regions beyond the familiar. Just contemplate the fear, keep on noting whatever arises and falls. Then he truly works with the marks, turning the nāmas and rūpas over and over again, rooting out his attachment to them. When he succeeds, he will become quite indifferent about them. They are not his; he has nothing to do with them. He just keeps on noting whatever arises, over and over again. Eventually, he tires of all this saṃsāra and for an instant the whole wheel collapses. Such a yogi is known as a world stopper, for the world has ended right there. He can never go back to the old self-view, never view nāmas and rūpas as his. He is then known as one who has entered the stream of dhamma. He never returns to self-view even for an instant.

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

* * * * *

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day.
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools.
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle.
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player.
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Source: Shakespeare-Macbeth-Act V, Scene V
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Re: Honour Thy Fathers: A Tribute to the Ven. Kapilavaddho

Postby admin » Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:35 am

Thai Buddhism

Buddhist Temple Opens

Daily Telegraph Reporter

IN a suburban mock-Tudor building, once a meeting place for spiritualists, King Bhumibol of Thailand anointed yesterday the nameplate of the first Thai Buddhist Temple in Europe, the new Temple of the Light of the Buddha at East Sheen.

On a grey wet day, the temple, in a large room at 99, Christchurch Road, blazed with red and gold and yellow. The air was scented with incense.

The king in a blue lounge suit, was accompanied by Queen Sirikit in a long formal striped Thai skirt with matching fitted blouse. With them were Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, 14, and their eldest daughter Princess Ubol Ratana, 15.

Ten shaven-headed monks robed in varying shades of saffron sat chanting, cross-legged on a white-covered bench along one side of the temple during yesterday’s ceremony. Five of them had travelled from Bangkok for the ceremony.

The King and Queen first sat on gilt and red velvet chairs, then knelt on pale blue silk cushions before carved gilt and red painted tables to pay homage to the bronze 650-yearold seated figure of the Buddha.

Both lit candles and burnt incense sticks, and then the King anointed the nameplate of the temple, “Buddhapadipa” with sandalwood paste and sprinkled it with perfumed water while the monks chanted a blessing.

Mrs Florence Mills talking to her son, Bhikkhu Khantipalo, 34, at the new Temple of the Light of the Buddha, East Sheen.

Then the ceremony of the Buddhist holiday, The Day of the Full Moon, Asalha Puja, which fell yesterday and which is followed by a three months’ retreat for Buddhist monks.

Funds for the temple and its furnishings amounted to £28,914 have been given by the Thai Government.

Two Englishwomen at the ceremony met Queen Sirikit. One was Britain’s only Buddhist nun, Jhanananda Upasika, 71, who is Russian-born, but is naturalised British and lives at Highgate.

The other was Mrs. Florence Mills, 62, of Enfield whose son Bhikkhu Khantipalo, 34, once Laurence Mills, a horticulturist at Kew Gardens, was flown home for the ceremony from Bangkok, where he is now a Buddhist monk.

Mrs Mills, a retired schoolmistress, met her son for the first time for more than six years last week.

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

Oct 1968

In October 1968, his highness the Venerable Somdet Phra Vanarata (Vice- Patriarch of Thailand) visited Hampstead.

“A reception was held at the Wat Dhammapadīpa, Haverstock Hill, on the 23rd October 1968. In honor of a visit to England by His Highness the Venerable Somdet Phra Vanarata. The Vice-Patriarch spoke with a vigour that belied his seventy-four years. The full capacity audience in the shrine room was entranced by his serene self-possession and fascinated by his exposition of the Dharma. The Venerable Chao Khun Sobhana Dhammasuddhi admirably interpreted his speech and the Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho first welcomed and afterwards thanked the Vice-Patriarch and his Party. His Highness also visited the Buddhapadīpa Temple and the Vipassanā Centre at Hindhead during his short stay.”

(MW 68/69) (R&B)


“In 1976 the temple moved to a four-acre site in Calonne Road, Wimbledon Parkside. With the support of the Royal Thai Government and the Thai people, the Foundation erected an “Ubosot”, a Thai style building for monastic ceremonies. The celebration of monastic boundary held on October 30, 1982, enabled Wat Buddhapadīpa to become a formal temple according to Thai tradition: in fact, the only Thai temple ever built in Europe.”


* * * * *

“Therefore, Bahiya, thus you must learn. In the seen, there is only the seen; in the heard only the heard; in the touching only the touch; in the tasting only the taste; in the smelling only the smell; in the thought only what is thought; in the known only what is known.”

These words, and the following:

“Therefore, Bahiya, these things being true; you, Bahiya, were not in that which has gone, nor the life to come, nor in that which is between. This alone is the end of suffering. Thus must you learn, Bahiya.”

Can carry one to the further shore.

Source: The Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho, Sangha Magazine, Jan. 1970, p.11

* * * * *

The Blessings of Piṇḍapāta

To those who live in lands where the teachings of the Lord Buddha have been long established, the sight of a bhikkhu (Buddhist monk) collecting food in the early morning, is a common one. But where the teachings are newly arrived, or where bhikkhus are few, the practice of giving food to wandering monks is known only by pictures or from written accounts.

Neither of these convey the real atmosphere of this giving and receiving to those interested in the Buddhist Way who yet live in countries where the Teaching is not the traditional form of religion. Even many Buddhists living in Northern Buddhist lands may know little of Piṇḍapāta for the practice of alms-gathering by bhikkhus there has, for various reasons which we need not here investigate, been largely discontinued and the traditional practice now survives only in South - Eastern Asian countries practicing the Theravāda Buddhist tradition.

Though this too is also a written account of alms-giving and collecting, it is written from experience and will try to be as evocative of the atmosphere of the Piṇḍapāta as possible. As many factors basic to the Buddhist way of life are involved in this simple act, it is hoped that this may prove useful to all those Buddhists who are far separated from these Buddhist lands.

Apart from his three robes, a bhikkhu’s most prized possession (and he only possesses eight articles) is his bowl (patta). He takes great case of it so that it may last long. After eating he wipes it carefully each day to prevent it rusting; always places it on a stand so that it may not fall and break, and often carries it in a sling for it is heavy when full of food and may be dropped by tired hands. In doing so he carries out the Lord Buddha’s injunction to practice mindfulness with regard to his bowl, which has been given to him by others and without which he may not collect food.

Source: Extract from “The blessings of Pindapata” by Bhikkhu Khantipalo, Wheel Publication No 73
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Re: Honour Thy Fathers: A Tribute to the Ven. Kapilavaddho

Postby admin » Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:37 am

Chronology and Historical Sources
(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.
1879 Edwin Arnold published a biographical poem about the Buddha called The Light of Asia
1881 Founding of The Pali Text Society by Dr Rhys Davids
1898 Allan Bennett went to Ceylon and on to Burma, where he took the robe on 21st May 1902 and became Ānanda Mettayya
1907 The Buddhist society of Great Britain and Ireland was formed (3rd November) in order to facilitate a visit by Ānanda Metteyya
1908 Ānanda Metteyya arrived on 23rd April, creating the first recorded Buddhist mission to England
1908 Ānanda Metteyya returned to Burma on the 2nd October
1909 The Buddhist Review was published on the 1st January; it was the first Buddhist periodical to appear in this country (Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland)
1923 Ānanda Mettayya died on the 9th March
From 8th Jan to the 28th May Francis Payne gave a series of lectures at the Old Essex Hall, Strand, London, in an attempt to revive a flagging Buddhist Society
June 1924 The Buddhist Centre within the Theosophical Society was started by Christmas Humphreys later to become The Lodge and then the present Buddhist Society (CH p17)
1924 Anagarika Dharmapala arrived in England on the 27th September en route to USA (CH p23)
1926 Anagarika Dharmapala bought 86 Madely Rd, Ealing, Middlesex in July
1926 On the 25th October the Buddhist Lodge within the Theosophical Society “divorced” the Theosophical Society and became independent (CH p27)
Nov 1926 The Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland was dissolved (CH p28)
1928 The first Vihara connected with the birth of the British Mahā Bodhi Society was founded by the Anagarika Dharmapala in Regents Park
1933 Anagarika Dharmapala died on the 29th April (CH p37)
1938 Venerable U Ṭhittila arrived in England from Burma (A-HM)
1945 About this time Mr Purfurst (to become Kapilavaḍḍho Bhikkhu) was a councilor and librarian for the Buddhist Society (S Dec 70) (MW 54/55)
1947 Venerable U Ṭhittila became librarian of the Buddhist Society and a leading exponent of Buddhism (CH p46)
1947 Mr Purfurst became acquainted with Venerable U Ṭhittila (MBS)
1948 On 18th April 1948, certain members of the Buddhist Society and others founded the Buddhist Vihara Society in England with the object of expediting the founding of a Vihara in London where bhikkhus might live, teach and form a nucleus of the Theravada Sangha (CH p51) (see Sri Lankan Buddhism)
1951 J. F. M’Kechnie (Bhikkhu Silacara) died (CH p55) (see p20 above)
1951 The inaugural meeting of the Manchester Buddhist Society (27th May) (MBS)
April 1952 M. Walshe joined the Buddhist Society in Great Russell St., after reading C. Humphreys Pelican book (ART)
1952 Just before Wesak, Mr Purfurst became an anagarika and on Wesak became Samaṇera Dhammananda, ordained by Venerable U Ṭhittila (A-HM)
1952 Venerable U Ṭhittila returns to Burma
Aug 1952 First Buddhist Summer School at St Anne’s College, Oxford (CH p53)
Nov 52 Samaṇera Dhammananda helped start Birmingham Buddhist Society (MBS) (MW 54/55)
Aug 1953 3 Grosvenor Square became the permanent home of the Manchester Buddhist Society (MBS)
Aug 1953 Samaṇera Dhammananda helped form Cambridge and Brighton Buddhist Societies (MBS)
1953 Mr Purfurst refused visa for Burma (MBS)
Oct 1953 Venerable Ṭhitavedho to England (A-HM) (ART)
Mar 1954 Samaṇera Dhammananda to Thailand
April 1954 Samaṇera Dhammananda renewed his lower ordination on the 19th (ART)
May 1954 On the 17th the Sri Lankan Temple was opened at 10 Ovington Gds, Knightsbridge. The Venerable Narada Mahathera was the first incumbent
Also on the 17th Samaṇera Dhammananda became Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho in Thailand. Thus becoming the first Englishman to be ordained in Thailand (MW 54/55)
24 May 54 Francis Payne died aged 84 (CH p55) (see p24 above)
Aug 1954 Summer school held at Roehampton. Miss Horner and the Venerable Narada Mahathera attended (MBS)
Nov 1954 Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho returned to England on the 12th, and stayed briefly in Manchester. He then moved to the London Buddhist Vihara (Sri Lankan temple) in Ovington Gds, Knightsbridge on the 15th. He was joined by Bhikkhus Guṇasiri and Mahanama, the Venerable Narada having already left. He set up the Dāna fund (for the use of members in distress, for the maintenance of bhikkhus and for the expenses of lecturers) and the Buddhist summer school both of which were later taken over by the Buddhist Society (R&B)
April 55 On the 8-11th the first intensive practice course lead by Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho. 15 attended held at Milton hall, Buxton (MBS)
April 55 Letter of recommendation for the Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho from the Abbot of Wat Paknam
5 July 55 Robert Albison ordained becoming Samaṇera Saddhavaḍḍho (R&B)
July 1955 Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho worked on setting up the EST [English Sangha Trust] with friends Reginald Howes, the Bartletts and others
Sept/Oct 55 A two week course was held at Ipping (AP)
31 Oct 55 Peter Morgan ordained becoming Samaṇera Pannavaḍḍho. Just prior to this date George Blake became Samaṇera Vijjavaḍḍho (AP)
16 Nov 55 Inaugural meeting of the EST [English Sangha Trust] (M-EST)
Dec 1955 On the 30th Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho returned to Thailand with Samaṇeras Vijjavaḍḍho, Saddhāvaḍḍho and Paññāvaḍḍho (MW 55/56) (14th Dec according to Ajahn Paññāvaḍḍho)
1956 M. Walshe was Vice president of The Buddhist Society (MW 55/56)
27 Jan 56 “Samaṇeras Vijjāvaḍḍho, Saddhāvaḍḍho and Paññāvaḍḍho (George Blake, Robert Albison and Peter Morgan) were ordained at Wat Paknam. Upajjhāya was Venerable Chao Khun Bhavanakasol (later Mangala-Rayamuni). The Kammavācāya was the Venerable Chao Khun Dhammavorodon (later to become Somdet — the Vice-Patriarch of Thailand). The Anusavanacaya was Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho.” (R&B). “After some time the four English bhikkhus relocated to Wat That Tong, Sukumvit Road, Bangkok” (AP)
21 Mar 56 Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho returned to England. EST [English Sangha Trust] rented Flat 9, 10 Orme Court, Bayswater, (M-EST First annual report by Directors. 30 April 57)
April 1956 Venerable Saddhavaḍḍho returned to England and shortly afterwards disrobed and returned to Rochdale. Meanwhile the Venerables Pannavaḍḍho and Vijjavaḍḍho went to Wat Vivekaram, Bang Pra village, Chonburi province to practice meditation (AP)
1 May 56 EST [English Sangha Trust] was incorporated with the following directors: 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 C. Bartlett served on both the MBS and EST [English Sangha Trust] (MW 55/56 p92) (M-EST)
June 56 Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho on hearing that Venerable Vijjavaḍḍho was ill, returned to Thailand (AP)
16 July 56 The Venerables Kapilavaḍḍho, Paññavaḍḍho and Vijjavaḍḍho return to England (AP)
Aug 1956 Venerable Vijjavaḍḍho disrobed, he married and is at present living in Canada (AP)
Aug 1956 Two German brothers and Miss Lisa Schroeder requested to come to England to become samaṇeras and upasika (M-EST)
Aug 1956 “The English Sangha Association is a new formation. It was founded at Oxford on 11/18 August 1956 by a group of sixteen people who had just completed a strenuous and continuous course in the practice of samadhi (concentration) and vipassana (insight) lasting a week under instruction of the Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho.” (MW Nov 56) (M-EST First annual report by Dir. 30 April 57)
Sept 1956 Venerable Paññavaḍḍho went to stay in Manchester (AP)
Sept 1956 On the 14th Mr Walshe became a director of the EST [English Sangha Trust], Mr Browning, a founding director of the EST [English Sangha Trust] resigned (M-EST)
10 Oct 56 Buddhist Society moves to 58 Eccleston Sq (MW-55/56) (CH p59)
Oct 1956 EST [English Sangha Trust] leased 50 Alexandra Rd, London N.W.8. (M-EST First annual report by Dir. 30 April 57)
Dec 1956 First Sangha Magazine produced (S Dec 56)
1957 Dr (philosophy) Lisa Schroeder became Upāsikā Cintavāsī (5th Feb) (A)
She arrived approximately Jan 57 (M-EST Feb 57)
Feb 1957 Venerable Paññāvaḍḍho in charge of the Buddhist Society, Manchester (MW 55/56). Venerable Paññāvaddho in Manchester (S Feb 57 p3)
Mar 1957 Venerable Paññāvaḍḍho returned to London (AP)
Mar 1957 Mr Walshe vice president and Meetings Secretary of Buddhist Society (MW 55/56)
24 Mar 57 Two German brothers, Walter and Gunther Kulbarz ordained becoming Samaṇeras Saññavaḍḍho and Sativaḍḍho
Mr Wooster requested to be a samaṇera (M-EST Mar 57)
1957 Arthur Wooster becomes Sāmaṇera Ñāṇavaḍḍho (4th May) (S May 57)
In late May or early June Venerable Paññavaḍḍho officiated at Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho’s disrobing (due to ill health). Venerable Paññavaḍḍho took over leadership of EST [English Sangha Trust] helped by the three Samaṇeras, Saññavaḍḍho, Sativaḍḍho and Naṇavaḍḍho and Upasika Cintavasi. (M-EST June 57)
June 1957 Mr Marcus became Director of EST [English Sangha Trust] (M-EST)
July 1957 Mr Bradbury, a founding director of the EST [English Sangha Trust] resigned (M-EST)
1958 Russell Williams (now 81) joined MBS (MBS)
Jan 1958 Mr Mynssen a founding director of the EST [English Sangha Trust] resigned (M-EST)
April 1958 The lease on 50 Alexandra Road was renewed (M-EST)
2 July 58 The German twin brothers Samaṇeras Saññāvaḍḍho and Sativaḍḍho were the first ever ordained on British soil in a historic ceremony at the Thai Embassy. They became Bhikkhus Dhammiko and Vimalo (MW 62/63). Apparently this ordination was not accepted in Thailand and the two bhikkhus re-ordained in Burma. Subsequently Bhikkhu Dhammiko left the Sangha for a university post (AP). “Bhikkhu Vimalo continued in the robe for many years. In approximately 1970 he wrote a Dhamma article called Awakening to the Truth recently brought to light by DFP students. See page 54 above for extract and EST [English Sangha Trust] libraries for a full copy (ED)
Jan 1959 Mr Allanm a founding director of the EST [English Sangha Trust], resigned (M-EST)
July 1959 Three bhikkhus, one sāmaṇera, and one upāsikā supported by trust (M-EST)
Sept 1959 £24,000 donated to the EST [English Sangha Trust] from Mr H. J. Newlin (M-EST)
June 60 Ānanda Bodhi (Leslie Dawson) offered to come to UK to teach (M-EST)
Eve Engle (Sister Visākhā) who gave valued assistance in the formation of the EST [English Sangha Trust] died, unfortunately drowned off the coast of Ceylon. She left a legacy of £15,000 to the EST [English Sangha Trust] (S 15 July 1960 Directors report).
Oct 1960 Connie Waterton asked the EST [English Sangha Trust] to lend her £375 to purchase the house she rented and used for the MBS meetings — agreed (MEST)
1961 Sāmaṇera Sujīvo, formerly Laurence Mills, became Bhikkhu Khantipālo in Bangalore, India (see Thai Buddhism) (S Sept 61)
12 Mar 61 John Richards became Sāmaṇera Mangalo (MW 61/62)
9 Nov 1961 Ānanda Bodhi arrives in UK from Burma (S Nov 61)
21 Nov 61 Venerable Paññāvaḍḍho to Thailand (MW 61/62) (S Nov 61)
4 Dec 1961 Bhikkhus Vimalo, Dhammiko and Sāmaṇera Maṅgalo to Burma (S Dec 61)
Dec 1961 EST [English Sangha Trust] directors reported the English Sangha Association as having expressed dissatisfaction with the Alexandra Street property regarding suitability for the monks. They agreed to find a more suitable property (S)
Feb 1962 Mr C. Bartlet and Mr R. Howes founding directors of the EST [English Sangha Trust] resigned (S Mar 62)
Mr Walshe became acting Chairman of the EST [English Sangha Trust] (M-EST)
28 Oct 62 131 Haverstock Hill was inaugurated. Mr Walshe, Chairman of EST [English Sangha Trust] (S Dec 62)
May 1963 Between February and May, Biddulph Old Hall was bought (S May and June 63)
Nov 1963 Ānanda Bodhi to Thailand
1963 129 Haverstock Hill was purchased. The property was rented to provide an income for the Vihāra
April 1964 Ānanda Bodhi returned and went to Biddulph and taught samādhi and vipassanā, Wat Paknam method. (S Mar 64)
April 1964 London Buddhist Vihāra moved from 10 Ovington Gds, Knightsbridge to 5 Heathfield Gds, Chiswick. Venerable Saddhātissa Mahāthera was the incumbent
1964 Lease of Sangha House, Alexandra Street finished
Venerable Sangharakshita [Dennis Lingwood] expected to arrive April (S Mar 64)
Jan 1965 Monks in residence at this time Bhikkhus Saṅgharakshita [Dennis Lingwood], Vimalo and Maṅgalo
[1965/1966/1967] Venerable Ananda Bodhi returned to England in the Fall of 1961, at the invitation of the English Sangha Trust, becoming the Resident Teacher of the Camden Town Vihara. He was a special guest speaker at the Fifth International Congress of Psychotherapists in London, where he met Julian Huxley, Anna Freud and R.D.Laing, among others. For the next three years he taught extensively throughout the UK, founding the Hampstead Buddhist Vihara in London and the Johnstone House Contemplative Community—a retreat centre in southern Scotland. During this period he also joined a Masonic lodge. In 1965, when he decided to move to Toronto with two of his British students, Johnstone House was entrusted to Venerable Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Akong Tulku, becoming Kagyu Samye Ling—the first Vajrayana centre to be established in the West.
-- Ven. Namgyal Rinpoche [Venerable Ananda Bodhi/Leslie George Dawson], by Dharma Centre of Winnipeg

Ananda Bodhi, senior incumbent of the English Sangha Vihara and founder of a Buddhist contemplative centre in Scotland called Johnstone House, proposed turning the direction of the House over to myself and Akong. At once the fresh air and beautiful rolling hills of Dumfriesshire invigorated me and filled me with joyous expectation. After a series of further visits, Johnstone House was finally turned over to us and we moved in, giving it the name of Samye-Ling Meditation Centre.
-- Epilogue: Planting the Dharma in the West, from "Born in Tibet," "by" Chogyam Trungpa

To celebrate 50 years of Chogyam Trungpa's arrival in the UK Rigdzin Shikpo visited Biddulph Old Hall where he received many precious teachings from Trungpa Rinpoche.
-- A Tour of Biddulph Old Hall: Rigdzin Shikpo takes us on a tour of Biddulph Old Hall in Staffordshire, England. Biddulph Old Hall is the site of some of Trungpa Rinpoche's early teachings in the UK, by Rigdzin Shikpo

Biddulph Old Hall. Source: Sangha Magazine, May 1963
May 1963 Between February and May, Biddulph Old Hall was bought (S May and June 63)
Nov 1963 Ananda Bodhi to Thailand
1963 129 Haverstock Hill was purchased. The property was rented to provide an income for the Vihāra
April 1964 Ananda Bodhi returned and went to Biddulph and taught samadhi and vipassana, Wat Paknam method. (S Mar 64)
10 Jan 67 Maurice Walshe asked John Garry to manage Biddulph. He also found Richard Randall (previously Mr Purfurst and Venerable Kapilavaddho) and asked him to return
Biddulph Old Hall sold (S Nov 69)

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

Well, I met him in 1966. And at that time I was married to an Irish actress named Jacqueline Ryan, or Jackie. We had rather a stormy relationship....
I began making the aspiration in my mind, “May I connect with a realized master in the practice lineage.”...
So one day in my mind I was making this aspiration, and I had this sudden thought come to my mind, “Go to the phone book and look up ‘Tibet.’” And I thought, “That’s crazy. What’s that going to do?” And I thought, “Yeah, yeah, but what have you got to lose?” So I went to the phone book, and I looked up “Tibet.” Now in London, there’s 12 million people, the phone book is in four volumes, but I looked up in the “T’s,” and there was only one entry that began with the word “Tibet.” And that was “The Tibet Society of the United Kingdom ... and noted down the address --  I think it was 58 Eccleston Square.” ...
[S]o I got in the car, and I knew where Eccleston Square was, and I managed to find a parking place there without having to use the reverse. And it was sort of a Victorian townhome. And I went up the steps and there was a brass plate that said, “Buddhist Society.” And I thought, “Ha, that’s a good sign.” And underneath it it said, “Tibet Society.” So I pressed that bell push, the buzzer sounded, the door opened, and I went in.
And there was an arrow pointing down to the basement. So I went down to the basement, full of anticipation that there was going to be something very esoteric -- I was sure about that – “Tibet Society!” And there was this middle-aged English woman with her hair in a bun, typing away on an old manual typewriter, looking at me at the top of her glasses and saying, “How can we help you?” And I said, “Well, tell me about the Tibet Society.” And she said, “Oh, it’s a charitable organization, raising money for Tibetan refugees in India. Would you care to make a donation?” I thought, “This is crazy.” And I think I gave her 10 shillings, and I was about to leave, thinking that this was a total waste of time. And at that moment, a young woman came in the door, and she kind of pulled me aside and she said, “If you don’t mind me asking, ‘what are you doing here’?” I said, “Well, it’s really hard to explain, but I’m really interested in the teachings of the Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism.” She said, “Oh, you know there are two Tibetan lamas in this country, and they belong to that Kagyu order.” And then she reached into her purse and she pulled out a photo, and she pointed to the one on the left and she said, “That’s Trungpa. That’s the one you want to meet.” I said, “Yes. Okay.” And then she proceeded to give me the address and phone number. They were living in Oxford....
And I rushed home, and I phoned the number in Oxford, and asked to speak to Venerable Trungpa, and someone with a weird foreign accent said, “Oh, he no here right now. Better you write to him.” And then they gave me an address of some place called Biddulph in Staffordshire, Biddulph Old Hall in Staffordshire.
And so I sat down and wrote a letter, “Dear Venerable Trungpa. I’d very much like to come and meet you, and study under your guidance. And I’d be willing to meet you any time or place that would be suitable to you.”...
So I sent off the letter, and of course, the first day there’s no response. The second day there’s no response. The third day, now by that time you could get an answer, because in England you could send a letter one day and it would get there the next day, and you could get a reply the day after that. But on the third day there was still no answer. On the fourth day there was still no answer. Now I was getting antsy. And on the fifth day still no answer. And I thought, “Well, I can’t wait any longer. I’m just going to go.” And I had the address of this place, The Biddulph Old Hall, Biddulph, Staffordshire. And I had a road atlas. So I found this place Biddulph. It was like a dot on the map, it was just this little village. And I decided I was going to go....
And I finally found this little village called “Biddulph” in Staffordshire. It’s kind of in the middle of England. And then I stopped in the village, and got directions to the Old Hall. And it’s a beautiful stone manor house....
And this place had a kind of iron knocker on the door. And I knocked, and a young man came to the door and said, “How can we help you?” And I said, “Well, I came to see the Venerable Trungpa.” And he said, “Ah, you must be Richard. He told us you’d be arriving today.” And I said, “What?,” because I had not had any answer to my letter....
So I stayed there for a week, and I met with him regularly on a one-to-one basis....
So at the end of the week, I went back to London. And a day or two afterwards I was having dinner – I was with my wife Jackie – and she said to me, “I have a feeling you don’t really need me anymore.” And I said, “Yeah, maybe you’re right.” And she said, “I’m going to be leaving you.” And I said, “What?”  And I didn’t really say much about it. But when I woke up the next morning – we had this big king-size bed, and there was this big empty space next to me -- she was gone. And I was kind of surprised, although she had said that, because it was so sort of sudden. And I remember calling up Trungpa Rinpoche in Oxford and saying, “You’ll never guess what happened. My wife left me.” He said, “Oh, yes.” And I said, “I have the feeling that if I contacted her, and asked her to come back, she probably would.” And he said, “Well, I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” And I said, “No, I’m not going to.”....
And then a couple of days later we set out for Scotland.
-- Richard Arthure on Meeting Chogyam Trungpa, by The Chronicles of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

In 1967, the two Rinpoches named their centre after Samye, the first successful Buddhist establishment in Tibet. They were soon joined by master-artist Sherapalden Beru and the monk Samten. By 1970, Trungpa Rinpoche had departed for the USA and His Holiness the 16th Karmapa firmly encouraged Akong Rinpoche to take a leadership role in developing Samye Ling.
-- A Brief History of Kagyu Samye Ling, by Kagyu Samye Ling

1 Aug 66 The Thai temple opened at 99 Christchurch Road, East Sheen (S-Feb 72). Venerable Chao Khun Sobhana Dammasuddhi was the first incumbent. The King and Queen of Thailand attended, as did Bhikkhu Khantipālo (A) (CH p68)
10 Jan 67 Maurice Walshe asked John Garry to manage Biddulph. He also found Richard Randall (previously Mr Purfurst and Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho) and asked him to return
May 1967 Richard Randall became director and administrator of EST [English Sangha Trust] (R&B)
John Garry became a Director of the EST [English Sangha Trust] (M-EST)
21 Oct 67 Richard Randall reordained as the Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho for the second time at Wat Buddhapadīpa, East Sheen (ART)
Dec 1967 Alan James first came to Hampstead in December 1967. He became Sāmaṇera Dīpadhammo in February and Bhikkhu Dīpadhammo in May 1968 after ordaining at Wat Buddhapadīpa, East Sheen (S Jan 72)
1968 In 1968, Gerry Rollason arrived in Hampstead. Gerry who became an accomplished artist painted the life-size picture of Ajahn Chah presently hanging in the hall at Chithurst
23 Oct 68 His Highness the Venerable Somdet Phra Vanarata (Vice- Patriarch of Thailand) visited Hampstead
2 Mar 69 Gerry Rollason and Andrew Willoughby became sāmaṇeras. They were ordained by the Venerable Chao Khun Dhammasuddhi (Dhiravaṃsa) assisted by Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho Bhikkhu and four other monks. The two young Englishmen became Sāmaṇeras Sāsanapadipa and Saddhadikā (MW 69/70)
June 1969 Buddhist Path “Robes and a bowl” article by John Garry on Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho (S). John Garry was one of the founding MBS Members. He died on 28th September 1998 (ED)
27 July 69 Jim Harris became Bhikkhu Suddhiñāṇo at Wat Buddhapadīpa. Thus making three bhikkhus at Hampstead (MW 69/70)
1969 “Mr Maurice Walshe, due to pressure of University work has had to relinquish his editorship of The Buddhist Path after several years tireless and at times courageous service. The Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho will take his place and the magazine will use its old name of Sangha. The magazine will also function as the monthly official journal of Wat Dhammapadīpa (Hampstead Vihāra) and the Fellowship.” (MW 69/70)
Nov 1969 A meditation block comprising three “cells” and a shower room in the rear garden of 131 Haverstock Hill are nearly completed. In addition there is a wooden shed also used as a Kuṭi.
Biddulph Old Hall sold (S Nov 69)
July 1970 Bhikkhu Dīpadhammo (Alan James) disrobes and becomes secretary (S July 70 and Jan 72)
27 Aug 70 Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho disrobed and became Ācariya Kapilavaḍḍho (S Sept 70)
April 1971 Francis Story, the well-known Buddhist author including research into rebirth, died (S June 71)
1 Oct 71 Jacqui Grey became Mrs Randall. Alan James, Maurice Walshe and Gerry Rollason attended (S Nov 71)
Oct 1971 News & notes. Recently Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho received a visit from Alan Adams (later to become Venerable Khemadhammo), secretary of the lay Buddhist Association, Buddhapadīpa, Thai Temple (S Oct 71)
4 Dec 71 “Oaken Holt Buddhist centre, Farmoor, near Oxford, opened by owner U Myat Saw: - A Buddhist Centre has been opened at Oaken Holt, Farmoor, near Oxford. The first public event, on 4th December 1971, was a lecture entitled “What Buddhism has to Offer to the West”, by V.R. Dhiravaṃsa (the former Chao Khun Sobhana Dhammasudhi) of the Vipassanā Centre at Hindhead. The lecture was preceded by a religious ceremony when seven bhikkhus chanted the scriptures; there was also a Dāna ceremony. Over a hundred people came for the opening day, and of these more than a half came from London and places further away.
The centre has meditation facilities for those wishing to undertake strict practice. There is also a retreat house for those who wish to spend varying periods observing Sīla in a religious atmosphere and quiet country surroundings. There is a Vihāra nearby, where Buddhist monks will be in residence. Those who are interested may communicate with the Secretary, The Buddhist Centre, Oaken Holt, Farmoor, near Oxford.” (MW 71/72)
Dec 1971 Ācariya Kapilavaḍḍho died (aged 65) in Middlesex hospital on the 19th. He was buried on the 23rd December at Golders Green crematorium (S Jan 72)
Dec 1971 Short notation on Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho’s death by Reginald McAuliffe (MW 71/72)
Jan 1972 Alan James took over Hampstead following Ācariya Kapilavaḍḍho’s death (S Jan 72)
Feb 1972 Article by Mr Walshe on Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho (S Feb 72)
Mar 1972 Alan James and Jacqui Gray married (S May 72)
Oct 1973 Alan and Jacqui James left Hampstead
Nov 1973 Dr Michael Clark became meditation teacher at Hampstead (S Vol. 4 No 5 -73)
1974 Dr Michael Clark ordained in Thailand.
“It is with great pleasure that we can now announce that Dhammapadīpa (Hampstead Vihāra) will shortly assume its original status as a Vihāra — a place of residence of bhikkhus in the dispensation of the Buddha. Our Administrator and Meditation Master Dr Michael Clark will shortly be returning from Thailand, where he will take up residence at Wat Dhammapadīpa.” (S Vol. 4 No 6 -74)
June 1974 Ajahn Māha Boowa, Ajahn Paññāvaḍḍho and Tan (another respectful way of addressing a bhikkhu) Cherry, visited Hampstead Vihāra (8-24th) for two weeks.
Oct 1976 Venerable Sumedho visits Hampstead Vihāra for 3 days
Dec 1976 George Sharp (Chairman of EST [English Sangha Trust]) visited Ajahn Chah and invited him to visit England in the hope that he would agree to Venerable Sumedho and other bhikkhus staying in England with the support of the EST [English Sangha Trust]
May 1977 Ajahn Chah arrived at Hampstead on the 6th May 1977 with Venerable Sumedho, Venerable Khemadhammo having already arrived on the 5th May
July 1977 Venerables Ānando and Vīradhammo arrived at Hampstead on the 7th after visiting their families
Aug 1977 Ajahn Chah returned to Thailand
May 1979 Ajahn Chah revisits England
April 1979 Haverstock Hill properties were sold at auction (26th)
June 1979 The Sangha moved to Chithurst (22nd)
* * * * *
Meditation falls into the following two categories:
(1) Concentration Meditation: This includes many different types of practice all with the same objective, to keep the mind on one object. These practices have been around for thousands of years. It requires the practitioner to keep their mind on one object excluding all other objects. Some of these types of practice are keeping the mind on one’s breath or on an object outside the body.
(2) Insight Meditation: A man, during his meditation practice, discovered this, roughly 2500 years ago in India. As he was the first person to discover this particular type of knowledge, he is called a “Buddha.” Insight Meditation is the observation of what is going on in one’s mind and body. Not in the medical or psychological sense, but in that which you can be aware of. One’s whole life consists of alternating between experiencing any one of the senses — hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling, touching and mental activity. Most people are unaware that they are experiencing a continuous arising and passing of sensorial experiences and are generally immersed in satisfying and extending the senses rather than examining and finding out what they are and how they operate. During the process of Insight Meditation one sets up a “watching mind” which notes this process. Knowledge arises as to how and why these processes are taking place, and therefore knowledge concerning oneself and our relationship with the “world” are brought to light. Concentration is necessary as well in this practice. It can be derived from within the Insight practice. When the mind can stay watching one sense object after another, the mind attains a level of concentration naturally born from noting multiple objects.
Why Meditate?
People generally meditate because of dissatisfaction with their present state of mind. It is natural for the mind to become dissatisfied. As this is the natural way of the mind it means that we are constantly trying to alter our existence, though usually in a material way. If we win the lottery we will definitely be happy! But it is never so. Some people feeling uncomfortable with the way they are, with or without intellectualising their situation, look around for an answer. Some of those people find their answer in meditation.
Meditation is not following some mystic journey into the multidimensional cosmos (because when you get there you might find it’s as fraught with danger as planet earth!), nor for developing psychic or healing abilities. It is for attaining peace, contentment and knowledge, leading finally to the complete eradication of all forms of unsatisfactory states.
Aids to these practices are morality and other qualities such as generosity, generating good thoughts to others and patience.
Source: Terry Shine, First published in “The Badge” 30th March 2001
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Re: Honour Thy Fathers: A Tribute to the Ven. Kapilavaddho

Postby admin » Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:38 am

Newspaper Articles

"The Standard" Bangkok. August 7, 1954


Mr Robert A. Samek, senior lecturer in Commercial law at Melbourne University, who is stopping in Bangkok to study Buddhist Philosophy, is on his way via Rangoon and London to take up a teaching fellowship in Chicago.

He was deeply impressed by discussions with Bhikkhu Kapilavaddho (William August Purfurst).

Mr Samek said: “I want to record my sincere thanks to the Buddhist Association which has helped me to make my visit to Bangkok truly memorable. It gave me the opportunity of seeing the unique temple and monuments of this city and of meeting many of its distinguished sons who have always received me with courtesy and real friendliness. This in itself would be ample reward, but the Buddhist Association has also been instrumental in bringing about in me a far greater understanding of the doctrine of the Buddha and of what is widely known as the Eastern approach to life than I had thought myself capable of heretofore. For my progress in that direction I wish to express my particular gratitude to a European, Bhikkhu Kapilavaddho, who by his deep knowledge, patience, lucidity and honesty of purpose has succeeded in revealing to me some of the footsteps of the Buddha. I would also like to thank the Abbot of Wat Paknam and Bhikkhu Titavedo for their kind hospitality and the vice President of the Buddhist Association, Aiem Sangkhavasi for the perfect way in which he organised my visit to Bangkok. I sincerely hope that one day I may be privileged to return to this city and to the many friends I have made here.”

"Sunday Dispatch"
November 12th 1954

No longer Mr Purfurst

New Name

A 48-YEAR-OLD Englishborn monk flew into London yesterday from a Siamese Monastery to become the first Buddhist teacher in London.

Swathed from neck to toe in only a cotton robe and wearing sandals on his otherwise bare feet he said: “Neither the heat or cold affects me. As for clothes I am forbidden to wear any other garment but this robe—even underclothes.”

Both his passport and the passenger list of his air line carried the name “W. A. Purfurst” but he said “I severed all connection with Britain when I began my training two years ago. The name Purfurst no longer exists.”

Instead he is known by his Buddhist name Kapilavaddho Bhikkhu.

"Daily Mail"
__ November 1954

Enter Kapila Vaddho, the holy man


WOMEN prostrated themselves at London Airport yesterday as a shaven-headed yellow-robed Buddhist holy man stepped from a Dutch airliner.

Mr. W. A. Purfurst 48, former West End photographer, had come home. That was the name on his passport: that was the name on the passenger manifest.

But to Mr. Purfurst and those who greeted him, he was Kapilavaddho Bhikkhu (holy man), of Paknam Monastery, Siam, specialist in meditation.

The bhikkhu has a wife and children living in London.

Said Miss Joan Pope, general secretary of the British Buddhist Society: “He has had to leave them, but Mr. Parfurst made arrangements before he took his vows.

Yellow robe

“He became a Bhikkhu last spring on his own initiative. No Bhikkhu can be ordained if he is married.”

The sun-tanned, ascetic-looking man then explained his clothing.

Only three garments may be worn, he said — two “underskirts” and the vivid yellow robe made of the cheapest cotton.

On his feet—rubber-soled, goat-skinned-thonged sandals, made in Japan. “They were presented to me. Normally I wear no footwear.”

And in that garb he went by road to Manchester. He is staying with friends in Sale. Tomorrow night he will address a public meeting.

"Daily Times" Ceylon
November 1954

Bhikkhu Kapilavaddho, an English monk, who was recently ordained in Thailand, passed through Colombo yesterday morning on his way to England. He is seen here with Jinananda Nayake Thero of Kotahena temple, who met him at the Ratmalana airport.

The Star" London.
March 4, 1955.


Brighton’s Royal Pavilion will welcome tomorrow one of the most unusual visitors in its history—a saffron robed English Buddhist monk.

He is the Bhikkhu Kapilavaddho, once William August Purfurst, photographer, barman and philosopher.

He is the first Englishman for nearly fifty years to become a monk teacher of its 2500 year old faith of the East.

The bhikkhu is travelling to Brighton to address a public meeting called in one of the conference rooms of the Pavilion by the Brighton and Hove Buddhist Society. Fully 50 people are expected to attend.

He will start for Brighton from the Buddhist Vihara or temple, which has been established in Ovington Gardens, Knightsbridge and where he has been living since he returned to England last November after being in Siam.

Because he must not handle money the bhikkhu will be accompanied by a male escort from Knightsbridge by taxi to Victoria and there have his return ticket to Brighton handed to him.

Members of the local society will meet him at Brighton and take him by car for a special study group meeting at a house in Norfolk Terrace, Brighton.

Entertaining the bhikkhu presents no problems. He must not eat after noon and all he will have before he catches the 9.25pm train back to London after addressing the Royal Pavilion meeting will be a cup of tea.

“There will be about ten people, all British Buddhists at the study meeting.”

"Daily Herald"
July 9th 1955


By Allen Andrews

… and here they are  at prayer in London

A barefoot bespectacled Englishman wearing only a yellow toga and with head and eyebrows completely shaved, offered me a cigarette.

I declined….The air in the room was sweet with the scent of joss sticks. Amid the flowers on a mantelpiece altar an oil lamp burned before a golden image of the Buddha.

It would have been like smoking in church.

So the monk merely lit one for himself. “I don’t own anything” he explained “but these were given to me. I shouldn’t miss them if I didn’t have them.”  

Tobacco is about the only luxury he has not renounced.

Kapila Vaddho, the name meaning “spreader of teaching” which he adopted when he was ordained in Siam 18 months ago, has vowed to abstain from alcohol, food after noon, destruction—even to the extent of picking a flower—and sex.

He may not touch a female, even a baby. But in Britain if a girl brushes against him in a train he has to learn to ignore it …

To take a train journey, anyway he has to send a boy out first to buy him a ticket—for he may not handle money.

When he visits the restaurant car, British Railways allows him to have the lunch bill sent for payment to the Buddhist Society.

No Dogma

ORE and more Britons are becoming converts to Buddhism.

Kapilavaddho has five English novices waiting now in his Knightsbridge (London) headquarters to be taken back to Siam for a six month course in meditation.

Kapilavaddho explains this growth of interest by the uncertainty and insecurity which People feel after two wars. “They are looking for something,” he says.

Will they find God? Not in the Buddhist faith. Ours is a rational faith, without dogma,” the monk said. “We are not beholden to any priest or church.”

Yet Buddhism is a world religion whose adherents are as many as those of Christianity.

“All I can do,” said Kapilavaddho, “is to give certain training in behaviour. By practising deep introspection men can achieve a universal compassion and amity. There is a divinity within man, but also beyond him.”

Good thoughts

Do they find happiness?

“Yes” says the monk. “We believe that as a man dies he is born again in some other being. We try to give him good thoughts as he dies. It helps, just as in the morning if you go to sleep with good thoughts on your mind.”

“And with this philosophy people are happy because they feel they have come a long way and are going a long way. It isn’t a feeling of fatalism, but of reasonable optimism."

He gives his converts only one rule: “You can do as you like, but remember that each one of your actions has a result.”

Do Better

BUDDHISTS try not to be aggressive, acquisitive, sensual and un-neighbourly, but they do not promise to keep these virtues—only to be watchful and try to be good.

Sometimes they come to Kapilavaddho with a confession of failure, and he merely says: “what happened yesterday is past. Try to do better today.”

When London is more acclimatised to Buddhism, the monk will go out in the morning to beg his food with the begging bowl which besides his cloths and a razor, are his only possessions.

His head is shaven in order to divest himself of individuality and pride. He supports his vow of poverty with this story—

Once there was a monk who wanted just a cat for a pet. But he had to have milk for his cat, so he took a cow. When the cow went dry he took a bull. Soon he had a farm and a wife….and no time to teach.

Kapilavaddho is making sure he is not encumbered like that. His own wife and child….he is now fifty—were provided for before he donned the yellow robe.

2nd March 1957
Dear Kapilavadvho,
I would like to thank you for coming into "Tonight" last Wednesday. You spoke extremely well and what you had to say was most impressive. I, personally, enjoyed meeting you very much indeed.
Yours sincerely,
Cynthia Judah
Television Talks
c/o English Sangha Association,
50 Alexandra Road,



Renolds news
London 24th March 1957

“It’s all so rational”


A man of 25, once a Royal Navy seaman, this week renounces money, girls, alcohol and personal possessions and meals after midday and starts training as a Buddhist monk.

He is Arthur Wooster of Pyle Hill crescent, Totterdown, Bristol. Two months ago he cut short his studies at Redland College Bristol, where he was training to be a teacher and became a Buddhist.

For six weeks he has been getting the taste of the austere, self-denying religion in a home for Buddhist monks at Alexandra Road, Hampstead, London.

He has been doing menial jobs and studying. He sleeps on the floor in a sleeping bag— Buddhist monks are not allowed beds.

His head will be shaved and as a novice he will wear only saffron robes.

Said Mr. Wooster last night “I am a lot happier now after a long time of doubt and uncertainty before coming here.”

Why has he decided to devote his life to this religion founded 2500 years ago by an Indian prince Gautama Buddha?

Mr. Wooster told me “I was once an enthusiastic Christian. But after studying comparative religion at the college I found myself convinced by the rational basis of Buddhism.


He left the Navy after six years to train for teaching. And as a monk he will go on teaching — Buddhism instead of the three R’s.

There are at present only two British Buddhist monks in the country and they operate from the house in Hampstead.

The senior is 52-year old Kapilavaddho — “He who spreads and increases teachings” — who used to be William Purfurst, professional photographer, until he became a monk four years ago.

The other is 31 year old Pannavaddho— “He who spreads and increases wisdom” — who 13 months ago was Peter Morgan, electrical engineer.

In four years Buddhist societies have been formed in Manchester, Southampton, Brighton and Oxford University and the monks lecture regularly at Hull and York. Cambridge University has had a Buddhist society for some years.

The Buddhist Society of London which barrister Mr. Christmas Humphreys founded 33 years ago is now receiving 20 applications a month for membership. Ten years ago it was three a month.

First lesson

English Buddhist Kapilavaddho shows Arthur Wooster the Pali dictionary

16-St. Marylebone Record February 27, 1970

Kapilavaddho’s bright saffron robe is draped around him sari-style.

“Everyone is screaming for freedom, peace and love but half the time they don’t know what the words mean …”

By Janet Midwinter

IT TAKES him three seconds to pack for a 9,000 mile journey.

That’s about how long it takes to grab a begging bowl off the shelf, sling a spare robe over his shoulder and pick up a small bag containing a toothbrush, razor and a few other odds and ends.

Kapilavaddho hasn’t done this lately. It’s a few years since he last went to Thailand.

His childhood was spent in London’s West End, around Whitfield Street, where he lived. He went to Saint- Martins-in-the-Fields Grammar School and he worked as a freelance photographer in Fleet Street.

Today he is the Abbot at the Buddhist Temple and Vihara on Haverstock Hill.

No God

Buddhism is not a religion. There is no concept of a God so there is nothing to pray to and nothing to pray for.

“I never was a Christian. My parents were ordinary people who didn’t push ideas on me but they advised me if I came unstuck.”

His bright saffron robe is draped around him sari-style and a naked shoulder has a thin arm ending in fingers holding a cigarette.

Cigarettes are OK but alcohol and drugs are out. Buddhists don’t believe in taking any drug for pleasure. Not because they think them wicked but because they think the mind should be kept clear and not muddled.

“Most drugs synthesised today were known in the Buddha’s time. Various people used them much the same as the American Indians extracted drugs from natural herbs. Smoking’s a common or garden habit. Even Buddha said, “… He quoted a text in Pali — the language used in the sacred writings of the Buddhists — then translated it. “I allow you when in need to smoke the smoke through a smoking pipe.”


Kapilavaddho, who is 65, first became interested in Buddhism 30-odd years ago. He became a lecturer on the subject but after lecturing for a few years he decided that it was hypocritical not to practice what he was preaching.

He left for Thailand and learned more about Buddhism under one of the best teachers of the time. He was ordained 22 years ago and was the first European to take the robe.

His name—Kapilavaddho— means “he who spreads and increases the teaching.” Each person is given a name to suit him when he is ordained and from that time his old name is left behind him.

Kapilavaddho even had his changed by deed-poll to make certain of leaving his past behind him.

The Vihara or “monks living place” on Haverstock Hill is quite unlike the monasteries in Thailand.

There they are large compounds. The monks are dependent on the community for there living. They don’t work — they beg once a day for food — and they are respected for being monks.

“In this country you can’t just live under a tree or beg because you get run in and people who do it are classed as drop-outs.”

There are three monks including Kapilavaddho at Haverstock Hill and they are fed by any public donations and the English Sangha Trust Ltd. The Trust was responsible for buying the house six years ago and maintaining it.

5.30 a.m. start

The two junior monks there are being trained by Kapilavaddho. They have a long day starting at 5.30 a.m. and ending about 11.30 p.m. They are responsible for looking after their own rooms, and they sleep on the floor. Among the few possessions they are allowed are three cotton robes, a cup, a begging bowl, needle and cotton, and a razor.

“Buddhism is the teaching of a man called Gautama who became known as Buddha. Just as there was a man in history called Jesus of Nazareth who became known as Christ.” explained Kapilavaddho.

“Buddhists do not pray. They meditate. Meditation is a state of mind, a controlled state of mind all day. The popular lotus position associated with meditation is not necessary. The oriental does it because he’s got no chairs.

“We do not offer people something to believe in but something to do for themselves. It is mind training.”


“Everyone is screaming for freedom, peace and love but half the time they don’t know what the words mean. Hippies live off society and destroy other people’s freedom. We don’t drop out from society. We are concerned with stability and freedom.”

“Our job is to instruct. We don’t go out to people — that way they can’t say that there is any duress on them. If they want something they come to us.”

“What good does looking for converts do? It won’t save my soul. We don’t believe in them.”

Public lectures every Sunday evening at the Vihara at 5.30 attract an average 60 people. Their ages range from 15 to 95 and Kapilavaddho is pleased because they are a wide cross-section of people.

He says he does not get angry at the fact that people go to the Vihara because they are curious, or even mind it.

He explained. “If people are curious and come to us then they are unhappy. A happy person is quite contented to stay where he is. He doesn’t have to go anywhere.”

Source: All of the above “Newspaper Articles” are from Alan James (Aukana Trust), The Venerable Kapilavaḍḍho scrapbook

Other Related Historical Books of Interest

1. The Light of Asia, by Edwin Arnold.

2. Ānanda Metteyya, by Elizabeth J. Harris (The Wheel Publication No 420/422) (Buddhist Publication Society ISBN 955-24-0179-8).

3. Life as a Siamese Monk, by Richard Randall (Aukana Publishing ISBN 0-9511769-2-7).

4. Sixty years of Buddhism, by Christmas Humphreys (Buddhist Society).

5. Venerable U Ṭhittila eBooks (http://www.buddhanet.net).


On occasion the syntax of quoted material has been slightly altered to make it more comprehensible to the modern reader  
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