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Buddhadharma : Winter 2009
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly winter 2 0 09 82 The young Anton Gueth first encoun- tered Buddhism while listening to a Theosophical lecture at a vegetarian res- taurant. “Paradoxically as it may sound,” he recalled, “the reason for ... my conver- sion to Buddhism ... was my love for oat porridge.” One of the themes that run through the book is the mature Nyana- tiloka’s steady efforts to encourage and propagate a more scholarly rigorous, scripturally based, and traditional form of Buddhism than had existed in the West up until then. He required all his students to learn Pali, and many of our best-known translations in both German and English are the work of monks in his lineage. Nya- natiloka himself translated, among other texts, the Vissudhimagga into German, and his student Nyanamoli rendered the same important text into English. Bhik- khu Bodhi, a contemporary monk in this tradition, has published what are now the standard translations of the Majjhima and Samyutta Nikayas, building on the unfinished work of Nyanamoli. All this would be impressive enough had Nyanatiloka and his disciples been able to work peacefully and comfortably. However, this story is also one of heroic struggles. After Gueth had decided to journey to the East to find the original teachings, he faced years of difficulty making his way there. Long journeys at the time were by sea, and very expensive. Gueth was an accomplished musician, and he parlayed his talent into musical jobs, working his way east in stages via Greece, Egypt, and India. He eventually made it to Burma, where he sought out a Westerner who had preceded him, the Scotsman Ananda Metteya. (When Britain is included, Nyanatiloka was the fourth European bhikkhu.) Nyanatiloka took ordination in Burma, though for most of his life his monastic home was Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). As it turned out, Nyanatiloka’s strug- gles were far from over. In the early years of the Island Hermitage he founded in Ceylon, conditions were primitive, the cli- mate hard on northern constitutions, and the food often inadequate. Yet, by his own Reviews EXPERIENCE A PERSONAL RETREAT AT THE FOREST REFUGE • Come for a week or stay for a year – open all year round • Follow your own schedule – supported by talks, personal teacher interviews and access to a dharma library • Beautiful new facility nestled in secluded woodlands • All private dorm rooms, nourishing meals and tranquil surroundings A self-sustaining practice is necessary to undertake a Forest Refuge retreat. INSIGHT MEDITATION SOCIETY For application information visit www.dharma.org or call (978) 355-2063 Freedom with Support