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Buddhadharma : Spring 2011
all desperate to transform their lives and their society through Buddhism, but with little living teaching to guide them,” Loka- mitra recalls. “I had stumbled blindly into a situation in which the two-fold transformation seemed a real possibility, and on the most auspicious of days. I did not consciously decide to live and work in India then but I have no doubt that my future was decided on that day.” Lokamitra moved to India the following year, and with help of local Indian Buddhists he organized retreats and meditation groups. “Our friends,” he says, “organized these where they could—an abandoned disused railway carriage, the veranda of an unfinished police station, a small garage when its car went to church on Sundays.” More than thirty years have passed since those rough and ready days. TBMSG now includes more than five hundred ordained dharma teachers—dharmacharis and dharmachari- nis—and many thousands of practitioners. With the support of the Karuna Trust and other donors in Asia and the West, two related organizations—Jambudvipa Trust and Bahujan Hitay (meaning “for the welfare of many”)—evolved to do outreach and social work among the Dalits. As well, Maitreyanath Dhammakirti, Mangesh Dahiwale, Priyadarshi Telang and other TBMSG leaders established the Manuski Center (also known as the Manuski Project) in Pune. The center is quiet and cool, with a good library, meeting rooms, offices, basic but comfortable guest rooms, and a large meditation hall. During my visit to India, I stayed at Manuski and gave workshops on engaged Buddhism. I also met with students at the Nagaloka education center, took part in a study retreat in Kondhanpur, and offered dharma talks in Nagpur and Mumbai. Each activity included melodic Pali chanting and meditation. The Dalit Buddhist meditation practices are straightforward and familiar to me: anapanasati, or mindfulness of breathing, and metta bhavana, or cultivation of loving-kindness. I sense a quality of concentration and settledness. City sounds rise within the silence of meditation—children’s shouts, panting rickshaw drivers, barking dogs, the crack of a cricket bat, a street vendor’s cry. The peace of meditation at once includes all of this and goes beyond it. Half a ➤ continued page 88 New Buddhist students attending class at Nagaloka Photos alan senauke I was inspired by the students at Nagaloka. Despite having been involved in engaged Buddhism for more than twenty years, nowhere else have I met young people with the kind of intuitive grasp of Buddhist practice and social action arising together. 69 spRing 2 01 1 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly