What I learned from Bhanté (Part 1 of 3)

By way of introduction, my three decades with Bhanté Dharmawara changed my life for the better in myriad ways. Bhanté’s principles and practices can benefit you, as well. With practice and intent certain benefits emerge naturally, easily, concurrently, and at their own pace.

You might start with the simple suggestion to live life in the moment. Easy to articulate; challenging to live into. What emerges organically are inner harmony, resilience when stressed, defense to neutralize the foreign, repair to renew abilities, neurohormonal balance, metabolic and digestive harmony. Habits gained include poise, peacefulness, seeking harmony and peace as well as aequanimitas (also the title of a book by Sir William Osler). Bring good in and let bad out. Repeat.

Be kind to your inner, tender self. Nurture that part of you. You can grow to love yourself, life, and all others as well. The supply of love seems inexhaustible to those who embrace life fully. The supply of dark matter seems inexhaustible yet not measurable by physicists.

You gradually gain the affirming emotions of gratitude, connectedness to all life, doing meaningful work, helping where you can, and growing something, including ourselves.

You learn to easily forgive. Learn from the experience. Your hormones, neurochemicals, immune defense and repair system, digestion and metabolism, executive brain functions all improve. You can measure the differences individually using advanced functional tests. Your microbiome and metabolome are in harmony.

Take a moment here and there to explore inner space. Practice and go by experience.

You slowly lose the afflictive emotions of anxiety, worry, fear, isolation, depression, mood disorders, procrastination, hopelessness, sloth, and need for recreational distractions.

Take a dip into sacred time regularly. Join Bhanté in this process. Most things operate better if they are periodically unplugged, perhaps including unplugging yourself into the timeless or what may be called sacred time.

If you peruse these suggestions and let them infuse into your life over time, you are likely to demonstrably benefit at all levels.

Bhanté deserves to be remembered because of his roles in the history of spiritual life the 20th century. His messages are more apt, and timely, than ever in our 21st century.

His example continues to provide us a light in the darkness of our times; a path in the thicket of life today; a way consistent with the Way.

Over the next couple weeks, we will look more into some specific principles that Bhanté espoused that will help you to live a more fulfilling and enriched life. For now, let’s learn a little more about the man himself.

Bhanté Dharmawara (Feb 12, 1889 – June 26, 1999)

What is Bhanté’s name? The part of his name that is best known is Dharmawara. This means ‘he who follows the Way’. His full name with titles was Sam Dech Preah Bhanté Vira Bellong Dharmawara Mahathera. He did not need to be well known except for a few who held him in high regard.

In 1956 he worked with John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State under Dwight Eisenhower, and his brother Alan Dulles, who ran the CIA at that time, to try to keep America out of Indo-China.

In 1960, he taught diplomatic protocol to the young Dalai Lama after helping secure Dharamsala as a Government in Exile for the Tibetans by appealing to his friend Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s Prime Minister.

He converted Ambedkar, the social reformer whose birthday is celebrated in India as a holiday today.

He advised most Asian governments from the court of Norodom Sihanouk’s Cambodia to the Royal Family in Thailand. He took the crown from the King Father to place it on Sorodom Sihanook’s head at the coronation.

He is credited with bringing Buddhism back to India. Starting in Lucknow in the 1930s and then through his Ashoka Mission in Delhi started in the 1950s. Ashoka continues to serve the work he initiated.

U Nu and U Thant gave Bhanté a solid gold Buddha for his help promoting Buddhism to the world.

He remained close to the Nehru family, the Patels of the Congress Party, Mohandas Ghandi, Ambedkar, and a variety of Dalits.

He was spiritual advisor to John Bennett’s College for Continuous Education in the UK and it’s US affiliate, Claymont.

He started the first Buddhist Vihara in the Washington, DC area in Oxon Hill, Maryland. This is where I met Bhanté and asked him to teach me his color healing system.

He spoke many languages. Sanskrit and Pali, Khmer, Vietnamese, Lao, French (both Canadian and European), Hindi, Spanish, Italian, and Greek.

He often put diplomats and students at ease by speaking their language so that the nuance of his words could reach them.

Bhanté encourages us to practice using principles that he learned from Gautama Buddha’s inspiration. May we benefit from his wisdom and light. He pointed out how important it is to devote time to inner development.

This would typically start with a relaxation response under the green light where in you breathe into the abdomen for five minutes followed by 15 minutes of letting thoughts come and go as you bring yourself back to your breath. Meditation and mindfulness practices follow development of ability to relax and be.

Meditation means being so absorbed in the moment that time passing is not noticed. Mindfulness practices begin when meditation becomes a habit. Mindfulness practices allow a reciprocal relationship to develop between our spirit guides and those of us alive.

Medical intuitives including Dr Ramamurti Mishra, Rev Dr Robert Leichtman and Olga Worrall recognized Bhante as an adept.

Many can tell you the problems; few can tell you the personal solutions.

He claimed no special abilities.

When people came who could see one or another aspect of the aura, he was often provided quite nuanced interpretations helping them understand more deeply the meaning of what they were seeing.

We seek wisdom and guidance from Gautama Buddha, the next Matreya Buddha, and the living buddha in our time as was Bhanté. He lived 110 years and 137 days. He passed at his center in Stockton, California.

I look forward to sharing in more depth the principles and practices that Bhanté shared with me over the last 30 years of his life. He was my friend and teacher, and his philosophies have inspired my insights into wellness and Nature’s pHarmacy.