Tribute to Bhanté Dharmawara

Bhante

By: Dr. Russell Jaffe

Sam Dech Preah Bhanté Vira Bellong Dharmawara Mahatera was my principle life mentor and spiritual guide to many. As he sometimes said of himself, it took him 40 years to get sick followed by 40 years to get well. Then he could get started.

He decoded a non-invasive color healing system that forms an episode in this documentation and narrative, mostly from personal experience of a remarkable life and exemplary human being. In recent years, many have told me that the few minutes that they had with Bhanté were ‘life changing’ in the sense of being guided to meaningful work in harmony with their highest potential and aspirations.

This is by way of introducing a man who lived a life of Buddhic qualities, touched the lives of many and, by example, mentored many in the art of living.

The arc of this narrative starts near the completion of his life. In 1996, when he was 107, he and I shared an experience starting with his being held hostage by a monk whom he had ordained. His captor wanted Bhanté to sign the deed to the Ashoka Mission in the Meroli district of Delhi on land given him by Prime Minister Jaharawal lal Nehru for his service to India.

Next, I’ll recount my meeting with him at his birthday celebration at the Buddhist Vihara in Oxon Hill, Maryland in 1978. From meeting to becoming an acolyte of a color healing system given by Gautama Buddha, practiced for 500 years, lost for near two millennia and decoded by Bhanté.

Another anecdote is my conversation with Rev Dr Bob Leichtman about Bhanté.

From roughly age 40 to 80 he became a Mahathera, recognized by all Buddhist major denominations, Mahayana, Hinayana, Theravade, and Zen. By 80 he felt and functioned well, followed by three decades of sage-ing, mentoring, and inspiring.

During the last season of his life, it was my privilege to attend a number of his introductory vipassina retreats. Commonweal in Bolinas, California twice and once at Josh Reynold’s family estate near Asheville, NC — each was two weeks. The instructions simply were to spend the next two weeks in silence. If you need guidance, you can talk to Bhanté. The simply elegant and elegantly simple structure can be described. The experiences observed personally would fill a book or make a better movie.

Among the dozens of meaningful moments with Bhanté included in this narrative are:

Sam dech Preah Bhanté Vira Bellong Dharmawara Mahathera, an homage

Missing Bhanté for a year and then meeting at his birthday party by serendipity

Bhante’s Kidnap in India 1996

Commonweal (Bolinas, CA) Vipassana mindfulness retreats with Bhante

RMJ Bhante #5 Oriental Practice SUNY

Buddhist Ceremony between Russ and Rebecca by Bhanté

HH 14th Dalai Lama- Tu Evening JFK airport Air India Terminal

RMJ Bhante #8 Sky and Anna receive names

Bhanté traveling over Memorial Day weekend to LA via BWI

Bhanté recovers from a stroke at Alan Stein’s home in Potomac, Maryland

RMJ Bhanté #11 Meet HH on Capitol Hill

Bhanté founds the Institute for Buddhology

John Bennet UK Claymont

Bhanté and Ramamurti Mishra at Ananda Bhanté and the Peace Weavers

RMJ Bhanté #15 Peace Weavers

Bhanté with Anna and Sky

Bhanté and his daughter in Thailand and Vancouver Washington

Bhanté and Stockton zoning variance... cultural center

Bhanté and Judy Skutch’s tooth in Tiburon

Bhanté and Buddhist relationship ceremony at Vienna, Virginia house

Bhanté and resolving to leave government service

Bhanté and languages from Sanskrit to Cambodian, French, German, Italian

Spanish, Hindi, English, Greek and Latin

Bhanté and Billy Meier confirmed by Phobol

Bhanté in residence at Georgetown University while Phobol in graduate school

Bhanté and John Vasconcellos at Dorothy Lyton’s house in San José

Bhanté and Phobol / Owen

Bhante and my parents

Thanksgiving ceremony after recovery from coma

Bhanté Richard Kyle in Rochester NY

Bhanté and Sky Rocket, peace maker

Bhanté and Stockton school shooting

Bhanté and Governor Jerry Brown

Bhanté and Ed Pejack : Nimbu, Stockton

Bhanté and Michael Lerner Vipassana cources at Commonweal