Sam dech Preah Bhanté Vira Bellong Dharmawara Mahathera, an homage


By: Dr. Russell Jaffe

Bhante 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 Bhante 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:

  1. An introduction overview to Bhanté Dharmawara
  2. Missing Bhanté at Georgetown and meeting him later
  3. Bhanté kidnap and rescue in 1996
  4. Commonweal Vipassina course 1982
  5. Oriental practices certification program, SUNY Purchase
  6. Buddhist ceremony, Vienna, 1983
  7. HH at JFK Tu eve Elsa Rebecca Russ
  8. Sky and Anna receive names
  9. Bhanté traveling over Memorial Day weekend to LA via BWI.
  10. Bhanté recovers from a stroke at Alan Stein’s home in Potomac, Maryland
  11. Bhanté meeting HH the Dalai Lama on Capital Hill
  12. Bhanté founds the Institute for Buddhology
  13. Bhanté and John Bennett, College for Continuous Education and Claymont
  14. Bhanté and Ramamurti Mishra at AnandaBhanté and the Peace Weavers
  15. Bhanté with Anna and Sky
  16. Bhanté and his daughter in Thailand and Vancouver, Washington
  17. Bhanté and Stockton zoning variance… cultural center
  18. Bhanté and Judy Skutch’s tooth in Tiburon
  19. Bhanté and Buddhist ceremony in Vienna, Virginia
  20. Bhanté and resolving to leave government service
  21. Bhanté and languages from Sanskrit to Cambodian, French, German, Italian,
  22. Spanish, Hindi, English, Greek and Latin
  23. Bhanté and Billie Meyer confirmed by Phobol
  24. Bhanté in residence at Georgetown University while Phobol in graduate school
  25. Bhanté and John Vasconcellos at Dorothy Lyton’s house in San José
  26. Bhanté and Phobol / Owen
  27. Bhanté and my parents
  28. Thanksgiving ceremony after recovery from coma
  29. Bhanté Richard Kyle in Rochester NY
  30. Bhanté at Holistic Health conference; Richard Rising Sun
  31. Bhanté and Sky Rocket, peace maker
  32. Bhanté and Anna, scholar
  33. Bhanté and Stockton school shooting
  34. Bhanté and Governor Jerry Brown
  35. Bhanté and Land of 10,000 Buddhas
  36. Bhanté and Michael Lerner at Commonweal