West London Buddhist Centre

A message from Bodhilila

Published on May 7th 2024, in News, by Bodhilila

Dear Sangha Friends,

I am writing to share with you some recent news about my health. Some of you will have heard already as I shared this news with people attending the Saturday meditation class, Dharma Night and the recent retreat at Othona. Apologies for the group email, I know it can be difficult hearing such news by email but it’s not possible to tell you all personally, especially as the WLBC sangha is not just local to the centre, nowadays it’s an international community.

A few weeks ago, I received a diagnosis of cancer with a proposed treatment plan of surgery followed by 6 months of chemotherapy. I am due to have the surgery this Wednesday 8 May. Since it will involve major abdominal surgery, I am on leave right now and you won’t see me at the centre for some time. Not long after you read this, I will be in hospital, the operation may already be over and I’ll have started on the road to recovery. However, because imagery is not able to show the extent of the disease, it is only after surgery that we will have a clearer picture of how things are likely to unfold and any treatments needed going forward.

Although this is a challenging time for me, I’ve been surprised to find that, thanks to years of practice, I’m so far able to meet that challenge. I feel very fortunate to have found the Dharma, with teachings which have given me a more spiritual perspective and practices that have developed my capacity to turn toward and be with my experience, whatever that may be.

Some of you may know of my love for the Brahma Viharas – boundless states of heart and mind, sometimes known as the Four Immeasurables or the Divine Abodes. Fully realised, they are said to be the qualities of an awakened being. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are spontaneously in these states all the time, it is their natural state of being to embody kindness, compassion, gladness* and equanimity.

*(more specifically finding joy in appreciating the good fortune and qualities of others).

In my own limited way, I have tried to cultivate these qualities over many years of practice and they are a tremendous support to me right now. And actually, alongside having to accept the reality of having cancer and my anxiety about the surgery and what comes after, there has been so much appreciation and joy.

I’ve been deeply moved by people’s kindness and generosity, expressed in many different ways. Friends, family, sangha and even strangers have been there for me with the result that I feel valued and cared for in a way I could never have imagined. And I am experiencing so much joy in sangha, astonished by the depth, breadth and the number of connections and friendships I have across the wider Triratna sangha and the WLBC community.

I am blessed to be surrounded by many friends who are supporting me through this unknown territory. This includes staying with my friends Maitripushpa and Norman (and of course Vajra, the cat!) after I am discharged from the hospital. Basic recovery from the surgery may be 6-8 weeks, with chemo beginning several weeks after the surgery.

Although I will miss being around, I know the centre will thrive, with Andy as centre coordinator, Alex who just joined the team to help with publicity and social media, Amalavajra our new Men’s Mitra Convenor, Subhadassi our new President and all the volunteers who teach and help to run the centre. We have many wonderful teachers (including Paramananda, Nandaraja, Sudurjaya, Svadhi, Amlanadhi, Tarakarunya and Maitripushpa and I’m delighted that Maitrinita, Singhashri, Shraddhasiddhi, Padmadhara, Aryavachin and others will be teaching at the centre in the future.)

There is a new leadership team: Maitripushpa, Amlanadhi, Viryanaga and Amalavajra. I have known them all for many years, most of them have longstanding connections to the WLBC. They all have different skills, experience and areas of responsibility which will complement each other and I’m excited to see them in action as personally I think they are an awesome team and I can’t think of one better. Once they all agreed to take on this role, it made it easier for me, knowing the centre will be in such good hands during my absence.

I have been advised that I am likely to be very tired for weeks, if not months after the surgery with a lot to adjust to mentally, emotionally and physically. In the initial recovery period, I will be limiting the number of people I see or communicate with, prioritising family and my closest friends. So while I much appreciate cards and messages, anyone sending metta my way or anyone who chants, meditates or does a puja bearing me in mind, I am unlikely to respond to messages or calls.

Understandably, this is a lot to take in. If you wish to talk to someone about it, you can contact the centre by email or phone and it may be possible to arrange to speak with one of our teachers or a team member. I’d also suggest talking with others in the sangha, especially your friends or perhaps you have connections and order friends in the wider sangha who could provide some support.

A lot of people have asked me what they can do to help. What I would like best is for you to continue to practise in your own way, being kind and compassionate to yourself and others. And if you can support the centre in any way whether through recommendation, volunteering or by offering financial support I would love that. The centre and the sangha mean so much to me and I hope it won’t be too long before I can return.

Meanwhile, may all blessings be yours…..

With metta,



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