Our guest today on Treasure Mountain is John Waite who was born in post WW2 United Kingdom and brought up to be fiercely independent. From a young age he was searching for a better way to live in the world and was influenced by the simultaneously political and spiritual principles of Mahatma Gandhi. Travelling to India in the 1970s he was touched by the kindness of the Indian people despite their modest means. A chance meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala was a turning point on his spiritual journey. Later Joh would go on a two-week meditation retreat in Queensland an was pleasantly surprised when every thorny question and challenge to the teacher was warmly received and returned with wise, well-considered answers. This led him to commit himself to the path of practice. He was influenced deeply by Lama Zopa’s emphasis and example of being of service to others. John put this philosophy into practice enthusiastically as a volunteer fire fighter, ambulance medic, trade union steward and later as the Director of Hayagriva Buddhist Centre in Perth for 17 years helping to bring many great Buddhist teachers to Australia and supporting his local community of practice.
John is an old friend of mine and we worked together to found the Buddhist Council of Western Australia around 2005, and we also participated in getting the Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils off the ground around the same time. Not only did I appreciate his calm and steady presence in the work we were doing to bring the various Buddhist groups together for a common cause, but also his insistence that all the Buddhist traditions have the same heart of dharma at their core. I think his attitude was prescient as we enter into this post-sectarian Buddhist renaissance in the twenty-first century.
And that’s why I wanted to interview him on the podcast. In one sense this interview is John Waite’s Spirit Story, about his path into practice, but on the other it’s telling a broader story about Buddhism as it moves into the West, specifically into Australia, and where it may be heading in future. I’m so glad you’ve joined us as we seek for the Dharma within…
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