Cambridge on a winter afternoon

A walk in Cambridge on a razor bright February afternoon. The market square below is in shadow with warm slumberous lights beginning to glow from the various stalls. Long furtive shadows from bicycles and pedestrians on the streets.  Even manhole covers seem scalded with an otherworldly radiance. Up above old bricks are etched with light as if they were made of some strange kind of opaque crystal. The sun melts mediaeval pinnacles into molten gold – everything is changed….

Small Cambridge Market squareSmall Cambridge SteetSmall Cambridge Steet2


Next issue: the beauty of friendship

The next issue of Urthona magazine is now well into its production schedule. In our spring 2017 issue we will be taking a long and loving look at friendship and the Arts.

cover-smallOn the cover we feature a painting of Tobias and the Angel, the story from the biblical apocrypha in which the angel Raphael befriends a mortal boy, which was much loved in medieval Europe as an image of friendship with the divine.

Highlights will include:

Haunting art photograph by new rising star, Brighton based Buddhist photographer Sahajatara.:

9“At first, I went to amazing places to take pictures; wild coastlines, old cemeteries… and  what I quickly noticed was that, for me, the celestial light revealed herself most clearly through the ‘ordinary’, through ‘every common sight’. So I would go to an abandoned church, take 40 average photographs, and as I was leaving, see a red serviette in the gutter looking exactly like a rose.bI went to the Jurassic coast for a week, and on the morning of my return, found a fallen fox glove flower in my garden, studded with dew.And so it went on: an ivy leaf, caught in a cobweb in my kitchen window, a pea pod in the veg box, my daughter fallen asleep in the afternoon …”

mimikhalvati-smalllAn in-depth article on his poetic membership with Mimi Khalvati by Maitreyabandhu. Mimi is widely regarded as one of the best poetry mentors in the country, and is also a fine poet herself. Maitreyabandhu reveals a process of excavation in which her mentorship was invaluable in finding what he really wanted to say: ‘dig into it, knock into it with your spade…’

hand-in-hand-8Our movie editor Ed Piercy discovers that friendships between children have been a particularly fruitful area for some of the most talented directors.

tara-smallAn interview with talented Buddhist artist, Amitajyoti . She is half way through a major commission of a diptych for the Birmingham Buddhist Centre, showing the Buddha with two different disciples, a monk and a nun. She also talks about her dynamic abstract works including a series which explores union with the Beloved.


guistav-dore-heavenAn in-depth essay about the friendship between Dante and the poet Virgil – with some help from the Buddha’s teachings on Spiritual Friendship, by Ratnagarbha. Dante in real life was deeply inspired by the writings of Virgil and felt that he had learned his ‘fine tuned style’ from this great man. What makes Dante special is that he drew on this connection to create an imaginary friendship of surpassing depth and interest

Two Psychogeography Podcasts

Werner Herzog Talks about nature, art, and filmmaking. This has got to be podcast of the year. His advice to budding filmmakers read, read, read great literature. The book he wants to highlight: JA Baker’s great classic of English nature writing The Peregrine. Herzog finds here writing of a calibre that has not appeared since the short stories of Conrad – truthfulness, passion and ecstasy as the author seeks to become one with the bird he is tracking over the woods and fields of Essex.

Herzog on The Peregrine

Robert Harrison of KCSU Stamford, has an occasional and highly erudite podcast covering all aspects of the humanities, in this episode he talks with Professor Jean Marie Apostolides about Guy Debord, situationism, and psychogeography. In an earlier episode he goes into more detail about The Peregrine with Andrea Nightingale.

Harrison on Psychogeography

A Berkshire Wood in Spring

The Berkshire Downs, not open country but deep woodland scaling the hillside. Just after rain, wandering through the heavy feast of rain soaked boughs, green shadows dripping all around me, festering silence, rich but a little sinister. Solitary dog walkers loom out of the stillness, a black labrador bounds up, then disappears into the resiny gloom beyond the gravel ride. There are adolescent Wellington firs, splayed at the base like rainforest trees, large ferns and parties of very young firs clustered at the edge of glades, eager for their share of the light. I lose myself in the rich resiny silence, an hour’s walk seems like a lifetime of tramping, the wood  goes on spreading upwards, there are freaks of golden light beyond the thickest trees in the distance, but this suggests the top of the hill not the end of the wood. There is no discernible end. Like Buddha saying that there is no discernible end to time or matter, so long as one continues to believe in them.

Berkshire Wood 1

gate half open

the gold eaves of the wood

beckon inwards Continue reading

New Collection from Buddhist Poet

Review SolitudeFrontCoverThe Solitude of Small Doors, Ananda (Stephen Parr)

Wolf at the Door, Bristol 2015, £11.52, pb, 250 pp

(To order go to and search for Stephen Parr

Reviewed by Ratnagarbha

Ananda’s major new collection, The Solitude of Small Doors has a distilled reflectiveness about it. We get the feeling that this is the fruit of a lifetime of reflection, observation and wrangling with the intractibles of this precious, confusing all to brief event we call human life. But human life, in Ananda’s universe, is always reflected and refracted through things, things vividly alive that speak to the poet, each in its own idiosyncratic voice. The kind of things you find in dank back yards:

ropes that parted like rotting

asparagus at the lightest touch.

(‘Sudden Pianos’) Continue reading