Call with Christopher Titmuss
"We must remember we are exhaustible. We need renewal. Silence, quietude, time alone, naturally gives that. Then we can come back in to serve others in small ways. That we do. Then we take time for renewal. Jesus, the Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi and all the great sages recognize the importance of connection with others to serve, then step back from that into quietness, then renewal, and then serve. This is the great rhythm of life."
Christopher Titmuss, a former hippie turned Theravada Buddhist monk turned social critic, is Britain's senior Dharma teacher. Having once lived on 39 British pounds per year for ten years, he has sat beneath The Tree of Enlightenment in Bodhgaya, India and, so impacted by the experience, returned to Bodhgaya for years afterward to offer retreats there. For five decades, he has been teaching Dharma around the world for free. Living primarily on donations since 1970, Christopher has noted his intention to stay true to the spirit of dana, a practice of cultivating generosity.
Christopher is a teacher of Awakening and Insight Meditation in the Buddhist tradition. He does not use the label 'Buddhist' for himself but expresses the deep benefits of his long-standing connection with the Buddhist tradition. He is the founder and director of the Dharma Enquiry Programme as well as co-founder of the Prajna Vihar School in India and Gaia House, an international retreat center in Devon, England. Many of the spiritual practices along with the Dharma talks and videos he offers also are freely available online, including a conversation between Christopher and Krishnamurti in 1984.
Christopher was born on Earth Day in 1944, in County Durham, England. As a practicing Roman Catholic, he attended Catholic school as a boy, where he broke the school record for the number of times he was caned for his self-described prankster ways and a lack of cooperation. At age 15, he left school and began clerking in the newsroom for a Roman Catholic weekly before becoming a reporter in the London office for the Irish Independent Newspaper. At 22, disillusioned with the Catholic Church and politics, Christopher began his journey around the world. "I felt that the world is such an extraordinary place," he has said. "I wanted to be connected, involved and listen to other cultures and environments."
Arriving in India, Christopher picked up a couple of books on Buddhist teachings and, inspired, became a Buddhist monk three years later. He went on to spend six years as a Buddhist monk in Thailand and India, during which time his experiences led him to contemplate on the corpse as well as contend with snakes and scorpions while living in a cave for nine months. He disrobed in 1976 and completed his journey around the world before returning to England, having spent ten years abroad. "The freedom makes possible the adventure," Christopher has shared. His spiritual recognition that everything is changing, and that non-clinging leads to a sense of freedom in one's life, has given him the ability to embrace continuously the next adventure.
A prolific writer, Christopher maintains an active blog and has written numerous books that dive deeply into meditation, spirituality, political, social and global issues, and other topics in the Buddhist tradition. Despite this depth, Christopher has an accessible approach. "I found myself deeply touched by his willingness to be utterly ordinary, available, and walking his talk with humility and simplicity," recounted author Eliezer Sobel after attending a meditation retreat given by Christopher. Christopher has even found opportunities to reflect on Buddhist teachings through songs by The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and The Beatles, works by William Shakespeare, and Dharma Dancing.
Christopher is known as a steadfast exponent of applying the Dharma to contemporary issues facing people, animals and the environment. He speaks, writes, and campaigns on social, political, and global issues. He also advocates the development of spiritual values, community renewal, and a green economy. He encourages Dharma practitioners to be Agents of Change and Caregivers.
Since 1982, Christopher has lived in Totnes, Devon, England, regularly engaging in local activities. Vegan and environmentally conscious, Christopher only takes flights out of the EU to teach. He has one adult daughter and four grandchildren.
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