Bhante Dharmawara (1889-1999)
From the moment we met Bhante Dharmawara, not only did he instantly become a PeaceWeaver Elder, but also he remained the Eldest Elder up to his death in 1999 at the age of 110 years old! At the time of his passing, Bhante was the world’s oldest Buddhist monk and probably the oldest vegan as well. Because of his age and connection to the Dalai Lama, His Holiness considered Bhante as a father-teacher.
To know Bhante was to love and adore him. He was a true PeaceWeaver, weaving together hundreds and thousands of people from all different traditions from all over the world throughout his over seven decades as a Buddhist Monk.
Bhante was born in Cambodia; studied law at the Sorbonne in Paris, France; served as a magistrate in the King’s Court in Cambodia; became a wandering monk with disciples in the forests of Thailand; moved to India where he studied homeopathy and languages (he knew thirteen fluently); befriended Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru; created the Asoka Mission in New Delhi which was a temple, school and healing center; taught in England; moved to the U.S. in 1972 and created a temple in Stockton, CA for immigrants from Cambodia and Thailand; served as a hands-on healer and meditation teacher; used green light in healings and meditations; and was renowned as the “Monk of Green Light”. And Bhante was still travelling the world at the age of 107 years old!
We had the great good fortune to work closely with Bhante during the last ten years of his life. Together we did healing work, silent meditation retreats, traveled, and appeared together in a variety of venues including St John the Divine Cathedral in New York City. He lived with us at the RoundHouse in New Jersey, and then later for nine months at Thunder Mountain during which time he turned 108. At 108, together with Greg Lynn, he was still performing healing sessions daily!
Bhante was a Weaver of Peace and Love and Healing. He was not only a PeaceWeaver Elder, but also a great teacher and friend. He continues to be our “Guiding Light” in so many aspects of our own personal and collective practices as a Peace & Healing Community. As Ram Das once called him, “the Bhante” was truly walking in the footsteps of the Buddha. The word Buddha means “Awakened Mind”; yet Bhante understood and practiced “Awakened Body/Mind”! He would often say, “Our health is our greatest possession. First we must serve ourselves, so that we can serve others.”
A true human being, he was a great model of compassion. There are no words to describe properly his warmth, his authenticity and continued attentiveness even at his grand old age. Bhante was a Grandfather to the World with his love of life and his love of family and friends. He was ever ready with a joke and laughter, one of his favorite medicines. There was no Heart that didn’t melt in his presence. People would go away with their minds open to the infinite possibilities that living a life of awareness can bring.
We give eternal gratitude to Bhante for his Lovingkindness and Selflessness. May we follow in his footsteps and take care of each thought, each word, and each action. Let us live long lives of service to relieve the pain and suffering of all our relations. May all beings be well & happy!
To learn more about the healing power of green lights visit our green light page.
Grandpa Harry Blue Thunder (1906-2005)
We met Grandpa Harry Blue Thunder on our first Peace and Healing Caravan in 1991 at the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. He was a traditional Lakota Sioux Elder who had worked with over 24 medicine men as sacred song singer. Harry served in the US 4th Calvary in World War I and II. He was a Catholic Catechist on the reservation, and was a 1992 Lumen Christi Award Recipient. This award honors an individual, working in one of America’s mission dioceses, who demonstrates how the power of faith can transform lives and communities. Harry was father to 11 children and had 40 grandchildren, 66 great grandchildren, and 8 great great grandchildren at the time of his death at the age of 99!!
We continued to travel to Rosebud every summer for several years. We would visit Grandpa to participate in sweat lodges, vision quest and other ceremonies as well as to offer our healing services to the tribe. As chief of the Ring Thunder Clan, Grandpa would also hold a traditional Pow Wow every Father’s Day weekend in June. We would help with preparations, cooking and clean up. Grandpa considered the PeaceWeavers part of his family and we were humbled to be honored in this way at the Pow Wows.
Harry lived his life being true to himself and always following his heart. His spirituality was based in Lakota traditions of ceremony and prayer, and it was through a vision of Jesus Christ during a vision quest that he became a catholic catechist. He was a graceful weaving of both traditions. A gentle, loving, and humble man, Grandpa always gave his best to everyone. Throughout his nearly 100 years Grandpa was devoted to children, teens, family, clan, tribe, and nation, but above all else, Great Spirit. He continues to be an inspiration and guide to our PeaceWeaver Community.
Harriet Two Strike
Daughter of Grandpa Harry Blue Thunder, Harriet was not only a Lakota Grandma and a PeaceWeaver Grandma, but a Grandmother to all she met. One of the strongest and most dedicated women we have ever known, she served many generations throughout her lifetime.
Harriet was devoted to Great Spirit and family, and worked tirelessly for everyone’s welfare at the Rosebud Reservation and beyond. She lived in consideration of each individual’s need and sacrificed what she had for the highest welfare of all.
Harriet honored us as her family, and gifted us with her presence, care, kindness, and consideration. We were humbled by her loving touches and ever present joy. We live each day inspired by her Life and Spirit.
Ingwe led an extraordinary life, and we were honored to know him and his wife, Elizabeth. When Ingwe would share his life stories, he was truly right back in the moment reliving it and took his listeners there as well. Ingwe came as an honored Elder to our Summer Peace Gatherings, sharing his wealth of wisdom, especially with the teens. When he was no longer able to travel, we would visit him and his wife Elizabeth in their home in Red Bank, NJ. We loved listening to their stories and looking through their many photo books documenting the richness of their life. Elizabeth still lives in New Jersey and continues to be a cherished PeaceWeaver Elder.
Born in South Africa in 1914, Powell was the fourth generation of a family who settled there in 1820. In 1920 he moved with his family to Kenya, thus beginning the great adventure that would shape Powell’s life.
Norman Powell grew up in a time when the fabled untamed African wilderness still existed, an age he colorfully recounted in his 1995 book, Ingwe, and his 2003 Echoes of Kenya and Other Poems, where the elephant trumpeted at dawn, the lion roared at sunset, and the leopard prowled the starlit night. He found some of his closest lifetime friends among the young African tribesmen who taught him the ways of the wilderness, even as their elders taught him the ways of the tribe and the significance of tradition. He was so skilled and dedicated in the ways of nature and tribal customs that Norman Powell, a white man of British ancestry, was fully initiated as a warrior of the Akamba tribe. Since that time, he has helped lead hundreds of youth in coming of age rites of passage ceremonies and wilderness awareness training.
Like his relative Lord Baden Powell who is credited with founding the Scouting movement, Norman Powell devoted much of his life to the Boy Scouts. He was awarded the Rotary Award, the Long Service Medal, the Medal of Merit and the Silver Protea for his Scouting service, and Powell is also the founder of the Order of the Claw.
At the onset of World War II he joined the U.S. Armed Forces and became a citizen of the United States. After the war he returned to Kenya where he acquired a 5,200 acre ranch which separated the Akamba and the Masai territories. In 1962, political harassment drove him out of Kenya, and he and his family moved to South Africa.
In 1984 he joined with naturalist Jon Young in Red Bank to become the co-founder of Wilderness Awareness School, a not-for-profit environmental education organization that serves over 1,200 youth and adults annually through their courses.
Flo & Milt Weaver (Florence 1918 – 2003; Milton 1918-2007
Florence & Milton Weaver, or Ma & Pa, as we called them, were PeaceWeaver Elders from our inception. Parents of Greg Lynn, and Fred, they both grew up in Rochester, Michigan. They met in school and became high school sweethearts. Together for 68 years and married for 65, they were great examples of care, consistency, and consideration. Their love of family and service to community were great inspirations to us all.
Ma was “kindness incarnate” and extended compassion through her words, cards, and cooking. Pa was a tireless servant to his family and community, serving for decades as an officer in the Kiwanis Club, Lions Club, Rotary and Rochester School Board.
In 2003 Ma & Pa moved here to Thunder Mountain and became important parts of our PeaceWeaver community. In 2004 Ma passed on after many beautiful seasons on the Mountain. Pa lived on for several more years and continued to be an ever watchful Elder for all of us.
Pa would often say he was the “wealthiest man in the world” because of his friends and family. He also referred to Thunder Mountain as “a little piece of Heaven”. And all of us who were honored to know Pa & Ma were “wealthier” because of their presence which confirmed Thunder Mountain as truly “a little piece of Heaven”.
We met Arun Gandhi, grandson of India’s legendary leader Mohandas K. “Mahatma” Gandhi, in the summer of 2005 when he came to speak at our Summer Peace Gathering. We were most excited to connect with him since our grand elder and “grandfather” Bhante Dharmawara was friends with Arun’s grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi.
Born to Sushila and Manilal Gandhi, Arun spent his childhood days under South Africa’s apartheid which was very difficult for someone of Indian heritage. Like many Indians, he was demeaned by Europeans for not being white, ostracized by Africans for not being black, and subject to racially motivated violence from extremists in both groups.
While living with his grandfather Mahatma Gandhi from 1946 until his assassination in 1948, Arun experienced the most tumultuous period in India’s struggle to free itself from British rule. He saw the first-hand effects of a national campaign for liberation which was carried out through both violent and nonviolent means. Both these events and Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings strongly influenced Arun.
Arun shares these lessons all around the world. He has spoken in Croatia, France, Ireland, Holland, Lithuania, Nicaragua, China, Scotland and Japan. A popular speaker on college campuses, Gandhi is also very involved in social programs and writing.
Arun worked for 30 years as a journalist for The Times of India. With his wife, Sunanda, he started projects for the social and economic uplifting of the oppressed using constructive programs, the backbone of Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence. The programs changed the lives of more than half a million people in over 300 villages, and they still continue to grow. His beloved Sunanda died in February of 2007, and the family is working to establish a school in poorest rural India in her name.
Arun is the author of several books. His most recent is Legacy of Love: My Education in the Path of Nonviolence. This book presents the practical wisdom he learned from his grandfather revolving around family, men and women, simplicity, religious unity, humility, truth, and nonviolence.
Gandhi considers himself to be a Hindu but expresses universalist views. He has worked closely with Christian priests and his philosophies are strongly influenced by Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian concepts as well.
We are grateful for and deeply humbled by our connection with this global elder of peace.
Venerable Tenzin Yignyen
We invited Tenzin in 1999 to come to our Mother Earth Music & Arts Festival to create a sand mandala and share Buddhist teachings. He has since returned almost every summer to our Summer Peace Gathering to construct beautiful mandalas, teach and play his part in building our grassroots movement of loving kindness.
Tenzin was born in Phari, Tibet in 1953. In 1961, two years after Communist China invaded Tibet, Tenzin and his parents escaped into India. In 1969, Tenzin entered Namgyal Monastery at the age of 16 and began his monastic studies in Buddhist philosophies, rituals, meditation practice and arts. The program of study Tenzin underwent was personally designed by the Dalai Lama.
In 1976, when he was 22, Tenzin received the vows of a fully ordained monk from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He continued his studies for an additional nine years, and in March 1985, Tenzin received the monastery’s highest degree, “The Master of Sutra and Tantra,” with highest honors, which is equivalent to a Ph.D. degree.
Upon his return from Mongolia, Tenzin was selected to be in residence at Namgyal Monastery’s North American Seat in Ithaca, N.Y., where he taught classes of advanced studies in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and practice.
Tenzin has led several pilgrimages to Mongolia and India over the past few years. At present, Tenzin teaches at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, in Geneva, N.Y., as a visiting professor of Tibetan Buddhism. He travels throughout the United States and Canada by invitation to construct sand mandalas and to speak on the topic of Tibetan Buddhist arts and philosophy.
At schools, colleges, museums, yoga centers, art galleries, and spiritual centers, Tenzin gives lectures on the importance of developing love, kindness, and compassion in every human being in our society in order to create a happy, healthy and peaceful world. He believes that these spiritual practices are the main message of all major religions of the world, the source of all happiness and the best method to bring peace and harmony on this planet.
We are honored to have had Tenzin at so many of our Summer Peace Gatherings. Many people of all ages have had the opportunity to dialogue with him here about Buddhist teachings and practice. He continues this dialogue with those (even kids!) who email him throughout the year. Tenzin is truly one of our cherished PeaceWeaver elders.
Fans of Paul Winter’s for many years, we first met him when we participated in his annual Winter Solstice Celebration in New York City in 1994. We became friends when he performed at our second Mother Earth Music & Arts Festival in 2000. Since then he has performed and done workshops at our Summer Peace Gatherings. He is truly a global Weaver of Peace.
Founder of the Paul Winter Consort, he is an award-winning saxophonist, bandleader, composer, explorer of the world’s musical traditions. He has been motivated for the past thirty years by a vision of a musical-ecological community.
Paul has followed a steady course towards his unique ‘Earth Music’, a vital celebration and weaving of the creatures and cultures of the whole earth. His music includes the extraordinary voices from “the greater symphony of the Earth”, including wolves, whales, eagles, and several dozen other species of ‘wilderness musicians’.
Bringing vitality through music and awakening people to the plight of endangered species through the beauty of their sounds, Paul Winter has performed over 2,000 concerts in major concert halls of the Americas, Europe and Asia, in major cathedrals such as Washington’s National Cathedral, Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and New York’s St. John the Divine, and in such places as the White House, the Grand Canyon, the Negev Desert in Israel and the palace of the Crown Prince of Japan.
In recognition of his musical contributions to the environment and as musical ambassador for the natural world, Winter has received a Global 500 Award from the United Nations, the Award of Excellence from the United Nations Environment Program, the Joseph Wood Krutch Medal for service to animals from the United States Humane Society, and the Peace Abbey’s Courage of Conscience Award, among others.
We are grateful to know Paul and his family and to share in the work of weaving greater harmony on our earth.
A dear friend and part of our community since our early years, Sunday has been one of our greatest supporters. With a generous heart, quick mind, and deep devotion, she participates in our events on the Mountain whenever she is able.
Living part-time in Hawaii and part-time close to Thunder Mountain, Sunday is currently doing some self-healing, enjoying her grandson, Dakota, and writing songs.
A computer whiz, Sunday was a travelling consultant in demand for decades all over the country and abroad. She raised two beautiful daughters and counts all the Thunder Mountain children as hers as well.
We are deeply grateful for our sister Sunday, who is a PeaceWeaver wherever she goes.
From Melbourne, FL and Canton, OH, Fred Goodnight is a Master Drummer, Artist, Educator, and Motivational Speaker. We met Fred in 1999 at our first Mother Earth Music & Arts Festival. Since then he has been a dear friend. He has participated in our events on Thunder Mountain, in Princeton and Buffalo facilitating drum circles and workshops for all ages and sharing his wisdom in talking stick circles.
A graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, United States Armed Forces Institute, Akron University and the U.S. Navy School of Music, Fred first served in the United States Marine Corps Pacific Drum & Bugle Corps as part of the President’s People-to-People Program to promote United States goodwill program in the Far East, i.e., Japan, Okinawa, Korea, Hong Kong, Philippines and Taiwan.
As a musician he has studied with the following internationally recognized artists: Jazz artist, Max Roach; Drummer and recording artist, Baba Olatunji of Nigeria; Percussionist and workshop facilitator, Arthur Hull and Percussionist, Tony Vacca. He has performed with a number of ensembles in the U.S.
In addition to performing, Fred has served as an art and music educator and volunteered in a number of ways to improve his local community. A former member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, Fred exhibits deep dedication to awakening our hearts and souls to our fundamental oneness.
Fred Goodnight has a heart of gold, and we are delighted to weave peace together with him whenever we can.
Bill & Nancy Strong
The Strongs, from Princeton, NJ, are Quakers and life-long peace educators and activists. They have been connected with us through Beth Miller since our beginnings as a community. Beth met them when she was 16, and they inspired her to study grassroots social movements and intentional communities when she was in college.
Married for over 50 years, the Strongs have worked with the American Friends Service Committee in Mexico; Church World Service in Costa Rica, Chile and Peru; and Witness for Peace in Guatemala and Cuba.
Active members of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, the Strongs serve on the War Tax Committee and on the Peace Tax Campaign in Washington, D.C. They also have worked for Habitat for Humanity in Americus, Ga.
A graduate of Yale University, Bill has worked throughout Latin America and the Caribbean on women’s reproductive rights. He has served on the Board of HiTOPS (Health-Interested Teens’ Own Program on Sexuality) and worked with Planned Parenthood for many years. Currently he tutors graduate students from Latin America and volunteers restoring and repairing books for libraries and individuals. He alone has restored over 10,000 books.
Nancy has served on the staff of the United Nations secretariat in New York City and helped found a peace center in Bucks County, PA. She attended the fourth World Conference on the Status of Women in Beijing. She tirelessly has volunteered and served on a number of boards of other organizations working for peace and justice locally and globally.
Bill & Nancy are models of simplicity, humility and compassion in their day to day lives. They continue to actively educate themselves about the world around them and discern how best to bring peace to our planet. They are great inspirations to us and consistent supporters of our work here at Thunder Mountain.
Mike & Rita Moretti
We have been fortunate to know Mike & Rita Moretti since we moved to Thunder Mountain in 1994. They are facilitators of the Bath Peace & Justice Group, which they helped begin over twenty-five years ago. This group is the primary organization that does local education and action with respect to peace and justice issues. We have been a part of this group from the time we moved here.
Mike and Rita were teachers for over thirty years in the Hammondsport public school system. They have continued to focus on children with their volunteer work bringing storytelling and creative movement into the classroom. They also help administrate the Helen Rubar Memorial Peace Scholarship, which we give to one or more graduating seniors each year in partnership with the Bath Peace & Justice Group.
The Morettis are devout Catholics who participate in many social justice programs including Pax Christi and the annual CROP Walk. They co-founded the Keuka Lake Art Association and have helped organize its annual Hammondsport Art Show for over forty years.
Born in 1924, Mike still sculpts and paints. Rita, born in 1932, plants and tends a very large flower garden and shares her plants with anyone who stops at her annual Perennial Plant Exchange.
Married for over 50 years, the Morettis share an enthusiasm for life with everyone they meet. They come to events on our Mountain, participate in selecting our Peace Scholarship recipients, and stay connected throughout the year. We feel so blessed to have these special people so close by and as elders of our PeaceWeaver family.
Al & Vera Robbins
Al & Vera Robbins are our dear neighbors down the road. Al has lived on Robbins Road all his life. His family had their home, farm, school and church all within the same block.
Al & Vera are mighty beings. Vera survived cancer at a young age and is going strong at over eighty. Al farmed for over 70 years. Forty of those years he farmed on Thunder Mountain with his dad and brothers.
They are dedicated parents, grandparents, aunt and uncle, and siblings to their large extended family. We are fortunate to be included as part of that family and are forever grateful for their love. True PeaceWeaver elders, they both have hearts of gold, and they have made us feel so welcome ever since we arrived at Thunder Mountain.
Harold & Pat Robbins
Brother of Al Robbins, Harold and his wife, Pat, are local elders who have embraced us as their friends as well. Sweet spirited and so dedicated, Pat and Harold take care of whatever needs tending with their extended family and community. Whether it’s supporting friends and family members, taking care of grandchildren, or gardening in the family plot, they are on the job with gracious hearts.
Pat, who grew up nearby on Harrisburg Hollow Road, was the postmaster at a local post office for many years. Harold was a door to door salesman back in the day. Their kindheartedness is an inspiration to us. They celebrated their 50th anniversary in August of 2010!
Joyce & Tom Todd
We are so blessed to have Joyce & Tom Todd as our next door neighbors. Tom is a handy man extraordinaire and has been a great help to us with our machinery and other maintenance needs. He does so with wit and down ‘East charm that is unmatched.
A nurse for decades, Joyce is now an artist and a crafter. She quilts, sews, makes rugs, paints, takes photographs, bakes cakes, and more. And we are so fortunate to receive from the abundance of her creativity. She’s always willing to receive a visit from the kids and has treats to share. She has brought much beauty into our lives, and she does so without asking anything in return.
The Todds have three kids and many grandchildren. Tom & Joyce exhibit such support to all their loved ones. They are a great example of how to live a gracious life and to serve while continuing to explore their own creative pursuits. We are thankful to have them as PeaceWeaver elders.
Carl Schafer (1936-2005)
Carl Walter Schafer was born in Chicago, IL and was a resident of Princeton, NJ for 36 years. The PeaceWeavers first met Carl in the early 90’s, shortly after the community was birthed. He understood fully the importance of our service work and immediately became a generous supporter. Carl once said that “we must do everything we can to insure that the work of the PeaceWeavers continues beyond our generation.”
Carl received his bachelor’s degree with distinction from the University of Rochester in 1958, and he also served in the U.S. Navy from 1958 to 1961, spending three years as an officer on the U.S.S. Ranger.
From 1961 to 1969, Carl worked for the Bureau of the Budget in Washington, D.C., serving in 1968-1969 as director of budget preparation. He moved to Princeton in 1969 to be the Director of the Budget of Princeton University. He served Princeton as treasurer from 1972 to 1976, then as financial vice president and treasurer until 1987. From 1987 to 1990, he worked for Rockefeller & Co. in New York City. Carl then served as president of the Atlantic Foundation from 1990 to 2005, and served on over 16 Board of Directors during his career. He was a devoted father to his son, Mac and his grandchildren.
Carl lived his life fully and simply, and we are honored to have Carl as one of our PeaceWeaver elders.
Pat Hite (1923-2006)
Born in San Francisco, Patience, the daughter of Ruth Bekins and Herbert Holt, grew up in Pasadena, CA. She attended Wellesley College and the University of California at Berkeley. She worked in New York City and married John B. Hite in Princeton in 1958.
She was active in the Princeton Association for Human Rights in the 1960s, marching for civil rights from Selma to Montgomery, and in Washington, DC.
In 1979 she founded the Holistic Health Association of the Princeton Area, a pioneering organization for information on alternative health care. She gave tirelessly of her many talents to promote alternative health and holism in an era when this was novel at best. Many benefited from her desire to help holistic practitioners develop their potentials and publicize their businesses. She was HHAPA’s executive director until she retired in 1993.
Pat was a friend to many and a supporter and elder to the PeaceWeaver community; her generosity will long be remembered.
Helen Rubar (1912-1998)
Helen Rubar was a cofounder of the Bath Peace & Justice Group over twenty-five years ago. We met her through our involvement since moving to this area in 1994. This group’s focus is to educate themselves and the greater public on important local and global issues and to actively work to bring greater peace and justice to our world.
Helen was an extraordinary woman who demonstrated great devotion to her local community, church, the nation and the planet through countless hours of volunteer work. Her efforts were directed to fostering child welfare and literacy, and helping the sick, hungry, and imprisoned.
She served as a nurse in World War II and then moved to Bath and worked as a nurse anesthetist at Ira Davenport Hospital for many years. She rode with the local volunteer ambulance corps until she was in her eighties!
Helen was one small voice but she made herself heard to her local, state and federal legislators on numerous peace and justice issues. Her dedication and humble example of how one person can touch so many inspired us and the Bath Peace & Justice Group to co-sponsor the Helen Rubar Memorial Peace Scholarship, which we give annually to local graduating seniors who demonstrate vision, service and compassion.
Her posthumous donation was the seed money for these scholarships which have supported over thirty youths in the last ten years. Helen continues to inspire us to participate however we can to make the world a better place for all.