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Bhante Jason is a Sydney-native and an Early Buddhist monk. Formerly a Sydney lawyer, he is best known for his epic barefooted journeys up and down the east-coast of Australia. Ordained in Sri Lanka in 2010, Bhante wanted to find the answer to this question: ‘Is the monk’s life as lived by the Buddha two and a half millennia ago still possible today?’

To this end, Bhante made the determination to walk the 1500km span separating Gold Coast Airport and Townsville in the mode of the ancient monks. That is, with no money, no organised support and no shoes, while eating only one meal per day consisting of almsfood offered by strangers and friends. What he did take with him was three large rectangular pieces of cloth – his robes, a metal bowl for collecting almsfood, a whole lot of faith, and a willingness to test assumptions and ideas in the School of Hard Knocks.

Through many trials and travails, timely encounters and unconventional resting places, he indeed made it to Townsville. He then determined to return to his hometown of Sydney in the same style –one barefooted step at a time.

Since arriving back in Sydney in 2014, he has been walking a circuit composed of the greater Sydney, Newcastle and Hunter Valley regions, spreading the Dhamma in places both conventional and unconventional. During his travels he has been developing and testing a highly conservative and yet extra-traditional approach to the Dhamma. He calls it ‘Plain Buddhism’.

Plain Buddhism is an approach to the Buddha’s teachings based upon unflinchingly straight-forward and common-sense interpretations of the Pali Suttas, the oldest layer of Buddhist literature extant today. Perhaps more importantly, however, Plain Buddhism emphasises independent thinking, experimental reviewability and courageous integrity.

Bhante happily acknowledges that Plain Buddhism is very much a work in progress, and therefore hopes to inspire his audiences to join him in exploring the Buddha’s teaching as a community of independent researchers. He believes that full enlightenment is still possible today, but that we must help each other rediscover the path through a culture of independent inquiry and collegial discussion and debate.

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May all beings attain full enlightenment as soon as bloody possible.

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