Ian Lawton is an Irish film maker who is currently raising money to create a feature length documentary on the life of U Dhammaloka. Sounds like a great project that deals with a significant, but relatively obscure, figure in the uptake of Buddhism in the West.
From the crowdfunding page:
THE DHARMA BUM: The Untold Story of U Dhammaloka – The First Western Buddhist Monk
The Dharma Bum is a feature documentary film directed by Ian Lawton that unearths the adventure story of Laurence Carroll, a free-thinking atheist alcoholic Irishman born in Dublin in the late 1800s, who went on to become U Dhammaloka – the world’s first Western Buddhist monk.
Legend has it that in the dawn of the 20th century, Laurence ordained as a Buddhist monk in a remote forest monastery in Burma, aka Myanmar, where he trained in ancient Buddhist practices, while maintaining an activism that denounced dogma, orthodoxy, the hypocrisies of the Church and his own Catholic upbringing.
Standing up to the British Colonialists who were spreading over Southeast Asia at the time, Dhammaloka was under constant police surveillance until his conviction for sedition. After traveling the world under multiple aliases, faking his own death, being an outspoken activist, spending 13 years as a monk, Dhammaloka mysteriously disappeared, without a trace.
Over the following century knowledge of his life was lost from history. Only recently has his groundbreaking story been unearthed.
When The Dharma Bum is released, it will provide audiences worldwide with the missing link in the origin story of Western Buddhism.
Also interesting is the fact that Ian is making use of a new Buddhist-inspired crowdfunding site called dana.io (or is it crowdgift.ca? That’s the URL at least), which has the goal of “developing a ‘dana-inspired community’ around our ongoing activism, creative process, and love of global human rights”. Dana.io would appear to be an innovative adaptation of Buddhist notions of charitable giving to a Web 2.0 format. The site seems to be run according to a model of unconditional giving (dana), eschewing any expectation of reciprocity, usually a feature of crowdsourcing sites.