Forest Sangha Newsletter July 1988

Mind Conditions the World; Ajahn Sumedho
Amaravati Exhibition; Lay People's Practice
View from Switzerland; Tiradhammo Bhikkhu
Emerald Buddhas; Amaro Bhikkhu
The State of America Out West; Ajahn Anando
Old Insights in New England; Sucitto Bhikkhu


Amaravati Exhibition
Lay People's Practice

The development of skilful means lies at the heart of Buddhist practice. In Buddhist countries there are everywhere sustaining reflections and support for practice: countrywide networks of viharas, the beautiful symbiosis of laity and Sangha, and the ever present nourishment of a Buddhist culture. Although the growth of the Sangha in Britain since the mid-1970'5 has been remarkable, Britain cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be regarded as a particularly nourishing ground for practice. All too often the dull deceit of habit and the pressure of social conventions point away from mindfulness. In this environment, lay Buddhists may at times feel dauntingly isolated, lonely pioneers swimming against the current.

The Exhibition is directed towards the heart of practice in lay life.

The realisation that there are friends on the path encountering the same problems, or developing skilful means for dealing with them, can be vital for the sustenance of practice. It must be remembered that "Sangha" as a quality embraces all those committed to the realisation of Dhamma in their daily lives, not just the community of ordained monks and nuns. Indeed, the conviction that the laity have much to share with each other has provided the initial inspiration for the Exhibition on Lay People's Practice now taking place at Amaravati. Conceived as an offering by lay Buddhists for lay Buddhists, the essence of the Exhibition is directed towards the heart of practice in lay life, a comprehensive and open-ended offering concerned with people and practice rather than institutions. Its key themes are: Society, Family Life Practice, Giving, Devotion and Ceremonies, Formal Practice, and Helpful Resources.
Based on an extensive questionnaire circulated amongst some groups and individuals associated with Amaravati, the Exhibition has tended to develop in unimagined ways. A potentially very important development here has been Ajahn Sumedho's suggestion that the Exhibition be linked to the international effort for "Global Co-operation for a Better World" - of which he is one of the patrons, The Ajahn has suggested that the Exhibition might provide an insightful perspective on what the organisers of the Global Co-operation project are seeking to bring about, by providing a Buddhist reflection on the path of mindfulness in daily life. Such a reflection which might serve as an inspiration both for fellow Buddhists and for adherents of other religions and likeminded seekers of Truth. The Exhibition will also undoubtedly receive a major new input of energy and reformulation at the time of the Summer Camp at Amaravati in the last week in July (25-31 July).
By the time your read this, the Exhibition on Lay People's Practice will already have begun to happen in the Dhamma Hall at Amaravati. Its success very much depends on your continuing contribution. Please send gifts of photographs, quotes and artwork relevant to the themes of the Exhibition. When visiting, you are invited to make offerings which might further enhance the Exhibition's ongoing development. Already considerable gratitude is felt towards those who have shared the commitment of their practice so generously and have been willing to reflect so openly on their experiences. Your contacts at Amaravati are Barbara Jackson and Anne Pryor.