Forest Sangha Newsletter July 1989

Gratitude to Ajahn Chah; Jayasaro Bhikkhu
Image of the Dhamma; Sister Viveka
Living in the World with Dhamma; Ajahn Chah
Part of the Lineage: pt.I; Aj. Sucitto interviews Aj. Jagaro
What is the Devon Vihara? Supanno & Pasadaka
Out on a Limb; Venerable Kovido
Lineage is more than History; Ajahn Sucitto

Question Time; Aj Sumedho
Allowing Silence; Aj Sucitto

Image of the Dhamma
Sister Viveka reflects on the use of symbols and images

For just over a year now a photograph of a much younger, Ajahn Chah has graced the shrine in the sala at Amaravati. Many of us junior samanas who were ordained in England have never met "Luang Por", although he seems the spiritual grandfather of our Western Sangha. This picture is one which I find quite uplifiting: he is seated in the lotus posture, touching, one above the other, eyes lowered; a human complete in the stillness of his own being. This seated figure the outline of a pyramid symbolic of the protection of goodness; the black and white photograph has a distinct radiance - the light of purity, intense white. The beauty of this image affects my own mind, as a sense of joy in spiritual beauty, provides a boost of energy which can be a great help in times of darkness.

Both images have their place: the beauty of selfless spiritual serenity, and the decaying body

0ccasionally we hear stories of time spent with Luang Por and one gets an inkling of the compassion and humour of his being - which could express itself quite forcibly by all accounts! I have also heard people who knew him well say they feel that his illness is a final teaching to us. One senior monk shared something which happened when he visited Thailand and had the opportunity to spend some time with Luang Por.
He helped with nursing and looking after Luang Por's now sensitive body, which has no further means of communication or independent action. When the time came to leave he suddenly realized just how attached he was to Luang Por, and was overwhe1med with a sense of sorrow and grief, both at seeing him in this state and at the thought of leaving him. One of the most senior Thai disciples gave this reflection - that is not Luang Por Chah, 'that is an old sick body. Do you really think Luang Por is that? The monk said he was truly grateful.

Both images have their place: the beauty of selfless spiritual serenity, and the decaying body - helpless in old age and sickness. As human beings, old age is our common and inescapable inheritance. Yet a place of unity is also found whenever we align ourselves to goodness and truth.

Following Ajahn Chah's Dhamma teaching a whole Sangha of Western disciples headed by Ajahn Sumedho has grown re-seeded here in England, nurtured by Luang Por's support. Perhaps as you read this Newsletter you could reflect that it is very much due to him, and his effort to understand the Buddha's teaching and teach it to others, that there is anything to read now.