Forest SanghaNewsletterOctober 1989

Letting Go is the Greatest Kindness; Ajahn Anando
Walking The Way - Nuns' Tudong; Sister Thanissara
Unlocking Human Potential; Aj's Pabhakaro & Nyanaviro
Question time; Ajahn Sumedho
Extinguishing the Fires of Delusion; Ajahn Puriso



A refuge for the world

Most, of the contributions to this Newsletter stress the attitude of kindness or concern for the welfare of the world in its variety of forms. In going forth one doesn't cease to respond to the world, but ,the training matures that response to one that is no longer limited big the biases of self-interest. Suffering is always ready to pounce whenever the heart moves, from the stillness of spiritual friendship into personal or emotional involvement. Wanting people to be a certain way, and having an expectation of results are the pitfalls.

Currently the Summer Camp School is in full swing at Amaravati. It's a rather more structured event this year, and has required a full and sustained commitment from most of the senior monks and nuns, as well as those more recently gone forth. Having left the family life behind, the need for Dhamma for children engages us in it again - from a different angle.

True responsibility is when you can respond with wisdom and compassion.
Maybe the situation is new, but a willing response to the world is a traditional practice, not without its ironies. Having left home, most of us after all have spent considerable amounts of energy in rebuilding, preserving and taking good care of monasteries.

Researching into the Buddhist relationship with the environment for the WWF "Religion and the Environment" event has increased my awareness of the part played by forest monasteries in the preservation of the forests-, in Britain this also includes reafforestation. Within the last generation, the forested area of Thailand has shrunk from around 80 to around 15 percent of the country, and bhikkhud visiting Amaravati from Thailand have been commenting on how lush and richly forested southern England is by comparison. Perceptions of the remote jungles of South-East Asia have taken quite a beating.

Perhaps the forests are all vanishing. It's a time when the untouched paradises are all gone, and the sheltering lonely places disappearing. So the time is also ripe for an awakening to our true responsibility: to care for the world. True responsibility is when you can respond with wisdom and compassion. To reject the world, or to, be engrossed in it would be a lot easier than the precarious balance of love without attachment.

The purpose of the gone forth life is to perfect that balance. Samanas train themselves to seek nothing - and expect nothing from the world: for any such seeking is the home of all suffering. When the very possibility of having a world that will fulfil one's wishes is renounced, the heart can open joyously and be a Refuge. Worldliness ends and true benevolence is the unbidden response. Through Dhamma we can become as cool and sheltering as the trees, offering a Refuge to whatever comes our way. It is our human responsibility.

Ajahn Sucitto