Forest SanghaNewsletterApril 1990

A Leap of Faith; Ajahn Sucitta
Practice after the Retreat; Sister Sundara
Observance Day at Wat Pah Nanachat; Ajahn Sucitto
The Way; Aj. Liam & City of 10,000 Buddhas monks
Almsround in Britain; Sister Viveka
Question Time; Ajahn Jagaro
Advance is Based on Retreat; Ajahn Sucitto

Buddha Word:


Advance is Based on Retreat

We begin this newsletter with the account of a new vihara opening in Italy. This comes as a surprise, it is a happy one and a fitting way of supporting the aspirations of Buddhists in Italy. There are those who will assume that Ajahn Sumedho is trying to accumulate a monastic emprire, but actually this is far from the case: our efforts to slow things down and keep our ventures within limits are so constant that we even win the reputation of being rather stingy and unco-operative! One has to keep reminding people that we need a good presence in the monastries to keep them functioning, and that monks and nuns generally don't teach for their first five years in the Sangha, to ensure that theur wisdom is matured and held with the humility of anatta.

It is a similar story with publications. It was interestig to note that the books of Venerable Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Sumedho have been, or are being, translated into Italia. There are also editions in German and French, and a constant stream of requests for articles, and books to be prtoduced. I expect much the same story prevails in any Buddhist organisation. One comes to the simple conclusion that the world is indeed hungry for Dhamma, a Dhamma that has bee experienced persinally in this life and human form.

Devotion and service are a time-honoured training of the heart in the spiritual life, not purely reserved for samanas but available to all.
Seen in this light, the Winter Retreat is actually part of the Sangha's offering to the world. Whe the activities die down and conversation ceases, there is a chance for the mind to see very clearly into its own nature: compassionate service is based very accurately on the foundation of relinquishmet of self. The two are necessary alternate faces of the same coin. This deepening insight into anatta is the proper way to establish the Dhamma and Sangha. Then the motivation is not based on missionary zeal but rather on a willingness to add whatever little one can to this Way out of Suffering.

Despite the suffering of the world in general, one certainly sees the best side of human ature in a monastery. Apart from the efforts of fellow samanas, one derives a lot of inspiration from the commitment of the lay people who come to look after the Sangha during such retreats. The lay people, for their part, are very grateful for the opportunity to help the Sangha, and they comment on its benefits. Devotion and service are a time-honoured training of the heart in the spiritual life, not purely reserved for samanas but available to all. It is so joyous and peaceful to be able to give oneself to the Triple Gem. That is where we find our true advancements: in turning back from conceit and views, and from the demands of the me and mine.

Ajahn Sucitto