In unstable circumstances, uncertainty gets plotted against faith and effort until a mindful line appears.
|Moreover, humdrum routines can serve as accommodating frames for some poignant configurations of human behaviour. One day a young woman presents a special food offering on behalf of her mother who committed suicide more than a decade ago; local townspeople touch into their unplumbed depths in the meditation classes; the Vinaya teachers describe the finer points of handling an alms bowl; and meanwhile someone is still taking the bucket of left-overs down to the local farm, and yes, every few days people carry buckets of water out to the newly-planted trees while they settle in. Normal events in a normal week; all rather wonderful gestures of care and sensitivity that would find difficulty in arising, or in being noticed, in a more stimulated situation.|
When I returned to Amaravati from India, the community was different from the one I had left six months previously: new arrivals, disrobings, so-and-so off to Italy, etc. It has continued to fluctuate with new arrivals and departures by the week: during June and July the total number of bhikkhus and nuns was effectively halved by engagements outside the monastery, with most of the remaining senior bhikkhus being relative newcomers to Amaravati. Another significant development is that Luang Por Sumedho has redefined his role at Amaravati as being less connected with the day-to-day activity, to empower the rest of the community with a fuller sense of responsibility. It also allows him to be available in a broader sense to the whole Sangha for spiritual direction. Meanwhile, the nuns community is also undergoing a realignment, having been encouraged by Luang Por to function more autonomously. What these changes of emphasis actually amount to - apart from adding another degree of torque to the kaleidoscope - can't be predicted or defined. In unstable circumstances, uncertainty gets plotted against faith and effort until a mindful line appears.
In its power to avoid dogma, the holy life has always been a beautiful reflection of a Truth that is difficult to define in conceptual terms. Comings, goings, fragmentation and concord, strong, gentle, and even deluded individuals - variability has kept spiritual initiative and spontaneous response alive through the long history of the Sangha. In what it responds to and in what it is, Sangha is an unfolding record of the stuff that gets born in people with their passions, habits and aspirations when they aim to touch Ultimate Truth. It is a reassuringly cool channel - at least in its conventions - for a startling and vibrant experience. That experience, that true life, has its own order; an order that is reminiscent of the wonderful patterns that have been plotted by computing the rhythm of a dripping tap or such apparent chaos as the weather. The same motif recurs the deeper you go into any element of the pattern, though the pattern is ever-changing. What appeared at first to be random is actually operating according to laws that are beyond our conceiving.
And that's the way it is in this human realm. The moment is unique, yet the law is immutable: wherever you go and wherever you're coming from, all conditions are variable and all things are beyond self.
That humbles a few drives and ambitions. But for those who wish to awaken, it means that right here we can insightfully know the qualities of the human world: reflected around a mug of gruel, a silent sitting, or a washing-up session.