|A Sangha in Germany|
When we returned two years ago from our first visit to Amaravati Buddhist Centre and to the Devon Vihara, we told our friends what we had experienced in those places. Right from the beginning, we felt the desire to have such a community in our neighbourhood. Last year, when a close friend returned from a visit to Dhammapala Monastery in Switzerland, he felt the same as we had. We talked a bit more, met other friends who supported our ideas, and founded the German Sangha Society (Deutscher Sangha e.V.). We are active members of the Buddhist Society of Hamburg, which is keen on the idea of a resident Sangha, and live in the house which it uses as its centre.
More recently, the house next door to the centre came up for sale. The time was right, and the Buddhist Society bought it. Now the German Sangha Society rents the ground floor and the basements, and the president of the Society has moved in. After a busy winter during which the house was restored and redecorated, we are now able to invite and give shelter to monks and nuns.
The recent visit of Ven. Nimalo and Ven. Dhammiko showed the lively and encouraging interest among our German and Thai friends. (We have good connections with the Thai community in Hamburg.) The daily evening puja was well attended by Thais and Germans, and the Thais were pleased to be able to offer alms food on the traditional pindapada. The bhikkhus returned from their alms round with full bowls every day. During the week's visit, there were no special retreats or seminars or lectures - the spirit of ordinary monastic life inspired us.
The first half year of the project to establish a Theravada Sangha in Germany was encouraging, because everything was in the right place at the right moment, everything worked out so well and there were so many helping hands. We feel very hopeful, and even confident, that some time in the future, we will be blessed with a local Sangha like the one that exists in England.
Birte Plutat and Bernd Bullwinkel,
Deutscher Sangha e.V.
Beisserst. 25D-2000 Hamburg 63, Germany.
Uncertainty at Harnham
Several weeks ago many of Harnham's supporters received a startling letter in the post. It was an explanation by our trustees of an impending court case concerning the future of Harnham hill. The letter described how a High Court writ has been issued against the original trustees - Richard Hopkins, Virginia Deaper and Nick Scott - making accusations of obtaining property through 'undue influence'. It called for an order to 'deliver up ... vacant possession of all the land and buildings currently occupied by the Defendants and/or the Buddhist monks at the Harnham Hall Estate'.
The trouble that now exists seems to stem from an attempt made about two years ago by the solicitors of both groups to conduct formal negotiations about further rights on the hill. Just exactly how the present misunderstandings arose is not clear. What is clear though is that we are now dependent on skilled professional advice.
So the letter from the Magga Bhavaka Trust was also an appeal. As everyone understands solicitors fees can be high. To deal with this predicament the Trustees have been obliged to seek out and instruct an expert in the field of equity law. Accordingly a suitably qualified person who is sensitive to the case is presently doing all she can to bring it to a quick and agreeable end. At the time of preparing this report we await a preliminary court hearing to be held in Newcastle on 23rd June.
By the time you read this report, if the Trust's solicitors are successful, all will be well again on the hill. If they are not successful, things will be as they are right now - well, but with more than usual to contemplate.
Anybody interested in finding out how we are proceeding or how they might help, please feel welcome to contact either the Chairman of The Magga Bhavaka Trust or myself c/o the monastery.
SABBE SANKHARA ANICCA
All conditions are uncertain
Ajahn Anando Disrobes
On June 7th, the Sangha at Amaravati received a letter from Ajahn Anando announcing that he had disrobed and given up the bhikkhu training. He had gone on a long distance walk across France with two other bhikkhus and an anagarika, and disrobed shortly after arriving at the Swiss Vihara. In his letter he expressed a long and profound dying away of faith in his life as a bhikkhu.
The Sangha and the many lay people he helped wish to express their gratitude for his service over the years and send their best wishes for the years ahead.
Tributes to Ajahn Chah
In monasteries throughout the world, the life of this great Buddhist Master was honoured on or around April 25th, the 100th day since his passing away. At Amaravati, a Maha Sangha of more than seventy bhikkhus and siladharas, and a few hundred lay people gathered for a day of talks and meditation. Chief among the guests was Tan Chao Khun Pannananda. Other guest bhikkhus included U Nanika, Ven. Dr. Rewata Dhamma, Ven. Maha Somboon, Phra Kru Silananda, Phra Maha Derm, Phra Kru Pannagorn, Ven. Pannasekhara, and Ven. Ajahn Khemadhammo.
Meanwhile in Ajahn Chah's own monastery, Wat Pah Pong, the ceremonies were held on a grander scale. Despite the most severe hot season for many a year, which entailed having to truck water in for the three-day ceremony, an assembly of around 400 bhikkhus and several thousand lay disciples attended the chanting, meditation and Dhamma talks. Amongst the speakers were Somdet Buddajahn, Tan Chao Khun Rachmedi, Ajahn Jun, Ajahn Maha Amon, Ajahn Gi, Ajahn Chu, Ajahn Reuangrit, Ajahn See, Ajahn Pytoon, Ajahn Damrong and Ajahn Puriso.
After the ceremony arrangements were made for the funeral pyre, which will be used to cremate Luang Por Chah's body on January 16th, 1993. This pyre will be built in the shape of a Chedi, which will remain as a permanent memorial after the cremation.