Forest SanghaNewsletterJanuary 1997

On Making a Mistake; Ajahn Brahmavamso
Bodhinyanarama Impressions; Aj. Sucitto interviews Aj. Vajiro
Timeless Teachings; Luang Por Chah's Death Anniversary
Cultivating the Perfections; Sister Jitindriya
Microcosmic Challenges; Ajahn Candasiri

Signs of Change:


Microcosmic Challenges

A project like this newsletter is a perfect microcosm within which to study many facets of human existence. A year ago, it was clear to me that it would be a challenge. What is interesting is that the precise nature of the challenge is quite different than I had anticipated. I had thought that it was up to me to make it all happen; what I have found is that actually it is more a case of participating in a process. Externally, this involves receptivity: a response to the generosity and good will of others - and action: directing, guiding these energies into manifestation in a form that can be appreciated and of benefit. The internal effort is to find a balance in working with what is presented, appreciative of the limitations of aptitude, time, energy and equipment available. While on paper, it can be quite clear what should happen, when and how, in practice it may turn out differently. Someone goes away at a critical time; there is a hitch at the printers; there is a misunderstanding regarding the lay out; a last minute article is proffered that must be included... For a perfectionist, there could be all the makings of a nightmare of complete frustration and despair. Fortunately, a few years of letting go practice have generated a more philosophical approach, enabling each new issue to evolve in its own timescale, with its own particular flavour and idiosyncracies. Throughout most of the process the heart is able to remain light and at ease; there is a cheerful feeling that comes from working with what is presented, and a gradual moving away from those states of anguish over things what weren't quite 'right'. It takes effort, that same effort that each of us needs to make if we are to find perfect peace in a world that can never be perfect. One of the nuns expessed this very poignantly:
'Having struggled to remove the taint,
to prepare the finest,
I taste the bitterness, the incompleteness,
Ah... It is the flavour of the world.'
One time, while working on a particular issue in the very early 'scissors and paste' days, I was curious to notice a slight sense of disappointment that I was not able to do the whole thing myself - I wanted the newsletter to be my creation. But now, ten years on, I realise that there is a different kind of joy and satisfaction that arises from co-operation. While, as editor, I tend to be the one to receive much of the praise or criticism, it is abundantly clear that each issue is the product of the efforts and good will of a great many people. This time I'd like, as a way of showing appreciation, to mention some of them.
We can recognise the tendency of the untrained mind to complicate everything and to try to manipulate and control the things of Nature
There are those who contribute material (whether or not it finds its way into these pages), and those who transcribe taped Dhamma talks or help with typing. Others help guide and direct, casting a critical eye over possible material; while the artists of the community, notably Venerable Abhinyano, prepare art work. Venerable Kusalo puts in many hours of work typesetting, preparing copy for the printers; then several Sangha members go through the whole thing, on the lookout for mistakes (true, a few get by, but without their careful attention it would be a lot worse). After a final polishing it goes to the printers, Chitra and Sugi at 'Ashford', and finally it comes to the community at Amaravati who spend a couple of days putting it into labelled envelopes to send out. Later on there is the feed back, and of course that's always helpful too - whatever form it takes!

In contemplating something relatively simple like this process of co-operation, we can begin to appreciate the interdependence of all things throughout all space and time. Everything has its place; having arrived here, it is maintained in balance, changing constantly as a result of manifold circumstances. It is quite beyond most of us to comprehend these mysteries. However, we have the potential to participate in this dynamic unfolding with mindfulness. We can recognise the tendency of the untrained mind to complicate everything and to try to manipulate and control the things of Nature; we can also let go of these complexities and 'problems' to find a place of simple ease in the heart. We realise that it's all right for things not to work out quite the way we had hoped, or to make a mistake, or for people to be upset with us. It doesn't need to be a problem. If we can do something to remedy the situation we do it; otherwise we make peace with it as it is, for nothing in the world can ever measure up to our ideas of perfection. Rather than seeing this as depressing or negative, we can draw inspiration from the teachings of the Buddha that point to a freedom from the world that comes about when we fully understand it:
By comprehending all the world in all the world,
just as it is,
in all the world there is release,
in all the world nothing is held.
     Itivuttaka 112

Sister Thaniya



John Wake: 1905 - 1996
On the 8th of October Farmer Wake, our neighbour and landlord at Ratanagiri, passed away at the age of 91. Our heartfelt thanks go to John for all his kindness and generosity over the years, and for the many lessons he has taught us. After so many years on Harnham Hill, his passing signals the end of an era.

Walter Stangl: 1914 - 1996
A regular helper in the major garden, grounds' clearing and drive construction in the early days at Cittaviveka, died peacefully in his sleep on the 27th of November 1996. Walter served (reluctantly) in the Austrian army during World War II and spent about four years in a concentration camp in Siberia as a result. He was fortunate to survive. After being released he was a Buddhist monk for a while in Thailand and a gardener at Kew. After his initial work, Walter generally spent a week or so at Cittaviveka every year, pruning and planting with boundless vigour. In the last years of his life he visited Russia and Mongolia on personal goodwill missions, bringing special food and treats with him as his way of paying off any bad kamma. One of his happiest recollections was of bringing chocolate to a woman in St. Petersburg who had lost her husband in the war. She forgave him, saying that everyone made mistakes and the war was over.


Monastery Name:
Now that the Devon Vihara is well established on the Hartridge it has been decided to rename it: 'Hartridge Buddhist Monastery'.