Forest SanghaNewsletterOctober 1997

Wings of the Eagle; Ajahn Jayasaro
Living in Faith; tudong - faith & vulnerability.
Universal Loving Kindness; Ajahn Sumedho, 1996.
Beyond Belief; Ajahn Candasiri
Mindfulness & Clear Comprehension, Ajahn Sucitto
Peace on Earth; Ajahn Candasiri
Signs of Change:


Peace on Earth

As I sit in my room on a glorious autumn morning, I am aware of cool freshair, sunshine, blue sky and trees, the sound of birdsong and of the streamrunning through the garden... and that transistor radio of those workmen in anearby cottage! There is instant contention - dukkha - based on theassumption that it shouldn't be like this; that I should not have to hear orexperience anything that doesn't accord with what I like, with what I findpleasant and agreeable.

I imagine that many people would consider the initial averse reactionto be completely sane, reasonable and justifiable. In one sense it is, but weneed to ask ourselves: "If we act on such a response, is this something thatwill further a sense of ease and well-being - or not?" A moment's reflectionon the Buddha's guidance on Suffering and the Way to End It, is enough for usto realise that allowing any kind of negative response to linger in the heartis harmful, both to ourselves and to others, and in no way accords with thebasic teaching that he continually presented throughout his life: `Even, Omonks, should robbers and murderers saw through your limbs and joints,whosoever should give way to anger there at would not be following myadvice'! (MN21)... A tall order perhaps, but one that we should reflect on ifwe really intend to free the heart from suffering.
These Teachings and Rules provide a way of life and practice for human beingsthat leads away from passion, attachment, discontent and laziness...
Our basic ignorance might convince us that it is possible to have our worldas we would wish it be all the time, and that it is worth expending enormousamounts of time, energy and money in order to achieve that end. However, abrief reflective glance at Nature indicates, in no uncertain terms, that thisis not the case. But the voice of ignorance, of Mara, is persistent,wheedling and we all quite regularly fall prey to its arguments andexpositions... no blame, that's just how it is. Out of compassion and a clearunderstanding of this human predicament, the Buddha in the course of hislifetime formulated and presented the Dhamma Vinaya. These Teachings andRules provide a way of life and practice for human beings that leads awayfrom passion, attachment, discontent and laziness that tend to cloud oragitate the mind, towards dispassion and mental calm and clarity, therebyenabling the arising of complete understanding of how things are.

So within the monastery there are precepts, routines and proceduresthat constantly check our impulse towards stubbornness, greed and selfishness- wearing away the image of ourselves that we've nurtured so unquestioninglyover the years. And, to check the tendency to settle into aninstitutionalised existence - a dumb, submissive dependence on an externalstructure - the Buddha also encouraged his disciples to go forth from theknown, the secure, and to 'wander for the welfare and happiness of the many,out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, welfare and happiness ofgods and humans'.

Of course for householders (who comprise the greater proportion ofdisciples) similar considerations apply. What is different is the contextsbut still there are precepts; constraints in regard to relationship and tothe material world (livelihood etc); the need for some kind of structure orroutines for meditation and devotional practice, and relationship with otherson the Path. Also needed is the skill and sensitivity to respond to a worldthat, for the most part, knows nothing of Buddhism or spiritual values, in away that enhances our own practice and that perhaps brings just a littleclarity and steadiness into the lives of those we contact - a healthychallenge! In two months time, I will be in Calcutta - far from the serenityof West Sussex (and the workmen's transistor) - at the start of four monthsof pilgrimage to the places where Siddhattha Gotama was born, became a Buddha(Awakened One), presented his first Teaching and passed away. I feel veryblessed to have this opportunity, although I don't expect it to be easy orparticularly pleasant for much of the time, but it will be a chance to honourour Teacher and to deepen a sense of Refuge, a freedom from suffering that isnot dependent on having things the way I want - which I'm sure they won't befor much of the time! All being well, the Newsletter will continue to appearin my absence with Ajahn Sucitto's experienced hand, assisted by others,guiding it into manifestation. It may come late, a pattern that unfortunatelycan be the cause of irritation, when important information is conveyed onlydays or weeks after it is relevant, but it certainly will not be for lack ofeffort or willingness on the part of those involved. They will try to providerelevant information well in advance, but if there are questions about eventsin the monastery, please contact the relevant monastery, to find out aboutthem.

May we all live free from suffering.

Ajahn Candasiri




psalmody of our birth -
a still mind,
the temple of the sky
bringing the sun in
a hymn of light;
life illumined in silence,
awareness awash
with the cool tide of knowing
and a timeless joy growing.

Sister Medhananda