Forest SanghaNewsletterJuly 1999
Supporting Practice; Ajahn Sucitto
Change, Celebration and Practice; Luang Por Sumedho
Temple of the Heart; Ajahn Candasiri



Temple of the Heart

Summer time. In England, a time of immense proliferation in the world of Nature: the hatching out of new life, an abundance of green in all shapes and varieties, and splashes of bright exuberance as the world of colour finds expression in flowers' exquisite perfection. All this is here and, alongside it, tales of war, human atrocity, destruction and threats of extinction.

At Wesak we celebrate the Buddha, our Teacher, who through his life and example suggested an extraordinarily skilful response to these facts of our existence. The training he pointed to begins with a full, open acknowledgement of human suffering. Once we have acknowledged and understood the problem, we can use our powers of reflection to formulate a realistic solution which takes into account the limitations of our situation. Although we may long to wipe out all greed, hatred, violence and delusion on a global scale - or even within our own family or community - this may be beyond what we are capable of. So instead, we are encouraged to begin by trying to understand and abandon those things as they arise within our own being. It is a training which begins here: with our inner life, our inner values, our inner response to what is perceived through the senses.
Inner well being is not only pleasant, it is also indispensable as a basis for the mind in its work towards perfect understanding and freedom.
The Noble Eightfold Path is a brilliant synopsis of the factors we can focus on and develop. It leads us quite naturally from the inner world: our View or understanding, and Intention - to Right Speech, Action and Livelihood, which can influence inner and outer circumstances in positive, wholesome ways; this is sustained through appropriate Effort, Mindfulness and Collectedness. So the factors of the Path work together; they are intimately connected, just as the Gone Forth (sama°a) disciples of the Buddha, and those living the household life are bound to each other.

We all can cultivate generosity, goodness and awareness; such qualities support inner well being. Inner well being is not only pleasant, it is also indispensable as a basis for the mind in its work towards perfect understanding and freedom. Externally, a state of well being among people in any culture is also maintained by these qualities.

As within any other living organism there is a dynamism in human society, it is not a static entity.

The relationships and positions of individuals within it shift and change according to personal needs or inclinations as well as the needs of the community as a whole. This is Nature. As with the events in the natural world this can be at times soothing and delightful or, at other times deeply disturbing, depending on the extent of our investment in its stability. Of course, because we are sensitive we cannot help being affected by such change, but when the mind is trained in awareness the heart is naturally steadied; there is a gentle watchfulness that knows how to respond.

So at this time in our own community we can notice major changes. Externally, there is the Temple at Amaravati - the Great Heart of the monastery. (For me, and perhaps others, the joy at its arising is tinged with a tender sadness at the dissolution of the little fibre glass stupa, constructed fourteen years ago as a 'temporary' focus or heart.) At Cittaviveka we see the foundations in place for a meditation hall which is to be built there over the next years, as funds allow. On the personal level, we see Ajahn Viradhammo enter a period of more solitary practice away from the community, and Ajahn Sumedho returning to a role of more active involvement in the day - to - day life of the monastery at Amaravati. Ajahn Sundara has moved to Hartridge to participate, as senior incumbent, in the next tentative step of the life of the Nuns' Sangha there; she replaces Ajahn Siripa˝˝ň who, having bravely pioneered the venture, has decided to continue her practice in lay life. No doubt, after the celebration of the Temple consecration, others of the community who have had major parts to play in the organisation of the event will move on.

We may notice the tendency of the heart to tremble at the unknown, or imagined possibilities. Then by establishing awareness in the present moment, we can take Refuge in the Temple of our own being wherein we find infinite space and that which is unchanging - the Deathless.

Ajahn Candasiri



|-   Non-Attachment   -|

As a drop of water does

not stick to a lotus leaf

or as a lotus flower is not

tainted by the water,

so the sage does not cling to anything

- seen, heard or thought.'

From: Dr Saddhatissa's translation
Sutta Nipata v. 812