Forest SanghaNewsletterOctober 1999

Refuges on the Path; Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi
Consecration; A Round-up of Monastics Reflections
A Shared Treasure; Ajahn Sucitto
Extracts from a letter home; Ajahn Candasiri
Much Ado About Nothing; Ajahn Candasiri


Much Ado About Nothing

In this issue we focus on the events that took place at Amaravati early in July; the Temple Consecration - a mega (for us) happening, that took months of planning, significant expense and a huge effort - both for those taking part in the organisation and preparation, and the many people who travelled thousands of miles to be present. This was followed by a less ambitious, but in its own way, equally significant event at Cittaviveka: at last the first of our monasteries in Britain is setting down a Dhamma Hall.

We might reasonably ask: 'What was it all about?' ...and be somewhat puzzled by the equally reasonable answer: 'Nothing'!
It's not a small thing to extricate oneself: fleeing from a burning house, crossing a great flood
Nibbana, Emptiness, the Unconditioned, the Deathless: these are the terms for the Ultimate Goal of our practice. A Temple, a Dhamma Hall provide physical situations conducive to the realisation of that goal. That's what it's all about...

But why so much of a performance just for the sake of nothing?... Because for beings addicted to something, it takes a major turning away and effort, sustained over years - many lifetimes - to see the need, to awaken to the possibility of Liberation, and to fulfil the work required to bring that about. It's not a small thing to extricate oneself: fleeing from a burning house, crossing a great flood or the ocean, pulling oneself out of a swamp, swimming upstream against a strong current - these are images the Buddha used to describe the sense of urgency and enormous effort required to bring it about.

So such happenings are a celebration of the Buddha and generations of great beings who continue to guide us, reminding us of our potential; they remind us too that help is available. We are not alone in this struggle, and there are delicious fruits to be enjoyed along the way: the delight that comes from skilful service, sharing and renunciation; the pleasure of reflecting on a life lived with care; the sweetness of devotion to what is wholly good - not to mention the subtler forms of happiness that arise with the development of our meditation practice. These are allowable fruits, allowable pleasures; our cultivation and enjoyment of them can only further wisdom and compassion, peacefulness and joy in the hearts of all beings. May these Holy Places serve to awaken and further the practice of beings over countless generations towards that final goal.

Ajahn Candasiri



Poem in September

Why complain if the road gets muddy when it rains?

the complaining mind has feet of clay

It is itself completely, in order, wild

like the ugly beauty of seedling thistles

Samanera Issaramuni




Venerable V. Dharmawara Mahathera died peacefully in Stockton, California, on June 26th 1999, aged 110. Born in Cambodia, he was well educated and became a lawyer, judge and provincial governor before he began studying Buddhism and became a monk in his 30's. Bhante practised in the Forest Tradition in Thailand before travelling through Burma and India, where he spent much of his life. He studied natural healing and became well known for his healing abilities, in recognition of which he was given the land on which to found The Asoka Mission in New Delhi by Jawarharalal Nehru, first Prime Minister of Independent India. He was a gifted linguist - fluent in many tongues and able to use words very precisely as many of his friends and disciples will remember. He was a great teacher and became spiritual advisor to Prince Norodom Sihanouk. He taught meditation every year to the students at Mr Bennett's Academy for Continuous Education in Sherborne, Gloucestershire. Later, Bhante moved to USA and worked tirelessly to help settle the thousands of refugees who fled there from the war in Cambodia. He founded Wat Dharmawararama in Stockton where his wake and cremation were attended by many followers from around the world. There are plans to inter his ashes in memorials being built in Cambodia, Thailand, Stockton and at Asoka Mission in Delhi. Towards the end of a lifetime of Love and Compassion, he pronounced a simple message:
'You are what you think;
you are what you eat and drink.'
    Sam St. Clair Ford


Nun's Ordination:
Amaravati December 12, 1999 - All are welcome to attend the Pabbajja (Going Forth) ceremony of:

  • Anagarika Renée,
  • Anagarika Jutta,
  • Anagarika Karen

who will be accepted into the Nuns' Sangha. The ceremony will take place in the Temple at 1:30 p.m. (Those wishing to offer requisites please contact Sister Thanasanti at Amaravati.)