Forest Sangha Newsletter
July 2001


Reflecting on Kindness; Ajahn Candasiri
Staying at Home; Aj. Amaro chats with Aj. Sucitto
Interconnectedness; Sister Thaniya



In the Buddha's presentation of mundane Right View the understanding of 'There is mother and father' is included. Whatever our experience, to be alive now means someone must have provided us with food - actually feeding us when we were small - with warmth, with shelter... And from a whole web what we need to live continues to flow. With our acknowledgement of this comes an appreciation of our interconnectedness: we arise, are formed and conditioned by, and exist within a human context. The experience of this human birth is one of co-dependency and relatedness; both physically and in what we take ourselves as being. When we start to experience this - that we cannot in truth separate ourselves from the world around us - the sense of anatta, not-self arises. This is the super-mundane path. However, much of the Dhamma-Vinaya is about fulfilling the mundane human aspects of our experience. This is the ground of the Path: practising generosity, the establishment of right relationships, developing kindness, compassion, appreciation of goodness, equanimity. These then mature our hearts for awakening.


...we can not in truth separate ourselves from the world around us...


Living in one of these monasteries this interconnect-edness is highlighted. These are places supporting and supported, by those from the four (at least) directions, and they are situated in the four directions. Anyone who lives in the realm of those inclined to Dhamma practice is living in a global village. This means we can experience ourselves as being related to and affected by a very wide field of people: there can be a great flow of human energy. And one question that comes up is, 'how do I respond to this?' There is a creative tension in finding a responsive balance between taking care of 'others' and taking care of 'ourselves/home.' Since we are so interconnected and do not exist independent of our context, even what these relative terms really mean is quite an inquiry. Always the test of our response has to be, 'Does it lead to skilful or unskilful states, does it support waking-up?'

The Buddha encourages us to appreciate Mother and Father, those who support and guide us when we have not yet matured enough to do so for ourselves; to recognize our indebtedness. This has a correlation in the Sangha experience with the elders and teachers who foster us. We need to recognise what they have offered us, the teaching, the encouragement, and then for our part we can reciprocate in what ways we can; with our care, with our commitment to waking-up. In connection with this newsletter there is Ajahn Sucitto, there in the beginning with scissors and paste technology, and Ajahn Candasiri, who as you know, has been editing it over later years. Both, recognising the actual geographical distance that separates us and committed to bridging it, have gracefully given a great deal of time and care to this over so many years. Now, as they both carry much responsibility, it will rest briefly (with the faith that someone to provide what is needed will soon manifest) in these inexperienced hands - a small way of helping these elders and this vast field of relatedness which this newsletter has been a tangible response to.

In itself the newsletter rests in a field of human support, with so many contributing their time and skill for its production; most notable being Tavaro who typesets it and more. If we examine our lives, aren't they also like this? We are sustained on so many levels. Apart from the elemental support we depend upon - water, air, warmth, food - our lives are sustained by myriad acts of kindness and other people's efforts; just as we help support others in turn. When we stop and investigate it, are we ever completely outside this - where does the food we eat come from or the cloth we wear? Can we be where there is nothing that has not come from someone else? What does it do to our hearts to realise this impossibility? Beyond the fear that might arise at our apparent vunerability, we can realise the fact that something is supporting us. Often what seems to be needed is the faith to rest back into that which can and is holding us. Resting back into this realm of connectedness, into the breath, into awareness; with the faith that, 'the Dhamma upholds those who uphold it'.

Sister Thaniya