October 2006 2549 Number 77
The Forest Sangha is a world-wide Buddhist community
in the Thai Forest tradition of Ajahn Chah
October in Britain is a time when the turning seasons can help make more conscious the perpetual nature of change inherent in the natural world. Another autumn, another year, always now and ever different.
This issue of the Forest Sangha Newsletter represents a number of transitions, both in its articles and production. The most significant of these from the perspective of this publication has been a changeover in editorial duties. Ajahn Varado has given meticulous care and attention to the FSN over the three years he has served as Editor, and we are all grateful for the commitment, long hours and careful effort he has offered. Roles of service in the Sangha such as the office of FSN Editor often have a similar life-span, several years or so before the job is taken on by another. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ajahn Varado on behalf of all of us for the truly fine work he has done with the Forest Sangha Newsletter.
I would also like to invite all FSN readers to send me, at any time, any feedback or ideas that may occur to you regarding the newsletter, what in it you find interesting or valuable, or what youd like to see more or less of. I hope that in this way I might get a better feel for the wider community the FSN serves. I can be reached at Amaravati (address on the back page), by letters addressed to "FSN Editor" or at the following e-mail address:
[email protected] .
With this issue another change comes into effect, which is the necessity to comply with a new pricing system introduced by the postal service in Britain. As a result we face a choice: either to fold the newsletter in half, resulting in a mid-line crease, or to produce the FSN in A5 format (half the current page size). For now were experimenting with the former.
If there is a theme to this issue of the Forest Sangha Newsletter, it could be evolution and maturity. Ajahn Amaros lead article describes the development over the years of our communitys central decision-making body, the Elders Council, for whom, in a Herculean effort he recently went back through 250,000 words of minutes of Sangha meetings recorded over the decades since Luang Por Sumedhos first arrival in London in 1977, with a brief to extract and collate all the agreements and decisions. Since this has been undertaken, and in light of the fact that many people are unaware of the structures of Sangha life, the Elders Council asked him to produce an article summarising its history to be published in the FSN, for the benefit of the Sangha and laity alike.
One reason this was considered timely was the observation that there endures a perception amongst many outside the Sangha that Ajahn Sumedho remains in charge of everything, when in fact he has neither wanted nor held that role for many years. He explains this in his article "On Strong Roots," recorded and transcribed by the editor. And within the Sangha, particularly for those more recently arrived, the origin and functions of our community structures can be a matter of mystery. With the Elders Council playing such a significant role in our lives, the presentation of this article will hopefully serve as something of a reference providing an introduction to its history.
Finally, Luang Por himself reached one of the conventional milestones marking a transition, when on July 27th he turned seventy-two. For those who follow the traditional Chinese astrological calendar, which includes Buddhist Thailand, major phases are counted in groups of twelve years; therefore, this year marks the completion of Luang Por Sumedhos "sixth cycle." The celebrations included a slide show providing interesting snapshots from Luang Pors life, which should soon be available on the recently re-designed Amaravati website, www.amaravati.org . Included for your interest in this issue are a few of the many photos from that presentation, accompanied by excerpts from the Dhamma talk Luang Por gave that day.
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