The Forest Sangha is
a world-wide Buddhist community
in the Thai Forest tradition of Ajahn
About this issue
Welcome to the Forest Sangha Newsletter online. This issue can be found in several places. You can download the whole newsletter as it was printed and distributed, or you can browse this website to find the individual articles and bits of news. Click "download pdf" for a PDF file - which we hope is in a resolution fine enough to allow for clear images, yet not too huge to download for most users of this site. If the PDF is too big for you to download, the entire newsletter (absent a few photographs) is available on the pages of this website. Be sure to check the sidebars (FSN notices, Grapevine, etc.) for current announcements and Sangha news, etc., which change with each issue.
Ajahn Nyanarato, Ven. Panyanando, Ven. Ahimsako and a snowman in front of the Temple before the meal at Amaravati in February.
From the editor
Spring is here in Hertfordshire. It is evidenced by the fact that despite a raging hailstorm weirdly pelting the greenness this afternoon in a sudden white freeze, daffodils, birdsong and buzzing things are still present ‐ determined like most of us to have their bit of being.
Of course, remembering that we too shall pass is not always easy, and it can be heartbreaking to see those we love die. Many of us here and around the world will wish to remember and lovingly acknowledge the goodness of two lives recently past: Ven. Dr Vajiragnana and Ven. Maha Ghosananda, greatly respected elder monks, Sri Lankan and Cambodian respectively. Almost identical in age and seniority, they each had meaningful contact with our community over the years in various ways ‐ particularly Dr Vajiragnana. For all the appreciation many of us feel for their lives, it isn’t possible here to provide more than brief acknowledgements. Ajahn Candasiri and Ven. Panyanando have kindly offered obituaries.
This issue of the Forest Sangha Newsletter began with an interview with Sr. Bodhipala, an extraordinary person who is now a nun at Amaravati, practising diligently after a long life of service in the private and public spheres. As it turned out, the resulting huge transcript was too much to process for this issue once the other articles had come together, and her sudden journey to Vietnam a few weeks ago to be present for her mother’s death means there may be more of her reflections to incorporate in what will now be a future article.
Sr. Bodhipala’s inclusion would certainly have fit in with the rest of this issue. Having also interviewed Ajahn Nyanarato (in Place to no place) in the hope of introducing to FSN readers a taste of his wise and lovely presence, I received an article from Ajahn Piyasilo, a friend from Thailand spending a year at Cittaviveka, from whom I’d been asking for something for the newsletter. Ven. Piyasilo is a skilled writer in his native Thai language, and has been careful to learn English well. Yet he’s also proven skilled at quickly making the considerable adaptations
required in coming from Thai to Western community life with few if any hiccups. In When East meets West he shares some of his observations concerning these cultural differences after having spent about six months at Chithurst.
April’s FSN seemed to have its theme: members of our monastic community living in England yet originally coming from Buddhist countries. Noticing this, and with ‐ originally ‐ Cambodia (Sr. Bodhipala), Japan (Ajahn Nyanarato) and Thailand (Ajahn Piyasilo) represented ‐ and though initially I had no intention of organizing it this way ‐ I thought of Sri Lanka since we have Bhikkhu Vineetha here in the community as well. I invited him to share something of his life and experience coming from there to here, and he does so in a heart-warming way in Berries, hermits, and undreamed dreams.
There are unseen threads weaving together here as well. It’s a coincidence that after hearing so much about Cambodia and the influence on her life of Ven. Maha Ghosananda from Sr. Bodhipala, his presence is felt in this issue even though her own inclusion has been postponed. Even more interestingly for me, I’m aware that Ajahn Piyasilo became a monk in the “quiet place on the Laotian border” mentioned in Ajahn Nyanarato’s article when he first went to join Ajahn Gavesako, and that Ven. Piyasilo also lived for several years with Ajahn Nyanarato in Ajahn Gavesako’s monastery in Kanchanaburi.
So, personal stories and linking threads, reflections and relationships. Hopefully such sharing will be useful to you in some small way on the path. This FSN pretty much made itself (though not without a lot of editing!), and it has done so during our Winter Retreat. Now spring is here and the monasteries will become more engaged. Relationships change, yet the path stays the same, whether covered in soft grass or icy stones of hail. May each of us grow towards a realization of that Way which truly leads to peace.
Bhikkhu Jayanto (Editor)
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