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March 2005

Ajahn's Message

I am writing this as our annual winter retreat draws to a close and spring is in the air!  Soon I shall be travelling to the UK, visiting Ratanagiri and Amaravati monasteries, my parents in York and, for the first time in 25 years, Scotland, where I was living immediately before joining the sangha.  I shall be away from March 22nd until April 9th.

The retreat has been a very harmonious and peaceful time that we have all greatly appreciated.  On behalf of the resident sangha, I would like to express our gratitude in being supported in this.  It has been most heart-warming to witness the level of commitment, some people coming every week without fail, even during the most harsh winter weather, to offer food and join us in meditation.

Some may remember that last winter I was in Thailand, together with our two Thai monks, for a Buddha casting ceremony.  Finally it arrived at Santacittarama on the first of this month, a bitterly cold day with snow still on the ground.  Fortunately, on that very day, we had an unexpected visit from some Thai students, who willingly joined us in unloading it from the truck and hauling it into place, not without some difficulty.  For the time being it has been placed in the large tent.  It is a magnificent image and was well worth waiting for.  As can be seen from the photo below the Buddha sits on a throne, which is 2 metres high, and all is made of bronze, so it is very heavy.



This image is styled on the well-known and much-admired 'Teaching Buddha' of Sarnath in India, where the recently enlightened Buddha delivered his First Sermon at the 'Deer Park of Isipatana'.  The Three Jewels of Buddhism are all represented in the one image, with the Buddha, his hands held in the teaching mudra, expounding the Dhamma, the way to liberation, also symbolized by the wheel at the base of the throne (eight-spoked for the Noble Eightfold Path), to the first five disciples, who formed the beginning of the Sangha or spiritual community.  The deer can also be considered a simile for the gentleness, grace and agility of the enlightened mind.  Especially beautiful in this statue is the Buddha's face, with the classic gentle smile conveying such serenity and quiet joy.  Please do come and see it when you can! 

It really is a marvellous gift from the Thai people.  Surely it will be a source of inspiration and faith for many generations to come here in Italy.  Now it needs a suitable dwelling place and we are beginning to give serious thought to a 'Dhamma hall' and hope to have a design ready this year.  At some point we will send out plans and ask for feedback and suggestions.


The study and practice day that had been programmed for 8th May has been postponed until the following Sunday, the 15th.  This is because we will be receiving a visit from a senior and highly respected Thai monk called Tan Ajahn Plien, abbot of Wat Aranyawiweka in Chieng Mai, on the weekend 7th-8th May, so this will be a rare occasion for the Thai people.  We will invite him to give a talk in Thai after the meal on Sunday 8th, all are welcome, but don't expect the talk to be translated into any other language!  A brief biography and talk by Ajahn Plien entitled the 'Foundations of Meditation' in English can be found on the web by clicking here.




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