S A N T A C I T T A R A M A B U D D H I S T M O N A S T E R Y
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Ven Mahapanyo, our Italian novice, will receive upasampada - entrance to the bhikkhu sangha - at Amaravati Monastery in England on July 21st and later in the month return here to continue his training. Barry, who spent the last year here as an anagarika, is now a samanera (novice) at Amaravati, with the Pali name Subhaddo, meaning something like 'good omen'. At the time of writing it looks as though we will have at least six bhikkhus and three anagarikas for this year's 'rainy season retreat' when we take a vow of stability for three months beginning on August 1st. Maechee Amara is presently visiting Thailand, for the first time in five years, and is unlikely to be back before the end of July.
We are pleased to have some good news to announce this time. Firstly, the necessary authorization has finally been granted to convert an outbuilding into accomodation for women, and also to modify the existing guest house. Although we hope to start on this project quite soon, we first need to consult our architect and to consider what to do ourselves and how much needs to be done by professionals. Another major step forward has been achieved towards a future Dhamma Hall or Temple, since a portion of the property has now been designated as 'place of religious worship'. In order to have more space around the Temple we are currently negotiating with the neighbours to acquire an extra piece of land. Once this has been settled we can begin work on a design to submit for approval.
Progress on these projects will now depend largely on the availability of funds. Santacittarama is entirely dependent on freewill offerings for its maintenance and development. Those who wish to support any of these projects are welcome to make their donations directly at the monastery, using the 'offerings box' in the entrance hall, or into the bank or post office account, details of which are given below.
Another potential improvement, that those coming to the monastery by car will much appreciate, is the asphalting of the access road. We are told by the local council that it could be done by this autumn. A generous donation from Thailand has already been offered to cover the monastery's required contribution.
Bank account: Associazione Santacittarama, n° 35114, Cassa di Risparmio di Rieti, Agency 22, Via Salaria 53° Km, Osteria Nuova, 02037 Poggio Moiano (RI). ABI: 06280, CAB: 73740.
Post office account: Associazione Santacittarama, n° 13558044, 02030 Frasso Sabino (RI).
Dhamma talks on the web
Several Dhamma talks by Ajahn Munindo in English, and in Italian translation, are now available on the web at: www.forestsangha.org/munindo.htm.
Extract from "Unshakeable Peace" by Ajahn Chah
(currently being prepared for publication in Italian translation)
HE BUDDHA did not teach about the mind and its psychological factors so that we'd get attached to the concepts. His sole intention was that we would recognize them as impermanent, unsatisfactory and not-self. Then let go. Lay them aside. Be aware and know them as they arise. This mind has already been conditioned. It's been trained and conditioned to turn away and spin out from a state of pure awareness. As it spins it creates conditioned phenomena which further influence the mind, and the proliferation carries on. This process gives birth to the good, the evil and everything else under the sun. The Buddha taught to abandon it all. Initially, however, you have to familiarize yourself with the theory in order that you'll be able to abandon it all at the later stage. This is a natural process. The mind is just this way. Psychological factors are just this way.
Take the Noble Eightfold Path, for example. When wisdom (pañña) views things correctly with insight, this Right View leads to Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action and so on. This all involves psychological conditions that have arisen from that pure awareness. This knowing is like a lantern shedding light on the path ahead on a dark night. If the knowing is right, is in accordance with truth, it will pervade and illuminate each of the other steps on the path in turn. . . .
The Middle Path is the shortest and most direct. You can come and argue with me on points of Dhamma, but I won't join in. Rather than argue back, I'd just offer some reflections for you to consider. Please understand what the Buddha taught: let go of everything. Let go with knowing and awareness. Without knowing and awareness, the letting go is no different than that of cows and water buffaloes. Without putting your heart into it, the letting go isn't correct. You let go because you understand conventional reality. This is non-attachment. The Buddha taught that in the beginning stages of Dhamma practice you should work very hard, develop things thoroughly and attach a lot. Attach to the Buddha. Attach to the Dhamma. Attach to the Sangha. Attach firmly and deeply. That's what the Buddha taught. Attach with sincerity and persistence and hold on tight. . . .
These days there are many people teaching vipassana and a wide range of meditation techniques. I'll say this: doing vipassana is not easy. We can't just jump straight into it. It won't work if it's not proceeding from a high standard of morality. Find out for yourself. Moral discipline and training precepts are necessary, because if our behaviour, actions and speech aren't impeccable we'll never be able to stand on our own two feet. Meditation without virtue is like trying to skip over an essential section of the Path. Similarly, occasionally you hear people say "You don't need to develop tranquillity. Skip over it and go straight into the insight meditation of vipassana". Sloppy people who like to cut corners say things like this. They say you don't have to bother with moral discipline. Upholding and refining your virtue is challenging, not just playing around. If we could skip over all the teachings on ethical behaviour, we'd have it pretty easy, wouldn't we? Whenever we'd encounter a difficulty, we just avoid it by skipping over it. Of course we'd all like to skip over the difficult bits. . . .
I'm telling you, it's great fun to closely observe how the mind works. I could happily talk about this one subject the whole day. When you get to know the ways of the mind, you'll see how this process functions and how it's kept going through being brainwashed by the mind's impurities. I see the mind as merely a single point. Psychological states are guests who come to visit this spot. Sometimes this person comes to call; sometimes that person pays a visit. They come to the visitor centre. Train the mind to watch and know them all with the eyes of alert awareness. This is how you care for your heart and mind. Whenever a visitor approaches you wave them away. If you forbid them to enter, where are they going to sit down? There's only one seat, and you're sitting on it. Spend the whole day in this one spot. This is the Buddha's firm and unshakeable awareness; it watches over and protects the mind. You're sitting right here. Since the moment you emerged from the womb, every visitor that's ever come to call has arrived right here. No matter how often they come, they always come to this same spot, right here. Knowing them all, the Buddha's awareness sits alone, firm and unshakeable. . . .
A number of talks by Ajahn Chah, including "The Key to Liberation" from which this extract is taken, are accessible at: www.abhayagiri.org/dhamma/ajahnchah.html