e w s M a r c h 2 0 0 4
Dear Friends in the Dhamma,
full moon day of March 5th marks one of the three main Buddhist festivals
called Magha Puja, which commemorates the spontaneous assembly
of 1,250 enlightened monks in the presence of the Buddha. At this
gathering, the Buddha conferred the title of 'Chief Disciples' on Venerables
Sariputta and Moggallana. Magha Puja therefore celebrates
Sangha, an act of harmony, a gathering together; it was also then that the
Buddha outlined the Ovada Patimokkha, the basis for the monastic
training rules, which had yet to be layed down in detail.
is a (liberal) translation of the Ovada Patimokkha:
the ultimate asceticism.
the supreme goal.
renunciate should not
to do evil,
that which is good;
is the Way
the Awakened Ones.
insulting, not harming,
respect for the training,
in eating and contentment
one's dwelling place,
to mindful intent:
is the teaching of the Buddha.
found myself feeling very moved and uplifted by the powerful presence of
Sangha during my recent visit to Thailand, particularly during Ajahn
Chah's 12th anniversary gathering. At Wat Nong Pah Pong, his main
monastery in Ubon province, large numbers of monks and laypeople had been
arriving for several days, during which there was a programme of chanting,
meditation and Dhamma talks. By the final day - which concluded with a
grand procession around the memorial stupa - there were an estimated 1,000
monks and novices and 10,000 white-robed lay devotees in an atmosphere of
serene devotion. It's a worthy tribute to Ajahn Chah's wisdom and
compassion - and the emphasis he gave to Sangha - that the community of his
disciples continues to grow in such strength and harmony such a long time
after his decease.
important event, and wonderful manifestation of devotion and generosity, was
the Buddha-casting ceremony. The style of the new Buddha image
to be offered to Santacittarama is based on the beautiful and famous
'Teaching Buddha' of Sarnath (see photo below). The original is now
housed at the museum of the 'Deer Park at Isipatana' at Sarnath in NE India,
the actual site of the First Discourse (Dhammacakkasutta) which the
image represents, with its Dhamma wheel, deer and first five disciples shown
before the throne. It comes from the 'golden age' of Buddhist art, the
Gupta period of around the 5th century, and is made of reddish sandstone.
The version being made for Santacittarama will be of bronze and stand about
2 metres high. The finishing work will take several months so we are
not expecting it to arrive until later this year.
the meantime our winter retreat continues very peacefully and
harmoniously. This is a very precious time for us and we are much
appreciating the support that is being offered, particularly by those who
have been braving the wintry conditions to come and bring us life-sustaining
food! The resident community presently consists of 5 bhikkhus (Ajahns
Chandapalo, Jutindharo, Khantiko, Sawaeng and Tan Savako), one novice
(Samanera Mahapanyo), one nun (Maechee Amara), a new anagarika (Francesco)
and a candidate called Dino. Later on in March myself and Ajahn
Khantiko will be going to Amaravati monastery in the UK for a meeting of
senior monks, and a programme of activities begins shortly after our return.
Please note that the retreat does not finish until the end of March.
year we are very fortunate to be having Ajahn Sumedho coming to teach
a retreat over the Easter weekend among the spectacular surroundings of
Abruzzo's National Park. For details please see the programme below.
The retreat is being organized as usual by the 'A.Me.Co', and they would
appreciate some help for preparing the retreat house on April 9th, beginning
in the morning, and with help in transporting people from the nearest
railway station at Cassino. Also, if anybody is passing in the
vicinity of Santacittarama on the way to the retreat, and could help
transporting people and things, this would be very helpful.
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