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Buddhadharma : Fall 2011
15 fall 2 01 1 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly no Perfect Place Ajahn Sumedho bids farewell to the sangha at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, where he served as abbot for twentysix years. Whatever is happening—my departure or your own feelings or relationships or prob- lems of the monastery or problems of your family—it’s all part of our path, we learn from it. You’re never going to find a perfect monastery. I guarantee it. And when you think it’s perfect, well then you know it will change anyway. That’s ignorance, that’s avi jja. It’s a waste of time to keep pursuing the grass that’s greener on the other side of the fence, where there’s something better, some- thing I need. The samana life emphasizes this, with its standard of basic requisites. We’re not ask- ing for much. And if we do feel greedy—if we want nice robes and good food—we can be aware of that as a condition of the mind. The samana life is not for grasping, we’re not trying to make ourselves into perfect sama- nas; but it is a structure to reflect from. “I’m no longer living according to worldly aims and values”—the dhammas to be reflected upon are very helpful in reminding us so we actually can reflect on our own tendencies to want to impress the world, to help solve all the problems of society, of our families, of the sangha, of our friends, and so forth. To be aware of the wanting and not wanting. Part of the joy of this life is that as samanas our needs are basic—rag robes, alms food, root of a tree for shelter, fermented urine for medicine—and we always get better than that. This brings gratitude. The generos- ity that I have experienced here in England is overwhelming. I love this country. I feel grateful because I’ve been well provided for, well respected, people are tolerant, they don’t persecute us. We feel katannukatavedi, this gratitude which is the samana life—rather than “well, we should be treated equally to the Christians,” or this kind of thing. We can make problems about anything if we want, but as a samana you just need shelter for the night, food in the alms bowl, robes and med- icine. These reflections, this samanasanna, just keep reflecting on them. I’m not trying to intimidate you by implying that you shouldn’t feel however you feel; I’m encouraging you to look at that: wanting something that you don’t have and wanting things not to be the way they are, is like this. From Forest sangha newsletter, 2011 beneath all that muscle Through the practice of tonglen, Dorian Kon das learns that the muscular men at the gym are suffering too. This morning I elected to practice tonglen, a form of compassion meditation. I did so for those muscle-clad men at the gym whom I all too easily objectify for the physical beauty, the ease with which they seem to find com- panionship, the lustrous glow of ruddy health they radiate as if never a day of sadness had visited them. I am not them, I tell myself. I never have been them. That’s a life I never lived and never will. As a gay child grow- ing up in a very homophobic environment, sneered at, verbally humiliated, physically threatened and assaulted on more than one occasion, I know what it meant to feel “differ- ent.” I was a small sickly child of a withering build, my growth stunted by kidney disease from infancy. From an early age, I looked at other boys with a strange curiosity. They were built differently than me. They walked and talked differently. I sought in them some sign of acceptance, anything to belong. erichanson