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Buddhadharma : Spring 2010
61 spring 2 01 0 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly call a Buddhist conscience for the world. In traditional monas- ticism, Buddhist monastics are supposed to remain detached from the world, even though they’re interacting with laypeople to receive their alms and to preach the dhamma. But today’s monastics are going to have to be much more aware of what is happening in the world. As the gap between rich and poor widens, monastics are going to have to present a Buddhist per- spective on issues such as war, poverty, and ecological destruc- tion, reminding us that the primary values in human life should be compassion, loving-kindness, justice, and equity. Monastics will also provide greater opportunities to lay- people to live at the monasteries, to study the dhamma exten- sively and in depth. In traditional Buddhist culture, specialized learning in the dhamma is considered the preserve of the monastic community, and the monks preach to lay- people on a very simple and practical level. But now, because laypeople who embrace Buddhism have higher levels of education, they want to understand dhamma more extensively and deeply. Part of the responsi- bility of the monastic community will be to transmit high and deep dhamma, not only to other monastics but also to laypeople who have that interest. It will also be important for Buddhist monastics to relate with monastics and spiritual practitioners from other religious traditions. Finally, in the United States we have a melding of all of the main Buddhist traditions, which you don’t find in Asia, so there’s going to be much more interaction between monastics of these different traditions. Every year we have a monastic gathering where monks and nuns from all traditions who have taken full ordination come together to discuss areas of shared interest and concern. ayya tathaaloka: It’s hard for me to say how I would see monasticism evolve in the future, because I’m right in the midst of it. When people come here, they sense something. I see it in their eyes and in their demeanor. I hear it in their speech, and I see it expressed in their actions. I would have to say if you want to know what monasti- cism looks like in the West, then come and spend time with us. Do a temporary monas- tic retreat. See what it looks like. We are living the process of evolution. Monks from Abhayagiri Monastery going for alms in Ukiah, California. Replacing the altar cloths at Great Vow Zen Monastery. williamkandoJohnston(top)toudesign,sakrapeetoumeechukant,(bottom)greatvowzenmonastery