Living Dhamma- a personal note
We monks are very conscious that we receive a lot of support from lay people and have a privileged life in many respects. Provided our desires do not get a hold of us we always have enough to eat and pay the few expenses we have. We always have somewhere to live. You could also say we have very good job security.
All monks like to find ways, not to ‘pay back’ but put something good into the society that supports us. You might not have considered it this way, but this is often why temples manufacture amulets. It is not to make money or sell. Nearly all temples give the amulets away free of charge (if traders then go buying and selling them what can we do?) and it really is so that the monks feel they have something to give back that makes people feel good.
Of course, the original monks did not make amulets, they taught dhamma and tried to lead by example. This is their contribution to the society that supports them.
Once a year I make the special effort to make my own contribution, by arranging these dhamma talks, such as the Living Dhamma program at Wat Yannawa. In fact, a number of us ‘regulars’ at the WFB years ago agreed that there is not enough Dhamma in Bangkok in English, and that it is not as varied as it could be. In particular, the speakers tend to be ‘hit and run’ in so far as they do one talk and then disappear. The next speaker does not know what went of before, and so also just talks a generalized talk. Detailed dhamma is missing from this picture.
For a few years I tried to talk some of the bigger organizations into making more of an effort, and offered my services and support. To no avail – in the end you just have to do it yourself.
I asked around for venues we could use and eventually found Baan Aree who were just finishing a new Dhamma Hall building. A couple of us went to check it out and were given permission to use it, free of charge. It takes a lot of work to organize such a program and I have learned lessons along the way. I booked six sessions to lead Dhamma talks, but things were going so well we invited some other speakers to keep the program going. Even though the blog was only temporary for that program, with encouragement from many of you I have kept it running, and tried to arrange talks, lunches, movies etc.. according to what people want. This group is for all of us, and I am happy to help arrange whatever interests people.
This year I have again put myself forward – it is never easy trying to promote oneself. And like many monks I much prefer to stay in my room and get on with my own meditation and study rather than be out running around town or finding myself in the spotlight. It takes a huge amount of work – designing leaflets, finding printers, making leaflet holders, distributing, writing to newspapers and TV, setting up the web pages, emailing, booking the venue (more than 10 afternoons spent at Wat Yannawa already). I am motivated by the encouragement of our circle of friends, and by the simple fact there is no one else in Bangkok trying to facilitate Dhamma. I sincerely hope that everyone who might be interested in coming along gets to hear about the program one way or another, and rely in large part on all of you to help spread the word. We don’t want large numbers, but it would be nice to think that everyone who might be glad to join gets chance to hear about what we are doing.
The hope is that the topics I picked out will allow us to look at these teachings in more detail, and more methodically than is possible in one off talks. I shall provide references where I can and always base talks directly on the Pali suttas. You don’t need to be Buddhist – lots of our regulars are Christian, yoga practitioners, spiritual masseurs (Reiki etc..) Sri Sri Devotees – all kinds of people. Many come from a meditation angle, some are experienced, and some new, some are coming more from a philosophical curiosity. The more diversity the better. The more varied the opinions and views and discussions the better. The largest part of our intention is to enjoy it, and enjoy meeting each other. Since Baan Aree last year many of us have made good lasting friendships, and gotten to know a diversity of characters living in Bangkok. So do try to say hello to the people around you on Thursday evenings.
Beyond Living Dhamma
During the Rains period (July – Oct) there are no monks or nuns traveling for reasons of monastic code, which is why I am willing to put myself forward as one of the few English speaking Bhikkhus in Bangkok. After this series, if there remains encouragement and interest – that means if all of you are keen – we can invite a variety of monks, nuns and lay teachers to give talks. Many well known names and teachers pass through Bangkok regularly, but most of us do not get to hear about them until it is too late to arrange anything.. Again, it is a group effort. We all need to help trying to spread the word. I can find venues that are free or very cheap and littlebang is always there as a reference point. I am happy to find good meditation teachers and speakers, and book venues according to what people would like. I was thining of inviting some of the Thai business people who are meditators to talk on how they juggle meditation practice with their corporate commitments. But it is all up to you – just let me know.
So, hope to see you on Thursday evenings.
You can always get in touch via the contact page, or by comments boxes under all the blogs. If you are free, come along early as there are always little things to help with – meeting and greeting, juggling seats and meditation cushions, manning the desks, donation box, and registration forms. I can’t look after all these things on my own. More importantly, coming early gives you chance to meet myself and the other regular faces, which is always interesting.