Jul 8, 2007

We Have Returned

No postings this last three weeks because I've been travelling, with Samenera Paramito, on a teaching trip to Peterborough and Ottawa. We also took the opportunity to visit Tisarana Monastery for a few days, that is the new establishment near Ottawa of which Ajahn Viradhammo is abbot. Very heartening to see how well it is getting off the ground.

1 comment:

Glennfitz said...

"Our vision is that there will be considerable lay participation in Tisarana."

That's a laudable vision, Punnadhammo.

My own first-hand experience of the Arrow River Hermitage greatly prejudices me toward the perception that the Tisaranna Hermitage will serve as an excellent setting for meditation sessions.

So let's hope that the resident "abbot" will be able to spend more time establishing roots in the community rather than cavorting abroad, in places like Toronto, with the religious hierarchy and the convention meetings of the established intellectual community.

Ditto the engagements of the Ajahn, whose efforts will remain far more meaningfully directed toward the challenge of discussions and provocative questions raised by local bloggers (as opposed to the summary dismissal of locals views whom don’t quite share your own views).

After all, isn’t meaningful participation in the local community the only thing which can really build a lay following?

Generally speaking, people live in a real world of direct and immediately local interactions rather than a world of esoteric Buddhist theory relevant only to the institutional ,”head office,” (in whatever form it exists) in places like Vancouver or Toronto. There’s no doubt that local interaction is the way to go.

Isn’t it a rather safe assumption that in the absence of growing connections and interactions with the local communities, the forest tradition will largely remain a marginal presence which reflects the ethnic cultural orientation of Thai expatriates?

But ah…sigh…isn’t it also true that the path of connecting a hermitage with the local community is a lot more demanding than those adventurous excursions in service of one’s religious companions. In the daunting challenge of participation in the community looms the challenge of actually having to mix with folk who might challenge your own set of religious values as well as your ability to strike the right balance between your own and other’s conflicting opinions.

On the other hand, if the Thai forest tradition is generally just not up to such challenge, then in the long term, it’s not going anywhere in this society.

And that result would truly rate as a sad outcome because the Thai forest tradition, however filtered by our own cultural traditions, has a lot to offer this country.

Glenn Fitzgerald,

Thunder Bay

(email: rogue_pundit@shaw.ca