Buddha-Mettā UK

Buddha-Mettā UK
Puja (chanting and meditation) 5am & 7pm, Dana (meal offering) 10:30am.

06 September 2012

Bhikkhu Adventures: A Daylong Jaunt to Amaravati

Theravada Buddhist Sangha in the UK Meeting

Sangha Meeting at Amaravati

The morning was bright and blue and warm, an auspicious beginning to our journey West to the Deathless Realm, Amaravati. Luang Poh Sudhiro, Ajahn Surapon, Than B, and Poh Ken left early in the morning, leaving plenty of time for monking around - which is code for getting lost, side-tracked, or otherwise diverted, one of the many special abilities which this band of contemplatives has become notorious, or renowned, for.

Life is unexpected, and there is hardly a clearer expression of this than the life of a Bhikku.  But in England, there is a second runner up: the weather. By the time the ocher clad gang arrived at the Deathless Realm, the blue sky had been engulfed with a thick haze of fog accompanied by fierce winds. Apparently even the Deathless is not exempt from the climactic vicissitudes of this island.

The Sangha at Amaravati proved more welcoming than the weather: offering hot tea, chocolate, and warm greetings. Yum.

After introductions and a solid stint of sitting around, another specialty of Bhikkus, the monks went and paid their respects to Ajahn Amaro and, by extension, the entirety of the Sangha at Amaravati for keeping these precious teachings alive and well, lived in the careful manicuring of the lawns, the tidy arrangement of their robes, and their inner warmth.
The monks then joined for Dana and, following Dana in the afternoon, there was a meeting of the Sangha, including representatives from forty-five temples from throughout the UK with monks from India, Sri Lanka, Burma, America, Thailand, and England in attendance.

At the meeting, headed by Ajahn Khemadhammo, the Bhikkus discussed: the visa problems which many temples are struggling with, costing them not only excessive amounts of money through the expensive and laborious application process but also threatening their very existence, some of which are at risk of being abandoned because of a shortage of monks; the possibility of establishing a non-sectarian Buddhist center in London; what steps should be taken by the Theravadan community and monastic Sangha to protest the disrespectful use of Buddha images; and what Buddhists should do when taking an oath in the court of law (should they, as is a current legal option in the English court, break cups, a practice attributed to Chinese gangsters, not Buddhists (!), or say a Tibetan prayer, or place their hand over the Dhammapadda?) In addition to these discussions, new Sangha board members were elected.

Fittingly, by the time the meeting ended the mist had burnt away, the winds had been soothed, I suspect by our serene gathering, and a brief and beautiful English summer day graced the grounds of Amaravati. It was perfect weather for pictures, a choice hobby amongst Bhikkus who, so acutely aware of the intransient nature of life, attempt to capture every riveting moment of Bhikku-life on film and preserve it on their FaceBooks. In the warm oranges of the fading sun, the Bhikkus posed for group photos and then exchanged friendly bows and farewells.

Poh Ken, who had been patiently sitting outside basking in the weather and enjoying the company of the friendly Amaravati Bhikkus, then rejoined the Bhikkus who drove joyfully out into the blue and through the freshly threshed wheat fields studded with statuesque hay-stacks.

Another beautiful and ephemeral day. 
In gratitude to the innumerable acts of kindness and generosity that made the journey, meeting, and the Deathless possible,
The Wat Buddha Metta Sangha

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