The following inspiring open letter is being reprinted here through the kindness af Ayya Tathāloka
Dear friends in Dhamma,
In this time in which many children of all ages are dreaming of new toys, twinkling lights, bright stars; commercial extravaganzas mixed with silent nights and holiness…I dare to dream another dream.
Today I received two letters:
One letter ended with an exerpt from Jack Kornfield’s book Wise Heart, in which he says:
“What we repeatedly visualize changes our body and consciousness.”
The second letter was from Susan Pembroke, long term student of the late Ayya Khema and now meditation teacher in her tradition; founder of the Alliance for Bhikkhunis.
At the end of her letter, Susan writes of her dream in which there are as many bhikkhunis in the world of Theravada Buddhism as bhikkhus. I replied to her that i do not dream of as many, but rather of a world in which bhikkhunis are just as treasured as and just as well supported as their bhikkhu brothers, and in which we have as many great leading bhikkhuni teachers, shining for the benefit of the world as their bhikkhu peers. A world in which bhikkhus delight in uplifting and supporting their bhikkhuni sisters, mothers, and daughters, just as much as bhikkhunis delight in uplifting and supporting their bhikkhu brothers, fathers, sons… A world in which neither great leading laymen and laywomen teachers nor the men and women inspired to and living the monastic life are devalued by one another; but rather live in mutual appreciation and mutual upliftment – looking upon one another with eyes and heart of loving kindness.
Someone might say that we should go beyond dreaming, into the world of The Real. And i agree. And yet, i have learned from the Blessed One – the Buddha – the great power of the mind; its leading power, and transformative power. Both the turning of the Wheel of Samsara and the turning of the Dhamma Wheel happen based upon the very same principle; that of cause and effect. And it is our intention and our thought that is the primary causal kamma which determines our experience of this Real World.
If we are going to make anything in our minds; let us make well.
Let us cultivate and grow and harvest calm and peace, joy and equanimity, and both all the levels of the courses of wholesome intentions, as well as the thoughts, words and actions that are the stepping stones of each one of our Paths.
Each thought, each vision, each word so matters. With the power to be garbage, or to be nothing, or to be happy; to be peaceful, to purify our hearts, to love one another; to live the Path through and through in each moment of our lives. So if there is to be any becoming at all; lets make it a wholesome becoming, and a becoming liberated, becoming free.
So, you might say that dreaming is fine; but what of the pragmatics?
(I will repeat this part now of my talk given at our Aranya Bodhi Hermitage Kathina this last month, on request.)
There are those who share the wish and dream to see as many great enlightened women bhikkhuni teachers blessing our great land and our earth as there is a call and a wish for. And it is true that just this wish alone – without the practical actions to follow up to make this true – will not suffice.
The wish and the intention must be a proactive one. If you wish to see such; you must be willing to do the groundwork of the path to make it happen. This means that not only supportive thoughts and intentions, but applied intentions – applied in words and applied in bodily acts – will be what makes this happen. This means that there must be a critical mass of people willing to set the dream into motion; that is to walk their talk – to live the dream – all the way through to its very real embodiment and very real fulfillment.
If it were farming; this would mean the willingness to do what it takes to cultivate through to harvest in all the stages: to prepare the ground, to give fertilizer, to plant the seeds, to give water, remove weeds, look out for any harm… through to reaping the fruit. If this were growing human children, it means giving loving care with regards to the heart, food and drink, medicine, clothing, shelter, education… And growing up monastics and a whole field of monastic teachers in the field of the Sangha – compared by the Buddha to the unsurpassed field of merit for the world – is not so different:
Loving care, food and water, shelter, robes, medicine, training in Dhamma
and Discipline… not so very different than for other human beings — only
generally needing much much less of the physical things. But they are still
needed; still critically important. The provision of these physical things
on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis; especially lodging, medicine and
food, make the difference of whether it can really happen or not.
There are many women in this country who have the aspiration to go forth into monastic life; the aspiration to live the Holy Life – as lived by the arahants and their bhikkhu peers – to its fullest. If the requisite support is there; their dream will become a lived reality.
So, i would encourage each and every one of you, dear friends, both known and unknown, who may be reading this letter; to know your dream, to make it conscious – and if it is a wholesome one – for the benefit of oneself and for the world – then to live it. Do what needs to be done to fully live your Path. Live it yourself and support others in living what you wish to see in the world. Such that your dream does not remain pumkin pie or sugar plum faries in the sky, but becomes your lived reality.
My Anumodana Sadhu! and great apprecation from all of our fledgling Bhikkhuni Sangha to all of you who are and have been so proactive, so supportive and so engaged in fully cultivating the causal conditions for the full living of this dream.
At the end of many of the Buddha’s teachings as recorded in the Suttas to friends and family, both young and old; when someone has completely fulfilled the Path, this is an essential part of their victory verse:
“I have done what needed to be done.”
Wishing you well, with jaya mangala – victory blessings 🙂
Mind is the forerunner of all states:
Mind is chief, mind-made are they;
If one speaks or acts with a defiled mind,
Suffering follows like wheels of a cart.
Mind is the forerunner of all states:
Mind is chief; mind-made are they;
If one speaks or acts with a pure mind,
Happiness follows like a shadow that never leaves.
–The Buddha, Dhammapada 1-2