Ajahn Amaro and other Senior Elders from our communities were rather unexpectedly invited to Bangkok in late July to receive new Royal Titles from his Royal Highness King Vajiralongkorn, the King of Thailand. Ajahn Amaro received a new name, Tan Chao Khun Rajbudhivorakhun (Rājābuddhivaraguṇa).
On the same occasion, Luang Por Sumedho, our founding teacher, was given the Royal Title Tan Chao Khun Thepñānaviteht (Devañāṇavidesa); Ajahn Pasanno received the Royal Title Tan Chao Khun Rajbodhiviteht (Rājābodhividesa) and Ajahn Jayasāro was honoured with the Royal Title Tan Chao Khun Rajpacharamanit (Rājāvajiramanita).
To express our appreciation for this honour, we will be holding a “Mudita Ceremony” on Saturday August 31 in the Amaravati temple, starting at 2 pm. Note that the meditation workshop will take place in the sālā on this afternoon.
After the ceremonies, Ajahn Amaro travelled to Ubon, where it all started, to express appreciation to the local supporters there. Luang Por Liem, the Abbott of Wat Pah Pong, offered this reflection to Phra Racha Buddhivoraguna (Tan Ajahn Amaro) and Phra Racha Phacharamanit (Tan Ajahn Jayasāro) and Assembly at Wat Nong Pah Pong on 30 July 2019.
We have now played our part in practising and preserving the tradition of expressing sammagarava during this rains retreat. You have received the honour of recognition by the King for your contribution to the Buddha’s Sāsana and to society, through your kind and generous effort towards supporting others, inspired by the Buddha’s goodwill towards all beings. So this is of great benefit. Creating benefit gives us a feeling of moving towards the highest quality attainable for a human. In kindness we are following the footsteps of the Buddha, in the way of his noble disciples who see the harm and danger in the round of rebirth. Our efforts give us a feeling of satisfaction as they cause the Sāsana to increase in its numbers, and every member has kindness. To practise kindness we need to have an attitude of sacrifice, willing to endure difficulties and suffering. Sacrifice is an important virtue for all of us, so we give importance to it.
As leaders of society, we are recognised for the benefit that we create for our fellow beings, who are our relatives, subject as we are to nature’s laws of birth, aging and death. Understanding that we are connected as relatives, we wish to help and support each other, which we do in an appropriate way to our status as ordained Sangha. This means that we have concern for beings of the world whose view is still obstructed, and who require direction for the path of practice. So we give instruction as opportunities allow, and this requires sacrifice as it demands that we live in the manner of the noble ones who, like the Buddha, have overcome defilements of heart and attained to purity.
The Buddha’s heart is pure, and he experiences ease. Free from heat and irritation he lives in secluded peace. When the Buddha attained this state of freedom for himself, in compassion he thought of other worldly beings still living in suffering. It occurred to him that not all beings are the same, and he compared them to four kinds of lotus flowers, growing in the water:
Ugghaṭitaññū – At the surface, just waiting for the sun’s rays to blossom
Vipacitaññū – Just below the surface, soon to break through and blossom
Neyya – Well below the surface, but with time and effort able to break through
Pataparama – Failing to reach the surface before dying in the water
We are the same, if we come into contact with the teachings, the noble attainments are available to us if we practice with diligence. From that point on the Buddha tirelessly taught and trained the beings of the world, establishing the Sangha as those to continue to convey his teachings. As Sangha, we need to have an attitude like that of the great earth, willing to accept all that is poured, thrown and dropped onto its surface, without feelings of preference. With the kindness of mettādhamma we do not feel disheartened or discouraged, nor do we take our successes and failures personally. We act with fairness and an understanding of Dhamma, and this enables us to act with consistency. We don’t lose heart even when our bodies suffer, changing as they are according to the laws of nature. We see this simply as saccadhamma, nothing else but the truth of natural phenomena manifesting their true nature. Viewing things in this way takes away our worries, and allows us to live well, with nothing but feelings of kindness to all beings.
Human beings in the world are of no small number, eight billion or more. Every human is physically simply elements of earth, water, fire and wind, and this is a state of suffering. The Buddha, however, explained that there is something of great value within that suffering. He taught that dukkha should be understood, and if it is properly understood, that right view will free us from suffering, in the same way that light removes darkness. Each of us is the same. If we focus our mindfulness on our bodies we will see that there is nothing substantial within a human being. Only elements, and nothing which we can control or cling to. If we see those elements as simply changing according to nature then this relieves our worries. We experience the pure natural state we call upekkhādhamma. This state is pure and clean like water with no impurities. It is free from obstructions. The heart with no attachments is called sugato, one with perfected happiness. This perfection should be aspired to, but it is not a material treasure of the world. It is the true, pure and radiant state of the heart – the pabhāsara citta, beyond good and evil, and free from happiness and suffering. Happiness and suffering are states of imperfection, we cannot have one without the other. The Buddha taught that these states are false and illusory. Heat is relieved by coolness, and darkness gives way to the light. The Buddha gave us these teachings – we should reflect on them.
Now, as we have had the ability and opportunity to create benefit, I feel that we have made our mark. We have left an imprint on the world, not a footprint on the ground but an imprint made by our actions, which the world can perceive. It will help guide and inspire them to study and adapt themselves in accordance with the truth, and harm in the world will decrease. Selfishness and negligence will decrease, and beings of the world will learn to depend upon each other, living in appreciative awareness of their debt of gratitude toward each other.
Accordingly, though we are based in different locations, we should continue to work and help each other, as a tribute to the Buddha and his great loving kindness, effort and sacrifice which led to the opportunity we have now. We should continue to create benefit, and society will increase in peace as a result. We spread the Sāsana not to impose our religion or beliefs but to share and increase the benefit, before our own bodies fail and our lives come to an end.
I also have my role to play and experience the rise and fall of worldly dhammas, one can’t prevent either the praise and recognition, or the criticism and obstacles. But if one has a solid basis then one doesn’t consider them as amounting to anything, simply as ordinary things arising according to causes, and also passing away, just like that – tathātā. If you think this way, then you can play your role with a sense of moderation and timing, and with respect to the people, the society and the country where you are located. I remained based here for the benefit of the Sangha, while my bodily khandha still allows.
Anumodanā in your service to the wider community now and into the future. May your bodies be strong and healthy. May you have friends wherever you go, and may your hearts abide in the peaceful happiness of the Dhamma of liberation.