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Comments and reflections on the Vinaya Training Course 2024

Comments and reflections on the Vinaya Training Course 2024

A group photo of participants in the Vinaya course.

After the two-week Vinaya Training Course in the winter of 2024, some monastics who participated shared their thoughts.

I saw the purpose of this course in a much bigger context: so that the Dharma will be sustained forever. Multiple times we have discussed how the precepts and the sangha help the Dharma to be sustained and to spread. Now I am witnessing it happen in real time.

Sravasti Abbey is making an incredible contribution in the world. It is easy to see this from the talks we post online, the in-person events we host, and how many people participate in SAFE. But now I better appreciate the important and significant contribution of the sangha. The Abbey is a place where people can come to explore their monastic aspirations. Now people can receive ordination here, even if a few train and live in community elsewhere.

In this past year, the contribution to the global sangha has included the bhiksuni varsa in India and the translations of Vinaya texts that the Abbey has published. In addition, we have the Exploring Monastic Life program and monastic training programs that help the sangha to grow in virtue. We also have connections with Chinese bhiksunis and vinaya masters as well as with our Tibetan teachers. In this way, the Abbey can be a conduit for their rich knowledge and experience to be passed to the Western world.

Hearing the stories of other monastics, including the senior monastics at the Abbey, shows me how easy my life is. I have had access to the Dharma in my own country and in my native language! When I lived in Atlanta, I could reach authentic Dharma teachers in a single bus ride, whereas our senior teachers had to travel to Asia and adapt to other cultures and languages.

Why is my current situation so easy? Because of those who have come before me, for thousands of years. They have traveled great distances, even at the risk of and the cost of their lives. They have persevered through difficult situations, illness, language barriers, wars, and other obstacles. They had the fortitude to carry on when their own teachers passed away or when society opposed what they were doing. This includes our senior nuns as well as the bhiksunis who carried the lineage from one country to another. They worked so hard to quickly establish a thriving bhiksuni community that is now open to others to join.

I learned so much during this course and for the first time, I see how there is no separation between Vinaya and Dharma—Vinaya is Dharma.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to live as a monastic and to be part of this wonderful community. The wisdom and protection afforded by the precepts is an incredible privilege and this course helped me better appreciate my responsibilities as a monastic.

Sravasti Abbey Monastics

The monastics of Sravasti Abbey endeavor to live generously through dedicating their lives to the Buddha's teachings, practicing them earnestly, and offering them to others. They live simply, as the Buddha did, and offer a model for society at large, showing that ethical discipline contributes to a morally grounded society. Through actively developing their own qualities of loving-kindness, compassion, and wisdom, the monastics aspire to make Sravasti Abbey a beacon for peace in our conflict-torn world. Learn more about monastic life here...

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