NOVAYANA

Our Futures

The Sangha of Buddhist monks is the oldest functioning "institution" on earth. In this tradition, men have discovered how to live together, successfully, in community, for 2500 years (I know this may sound strange, the men part, but it is true!). They have continued to be an inspiration for community living in spite of wars, invasions, climate changes, politics, persecutions, famines, mad kings, plagues, religious schisms, and big egos! The Order knows about sustainability.

And, the Sangha of Buddhist nuns knows about re-generation – the full ordination process for nuns has been revived in recent decades, and nunneries have been established in many places. The nuns are also re-claiming their traditions from the male-chauvinism of the monks.

What is the "secret" of successful community? How have the Buddhist Sangha, with all the ups and downs of history, continued to live in vibrant communities for 2500 years? There are, of course, many profound dimensions to this question.

Let’s begin by considering the most obvious factor, which is related to ethical principles and codes of behaviour.

Every full moon and new moon members of the community reflect on their behaviours during the previous two weeks. They are mindful of "breaking" the rules. They confess transgressions and make effort not to do these things again. More importantly, they reflect deeply upon the consequences of unwholesome behaviour, conversations and thoughts. They develop mindfulness of how they have hurt others. They apologise. They make effort to repair relationships (with people, animals and the environment). They make effort not to hurt others in the future.

Do all monks and nuns (and monasteries) manage to accomplish this? Of course not. But, the ethical principles remain unchanged, as an inspiration and aspiration for community living. The Precepts are (or should be) reviewed each day individually. Twice per month, confession of faults is performed in the community, and effort is made to restore harmony in the Sangha.

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What are these major principles, that we could also use?

There are five main ones.

Perhaps you would like to say this for yourself, and also share with your family and friends:-

I promise, and will make the great effort, to live my life…

    developing mindfulness of the consequences of violence and killing

I promise, and will make the great effort, to live my life…

    developing mindfulness of the consequences of stealing

I promise, and will make the great effort, to live my life…

    developing mindfulness of the consequences of greed and materialism 

        and abusive sexual energies

I promise, and will make the great effort, to live my life…

    developing mindfulness of the consequences of lying, slander and gossip

I promise, and will make the great effort, to live my life…

    developing mindfulness of the consequences on consciousness, of food

        and drugs & alcohol.

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Such a life, is at times, challenging but not difficult. Living in accordance with these principles brings us into the flow and support of life. Really, an ethical life is easier, more joyful, abundant and sustainable. Period!

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So, when we understand the ethical factors of sustainability in community, we can also understand that there is no future for a family, a community, a state, a country, a continent, a planet, if we accept political and religious leaders who advocate…

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By contrast, perhaps there will be a future for humanity and our planet when we all engage in…

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Unconscious impulses

Did you know that it is very easy to manipulate people into making a choice that is not "naturally" their own? Did you know that once a manipulated decision has been made, people will defend and make up arguments to support that choice? People do so, even when that choice is not "natural" to them, and when it is unethical and destructive. Did you know this? Please watch and study this TED Talk.  Do you really know why you do what you do? It is very important. There are subtitles.

It is vitally important that we become aware of what we do not know. Are we aware of how we have been influenced or manipulated by marketing, by religious leaders, by friends, by political leaders, by family, by WhatApp messages? and so on and on! 

To repeat: It is vitally important that we become aware of what we do not know about ourselves. This is the teaching of the Buddha – to become liberated from unconscious impulses. This is a second reason why the Order has remained an inspiration for human values throughout 2500 years – clarity about emotions and clarity of mind.

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Here is a challenge and a prayer…

…may you and I, together, examine with profound openness, heartfulness and clarity, the consequences of all our decisions; may we together make wise choices based on what we know about proven and sustainable community behaviour; may we be of service to all sentient beings.

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With love and good wishes,

Jangchub

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MAY WHAT YOU WISH FOR OTHERS ALSO COME TRUE FOR YOU

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