As it is not possible to get everyone up here – we are three kilometres remote up a mountain – the celebration is held in a nearby school, and around 35 monks and 1,000-1,500 people come to the occasion, and this despite the fact that there are many retreats and so on at this time of year, which is school holidays in Malaysia.
In May of this year I went to Kuala Lumpur to meet with Ajahn Brahm and invite him to be the guest speaker at this year’s event, and despite the fact that he is giving a retreat at Mahindarama in Penang at the time, and therefore busy enough, in his usual generous way he agreed.
It isn’t the first time he has been to the Sanghika Dana, as he was here around 2004, when Ven. Katapuñño, the founder of Vivekavana Solitude Grove was still resident here, and there are photographs up in the dānasāla of his attendance.
Everybody is welcome to the event of course, but many will not be able to attend, and so for those I thought I would share one of Ajahn’s talks from Christmas 2009, when he spoke about the true meaning of the day.
As always Ajahn manages to get behind the facade and see the real meaning of these occasions, and open it up for all to participate in, and his talk is mainly about the need to widen our circle to include as many as possible.
He quotes the following poem:
They drew a circle which shut me out,
Heretic, rebel, someone to flout,
But love and I had the wit to win,
We drew a circle which kept them in.
This might have summed up his own position as it happens as this was shortly after the Perth bhikkhuni ordinations when he was so much under attack, and had been excluded from his own tradition. He summarises the theme with these wonderful words:
…the whole idea of spirituality is not to divide the world, but to unite the world…
If only we could make that a relaity.
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