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The Next Twenty Years

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by Sangharakshita

... a few people within the Movement, within the Order, who are able to edit seminars quite capably, quite successfully, and I really do hope that in the course of the next twenty years - that is certainly one of my big hopes - they will be able themselves to edit, to get published, the bulk of the seminar transcripts and as I said also the earlier lectures.

I must also confess that I wouldn't mind being able to devote some of my time to writing poetry. We have of course in the Movement quite a few - what do we call them? Poets manqués, I think they're called - they don't get time you know to write poetry, they're so busy doing other things, very worthy things, but poetry is one of those things, it just, it tends to get squeezed out. So I certainly wouldn't mind being able to spend some of my old age, even as I spent quite a part of my youth, writing the poems which come to me when I'm quiet and undisturbed.

And I would very much like of course to be able to carry on my literary work at least from time to time at Guhyaloka. I'd very much like to spend more and more time at Guhyaloka, at least some months of the year. I shall of course be doing that this year itself, I hope to be able to spend four months there, and while I'm there, as well as taking part in the men's ordination retreat, I very much hope to be able to write a few more chapters of my memoirs.

Perhaps I should mention something here which might clear up a certain possible confusion. When I speak of as it were transferring myself for part of the year to Guhyaloka, I don't mean that I shall take my office with me. That is almost the last of my intentions. I shall take - in fact I've already taken - a few books, a few? Many more - five or six hundred, and I hope to take just a few more, you know, have a sort of just a modest collection of just a thousand or so books there! Which I need in connection with my literary work. But I do not intend to take - I'm sure some of you don't even know of their existence - all those massive piles, filing cabinets, records - I don't mean LP records! You know, archives, that we're accumulating at Padmaloka and which are very useful and necessary in connection with the running of the Movement. I don't intend taking all of those with me. They will remain at Padmaloka, and of course Padmaloka is where I shall be staying whenever I happen to be in England which for quite a few years I'm afraid will be the greater part rather than the lesser part of the year.

And in this connection I would also like to say that in the course of the years we've built up and especially Subhuti has helped to build up at Padmaloka a quite, or at least a reasonably efficient infrastructure, so to speak, upon which the successful running of the Movement including the Order, as a Movement really depends. So even supposing I do withdraw from all as it were active participation in the running of the Movement, that infrastructure based at Padmaloka will certainly have to continue and will of course need to be supported. Though I see a sort of picture emerging in the course of the next few years all being well and if I'm spared of myself spending perhaps four or five months of the year at Guhyaloka engaged in literary work and the rest of the year either at Padmaloka or touring around and visiting Centres in Britain and elsewhere. And I hope that in the course of the next twenty years, certainly by the time we're sort of half way through the next twenty years, I shall be spending perhaps rather more time at Guhyaloka than at Padmaloka and engaging myself more and more, even more and more deeply, in literary work.

But I've talked of handing over responsibilities. So you might be rather wondering, well what exactly are those responsibilities. I'm not going to give you a sort of detailed list (I probably could do so). I'm going to just speak about the most important of my present responsibilities as I see them, or rather as I see it.

I think my most important responsibility at the moment and one which I've only in a sense just begun to share with a few senior Order Members is that of conferring ordination, Dharmacari and Dharmacarini ordination, and in that way accepting people into the Western Buddhist Order or Trailokya Buddha Maha Sangha.

So in this connection the question arises, when I hand over the responsibility for conferring ordinations, what exactly is it that is handed over? I don't think I shall be giving anybody a certificate. I don't think I shall be giving anybody a title. So what shall I be giving them? Will I even be giving them anything in the literal sense? So just let us try to look at say what actually happens. Let's as it were get down to fundamentals, to basics. After all, we are an Order. After all, we are Buddhists, that is to say, we are people, we are individuals, we are human beings who Go For Refuge. We Go For Refuge to the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. And to begin with, so far as our own Movement is concerned, there was only myself. There was myself Going For Refuge to the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.

And gradually other people came along. Other people practised meditation. Other people studied the Dharma. Other people started communicating with one another.

Other people started going on retreat. Other people started becoming friends with me, got to know me. So what happened. I felt that I was Going For Refuge. And after a while I started to think, this person, that person, this man, that woman, they are actually Going For Refuge, even as I am Going For Refuge. We are Going For Refuge. So I ordained them. I ordained them, recognising that they were Going For Refuge in the way that I Went For Refuge. They were as it were joining in with me. They were going in the same direction that I was going in. If you like, to change the figure of speech, they were dancing in the same way that I was dancing. Through their association with me they learned to dance in that particular way and we were then dancing together, two of us, three of us, to begin with ten, twelve of us, and later of course hundreds.

But this is what happens. Basically, I went for refuge, others went for refuge. I saw that they were going for refuge in the way that I was going for refuge, so I recognised that and that recognition was their ordination into the Western Buddhist Order.

But when I speak of handing over my responsibilities for conferring ordination, what am I speaking of? What am I thinking of? What am I seeing as happening? I am seeing you as it were going for refuge. You of course go for refuge even as I go for refuge. We go for refuge in the same sort of way in the sense that we all take going for refuge as the most central and essential act, the characteristic act, of the Buddhist life.

We go for refuge, all of us, in that sort of way. So you go for refuge in that sort of way and then of course you come into contact with people, even as I came into contact with people, and have been coming into contact with people and do come into contact with people, you come into contact with people. Perhaps you teach them meditation. You discuss the Dharma. You go with them on retreat. You communicate with them. You develop spiritual friendship. And after a while it dawns upon you that these people, or this person, this man, that woman, they are going for refuge even as I go for refuge, and you feel, let them be ordained.

Now sometimes people aren't very clear or very sure whether someone is as we say `ready for ordination', and sometimes there's even a difference of opinion as between Order Members. So why is that? Well it's difficult to know other people, to begin with. It's very difficult to know other people and where they are at, though it isn't impossible, by any means. But if you are unsure whether someone is, so to speak, `ready for ordination' or is in fact going for refuge or beginning to go for refuge, if you're unsure about that, you should ask yourself, how sure am I about my own going for refuge. If that is very clear, if that is very strong, if that is unmistakable, sure about that, certain about that, convinced of that, that you yourself do go for refuge, that you yourself are going for refuge, it won't be so very difficult for you to know whether that going for refuge is as it were resonated in another person with whom you are in regular contact and whom you know well. If you're a relative stranger that's another matter. You can hardly offer an opinion unless you are a very insightful person indeed.

So this is what I see happening, that you as it were - ideally each and every one of you - will be in the position that I was in when the Order was founded, when the Order was started. You will be recognising that other people do in fact go for refuge or are beginning to go for refuge, just as I recognised it in the earlier days and have been recognising it ever since. And when you are able to do that then there will be as it were a handing over of responsibility for ordination without anything that is handed over at all.

It won't be a question of me giving it to you because you will have it already, you will have developed it already by virtue of your own going for refuge, because your own going for refuge is strong, powerful, clear, direct, unambiguous, you will be able to recognise whether others go for refuge or do not.

And when a sufficient number of you as it were together recognise that then you will be in the position of conferring ordination into the Western Buddhist Order. That's the principle. I haven't as yet worked out so to speak the mechanics of it. But I hope that that will be possible. I hope it will be possible for me to work out the mechanics of it fairly soon. But it's not just a question of organisation, it's not just a question ...

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