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The Next Twenty Years

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by Sangharakshita

... of authorizing in a purely formal way what I've called or what I've spoken of as the responsibility for conferring ordinations to be handed over only if within each and every Order Member, or at least within the senior, more experienced Order Members, there is a going for refuge sufficiently clear and strong to recognise the going for refuge quite unmistakably in others who do go for refuge or begin to go for refuge and who therefore are ready, as we say, to be ordained.

So in this way there'll be a sort of network. Each and every one of you really ought to be able to do what I've done. It really ought to be possible, especially in the case of those who've been ordained seven, eight, nine, ten years, it really ought to be possible for me, well, to sort of put you down in the jungles of Brazil or the deserts of Australia and say, come on, just start up the FWBO, just start up the Order. This really ought to be possible. I think in a few cases it is possible, but I think in principle, ideally, every single one of you should be able to do, in the course of your lifetime, more or less what I've done, with the additional advantage that you've got a model, you've got a spiritual movement, an Order already existing to which you belong. You are not as it were only included in the Mandala or occupying a position on the circumference of the Mandala of the Order, you are also a sense of an Order which grows, which develops from the Order as we have it now.

Each one of you should be, or should become, if not in the course of the next twenty years but hopefully shortly after, the centre of another `group', another spiritual community of Order Members, Members of the Western Buddhist Order. At present how many are you? Some 336? 7? Sorry! So you could say, well in the course of the last twenty years Sangharakshita, doing his best, has been able as it were to produce (using that expression) and not counting some who've dropped out, 337 Order Members.

I'm quite sure that there are some people sitting here who, if not in the course of the next twenty years certainly of the next forty years, if the world doesn't come to an end and they don't die prematurely, very likely at the end of their lives have far more disciples or have ordained you know together with other Order Members far more people than I have done.

You mustn't think, well, Bhante's ordained 337 plus, maybe in the course of our lifetime we'll ordain five or six or ten. Don't think like that! Think that we've got to grow, we've got to expand. There's no reason why some of you shouldn't in the course of your lives in association with other Order Members, perhaps with yourself presiding or taking the lead, ordain 500, or even 1,000 other people. At present our movement is very small, but I'm sure it can grow, it can spread. In the course of my lifetime I've seen so many changes which I could not have dreamt of, both for the better and for the worse.

When I, for instance, went to India, what was the position, what was the condition of Tibet? You couldn't get in, I couldn't get in to Tibet, in 1950, 1951, I wasn't allowed in, and what was the state of affairs in Tibet, a Buddhist state? It was, to use that term, a theocracy. Hundreds of monasteries, thousands of monasteries, tens of thousands of monks - without idealising the state of affairs then - virtually the whole population devoted to the Dharma, and the Dharma occupying a position of tremendous importance in their lives. But what is the position now? Well we all know sadly what is the position now. There's been that great, that tremendous change in the status of Tibet as a Buddhist country. We know the sort of changes that have taken place even in China during that period, during my lifetime, changes that have taken place in Vietnam, changes that have taken place in Cambodia. That's the debit side of the balance sheet.

But again when I arrived in India, how many Buddhists were there in India? There were just maybe not more than 100,000, mostly lurking in places like Sikkhim and Darjeeling district and Ladakh, just a few thousand scattered over the plains of India. Now we've got at least 4,000,000, some people say 20,000,000, Buddhists in India. Look at that tremendous change, due mainly to the efforts of Dr. Ambedkar as we all know. Who would have thought - I certainly would not have thought it - that there would have been this tremendous expansion of Buddhism in India during my lifetime, during just a few years of my lifetime, so I don't see it as beyond the bounds of possibility that there'll be a tremendous growth and expansion of the Order, not so much perhaps under my personal auspices, but under your auspices in the course of the next twenty years, thirty years, forty years. I'm quite sure that I haven't really done very much more than plant a few seeds, and it'll be up to all of you and those who come after you to water those seeds, to nurture the plants that spring up and to plant further seeds.

I'm quite sure that most of you if not all of you can do really much more than you think you can. I think some of you have discovered that recently, especially perhaps those who've done things like door-knocking and who've even perhaps gone to America and raised funds for Aid For India. Would you have thought, say five or six years ago, seven or eight years ago, that you could have done that? Probably not, but you've done it.

You've done it, and I'm sure that you can do a lot more, every single one of you.

So in a way we have to think big, not in a sort of megalomaniacal sort of way, but because we have faith in the Dharma and faith and confidence in our own going for refuge. And if we do have that there'll be a network of chapters spreading far and wide.

I think I can say, continuing just for a few more moments this question of handing over of responsibility, I think I can say that my work, or my share of the work, with regards to the Order and the Movement will be complete only when the Order is no longer dependent on me personally. It's no longer dependent on me personally for quite a lot of things. I no longer have to lead all the meditation classes, I no longer have to give all the lectures, as I did once upon a time, as Ananda well remembers! I no longer have to lead all the retreats. Quite a lot of things I no longer have to do, but there are still a lot of things which I do have to do, including the conferring of ordinations. But I shall consider that I have really done my work for the Movement and my work for the Dharma in the world in this lifetime when I am able to hand over all my responsibilities and just see the whole Movement, and the Order especially, functioning well and happily and effectively and usefully without me. And I hope to see this happening within the next twenty years.

You could say probably that that is my biggest hope, that in the course of the next twenty years the Movement and the Order in particular will become quite independent of me, so that it won't matter in a sense to the Movement and the Order whether I spend my time at Guhyaloka or Padmaloka, whether I write prose or whether I write poetry or whether I do absolutely nothing at all, whether I just put my feet up, assuming I've got somewhere to put them up and they're not too stiff, and well, if you like, just relax.

So, so much for self.

We come on now then to the Order and the Movement. Obviously, and it's obvious in view of what I've already said, obviously I hope that in the course of the next twenty years the Order and the Movement will grow. I can't say that I know that it will but, barring untoward circumstances, barring something like a major conflict, even a nuclear war, I'm confident that the Movement and the Order will grow and increase.

But I'd like to express a few hopes and preferences. I must admit, I must confess, I hope it's not a weakness, I would like to see more women Order Members. When I say more I don't mean just absolutely more, but proportionately more women Order Members. I don't know why we haven't got more, I've puzzled about this for years, I've lain awake at night wondering why we don't have more women Order Members, because we've got so many women in the Movement. Is it because they're naturally slower, is it because they're more thorough in their preparation, or more cautious, or more careful, or slow? I must say I've not really been able to come to any definite conclusion, I don't any longer try to. But I can't help wishing and hoping that in the course of the next twenty years the proportion of women in the Order throughout the world will increase.

I'd also like to indulge the hope that we have more anagarikas and more anagarikaas(?) for various reasons. First of all I think that if one can as it were subsume and sublimate one's sexual feelings and live a genuinely celibate life, a naturally, happily celibate life, that is really best. And also, and I have expressed this view or this thought before, that if we do have men and women anagarikas - anagarikas and anagarikaas (?) they will be able as it were I hope to hold together a little more closely the two wings of the Order.

We do know, we have found from experience that single sex communities, single sex retreats, single sex right livelihood situations, are excellent things, are conducive to growth and development. But we don't want these two so to speak not exactly separate but distinct wings of the Order, the Dharmacari and the Dharmacarini wings, drifting too far apart. We must be very careful to keep them together at the same time because we do, after all, constitute one Order. And I'm quite sure that if we have a sufficient number of anagarikas and anagarikaas and especially if, if I may say so, they're a little on the elderly side, mature, above let us say the emotional ...

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