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The Past and Future of the Order Part 2 - Order Weekend 1985

by Sangharakshita


SANGHARAKSHITA IN SEMINAR


Order Questions and Answers, National Order Weekend, June 1985

The Past and the Future of the Order - Part 2

Surata: Bhante has once again kindly agreed to do some questions and answers for us on the
same theme as the theme that we had, I think, on the last National Order Weekend on `The
Past and the Future of the Order'. I'll be pleased to see him back on the rostrum answering
questions again, so I'll hand straight over to him.

S: As I think I mentioned last time, I was going to deal with the left over questions on the
occasion of the convention. But after thinking the matter over I decided that I probably would
be having quite a lot of questions especially for the convention anyway, so that I perhaps
ought to dispose of these questions left over from the last Men's National Order Weekend this
weekend. So thus it comes about that I'm standing here at the rostrum again this evening,
perhaps somewhat unexpectedly. But I thought perhaps I'd better get these questions all out of
the way before proceeding on the convention to deal with a new batch. I think I've got about
twenty questions altogether. I'll deal with them as fully as I can within the time at our
disposal.

The first question reads;

`Kalyana mitrata is the whole of the spiritual life. Since it is so important, could you expand
on, and explain, the new guide-lines for kalyana mitras in this month's Shabda.'


I don't know how familiar people are with these guide-lines which appeared, of course, in the
April 1985 Shabda. I think the best thing I can do is to read them out and comment as I think
necessary. Actually I think that very little by way of expansion and explanation is necessary. I
think really that the guide-lines are quite clear in themselves for the most part, bearing in
mind that they are after all guide-lines. So let's see what they are.

First of all as regards the mitra, there's three guide-lines here. `Since the taking of two
kalyana mitras is seen as a step towards ordination, if the mitra has not yet asked for
ordination then he/she should be thinking of doing so in the long run.'

That seems pretty clear, doesn't it? Especially in view of the fact that more experienced,
more senior, Order members capable of acting as kalyana mitras are, let us say, comparatively
few. So if one is thinking of, so to speak, taking up an Order member's time in that way,
expecting that degree of commitment from an Order member, it should mean, it should imply,
that you as a mitra are very very serious about being a mitra. So serious in fact that you could
almost be expected to be thinking of ordination. So that in a way, practically speaking, asking
two Order members to be your kalyana mitras and beginning to think in terms of ordination,
more or less go hand in hand. So this means that if, say, a mitra approaches you and asks you
to be one of his two kalyana mitras, if that mitra is not already beginning to think about
ordination, perhaps you shouldn't consider his request that you should become his kalyana
mitra too seriously. Even though, of course, you should keep up with him whatever friendly
contact you can. Your more serious energies of that sort, or in that direction, should be
reserved, so to speak, for the mitra who is beginning to think in terms of ordination, or asking
for ordination.

Then two; `He/she should be on positive terms generally with Order members.'


This might seem to be a truism but a few mitras, a small minority of mitras, do seem to have
difficulties with Order members generally. Order members, so to speak, collectively.
Sometimes they've got, as we know, a thing about authority. So that doesn't create a very
favourable climate for asking two Order members to be your kalyana mitras.

And then thirdly; `He/she should have the beginnings of real friendship with both the
proposed kalyana mitras.'

It's not a question of the mitra seeing an admirable Order member, or two Order members,
from a distance, not having known them or spoken to them before and then approaching them
and asking them to be his kalyana mitras. No, there must be the beginnings of a friendship, an
ordinary friendship first. Something that you can work on, something that you can work with
before the mitra asks the Order members concerned to be his kalyana mitras. Again, that
should be clear.

And then the Order members; `Both should regularly attend chapter meetings.'

For a mitra, his kalyana mitras, if he has them, are his main link with the Order. If there's any
misunderstanding about the Order or about being an Order member that he wants to clear up
well it's to the kalyana mitras that he will go. And, as we've already seen, a mitra with
kalyana mitras is almost by definition already thinking in terms of ordination, or asking for
ordination. So, it's very important that inasmuch as for him those kalyana mitras are his links
with the Order, those Order members who are his kalyana mitras should themselves be in
good, I won't say contact, that's far too weak a word, but communication with the Order, with
their chapter. Even more than that, not in good communication with it even, because that
suggests a certain degree of externality, but very very much part and parcel of it, fully and
effectively. So both should regularly attend chapter meetings. Regularly attend chapter
meetings. So that if you, for any reason, are conscious that you are not regularly attending
chapter meetings, you don't really qualify as a kalyana mitra.

And similarly; `They should regularly attend both Regional and National Order Weekends.'

I'm afraid I'm still quite disappointed at the low turnout for both Regional and National Order
Weekends on the part of men Order members. The women Order members have got a rather
better record. There is so much that has been said on this already, I don't want to go over
ground that we've already covered before. But do please bear this in mind, that if you are not
a person who regularly attends chapter meetings, Regional and National Order Weekends,
well you don't really qualify as a kalyana mitra. You can't, in a sense, inasmuch as you are not
sufficiently part and parcel, not sufficiently effectively part and parcel of the Order, you can't,
as it were, act as a link between your mitra and the Order.

And then; `They should be in good and regular communication with Bhante`.

Well, again, that probably doesn't require explanation.

`They should generally be in good communication with other Order members.'

That is, other Order members individually. There shouldn't be any, as it were, unfinished
business between them and other Order members. Mitras very often, and very rightly, have a
very, as it were, idealistic view of the Order. They've been taught, as it were, to look up to the
Order in the sense that they know that the Order represents a very very high ideal. And mitras
can be deeply disappointed if they learn of disharmony between Order members. And it's

especially important therefore that a mitra's kalyana mitras should not be on bad or unfriendly
or not fully positive terms with any other Order member. So if an Order member is not on
good terms with a fellow Order member that's something that needs to be cleared up before
he is able to become a kalyana mitra.
`They should maintain their daily meditation practice.'

Otherwise, what inspiration would you have to give your mitra?
`They should be generally emotionally positive.'

Not subject to fits of gloominess and depression and all that sort of thing, otherwise again,
how can you keep your mitra inspired? It's rather unfortunate when, as occasionally happens,
one sees the Order member, even, looking for support, emotional support, to the mitra. Well
perhaps better than looking elsewhere but even that isn't by any means good enough. They
should be generally emotionally positive.

`They should be free from gross micchaditthis.'

Subtle micchaditthis will disappear only when you enter the transcendental path. But at least
Order members who are functioning as kalyana mitras should be free from gross
micchaditthis. Otherwise, far from correcting the mitra's micchaditthis, far from helping him
to clear up his mental confusion, they may even add to it or make it worse.
`They should both already have the beginnings of a good friendship with the mitra.'

That's already been covered.

Then striking a rather different note;

`A woman who is pregnant is not considered to be able to function as a kalyana mitra and
should ...

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