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Bhikkhu Pesala is the author of this web site and the Spiritual Director of the Association for Insight Meditation, which he set up in 1995 with the help of Christine Fitzmaurice and David Glendinning.
His first contact with Buddhism came through meeting two meditators who had practised the U Ba Khin meditation method with Sri Goenka in India. After an intensive ten-day retreat with Mr John Coleman, the author of »» “A Quiet Mind,” he resolved to dedicate his life to the practice of insight meditation .
In 1976 he moved to Birmingham as the lay attendant of Sayādaw U Rewata Dhamma. For the next three years he drove the Sayādaw all over the country to visit his supporters and helped with cooking for vipassanā retreats and other daily chores. He studied the Visuddhimagga Sīlakkhandha and Abhidhammatthasaṅgaha with the Sayādaw.
He ordained in 1979 with Venerable Mahāsi Sayādaw as his preceptor, and Chanmyay Sayādaw U Janaka as the examiner. Later the same year, he went to practise intensive meditation for six months at Mahāsi Yeikthā in Rangoon. Altogether, he has been to Burma four times to practise meditation under senior disciples of Mahāsi Sayādaw, especially Chanmyay Sayādaw U Janaka.
He has edited many books by Mahāsi Sayādaw, Ledi Sayādaw, and other Buddhist monks and scholars. He has worked tirelessly for many years to promote the systematic approach to insight meditation taught by the late Mahāsi Sayādaw.
Bhikkhu Pesala has had to endure all kinds of difficulties over the years due to his wish to adhere strictly to the Vinaya rules, as practised by his most venerable preceptor. Many monks nowadays do not observe even the basic training rules for bhikkhus; they regard the monastic training as impractical in the modern world. Bhikkhu Pesala has opposed this lax and negative attitude throughout his life as a monk, and urges lay supporters to take a more active role in protecting the Buddha’s Dispensation from further decline.
Those who are unwilling to follow the training are causing the disappearance of the true Dhamma. The training rules were laid down by the Omniscient Buddha to preserve the sāsana for future generations. They were designed to protect a monk’s spiritual growth and long-term happiness, not to make life more difficult and painful than it is already. One needs faith to inspire faith in others.
The essential teaching of the Buddha is the Four Noble Truths and the last of these is the Noble Eightfold Path, which comprises morality, concentration, and wisdom. More than 2,500 years have passed since the time of the Buddha, and during this long time many traditional ceremonies and rituals have become embedded so deeply that it is difficult to see the original teachings. All Buddhists should study the teachings and meditate to develop their spiritual powers.
150. Those monks who explain what is no offence as an offence work for the harm, unhappiness, and loss of gods and men. They make much demerit and cause the disappearance of the true Dhamma.
151. Those monks who explain what is an offence as no offence …
152-9. Those monks who explain what is a light offence as a heavy offence … a heavy offence as a light offence … a gross offence as not a gross offence … a not gross offence as a gross offence … a partial offence as a complete offence … a complete offence as a partial offence … a curable offence as incurable … an incurable offence as curable … work for the harm, unhappiness, and loss of gods and men. They make much demerit and cause the disappearance of the true Dhamma.
160-1. Those monks who explain what is no offence/an offence as no offence/an offence, work for the welfare, happiness, and benefit of gods and men. They make much merit and preserve the true Dhamma.
162-9. Those monks who explain a light offence as a light offence … work for the welfare, happiness, and benefit of gods and men. They make much merit and preserve the true Dhamma. (A.i.150-169)
140. Those monks who explain what is not Dhamma as not Dhamma, work for the welfare, happiness, and benefit of gods and men. They make much merit and preserve the true Dhamma.
141. Those monks who explain what is Dhamma as Dhamma, work for the welfare, happiness, and benefit of gods and men. They make much merit and preserve the true Dhamma.
142-9. Those monks who explain not Vinaya as not Vinaya, Vinaya as Vinaya, what was not said by the Tathägata as not said by him, what was said by him as said by him, what was not practised by him as not practised by him, what was practised by him as practised by him, what was not laid down by him as not laid down by him, what was laid down by him as laid down by him, work for the welfare, happiness, and benefit of gods and men. They make much merit and preserve the true Dhamma. (A.i.140-149)
Oakenholt, June 1979
Front Row: Ven Nyānaponika, Ven Piyatissa, Ven Rewata Dhamma, Ven Mahāsi Sayādaw (seated), Sayādaw U Janaka, U Aggadhamma, U Myat Saw (the owner of Oakenholt), and two temporary monks Bhikkhu Pesala is at the far right of the middle row.
What Happened to Oakenholt?
Oakenholt Buddhist Centre was sold soon after the owner passed away. It is now a retirement home. It pleases me that the elderly can enjoy the peaceful surroundings that we did all those years ago. May the residents discover an interest in meditation during their final years.
Venerable Mahāsi Sayādaw with Ajahn Chah, Ajahn Sucitto,
Ajahn Ñānadharo, and Ven. Hammalawa Saddhātissa
Venerable Mahāsi Sayādaw with Monks and Lay Meditators
Back Row: Dave Ashcroft, Mrs Aung’s two sons, Jurgen, Jerry Rollason (artist of Ajahn Chah’s portrait at Chithurst), Dr Michael Clark, Roy Brabant-Smith, Burmese Kappiya, John Woodfine (Ajahn Kāruniko), three unknown, Mr Dennison.
Monks: Unknown, Ven Dhammawiranātha, Rob Johnson, U Aggadhamma, Mahāsi Sayādaw, Sayādaw U Janaka, three temporary monks, Ajahn Ñānadharo (Laos), U Khin (BBC), U Pesala.
Front Row: Three Tibetan nuns, unknown, Mrs Aung’s two daughters, hidden, unknown, Mrs Khin, Joan Hamze, Mrs Aung, Mrs Ruth Dennison, Abhiññāni, six unknown.
Please let me know if you can identify anyone else
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