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Considering the great percentage of visitors coming from all countries in the world, we consider of importance that some texts should be in English.
Tendo em conta a grande percentagem de visitas originárias de todos os países do mundo, consideramos importante haver artigos na língua inglesa.
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Why Come to a Monastery?

by Ajahn Candasiri

in 29 Jan 2007

  One question we all need to ask ourselves is, Why do we come to a monastery? Whether we are monks, nuns, novices, lay guests or visitors, we should ask, Why have I come? We need to be clear about this in order to derive the greatest benefit from what a monastery has to offer. If we are not clear, we can waste a lot of time doing things that may detract from the possible benefits to be found here.


Amarāvatī MonasteryWhy Come to a Monastery?

Sister Candasiri

The Buddha (§) spoke of three fires three ailments that we, as human beings are afflicted by. These three things keep us continually moving, never able to rest or to be completely at ease; they are listed as greed, hatred and delusion lobha, dosa, moha. He also, out of compassion, pointed out the antidote.
Actually, these fires are based on natural instincts. For example, greed or sensual desire the sexual drive and the desire for food is what allows humanity to survive. Without sexual desire, none of us would be here now! And of course without hunger, or desire for food, we would not be inclined to take in the nourishment we need to maintain the body in a reasonable state of health. However, a difficulty arises when we lose touch with what is needed, and seek sensual gratification for its own sake.
Another kind of survival instinct is our response to danger. Either we turn around and attack something that is perceived as a threat to our physical survival, or we try to get away from it. This is the basis for dosa hatred or aversion. Clearly, too, this has an important place in nature, but again we have become confused and what we frequently find ourselves defending is not so much the physical body, but the sense of self what we perceive ourselves to be, in relation to one another.
The third fire, which follows on quite naturally from this, is delusion moha; not really seeing clearly or understanding how things are, not really understanding what it is to be a human being. We tend to fix ourselves and each other as personalities, or selves. But these are just ideas or concepts, which we measure against other concepts of who or what we should be. Then if anyone comes along and challenges that self, it can bring out a strong reaction in us we instinctively attack, defend or try to get away from the perceived threat. Really, it's a kind of madness, when you think about it.
Now, as I said before, the Buddha, having pointed out the nature of the disease, also presented the cure. This came in the form of simple teachings, which can help us to live in a way that enables us to understand, and thereby free ourselves from these diseases; and also to avoid doing things that exacerbate them.
This brings me to the real reason that we come to a monastery. We want to free our hearts from disease, from the bonds of desire and confusion; and we recognise that what is presented here is the possibility of bringing this about. Of course there may be other reasons: some people don't really know why they have come they just feel attracted to the place.
So what is it about the monastery that is different from what happens outside it?... It is a place that reminds us of our aspiration and potential. There are the lovely images, of the Buddha and his disciples which seem to radiate a feeling of calm, ease and alertness. Also, here we find a community of monks and nuns who have decided to live following the lifestyle that the Buddha recommended for healing those diseases.
Having recognised that we are sick and that we need help, we begin to see that the cure is in direct opposition to the ways of the world. We see that if we are to cure ourselves we need first to understand the cause of the sickness, which is desire. So we need to understand our desires to get, to get rid of and to exist and be a separate self in order to free ourselves from them. So instead of following desires, we examine them closely.
The discipline that we follow is based on precepts, which, used wisely, can engender a sense of dignity and self-respect. They restrain us from actions or speech which are harmful to ourselves or others, and delineate a standard of simplicity or renunciation. We ask ourselves, What do I really need?, rather than responding to the pressures of a materialistic society.
But how do precepts help us to understand these three fires?
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