Benefits Of A Monastery: Story Of Ashin Sarana
Posted by Nikita Krivoshey on Jan 24, 2016
Recently I have been collecting stories of people across different generations who make use of monasteries. I had been looking for something simple which I could include in my educational presentations asking people to share their name, age, a photo, and a short statement about their relationship and use of a monastery.
So I have emailed such a request to a monk, and got more than I had asked for. The following is his story.
My name is monk Sarana (Ashin Sarana), as a lay person I was known as Jan Šťovíček. I am from Czech Republic, Pilsen City. Born in 1987, at the age of 20 I left to Sri Lanka because I wanted to become a monk, and preferably attain psychic powers. In Sri Lanka I was ordained ca. 6 months later as a novice. I realized that best psychic power that an ardent monk can attain, is Nibbana. The monastery where I stayed supplied me with peace and the most important necessities, so that I could dedicate myself to meditation, calm the mind, develop loving-kindness, get control over subtle greed and hatred, and keep equanimous even in difficult times.
I attended Buddhist and Pali University while staying in a village monastery in Sri Lanka. Thanks to the monastery, I could dedicate my time to the studies, and study not only what was required, but also additional subjects, such as Myanmar language. Because of the peace and freedom I gained in the monastery, I was able to learn and understand great portions of Buddha's teachings - and to repay this wealth provided to me by lay people, I taught lay people Dhamma and meditation. Once I had a Dhamma discourse in Sri Lankan TV during the Vesak day, and ca. 10 million people were reportedly listening to my words. It was so successful, that it was repeated again next day in the morning. Also, I once taught loving-kindness meditation to ca. 3000 people, still while in Sri Lanka. In different monasteries I taught loving-kindness meditation to groups of 10-50 people, daily. At a certain period I was appointed by a chief-monk, to increase morale of a whole village, when I stayed in a monastery where a monk just passed away. I believe the morale of the people increased, and their morality as well.
After four years in Sri Lanka I moved to Myanmar, with the determination that I will attain Nibbana here indeed. A few days after my arrival to Myanmar I gained the higher ordination, I became a bhikkhu. I continued to practice loving-kindness meditation under most positive conditions here in Shwe Oo Min, and with help of Sayadaw U Tejaniya's teachings I was able to penetrate the truth of reality in the way the scriptures appraise it. Since then I helped a great number of visiting lay people and monks to understand the nature of meditation, and support them in purifying their views and methods, so that their practice progresses smoothly.
I am still staying in SOM monastery, and next year I plan to move to a true forest monastery, not only to meditate, but also to memorize another great portion of Pali Scriptures. Already here, apart from my meditation successes in SOM, I was able to memorize a great amount of Pali Scriptures and gain knowledge and understanding of both theoretical Dhamma as well as monk's discipline. These days the sayadaws here send the visiting foreigners 'monks-to-be' to see me and attend a basic course of monastic discipline under my guidance. Sometimes I am given the role of 'instructor' during higher ordinations. These then become monks for a short period of a month or so, and become lay people again. Thus by the help of a monastery lay people learn meditation, Dhamma, and themselves taste the peace and purity of monks.
I believe that the greatest benefit of existence of monasteries - and with it the support of monks - is that any other people can also become monks (temporarily or undeterminedly) and practice meditation, live in peace and purity. Monks in Myanmar are reported to increase people's morale, morality, happiness, peace, and especially wisdom in terms of non-greed, non-hatred, and non-delusion.
End of Story
If you have a story about how a monastery has played a role in your life, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are the details.
I am collecting short stories about how people in the following categories are benefiting from the monastery (in any country and in any tradition/religion).
The categories are:
1. a local child who receives/received basic education or mindfulness training, and morality education at the monastery
2. a local/foreign young person who graduated from school but is now looking for answers, clarity, purpose and a better way of living in the world.
3. middle age local/foreign person looking to new meaning, perspective on life.
4. a local/foreign retired/widowed person who moves to the monastery and receives social support in leading a more meaningful last phase of life.
5. an ex-monk/nun who benefited from their monastic training
If you choose to tell a story, please include:
3. 1 or 2 photos
a) Complete the following sentence or make your own in a similar format to show the usefulness of the monastery:
I make use of the monastery whenever ___________. It allows me to ___________. Afterwards I ____________
Example : I make use of the monastery whenever I need to take a break from responsibilities so that I may get more in touch with my inner wisdom. It allows me to experience a sense of freedom. Afterwards I feel re-energized and return to my regular life with renewed meaning and sense of purpose behind my actions.
b) Include a personal story
These stories will most likely also be posted online.