The following is a condensed edition of the abbess’ message contained in Sravasti Abbey’s 2019 annual report. We compiled the report in the weeks before the coronavirus took hold in the US. Composed in early January, Ven. Chodron’s words speak to the Abbey’s mission then, now, and in the future. See the web version of the full annual report here.
Ethics in Action, Sustaining the Dharma
A message from Sravasti Abbey Founder and Abbess
Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron
In the Buddha’s time, whenever he established a new training guideline for monks and nuns, he proclaimed ten benefits of the monastic precepts. The most important of these, he said, was the tenth one—to sustain the Dharma forever.
This is the overarching purpose of Sravasti Abbey, and I believe it is why you offer your support. Events in 2019 showed us again that it’s essential to continue to pursue this mission.
An emphasis on ethical integrity, consideration for others, and interdependence—the essence of the Dharma— are crucial to support what His Holiness the Dalai Lama calls our basic human values: kindness, love, and compassion. This is our training at the Abbey, it’s what we share with you, and it’s how—together—we benefit our world.
Training in the Dharma and Compassionate Engagement
In 2019, the Abbey community devoted ourselves first to study and practice. Teachings and practices are fully detailed in the annual report.
The main way the Abbey benefits society is through offering the Dharma with programs at the Abbey, traveling to give teachings elsewhere, posting teachings online, and publishing books and articles. We outliine these activities, too, in the annual report.
Continuing our Mission
When I survey our life and service at Sravasti Abbey, I know we are part of something much bigger than ourselves. Together with you, we are establishing the Buddha’s teachings in a time and place where they have not been before and where the Buddha’s wisdom and compassion is desperately needed. That’s why having a monastic community is so important.
A monastic community that holds precepts and practices together enables the force of the Dharma to continue. People like you then recognize, “There’s a group of people practicing ethical conduct, love, and compassion. I can connect with them to nourish my deepest aspirations.”
Our actions, speech, and thoughts matter. They affect the lives of others and ourselves, for better or for worse. Thus, each person associated with the Abbey is needed to sustain the Buddha’s precious teachings here. When we practice Buddha’s teachings—whether or not we called ourselves Buddhist—we create peace in our chaotic world.
Thank you so much for your kind heart and for your support. We are completely interdependent. Without each one of you, Sravasti Abbey could not be here.
Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron
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