Monastic Life in the 21st Century – Sravasti Abbey


Conscience of Society

Not everybody wants to become a monastic, and not everybody should. The Buddhist community needs strong lay practitioners. You can be an excellent lay practitioner; there are many of them. But for me personally, ordaining was the best decision I ever made in my life. I think monastics are important in the West and in all countries because monastics, whether they are Buddhists, Catholic, or of another religion, act as the conscience for society. In that way, we benefit society.

As monastics, our values and our way of life are different. People look at us and ponder, “There’s somebody who doesn’t have a family, doesn’t have sex, but is happy! How is that possible?” Somebody else may say, “They don’t have a car or a second home. They don’t even have any hair. They only have one change of clothes, no make-up, no jewelry. They don’t go to the disco, to the bar, they don’t drink, and are vegetarian. What an ascetic trip! They must be suffering.”

But when they meet monastics, they see that monastics are happy. They think, “Hmmm, they are happy without all those things? Maybe I don’t need all those things either. Maybe consumerism isn’t the way to live my life.” At Sravasti Abbey we recycle, we don’t go driving just to go for a ride. Instead we run a lot of errands at the same time. People ask, “Why do you do that? Why not just jump in the car to get what you want whenever you want it?” We reply that it leaves less of a carbon footprint on the planet if we bundle the errands together and don’t out so often. They then consider, “Maybe I don’t need to go to the grocery store every day to get exactly what I feel like eating. Maybe I could put all my errands together and make one trip.” People come here and by seeing how we recycle and reuse as much as possible, they learn, “I can recycle, too. It’s not that hard.”



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