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Open the gates, for "kusala" sake

by Lim Kooi Fong, The Buddhist Channel, Aug 18, 2010

Petaling Jaya, Malaysia -- Once there was a green sanctuary where laughter, mindfulness and fellowship were found in abundance, just as abundant as the flowers and the neatly pruned shrubs that lined its garden.

The Malaysia Nibbana Meditation Centre sits on a 1.8ha piece of land which was bought with public funds from a developer with 50 guarantors in 2001 at RM2.3mil (US$ 620,000). It used to attract more than 10,000 to its events. It is currently opened only to its 30 odd members. Pictures courtesy of Bugs Tan.

On some days, meditators dot the calm surroundings, sitting cross-legged with eyes closed, looking inwardly. Not far away, cicadas and cricket serenades behind the small thicket nearby.

The gates at the Malaysia Nibbana Meditation Centre (MNMC) were always opened. Any one wishing to listen to monks sharing the Dharma was welcomed.

And there was food aplenty, as were their donors, which said much about the abundance of generosity that had permeated in that place.

Indeed when the gates were opened, people flooded in with open-hearted kindness and compassion. Evidently the Dharma gates also became ajar, allowing fresh spiritual air to freely flow through, bringing along the joy of cultivation and mindful practice.

Men became monks, sights of eight preceptors became regular and teens could be seen holding moderate to deep Dharma discussions. For once, meditation was democratized, and lay people were taught to learn and teach vipassana.

Imagine how much wholesomeness was generated.

In the Atthasalini, it is mentioned that wholesomeness (kusala) produces ten kinds of meritorious actions (kusalakamma), namely:

• Generosity (dana),
• Morality (sila),
• Meditation (bhavana)
• Reverence (apacayana),
• Service (veyyavacca).
• Transference of merit (pattidana),
• Rejoicing in others' good actions (anumodana),
• Hearing the doctrine (dhammasavana),
• Expounding the doctrine (dhammadesana) and
• Straightening one's own views (ditthijjukamma).

Think of every child, man and woman who have walked through those gates and getting blessed not with holy water, but by their meritorious deeds in partaking the wholesomeness of the MNMC’s Dharma inspired air. Imagine bringing such wholesomeness back to their homes, to their schools, to their offices, to their relationships.

How can the world not be changed by such meritorious deeds?

Alas, just four years ago, these gates of the MNMC were shut closed. Dried leaves litter the compound where once children scamper around with their parents. Instead of the sounds of chanting, all that can be heard are chirping birds and singing cicadas. Where once shadows of people are seen bowing in reverence to the Sangha, the only movements seen now are leaves blowing in the wind.

What is even more disheartening to know is that the current sad state of affairs is created not by lay people, but by monks who have subverted the constitution of the centre for their own use. These monks – purportedly ordained in the Theravada tradition – have made themselves trustees of the centre, holding access to the bank accounts and assuming administrative positions.

The centre is now only opened for private use of these monks and their few supporters. Deciphering how and why such a situation came to be for now is just an academic exercise (see story here).

If these are indeed Theravada monks, ordained in accordance to the Vinaya, they need to do the right thing. While deemed as “legal” by the Registrar of Society (see here) their custody of the centre does not mean it is morally right, nor true in the spirit of Right Action.

Venerable sirs, if you believe that the pristine Dharma is shared through open engagement; if you believe that the robes that you don is conduit to bringing wholesomeness to this world, and liberating human minds through the practice of such values, then do the right thing.

Venerable sirs, we implore you: Open these gates!

If you wish to help, please read some background information on the issue and sign the following petition:


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