Some time ago, I placed an article about the value of Sangha in the Boeddhistisch Dagblad, the leading Buddhist newspaper in the Netherlands.
This caused a storm of negative reactions, which made me realize that many people do not understand the role and value of the Sangha. Among the reactions however was one by a certain Ananda, a beautiful, caring, loving, compassionate post.
Therefore I decided to place a reaction myself and below is the translation.
When I first stayed in a meditation-centre in the Burmese countryside for a month, I took the temporary Sayalay ordination. It was a beautiful time in which I could meditate and study, away from the busy life at home. Every morning the monks would go on alsmround and I would come along, on bare feet, 5 km over the sand- and gravel-paths. The village that supported the monastery was very poor; people lived in bamboo huts. Every morning they came out laughing in order to give the monks a little bit of food. When they saw me, they were so happy! Some spoke a little English. Sometimes they would come to the monastery just to bring something special for the western nuns, a bit of fruit, a special dish.
I actually felt a little guilty. These people had so little and I was a rich westerner. When I asked them one day why they did this, they laughed: “Because you keep the gate to Nirvana open!”. It made a very deep impression on me but it took me a long time to really understand what they meant.
The Sangha, the monks and nuns, the guardians of the Teachings. It was them who had guarded, practiced and taught the Dhamma since 2500 years in an unbroken line to the Buddha. It was thanks to this Sangha that I, in this time, in the Netherlands, had been able to get to know this Dhamma. These Teachings that had completely changed my life, made it so much richer. In the places in the world where the Sangha died out, so did the Dhamma. I felt an enormous gratitude and respect for all those monks and nuns who, without expecting anything in return, had taken op the task to spread the Dhamma for 2500 years. I wanted to contribute my bit.
Thank you Ananda. I’m grateful for your kindness and understanding.