New Series: ‘The Arahant’

‘The Arahant’ is a very senior Sri Lankan monk, one of my mentors. He is one of the very few with sufficient intelligence and command of the English language to discuss high philosophical topics without lapsing into doctrinaire clichés. He explains the reasons for this below, so I only need to touch on it here.

While the Arahant gave me permission to take notes during our discussions, he specifically forbade me to disclose his identity. The reason he gave was that his frank criticism of the Lankan Sāsana (the Saṅgha) had already caused him so much trouble, and as he is now quite old and frail, he doesn’t need any more. But I suspect that his humility may also have something do with it. 

I have never met another monk who is so intelligent, well-spoken and also down-to-earth. Religious pride is the downfall of many monks. Stuffy conservatism reigns in an organization where, beyond a perfunctory observance of the Precepts, seniority is virtually the only qualification for positions of authority.

I became a monk to have access to men like the Arahant. Unfortunately, after searching for more than two years, he was the only one I could find. He tells me there are more good monks, scattered about the hills in upcountry Sri Lanka, with a handful of sincere disciples. But he also tells me they don’t speak English, and their numbers are diminishing.

My memory and notes are not complete and perfect; in some places I have had to interpolate parts of the conversation to make the meaning sensible and the progression of thoughts logical. I’m sure there are errors throughout, and the fault is entirely mine. I’ve done the best I could to record my encounters with that rarest type of person, the fully self-realized monk.

I hope this helps you understand and realize the Buddha’s teaching. May all beings be happy! — Dharmasar Thero

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Dev Jacobsen

Musician, author and yogi, developer of Palingenics.

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