In the last few days I have been working as much as possible on setting up the groundwork for the Parisa Abhaya Dana but I now find myself questioning my motives and intentions. When I sit and look at my original motivation I see mostly skilful resolves. In short, I wanted to provide a place for myself and other so-called serious practitioners to encourage and inspire to perform acts of disassociate Dhamma virtuosity but, as both Venerables Bhikkhu Bodhi and Pesala have pointed out, the internet may not be the best place for it.
And yet, not everyone has access to fellow Dhamma-farers in their area so maybe it is a good idea after all and the Venerable Cintita seemed to think it was a good idea as well. I suppose I’m just uncomfortable with the idea that I, alone, am making decisions about how to form a group to fill a need when I really haven’t yet gotten the opinions of a few trusted confidants. So, I put it to you. Does a group like the one I am proposing make sense? Is there call for it? Please take a look at an early draft below and let me know what you think:
Parisa Abhaya Dana
“With regard to external factors, I don’t envision any other single factor like friendship with admirable people as doing so much for a monk in training, who has not attained the heart’s goal but remains intent on the unsurpassed safety from bondage. A monk who is a friend with admirable people abandons what is unskillful and develops what is skillful.”
— Iti 17
Parisa Abhaya Dana is lay Buddhist organization committed to providing kalyanamittata (admirable friendship) for its membership to allow each member to realize the Dhamma in their lives according to their disposition, desires and ability.
Membership is free and open to all provided that every prospective kalyanamitta meets the following requirements and agrees to a three-month probationary period (postulant):
- Has gone for refuge to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha either formally or by reciting the traditional Pali formula.
- Is currently observing, to the best of their ability, the Five or Nine Lifetime Precepts.
- I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking life
- I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking what is not given
- I undertake the training rule to abstain from sexual misconduct
- I undertake the training rule to abstain from false speech
- I undertake the training rule to abstain from malicious speech
- I undertake the training rule to abstain from harsh speech
- I undertake the training rule to abstain from useless speech
- I undertake the training rule to abstain from wrong livelihood
- I undertake the training rule to abstain from drinks and drugs that cause heedlessness
- Has a formal meditation practice (i.e., sitting or walking meditation) of at least 15 minutes per session, five days a week.
Grades of the Order
In order to promote ever greater ethical culture (sila parami) members will take the follow grades according to the number of precepts they are working to uphold:
- Panchachari: Five Precept holder.
- Navachari: Nine Precept Holder
- Atthachari: Eight (Uposatha) Precept Holder
- Dasachari: Ten Precept Holder
The above grades are not meant to imply rank although they should inspire kalyanamittas to strive towards ethical perfection.
The mission of the Parisa Abhaya-Dana (Community of Giving Fearlessness) is threefold:
- To provide its members with access to a community of like-minded individuals (whether it be virtual by means of the internet or in person) so that each member can grow in the Dhamma of the Lord Buddha and taste the fruits of the practice.
- To provide material support to the bhikkhu and bhikkhuni sangha to ensure that the Dhamma and Vinaya continue to thrive and become firmly established in the Western world.
- To encourage charity, service and ethical conduct in society at large with the understanding that the dana and sila are the bedrock of the Path.
Although we believe that fellowship and friendships formed in person provide the most benefits, we understand that many Buddhist practitioners in the West often find themselves geographically isolated from their fellow Dhamma-farers. As such, we will seek to provide an online forum where we can discuss, encourage and explore the Dhamma as well as to attempt to create real life meetings between kalyanamittas.
We will use our online forum http://s15.zetaboards.com/Parisa_Abhaya_Dana/index/ as a virtual meeting space as well as a template upon which to develop a structure for local groups.