The Sitagu Community
Generosity is the lifeblood of a Buddhist community; a Buddhist community is a world apart from the normal exchange economy. People come to the vihara bearing food to share with others, they bring flowers for the alters then clean and otherwise tend to those alters, they undertake repairs or cleaning or other tasks to maintain the condition and beauty of our space, they work in the kitchen, on festival days they offer their talent in music, singing and dancing for the enjoyment of the community. And and of course they donate freely to the financial support of the vihara so that the vihara can offer its support generously back to the community, to those who come here to study and practice the Buddhadhamma, and to the Buddhasasana at large as a gift to the world. And they do these meritorious deeds with joy. And they accept gratiously what others offer, understanding the joy of giving.
Monastics play a critical role as a catylist in this aspect of the Buddhist community, and this is certainly by the Buddha's design. The laity moves back and forth between the exchange economy outside and the economy of generosity within. Monastics on the other hand, not allowed to participate in the former, are firmly embedded in the latter; monastics live entirely in an economy of gifts. Moreover monastics, free themselves to act out of generosity for the benefit of others, are allowed to do little for their own benefit; monastics survive purely by virtue of the generosity of the laity. And they accept gratiously what others offer, understanding the joy and merit of giving, and imbued with a deep sense of appreciation.
The Sitagu community provides a platform for expressing shared values, through ceremony, and devotional practices based in ancient tradition, to pay respect to the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. For the Burmese community members it supports the expression and preservation of their Burmese culture, and for non-Burmese an opportunity to befriend this rich and diverse heritage.
A Buddhist community is the foundation of our practice and development along the Buddhist path. It helps us avoid the oxymoran of self-centered Buddhist practice through the strong emphasis we put on care of others in the Buddhist community. It also brings us into contact with exceptional and wise monastics and laypeople. The Buddha emphasized the critical value of Kalyanamitta, good spiritual friends, for progress on the Buddhist path. The good example of others makes the vihara a wholesome and inspirational place to bring the kids.
A Buddhist community is open-hearted. All are welcome who respect our values and tradition, regardless of religious affiliation or ethnic origin.