Since the Supreme Buddha’s message of the Noble Truths and the path to freedom from suffering was passed to the country of Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) by the Venerable Arahath Mahinda, the safekeeping of this wondrous treasure was entrusted to the hands of the citizens of that country. Thousands upon thousands chose priesthood, and, as devout children of the Dhamma (the Buddha’s Doctrine), achieved the ultimate bliss of enlightenment as Arahaths (Wholly Purified Ones), Ones who were forever free from suffering.
As time went by, these Buddhist priests endeavored to preserve this invaluable compilation of knowledge. History states that during a severe drought in the first Century B.C., the priests sought to safeguard the Dhamma by drinking the sap of the Pandanus (Wetakeiya) trees for survival. There was also an Indian invasion of the country during this time. These events led the enlightened Arahaths to realize that their knowledge of the Buddha’s Teachings should be permanently preerved. Thus, in the caves of the Aluvihara in Matale, with great devotion and care, they documented the knowledge of the Buddha Dhamma they had retained over the years. Thus, the monumental Pali Canon, the Tripitaka was created, and, to this day, is considered to be one of the greatest documentary works of all time.
Over the centuries that followed, with the invasion of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) by the Portuguese, Dutch and the British, the decline of the knowledge of the Buddha Dhamma became imminent. Only a few were able to access and comprehend this invaluable doctrine and use it to their benefit. Even today, school curriculums for Buddhism are limited in scope, and tend to focus heavily on cultural aspects of Buddhism. The innate meaning of the Supreme Buddha’s Doctrine, even though much discussed about today, tends to use intricate terms and complex reasoning, thereby eluding a clear meaning to the listener.
In the past decade, in Sri Lanka, the venerable Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Maha Thera, the founder of the Mahamevnawa Monasteries, has stood up to the monumental task of presenting the incomparable doctrine of the Supreme Buddha to the people, in clear and understandable terms. In an eloquent way that is special to him, he has presented the Dhamma in a simple manner, exactly in the way it had been explained by the Supreme Buddha Himself. Soon after the Supreme Buddha’s passing away, the His faithful disciples held the First Council and documented His doctrine in two collections of the Vinaya Pitaka (Discipline) and the Sutta Pitaka (Discourses). The Sutta Pitaka consists of short, middle-length and long discourses, written exactly in the way the Supreme Buddha had spoken. Venerable Gnanananda Thero explains to us, in simple and understandable terms, the meanings of these Pali scriptures, and enables us to clearly understand the Dhamma and what the Buddha expected from His followers. Thousands upon thousands throughout the world have been illuminated by the Dhamma through the sermons of Venerable GnananandaThero. Today, a countless number of people are beginning to truly comprehend the suffering of sansara (the incessant journey through births and rebirths), and the wondrous reality of The Four Noble Truths, the way to the cessation of suffering.
On a memorable day in April, 2007, residents in New Jersey, USA, were blessed with a visit by the Venerable Gnanananda Thero, from Sri Lanka. His sermons served to enlighten those who were fortunate enough to be there, with the true, deep meaning of the Four Noble Truths and the way to cessation of suffering. We learnt how fortunate we were to be born as humans in this era where the Supreme Buddha’s Dhamma is flourishing. Yes, we are fortunate enough to realize the Four Noble Truths in this life itself! We now realize how dangerous this long, long journey through sansara is, and how much suffering we would have to endure in that journey.
On the 12th day of December in 2007, amidst the cool winds that graced the glistening snow in the sunshine, words of wisdom reverberated through the United States from a new fountain of the true Dhamma. The Mahamevnawa Bhavana Monastery of New Jersey was established on this day, and is the first branch of the Mahamevnawa Monastery in the United States of America. Yes, the opportunity for devotees to listen, learn and live the Dhamma is here upon American soil.
Every Friday, there is a sermon on a discourse (Sutta), by the Supreme Buddha, followed by a discussion lead by a Venerable monk at the monastery. On the second Sunday of each month, the monastery conducts a “Day of Mindfulness”, which consists of group meditation and training sessions that help to develop one’s awareness and self-discipline. Any questions one may have on the Supreme Buddha’s Dhamma are also answered by the monks. The last Sunday of each month is a day for observing morality (sil), through the following of eight precepts, followed by meditation (bhavana) and sermons. Little children learn the Dhamma at the monastery twice every month, during the ‘Kids Meet the Dhamma’ (‘Singithi Daham Hamuwa’) program, and the ‘Dhamma for Adolescents’ (‘Yovun Sadaham Hamuwa’) program is held once a month.
The monastery is located in the town of Piscataway, New Jersey, in a scenic location adjoining a small forest area. Plans are being made to permanently establish the monastery in a secluded location that is suitable for meditation and for th development of one’s mind.
There is no hidden matter within the Buddha’s doctrine. There are no secret sermons or hidden congregations. Like the sun that shines through the open sky, like the shining full moon, the Buddha’s Dhamma offers anyone who wishes to inquire – “Come and see for yourself.” Yes, this Dhamma is realized by true understanding, and not by sheer worship. We invite you to come visit us, and find the path to eternal happiness.
For further information:
Mahamevnawa Bhavana Monastery of New Jersey,
1659, South Washington Avenue,
New Jersey, NJ 08854