Sunday, July 5, 2009

Venerable Sujato

Venerable Sujato (Anthony Best) was born in Perth, Western Australia. Impressed by the profound visions of the world opened up through science, and especially the Theories of Relativity, he rejected his Catholic beliefs while in his teens. After playing rock n’ roll guitar professionally in a successful popular band called Martha’s Vineyard for several years, he went to Thailand in 1992. There, despite having no previous experience of Buddhism, he fell into an intensive retreat at a monastery in Chieng Mai, where he ordained as a Bhikkhu the following year. Besides spending 3 years in Bodhinyana monastery with Ajahn Brahm, he also spent several years in remote hermitages and caves in Thailand and Malaysia. In recent years Venerable Sujato has taught Dhamma and meditation to a varied audience in his local area and internationally, and has spoken at several major international Buddhist conferences and events. His writings explore the earliest Buddhist scriptures, using a comparative and historical approach to illuminate the process of formation of Buddhist ideology and identity; books include A Swift Pair of Messengers, A History of Mindfulness, Beginnings, and Sects & Sectarianism. Having spent nearly ten years studying the canonical Pali scriptures, he became increasingly aware of the outstanding and little-known fact of the existence of thousands of parallel passages in Chinese, Sanskrit, and Tibetan texts. This congruence is regarded as the single most important historical clue to the Buddha's original message, and Ven Sujato has taken the lead in introducing cross-tradition text studies to the Buddhist community. Ven Sujato has become well known for his articulate and passionate support for the fully ordained bhikkhuni lineage, the most pressing controversy within contemporary Theravada Buddhism. A special field of interest is the role of women in Buddhism, and particularly in the revival of the bhikkhuni order within the Theravada tradition. Ven Sujato brings his text-critical faculties to bear on this urgent modern dilemma, in addition to his work in actually establishing a bhikkhuni community at Santi Forest Monastery.

The Mitra Youth Buddhist Network

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