SISA ASOKE is a BUDDHIST VILLAGE that combines the workplace, the schoolroom, family, temple, and community with a lifestyle of hard work, simplicity, and compassionate service. The day begins at four o’clock in the morning. Students study for an hour before starting their jobs while others meet for teaching about Buddhism.
"One who does not awaken when it is time to rise, who, though young and strong, is full of sloth, whose will and thought are weak, this lazy and idle one will never find the way to knowledge."
DevotionWithin the community are various kinds of followers. Monks, nuns, and lay people give up one or two meals a day out of devotion to their beliefs. Less time cooking and eating means more time for training and service.
People walk barefoot here; they sleep on grass mats, eat organic vegetarian food, and live in simple yet beautiful houses. Simple natural living lessens attachment and focuses the mind on devotion and service instead of material possessions, money, profit and greed.
"One who speaks the truth but does not practice it in daily life is like a man counting the cows in another man’s field. When one has successfully accomplished the Noble Eightfold Path, it is only natural that one will work harder, consume less, and share the rest of hat one has with society."
The WorkplaceSisa Asoke has mushroom and herb farms, rice fields and milling plant, tofu factory, vegetarian community kitchen, classrooms, offices, a country store, an organic herbal-remedy facility, and a university. Residents give away excess food, or sell it without profit. They hope to distribute their herbal medicine and expertise throughout Thailand.
"Our businesses are to help the consumer, not to make profit."
WorkHearing a visitor comment on how hard everyone works in the village, a teacher responds, “life is work and work is life!” This is another way of saying that life is suffering but that liberating from suffering is possible.
Again she speaks: “look at our faces- do we lok happy or do we look sad?” Indeed they radiate the happiness of meaningful hard work within a compassionate and caring community.
"For a Buddhist, the hard work of working hard is redemptive and ultimately more rewarding than the hard work of suffering and attachment."
SchoolStudents learn by studying their school lessons and by working at their jobs. Education is for training the heart, body, and mind- and school is one more place to help students live with devotion, dignity, and wisdom.
Teachers are guided by the slogans “Learning by doing” and “Learning for living” as they train students to become caring and responsible citizens.
CommunityTam buhn is a Thai phrase describing the generosity and hospitality within the village. It literally means “making merit,” which is about reincarnation, but in practice it means giving without the hope or expectation of receiving anything in return.
Selfless service and generous giving reduce empty attachments and alleviate suffering in the world. They arise naturally on the path of wisdom.
Tam buhn is Buddhism in action.
"If you sit and meditate all the time rather than work hard in your daily life to climb the steps of the Eightfold Way, you do not reach Enlightenment, you remain sitting below he first step."
“Our eating is a meditation, our teaching is a ;meditation, and our working is a meditation,” says the wise samana (monk). Buddhist teaching is not just abstract philosophy; Buddhism is people in the service of humanity and meditation as a way of life. With an understanding of dynamic Buddhism not only will we elevate the spiritual state of mind and reduce selfishness, but also we will see human interaction of warmth and kindness among people."
In the village, you do not see a lot of sitting meditation or hear much chanting or quoting of the sacred scriptures. Life here is about Buddhism of the heart growing roots and shoots in everyone and blossoming like a lotus in the lives of family, friends, and community.
When asked how we can practice Buddhism, the teacher answers that it starts within the Five Precepts
- No lying
- No killing
- No stealing
- No sexual misconduct
- No addictive substances