Last Train to Dhutanga
This blog has been in existence for nearly a year. It began in January 2013 as a chronicle of my transformation from an ex-Vedic guru to a Buddhist monk. Somewhere along the way it also became a teaching vehicle as I tried to reach out to people with similar issues, goals and thoughts. Especially, I have been trying to reach Westerners who would like to become a first-class Theravāda monk.
So far, I have only found one who is sincerely interested. This gives me pause for thought. I know from experience that spiritual teaching is difficult. In my last project, I built up a community of 12 committed students in India over a period of 2-3 years. It took more than 100,000 individuals sufficiently interested to visit our website to find them. Of those 12 students, some of whom had been with me 5 years or more, all of them quit when things got tough, leaving me to face the consequences alone.
That was not an experience I would like to repeat. At one point I was planning to build this into an extensive teaching site with a complete series of instructional videos leading gradually from the condition of the typical ordinary person to the level of a committed Buddhist monk. I was even willing to build a small colony of meditation huts for visiting students in the forest highlands of Sri Lanka. Given the rarity of suitable candidates, however, I had to ask myself tough questions about ROI. In reality there just isn’t enough response to justify the required time and energy.
Oh I have plenty of ideas, information and a medicine bag full of treatments for various spiritual ailments, drawn from many paths and teachers. But what’s the use of hanging out my shingle if no patients show up for treatment?
I suppose it’s possible to put more effort into promotion, but I think it’s pretty clear this is an uphill slog. If I were younger, I might consider making a big effort to promote the teaching. At my age, I’d much rather invest my limited energy and time in perfecting my practice. There is already enough material here and elsewhere online to help the average intelligent person understand and apply the teaching of the Buddha.
That said, I am planning (as is my custom) to take an end-of-year hiatus. I want to retreat to do a little exploring, think things over, evaluate the year’s progress and maybe initiate a new direction. After all I’m not getting any younger, and I have some high goals to reach before I’m ready to leave here. I’m thinking about a series of Dhutanga retreats for monks already here on Sri Lanka.
For those who would like more information about the Dhutanga path, please read the biography of Venerable Ācariya Mun Bhūridatta Thera [5.2 MB PDF]. An inspiring book by one of his close disciples.