I am from Kandy, Sri Lanka, and was born on October 28, 1953. My whole family was Buddhist and like most Sri Lankans, my parents sent us children to Sunday School and to the temple. Thus I was a Buddhist from the start, and as a small boy I was given lots of encouragement for joining temple activities. But then when I asked my parents for permission to ordain, they were not happy. For a number of years I continued to request permission, and they were always against me. They explained all the bitter parts of the monk's life, and they told me that if I ordained, I would be scorned by the other local families. Like many people, my parents wished for their sons to get married and to carry on their family name.
But I kept on troubling them. One fine day they gave their permission and I was very happy. I went right to the temple and I ordained. I left the household, but after a number of days and weeks, my mind was attached to both friends and the comforts of home. At first I was nearly unable to overcome the attachments. Several times I decided to disrobe and return to lay life, but I didn't do it. Even though hard training and all its experiences are wonderful, I still considered disrobing. But in the end I felt that the Dharma was more important. I now realize that if I made that mistake, I would have gone back to Samsaric suffering. Now I know better, and I am glad I made the right choice. l am happy to remain as a Buddhist monk. I did much studying in Kandy and Colombo, received training in meditation and cultivation, which I still practice. I managed to complete a diploma course in Pali and I also studied Sanskrit.
Now I am here as chief reverend incumbent, of the Sri Jayand Buddhist Temple. During my stay as incumbent, I decided that we had to do things differently, so that lots of people could learn the Noble Teaching. We started a Sunday School and hold classes on meditation, with discussions, and every month on the last Saturday, we have a whole day program. Besides that, we also hold a Dharma Retreat, a teacher's training program, and a children's camp.
Our goal is to propagate Buddhism, and to share and help each other, we organized the welfare organization. So we are able to provide lots of welfare services. We recently started a free medical unit, and run a clinic twice a week and it is all free. Any number of poor people come to get the services and see the doctors. Most of the seven doctors are specialists, they give free treatment to the people. We go to houses to give food items and other necessities, and we hope to organize a medical camp. In the future we plan to have a mobile clinic unit to go to poor areas. We are organizing that now.
We hold various classes, on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, where we try to involve monks and nuns from other places. We invite any Venerables from Mahayana or Theravada sides, all the Sangha Community, to any function in this temple. We are now organizing a Sunday School committee run by all the monks and nuns, with their blessings, to share our Dharma knowledge with other Buddhist members. I feel fortunate to have sponsored the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas twice to come to our place. I learned about you from magazines, articles, and booklets. I am really happy that Master Hsuan Hua and his disciples are sacrificing their time to propagate the Dharma. In that respect I am grateful to Master Hsuan Hua. We appreciate it and we wish you all a long life to carry on this activity. Good health and happiness to you!
As for cultivation of the Dharma, often monks prefer to cultivate on their own, without sharing their knowledge with other Buddhist members. If one can share this knowledge with lay devotees or with monks or nuns, then I prefer to share it with others. At the same time I need to practice on my own, and mainly I read and move towards the philosophical aspects. I am very interested as well in the Abhidhamma, even though I find it hard to understand. I also like to practice meditation.
All monks and nuns, of course, have to maintain our precepts. We should keep the Sila even in the minor aspects. I try to advance in my precepts, so I spend several days each month reflecting on my conduct, and if I have improved, if I can see then there is some improvement in my precepts, then I rejoice. And I believe that meditation is a great help for monks, nuns, and lay people. Realization only comes through meditation. I believe it deeply.