By BIKSHU STHAVIRA SANGHARAKSHITA
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You might expect me to say here something about the role of the Spiritual Community in world history, or its significance for the total evolutionary process, but such considerations would take us beyond the scope of this brief exposition. I shall confine myself, instead, to a few practical points, and then conclude. First of all, there is one thing that needs to be made clear. Members of the Spiritual Community are not obliged to do anything at all for the world. The operative word here being obliged.
To explain, however, what members of the Spiritual Community do for themselves as members of the Spiritual Community, is very difficult, since it means describing, to some extent at least, what it is like to be a member of the Spiritual Community. It is possible to say one thing, however. A member of the Spiritual Community puts himself, or herself, in a position of being able to relate to others on a purely spiritual basis, or at least on a predominantly spiritual basis: on the basis of a common spiritual ideal, a common spiritual commitment.
Further, that commitment has been acknowledged by existing members of the Spiritual Community, in particular by a senior member of the Community. They have also pledged themselves to the observance of certain moral precepts. Members of the Spiritual Community, in this sense, may be young or old, male or female, ‘educated’ or uneducated. They may be living at home with their family, – living, that is to say, outwardly in the world, – or they may have ‘gone forth’ in the literal sense. They may be lay brothers or lay sisters, as they are sometimes called, or they may be monks or nuns – to use rather un-Buddhistic expressions.