Envocities campaign is set up to encourage people to live, work and invest in regional NSW. The campaign promotes lower cost of living, strong career, business opportunities and lifestyle. Albury has been selected as one of the city in this campaign.
Furthermore, Suncorp Bank have compiled data from variety of government resources, including the 2011 National Census, crime statistics and the Public Health Information Development Unit, to compare different cities in Australia in 10 key criteria which include access to schools, health, childcare, income and housing. This results in a list of 30 most populous cities in Australia. It is interesting that regional cities have a better balance of job opportunities, income, school sizes and lower crime rates. Victoria and New South Wales’ top entry, forth on the overall list, is the twin-cities of Albury-Wodonga which has a good result in housing affordability, health and a sense of community.
An additional feature for Albury is a Buddhist temple which could perhaps be a decision making point for Buddhists or those interested in Buddhism, to move to Albury.
Mangala Sutta, the 38 blessings of life according to the Buddhist tradition, states in item number 4, “Patirūpa desa vāso ca / reside in a suitable locality”. It is clearly shown that the Buddha emphasises the effect of locality to the happiness in life. What is the Buddhist view of suitable locality? It includes all things necessary for comfortable living, good weather, good source of food, good people and the most importance of all is the accessibility to Dhamma and the practicing of Dhamma.
Dhamma means the teaching of the Buddha who discovered and gave these Dhamma to the world more than 2500 years ago. It has been perpetuated by Buddhist monks who memorise, practise and disseminate these Dhamma.
Temple is where monks reside to practice themselves with the community of monks. Senior monks train the new and/or junior monks. Temple is usually located in the proximity of a village or town as monks need support from the lay community.
Buddhist monks renounce their laity life as is harder to be able to always do good deeds and be free from all evil. Buddhist monks vow to follow foot step of the Buddha, on the ‘middle path’, practicing Dhamma to pursue perfection. They can be a good living example for lay people of how beneficial practicing Dhamma can be in everyday life. People can read the Dhamma in Tipitaka many times over but it will not come to effect in their personal development if it has not been practised. Buddhist monks can guide lay people in this process.
Buddhist believes in the law of Kamma (law of the nature) every action has its own consequence. What we receive at the present is the result from our action in the past. If we want to have a happy future life we need to make the right cause, the Buddhist calls it ‘merit’ (Sanskrit puṇya, Pāli puñña), or positive energy. The quantity and quality of merit come from our actions varied by many factors. One of the factors is the purity of the receivers. As Buddhist monks are on their path of purification to reach their ultimate goal, Nirvana, they are the fertile field of merit that will yield the highest fruits for the givers. It is like the farmer put fertilizer in the field that has no weed, the plants will get the full benefit of the fertilizer, quantity wise, they will grow quicker and better and they will yield good quality harvest for the farmer. On the other hand, if the field is full of weed, the plants can only take in part of the fertilizer. With less quantity of fertilizer intake, the quality and the yield of the harvest will not be as good.
Lay people have to work to earn their living, the opportunity to pursue perfection will be less, but they can accumulate the merit by giving support (Dana), to the Sangha (monks), the fertile field of merit. Dana is one of the ten based meritorious actions (Dasa Punna Kiriyavatthu) which include:
i) Dana: giving charity or generosity
ii) Sila: morality i.e. observing 5 precepts, 8 or 10 precepts, etc.
iii) Bhavana: meditation to arise the skilful states of the mind conducive to liberation
iv) Apacayana: reverence to the Triple Gem, one’s parents, teachers, elders and so on
v) Veyyavacca: service to Triple Gem, one’s parents, teachers, elders and so on
vi) Pattidana: sharing of merits
vii) Pattanumodana: rejoicing in others’ merits
viii) Dhamma-savana: listening to the Dhamma
ix) Dhamma-desana: teaching the Dhamma
x) Ditthijukamma: straightening out one’s view
The temple would be the perfect place to conduct any or all of these activities.
We could see the practice of Buddhism as self-improvement but it does not mean we have to do it alone. Theravada Buddhism focuses on the middle path known as noble eightfold path. Interestingly, the Buddha guided the prerequisites to the noble eightfold path from two factors, internal and external ones. Internal factor called yonisomanisikara or systematic attention and external factor called kalyanamittata or good friends.
This evidenced in the Buddha words:
Just as, monks, the dawn is the forerunner, the harbinger, of the arising of the sun, so friendship with good people is the forerunner, the harbinger, of the arising of the Ariyan eightfold way. (S.V.28, 30)
Just as, monks, the dawn is the forerunner, the harbinger, of the arising of the sun, so systematic attention is the forerunner, the harbinger, of the arising of the Ariyan eightfold way. (S.V.29, 31)
The external factor, good friends is an important factor and there are many of them at the temple. They all come to practice themselves on the right path (guided by the teaching of the Buddha). Everyone can be good friend to each other especially, the teaching monks who are further ahead on the path. With their kindness and experience, they will do their best to assist us to walk on the right path.
Wat Albury, had been offered as the place of practice to the border community since the end of 2010. It has been a happy place of practice for many who keep coming back and some of them are there every Sunday to assist the monks and be good friends to new comers. Wat Albury has maintained a good balance of Buddhist tradition to accommodate both Eastern and Western audiences.
The temple community continue its commitment to add to the future to Albury-Wodonga, a happy place to live as everything compounded in the place, complies with the factors of being a ‘suitable locality in the Buddhist view’.
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