Reply To: Jethavanarama Buddhist Monastery – English Discourses


Lal posted the first episode in a long series of Dhamma talks. I think this is a good opportunity to share a little bit about these sermons as I’ve been following them for well over a year.

I introduced this series to my wife this year, and we watch them together. I’m happy to see that she’s slowly picking up on the main Dhamma concepts. Amadassana Swamin Wahansa speaks in plain English and doesn’t use any Pali or Sinhala for the first 38 episodes, I believe. He can explain even the aggregates very well in plain English.

I have been following the whole series of discourses myself from episode 39 onwards (I’ve seen 80% of the first 38). There are over 100 sermons now (112 at the time of writing) in that particular playlist.

Perhaps it would be useful to explain how this playlist is organized and what you can expect in order to make the most out if it, whether you’re just getting to explore the Buddha Dhamma or have been into it for a longer time.

The first 38 sermons are directed straight at the camera, so it’s a different “feel” than sermons held in front of an audience (because there’s no interaction and Swamin Wahansa cannot check one’s understanding). They are aimed at people who are new to the Buddha Dhamma. Swamin Wahansa really takes his time, and he moves perhaps a bit slow for those who are eager to learn. Still, you’re really going to get a solid understanding of the basics, and he expects you to contemplate the topics he discusses.

Starting episode 39, he preaches in front of a live audience again. (I think this was the end of lockdowns, and everything opened up again). Throughout this series, he systematically dissects anicca, dukkha, and anatta at immensely profound levels as the sermons progress. This may be a bit challenging for beginners, but if you’re already somewhat familiar with the Dhamma, e.g., you’ve been coming to this site for a while now, this is a must-watch/listen. He does make use of the occasional Sinhala and Pali but generally explains everything very well. He’s amazing at explaining deep concepts using very practical examples. 

Before I continue with my explanation, allow me to make a personal note:

It was because of these sermons I visited the monastery last month. My time there was immensely fruitful. I’ve had the chance to discuss the Dhamma with various Swamin Wahansas. They’re also learning many languages there to prepare themselves to spread the Dhamma as far and wide as possible. They had learned a bit of Chinese (Mandarin) as well before, but far from enough. At my stay there, we discussed how we could improve their Chinese, and one of the head monks thought I should start teaching them first and solidly their basics (I live in China, and my wife is Chinese). So that is what I’ve been doing twice a week for the last 5/6 weeks. My level is only intermediate, but I have started to study harder to fulfill this duty to the best of my abilities. This is a bit off-topic, but I thought it would be good to share what’s happening. May the merits generated during the entire process be dedicated to all beings and help them attain Nibbana.

To continue with the sermons:

A couple of months ago, Amadassana Thero started doing sermons outside of the monastery as well in Columbo. This series of sermons is found in this playlist (Gateway to Nibbana).

In these sermons, he started preaching to a new audience, and his approach is a bit different. In various sermons, he also explains various deeper meanings of common Pali words, including. “Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa,” “Sadhu,” and such. He also explains the actual meanings of what sometimes appears to be mere “rituals.” Everything has a deep meaning.

His pace is much faster than the first 38 episodes of the previous playlist, but then again, he’s preaching to a mostly Sinhalese audience (In English, though). I also follow this series, and it’s well worth it. He has recently started to touch upon the deeper meanings of anicca as cause and effect.

There are some older playlists as well, which are pretty good, but my suggestion is to focus on (one of) these two playlists. 

On a second personal note:

When I came across the Pure Dhamma on this site, I felt like sharing some concepts mainly through writing. I’ve shared some of it here as well. However, as my understanding grew, I realized that many concepts could be explained without the use of Pali. Sure, it is more efficient to use Pali terms if you know what they mean, but even then, many words have such deep meanings you need to explain them anyway.

It was through these sermons that I got inspired to start a website that only focuses on sharing Dhamma in plain English. I actually don’t even call it Dhamma directly. I have good reasons for that, but I will share and explain in detail only after I have finished the current section I’m working on. 

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