1. To practice the Buddha’s teaching and to uphold the spirit of the Buddha-dharma.

2. To emphasize on education for the Sangha (community of monks and nuns) and to realize the six unities of spirit: –
i. to live in harmony,
ii. without dispute or
iii. disagreement, with
iv. concord of practice,
v. understanding and
vi. fair sharing of benefits.

3. To enhance the co-operation between the Sangha and the laity and to support the Triple Gems (Buddha, Dharma and Sangha) in accordance with the Dharma.

4. To teach Buddhism as an active, contemporary way of living in order to purify society and mankind.

Dharma Patrons Committee

1. To bring dharma patrons together to use their collective strength and to enhance the quality of the practice of Buddha’s teaching.
2. To work together with the Sangha to realize the Objectives of Santavana.
3. To support the Sangha in their dharma practice and to assist in the development of Santavana

The Buddha’s teaching seeks to instill right understanding and to eradicate bad habits. A teacher’s primary duties are to teach the Dharma, to facilitate each student’s development of meditation technique and to help students to resolve doubts. As well, the teacher will help students to develop proficiency in language, logic, medicine and other arts. The Buddhist teachings emphasize the importance of supra mundane education but do not neglect the significance of mundane education. In this respect, these teachings are similar to those of Confucius, who valued both philosophy and the practices of daily life. Therefore, our main purpose is “to practice the Buddha’s teaching and to uphold the spirit of the Buddha-dharma” in order to perpetuate the right dharma.

The teachings of Gotama, the Buddha, come to us through his disciples and those who came after Him. How, then, do we maintain the continuity of the Enlightened Teaching? The only way to do this is to rely upon the Sangha of the Enlightened One, that is, those disciples who have adhered assiduously to the Dharma. Therefore, “to concentrate on education for the Sangha and to realize the six unities of spirit” is crucial not only for the well being of the present Sangha, but also for ‘the continuation of the right dharma’.

It is recorded that the Buddha had ten aims in formulating the training rules in the code of Discipline, including maintaining “(i) the excellence of the community” and “(x) the establishment of the true dharma.” The Sarvastivadin School quotes from the Suttanta: “My (the Buddha’s) true Dharma is not to rely upon walls and pillars, but upon the followers who practice the right dharma.” In Abhidhammakosa, it is stated that the preservation and the continuation of the right dharma depend both upon the ‘Holders of the Teaching’ of the Three Canons [Sutta (the Doctrine), Vinaya (the Code of Discipline), Abhidhamma (the Philosophical Psychology of Buddhism)] and also on the ‘Attainers of the Dharma’, who have perfect practice in Sila (Morality), Samadhi (Concentration) and Pannya (Wisdom). The ‘Holders of the Teaching’ and the ‘Attainers of the Dharma’ are like pillars upholding the teachings of the Buddha.

A successful Buddhist Monastery is a place for education, for arousing faith and correcting bad behavior, for practicing Dharma and for giving without expectation of return. A Buddhist monastery fails when it attempts to promulgate Buddhism with an external display of magnificence or grandeur. From the perspective of ‘the continuation of the right Dharma’, the Three Trainings of Sila, Samadhi and Pannya should be firmly established in practice and then combined with an understanding of Philosophy, Psychology, Arts, etc. Only through such a combination can the continuation of the right Dharma be achieved.

The management and structures of Buddhist organizations in Malaysia vary. Some organizations follow the traditional or orthodox system, while others try to adapt to new changes and demands. Some, like the Santavana Forest Hermitage in Sabah, try to combine traditional as well as local cultures. The Santavana Forest Hermitage emphasizes Dharma education for the Sangha as well as for the laity. Under the leadership of the Sangha, the “Dharma Patrons Committee” and “the Management Committee” collaborate to propagate the teachings of the Buddha, regardless of the diversity of Buddhist schools. The Sangha and these committees are working together “to enhance the co-operation between the Sangha and the laity, and to support the Triple Gems in accordance with the Dharma.”

“In late 1998, Mr. and Mrs. Ng Kim Cheng donated funds and the present site of the hermitage. Further assistance from local and overseas devotees provided for the expansion and addition of cottages, the dharma-hall, the library and other buildings. In these new facilities we have successfully organized Dharma education for the Sangha, the general public, and the patrons, as well as other educational activities.

The past few years have required a great deal of work and effort, as the difficulty of establishing the hermitage was made greater by our inexperience. Looking into the future, it seems clear that the hard work will continue. However, these challenges will not distract us from the‘the continuation of the right dharma’. We will adhere to the traditional method of gradual teaching, which begins with Pariyatti (studying the doctrines), continues with Patipatti (practicing the three trainings [Sila, Samadhi and Pannya]) and culminates in Pativedha (the attainment).

Our journey may be difficult, but let us work together with perseverance for the liberation from suffering, for the propagation of Buddhism, for the well-being of mankind and to teach Buddhism as an active, contemporary way of living in order to purify society and mankind. ”

By Bhikkhu Kai Yin
The Abbot of Santavana Forest Hermitage
2004 July 07