My respect and greetings to the Venerable Monks, Sisters of the Bhikkhuni Sangha, Anagarikas and Friends,
I certainly knew about SC few years ago as it begun to appear more frequently on google; I even had a correspondence with Venerable Sujato a year and half ago about some suggestions concerning Pali sources and downloads; but it was only very recently that I found out about this pleasant and lively forum. I have been reading some of the posts here throughout the past week or so and in many occasions I felt a desire to write a reply or engage with others in discussion! You have succeeded in creating a really pleasant and friendly and respectful environment, and with interesting and useful content for me. I was encouraged to participate also due to the leading presence of Venerable Sujato and other monastics here, the work of whom I really appreciate. So Anumodami.
My name is Dhammarakkhita and … well … nothing really is unique about me except perhaps that, as far as I know, I am the only Theravada monk from Egypt. I am very interested in the Suttas -precious texts!- and hoping to translate them from one of the easiest languages, which is Pali - to one of the hardest: Arabic! I hope to be active in this forum particularly in the “translation” section. Though honestly, and despite of the fact that I “enjoy” translating Pali very much, yet it often interferes negatively with my overall samadhi, and sometimes I avoid translating completely especially in those phases when even the objective of translating Dhamma becomes dwarfed by that of developing a true intuitive or experiential understanding of it! I wonder if you experience the same thing and what experience or skills have you developed in dealing with this situation?!
SC has grown so neat and efficient and I am impressed by the work done by programmers and designers here. I am also quite impressed to see “monastic geeks” because, although I myself am good for nothing in this domain, yet I lived all my life at home with friends who were mostly professional computer geeks; free open source and all! But they were all heathen and godless … [well, we fall in that category as well] … what I meant is that they had no spiritual inclinations whatsoever, except perhaps from a certain belief in the possibility of some “singularity” or deliverance of consciousness through the AI or something of that intriguing sort! So I had developed some bias in my mind about how geeky and spiritual don’t fit together! It is evidently a clear case of moha on my part.
I grew up with those geeky friends of mine in that quasi-western quasi- … something else … environment of free and “safe” self-expression and liberty of thought. If anything it was precisely this that at last delivered me to Dhamma. But I have been traveling and living in Asia for four years now. I experience no aversion regarding some of the Asian sociocultural standards and practices that I have to adapt to within and without monastic communities here, and that are very much unlike those I grew up taking for granted; I remind myself that this is the way things are here, and if anything, I should only be respectful and appreciative for the social respect and requisites afforded me as I persevere here. Yet i was able to perceive a sense of “familiarity” while reading the posts in this forum that brought me closer to the spirit of home! People here speak freely, and neither monk nor nun nor anagarika nor lay have to worry so much about self-censorship(!) given the bounds of mutual respect and friendliness. In my experience, this is rare! And I have not had the occasion to feel this way in quite a long time, and I sincerely thank you for it, and hope from my heart that -while you are here now- you yourselves are enjoying and appreciating it, and not taking it so much for granted!
So I really wish to congratulate you for this wonderful work, and I really appreciate the courage of Venerable Sujato in establishing this forum. And thank you a lot for providing this fine space.