Most of us know there is no rest at the top of the heap. We expect people to use highly elevated platforms as springboards to help them dive farther down into the pool of humanity, where they can offer help to those who need it most. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet made it to the bottom with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, offering vaccines and HIV protection to the poorest of the poor.
Bhante Sujatha also had a successful dive. He began with a scholarship fund for disadvantaged Sri Lankan students, using money he collected by recycling bottles and cans in Michigan. He has engaged in fund raising opportunities that changed the lives of many Sri Lankan families, offering incubators for new babies, and housing for families with no resources. One especially moving story was that of a family who were granted a home and then took advantage of an incubator for the survival of their infant.
These charitable acts, however, were not the vision that earned Bhante Sujatha his title as Chief Sangha Patron of North America. For that, he dove even further than Bill Gates, all the way down to the unprotected American mind, exposed to relentless advertising since infancy.
His brilliant insight that altered the course of thousands of lives was that the lack of mindfulness experienced by most Americans was the source of their suffering and the primary cause of much of the unaided misery in the world. He bravely started in the middle of the country, leading simple meditations for 3 people in the basement of a Christian church. In 2011, after 10 years of hard work, he opened the impossible to imagine Blue Lotus Temple in Woodstock, Illinois.
Over time, regular meditation inspires a humble confidence. We naturally resist the pull of consumerism, no longer craving the validation it brings. Loving kindness and generosity replace material wealth as our new measures of success.
A generation of Americans who cultivate their minds through meditation is Bhante Sujatha’s tipping point for world peace. He knew the best way to save our world was to heal the minds of the most gifted people on the planet.
This is Bhante Sujatha’s dazzling gift to mankind, and it is his legacy for many generations to come. I am grateful to be a witness.