On April 30th 2012, during the ten-day tour of Sir Lanka we made a courtesy call on Colombo Young Men’s Buddhist Association (YMBA). Mangala Vihara (Buddhist Temple) has the largest number of overseas candidates sitting for the examinations at various stages and also consistently achieved the highest percentage of success and high grades.
Student members from the English Dhamma class in the group purchased several sets, consisting 6 volumes, of “Guide to the study of Theravada Buddhism” as supplementary studying materials for themselves and fellow students.
Bhante Raja and I were most pleased to confer over a cup of tea, the most popular export of Sri Lanka, with the President, Vice President and General Manager of YMBA. We exchanged views on common issues in the international arena and the likely rise of Buddhist nations in the context of economic force in the next era of development.
The President, Mr. Suren Abeyaogoonasekera is no stranger to Singapore and had work several years here in the shipping industry. He also has three-generation relatives living in Singapore which gives him good reasons to visit regularly.
Bhante Raja made the following suggestions to the President and his team:
(a) to consider starting a continuation course beyond Diploma level as many graduate students leave for other venues to pursuit higher Buddhist studies;
(b) to let overseas candidates take up membership with YMBA;
(c) to extend alumni membership to overseas graduates.
Mr Abeyaogoonasekera agreed that membership to YMBA in whichever form, be it student membership or alumnus, will help to strengthen relationship and create a sense of belonging and maintain ties though their newsletters or any other forms of communication link. He also mentioned that YMBA is assisting a Buddhist Collage in London to draw up guidelines for Dhamma teachers.
He requested a formal proposal and would be glad to confer with the Board. However, he said that it would not be immediate as the constitutions would need to be amended and approved before anything could be implementation.
We ended the meeting and left with optimism as we shared a common goal in the propagation of the Dhamma and to strengthen ties.
Contributor: Chin Kee Thou