Old Buildings

Theravada Buddhism is like an old building. It’s still basically sound, the arches and architecture are still magnificent, but it is run down. Bits are falling off. Paint is peeling. Termites are gobbling underneath. One whole wing has disappeared; only a few bricks, and some tattered old building plans show that a fourth wing once completed the grand design.

So we renovate. It’s a heritage item, so we must be very careful to fully understand the original intention before changing anything. But there’s a lot of new work needed, and we can’t always be exactly sure we’re getting it right.

The building has admirers. Some of them are angry. They don’t like the banging and noise that disturb the silence. They don’t know about the old wing – as far as they’re concerned, it’s always been like this. For them, any suggestion of change is an affront, a desecration of heritage.

The renovators see things just the opposite way: the renovation is their way of paying homage to the grand design, to show the world the glory of the original architect. If the work is not done soon, all will crumble into dust.

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