Our MissionThe Theravada Dhamma Society (TDS), a religious non-profit organization, is to promote Theravada Buddhism in
the USA and to preserve the Theravada Buddhist traditional culture and values in the Burmese community of San Francisco Bay Area. The name “Theravada Dhamma Society” was selected to high-light the ancient orthodox teaching of Buddhist elders that encompasses the entire utterances of the Lord Buddha’s teachings (Dhamma)
based on Pali Canon. The Buddha teaching will focus on the Pali suttas originated in Sri Lanka. The community was aware of the fact that to learn Theravada dhamma is a slow and gradual
process to absorb and penetrate the Buddha dhamma (teaching) and thus it requires a constant and continuous
effort to study its theory and practices. To achieve the above goals, TDS will conduct seminars on a regular basis by inviting Dhamma speakers especially Sayadaws who conversant in the study of Pali Canon to deliver Buddha’s admonishment.
The TDS was formed from the Natebanzaw group which was started in organizing of many Tayapwe-Dhamma Talk on the 17th of June, 2000 in San Francisco Bay area. The first Tayapwe of the
Natebanzaw Group was Chanmyay Sayadawgyi’s Tayapwe,and the group continued to hold many Tayapwes thereafter.With many supports of Sitagu Sayadawgyi, Kyauk Talone Sayadaw, and the Dhamma friends and donors of Burmese community, the Natebazaw group has officially become as the Theravada Dhamma Society(TDS)
on the 13th October, 2007.Since then, the TDS has opened regular Dhamma Teaching classes, Dhamma Talk, and Vipassana Meditation on every Saturday and Sunday for devotee Dhamma learners and the Theravada Buddhist
Youth Group program.The organization was led by the community leaders who are concern of the rapidly deterioration of the Theravada Culture and value within the community.
Buddha Dhamma Education
In the area of education to younger generations, booklets on Dhammapada and Jataka stories in (English) will be distributed to parents for them to use as tools or means to cultivate their
children on Theravada tradition and value. There are rules and disciplines known as (Vinaya) for both monks and laity. These disciplinary rules are the core teaching of Buddha on how to
become a good Monks and how to become a good laity or householders.
As Buddha said, to achieve enlightenment is not a day’s effort; we have to learn and practice the dhamma for many existences through the journey of the cycle of births and rebirths (samsara).
Awakening only comes at the time of our last and final existence on earth. There are four stages that we must pass through each stage at a time - stream-winner (sotapanna), once-returner (sakadagami),
non-returner (anagami) and sainthood (arahatship). As said in the Mahasihanada sutta, it is only through the study and practices of the Lord Buddha’s dhamma that one could attain through these four stages to Nibbanna.
Dhamma Vinaya (Discipline)
In the area of Dhamma vinaya (The Doctrine and Discipline) of Theravada tradition is based on a gradual training, a gradual performance, a gradual progression, with a penetration to
understanding only after a long stretch of study both in theory and practices. The dhamma will include - the Buddha’s six-stage gradual training on -
Generosity (Dana), Virtue (Sila), and Wisdom (Panna) or Practices (Samatha and Vipassana Bhavana):
1. Generosity (dana)
2. Virtue (sila)
* The 5 Precepts - (prescribed for Laity)
* The 8 Precepts - (Upasaka and Upasika on special observance days)
* The 10 Precepts - (Monks and Nuns Uposatha observance days)
3. Heaven (sagga)
* The Thirty-one Planes of Existence
4. Drawbacks (adinava) (drawback from sensual pleasure)
5. Renunciation (nekkhamma)
6. The Four Noble Truths (cattari ariya saccani)
Understanding the Tradition of Theravada
The factual understanding of the working of Theravada tradition as stated in Mahaparinibbanna Sutta tells us that, in Buddha dispensation (sasana) its constituents are of four distinct groups:
Bhikkhu (Monks), Bhikkhuni (Nun), Upasaka (male laity) and Upasika (female laity). The role of the Samgha order (Bhikkhu & Bhikkhuni) is to dedicate their effort and time to meditation and dissemination of the Buddha dhamma, while the Upasaka & Upasika will play the
supporting role of providing four requisites to the Samgha order. The ultimate goal of all the four groups is one and only one - Nibbanna. Samgha order will thus practice - Sila, Samadhi & Panna to gain arahatship and Nibbanna in the most expedient way as possible; while the laity groups of Upasaka and Upasika will accrue
merits in their supporting role that will bring them to the world of Gods in their next lives. This laity group or householders will practice - Dana, Sila, Bhavana (Samatha or Vipassana
Language of Dhamma
We accept the facts that Pali is the language of the scripture; we should also be aware that for the organization to sustain for years and years to come to the end of predicted course of 5,000 BE.
We also realize the fact that for long term survival of our organization, lay Buddhist must pass on our understanding of the Buddha’s dhamma to the next generations in English language. It is
the responsibility of the parents to realize these difficult facts.
Medium of communication
In a few years from now or even today, our children at home will use computers and communicate using Internet. It is most expedient for the children to use English as a medium to learn the
Lord Buddha's dhamma. Parents, therefore, need to make adaptation to be conversant in the English language to pass on the dhamma and it’s traditional culture and value. Then and only then, this Theravada Dhamma
Society will stands a chance to sustain for years to come to fulfill our mission of perpetuation of the Lord Buddha's sasana in our communities.