Ajahn Pasanno (Abbot)
Ajahn Pasanno took ordination in Thailand in 1974 with Venerable Phra Khru Ñāṇasirivatana as preceptor. During his first year as a monk he was taken by his teacher to meet Ajahn Chah, with whom he asked to be allowed to stay and train. One of the early residents of Wat Pah Nanachat, Ajahn Pasanno became its abbot in his ninth year. During his incumbency, Wat Pah Nanachat developed considerably, both in physical size and reputation. Spending 24 years living in Thailand, Ajahn Pasanno became a well-known and highly respected monk and Dhamma teacher. He moved to California on New Year’s Eve of 1997 to share the abbotship of Abhayagiri with Ajahn Amaro. In 2010 Ajahn Amaro accepted an invitation to serve as abbot of Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in England. Ajahn Pasanno is now the sole abbot of Abhayagiri.
Ajahn Sek (Seksan Varapañño)
Ajahn Sek was born in 1973 in Yasothon province in northeastern Thailand. As a child, he had questions such as, “why are we born?,” “what are we living for?,” and “where are we heading to?” Growing up, he felt he didn’t really know himself. After reading the biography of senior teachers in the Thai Forest Tradition, he decided to go forth as a monk. He took full ordination in the year of 1998 in Yasothon province with Phra Khru Uttarakijkosol as his preceptor. Ajahn Sek then stayed and practiced at Wat Nong Pah Pong and other branch monasteries, and holds Luang Por Liem Thitadhammo as his main teacher.
Today, Ajahn Sek feels that this path may lead him to answering his childhood questions. He is grateful for his teachers and monastic communities who have been supporting him on the way. Ajahn Sek’s favorite Dhamma reflection is: “however many victories you win, they can’t be compared to winning your own heart.”
Ajahn Karuṇadhammo was born in North Carolina in 1955. He was trained as a nurse and moved to Seattle in his early twenties where he came in contact with the Theravada tradition. In 1992, he helped out with a monastic visit to the Bay Area and spent two months serving a winter retreat at Amarāvati Monastery in England. Ajahn Karuṇadhammo made the decision to ordain while visiting Thailand in 1995. He asked if he could be part of the prospective California monastery (the then unnamed Abhayagiri) and was part of the original group that arrived at Abhayagiri on June 1, 1996. After training for two years as an Anāgārika and Sāmaṇera, he took full Bhikkhu ordination in May, 1998 with Ajahn Pasanno as his preceptor.
Ajahn Jotipālo was born in 1965 in Indiana. He received a B.A. from Wabash College and worked for six years in technical sales. He became interested in Theravada Buddhism after sitting several Goenka retreats. While on staff at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, he met Ajahn Amaro and Ajahn Punnadhammo. After leaving IMS, he spent three months with Ajahn Punnadhammo at the Arrow River Forest Hermitage in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. Ajahn Jotipālo came to live at Abhayagiri in 1998 and subsequently spent two years training as an Anāgārika and Sāmaṇera. He ordained as a Bhikkhu with Ajahn Pasanno as preceptor on Ajahn Chah’s birthday, June 17, 2000. Since that time, Ajahn Jotipālo has also stayed at Ajahn Chah-branch monasteries in Thailand, Canada, and New Zealand. He has returned to Abhayagiri for the vassa of 2012.
Ajahn Kassapo was born in Vietnam and raised in Guangdong, China. Beginning in 1998, he lived in the Los Angeles area, where he became interested in Buddhism. After visits to various monasteries, he decided to explore monastic life. He was a member of the lay support team during Abhayagiri’s 2005 Winter Retreat, during which time he decided to request to undertake the Anāgārika training. He returned to Abhayagiri in May, 2005 and subsequently trained for two years as an Anāgārika and Sāmaṇera. Ajahn Kassapo received the higher ordination, becoming a fully ordained Bhikkhu on July 14, 2007 with Ajahn Pasanno as his preceptor. After spending a year training in Thailand, he returned to Abhayagiri in 2010.
Tan Kaccāna was born in 1976 in Cincinnati, Ohio. While he was in high school, his parents introduced him to the practice of meditation as taught by Śri Ecknath Easwaran. After graduating from Harvey Mudd College, he moved to Berkeley to pursue graduate study in physics. In Berkeley, he continued daily meditation practice, went on retreat at Spirit Rock Meditation Center and the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, and participated in the Abhayagiri Upāsaka program. Realizing that monastic practice might be of great benefit to himself and others, Tan Kaccāna came to Abhayagiri a month after completing his PhD. After two years in training as an Anāgārika and Sāmaṇera, Tan Kaccāna received the higher ordination and became a Bhikkhu on October 26, 2008, with Ajahn Pasanno as his preceptor.
Tan Pesalo was born in 1978 in Tokyo and grew up in South Pasadena, California. While at university, he saw a book about Buddhism on a friend’s shelf and found that the teachings greatly resonated. Upon graduating, Tan Pesalo accepted an invitation to travel to Thailand. After enjoying a ten-day meditation retreat, he spent time at monasteries in Thailand and Southern California. After training for a year as an Anāgārika and around a year as a Sāmaṇera, Tan Pesalo was ordained as a Bhikkhu on June 2, 2012 with Ajahn Pasanno as preceptor.
Tan Sudhīro was born in Seattle in 1987. An interest in the workings of the mind led him to study psychology at Oregon State University. During this time, he was introduced to Buddhism through a philosophy course comparing the lives and teachings of Jesus and the Buddha. A growing fascination with the Buddha’s teachings led Tan Sudhīro to begin Buddhist study and practice. Shortly after graduating, he visited Abhayagiri and was deeply moved by the teachings and the community. He came to Abhayagiri in early 2011 and took Bhikkhu ordination on June 16, 2013.
Tan Suhajjo was born in Southern California in 1986. Although he did not have an affinity for religion, he stumbled upon the Buddha’s teachings in high school and they resonated deeply for him. It was not until attending college in San Jose, California that he became interested in comparative religion and meditation. With his interest in Buddhism rekindled and questions about life still unanswered, he decided to explore an alternative to the home life he was living. This led him to the teachings of the disciples of Ajahn Chah and to Abhayagiri. After two years of Anāgārika and Sāmaṇera training, Tan Suhajjo took full Bhikkhu ordination on June 22, 2014. He is currently spending a year abroad in Thailand.
Tan Jāgaro was born in Southern California in 1974. He began Buddhist practice in 2004 after attending a few Goenka-style retreats. Inspired by the Pāḷi Canon and the teachings of masters like Ajahn Chah, his confidence in the Dhamma increased over the years. After the death of his father in 2012, he asked himself, “I’m going to die soon; what is most important in life?” Following the recommendation of a friend, he first visited Abhayagiri in October 2012. He served the 2014 Winter Retreat and subsequently took Anagārika ordination on May 17, 2014. He went forth as a Sāmaṇera on June 9, 2015 and took full Bhikkhu precepts on June 5, 2016.
Tan Sampanno was born in 1986 and raised in Michigan and Missouri. While attending Indiana University, he encountered the Buddha’s teachings and the practice of meditation and found a completely new direction. Continuing to practice during his college years, he realized that devoting himself to these pursuits would be the most beneficial and meaningful thing he could do with his life. After graduation, an affinity with the Mahayana and Zen Traditions led him to South Korea and ordination as a monk at Songgwang-sa Monastery. During his seven years of practice in Korea, as he became interested in studying the Pali Cannon and living a monastic life based on the Vinaya, he was fortunate enough to encounter the Ajahn Chah tradition. After being inspired during a short visit to Abhayagiri, he returned and changed monastic affiliations, ordaining as a Sāmaṇera at Abhayagiri in November of 2016. He took the full Bhikkhu precepts on June 17, 2017.
Born in 1986 and raised in Boulder, CO, Tan Suddhiko was introduced to Buddhism at a young age and was always interested in what happens after death. Influenced by his older sister, he started meditating at age 20. Sometimes it takes a perfect storm for someone to commit to monasticism and he had the right combination of privilege and dukkha. During a life transition of going back to graduate school, he stopped at Abhayagiri for a 3 week stay and decided that pursuing ordination was more important than anything he could learn in school. His aspiration in becoming a Buddhist monk is to live a life that has the maximum amount of positive impact on the world, while causing the least amount of harm. Tan Suddhiko took the Anagārika precepts on August 7, 2015 and went forth as a sāmaṇera on June 5, 2016. He took the full Bhikkhu precepts on June 17, 2017.
Sāmaṇera Guṇavīro was born in 1982 in the Los Angeles area. In 2002, he began meditating after taking a meditation course in the tradition of Sayagi U Ba Khin as taught by S.N. Goenka. He then continued to practice and serve meditation courses in that tradition. He worked in advocacy, government, and international development before returning to graduate school and receiving a PhD in economics. Toward the end of graduate school, he began seriously considering the monastic life as the most effective way to reduce suffering in the world and in himself. He ordained as an anagārika on May 7th, 2016 and went forth as a sāmaṇera on May 6th, 2017.
Sāmaṇera Tissaro was born and raised in the quaint southern town of Fairhope, Alabama. The son of Eugenia and Robert Normand, he and his two siblings were raised in a household of loving support and encouragement. The gift of a strong family unit helped give him a foundation of confidence and courage that has proven invaluable as he has embarked upon his journey from chasing satisfaction in the world of endless material pursuits to seeking a deeper contentment and peace of mind within himself. This led him to vipassana meditation courses taught by S.N. Goenka. After five years of practice and service among various California centers he stumbled across Abhayagiri and immediately felt at home. He is incredibly grateful to have found such a wonderful community and for the support he has received from friends and family in beginning this new phase of his life. Sāmaṇera Tissaro took anagārika ordination on May 7th, 2016 and went forth as a sāmaṇera on May 6th, 2017.
Born in Los Angeles, California, Sāmaṇera Ṭhitasukho grew up for the most part in the state of Nevada. At the age of 19, he became interested in ordaining as a Buddhist monk but was still unsure. At the age of 22, he moved to the town of Ukiah to be closer to Abhayagiri and began making weekend visits to the monastery. After some going back and forth about what he wanted to do with his life, he decided that he at least wanted to commit for one year as an anagārika. And now he’s here.
Sāmaṇera Ṭhitasukho took anagārika precepts on May 7th, 2016 and went forth as a sāmaṇera on May 6th, 2017.
Anagārika Gary was born in 1961 in New Jersey. He lived most of his adult life in Oregon. As a young man he was drawn to the samana life he found in books, but at the time he was not able to follow that path. Many years later, after a life in the world, a timely reading of Bhikkhu Bodhi’s “In the Buddha’s Words” inspired him to once again explore monasticism. He found accord with the beloved and respected teacher Luang Por Pasanno, along with the Dhamma-rich Thai Forest Tradition community. Gary took anagarika precepts in November, 2016.
Straight out of high school, Ryan was first exposed to Buddhism in Thailand during his gap year in 2011. Over the next five years of graduated exposure, predisposition and curiosity would compel him to learn more about the Buddha’s teachings in order to live a more meaningful, beneficial, and harmless life; motivated by one of life’s most elusive question: what is happiness? After serving the 2016 winter retreat, Ryan returned to Abhayagiri, inspired by its community, and went forth as an Anagārika on November 7th later that year. Acknowledging the significance of this opportunity and its benefit, he would like to recognize and give thanks for the incredible love and support of his parents and family members, friends, and the many mentors along the way that have encouraged him over the years, leading him to where he finds himself today.
While traveling in Nepal, Tibet and Thailand in 1987, inspired primarily by the devotion witnessed in the Tibetan people, Debbie took her first retreat in Thailand, hoping to learn a little about Buddhism. Passing through England on her return to the USA, she visited Amaravati Monastery and spent almost a full year between Amaravati and Chithurst monasteries, gaining a bit more understanding of this path. Involved with the Sanghapala Foundation since its inception, she moved to the monastery in 1998, initially living on the neighbors’ property which was, in turn, offered to the monastery in 2002.
During travels in Asia in 1979, Beth was inspired by visits to Bodhgaya and Sarnath. She began formal meditation practice in New Zealand in the mid 1980s with retreats in the Mahasi style, continuing with these after her move to Australia. The Dhamma became a central focus in her life after her husband’s death in 2004. She returned to Asia, sat retreats in Burma and Malaysia, and realized her keen interest in the Ajahn Chah tradition. She lived at the Bhavana Society in the US and Vimutti Monastery in New Zealand and was live-in manager at the Blue Mountains Insight Meditation Center near Sydney, Australia. Her first visit to Abhayagiri was in November 2011. She appreciates the varied schedule, encouraging continuity of practice and the strong emphasis on community harmony.
Ajahn Ñāniko hails from Northern California. At age 20 he read “A Still Forest Pool” by Ajahn Chah and decided that he would like to take Bhikkhu ordination. Ajahn Ñāniko began training at Abhayagiri in 2001. After training for a year as an Anāgārika and a year as a Sāmaṇera, he received Bhikkhu ordination on July 13, 2003. He spent his third year training in Thailand and returned to live under the guidance of Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro until after his fifth year. Ajahn Ñāniko returned to Thailand for the next four years, spending most of his time at Wat Pah Poo Jom Gom, a remote monastery in Ubon Ratchathani province, overlooking the Mekong River and Laos. He returned to Abhayagiri in 2012.
(Ajahn Ñāniko is currently in Thailand and is planning to return to Abhayagiri in 2018.)
Tan Khantiko was born in 1979 and raised in Nashville, TN. After graduating from the Graduate Theological Union/Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, CA, he decided to pursue monastic training and arrived at Abhayagiri in December 2012. He went forth as an Anāgārika on May 5, 2013, took Sāmaṇera ordination on May 17, 2014, and took the full Bhikkhu precepts on June 9, 2015.
Tan Khantiko will be planning to spend a year in Thailand starting in early June, 2017.
Tan Gambhīro grew up in Maryland. He became interested in Buddhism at the age of 18. After listening to Dhamma talks and reading a few books, he decided to pursue ordination in the Thai Forest Tradition at age 20. He visited Abhayagiri for the first time in June, 2012, went forth as an Anagārika on July 30, 2013, and took Sāmaṇera ordination on July 11, 2014. He took the full Bhikkhu precepts on June 9, 2015.
Tan Gambhīro is currently with Tan Ajahn Dtun at Wat Boonyawad in Thailand.
Tan Kondañño was raised in Pittsburgh, PA. His first exposure to the Dhamma occurred while on an Aikido retreat at Mt. Baldy Zen center in the late 90’s. After a short stint with Zen, he began to regularly attend and serve Goenka Vipassana courses. In 2009, he moved to Cobb, CA in order to assist in the development of the Northern California Vipassana Center. He began visiting Abhayagiri in 2011 with the desire to diversify and deepen his practice. Tan Kondañño went forth as an Anagārika on May 17, 2014, took Sāmaṇera precepts on June 9, 2015 and took full Bhikkhu precepts on June 5, 2016.
Tan Kondañño is currently assisting Ajahn Sudanto at the Pacific Hermitage.