Ajahn Pasanno (Guiding Elder)
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, leaving Ajahn Pasanno to serve as sole abbot of Abhayagiri for the next eight years. In spring of 2018, Ajahn Pasanno stepped back from the role of abbot, leaving the monastery for a year-long retreat overseas. Though he plans on returning after this time to continue as an anchor of wisdom and guidance for the community, the monastery will remain in coming years under the active leadership of co-abbots Ajahn Karuṇadhammo and Ajahn Ñāniko.
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 (Co-Abbot)
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. Since Ajahn Pasanno stepped back from his leadership role in 2018, Ajahn Karuṇadhammo and Ajahn Ñāniko have guided the Abhayagiri community as co-abbots.
Ajahn Ñāṇiko (Co-Abbot)
Ajahn Ñāṇiko was born and raised in California. In 2001, at the age of 20, he visited Abhayagiri and decided to request anagarika ordination. In 2002, he took novice ordination, and in July 2003 he ordained as a bhikkhu. He received his basic training from Luang Por Pasanno and Luang Por Amaro at Abhayagiri, and has also spent over 6 years training in Thailand. Since Ajahn Pasanno stepped back from his leadership role in 2018, Ajahn Karuṇadhammo and Ajahn Ñāṇiko have guided the Abhayagiri community as co-abbots.
Ajahn 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, Ajahn Kaccāna came to Abhayagiri a month after completing his PhD. After two years in training as an Anāgārika and Sāmaṇera, Ajahn Kaccāna received the higher ordination and became a Bhikkhu on October 26, 2008, with Ajahn Pasanno as his preceptor.
Ajahn Ṭhitapañño was born in 1983 in Washington, DC and spent much of his childhood in the surrounding suburbs. While in college he developed an interest in spirituality and began to meditate daily and attend meditation retreats. After college, he decided to pursue his spiritual aspirations by becoming a lay resident at the Bhāvanā Society Forest Monastery and Meditation Center in West Virginia. After living at the Bhāvanā Society for a little more than a year, he decided to explore his interest in monastic life by visiting different monasteries. Upon arriving at Abhayagiri, he felt he had found the right place. At Abhayagiri on June 13, 2009, with Luang Por Pasanno as the preceptor, Ajahn Ṭhitapañño was accepted into the bhikkhu sangha.
Tan Kovilo grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and developed an interest in meditation after graduating from high school. He has had many good friends and teachers and is happy to have the opportunity to live at Abhayagiri. Tan Kovilo trained for two years as an Anāgārika and Sāmaṇera, taking Bhikkhu ordination on July 18, 2010 with Ajahn Pasanno as his preceptor. He spent several years in Thailand before returning to the U.S. in spring of 2018.
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 approximately a year as a Sāmaṇera, Tan Pesalo was ordained as a Bhikkhu on June 2, 2012 with Ajahn Pasanno as his preceptor.
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.
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.
Born 1991 in Maryland. Went forth as an Anagārika on July 30, 2013, took Sāmaṇera ordination on July 11, 2014, and took the full Bhikkhu precepts on June 9, 2015.
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.
Tan 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, went forth as a Sāmaṇera on May 6th, 2017, and took full Bhikkhu precepts on May 13, 2018.
Tan 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. Tan Tissaro took Anagārika ordination on May 7th, 2016, went forth as a Sāmaṇera on May 6th, 2017, and took full Bhikkhu precepts on May 13, 2018.
Tan Rakkhito 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 Sangha. Tan Rakkhito took Anagārika precepts in November 2016, went forth as a Sāmaṇera in November 2017, and took full Bhikkhu precepts on November 4, 2018.
Sāmaṇera Cittapālo 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.
After serving the 2016 winter retreat, Sāmaṇera Cittapālo returned to Abhayagiri - inspired by its community- and went forth as an Anagārika later that year. Acknowledging the significance of this opportunity and its benefit, he would like to give thanks for the love and support of his parents, extended family, friends, and many mentors along the way that have played a significant role in leading him to where he finds himself today.
Sāmaṇera Cittapālo went forth as a sāmaṇera in November 2017.
Sāmaṇera Jotimanto spent the majority of his life in Oregon, where he was born in 1990. In 2009, he enrolled at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon. He double-majored in Mathematics and Creative Writing (with no particular goal in mind, other than to harness the faculties of his intellect that were concomitant to those disciplines).
In a turn of events, that, to him, seemed to be nothing less than cosmically serendipitous, he encountered his first Dhamma talk on YouTube, during his junior year of college. After a year of personal Dhamma study—primarily via said Tube—he decided to practice meditation, on a whim. After several months of meditation practice, he developed the firm resolve to ordain. Thus, after graduating from college, he got a job at the Safeway in his hometown, and, by living with his parents, practicing restraint, and funneling all of his available income into his student loans, he was able to pay off his debt—working a part-time, minimum wage job. With all of his debts paid off, he went straight to Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery, and ordained as an anagārika.
Sāmaṇera Jotimanto went forth in November 2018.
Born in 1987, Matt grew up in a loving and supportive environment in Austin, TX. After completing his bachelor’s degree and experiencing some reluctance to further pursue education or a career, he had the good fortune of being drawn to travel in Asia at the age of twenty-four. While in India, he attended his first vipassanā course, taught by S.N. Goenka. The experience of outer and inner silence made an impression. He slowly continued weaving his meditation practice into daily life, spending more time at vipassana centers and filling in the remaining gaps with travel or time with family.
By April 2017, he thought he understood where his life was headed as a householder. Matt is incredibly indebted to a Bhikkhu that he served during a forty-five day vipassana course who changed all this. While attending to this teacher, he felt incredibly moved by the monk’s living embodiment of Dhamma, and couldn’t help but become more and more attracted toward exploring a monastic path. Coming to Abhayagiri, he was given the opportunity to stay for ten days. As time passed and he was able to extend his stay bit by bit, he found that his reasons for leaving were fading. He is still technically on his first visit and feels grateful to be able to keep extending it.
Anagārika Nicholas was born in the state of Washington, spent his elementary school years in Long Island, New York, and went through middle school and high school in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. During his time as an undergraduate at university, he read about the teachings of the Buddha and developed a strong connection with the Dhamma and an interest in the monastic vocation. He started to attend a local meditation group, where one week he was fortunate enough to meet an Abhayagiri monk who visited while the area. Nicholas traveled to Abhayagiri for the first time in May 2016 and spent ten days there, coming again for longer stays in the fall and winter of 2017. He returned again in May 2018 with the intention to undertake the monastic training, in order to create the best possible conditions for purifying his heart, realizing the Truth, and finding true happiness.
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.
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.
As of May 2018, Ajahn Kassapo is staying at the Pacific Hermitage.
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.
He is currently staying at Arrow River Forest Hermitage in Northern Ontario.
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.
He is currently staying at Tisarana Monastery, in Ontario, Canada.