As the summer rolls on and the vassa (traditional rains retreat) has already begun, we enter another monastic year. The now normal, but currently distant, California fires and their ensuing smoke make a subtle encroachment upon the mind at ease in the beauty of the valley. Heat waves of the summer and droplets of sweat remind us not to take refuge in any comfortable conditions. The global pandemic changes and morphs and further complicates making much of any planning or musings of the futures.
There are these roots of trees and empty huts.
Meditate Bhikkhus, do not be negligent,
do not be one who later falls into regret.
The traditional rain’s retreat is the time of year when Sangha members determine to stay in one location, normally a monastery. The vassa is also a time for monastics to increase their diligence in areas of their practice that they may wish to improve. These may include strengthening one’s efforts with formal meditation, increasing a devotion to wakefulness, studying the suttas more fully, memorizing useful chanting and reflections and honing one’s skills with creating and maintaining our cloth and shelter requisites.
We are also engaging in the formal study of our rules of conduct, holding classes together to expand our knowledge of the 227 precepts and how we can properly implement them in our monastic lives.
Please note, when we hold these classes, we will not livestream our evening pujas. The dates of the remaining classes are on August 18, 19, 25, 27, September 16, 17, 23, 24, 27, and October 1, 3, 8, 9, 12, and 17.
Anagārika Nick will have his sāmaṇera pabbajjā on Saturday, August 21, ordaining as a sāmaṇera (novice monk). This will begin at 7:00pm.
Also on August 21, Luang Por Pasanno will hold a virtual Spirit Rock Half-Daylong from 1:00pm – 5:00pm titled: Thinking is Not the Enemy. This afternoon will include guided meditation, a Dhamma talk on this topic, and a Question and Answer period. Please go to the Spirit Rock website at this link to register for this online Zoom teaching.
During the vassa we will continue to hold our regular Dhamma talks on Saturday nights and the Lunar Observance nights, live streamed on YouTube. As live stream viewers may have noticed, the community is having many of the morning and evening pujas up on the mountain at the ordination platform, taking advantage of the warmer weather to practice outdoors.
Due to the pandemic, we are now meeting virtually for the First Tuesday of the Month. This will now take the form of a Virtual Tea Time Q&A with a senior monk via Zoom : 5pm - 6:30pm. The Zoom meeting ID and password will be made available on our calendar closer to the time of the event. If you would like to be notified of this event and its Zoom information via email (along with some other announcements), please see this article or to directly sign up to receive these notices please click on this link :
Kathina this year will be held on Sunday, November 7. If all goes according to plan, both Luang Por Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro will be in attendance. More information regarding attendance and registration is planned to be available later this summer.
As for our current work projects, we have taken a break from new construction this year and have been focusing on fire mitigation in the forest, investing many hours of work to reduce the risk of forest fires damaging the monastery. This year we are also finishing up the walking paths and the toilet block for the Quadplex accommodation block and the Parami kuti (hut).
This vassa saw several familiar faces depart from the monastery: Tan Pesalo (now at Temple Monastery), Tan Kondañño currently living in Tennessee, Tan Rakkhito and Tan Cittapālo (now at Wat Pah Nanachat in Thailand). Ajahn Cunda now rejoins the community after looking after the Pacific Hermitage for eight months. Also, Tan Khema, originally from Tisarana Monastery, has joined the community. On Ajahn Chah’s birthday, June 17th, Sāmaṇera Yasa was accepted into the Bhikkhu Sangha and is now known as Tan Yasa.