Dear Dhamma Friends,
I’d like to take this opportunity to express gratitude for how the 2022 Abhayagiri Kathina came together. We had so much help, both from within our monastic community to outside the community. People helped with the parking, the preparing of cloth offerings, preparing food, and setting up the Dhamma Hall to make this an extra special occasion. Luang Por Viradhammo and Ajahn Sudanto took time out of their own schedules to come and give support and offer Dhamma teachings. Monetary offerings were over three times what we normally get at our kathinas, and we now have more than enough funding to complete our new Elder’s Residence, Santi Vihara. A big thank you to all who made this possible.
But it wasn’t what was done that made me feel grateful. It was how it was done. The Buddha spoke in praise of coming together in harmony, meeting in harmony, and leaving in harmony. Thus we are instructed to protect our good relationships in the present and future. There was a large crowd, and we got to reconnect with people who hadn’t been to Abhayagiri for three years or more. In the days and moments leading up to the kathina ceremony, there may have been disagreements about how to do certain things, but with mutual letting-go we found a way forward with joy. These events give Buddhists the opportunity to express their faith through generosity, patience and kindness. I do feel some regret that I wasn’t able to give my time and attention to more people.
After the actual ceremony, we spent the afternoon making a hand-sewn kathina robe. From start to finish it took about six hours and thirty minutes, which is roughly our record time when we used the sewing machines to make past kathina robes. About halfway through, Luang Por Pasanno came in and gave us some encouragement. For those of you who might be interested in the details of how a hand-sewn robe gets done so fast, it is because everyone can work on it at the same time! The steps include:
- Drawing and cutting the robe cloth.
- Cutting the robe into five pieces, with two people working on each panel sewing the ‘kusi’ lines.
- Joining panels together.
- Everyone gathering around to sew the border onto the robe (see photo).
- Dyeing the cloth in plant-based Thai dyes, then throwing it in the dryer.
We concluded with a ceremony at about 9pm, where the kathina robe was given to the chosen recipient (myself). The size and color are good - a testament to the carefulness necessitated by the hand sewing.
This type of gathering helps to keep the Buddhasāsana alive here in America. Yes, we have put down roots over the past 26 years, but those roots need to be nourished so they don’t wilt. This year’s kathina showed me that the Bodhi Tree will stay alive in this place, at least for now.
With gratitude and anumodanā – Nyaniko Bhikkhu