Abhayagiri Kathina: October 15, 2017 (Moved to Wat Buddhanusorn)

The Kathina Ceremony will begin at 12:30pm (as opposed to 1pm as previously stated.)

We would also like to confirm that we will be holding Kathina this Sunday, October 15, but the location of the Kathina has been changed.

Abhayagiri’s Kathina will be held on Sunday, October 15 at Wat Buddhanusorn:

36054 Niles Blvd.
Fremont, CA

Each year since the time of the Buddha, at the end of the three-month Rains Retreat, the lay community around every Buddhist monastery has gathered to celebrate the completion of the retreat and to offer to the monastic community gifts of cloth and supplies that will be useful for the coming year. The cloth is then cut, sewn and dyed by the monks to make a robe on that day to offer to one of the Saṅgha. This 2,500-year-old tradition is still carried on here in the West in the Theravadan monasteries. It is initiated by a lay supporter or a group of supporters who request to organize the preparation and formal offerings. It is both a significant and joyful occasion that, over time, has become emblematic of the richness of the relationship that exists between the lay people and the monastics. This relationship is characterized by deep bonds of friendship and commitment to mutual support. All year round, the monastery functions solely on offerings from the lay community.

Ajahn Jayanto plans to visit for this year’s Kathina. He will also be giving a public talk at Stanford at 5:30 pm on October 17.

Please plan on carpooling if possible. Parking is limited.

Please be here well in advance of the 11 am meal offering.

Sunday, October 15

  • 11 a.m. Meal Offering People are welcome to bring a dish to share.
  • 12:30 p.m. Kathina Ceremony Refuges, Precepts and Dhamma Talk.

Anyone who wishes to make offering for Kathina can consult the Kathina Dana List.

Fire Update, October 13, 2017

On Friday, the community spent the day being of service. Some helped cook and clean in the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Several of the senior monks offered teachings to the university and boys high school students. Others went over to the Sudhana Center in Ukiah (an affiliated center of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas) to help clean and move furniture.

Luang Por Pasanno, after hearing about the efforts during the day, gave an impromptu Dhamma talk during evening tea. He stressed the importance of continuing to practice in all situations and explained how forest monks have traditionally used cleaning and care of one’s requisites as a way of cultivating mindfulness and skillful attention.

Lending a hand to CTTB

After evening tea, most of the community watched the Mendocino County Mendocino Sheriff and Fire meeting regarding the Redwood Complex fire streamed over the Internet.

The news from the meeting was cautious but hopeful. The burn area is currently 34,000 acres and only 20% contained. Most of that burn area still contains trees and tree roots that are still burning. That said, the past 36 hours provided very good weather conditions for the fire personel and a lot of work was accomplished throughout the affected area. Officials also reported that the number of firefighters went from 700 to 2,100 people during the last couple days. There was also a report of a 40% chance of rain next week around Wednesday.

There was only a little specific information regarding the monastery property as reported by the officials. Following the report, the community discussed the situation and people generally agreed that Abhayagiri’s major buildings are most likely still intact, although everything is still speculation. Significant fire control lines were reported to be in place in the area west of the monastery, as well as additional control lines in the “back” of the monastery (what we assume to be the north-eastern area) as well the area stretching into Potter Valley. The monastery’s Internet service provider also informed us that the the radio transmitter on the ridge and a radio at the Bhikkhu Commons was still in operation, which implies that at least these buildings have not been affected by the fire.

A couple news stories regarding the recent fires came to our attention that we thought to share with the wider community:

A lay man who has been with and assisting the community since the evacuation has been generously taking photographs during our stay at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Here is another collection of photographs that he posted recently:

Settling in at CTTB

Redwood Complex Fire - Timeline of Events - Monday through Thursday

Ajahn Jotipālo has kindly offered the following journal of events chronicling Abhayagiri’s experience with the Redwood Complex fire.

Monday, October 9th

According to Cal Fire, a major wildfire started in Redwood Valley late on Sunday night. Fortunately, at 2AM, a community member woke up and noticed that the southern sky was pulsating red. He quickly started alerting other community members. As people left their cabins, flames were coming up over the ridge to the south. These were the initial fires that burned through the East Road–West Road junction area in Redwood Valley, about 2 miles south of the monastery.

The Abhayagiri community gathered at the main cloister area down the hill and organized an evacuation. A neighbor informed us that Tomki Road heading south was blocked due to flames and downed power lines, so the community decided to evacuate by driving north to Willits using a dirt road. Along the way, several cars had to be abandoned due to rough road conditions. Generous neighbors in trucks allowed the stranded community members to board their vehicles and be safely ferried to Willits.

The community gathered at the Willits City Hall which was made available for fire evacuees before moving to a Red Cross shelter at Willits High School. Everyone was impressed with the volunteers’ quick response and kindness. They provided meals and supplies and even opened a separate building for the monks to use.

We met with many evacuees from the area including neighbors whose property was devastated by the fires. Father Damian from Holy Transfiguration Monastery (next door to Abhayagiri) later told us that, by noon on Monday, they were able to drive south on Tomki Road. He said the properties starting about two miles south of the monastery were completely devastated. He also said he couldn’t tell where he was at many points as the landscape had changed so drastically.

At the time, the town of Willits was without phone and Internet service making communication very difficult. Eventually, a monk traveled to Laytonville, 23 miles north of Willits, where he was able to get internet service. He was able to reach Luang Por Pasanno who was in New Hampshire at the time. Luang Por, who had been reading the news and receiving information from people all over the world, had much better information about the fire than the stranded community.

With little communication with the outside world and thick layers of smoke descending on Willits, the group decided to spend the night in Fort Bragg. Mettika from the Three Jewels Meditation Center in Fort Bragg had generously offered to house the twenty-six evacuees for the evening.

Tuesday, October 10th

On Tuesday morning, the group still had almost no information about whether or not fires had affected the property. They knew, however, that the fire was zero percent contained and continued to affect large swaths of Redwood Valley and Potter Valley.

The group decided to accept the invitation from Dharma Master Heng Lyu to stay at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB) in Ukiah. The community arrived at CTTB mid-afternoon, were warmly welcomed by Venerable Jin Chuan, and provided with rooms and amenities.

That evening, Father Damian reported that their community was safe and was staying in Ukiah. He also reported that a neighbor informed him that as of 5PM on Tuesday that Abhayagiri was not on fire but that fires could be seen behind the ridge line of the property.

Wednesday, October 11th

The next day the group rested.

Debbie and Beth attended a news briefing with county officials and reported back to the community.

Officials said the fires started because the humidity levels had been the lowest they have ever seen for this time of year. On Wednesday, the wind changed directions and were blowing from the ocean. This also meant the winds were blowing away from the monastery. The strong and gusty winds provide a dangerous environment, but the humidity in the air helped. It was still a dangerous situation, but not the highest alert level. Because conditions at the fire can be affected by many factors, so was difficult to know how all the factors affected the fire closest to the monastery.

The county officials showed a rough map indicating the active fire lines and the areas where the fire fighting crews were trying to prevent the fire from entering. The monastery property was in the middle of one of the fire fighting zones. Later, a monastery supporter informed the group that they had heard that fire fighting crews were on the monastery property.

The officials also stressed that the maps available on the Internet showing fire lines and hot spots are not reliable, and that only people on the ground can know for sure what is happening. County officials reported that of the ten big fires that were being tackled by firefighters, the cluster of fires affecting the monastery was the third in priority. They reported further that California is well organized and has been able to bring in other fire fighting resources from other states.

At 6pm, Luang Por Pasanno and Ajahn Karuṇadhammo arrived at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. The entire community was together again.

Thursday, October 12

We have been settling in at CTTB and greatly appreciating all of the hospitality here.

As of Thursday afternoon, officials reported that the Redwood Complex fire has spread to 32,000 acres and was only 5% contained. Officials also reported that 1,000 people were evacuated Wednesday night from Potter Valley which is just to the east of Redwood Valley. In total, there have been 8 fatalities and 8,000 people displaced because of the fire.

We heard from various sources that fire crews are using Abhayagiri’s parking lots as a staging area. This is both good and bad news for the property. It’s good news in that that the cloister area is being protected and safe enough for them to keep their equipment at the site. But it’s bad news in that the fires are very close.

The extended weather forecast for the weekend also indicated stronger winds. The fires started and spread on Sunday and Monday because of strong winds, and those conditions are expected to return Friday night and continue through Saturday.

There was still no definite information about the monastery property or when we would be allowed to return.

While the news of the monastery property continued to be volatile and uncertain, the community was in good spirits and people have been deeply touched by the generosity and kindness from both friends and strangers.

Supporting the Monastery In Response to the Redwood Valley Fire

Many of you have asked how you can help the monastery and laypeople who have been affected by the wildfires. Your expressions of generosity and spirit of community are the sorts of blessings that naturally arise during such a crisis.

Since the fires are still burning—both near the monastery and the homes of lay supporters—it is still too soon to know what sort of help will be needed. For now, the monastery residents are safe and being well cared for at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, as are lay friends who were also forced to evacuate their homes.

But soon, once the fires are out and the smoke has cleared, it will become clearer as to what is needed. At that time, we will post more information here about how you can help, both the monastery community and those lay supporters who may be in need.

Until then, we are grateful for your practice.

For those who wish to support our many neighbors who already lost their homes along Tomki Road and throughout the Redwood Valley area, the local Community Foundation of Mendocino County provides a means to do so at http://www.communityfound.org/.

Fire Update, October 12, 2017

As many people are aware, Redwood Valley and nearby Potter Valley are experiencing a large wildfire also known as the “the Redwood Complex Fire.” The fire started late Sunday night on October 8, 2017. As of Thursday afternoon, the fire has spread to an area of over 30,000 acres and only 5% of has been contained.

The monastery residents became aware of the fire around 2am Monday morning. The fire was visible to residents just over the neighboring ridge and the community organized an evacuation shortly thereafter. The community, along with many people in the neighborhood, were able to safely make their way to a shelter in Willits later in the morning. From there, the community spent the night at the Three Jewels Meditation Center in Fort Bragg. Communication during this time was either non-existent or spotty as most communication lines and cell phones were non-operational.

When the fire broke out, Luang Por Pasanno was away attending the Kathina at Temple Forest Monastery in New Hampshire. He became aware of the fire only after people started messaging him after hearing reports about the fire in the news. Dharma Master Heng Lyu later communicated with Luang Por Pasanno and extended an invitation to the evacuted Abhayagiri community to stay at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Ukiah. The community accepted the offer and made their way to City of Ten Thousand Buddhas Tuesday afternoon where they are now as of Thursday afternoon.

Photos of the community leaving Abhayagiri.

Current reports from fire authorities suggest that the main monastery buildings are okay but conditions are highly volatile and the situation can change very quickly. According to the officials, there will be low relative humidity and high wind speeds over the next couple days.

Officials are not allowing anybody back into the area, including the monastery, at this time.

We also would like to echo what fire officials have told us: satellite maps often do not reflect what is actually going on the ground. We realize there are many sources of information that provide detailed accounts of fire or damage coverage, including those from official sources like CalFire, but they often can lead to misapprehensions and misunderstandings.

We are asking that people not travel to Ukiah or visit us at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas at this time. The area is heavily impacted as many people are without homes due to the fire evacuations.

Photos from the first couple days at City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.

Abhayagiri Residents Safe at CTTB

We want to let everybody know that the Abhayagiri community is safe and is currently staying at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.

As of Thursday, 10am, the Abhayagiri property is most likely not damaged but conditions are volatile and are there is no access to the property.

We are asking that people not to come visit us at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to leave roads, hotels, and services available to others who have evacuated.

We will be posting updates on our condition at least once a day for the foreseeable future.

The following photo was taken at around 9am this morning.

In addition, we will have more information today, Thursday, at around 7pm PST. Please check back then.

Abhayagiri Community is safe - updated Oct. 10

Update 8 pm October 10:
A neighbor reported that the monastery buildings were OK as of the afternoon of Oct. 9. The fire is still active, and we don’t know the state of the buildings after that time. It is unsafe to travel on Tomki Road, and there are hard closures approaching the monastery from both directions. We plan to update the website as we hear more information.

8 pm October 9:
You have likely heard about the fires in Northern California. We want to let you know that the Abhayagiri community is safe. We don’t know what will happen with Kathina this Sunday. Please check this website for announcements before visiting Abhayagiri.

Upāsikā Day – Sunday, October 1 – Meditation: Can we function without attachment?

We hope you can join us at Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery for the next Upasika Day on Sunday, October 1, a day of community, Dhamma study, meditation, and renewal.

Our theme for the day will be: Meditation: Can we function without attachment? Luang Por Pasanno and senior monastics of Abhayagiri have graciously offered to lead us in an exploration of he four types of clinging, and nekkhama (renunciation, letting go), especially as we experience them, and can lessen the one and increase the other, in meditation.

If you are unable to attend in person, you are invited to join in the live-stream through the following link: https://youtu.be/bTzGU7S5ol4

The readings for the day include three short articles:

Ajahn Munindo, “What is Nekkhama?”, Lion’s Roar, available here: https://www.lionsroar.com/what-is-nekkhamma/

Bhikkhu Bodhi, “The Baslanced Way”, Access to Insight, available here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/bps-essay_08.html

“The Attakha Vagga: Octet Chapter,” by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, available here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/atthakavagga.html

We hope you will also join us for the daily meal, beginning at 11:00 a.m. It’s customary to bring a dish to offer to the monastics and to share with others. Our material support of the monastery community is an important aspect of our role as upasikas (literally, “those who sit close by”), and our generous offerings of food are a tangible means of extending this support.

Attendance at Upasika Days is open both to those who wish to make a formal commitment to the program and to those who may simply wish to attend for the day. All are welcome. Please spread the word among those who may be interested.

The schedule for the day is as follows:

  • 10:45 a.m. Refuges and Precepts (optional)
  • 11:00 a.m. (sharp) Meal Offering (please bring a dish to share)
  • 1-4:30 p.m. Study/Practice Session
  • 4:30 p.m. Tea with the monastics (optional)

For directions on getting to the monastery, please visit www.abhayagiri.org. And if you’d like to carpool, please feel free to utilize the upasika@yahoogroups.com email group as a means of contacting others planning to attend.

Upasika Program Purpose

  • To enhance individual practice and increase self-discipline through
    making a formal commitment to spiritual training.
  • To deepen both the intellectual and experiential understanding of
    the Dhamma.
  • To have more supportive contact with like-minded people and the
    ordained Sangha.
  • To be better equipped to communicate the Teachings to others.

Upasika Program Guidelines

  • Undertake to live by the Three Refuges and the Five Precepts, with
    the Theravada Forest Tradition as the focus of one’s practice.
  • Attend regular gatherings with other Upasikas, either at the
    Monastery or in your own homes.
  • Visit the Monastery and formally take the Refuges and Precepts at
    least quarterly.
  • Observe the Uposatha Days of the full and new moon in some fashion
    appropriate to your living situation.
  • Practice meditation daily.
  • Find some time each year to go on retreat.
  • Attend at least one festival day or communal gathering at the
    Monastery each year.
  • Cultivate a basic working knowledge of the Teachings.
  • Support the Sangha according to your means and abilities.
  • Keep to the training for at least one year after having made the
    formal commitment.

The remaining Upasika Day date for 2017 is:

Saturday, December 9 - Daily Life Practice: Undertaking a Self-Retreat

Please mark them on your calendars!

Hope to see you on October 1.

Kind regards,
Jeanie, on behalf of the Upasika Day planning committee

Upāsikā Day, Saturday, August 12: Practice in a Global Context; Being a Good Citizen

On Saturday, August 12, Luang Por Pasanno and senior monastics of Abhayagiri have graciously offered to lead us in an exploration of the Buddha’s teachings on living in society, and how we can apply them today.

The schedule for the day is as follows:

  • 10:45 a.m. Refuges and Precepts (optional)
  • 11:00 a.m. (sharp) Meal Offering
  • 1-4:30 p.m. Study/Practice Session
  • 4:30 p.m. Tea with the monastics (optional)

The group session will be livestreamed at https://youtu.be/v1JrjH4HJmE starting at 1PM.

Attendance at Upāsikā Days is open both to those who wish to make a formal commitment to the program and to those who may simply wish to attend for the day. All are welcome.

2017 Abhayagiri Thanksgiving Retreat - Registration Closed

2017 Monastic Thanksgiving Retreat

Led by Luang Por Pasanno and the Abhayagiri Community

Registration is closed. This article is left up for informational purposes.

November 17-26, 2017 at Angela Center, Santa Rosa, CA

Abhayagiri Monastery in Redwood Valley, California and the Sanghapala Foundation invite you to join Luang Por Pasanno and the Abhayagiri Community for a 10-day retreat over the Thanksgiving holiday.

We will create a monastery environment during our time together, and we offer you this opportunity to explore the Dhamma in a setting that differs somewhat from a typical meditation retreat. We will all live the monastery life, following the Eight Precepts, taking only what is offered, and attempting to reflect on our every activity as part of our practice. This will include noble silence, morning and evening chanting, sitting and walking meditation, a work period, and daily Dhamma talks and teachings.

The retreat will be held from Friday afternoon, November 17th, through mid-day Sunday, November 26, 2017, in the Ursula Hall at the Angela Center in Santa Rosa, California. The closest airports are Santa Rosa, Oakland and San Francisco, with shuttles available to Santa Rosa. Because of the length of this retreat and the adherence to the Eight Precepts, you must previously have sat at least one five-day meditation retreat. Retreatants are requested to attend the entire retreat, from the opening taking of the Precepts on Friday evening to the closing ceremony on Sunday morning.

The facility is wheelchair accessible. We are unable to accommodate special dietary or environmental needs. We will eat a light breakfast and, in keeping with this monastic tradition, the daily meal (vegetarian) is eaten before noon; there is no evening meal or use of kitchen. Incense and candles are used at the morning and evening chanting periods.

The retreat will be offered solely on dana (freewill donations); there is no set fee.

Due to the popularity of this retreat, registration is via lottery and a deposit is required for registration. (For those who attend the retreat or are on the waiting list, or who cancel by October 25th, the deposit can be refunded upon request or it can be offered as a freewill donation to Abhayagiri Monastery. The deposit cannot be refunded to those who cancel after October 25th.) Out of respect for others, please register only when you can make a clear and wholehearted commitment to attend.

Registration is closed. This article is left up for informational purposes.

To register for the retreat print and fill out the pdf registration form and mail it along with the $100 deposit check to Cyndia Marcous, 72 Fernwood Drive, San Anselmo, CA 94960. There is no email registration this year.