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2015 Abhayagiri Thanksgiving Retreat Registration (Closed)

Retreat registration is closed. This post is left here for informational purposes.

Registration for the Abhayagiri Thanksgiving Monastic retreat will close on July 31. Here is the original retreat announcement:

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, November 20-29 at the Angela Center in Santa Rosa, California.

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 20th, through mid-day Sunday, November 29, 2015, 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.

Retreat registration is closed. This post is left here for informational purposes.

To register for the retreat, print out the pdf registration form and mail it along with the $100 deposit check to Paul Friedlander, 722 Prospect Avenue, Oakland 94610. There is no email registration this year.

August 23 Benefit and Community Event at Mindfulness Care Center

The foundation of the new Reception Hall has been poured and the walls are going up, but funds are still needed to complete the interior of the building. The Mindfulness Care Center in San Francisco has organized a Benefit Day on August 23, 9:30 am - 5 pm, which will be an opportunity to interact with Ajahn Pasanno and the Abhayagiri Monastic Community, sharing in reflections and being of support. As with all Abhayagiri events, there is no charge to attend.

9:30 am: Morning chanting, meditation, Dhamma reflection and opportunity to take the Five Precepts.

11:30 am: Meal Offering to the Monastics. Please bring a vegetarian dish or item for the meal offering.

1:00 pm: Meet & Greet with the Abhayagiri Monastic Sangha. This will be an opportunity for the lay community and the monastics to share what Abhayagiri and the Ajahn Chah Thai Forest Tradition has meant to them. Followed by a slide show and update on Reception Hall construction progress.

3:00 pm: Q & A with Ajahn Pasanno and Mark Sponseller

3:30 pm: Break & Open House.

4:00 pm: Closing reflection, blessing and final community sit.

More details at mindfulnesscare.org

Event flyer

Mindfulness Care Center

42 Gough Street SF, CA 94103

(415) 503-1971

mindfulnesscare.org

Ongoing construction photographs are posted weekly in the gallery.

Luang Por Liem's Visit to Abhayagiri

This year, four of our western monasteries had the good fortune to host Luang Por Liem during a one month trip to America. With him was Luang Por Jundee, Ajahn Sek, Ajahn Moshe and Ajahn Thaniyo. They went to Tisarana Monastery in Ottawa, Canada, then Temple Forest Monastery in New Hampshire, Pacific Hermitage, and Abhayagiri.

For those who have never before heard the names of these monks: Luang Por Jundee has been ordained for 40 years and is the abbot of Wat Ampawan, a monastery located in a beautiful mountain wilderness in Chonburi Province. Ajahn Sek has been ordained for 17 years, and heads up a small jungle hermitage in the Sayoke National Park region, Kanchanaburi Province, near the Burmese border. Ajahn Moshe has been ordained for 15 years and lives in a monastery in Chiang Mai Province, northern Thailand. Ajahn Thaniyo is an Australian monk who has been ordained for 10 years and came to translate for and attend to Luang Por Liem.

Luang Por Liem is a very humble monk and an extraordinary example of what can be achieved in the practice. When you first meet him, he appears to be simply a happy old monk who likes to look at plants. Its unlikely that you would figure out that he’s the abbot of Wat Pah Pong and looks after the physical and spiritual well-being of over 350 Wat Pah Pong branch monasteries. Below are some highlights of his visit to Abhayagiri.

The group arrived on the evening of Monday, July 6th, after their tour of Portland and Pacific Hermitage. Each day he gave a Dhamma reflection before the meal, and during evening tea answered questions and offered further reflections. Some of these teachings were recorded and are posted on our audio page. He also spent time each day strolling around the Reception Hall construction site, finally commenting that “you’ll be able to use it for 100-200 years.” On Tuesday, the group visited the giant coastal redwoods west of Abhayagiri, and Luang Por Liem commented that if you were willing to go without food for a week, you could walk on tudong to those redwoods and meditate there for a few days.

On Wednesday, the lunar observance day, Luang Por Jundee had the opportunity to walk the alms round in Ukiah, and gave the evening Dhamma talk. The next day the group was invited to take the meal in Sebastopol, and many of the supporters of Abhayagiri took the opportunity to join in. Luang Por Liem gave some reflections in conjunction with the meal. Afterwards they went for a walk on the Mendocino coast.

On Saturday, July 11th, we decided to have both the meal and the evening puja and Dhamma talk in the new Reception Hall. Luang Por Liem gave a talk before the mealtime. The Abhayagiri community spent the day preparing the meditation hall section of the new building, covering sections of the walls with monk’s robes and temporarily closing off some of the window openings with tarps and plexi glass. For the evening, Luang Por Liem led us in some lengthy paritta chanting (protective verses chanted in pali), to generate blessings for the new building. We meditated for a while, and the atmosphere was very peaceful, it was wonderful.

After the meditation, the Abhayagiri community took formal leave of Luang Por Liem, as he was to leave the next morning. The traditional candles, flowers, and incense were offered, and we chanted the verses of asking for forgiveness. Then Luang Por gave the talk, with a brilliant translation by Ajahn Thaniyo.

On Sunday the group left Abhayagiri early in the morning and had the meal at Wat Buddhanusorn in Fremont. After the meal, Luang Por Liem gave a talk, with another surprisingly good translation by Ajahn Thaniyo.

As the group was not returning until the 16th, there was some time to do some sightseeing. That included spending two days in and around Yosemite, and visiting the marine mammal center near the Golden Gate bridge. Then, the group departed for Thailand to prepare for the entering of the annual Rains Retreat.

Many thanks to all the people who made it possible to properly host and look after our great Ajahns! These kind of visits wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t for the immense amount of support that Abhayagiri receives from the wider community.

“If Luang Por Chah were still alive, he’d be happy with what’s happening at Abhayagiri” - Luang Por Jundee

Ajahn Liem to Visit Abhayagiri

Ajahn Liem, the abbot of Wat Nong Pah Pong and successor to Ajahn Chah, will be visiting four North American monasteries in the Ajahn Chah tradition from June 19 to July 16. Ajahn Jundee, abbot of Wat Pah Ampawan, and two other monks will accompany Ajahn Liem. After visiting Tisarana Buddhist Monastery, Temple Forest Monastery, and Pacific Hermitage, they plan to arrive at Abhayagiri in the early evening on July 6. We will ask Ajahn Liem to give the 7:30 pm evening talk on Saturday, July 11. He will be away from Abhayagiri on July 9. Ajahn Liem’s last public event in California will be a talk after the meal at Wat Buddhanusorn in Fremont on July 12.

Abhayagiri’s guest accommodations are completely full for the duration of Ajahn Liem’s visit.

Ajahn Liem’s itinerary (follow the links for more details)

June 19 – June 24: Tisarana Buddhist Monastery, near Ottawa, Canada

June 26 – July 2: Temple Forest Monastery, Temple, New Hampshire

July 3 – July 4: Portland Friends of the Dhamma, Portland, Oregon

July 4 – 5: Pacific Hermitage, White Salmon, Washington

July 6 – 12: Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery

July 6: Arrives in early evening

July 9: Away from Abhayagiri

July 11: Saturday talk at 7:30 pm

July 12: Departs in morning for Wat Buddhanusorn

July 12: Public talk at Wat Buddhanusorn, Fremont, California after morning meal (not announced on their website)

Ajahn Liem’s schedule in Portland (from the Pacific Hermitage website)

Friday, July 3rd – Friends of the Dhamma, Portland

5:30pm – 6:40pm Tea and Dhamma discussion

7:00pm – 9:00pm Meditation and Dhamma talk

Saturday, July 4th – Friends of the Dhamma, Portland

10:00am – 10:30am Buddha Rupa blessing ceremony

11:00am – 1:00pm Meal offering, visit with the monastics

Saturday Afternoon, July 4th – Pacific Hermitage, White Salmon

1:00pm-3:00pm Interdependence Garden Party

3:00pm-4:00pm Tea and reception

Sunday, July 5th – Pacific Hermitage, White Salmon

11:00am -1:00pm Meal offering, visit with the monastics

Sunday Evening, July 5th – Yoga Samadhi, White Salmon

6:30pm-8:30pm Meditation and Dhamma talk

Ajahn Amaro to visit Abhayagiri

We are pleased to announce that Ajahn Amaro will be here for a brief visit in June. He will be in San Francisco in early June to attend a Mindfulness and Compassion Conference, and will come to stay at Abhayagiri from June 7 – June 10. On the afternoon of Tuesday June 9, we will have an ordination of two novices and two bhikkhus, and Ajahn Amaro will give the ordination reflections. There will be no evening talk that night. On Wed. June 10, Ajahn Amaro will lead a meditation and offer a Dhamma talk from 4 pm to 6 pm at Yoga Mendocino (206 Mason St. Ukiah, CA 95482; (707) 462-2580) – please see our website calendar for more information.

Community Work Day June 13

If you are looking for a way to support the Abhayagiri community and want to connect to the residents in an informal situation, then you are welcome to come join us for an afternoon project. The next scheduled community work day is June 13. The project will start with a meeting at 1 pm and will probably end by 4:30 pm. You are welcome to come join us for the 11:00 AM meal and stay for tea at 4:30 pm and evening puja at 7:30 pm followed by a Dhamma talk.

On June 13 we plan to move firewood to Casa Serena (the women’s accomodations) and do fire clearance around cabins. There will be work available for people of all physical abilities.

A previous community work day.

Coastal Tudong by Ajahn Jotipālo

Recently Tan Thanavaro and I took up the practice of “tudong”. Walking from the small town of Westport, CA to Boonville, CA, mostly following Rt 1 along the coast and Rt 128 through redwood forests and along side the Navarro River.

The word ‘tudong’ is derived from the Pali word “dhutanga”, meaning ascetic practices. There are 13 ascetic practices that the Buddha allowed and encouraged for assisting monks and nuns in their Dhamma training. These practices include, for example, eating one meal a day, eating only from one’s bowl, living in the forest and meditating in cemeteries. These days when forest monks and nuns walk on faith or pilgrimage, it is often referred to as going tudong.

Tudong is meant to be something much more profound than mere travelling like a tourist. The purpose is not to accumulate new and pleasant sensory experiences but to understand the truth of our experience. Sometimes the simplicity of living close to the elements means having to put up with some difficult situations, so tudong encourages the practice of developing patience and endurance. Travelling outside one’s comfort zone can bring up a range of reactions, and this is a valuable opportunity to learn more about oneself.

Tudong also encourages us to look at uncertainty, “Will we get alms food offered in this small town? Where will be sleep tonight? Is it going to storm?” Tudong can be used as a period of time to set down the planning mind that tries to control the future. In such situations the mind can become more sensitive and intuitive. Allowing oneself to surrender to the present can provide the opportunity for many wonderful, unplanned and nearly magical situations to occur.

Tan Thanavaro and I set off on May 7th with the blessings of the community to be away for a week. Debbie and Beth offered to drive us from the monastery to the tiny town of Westport, CA about 16 miles north of Fort Bragg. Mettika, the founder of Three Jewels Dhamma Hall in Fort Bragg put out word to several people about the tudong. As a result we had places to stay in Westport and Fort Bragg.

Finding places to stay ended up not being that difficult and we received food in every town that we walked through (and Westport has a population of 60 people)! In the towns of Albion and Elk, we weren’t even going on alms-round and received food offering (the population of Albion is 168 and Elk is 208). The most difficult aspect of the walk was the hardness of the road surface and after two days of walking my feet were really sore. If I do a tudong in the future, I’ll hopefully do several months of training before setting out.

It’s hard to say what was the best part of the tudong: the natural beauty of the land and sea, the people we met, the generosity, the solitude and time for meditation… Certainly all of these were present during this tudong and it probably isn’t important to pick one aspect as a favorite.

The tudong ended with an invitation from our good friends at Pomo Tierra Ranch, near Boonville, CA where we spent the last night. The next morning we were offered a home-made breakfast and one of the residents drove us back to Abhayagiri.

Photo gallery of the walk

Just Enough”, a talk given by Ajahn Jotipālo after returning from this tudong

Reception Hall Update from the Sanghapala Foundation Board President to the Abhayagiri Lay Community

One warm day in June nineteen years ago, Ajahn Amaro and Anagarika Tom (now Ajahn Karunadhammo) established Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery in Redwood Valley, CA. Luang Por Pasanno arrived about six months later. The original infrastructure consisted of a small two bedroom house and a garage, which was converted to the current Dhamma hall. For several years now, it has been apparent that we have outgrown these original structures.

I had the good fortune to join the community early on. My relatively short time as a member of the resident community taught me a great deal about the teachings of the Buddha and myself. I will be forever grateful. This community carries the lamp of the Dhamma and shines its light on the Buddha’s path to the highest human potential. As the daily chanting says, “they give occasion for incomparable goodness to arise in the world.” These past nineteen years have seen Abhayagiri grow into one of the finest training monasteries for Theravada Buddhism in the West. The field of goodness created by Luang Por Pasanno and the community of monastics attracts hundreds, if not thousands, of visitors a year.

As you are probably aware, the Abhayagiri community, supported by the lay stewardship organization Sanghapala Foundation, is in phase two of a three-phase building project to build a facility that will include a spacious meditation hall, a larger and more efficient kitchen, office, library, guest rooms, child care room, lay bathrooms and showers, laundry, a small shrine room/reliquary, plus covered decks and storage rooms. This new facility will provide improved amenities for all of the lay supporters.

As of March 31, 2015, we are about $18,000 short of having the designated donations needed to complete phase two, which will essentially seal the building from the weather. Phase two is planned to be completed this year.

Phase three will allow us to build out the interiors of the building and make it useable. At this time, phase three is estimated to cost $1 million. Ideally, we will have raised the funds by the end of 2015 so that phase three can be completed during 2016. However, we will only be able to complete the building once sufficient funds have been donated.

The lay community has shown a beautiful outpouring of generosity to fund the building project so far. But we are only two-thirds of the way to our new home. I so look forward to the day when there is plenty of space in the Dhamma hall on a Saturday night or on a festival day, as well as having a spacious post-meal clean up in the kitchen. But mostly, I want to support the incomparable goodness that is Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery. Please join with me in supporting phase three.

With gratitude,Mark SponsellerSanghapala Foundation Board President

Reception Hall construction photographs (updated weekly)

Ongoing construction news

Happenings at the Monastery

Our annual winter retreat during the months of January, February, and March recently came to a close and the community is slowly re-entering the pace of our normal daily schedule and routine. The retreat was a very beneficial time for us: a chance to move into more stillness and time for reflection – deepening our contemplative practice. The theme for teachings this year was the first three establishments of mindfulness: mindfulness of body, of feelings, and of mind itself (the fourth establishment of mindfulness, dhammas, was the entire retreat theme a few years ago).

With readings and reflections from the senior monks nearly every day, we had a chance to move into deeper contemplation around these themes, with periods of group meditation practice as well as periods of solitary practice to bring them into our real experience. Everyone, the resident monastics and long-term lay residents, as well as the retreat helper crew, expressed much appreciation for the opportunity to practice like this together. We were also rewarded with beautiful weather which encouraged lots of outdoor practice (although all of us would have liked to see more rain to help alleviate the drought!). After we have had time to edit the recorded teachings, these will appear on the website. This may take some time, as the recordings are quite extensive.

As we resume a more engaged pace, there are a number of events on the horizon. The regular monthly teachings in Berkeley, Ukiah, and Fort Bragg will be resuming, Upasika Day teachings will be happening, and various members of the community will be visiting and teaching around the country (see our events calendar for details). Upasika Debbie has been invited to teach in North Dakota, Ajahn Karunadhammo will be teaching in Wisconsin in late April, and Luang Por Pasanno and Ajahn Jotipalo are currently in Mississippi visiting a meditation center there.

There will be several ordinations happening on June 9th. Samanera Khantiko and Samanera Gambhiro will be taking their full bhikkhu ordinations that day, and Anagarika Doug and Anagarika John will be taking their samanera (novice) ordinations as well. All are welcome to attend this auspicious event. It will likely take place in the middle to late afternoon, but the exact time has yet to be determined. Coming for the meal time at 11:00 am and staying on through the day is a great way to do it! We are also pleased that Ajahn Amaro will be visiting us briefly and will be present for the ordinations (see accompanying article).

Of course, the other major happening is the beginning of Phase 2 of the Reception Hall construction (see below for lots of photos). We now have sufficient funds for this phase, the framing and roof. At present, we plan to once again put the project on hold after the completion of this Phase 2 (October 2015) until sufficient funds become available for Phase 3. Phase 3 would be the completion of the building, which would then make it ready for occupancy. We are very pleased to be able to have our contractor, Bob Madlem, and his excellent crew back with us for this phase.

With all of this happening, we still try to strive for a quiet, contemplative life here, and welcome visitors to come and share in this teaching and lifestyle.

Ruth Denison Passes On

Ruth Denison passed away at her center in Joshua Tree, California on February 26, 2015 (see previous article on our website for a report of Ajahn Pasanno’s visit there last autumn). Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Karunadhammo are attending the memorial service for Ruth, which will be held on March 21st. This event will be live-streamed – information about Ruth, the memorial service, and how to view the event is available on the Dhammadena website