New Web Albums

7 new web albums have just been added to our Abhayagiri photo gallery (/gallery). These feature photos of Luang Por Sumedho’s arrival, duration, and leaving Abhayagiri as well as photos from JR’s Samanera Ordination and the Opening Ceremony of The Portland Friend’s of the Dhamma’s New Center. Please enjoy and be inspired to practice.

2014 Thanksgiving Monastic Retreat Registration (Closed)

Registration has closed. This post is left here for informational purposes.

Update August 2: The retreat application period has ended, and there were more applicants than available seats on the retreat. Space on the retreat will be allocated by lottery, and the retreat manager will inform those who applied of their lottery status by August 15th.

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. 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 21st, through midday Sunday, November 30, 2014, 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 any 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. 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, we will be doing a lottery this year. Please email the information below by the deadline of August 1st. You will hear back from the retreat manager by August 15th, at which time we will ask you to send in a refundable deposit of $100 if you are in. For those who attend the retreat 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 has closed. This post is left here for informational purposes.

To register, please email the following information to Paul Friedlander, Registrar, at Retreat14@juno.com by August 1, 2014.

  1. Your name, address, telephone number and gender.
  2. Have you previously attended a five-day or longer silent meditation retreat? _____ yes _____ no
  3. Have you previously attended a ten-day or longer monastic meditation retreat? _____ yes _____ no
  4. If you don’t get into the retreat, are you interested in being placed on a waiting list? (There are always cancellations, and sometimes very close to the retreat start. ) _____ yes _____ no

Upāsika Day : Sun., Aug. 17th - Using the Suttas Wisely in Practice

We hope you can join us at Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery for the Upasika Day on Sunday August 17, a day of community, Dhamma study, meditation, and renewal.

Our theme for the day will be “The Suttas: Using the Suttas wisely in practice .” Luang Por Pasanno and other members of the Abhayagiri community have graciously agreed to lead us in an exploration of incorporating the suttas into practice through reading, reflection, memorization, chanting, and meditation. The day will include time for discussion as well as formal practice.

The reading for the day is Phra Payutto’s The Pali Canon: What a Buddhist Must Know, available as a pdf here: http://www.watnyanaves.net/uploads/File/books/pdf/the\pali\canon\what\a\buddhist\must\know.pdf This short document gives a good overview of the suttas and would be helpful to read before the 17th if you have time.

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.

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)

Remaining 2014 Upasika Days topics and themes are:

Sunday October 26: Meditation: Anapanasati

Sunday December 7: Daily Life Practice: Sakayaditthi (“personality view”)

For directions on getting to the monastery, please visit www.abhayagiri.org.


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.

Luang Por Sumedho to Visit Abhayagiri (UPDATED July 7th, 2014)

Please note: the most reliable and up-to-date information is on our web calendar.

Luang Por Sumedho, the most senior Western disciple of Ajahn Chah, will be visiting the [Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery]() from July 8th to July 18th.

Here are a list of events involving Luang Por Sumedho:

  • The community will assemble to welcome Luang Por Sumedho at Abhayagiri on the evening of July 8th.
  • Luang Por Sumedho has agreed to offer a Dhamma reflection during Abhayagiri’s Asalha Puja, July 11th. Please be at the cloister area by 7 pm if you wish to attend the ceremony. Vehicles will be be shuttling people up to the ordination platform. Asalha Puja starts at 7:30 pm on the ordination platform. Consider bringing clothing for colder weather and repellent for mosquitoes

    Please note: Anagarika J.R.’s novice ordination, happening on the same day, will begin at 4:30 pm in the Dhamma Hall in the Cloister Area. If you wish to attend his ordination, please show up at the cloister area and be seated in the Dhamma Hall before 4:30 pm.

  • Luang Por Sumedho has also agreed to offer a Dhamma reflection at the nearby City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB) at 5 pm on Sunday, July 13th in the Buddha Hall. This talk will also be webcasted live on the Dharma Realm YouTube Channel.

    Luang Por Sumedho had a strong connection with the founder of CTTB, Rev. Master Hsun Hua. Master Hua, also offered the original land for Abhayagiri and is thus responsible for Abhayagiri’s location in Redwood Valley.

All are welcome to visit during the day and attend the various events at Abhayagiri including Asalha Puja. All events at Abhayagiri and the talk at CTTB are freely offered, with no reservation required.

A brief biography of Luang Por Sumedho is included below:

Luang Por Sumedho was born in Seattle, Washington in 1934. After serving four years in the US Navy as a medic, he completed a BA in Far Eastern Studies and a MA in South Asian Studies. In 1966, he went to Thailand to practice meditation at Wat Mahathat in Bangkok. Not long afterwards, he went forth as a novice monk in a remote part of the country, Nong Khai, before receiving full ordination in 1967.

A year of solitary practice followed. Although fruitful, it showed him the need for a teacher who could more actively guide him. A fortuitous encounter with a visiting monk led him to Ubon province to practice with Luang Por Chah. He took dependence from Luang Por Chah and remained under his close guidance for ten years.

In 1975, Luang Por Sumedho, established Wat Pah Nanachat, International Forest Monastery where Westerners could be trained in English. In 1977, he accompanied Luang Por Chah to England and took up residence at the Hampstead Vihara, with three other monks.

Luang Por Sumedho was made an Upachaya (ordination preceptor) in 1981. Since then he has given upasampada (Bhikkhu precepts) to more than a hundred aspirants of many nationalities. Luang Por Sumedho was integral in establishing the Forest Sangha tradition in the United Kingdom. He was central in establishing Amaravati Buddhist Monastery and Chithurst Buddhist Monastery. He remained as senior incumbent at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in Hertfordshire until November 2010, at which time he handed over the duties of abbot to Ajahn Amaro. Luang Por Sumedho is now based in Thailand where his monastic life began in 1966.

Alms Round Starts in Willits

With their bright saffron robes, shaved heads and mild demeanors Jotipalo and Kassapo, monks at the Abhayagiri Monastery of Redwood Valley, stand out a bit, even in Willits. On Thursday, June 12, 2014, they were found them peacefully strolling down Main Street from the MacDonald’s to Commercial Street, alms baskets slung over their shoulders, silently waiting to receive alms in the form of food, engaging with anyone who might have questions, offering traditional Buddhist blessings, and generally making their presence known to the community.

Jotipalo, originally of Indiana, speaking with his soft Midwestern accent, explained that the monks have only recently begun making their alms walk through Willits, though they have been active in Ukiah for more than 10 years, “The first couple times no one knew what we were doing, but last time maybe 12 people gave us food.”

The monks, who belong to the Thai Forest tradition of Theravada Buddhist, have been doing a bi-monthly alms walk through Willits for about two months. The alms round is an ancient tradition brought over from Thailand, where monks make daily walks through local villages begging for alms to support themselves. Here in Mendocino County, with longer distances and different traditions, the monks only make their alms walk on the new and full moons in Willits, and on the new, full and quarter moons in Ukiah and Redwood Valley. They are not allowed to touch money and depend on the donations of laity to support themselves. All food that is collected on these alms rounds is brought back to the monastery and shared among the members.

The Abhayagiri Monastery, which means “fearless mountain” in the ancient Pali language, a dead language used in Buddhist scripture, was founded in 1995, at the invitation of the local Buddhist community. Steve Keyes, a local lay resident, has been active with the monastery since its creation and was integral in bring the alms rounds to Willits, giving the monks rides, and organizing.

At Mariposa Market a few people stopped to look curiously at the monks, and a few more stopped to give them food. Maluma of Willits placed food into their baskets then bowed to receive a traditional blessing. Asked about the new presence of the monks in Willits she said, “I love it. It’s just a reminder of the spiritual path, of my own spiritual path.”

Not being able to handle money obviously creates certain difficulties for the monks, Jotipalo, by far the more talkative of the pair, explains, “It’s very restricting in some ways, but freeing in others.” One obvious hang up is paying for gas. As a result the monks generally accept rides from lay members of their faith.

Judy Truong of Houston, Texas, and originally of Vietnam, was acting as the brother’s chauffer. She had flown in to San Francisco the previous day, renting a car and driving up to monastery specifically to take part in the monthly full moon ritual, which involves a tea, chanting, informal discussions on the nature of meditation and their faith, and sitting and walking meditation in the forest until 3 a.m., when the monks do their morning chant. Truong, who wore a simple and practical outfit reminiscent of hospital scrubs which she had sewn herself as part of her devotion, has tried various different forms of Buddhism and before dedicating to the Thai Forest Tradition.

She explained that the simplicity and directness of their message appealed to her, saying, “The way he teach, he doesn’t use fancy words.” She continued, “For people who don’t know anything about Buddhism this monastery is a good place to get to know.”

The monks see their rounds not primarily as a way to support the monastery, which receives much support from the larger lay community, with many people coming up from the Bay Area. Instead the walks serve as part of a lesson in humility for the monks, and a sign to the community of their presence, “It’s been very successful, even if we don’t receive any food, just friendly smiles.”

The monks will be continuing to walk for alms in Willits every morning of the new and full moons.

Adapted from an article posted on Willits News on June 18, 2014.

New Buddha Rupa for Reception Hall - Work in Progress

The carving of the future Buddha image for the new Reception Hall is underway in Thailand. The construction of the large image which will be the frontispiece of the shrine in the new hall was begun late last year. The whole process is being supervised by Ajahn Acalo - former Abhayagiri resident and current abbot of Anandagiri Mountain Hermitage in Petchaboon, Central Thailand.

Change of date for work afternoon

This month’s “once a month afternoon work project”, which had been scheduled for Saturday, May 31st has been cancelled. Instead, Friday, May 30th will be an all-day work day in order to complete an urgent project. If it fits your schedule, you are welcome to come on Friday, either for the morning or afternoon or both. The morning work meeting starts at 7:30 am, and the afternoon work meeting will start around 12:30 - 1 pm.

The next Saturday afternoon work project is scheduled for June 28th. The work period will start with a work meeting at 1 pm and the work will probably end by 4 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.

There is no need to contact us in advance if you would like to join us.

Abhayagiri in another local paper

An article recently appeared in the Ferry County View (Ferry County is is North Central Washington state).

Going forth of Sāmaṇera Khantiko, Anāgārika Doug, and Anāgārika John

In place of the usual Saturday night Dhamma talk on May 17, 2014, Abhayagiri Monastery celebrated three ordinations. After a year of anāgārika training, Anāgārika Anthony took on the brown robes of a novice monk. Ajahn Pasanno gave him the name Sāmaṇera Khantiko, which means “the patient one.” After living here for several months as laypeople, Doug and John donned white robes and joined the noble order of anāgārikas. Sāmaṇera Khantiko’s mother and two of John’s friends attended the ceremony.

Slide show in the Abhayagiri gallery

Audio recording of Ajahn Pasanno’s advice to the newly gone forth

Monks in Willits newspaper

Abhayagiri monks were invited by lay supporter Steve Keyes of Willits to walk alms round in his town. At the inaugural visit the local newspaper, The Willits Weekly, sent a reporter to cover the event. An article appeared in their 01 May 2014 issue.