Anagārika Ordination for Jordan

On November 14th, Long-term resident Jordan will take on the white robes of an anagārika. You are welcome to join for the beginning of his monastic training and hear Ajahn Pasanno’s advice for those embarking on the monastic path.

Puja will begin as usual at 7:00 pm, followed by the ceremony around 8:00-8:30 pm.

Open to Visitors Again, But No Trail Access

As the Tomki Road work crews are starting to lessen, we are now allowing visitors to start coming back to the monastery, and look forward to seeing our friends and supporters once again.

However, our trails will remain closed to the public due to potential dangers, until we can do more trail maintenance and also see how the rains will affect them.

When driving down East Road, West Road, and Tomki Road, we ask you to observe the following:

  • Drive slowly and safely, respecting any work crews.
  • Do not stop or pull over to look at damaged areas—come directly to the monastery.
  • Be aware of other vehicles and workers on the road especially on narrow stretches.

Once again, we appreciate all of the kindness and concern you all have given to us, and also appreciate your patience in waiting to come visit until now. We are looking forward to resuming our normal activities and schedules, including the Sunday afternoon meditation and talk at 2:00 pm.

Fund for Fire Prevention and Trail Maintenance

The Abhayagiri residents are now back on the property, and we have been joined by two of our close friends and supporters, Dee and Sondra, who both lost their houses in the fire. They will be staying with us as they sort out where they will want to eventually reside and how they will be rebuilding their homes. Other friends in the area who experienced losses are also slowly starting to piece things together again. There are many work crews along Tomki Road, repairing utilities, trimming back trees, and engaging in general cleanup—we expect this will take an extended period of time.

We were extraordinarily fortunate to have experienced no damage to any of our structures, except possibly minimal damage to one of our ridge water tanks. There are likely many reasons for this blessing, with most of the credit going to the excellent work done by the multiple fire-fighting crews from many different areas. We also believe there must have been some very powerful protective forces on the property looking after the monastery as we had fires coming from several directions that seemed to unexpectedly reverse direction.

On a more mundane level, we feel that the fire protection measures that we took prior to the fire (defensible clearances around buildings, trail maintenance, fire breaks, emergency procedures, etc.) were also very helpful. One thing we learned from this fire is that even with the extensive measures we have taken, we need to do more.

Because of the damage to the forest, we have closed our trails to public access until further notice, as there are potential dangers from falling dead trees and erosion after the fire.

Many of our friends have been asking how they can help us at this time. As a result of the fire, we would like to maintain and widen some of our trails, as they provided access for the fire-fighters and some of the wider trails worked as fire breaks and prevented spread of the fire on the property. We would also like to continue to extend the defensible areas around cabins with more brush clearance.

These fire prevention and trail maintenance projects are beyond what our resident community can do, and we will need to hire help for doing this. We have talked with the California Conservation Corps in the past to do some trail work, but had to postpone it due to lack of funds. Consequently, we have decided to set up a fund for this work for anyone who would like to contribute towards the future maintenance and fire safety measures in our forest.

Over the next few weeks and months, we will look forward to slowly resuming our regular routines, and keeping an eye out for ways to improve the conditions on the property for both residents and visitors. Our appreciation for all of your well-wishes and gestures of support is beyond measure, and we look forward to reconnecting with all of you.

The above two photos show an area on our ridge where we did brush clearing last year. In the second photo, taken on October 20, 2017, you can see the results of the fire that approached the side to the right of the road. The trees to the left of the road experienced little to no fire damage. According to several firefighters whom we spoke with, most of the ridge experienced a great loss of trees in part due to the brush being too thick.

Gratitude for Support in Response to the Fires

Ever since news spread regarding the fires affecting the Abhayagiri community, many people have been asking how they can offer support and assistance. About a week ago, we posted a news article suggesting the offering of gift cards from a nearby grocery store.

In the past few days, we have received an overwhelming number of gift cards. The Abhayagiri community is deeply appreciative and we would like to share our gratitude for people’s generosity.

At present, the gift cards we have received are sufficient for our needs.

We recognize that there may still be interest in offering support to the Abhayagiri community in response to the Redwood Valley fires. We are currently considering other options and, once it becomes clearer as to what might be helpful, we plan to share this information on our website.

In the meantime, for those who wish to support our many neighbors who have 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 17-18, 2017

On Tuesday, Luang Por Pasanno and others led an initial visit into the monastery after news came in that they would be allowed to return. Here are some photos that were taken of the day:

Photos of the initial reconnaissance expedition

On Wedneday, the Abhayagiri community paid respects to Dharma Master Hung Liu and said goodbye to the community at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Then, by the way of eight-car caravan, we drove into Redwood Valley and re-entered the monastery:

Photos of the community returning to Redwood Valley and Abhayagiri.

After paying respects to the shrine and offering gratitude and chanting, the community set out to
get the monastery back in order. Within a few hours, the basic utilities in the monastery were back online (power, water, gas, phones, Internet, etc.). The refrigerator and freezer were also emptied and cleaned of spoiled food (power was off for most of the week).

A few of the residents also explored the monastery to see how things changed since the fire water. While the fire had encroached the property, the fire fighters were very vigilant in protecting it. We also got a few new trails and roads from the fire fighters establishing fire breaks and fire perimeters.

Photos of exploring the monastery after the fire.

On Thursday morning, Luang Por Pasanno offered the following morning reflection to community:

Listen to “Back to Normal But Not Too Normal” by Ajahn Pasanno

Also, on Wednesday and Thursday, the community paid visits to Sondra’s and Dee’s homes to offer support:

Photos of the community visiting Sondra’s and Dee’s homes.

Finally, Luang Por Passanno, Ajahn Siripañño and others will visiting Wat Buddhanusorn in Fremont this Saturday, October 21, for the memorial cremation of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. For more information, please visit:

http://www.watbuddha.org/memorial-cremation-for-king-bhumibol-adulyadej/

Okay To Visit the Monastery (Was Do Not Visit the Monastery)

[Update - October 26, 2017] Abhayagiri Monastery is now open to the public. The following article has been kept for reference.


Please do not visit the monastery at this time.

If you haven’t heard the good news yet, as of Tuesday, October 17, the Abhayagiri community will be returning to the monastery property. However, the monastery is not yet open to public.

There are a number of checkpoints along the roads inside Redwood Valley and the law enforcement officials will turn away any non-residents. In addition, the area is still fairly dangerous, e.g., the air quality is poor, some areas are still smoldering, etc.

When Abhayagiri is ready to receive visitors, and the area is deemed safe, we will post an announcement on our website.

Supporting the Monastery

[UPDATE - October 22, 2017] This article originally suggested that those who wished to support the monastery could do so by sending a gift card from a nearby grocery store. The response was overwhelming and, at present, the gift cards we have received are sufficient for our needs.. The Abhayagiri community is deeply appreciative and we would like to share our gratitude for people’s generosity.

Fire Update, October 16, 2017

IMPORTANT: As October 17, 2017, Abhayagiri Monastery is not open to the public. We will post an announcement when people will be allowed to visit the monastery.

During the morning meeting today Luang Por Pasanno read out loud an email from Tan Kovilo describing a reflection given by Luang Por Liem at Wat Pah Nanachat. You can read it here:

Don’t Let Your Thoughts Get you Down by Luang Por Liem

Debbie received a message indicating that the Tomki road residents would be allowed to return to their homes, and that included the monastery. So, at around 10am, Luang Por Pasanno, Ajahn Karuṇadhammo, Ajahn Jotipālo, Sāmaṇera Tissaro and Debbie left the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to do an initial reconnaissance mission back to the monastery.

The crew came back a few hours later and reported that the monastery, with a few exceptions, was completely intact. There were still many fire personnel on the property as fires are still smoldering. However, no structures were damaged, at least none the crew could see on their initial trip.

Ajahn Jotipālo recounted one experience talking with a firefighting crew from New Mexico:

I asked the crew from New Mexico how it was fighting the fire. They had been on the property for about 5 days. They said it was the weirdest thing, like the monastery refused to burn.

They said one evening (probably the day Timothy Luke was forced to leave Mt. Tabor, when he reported seeing 200 foot tall flames on the ridge) that 10 battalions (20 to a battalion) were out on the loop trail fighting the fires coming down from the ridge. They reported that the fires got down to the loop trail but the fire wouldn’t cross the trail. They said it was like the monastery refused to burn, and none of them could explain it. They reported their hair sanding on it’s end and then the fire reversed itself and went back up the mountain. Everybody was kind of freaked-out, as they had never seen anything like this.

I asked several of the other crews about their experience and they all reported about this.

Later in the afternoon, Ajahn Jayanto came to pay a visit to the community and offer a reflection, encouraging the community to use their unique experience to deepen mindfulness and awareness.

Photos of our last full day at CTTB

In the evening, Luang Por Pasanno gave a talk this evening to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. You can watch it here:

Fire Update, October 15, 2017

Most of the community went down to Fremont today to hold the Kathina Ceremony at Wat Buddhanusorn. Hundreds of people showed up to share their support for the monastic community.

See more photos from Kathina. Also, if you have photos that you would like to share with us, please send us a message.

Just before the Kathina Ceremony started, Luang Por Pasanno shared some positive news that the major buildings on the Abhayagiri property were not damaged. In addition, during the Sunday evening’s county press conference, officials were confident that the properties along Tomki road, including the Abhayagiri property, would be reopened for residents and owners very soon.

Luang Por Pasanno will be giving a talk on Monday at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas starting at 8:15pm.

Luang Por Passano’s talk will be streamed live via gotomeeting. You can join the meeting from computer, tablet or phone by going to:

https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/474278437

Fire Update, October 14, 2017

The community held puja this morning. This was the first time the community held a traditional Abhayagiri morning puja since the evacuation last Monday.

Later, during the morning meeting, Debbie shared additional information she had received from the county officials during the previous evening’s press conference. Debbie confirmed that firefighters had a significant presence throughout the Redwood Valley area including the monastery property. They had what were called “hard lines” of firefighters at various locations including the ridge on the monastery. Debbie also said that there were indications that the fire has gotten into the property, although specific details were still not available. Debbie told one of the fire chiefs that it was okay to let the cabins go if it was needed and she was told in response, “Whether it’s a million dollar house or a small cabin, they are all valuable to us.”

The morning meeting continued and people discussed the activities for the day, including holding a puja and Dhamma talk in the evening as well as preparing for Sunday’s Kathina. Students at the nearby Sudhana Center invited a few Abhayagiri monks for a meal offering. Ajahn Siripañño agreed to give another Dhamma talk to university students at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.

Luang Por Pasanno offered a reflection to the community and then the monastics chanted for Sondra and Dee who had lost their homes in the Redwood Valley fires. You can listen to the audio recording of the reflection and the chanting here:

https://www.abhayagiri.org/new/talks/6707-wise-reflections-for-evacuees

People had the meal at 11am. People gathered to help with the cleaning at 2pm. Tea time was at 5pm. We were settling into a schedule again.

After tea, the community caravaned to the Sudhana Center which is about a 15 minute drive in Ukiah. From there, we listened to the official press conference for the Redwood Complex fire streaming over the Internet. The officials were confident that, if the conditions remained good throughout the night, they would be able to contain much of the fire and allow most people back into their homes and properties relatively soon. That said, it doesn’t appear that the Abhayagiri property is going to be included in the “soon” list, and additional details were not forthcoming.

See more photos from the trip to the Sudhana Center.

People were happy to hear that one guest, who was with the community throughout evacuation, was able to retrieve her car that was left behind when the group evacuated north along Tomki Road.

After the press conference, we gathered for evening puja in the meditation hall inside the Sudhana Center. Luang Por gave a Dhamma talk on using the three refuges as a constistant reflection throughout our lives. We came back afterwards to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to retire for the evening.

The day felt surprisingly normal.

Kathina - Important New Information and Help Needed

We have important new information for people coming to Kathina at Wat Buddhanusorn this coming Sunday, October 15.

  1. Please carpool as parking at Wat Buddhanusorn is limited.
  2. Even better, leave your car at home and take BART to the Union City station. There will be vehicles coming every 15 minutes (or so) to shuttle you and your friends/family to Wat Buddhanusorn.
  3. If anyone has a van or large vehicle to help transport people to and from BART, please show up at Wat Buddhanasorn by 8:30 am.
  4. We need volunteers to show up at Wat Buddhanasorn by 8:30 am to help with set-up. There is no need to contact us—just show up.
  5. The Kathina ceremony will start at 12:30 pm, not 1:00 pm as previously mentioned.