The annual Forest Sangha Newsletter published by Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in England is now available online.
Three file sizes are available this year, to help those with slower internet connections:
For a high resolution PDF (50 mb), please use this link: amaravati.org/pdf/FSN_94_highres.pdf
A medium resolution PDF (14 mb) is available at this link: amaravati.org/pdf/FSN_94_mediumres.pdf
A low resolution PDF (4.5 mb) is available at this link: amaravati.org/pdf/FSN_94_lowres.pdf
The newsletter contains many noteworthy articles including several in honor of Luang Por Sumedho’s 80th birthday and an article by Ajahn Sucitto marking his recent transition from being abbot of Chithurst Monastery in England. Copied below is the article concerning the recent news at Abhayagiri.
News from Abhayagiri
Abhayagiri Monastery had the good fortune to host Luang Por Sumedho for ten days in July. Though we encouraged him to spend as much time as he wanted in the secluded Elder’s Cabin, Luang Por was remarkably generous with his time. Most days he spent over an hour after the meal chatting with monastics and lay guests about the ‘path to the Deathless’ and how happy he is to have trained with Luang Por Chah. On 13 July he gave a public talk at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB), the large Chinese Mahayana monastery nearby, describing his early days of practice and how Master Hua, the founder of CTTB, had offered half the land that became Abhayagiri Monastery shortly before his death in 1995. In his introduction Rev. Heng Sure recalled Master Hua’s description of the land: ‘We have a piece of mountainside. It’s pretty rugged. It’s suitable only for monks.’ In the nearly twenty years since Master Hua’s gift, Abhayagiri Monastery has indeed become a suitable environment for monastic training. A total of twenty monks have ordained and trained with Luang Por Pasanno since the founding of Abhayagiri. Sixteen of these monks are still in robes, and four of them have over ten years as a monk. This year Tan Suhajjo took bhikkhu ordination, Sāmaneras Khantiko and Gambhīro ordained as novices, and Anagārikas Doug and John took on the white robes. Abhayagiri monks typically spend their third year after ordination training in a monastery abroad, and this year Tan Khemako is dwelling at Tisarana Monastery near Ottawa and Tan Pesalo is spending the year at various monasteries in Thailand.
Reception Hall Construction
Although the community of residents and visitors has increased in size, we are still functioning with the original Dhamma Hall (a converted garage) and main building/kitchen (originally a small bungalow). While we have done our best to make use of these buildings, the monastery has outgrown them, and we have begun construction of a new Reception Hall as a replacement. The main floor of the new structure consists of a meditation hall, a commercial-grade kitchen and outdoor wooden veranda to accommodate overflow crowds. The lower floor contains a small shrine room, library, day room for visiting elders, laundry room, showers for male lay guests, food storage space and childcare facilities. The Reception Hall is the last building we plan to construct in the lower cloister area, and has been carefully designed to make the best possible use of the limited flat land available. We are fortunate to be employing the same team of architects, project manager, general contractor, and heavy equipment operators who built the Cloister Offices (2006) and the Bhikkhu Commons (2010). The project will be completed in four phases whose timing depends on available funding. Hillside excavation and construction of a concrete retaining wall began in July 2013, and Phase I of the construction was completed with the pouring of the foundation and concrete floors in November. Phase II of the project will consist of finishing the exterior walls, roof, windows and doors, so that the structure is weatherproof. However, by late 2013 our financial stewards did not have enough funds to start Phase II, so construction was mostly on hold during 2014. Generous donors have now provided enough funds and Phase II will commence in March 2015. We plan to finish the interior of the building in Phase III and landscape the cloister area in Phase IV.
The Pacific Hermitage, Abhayagiri’s first branch monastery, established in south-west Washington in 2010, continues to flourish. The Hermitage maintains the practice of a daily alms-round into the nearby town of White Salmon, and four days a week the monks rely solely on the alms received in that manner for their daily nourishment. The Hermitage is unique in that it consists of only three bhikkhus, with no resident novices or stewards. The town of White Salmon has been very generous and hospitable and has offered plenty of support. Ajahn Sudanto, the senior monk of the Pacific Hermitage, is currently taking a one-year sabbatical to focus on formal practice. He plans to return in April 2015. In other news from this region, Portland Friends of the Dhamma, the Pacific Northwest lay group associated with Abhayagiri Monastery, recently acquired its own centre in the heart of Portland, Oregon. The grand opening weekend in June 2014 was attended by more than a dozen monks from our tradition, including Luang Por Sumedho, Luang Por Pasanno, Luang Por Vīradhammo, Ajahn Preecha and Ajahn Sona. Luang Por Sumedho offered a day-long retreat as part of the weekend of festivities and ceremonies, which were attended by a large number of people. It was an inspiring gathering, offering an auspicious start to this new centre.