Luang Por Pasanno Birthday Celebration Cancelled

Luang Por Pasanno Birthday Celebration Cancelled

With regret, the birthday celebration for Luang Por Pasanno originally scheduled for this Saturday July 27th has been cancelled. Luang Por Pasanno has been invited on short notice to go to Thailand to receive an ecclesiastical title from the new king of Thailand on the king’s birthday, which is Sunday July 28th. He is therefore flying to Thailand on the morning of Friday July 26th and returning next week.

All of us, especially Luang Por Pasanno, regret missing the opportunity to celebrate with him this weekend, but this honor from the King of Thailand is quite significant. At this time, there are no plans for rescheduling the birthday event. If and when it is rescheduled, we will put out another notice.

With appreciation for your understanding and patience,

The Abhayagiri Sangha

Visit to Wat Buddhanusorn : Sunday, July 21st

On Sunday, July 21st, Luang Por Pasanno and various members of the Abhayagiri community will be visiting Wat Buddhanusorn in Fremont in time for the meal offering at 11:30am. Luang Por Pasanno will probably be giving a talk during the afternoon.

Wat Buddhanusorn’s Website

Registration for 2019 Monastic Annual Retreat

2019 MONASTIC ANNUAL RETREAT

Led by Luang Por Pasanno and the Abhayagiri Community

December 6-15, 2019 at Applegate Retreat Center, Applegate, CA

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

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, December 6th, through Sunday morning, December 15, 2019, at the Applegate Jesuit Retreat Center, near the Sierra foothills. It’s a beautiful, very private 350-acre center, nestled in California’s historic gold country. The closest airport is Sacramento, about 50 miles SW of the center.

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 registration time to the closing ceremony on Sunday morning at approx. 11am. The facility is accessible for people in wheelchairs. We are unable to accommodate special dietary or environmental needs. We will eat a hearty 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. Note that this is a double-occupancy rooming setup (there are only a few single rooms available for elders and those with serious medical conditions). This is a beautiful center with comfortable accommodations. Camping or trailers are not possible for our retreat.

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

(UPDATE: Aug. 19, 2019 - Registration is Still Open)
~~Registration/lottery is open July 15 – August 15, 2019 and applicants will be notified early September. Please note: no deposit refunds after October 31, 2019. Thank you for your understanding.

To register, you must download the Retreat Flyer PDF, fill it out, and mail it along with the deposit check to Paul Friedlander at:

Paul Friedlander
722 Prospect Avenue
Oakland 94610

(UPDATE: Aug. 19, 2019 - Registration is Still Open)
The filled out form and deposit check must be postmarked by XXXXXX 2019 in order for it to be acccepted.

The retreat manager this year is Kathy Cheney. Please take a moment to add her email address to your address book: kacheneynew@gmail.com.

August Ordinations

3pm in Main Dhamma Hall on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019 - Bhikkhu Ordination for Sāmaṇera Cittapālo

All are welcome to attend the formal ceremonies for Sāmaṇera Cittapālo to enter the monastic sangha as a bhikkhu and Anagārika Nicholas to take on the sāmaṇera (novice monk) training. The event details are:

Sāmaṇera Ordination
Friday, August 23rd during evening puja, beginning at 7pm :
Anagārika Nicholas will go forth into brown robes taking sāmaṇera (novice monk) ordination

Bhikkhu Ordination
Sunday, August 25th
Bhikkhu Ordination Ceremony for Sāmaṇera Cittapālo

Line Trimming, Staining and 1300 pound Batteries

Line Trimming, Staining and 1300 pound Batteries

During the last day in May, the whir of not one, not two, but five different line trimmers were heard at Abhayagiri as Samaneras Jotimanto and Dhammavaro, Anagarikas Josh and Bret and Ying Lin all began the morning work period assigned to cutting back the long grasses that have grown from the abundant rain of the past spring and winter. Cutting the grass down accomplishes various purposes, including improving the tidiness and overall beauty of the monastery. However, given the fires in 2017 which burned up to the Abhayagiri property, the greatest motivation with regard to line trimming is to increase fire safety. Considering that the monastery property encompasses some 280 acres, reducing the fire risk for Abhayagiri is no small task. Nevertheless, the community, in cooperation with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection aka CAL FIRE as well as guests, friends and supporters of the monastery, has been making various efforts to increase Abhayagiri’s fire safety.

Another Abhayagiri work project this spring has been staining the walls and porches of various huts (kutis). In addition to improving the aesthetics of the huts, staining extends the life of the wood. Less visible is the ongoing upkeep of the monastery’s IT infrastructure, which although challenging to maintain, allows you to read this article as well as serving many other purposes, such as allowing Abhayagiri to accept and manage reservations for overnight guests at the monastery. In addition to the resident monastics, various friends of the community, living near and far also help make available Dhamma talks, Dhamma reflections, photo galleries, news items, current events and other content on the Abhayagiri website.

A more unusual and physically demanding work project this past spring was replacing the 800 pound batteries for the upper monastery electricity system. Since this part of the monastery is not connected to the public electricity grid, the upper monastery electricity has been maintained by an array of solar panels and four giant rechargeable batteries. With time, the batteries have degraded and so recently, with the help of long-time friend and solar energy professional, Dick Jordan aka “Paco”, a number of monastics helped to remove the 800 pound batteries and replace them with even larger 1300 pound batteries. On the day of the battery swap, the work began around 1pm and the last three workers, Ajahn Ñāṇiko, Ajahn Kassapo and Paco finally descended to the cloister around 8pm, satisfied that the electricity for the upper monastery was once again working.

And the line trimming continues …

Update: Tudong 2019

Update: Tudong 2019

On June 28, 2019 Ajahn Sek, Ajahn Ñāniko and Tan Tissaro returned safely to Abhayagiri, having been away for almost three weeks. During their traditional wandering pilgrimmage they encountered a great deal of support, curiosity, generosity, and kindness.

See photos
Listen to Ajahn Ñāniko’s talk on the tudong

A Majjhima in Thailand

A Majjhima in Thailand

After completing five years of monastic training as a monk under the supervision of one’s home monastery, a monk is thereafter referred to as a majjhima “middle”, denoting the period when one has at least five vassa but less than ten. Majjhima monks will often take the opportunity to practice in other environments. In 2014, after his fifth Rains Retreat as a monk, Tan Kovilo asked permission from Luang Por Pasanno to explore life and training in Thailand. On the plane to Thailand, Tan Kovilo aspired to three goals for his time in Thailand: become fluent in the Thai language, take the opportunity to serve as an attendant to respected senior monks, and make a point to try to be of service to Ajahn Kevali (abbot of Wat Nanachat), Ajahn Siripanyo (abbot of Wat Dao Dum), and the other senior monks in our tradition in Thailand. Upon enthusiastically telling Luang Por Pasanno about his plans, Luang Por chuckled and said, “and goal number 4: learn how to meditate!”

 

With the help of many Thai and European monk friends, T. Kovilo has made progress in his Thai Language study, including passing the three levels of the basic Dhamma exams (Nak Tham) in Thai. One highlight of Tan Kovilo’s time in Thailand was the opportunity to live for many months with Luang Por Piak - one of Luang Por Chah’s senior disciples and abbot of Wat Fakram in Pathumthani, Thailand. Tan Kovilo also spent time at Wat Pah Nanachat, the International Forest Monastery for Westerners, supporting Ajahn Kevali and the local community. In addition to trying to be of service at Wat Nanachat, Tan Kovilo is also grateful for having the opportunity to serve as editor-and-chief in the production of Ajahn Jayasaro’s biography of Luang Por Chah, “Stillness Flowing.” The year-plus working on that project, living alone in a small hut in close proximity with Ajahn Jayasaro, was one of the best years of his life.
 

As for goal number 4 … it is still in process.

 

After spending one year in America, predominantly at Abhayagiri and the Pacific Hermitage, Tan Kovilo will be returning to Thailand this July, this time to stay at the Thai branch monastery of the Burmese meditation master Pa Auk Sayadaw.

A Glimpse of the Pacific Hermitage

Recently, The Columbian published an article, with photos, about the Pacific Hermitage and its involvement with the local community.

The monks of White Salmon

Most Recent Talks Available on Abhayagiri You Tube Channel

The most recent Abhayagiri Dhamma talks are generally available on the Abhayagiri YouTube Channel. However, due to various reasons, including technical difficulties, there may be a significant delay before these talks are on the Abhayagiri website. If you wish to access them as soon as possible, please click on this link to the Abhayagiri YouTube Channel.

Four Days at Dharma Realm Buddhist University

In April of 2019 two Abhayagiri monks accepted an invitation to spend some time at Dharma Realm Buddhist University (DRBU), which is located at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB). CTTB is a large Chinese Mahayana monastery and community in the nearby town of Ukiah. Abhayagiri and CTTB have maintained a connection since Abhayagiri’s beginning. The Venerable Master Hsuan Hua was the founder of both CTTB and DRBU. In 1995, shortly before his death, he offered about half of the land that eventually became Abhayagiri.

This recent invitation to DRBU came about as the result of a series of discussions and inquiries between some of the Campus Life staff of DRBU and our community. DRBU’s mission involves not only educating their students in the traditional Western sense, but also providing an environment for personal growth and self-reflection in a wider sense. To these ends, DRBU has adopted some themes from the Buddhist tradition, especially regarding personal codes of conduct and an integrated approach to studying texts and introspection. These themes are shared with the Thai Forest Tradition and with Abhayagiri’s training culture specifically.

The only educational curriculum required of Abhayagiri monastics is our annual review of the monk’s training rules. Although formal study of the rules is limited to a series of two-hour classes attended by the monastic community each Vassa (July through October), the monastic training program is both rigorous and broad, touching every aspect of life here at the monastery. Because Abhayagiri is loosely connected with the wider Buddhist monastic tradition, we also have a sense for how our training style relates to the many styles and lineages of training in the broader tradition.

Master Hua was very supportive of monastics obtaining formal education. In fact, this was a key part of his vision, and for a period of time the Master Hua required all of his monastics to have a bachelor’s degree. He felt that an educated Sangha would both have a better grasp of the teachings (especially if the orthodox teachings of Buddhism were part of the curriculum) as well as be more familiar with the wider scholastic and cultural trends. This would enable a well-trained monastic to communicate and model the teachings more effectively to the wider populace. However, integrating spiritual practice and formal education is not an easy task.

The purpose of the invitation was primarily for the DRBU Campus Life staff to talk with Abhayagiri monastics and learn from our lifestyle and training. The current Western models of education and training are not geared towards monastics or spiritual practice in the traditional Buddhist sense. The needs of monastics differ from those of a typical student and sometimes the nature of those differences are hard to communicate and it may not be culturally appropriate to do so. By setting up a deliberate dialogue between monastics not currently attending the university, the Campus Life staff sought to learn about the ways monastics can be supported, as well as the possible difficulties.

Even for the students who are not inclined towards formal monastic training, the lifestyle at DRBU can be quite challenging. The DRBU Code of Conduct asks more of students than similar codes at most other Western campuses. Even though students knowingly take on the Code of Conduct, the implications and personal challenges that play out over the course of a two- or four-year program can be daunting. The challenges faced by the students at DRBU are strikingly similar to those faced by trainees at Abhayagiri. To thrive at DRBU or Abhayagiri, one needs to re-learn some basic relationships to authority, ethical precepts, and community life. Monastics training at Abhayagiri have lots of experience making the most of this type of practice environment and were happy to offer insights and encouragement to the community at DRBU during their stay.