Registration Still Open for 2019 Monastic Annual Retreat

Update: As of Aug. 19th, 2019, the registration for the 2019 Monastic Retreat is remaining open as there is still space available.

Led by 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.

Registration opens July 15th. Please note: no deposit refunds after October 31, 2019. Thank you for your understanding.

Into the Year — Spring at Abhayagiri

The flowers lining Abhayagiri’s trails opened almost overnight. As late March’s sun burnt off the mountain fog, blue bells of hound’s tongue and red tufts of indian paintbrush began to appear along the monks’ walk to and from the cloister, where they’d spent the previous three months practicing in silence. The end of winter retreat meant a return to a regular routine of working in the forest, caring for monastery buildings, and receiving guests. It meant fifty emails in the guest monk’s inbox from people hoping to visit. It meant a chance for the community to carry the benefits of silent practice into interaction with the world, and the honks of geese migrating north in the evenings. It meant spring.

From January until the end of March, Abhayagiri’s community withdrew from its usual duties and joined together in a schedule of formal meditation and silence. Such annual retreat represents a hallmark of the Buddhist tradition, which encourages its monastics to put forth a special effort in formal practice for three months every year while staying in one location. While this retreat traditionally occurs during the Indian monsoon, many Western monasteries use the winter months to pursue a similar ethic of practice. Weeks of full schedule, during which the community sits together in the meditation hall for sessions beginning at five am and finishing at eight pm, alternate with more open periods during which individuals have the opportunity to determine their own routine. Daily readings, Dhamma discussion, and an atmosphere of noble silence help support the internal work.

The quiet both catalyzes internal struggles and helps individuals in confronting them. One monk reflects, “Even if one is going through difficulties, either internally or with the schedule, when you have a large group of people keeping the basic attitude of the practice, the external environment helps support the introspective and calming internal environment, so you can process difficulties more easily even if it’s seemingly very turbulent.”

Even during periods when such intense practice proves difficult, members of the community understand it as an extraordinary gift, giving thanks particularly to the the winter retreat crew, who spend the winter months supporting and practicing alongside the monastics. Saying goodbye to such close friends represents one of the more poignant moments of the new year.


Frequently, monks finishing the annual retreat embark on the traditional monastic practice of wandering tudong, or pilgrimage. In previous years, monks have walked for weeks up the Pacific Coast, travelled down through the south of California, and even meandered along the curves of the Mississippi. One monastic explained the challenges of such practice in a country where Buddhism is just becoming established:

“As monastics, we don’t use money, can’t ask for food, can’t ask for lodgings, and can’t store food, so every day we have to go to an inhabited area and hope people feed us. One of the major practices of tudong is to give yourself over to the faith and generosity of perfect strangers. You’re depending on people noticing you, asking what the heck you’re doing, why you’re doing it, being inspired by that, and giving you some meager sustenance for the day. You’re throwing yourself into situations that are not in your comfort zone, and food, water, and your day-to-day experiences are unplanned and uncertain.”

On April 3rd, two Abhayagiri monks decided to shake off the inertia of the just-finished retreat by following the Buddha’s ancient footsteps into the country. In this case, they determined to walk an eighty-mile stretch of road from Windsor back up to Abhayagiri. One of the pair described the benefits he hoped to gain from their ten-day pilgrimage:

“Quite a lot of the monastic form is about having a degree of certainty regarding your schedule, who you’re practicing with, what food you’re getting, and you learn a lot from living within that structure. But going into an unstructured environment on a walk-about or tudong is another classroom — it provides different opportunities for learning. Going from a settled, highly-structured community straight into an environment where you’re living close to the elements and are uncertain about food provides a stark contrast, and it’s always in transitions and contrasts that we stand to learn the most. Hopefully, my practice on retreat is such that I will reap the benefits of that when living in a chaotic environment, and if I’m practicing correctly, the lessons learned and qualities developed during an uncertain journey will transfer back as benefits within a structured environment.”


At the monastery, others determined to walk into a more profound unknown. Two laymen who stayed with the community for the past few months decided to ordain as anagārikas, or white-robed monastic postulants. The ceremony, which will take place on April 27th, represents one of the most significant moments in a spiritual aspirant’s life. One of the postulants, Josh Dultz, will be taking on white for his second time after several years away from the monastery. “It just feels right,” he laughed, “It feels like jumping into an abyss, but a very trustworthy abyss.”

A New Home

Apart from the potential for two new sprigs of white, the new year brought other changes. Having searched for a residence for aging monks over the past few years, Abhayagiri recently acquired a property directly across Tomki Road. The land of a long-time supporter, the purchase included a house, kuti, and pond, all situated in a grove of redwoods a two-minute walk from the monastery entrance. The property will serve as an important future home for elderly monks from Abhayagiri and elsewhere.

While the property’s appearance seemed a gift in its own right, the blessing quickly grew. Almost immediately after deciding to buy the property, the monastery learned that an anonymous donor wished to cover the entire cost of the purchase. In a matter of weeks, Abhayagiri was granted a boon it hadn’t imagined just a month before: an eventual home for its elders. The generosity served as a powerful reminder of the goodness that comes to places of practice and helped the community remember that they must work sincerely to be worthy of such gifts.

The Coming Year

Luang Por Pasanno’s coming return to the monatery in July represents another piece of bright news. Having entered the second half of his year-long sabbatical in Canada, Abhayagiri’s former abbot enjoyed his first Canadian winter in over forty years, despite one encounter with a moose. Debbie Stamp, Abhayagiri’s steward, reflected on his absence and coming return:

“The co-abbots are learning a lot. We have the foundation Luang Por set for us, and I think that’s what holds us. The vinaya, korwat, and how we’ve been trained by Luang Por and Ajahn Amaro really hold the foundations. But it’s not without challenges. Hopefully Luang Por will return in July and establish himself as the elder in residence. He’s still figuring out how to do that so that he gives the abbots the space they need — so that they still have that responsibility, but he’ll be around for giving talks, helping with the laypeople and with the monastics. He’ll be a steady presence to help shore things up.”

On Thai New Years, Songkran, held this year on April 14th, the monks and lay community will have the chance to bathe a Buddha image and the monastery elders’ hands in a traditional ceremony of reverence and renewal, gratitude for the year’s gifts and coming season. It will serve as a reminder that spring has again come to the mountain.


คณะสงฆ์วัดอภัยคีรีจะเริ่มเข้ากรรมฐานฤดูหนาวดังที่ได้ทำมาทุกปี โดยในปี พ.ศ. ๒๕๖๒ (ค.ศ. ๒๐๑๙) นี้ จะเริ่มในวันที่ ๒ มกราคม จนถึงวันที่ ๑ เมษายนในช่วงนี้ทางวัดจะหยุดพักการทำงานและโครงการต่างๆไว้ก่อนเป็นการชั่วคราวเพื่อบำเพ็ญสมาธิภาวนาและศึกษาพระธรรมอย่างเต็มที่ โดยจะมีการฝึกสมาธิเป็นกลุ่มตามตารางเวลาของทางวัด รวมทั้งจะมีเวลาสำหรับฝึกด้วยตนเองด้วย

ในช่วงเข้ากรรมฐานฤดูหนาวนี้ทางวัดจะไม่อนุญาตให้แขกมานอนพักที่วัด (ถ้าหากท่านมีความประสงค์จะมาพักค้างคืนที่วัดเพื่อปฏิบัติธรรม กรุณาติดต่อพระผู้รับแขกตั้งแต่วันที่ ๑ เมษายน เป็นต้นไป) แต่อย่างไรก็ตาม ท่านสามารถมาเยี่ยมวัดแบบมาเช้าเย็นกลับได้ และสามารถร่วมทำวัตรสวดมนต์, นั่งสมาธิ, และฟังพระธรรมเทศนาได้19 น.ทุกวันเสาร์และคืนวันพระ หรือท่านจะนำอาหารหรือเครื่องไทยทานมาถวายแด่คณะสงฆ์ในเวลาฉันเพลก็สามารถทำได้

หมายเหตุ: เนื่องจากคณะสงฆ์จะฝึกการปิดวาจาในช่วงเข้ากรรมฐานนี้ ดังนั้นโปรดอย่าสนทนากับพระหรือฆราวาสที่มาช่วยงานในระหว่างนี้โดยไม่จำเป็น

สำหรับท่านที่มีความสนใจที่จะฟังหรือดาวน์โหลดพระธรรมเทศนาจากเว็บไซต์ของวัด ทางวัดจะพยายามนำพระธรรมเทศนาใหม่ๆขึ้นเว็บไซต์เป็นระยะๆ ตลอดช่วงเข้ากรรมฐานฤดูหนาวนี้

Weekly Sunday Program Moved to Saturday Evening & Other Schedule Changes

Beginning on Saturday December 15th, the monastery’s weekly Dhamma Talk and Puja, usually held at 2 pm Sunday afternoon, will be moved back to 7 pm Saturday evening. The monastery hopes that returning the weekly program to its original Saturday evening slot will prove more convenient for those hoping to join the community for the regular teachings, meditation, and chanting.

Additionally, the other weekly evening program held on lunar observance days will be moved from 7:30 to 7:00 pm starting on Saturday December 15th, helping those travelling from far away return home earlier and simplifying the monastery’s schedule by ensuring that all such gatherings take place at a uniform time.

Please consult our calendar for more details.

Autumn at Abhayagiri

Late October found the smoke that thickened Abhayagiri’s sky in August gone for clear autumn air, the three deer that usually roam the monastery’s garden replaced by hundreds of families visiting from the city. With the three-months annual Rains Retreat finished, the community’s wider family drew together on October 28th to celebrate the Kaṭhina ceremony. One monk explained:

“In traditional times, the three months of the monsoon season was a time for the early monastic communities to settle in one place. Anyone who has lived with a group of people knows that communal harmony doesn’t come easily. Diverse people spending time together in close quarters for a long period in harmony is a difficult and rare thing to find. The Kaṭhina ceremony is a celebration of that attempt at communal harmony, and is a chance for the laity and the sangha to cement their relationship — the laity providing gifts and material support and the sangha providing inspiration and a refuge.”

The Kaṭhina represented a chance for all those connected with the monastery to gather. Luang Por Amaro, who founded Abhayagiri over twenty years ago with Luang Por Pasanno, travelled from his current post as abbot of Amaravati Monastery in England to join in the festivities. Other senior monks, such as Ajahn Jayanto, abbot of New Hampshire’s Temple Forest Monastery and Ajahn Sudanto, abbot of Washington’s Pacific Hermitage, also flew in to be part of the celebration. While over twenty monastics came for the event, some of Abhayagiri’s supporters still felt anxiety at the prospect of a Kaṭhina with Luang Por Pasanno gone on retreat overseas. Corina, a regular guest, commented:

“I was concerned when he left. Although I’ve been here for a few years and seen how the work duties have been spread out and how capable everyone is, I just wanted to make sure everyone else knew as well and would continue to come. So, I was reassured that it was well-attended and smoothly run. The Kaṭhina’s a chance to see old friends — it’s a joy. Additionally, I enjoyed seeing the visiting Ajahns and listening to the talks. Here’s where I can speak about Ajahn Amaro. It was really nice to be able to talk with him after the Kaṭhina — just have a Q & A on the deck — and my partner, who hasn’t seen him since 2011 or so, was inspired to become more serious about practice and come up here more.”

Apart from sharing a meal, formally offering gifts to the Sangha, and listening to teachings, the several hundred people who attended October 28th’s event witnessed the traditional sewing of the Kaṭhina cloth. The monks worked together to quickly cut and sew offered cloth into a robe for an honored monk by the end of the day as a symbol of communal harmony. The ceremony finished late in the evening with Ajahn Sek Varapañño, a monk of over twenty-years from Thailand, quietly accepting the robe the community made him as a sign of their gratitude. Dyed with heartwood from the madrone blanketing Abhayagiri’s hills, the robe matched almost perfectly the other hand-sewn robe Ajahn Sek wears dyed with wood from Thailand’s jackfruit trees.

Following October’s Kaṭhina, Luang Por Amaro remained for two weeks, catching up with old students, giving teachings, and becoming familiar with the various changes to Abhayagiri. He spoke about the recently finished reception hall and cloister, and the absence of the old house that held the kitchen and office from when he founded the monastery in 1996 until 2017. Most often, however, he ended his talks praising the new generation of monastics that have stepped forward to lead the community in his and Luang Por Pasanno’s absence. “The strong, new shoots of green,” he commented, “have begun to grow up through the old.”

While Ajahn Karuṇadhammo smiled wryly at being referred to as a “new shoot of green”, he and Ajahn Ñāṇiko have stepped into their roles as co-abbots with energy. Apart from overseeing the completion of the Reception Hall, cloister, and the accompanying ceremonies, they have worked to accommodate growing interest in ordination. Never before have so many young men come to the monastery with hopes of taking on robes. November featured, not just the full ordination of Tan Rakkhito, but the going-forth of one of the monastery’s four white-robed postulants into the intermediate stage of novice. Anagārika Jordan, now Sāmaṇera Jotimanto, spoke about coming to train at Abhayagiri:

“When I first encountered Buddhism, I was in college and had a lot of spiritual inclinations, but I kept them to myself because they were against cultural norms. One example is drinking or drug use. In college I was in a milieu that supported these things, but when I encountered Buddhism, I saw an institution and doctrine which supported these feelings I’d been having. That gave me confidence in myself because I was no longer just an oddball trying to feel my way in the darkness. I just think about the life I would probably be living if I weren’t here. It would be fine I’m sure, but I wouldn’t be a real example of human potential if I just lived the life I was living. I feel like here, we’re a profound example of goodness in the world that doesn’t exist in very many places. I think it’s good to have people who represent counter-cultural values who can, at the very least, show us that it’s okay to go against the stream of society.”

With ceremonies completed and Luang Por Amaro gone, the monastery draws inward in anticipation of the three-month winter retreat. From the beginning of January until April, members of the community put aside their usual duties and re-orient towards formal meditation practice. One monk comments:

Kaṭhina’s the end of our busy season. With all the ceremonies and visiting teachers we’ve had, this year has been truly wonderful, but I think the community’s really looking forward to winter retreat. It’s an important counter-balance to the ceremonies. When the weather starts turning cool and wet, it’s an encouragement for us to go to look inwards for warmth and spaciousness.

Monks use the quiet of retreat to experiment with various austerities as a means of deepening their meditation. Even in the winter months, some choose to continue living outside in the wilderness instead of one of the monastery’s small huts. One monk, who’s lived in the forest for over a year, speaks to the practice of dwelling at the foot of a tree:

“One of the major benefits is that it helps with the traditional elements contemplation. When you’re cooped up in a heated building, it’s difficult to experience the body in its natural state being subject to the varieties of weather. When one spends time outdoors, one has to pay attention to such natural conditions as wind and rain. Living simply doesn’t automatically mean being miserable, but what it does mean is that to not be miserable — to not be wet and cold — you need to pay attention to those things; to know how to set up an appropriate shelter, and enter without getting your things soaked. For someone like myself who spent most of his former life living indoors behind computers screens, it opens up new aspects of your mind and practice. There’s also a sense of wholesome pride in being able to live comfortably in a harsh environment, and those skills transfer directly into formal practice in terms of calming and controlling the mind.”

Such practices exemplify a monastic tradition that embeds itself in the natural environment. Just as the monastery’s acorn woodpeckers begin to quiet in anticipation of the winter months, the year’s activity settles into the stillness of winter retreat. As a year of departures and new arrivals ends, and the community finds itself again moving back towards a center of silence and simplicity.


ต้อนรับปีใหม่เป็นมงคลแก่ชีวิต ต้อนรับปี ๒๕๖๒

คืนวันที่ 31 สวดมนต์ปฎิบัติสมาธิภาวนา ฟังเทศน์ข้ามปี เริ่มปฎิบัติบูชา
19.00 น เตรียมผ้าห่มนํ้าดื่มกันให้พร้อมอากาศหนาวมาก

เช้าวันปีใหม่ 10.00 น
ตักรบาตรข้าวหอม ถวายดอกไม้หอม
โดยหลังวันที่หนึ่งทางวัดมีการเข้ากรรมฐานปิดวาจาเป็นเวลา 3 เดือน
ถือเป็นบุญอย่างยิ่งที่พวกเราได้ถวายสังฆทานเพื่อเตรียมตัวให้ท่านได้ปฏิบัติเป็นแรงกำลังให้เหล่าคณะสงฆ์ ได้ บำเพ็ญเพียรภาวนานับเป็นมหากุศลที่พวกเราร่วมทํากุศลร่วมกัน

หลังพระฉันเพล พระอาจารย์ณานิโก
อวยพรปีใหม่ เป็นภาษาไทยค่ะ สาธุ

ท่านสามารถดูรายการสิ่งของที่จำเป็นสำหรับวัดได้ที่ Dana List.
โปรด ดูตารางปฏิทินวัด สำหรับรายละเอียดเพิ่มเติม


วันอาทิตย์ ที่ 4 พฤศจิกายน: งานพิธีอุปสมบทพระภิกษุของสามเณรรักขิตโต

ขอเรียนเชิญญาติโยมเข้าร่วมงานพิธีอุปสมบทพระภิกษุของสามเณรคุรักขิตโต จะเริ่มในเวลา 14.00 น.

ท่านสามารถดูรายละเอียดเพิ่มเติมได้ที่ ตารางปฏิทินของวัด

Upcoming Teachings by Ajahn Amaro

Join us in welcoming one of Abhayagiri’s founding abbots this month. Ajahn Amaro, co-abbot of Abhayagiri from 1996 to 2010 and current abbot of Amaravati Monastery in England, will arrive at arrive at the monasteryi late on October 25 and fly out of the Bay Area on November 8. Details regarding his teaching engagements and general schedule can be found below and on the Abhayagiri calendar

Sunday, October 28: Abhayagiri Kathina
Tuesday, October 30: 7:15 pm program at Yoga Mendocino
Sunday, November 4: 2 pm Bhikkhu ordination of Sāmaṇera Rakkhito
Monday, November 5: 7:30 pm public talk at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas
Tuesday, November 6: First Tuesday program at Berkeley Buddhist Monastery
Wednesday, November 7: 6 pm talk at Stanford

2019 Monastic Thanksgiving Retreat

Please note that the 2019Thanksgiving Retreat, which would usually begin in late November, has been replaced by the Abhayagiri Annual Retreat taking place from December 6-15th at Applegate Retreat Center. We hope you’re still able to join us.

You may find more information here.

Refuge Under Smoke: August at Abhayagiri

Monks’ chanting rose into the warm July evening of Āsāḷha Pūjā to mix with the smoke that was just beginning to fill the Abhayagiri valley. Several miles away, fires that were to become the largest in California history roared through the parched madrone. In the year since the Redwood Valley Complex fire nearly consumed Abhayagiri, the scarred hills surrounding the monastery have served as a daily reminder of life’s unpredictability. The nearby Ranch and River fires this season have once again forced the community to recall the instability of their situation, and to appreciate and blessing of a monastery still safe. Tan Suhajjo, who was evacuated during the previous year’s fires considered:

It’s another great reminder. Many in the community were present here last October, so smelling the smoke and contemplating the nearby evacuations is very real and very visceral. Even though the monastery’s not at high risk from the Ranch or River Fires, still having that reminder encourages me to question how much I depend emotionally on the stability of the monastery. It is devastating that a firefighter just lost his life, and I’m sure that structures are being burned and people are being displaced. I try to use that as a reflection in terms of compassion, wishing them well and hoping they’re cultivating mental states that let them be okay. Like Ajahn Chah said, “When the flood comes and washes your house away, don’t let it wash your heart away too.” Don’t let the fire burn your heart as well as your house. Then you’ve lost everything, but we can still keep the most important part if we can keep the practice going.

The blackened hills of Redwood Valley now offer Abhayagiri a measure of security, serving as a break protecting the monastery from the 300,000-acre Mendocino Complex Fire. Although a silver haze of smoke hovers over the valley some days, it seems more than anything to help cool the dry August air. Despite the nearby fires, the monastery continues to follow its usual routine, deepening into the coolness of the annual Vassa retreat. Tan Suhajjo describes the purpose of the three-month period during which the Buddha advised the monastic community to remain in one residence and focus on formal practice:

Traditionally in South and Southeast Asian cultures, this was the monsoon season, so it was very difficult to travel or do regular work tasks, and it became a time to turn inward. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, this is the peak of the summertime, so it’s not exactly the same feeling. However, we do still use it as period of time for instruction around the traditional Vinaya, or monastic code, and to allow individuals to step out of the usual routine. Every resident at the monastery gets two weeks of solitude in the forest. The individual has the benefit of being able to step back from duties and reflect on how those duties are affecting them. When there’s a lot of work, there’s more noise in the system and it’s harder to listen to the mind. We can be getting into habits and cultivating mental states that we don’t have a lot of awareness around, so by taking these two weeks in the midst of a busy time to put down duties, the energies have a chance to echo through the heart and we can pay attention to those. Also, just having the presence of people on retreat while the rest of the community is engaged sets a wholesome tone and can be a gentle but powerful reminder that we cannot abandon that cultivation of the higher mind even in the midst of work.

The cool refuge of Abhayagiri, deepened during the period of retreat, provides not just an escape from August’s external fires, but from the blaze of consumerist culture. The Buddha’s third cardinal sermon, the Ādittapariyāya Sutta, given on a hill overlooking a burning forest, likened the mind’s craving to flame. “The Fire Sermon” describes not only the pain of such endless fever but also the path to Nibbana, literally “cooling.” The shade of Abhayagiri’s cool oaks draws those who sense clearly the heat of the city’s smoldering neon. Over the past months, several new members have joined the community with the hope of stepping into that shade for good. One of these new members speaks about the experiences that brought him to the monastery in hopes of ordaining:

I’ve lived a varied life trying to find peace and happiness out in the world and just seeing how trying to fulfill myself through the senses - through things and experiences - wasn’t doing it. I worked at a grocery co-op, in horticulture, and a nursery, and I can’t think of one thing that panned out exactly as I’d planned. Then, I came into contact with the Pali Canon through Bhikkhu Bodhi’s anthology, In The Buddha’s Words. At that time I was considering a Zen monastic life, but it totally changed my thinking. I started looking into the Therevāda tradition, and quickly found Ajahn Chah. It was love at first sight, first sound, first word, and then I discovered the disciples, the monastery, and Luang Por Pasanno. I was at a point in my life where I still had good health, wasn’t in a relationship or caught up in other commitments - so it seemed it was a good opportunity. Everything made sense and I felt right about it, so I went for it wholeheartedly. It’s hard. It’s not easy. Like Luang Por Pasanno says, “It’s not a fun lifestyle,” but I think maybe that was part of my problem out in lay life - everything had to be fun.

Simple and slow, life at the monastery provides a counterpoint to the world around it and the histories of those who come to it seeking refuge. It is not separated from culture it grows within, just as it is not isolated from the tragedy of the year’s fires. Smoke still wraps the mountain’s madrone and scattered pine. Still, the the community provides a center those with faith can return to, again finding balance in the midst of activity, coolness in the midst of heat, and peace in the midst of their lives.