Friday, June 25, 2010

The Yurt Is Up

Full slideshow here

by Sara Sacksteder  - June 23, 2010

Shortly after the summer solstice of 2010, an excellent, skillful crew assembled the large yurt at our hermitage. Many thanks to Kemanthi, who gathered her friends for a pizza party fundraiser to buy and offer a 27 foot diameter, well insulated yurt. For now, this will be our main indoor space for Dhamma talks, meals, and meditation. It can seat up to 30 people comfortably for meditation and up to 50 for a talk.

It is impossible to state how important Jill has been. She has been stewarding the land and spearheading and doing so much of the development work. On this day she had arranged to have Tina, Charles and Michael available to provide the expertise and the wonderful good cheer necessary to put up the yurt. Tina and Charles found a way to be available to answer questions and give guidance all day long. They also kept us right on track until the last nail was in place. Michael found answers to problems repeatedly throughout the day. He spent a lot of the day hoisting things up to be placed on the central ring of the Yurt and then helping with the placement of the yurt ceiling beams, ceiling liner, ceiling insulation,and the roof.

Dominic and Brian were invaluable. Dominic spent much of his day at least 12 feet above the ground with Michael supporting and inserting beams into the central ring of the yurt, placing insulation and installing the roof. Brian found a way to be in the right spot to help with his height and strength all day long (on one occasion he was in the wrong spot, I clipped him on the head with a beam as I swung around). I saw him help with placing the ceiling beams, the side walls, the side wall insulation, and the external walls of the yurt.

Jurasri provided transportation for Sister Suvijjana on the way up and for Ayya Tathaaloka and Sister Suvijjana at the end of the day. She gave us wonderful food in large quantity. She helped with every stage of the raising of the yurt. She also donated much needed plates and silverware to the hermitage. Jill Zwicky arrived just in time to infuse some fresh energy and effort. I saw her doing whatever was needed and spent the most time with her as she was helping to install the insulation between the inner wall and outside wall of the yurt. Sister Suvijjana arrived on Tuesday. Ayya Tathaaloka arrived on Monday evening with Sister Adhimutta.

Sister Adhimutta will be staying on the land from now until at least the end of the Vassa. Marcia arrived on the land last week and is also going to stay and help with the many hermitage projects that we would like to complete before the Vassa actually begins. All worked all day to complete the yurt.

Warm welcome and thanks for all the efforts of the newest arrivals and best wishes for a wonderful time leading up to and during the Vassa. We started the work day, paused at lunch and ended the day with chanting led by Ayya Tathaaloka.

The hermitage is on the way. None of this could have happened without your help. We continue to need your contributions for the development of the hermitage. Thank you.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Getting Ready for Full Operation

 Ayya Tathaaloka, Ayya Sobhana and Beebe at the site of a future kuti

The Aranya Bodhi: Awakening Forest Hermitage is on the way to becoming a comfortable setting for monastic women and dedicated lay aspirants to practice for liberation… (Read more...)

The yurt platform ... soon to be our main Dhamma Hall

Monday, June 07, 2010

Now We Are Three

Warm greetings, dear friends of our sangha,
I am very glad to share the news with you that the Venerable Ayya Sobhana Bhikkhuni has accepted my invitation to become a full time resident of our Aranya Bodhi Hermitage, special Monastic Advisor to our Dhammadharini board, and full time co-leading participant in our hermitage project.
In past years, Ayya Sobhana has visited our Dhammadharini Vihara on numerous occassions, as well as our Bodhi House and hermitage land. We have travelled together to Germany at HH the Dalai Lama's invitation and to Australia on two occassions. She participated in our first bhikkhuni camping retreat together as well as coming this previous winter for a month long retreat on the land together with our Samaneri Suvijjana. She knows the land well and has a great love and respect for it. Her advice was invaluable at our recent Easter weekend Visioning Retreat which she participated in, as well as subsequently with our Dhammadharini board meetings.
Ayya Sobhana has been a student of Bhante Henepola Gunaratana ("Bhante G") since 1989, served on the Board of Directors of the Bhavana Society during the 1990s, and took novice ordination at the Bhavana Society in 2003; her full ordination was at Dambulla, Sri Lanka, in 2006. Bhante G has now given Ayya Sobhana formal independence — meaning that she is competent to independently practice and to serve the Dhamma.
During her eight years of residency at Bhavana Society, Ayya Sobhana worked closely with Bhante G as an assistant; provided continuity for the ever-changing community of female residents and guests; learned Dhamma and teaching skills under Bhante G's tutelage; learned Vinaya rules and protocols and became adept at their modern applications; learned Pali language; counseled and taught lay residents and retreatants; consulted with the Board of Directors; learned to lead traditional rituals of Theravada Buddhists; managed logistics of dozens of retreats led by senior monks, and began leading retreats herself at Bhavana. As her skills have become known, she has been increasingly invited to teach at outside venues including Philadelphia, Annapolis, Hot Springs NC, Washington DC and Calgary. She also revised the Pali-English chanting book, Bhavana Vandana: Devotions for Meditation; managed the Bhavana Society's library; and served as Kammavacacarini (Advocate) in the October 22, 2010, bhikkhuni ordinations in Perth, Australia.
We are blessed by her many skills and talents that she brings with her, and hope that our hermitage will be a most excellent place for the practice in nature that she has found so conducive, together with her heart to share such space and opportunity with fellow monastic-minded women of similar heart and intent.
Bhante Gunaratana's Support
Graciously, Ayya Sobhana's mentor Bhante G has fully blessed and encouraged Ven Sobhana's participation in our Aranya Bodhi Awakening Forest Hermitage project.
We are very appreciative of Bhante G's unstinting outreach to women over many years. He has now announced his support for bhikkhunis to establish their own independent centers, recommending this above our practicing in the shadow of the bhikkhu communities. The Bhavana Society will donate a starter library of Dhamma books to the Aranya Bodhi Hermitage. Bhante G has pledged his ongoing support: to participate in women's full ordination when invited to do so; to visit our hermitage to teach or lead retreats; to continue as an Senior Advisor to the North American Bhikkhuni Association; and to invite qualified monastic women to lead public retreats at the Bhavana Society. Finally, by sending Ayya Sobhana to Aranya Bodhi Hermitage (at some inconvenience to the Bhavana Society), Bhante G is helping in a most practical, tangible and wise fashion. Thank you, Bhante G!
With a heart full of metta and great gladness, gratitude and appreciation,
Ayya Tathaaloka Bhikkhuni
for our Dhammadharini Sangha