Monday, July 26, 2010

Sangha Entering First Vassa at Aranya Bodhi

Warm Dhamma greetings from our Aranya Bodhi Hermitage, in Vassa.

Pictured are Ayya Tathaaloka Bhikkhuni (center), Ayya Sudhamma Bhikkhuni (right front), Adhimutta Samaneri (mid-rt), Phalanyani Samaneri (fore-rt), Ayya Sobhana Bhikkhuni (left front), Suvijjana Samaneri (mid-left) and Anagarika Marajina (fore-left) in the hermitage's Dhamma-sala yurt. Full photo album is here.

For all those who worked so hard to prepare this beautiful space, it was an aspiration come true when, quietly this past Monday morning, in our yurt Dhamma-sala surrounded by mist-shrouded redwoods, 7 women dedicated to monastic life entered into the traditional Buddhist vassa retreat period.

This is the first year, in North American history, that our Theravada Buddhist women's monastic community has gathered together to observe the vassatime retreat together. It is a beginning; a beginning that is the culmination of many years of dedicated effort and slow nurturing of the causes and conditions for women's *Sangha* to come together.

Our first week of retreat together has been one of intense yogi work, lovingly collectively laboring to prepare and arrange the public and monastic commons areas, tent and kuti sites and trails for our full 3-months retreat time together - the completion of the past 2 years and 2 months of efforts by so many dear Dhamma friends. This month of August will be spent here in our Awakening Forest in monastic community life training, and preparatory training for ordination for the 3 samaneris who will be being fully ordained as bhikkhunis at the end of the month. The remain two thirds of the vassa retreat is dedicated to deep, quiet meditation retreat time, in seclusion and together, in the heart of the practice here in this great forest land.

Our thanks to all dear friends whose dedicated efforts, in kindness and generosity, have made and are making this retreat possible. We hope that this time will bring profound benefit to not only our own hearts and lives, but to our society as a whole, to our world, and all living beings.

Abiding pervading all quarters of the all encompassing world, with a heart of loving kindness, compassion, joy and great peacefulness,

The Sangha at Aranya Bodhi

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Now We Are Four

This post is a follow up to "Now We Are Three" from last month.

On July 18th, after weeks of very much intense hard physical labor preparing the hermitage --raising the yurt, building outhouses, putting together a solar system, building kutis -- early one mistly morning, the four of us wrapped our robes over both shoulders, and set of to our neighboring bhikkhu monastery in Redwood Valley, Abhayagiri.

July 18th was Ajahn Amaro's last day at Abhayagiri, where he has been founding co-abbot for more than the past decade. The following day he was to return to Amaravati, the monastery where he had trained for many years before, to become the abbot there. We went went to ask his forgiveness, according to the Thai tradition. We were warmly and beautifully welcomed by the monastic Sangha there, despite our late arrival due to road blockage by a bike-a-thon along the way. Ajahn Amaro gave an inspiring talk to all on forgiveness, and the meaning of "Abhay" which in Thai means forgiveness and in the Pali language -- fearlessness. This was especially meaniningful for Ayya Tathaaloka and for all of us. We deeply appreciated the visit with both Ajahn Amaro and Ajahn Pasanno, together with our venerable monk brothers in the Holy Life.

But really, we were not four -- we were five -- as we went together with Anagarika Marajina, the newest member of our monastic community. So, really, it should be: "Now We Are Five" -- soon to be more.

Peace and Loving Kindness to All