Friday, April 22, 2011

2011 Vassatime Retreat

We are delighted to announce the 2011 Vassatime retreat at Aranya Bodhi, from July 15 to October 12. Retreatants may arrive up to one month in advance and stay afterwards until October 17th.

This Vassatime retreat will be a time for individual practice in a wilderness environment. Our intention is to support a settled, quiet community where each woman will have the space to develop and sustain her own practice leading to liberation. Our local supporters would find a monastic sangha largely in seclusion, with the duty of teaching and speaking with lay supporters carried by more experienced Bhikkhunis.

Communal training will be focused around the formal transactions which define the Bhikkhuni sangha: ordination (upasampada), entering the vassa, confession (apatti desana), teachings from respected venerable bhikkhus (ovada), recitation of the monastic code (patimokkha), invitation (pavarana), and for those who can stay on in October, the robes ceremony (kaṭhina). In the past, we have seen how Ayya Tathaaloka's approach to Vinaya is both accountable and compassionate, bringing out the full meaning of the early Vinaya texts without necessarily subscribing to later customs and commentarial traditions.

In addition to Ayya Tathaaloka and Ayya Sobhana, all four of the bhikkhunis who ordained at Aranya Bodhi in August 2010 will be returning this year for further training. That is, Ajahn Thanasanti, Ven. Adhimutta, Ven. Suvijjana, and Ven. Phalanyani. We will have two samanerīs (novices), one or two anagarikās (postulants) and several monastic life aspirants.

Dhamma and meditation instruction will be determined based on the needs of participants.

There is still space for a few lay residents during the Vassa, who enjoy camping in tents and can stay for a month or longer. They would have special duties assisting the community with chores involving money, driving and cooking. Our aim is to have enough lay residents to keep the chores light and allow time for personal practice.

There are many opportunities to support this Vassatime retreat, by helping with buildings, trails, and painting in the weeks before July 15, offering local transportation, meal dana, or other requisites both before and during the retreat. If you wish to participate or support, please contact the Aranya Bodhi Prioress,Ven. Sobhana Bhikkhuni (bhikkhunisobhana [at] gmail [dot] com).

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hermitage Trailer Update & Invitation from Friends of the Hermitage

Wind, rain, leaks, mold, and mildew won.
The old kitchen trailer succumbed.
 A new used trailer has been found.

Through the diligent work of many friends, the hermitage now has a new used trailer, complete with all the kitchen fixtures, shower, and a separate bedroom for a resident or guest. Thank you all for that!

The new trailer will allow indoor cooking and shower facilities for the four monastic women and the lay steward now living on the land.  In summer, especially during the Vassa retreat from July to October, up to 12 women will use the new trailer along with an outside camp-kitchen and shower tents.

Out of the $9,500 cost of acquiring and installing this trailer, the Alliance for Bhikkhunis offered $2,000 and would like to invite Dhammadharini donors to join in this offering. Awakening Truth (Ajahn Thanasanti Bhikkhuni's support organization in Colorado) has kindly pledged another $3,000. Thank you to all these friends.

$4,500 in donations are needed
to pay the costs that remain.

The Dhammadharini Board of Directors offered to loan these funds to the hermitage (from Dhammadharini funds designated for other purposes), as the kitchen trailer had become an environmental health hazard. With 5-7 women in retreat at the hermitage, it had to be replaced urgently.

Invitation to Participate

Friends of the Hermitage group invites the participation of all supportive friends who would like to join us.   If you wish to donate, see ... Be sure to indicate the purpose of your gift, and kindly drop a note to so that we can announce when the goal is met.  We will happily reply to any questions about this project and how you can participate.

Sara Sacksteder
on behalf of
Friends of the Hermitage

Sunday, April 10, 2011

First Family Retreat at Aranya Bodhi

We all enjoyed Becca's week-long visit with two young daughters. It's a wonderful exercise to make the Dhamma and Discipline ... what we understand and how we behave ... meaningful for kids. By helping both ourselves and the youngsters, we make the Buddha's path beautiful in the beginning, beautiful in the middle and beautiful at the end. Here is Becca's blog post.

She should have also mentioned helping with Hermitage chores, taking trash to the dump, and picking up propane and gas. Thank you, Becca.


Kataññutā is gratitude, literally knowing what was done.
Our gratitude to Martha Craft for serving as interim Steward to the Hermitage, from the day of Sr. Marajina's ordination up to Jackie Miller's arrival this week. Martha withstood the rough conditions, cheerfully dealt with propane tanks, gas cans, and hardware needs; chauffered the monastics to and from Fremont and SFO, and braved severe weather on the freeway. Best of all, she took a lively and joyful interest in our Pali and Dhamma studies.
She wrote, "This has been an amazing happy adventure for me. Makes me smile."