The Abbey celebrated another important joyful event on November 13 when Dianne Pratt from Seattle took the first step to full ordination. With the community and two close Dharma friends as witnesses, the novice nuns performed the head shaving, a symbol of giving up attachment.
Afterwards, Venerable Chodron gave a wonderful teaching on the protection of the precepts for one’s mind. We all rejoice for Dianne and all sentient beings who will benefit from her practice and her commitment to take ordination.
Days at the Abbey go by quickly. With numerous activities–offering service, teachings, visitors, and volunteer meetings–there are many opportunities in the course of the day to practice the Dharma. By supporting each other, knowing that each and every one of us is committed to transforming our minds, daily life does indeed become daily Dharma.
Every day there’s something new to see as the monastic residence takes shape. The foundation and the columns that will hold up the deck and front entrance are done. Nick and Jason, the framers, have moved onto the site and are working steadily to get the structure up.
To conserve the resources offered our generous donors, the Abbey residents and supporters are doing many of the simple but labor intensive tasks around the site.
Meanwhile, in the upper meadow, John has excavated the site for the water system which will supply water to Gotami House, the existing main house, and future buildings.
Due to the kindness of our benefactors, Gotami House is coming to life. Stay tuned-or even better, come and visit.
Each day Gotami House shows us a marvelous example of impermanence. The subtle and not so subtle changes in its size, form and structure bring a wonderful Dharma teaching.
Nick and his framing crew have been steadily and carefully placing the roof trusses to support the different roof pitches the residence will have. Doors and window selection is in process and the concrete crew is designing the handicap accessible pathway to the entrance.
The weather is holding with intermittent rain and days of glorious fall sunshine. Come and visit. It’s a sight to behold!
The Lamrim or Gradual Path to Enlightenment is the foundation of the Sravasti Abbey community’s practice and meditation, so it was very auspicious to receive this teaching from His Holiness, who has studied this text all his life.
As the week unfolded, many of the Abbey’s friends and supporters, some of whom we had never met, joined us for lunch on the lawn. The Dharma filled our days as we practiced, attended teachings, and studied together. We are so blessed and fortunate to have had this opportunity.
May we practice and integrate the teachings into our lives and may His Holiness be well and live a long life in order to continue to teach the Dharma.
Geshe Dadul Namgyal inspired and challeged us with a three day whirlwind tour of the Two Truths. Using the Twenty-fourth chapter of Nagarjuna’s Wisdom of the Middle Way which discusses the emptiness of the Four Noble Truths, Geshe-la led a lively discussion on both the Four Noble Truths and the Two Truths. Saying he is not ‘teaching’ but still learning himself, Geshe-la encouraged questions and comments as the discussion proceeded.
After the weekend, Geshe-la stayed on for the rest of the week, answering questions at the meal table, teaching a five day intensive Tibetan language class for the residents, giving a public talk on Non-Violence and Reconciliation and spending the mornings discussing Dharma in depth with Venerable Chodron.
His warmth, humor and willingness to engage wholeheartedly in Abbey life with us inspires Venerable Chodron to invite Geshe-la to come again and spend a much longer period of time. We will make prayers that this opportunity can happen for all our benefit.
Well it’s happening; Gotami House is underway. The fire road is under construction. This road will also help the construction vehicles have access to the site.
The next step will be to excavate for septic system and lay the electrical and the water lines. It’s all very exciting!
Please make prayers for the project to proceed without obstacles so we can have Gotami House ready by early next summer.
The Abbey ordained its third Shiksamana on May 3 with Barbara’s ordination. The Shikshamana ordination is the two year probationary ordination that a novice (Shramanerika) nun receives prior to taking the Bhikshuni vows in the future. Barbara received both sets of novice vows. Four fully ordained Bhikshunis must be present to do the ceremony, so Bhikshunis Minjia, Jendy and Tien Chang, who were part of the two prior ordinations, kindly came to make it all possible with Venerable Chodron. It was a joyous day for the Abbey and for the Dharma.
Winter has finally left and the green of spring is bursting forth. With road restrictions lifted and the ground drying out, the work on the infrastructure for the master plan and in particular for Gotami House is beginning. Venerable Tarpa is lining up all the skilled people who will help the Abbey bring this dream into a reality.
The first to start is John who drills the test holes for the septic location and Steve a local waterwitcher to scope out the possible locations for the water system. It will be an amazing undertaking to watch unfold. So stay tuned!
For the second time in two years Khensur Jampa Tegchog visited the Abbey. Rinpoche was accompanied by Venerable Steve, his translator for many years, and his attendant Venerable Samten.
During his stay Rinpoche’s kindness came in many ways – he blessed the site for the soon to be built monastic residence as well as the building location for the visiting teachers cabin. During lunch he was very patient and answered many of our questions about the Dharma.
We felt really blessed and fortunate to be in his presence. We requested that he return and teach at the Abbey for many years to come.
With Abbey events drawing more and more participants, the need to expand the kitchen has become a necessity. With only a month to go before the arrival of Khensur Jampa Tegchog Rinpoche, the Abbey residents are putting their attention on the kitchen remodel to accommodate the larger groups we expect for the week-long teaching. As you can see, the change is already evident. Jampel is heading the project, which will make the kitchen more serviceable and expand the dining area to accommodate up to 25 people comfortably. We can’t wait to see the finished space!
With an opportunity to deepen their practice in one of the most conducive environments to be found, 13 retreatants began their 2 month “holiday with Medicine Buddha” on January 8. With gentle reminders by Venerable on the precious opportunity this is for all of them, they are setting a motivation of bodhicitta and creating peace in their own minds and by extension in the world.