Holy Days – December 2016

Holy Days

The Abbey celebrates Lama Tsongkhapa Day each year with pujas and light offerings. This year it fell on December 23, just two days before our annual Christmas Day reading of Shantideva’s Engaging in the Bodhisattva’s Deeds. We rejoiced to acknowledge the annual solstice theme of returning light by celebrating wisdom, great compassion, and bodhicitta. We dedicate the merit for these qualities to grow in all beings and for peace on a chaotic world.

Support for the New Geshemas – December 2016

Vens. Chodron and Damcho finished their Asian tour with 10 days in Mundgod, India where they attended the Emory-Tibet symposium with His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Bridging Science and Buddhism. They stayed to witness His Holiness award certificates to the class of 20 geshemas, the first nuns to receive the highest Tibetan Buddhist academic degree. Ven. Chodron gave talks in Mundgod as well. Then they were off for a stopover in Singapore before returning to the Abbey.

Malaysia and India 2016 – December 2016

From Singapore, Ven. Chodron and Ven. Damcho traveled across the border to Malaysia where Ven. Chodron gave public talks and a weekend retreat sponsored by the Kuching Dhamma Vijaya Centre. Ven. Dhammika, a nun in the Theravada tradition, is founder of the center.

From Malaysia, the nuns traveled to Bangalore, India where Ven. Chodron gave two talks.

Singapore 2016 – December 2016

Ven. Chodron’s annual trip to Singapore included ten days of teachings at multiple venues, private Dharma talks, and consultations with various temples. She also met many old friends and Dharma students. Watch teachings on Joyous Effort at Pureland Marketing: Day 1 and Day 2.

Friends of Sravasti Abbey-Singapore (FOSA-S) and Pureland Marketing did their usual spectacular job of organizing the events and providing accommodations and support for Ven. Chodron and her assistant, Ven. Damcho. The FOSA-S also coordinate book sales and book signings at every venue. We rejoice in Ven. Chodron’s long-term Dharma connection with the Dharma students in Singapore and are grateful for their continuing support.

From Malaysia, the nuns traveled to Bangalore, India where Ven. Chodron gave two talks.

Warmth of Dharma in Winter – December 2016

As the days shorten and the temperatures fall, we will stay warm and secure by keeping the Dharma in our hearts and minds. The Abbey community continues to welcome guests and ventures out to connect with the world in a kind and open way.

Travels in Taiwan – November 2016

Following the excitement of the Global Bhikkhuni Award Ceremony in Kaohsiung, Ven. Chodron and Ven. Damcho traveled Taiwan to visit Dharma friends and give talks at various temples. They connected with Ven. Mingjia at Manjushri Vihara and met again with Ven. Wuyin, founder and abbess of Luminary Temple, who has been so influential in developing the Abbey. They also stopped at Pu Yi Nunnery and the Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts where, among others, they met with Ven. Huimin, who supports the Abbey bhikshuni sangha’s varsa retreat. The Abbey nuns have been touched by the interest and support for what we are doing at Sravasti Abbey. We rejoice in the virtuous and fruitful link with the Taiwanese sangha.

Taiwan and the Global Bhikkhuni Award – November 2016

Ven. Chodron began her annual Asian teaching tour with a stop in Taiwan to accept the Global Bhikkhuni Award. Presented by the 300-member Chinese Buddhist Bhikkhuni Association (CBBA) of Taiwan, the award honored 50 women from 12 countries for their distinguished achievements in sharing Buddha’s teachings. They wrote, “Venerable Bhikkhuni Thubten Chodron, you are being honored for preserving, protecting, and promoting Tibetan Buddhism by establishing and being the Abbess of Sravasti Abbey in Washington, USA and for offering teachings, both oral and written, which reach the hearts and are widely received by the American people.” Watch Ven. Chodron’s acceptance speech. Find lots more photos on her Facebook page.

Virtuous Activity – November 2016

The chill of approaching winter reminds us that a year of remarkable Dharma activities is winding down. The garden is getting put to bed, and the apple orchard is harvested. Tara’s Refuge is revitalized and refreshed with the old barn and other out-buildings being torn down. Guests come and offer their practice and enthusiasm for whatever is needed. It is a precious time to cultivate a very joyful mind and set one’s sights on awakening for the benefit of all beings.

Buddhism: One Teacher Many Traditions – November 2016

For the second year, Ven. Chodron unpacked the profoundly wise and comprehensive book comparing Buddhist traditions that she co-authored with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This year’s course focused on the wisdom chapters. The group was most inspired and grateful to receive these teachings. Now may we practice and integrate them into our lives to being benefit to the world.

Autumn at the Abbey – October 2016

With the change of season, much needed rains have come to the Inland Northwest. The Abbey community has many tasks as we get ready for winter, greet new guests, and move them smoothly into the Abbey daily stream. With a mind of bodhicitta, may we bring the greatest benefit to all.

Lake Day – October 2016

Dharma friends Doug and Sarah again offered lunch at their family’s summer cabin on Idaho’s Hayden Lake. The community enjoyed kayaking, resting, reading Dharma books, and taking long walks along the country road. Sarah prepared a wonderful hearty lunch with lots of love and joy. The Abbey community felt rejuvenated and rejoiced in Sarah’s generosity and kindness.

Shikshamana Precepts – October 2016

Ven. Tenzin Tsepal is a longtime student of Ven. Chodron’s who ordained as a novice in 2001. Joining the Abbey community this year, she recently took a step towards taking full (bhikshuni) ordination by receiving 6 shikshamana trainings. Ven. Chodron is her preceptor and our great friend, teacher, and supporter Ven. Jendy Shih came to serve as acharya or training master. Ven. Hong Zen also attended to guide and encourage the proceedings. We rejoice at Ven. Tsepal’s great fortune and for the continuing support and encouragement of the Taiwanese bhikshunis.

Geshe Dadul Namgyal Returns – September 2016

Geshe Dadul Namgyal returned to complete the course of teaching he began last year on “Madhyamaka Through Metaphor.” Geshela’s scholarship, practice, and humor shine through his teaching. With wit, skill, and PowerPoint brought the reasonings of the profound Madhyamaka view down to Earth for us. We make prayers that Geshela will continue to teach to benefit all beings with his wisdom and compassion.

Concentration Retreat 2016 – September 2016

The annual Labor Day retreat saw a record number of 50+ guests and residents participating. The large group held the retreat silence kindly and conscientiously, and their practice was sincere. Ven. Chodron gave accessible and practical teachings on how to cultivate concentration as the path to liberation and awakening, especially how to counteract the hindrances that arise. There was much gratitude at the retreat’s end.

Geshe Yeshe Thabkhe – August 2016

Renowned Tibetan scholar Geshe Yeshe Thabkhe gave extraordinary teachings on Aryadeva’s 400 Stanzas on the Middle Way. At the last minute, Geshela was unable to make the trip, but he was determined to teach. Instead, he taught via Ustream for nine straight days.

His commentary focused on many of the wrong views we need to refute in order to cultivate the wisdom that understands reality correctly. This was Geshela’s third installment of teachings on this precious text. Despite the complexity of the topic the group was truly inspired to study and integrate the teachings into our lives. May Geshela live long so he can continue to benefit all beings. And may he return to the Abbey to give transmission on the final four chapters!

Offering Service Saturday – August 2016

July’s Offering Service day brought folks from the area to collaborate on a number of fun and diverse projects. From forest thinning to lunch making, to mala making to garden harvesting, the group showed a great joyous effort and Dharma friendship from start to finish. We dedicated all the merit at the end of the day for the benefit of all beings.

Bhikshunis Visit – July 2016

The Abbey has a close connection with nuns of the Chinese tradition. The Luminary Temple in Taiwan, and its founder Ven. Master Wu Yin, have been especially significant to the Abbey’s development. Two senior Luminary Temple bhikshunis (fully ordained nuns) made a short but inspiring visit. Both have known Ven. Chodron for many years. They shared their wisdom generously with our monastic and trainees, reminding us of the precious conditions we have to practice the Dharma at the Abbey.

Both nuns gave Bodhisattva Breakfast Corner talks. See Ven. Jendy’s here and Ven. Jenkir’s here

July – July 2016

July at the Abbey always brings an abundance of visitors and activities. It’s hot and there’s much to be done. We train to do all actions with a Dharma motivation, which is easier on some days than others!

Another Anagarika – July 2016

Singaporean Hsiao Yin spent several months at the Abbey last year. She has now returned to deepen Dharma study and training by taking the anagarika precepts. This marks a further time of exploration as she lives and offers service in the community. We are happy to support her in her spiritual journey.

The Healing Medicine Buddha – July 2016

The Abbey community and over 20 guests made a deep connection to the Medicine Buddha in the annual, weeklong silent retreat. Ven. Chodron gave profound teachings from Shantideva’s guide to equalizing and exchanging self with others. This teaching is the prescription to heal the disease of our pervasive self-centered thought, which cares only for its own happiness. Through the salve of wisdom and compassion, the retreat was a healing experience for all.

Young Adults Explore Buddhism – June 2016

The Abbey community loves the annual week-long Young Adults Explore Buddhism program. Participants with a variety of life experiences come from all over the world. With Venerable Chodron as their guide, they dive deeply into topics important to them, and they support one another as they connect to their most cherished values and aspirations. Offering service, group discussions, and teachings nurture that connection. The resident community appreciates their enthusiasm, energy, willingness, great hearts, and humor.

Two New Anagarikas – June 2016

This month Stephen and Alicia took another step in their training by taking the eight anagarikas precepts. This begins a year-long discernment period for aspirants to get clear about how to make their lives most meaningful. May they both gain clarity and wisdom.

Sharing the Dharma Day – June 2016

A beautiful sunny day welcomed the 39 friends who came to June’s Sharing the Dharma Day. Venerable Chodron continued to teach on “The 37 Practices of Bodhisattvas” from her book, Don’t Believe Everything You Think. This month’s verse was about harsh speech and how it is destructive for our own peace of mind, not mention others’. Venerable Chodron began the talk sharing the news about the massacre in Orlando and gave wise advice on how to use the tragedy to grown our deep compassion and maintain hope for our world.

Our Precious Teacher Arrives at the Abbey – May 2016

Twenty years ago, when Venerable Chodron was spiritual director of Dharma Friendship Foundation (DFF) in Seattle, the group received and consecrated a beautiful statue of Shakyamuni Buddha and a collection of sacred texts—the Kangyur and Tengyer—that graced all their Dharma activities. When DFF recently moved to a smaller space, the board decided to offer the near-life sized statue and many shelves of sacred texts to the Abbey. Dharma friends Pam Cowan and Steve Miller came for the retreat and drove these treasures over in a rented truck. Other retreatants were a great help in getting the heavy boxes and filled statue into Ananda Hall, where they will reside until a final home is built for them. Welcome to your new home teacher Shakyamuni Buddha!

Memorial Day Retreat – May 2016

For the 5th year Venerable Thubten Chodron skillfully unpacked His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s book on selflessness, How to See Yourself As You Really Are, over the Memorial Day weekend. A record fifty-one people attended, responding to Venerable Chodron’s provocative, humorous, and direct teachings with undivided attention and lots of questions. Everyone experienced the gift of the Dharma and left the retreat with lots to think about in terms of who we think we are.

Nyung Ne Retreat – May 2016

Nyung Ne (pronounced nyoo-nay) is a powerful purification retreat that helps cleanse our minds of the obstacles to gaining realizations on the path. The community and nine guest participants spent the weekend chanting praises to Chenrezig, prostrating, making offerings and meditating on emptiness in our 4th Nyung Ne since the Abbey’s founding. With gratitude, we deepened our connection to Chenrezig, Buddha of Compassion, and to the Dharma.

Kathina: Celebrating Dharma Friendship – May 2016

This year’s Kathina—the ceremonial offering of robes and requisites to the sangha—coincided with the Sharing the Dharma Day. Spring was in the air, along with a palpable sense of joy and gratitude as the Abbey sangha shared the Dharma and, in return, received support from our lay friends. May this mutually beneficial relationship be of the greatest benefit to everyone near and far.

Russia – May 2016

The final stop on Venerable Chodron’s spring teaching tour was Moscow, Russia, where a dedicated band of students has been following the Abbey online for some time. Having formed a Friends of Sravasti Abbey – Russia group, they sponsored public talks in Moscow and a weekend retreat with more public talks at a retreat center outside of the city. Venerables Tenpa and Tenzin led the way, with tremendous support from lay students. We hope they’ll be able to visit the Abbey too!

Abbey Life in Spring – May 2016

The Abbey community is starting off an event-filled Dharma year with service and practice. The community celebrated its first bi-monthly posadha (the confession and restoration rite) with our two new bhikshunis, and the veggie garden got planted. Tara’s Refuge is getting a new look, forest thinning for fire safety has begun, and spring cleaning keeps the Abbey looking bright and welcoming. With lots of joyous effort, may all beings benefit.

Two New Bhikshunis! – April 2016

Venerables Jampa and Damcho took part in the Triple Platform Ordination in Taiwan, a 45-day monastic training program where they received the novice, full, and bodhisattva ordinations. They also had the opportunity to visit monasteries that the Abbey has a connection to and pay respect to Dharma masters.

Sharing Our Joy Retreat – April 2016

Sravasti Abbey’s first retreat of 2016 focused on Sharing our Joy. Twenty-five people—including many first-time guests—joined the weekend that included a Saturday morning walk-a-thon in nearby Newport to raise awareness of child abuse. Venerable Semkye and the elements started us off with a talk on death and impermanence, accompanied by high winds, hail, rain, lightning, and thunder. In the following days, Venerables Tarpa and Semkye gave teachings on the immeasurable thought of joy and the far-reaching practice of joyous effort, and we meditated together, learning to rejoice in our own and others’ virtue.

Germany – April 2016

Venerable Chodron’s spring European teaching tour took her to Germany where she gave public talks and workshops/retreats in Frankfurt and the Hamburg area. The Frankfurt talks focused on Living with an Open Heart, in conjunction with the publication of the German edition of that book, co-written with Russell Kolts. In Hamburg, where she was hosted by the Tibetan Center, she taught on Nagarjuna’s Precious Garland and met with residents of the newly established Shide nunnery.

Abbey Life – April 2016

Now that the community is out of retreat the year’s projects and visitors begin. We try to place activities like planting veggies, clearing the stream at Tara’s refuge, and welcoming guests from near and far within the practices of joyous effort and warm friendliness. This keeps our minds in the Dharma and, hopefully, inspires everyone we meet to respond in kind.

Pravarana – April 2016

The Abbey ended our third winter varsa—the annual 3-month monastic retreat— with the pravarana ceremony described in the Vinaya, the basket of Buddha’s teachings on monastic discipline. During the three months of varsa, we focus on community harmony and refrain from pointing out faults. To end the varsa, we ceremonially “give the pravarana,” an invitation for others to offer feedback on our behavior so that we can learn and grow in the Dharma. The ceremonies are beautiful and we rejoice at the opportunity to uphold the Dharma in this way.

Celebration and Sharing the Dharma – April 2016

Winter retreat concluded with a huge celebration. About 85 people packed into the Meditation Hall for our biggest Sharing the Dharma Day ever. Ven. Chodron gave beautiful talk on working with the critical mind, “The Internal Judge & Jury,” followed by an amazing lunch, and a Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Puja and gift presentation in gratitude for the all the support—from holy beings and ordinary beings—during the retreat. And now, the doors are officially open! Come visit!

From Staying In to Going Out – March 2016

As the winter retreat wound to its close, opportunities for engagement increased and some were too good to pass up. The Abbey had an invitation to meet presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, for example, and reconnect with interfaith friends. And the Washington State caucuses drew us to into the political process for a couple of hours. The warm spring days called us to clean up the gardens and the waterways of Tara’s Refuge, which we “swarmed” as a community in the final days of retreat. We rejoice in all we’ve learned from our time of internal work and are ready to open the doors. Sharing the Dharma Day is April 3.

From Staying In to Going Out – March 2016

As the winter retreat wound to its close, opportunities for engagement increased and some were too good to pass up. The Abbey had an invitation to meet presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, for example, and reconnect with interfaith friends. And the Washington State caucuses drew us to into the political process for a couple of hours. The warm spring days called us to clean up the gardens and the waterways of Tara’s Refuge, which we “swarmed” as a community in the final days of retreat. We rejoice in all we’ve learned from our time of internal work and are ready to open the doors. Sharing the Dharma Day is April 3.

Roger Jackson Teaches at the Abbey – February 2016

Author, translator, and scholar Roger R. Jackson normally spends his winters at Carleton College in Minnesota, where he is a Professor of Religion. This winter, however, he is teaching at Maitripa College in Oregon. Taking advantage of his proximity, we invited Roger to the Abbey.

A student of Geshe Lhundub Sopa, Roger has studied Tibetan Buddhism for over 40 years. His passion is Mahamudra—literally, the Great Seal—which he shared with us for two jam-packed days during our winter retreat. Bringing keen scholarship and a poet’s fervor, Roger stimulated and inspired us (watch the course online), and we hope he returns to share more.


One-Month Refuge Retreat Ends – February 2016

Virtue was clearly in everyone’s minds as we gathered on the last day to share and celebrate the joyous effort of practicing together. The noble silence was beautifully held, the sense of community made group endeavors a breeze, and the gratitude for the Venerable Chodron’s guidance and wisdom was sincerely and clearly expressed. Our friends departed to integrate all they learned into their lives, and the Abbey community continues in silence. May many beings benefit from our efforts.

Tara Puja for the New Year – February 2016

Responding to a request from our Singaporean friends, the Abbey community and winter retreatants celebrated the Chinese and Tibetan New Year with a joyous Cittamani Tara Puja. The merit from the puja was dedicated for the well being of many Dharma friends in Singapore and their families. Tara, the Buddha of enlightening activity and a powerful ally for removing worldly and spiritual obstacles, is a favorite of many Buddhist practitioners. May all our supporters around the world and all sentient beings benefit.

Taking Refuge in Winter Retreat – February 2016

One day time seems to stand still, while the next day it flashes by at a brilliant pace. All 21 retreatants try to use their time wisely as they approach the final week of the month-long refuge retreat. Each day brings an opportunity to practice the path. As the silence of the outer world deepens, the inner world becomes quieter as well. What a precious opportunity we have! Thanks to you all for your support.

Meet the 2016 Refuge/Lamrim Retreatants — February 2016

Every year the group of Dharma practitioners that gather at Sravasti Abbey to do winter retreat is remarkable, dedicated, and inspiring. This year’s group—coming from far and near—is no exception. We thought you would like to meet them.

The Abbey Sangha Enters Its Third Varsa – January 2016

The Sravasti Abbey monastic community entered its third “snows retreat” on January 16th. For the next three months we will practice contentment, watch our own minds, and not speak of the faults of others. It is a special opportunity to delve deeply into Dharma practice and study without the busyness of events, programs, and guests. May all beings benefit from our efforts to cultivate wisdom and compassion and to nourish our community harmony as well.

The One-Month Refuge Retreat Begins – January 2016

Ten guests—two from as far away as Singapore and Australia—arrived safe and sound and joined the 11-member Abbey community to begin a one-month “vacation” with the Three Jewels. Many of the retreatants are senior practitioners or have been to the Abbey before, which makes for a quick entry and a short and sweet logistics session.

The group does five sessions of meditation and one study session each day. We also receive teachings and offer service. We rejoice at the great fortune to be able to deepen our refuge, delve into the lamrim, and learn how to bring it all into our practice and our lives.

Teachings in Singapore – January 2016

Venerable Chodron gave Singapore teachings in December and again in January. Here are more scenes from the trip. Additional photos are in the December 2015 photo gallery.

Abbey Life – January 2016

A day at the Abbey community has many facets. The Dharma shines in simple yet beautiful ways as seen by the kindness, service, and joy that abounds.

Vajrasattva Retreat – January 2016

Making New Year’s resolutions takes on a whole new meaning when you come to a Vajrasattva retreat at the Abbey. The participants in this year’s retreat were deeply focused on regretting and purifying past destructive actions as well as making a commitment to refrain from them in the future. This brings a strength and clarity to actually transforming the mind and growing our virtuous qualities; and doing it with joy and compassion as well.