As we head in to the final days of our one-month Amitabha retreat, daily life flows easily and quietly. What’s going on in our minds is the important part. That’s the real test of how fruitful the time together has been. Our goal is to be content with creating the causes for our awakening for the benefit of all beings. Watch Ven. Jenkir’s BBC on Focus on the Causes here.
After 3 weeks of extraordinary Vinaya teachings and sharing community life with nearly 60 monastics and lay volunteers, the Abbey now turns to the silence and joy of winter retreat. We welcomed 9 guests to join us for the first month-some “old hands” at winter retreat and some new ones too, including a retreatant from Taiwan and another from Italy. We are loving our holiday with Amitabha, Buddha of Infinite Light!
“Let’s not wait 22 years before the next Vinaya course,” one nun exclaimed, referring to the previous course that Vinaya Master Bhikshuni Wuyin taught for Western nuns in 1996. All agreed.
With the guidance of Ven. Master Wuyin, the faculty from her Luminary International Buddhist Society, and Ven. Thubten Chodron, the 49 nuns attending the Living Vinaya in the West course lived and learned together in community. Everyone came away with new insights into the Buddha’s compassionate instructions for monastic life. With a broader understanding of the role of nuns and monks in any society, we each deepened our commitment to establish flourishing monastic communities in the West.
Chinese New Year and Losar, Tibetan New Year, Celebrated at the Abbey On Ven. Chodron’s and Ven. Damcho’s recent trip to Singapore, many students requested a new year puja with special request prayers. The Abbey joyfully complied with the powerful Four Mandalas to Cittamani Tara practice. We dedicated the merit as requested for removing obstacles, good health and long life, speedy recovery, good rebirth, and harmony in relationships for the prayer requesters and all beings. Happy New Year to all, and especially to the Friends of Sravasti Abbey Singapore. May all be auspicious for the coming year.
Rebecca Bradley, who began anagarika training at the Abbey last year, became a novice nun at a most auspicious occasion. Surrounded and supported by the 49 nuns of the Living Vinaya in the West program, she ordained as Ven. Thubten Lamsel. Abbey founder and abbess Ven. Thubten Chodron was her preceptor and Ven. Thubten Tarpa, the Abbey’s most senior resident nun, was her Acharya or instructor.
Sravasti Abbey nuns conducted the entire ordination in English. Our Vinaya teachers from Luminary International Buddhist Society in Taiwan – Ven. Bhikshuni Master Wuyin and six of her fully ordained disciples – supported with smiles and tears as they witnessed this blossoming of the Western sangha. The Abbey sangha rejoices and welcomes Ven. Lamsel to the community!
See more photos on Facebook.
What a happy bunch of nuns! Ven. Bhikshuni Master Wuyin and the faculty of six nuns from Luminary International Buddhist Society in Taiwan bring their years of study and experience to the Living Vinaya in the West program. Abbey abbess Ven. Thubten Chodron invited Master Wuyin and the Luminary nuns to educate 49 Western nuns in the Vinaya, Buddha’s guidelines for monastic living.
Master Wuyin wanted the course to be experiential, and nuns from the Theravada, Chinese Mahayana, and Tibetan traditions are responding with enthusiasm. The curriculum includes live teachings, videos, small group discussions, and skits. It’s an historic event that will undoubtedly strengthen the roots of Dharma in the West.
See more photos on Facebook.
After months of planning and preparing — and 22 years of aspiring — the Living Vinaya in the West course has begun. Nuns from five continents — Australia, Europe, Asia, and North and South America — have gathered to learn the lived experience of the Vinaya, Buddha’s guidelines for monastic life. Ven. Bhikshuni Master Wuyin and six nuns from Luminary International Buddhist Society in Taiwan are the faculty, with additional commentary by the Abbey’s Ven. Chodron. Over 40 volunteers have also helped to support the program. This historic event is possible through the kindness of numerous people around the world. The Buddha said that when fully ordained monastics practice these guidelines, the Dharma will last forever. May it be so!
After two years of training in the novice precepts, Abbey monastics Ven. Losang and Ven. Pende traveled to Taiwan to take their respective ordination to become fully ordained. Both trained at Lingyan Zen Temple where they took the Triple Platform ordinations, which finished in December. Ven. Losang becomes our first bhikshu (fully ordained monk), while Ven. Pende is our 11th bhikshuni (fully ordained nun).
Ven. Losang and Ven. Pende treasure their opportunity to take higher ordination and continue training at the Abbey. They also have tremendous gratitude for the kindness, generosity, and hospitality they received from Taiwanese teachers, fellow ordination trainees, and the lay volunteers they encountered. See more photos on Facebook.
As winter sets in the Abbey community continues to keep things running smoothly and enjoying the guests who come to spend time with us.
Ven. Chodron returned from her Asia travels to a nearly complete new abbess cottage. We also celebrated the holiday season with our yearly recitation of Shantideva’s Guide to a Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, and residents are getting ready for the upcoming Vinaya program.
For millions of people around the world, New Year’s celebrations are about parties, football, parades, and fireworks. But for the 42 attendees at the Abbey’s yearly Vajrasattva retreat, it is a time for self- reflection, purification, and deepening Dharma practice. The days were cold and sunny and the nights lit by a full moon. We imagined the millions of snowflakes to be tiny Vajrasattvas sparkling in the moonlight purifying the minds of all beings and bringing peace and harmony to the world. Happy New Year!
Varsa, the annual 3-month monastic retreat, is a time for the monastic community to focus on practice. It particularly emphasizes community harmony. The timing is based on the lunar calendar, and for 2018, the varsa ceremonies began on New Year’s Day. What a great way to welcome the new year! Dates for the Abbey’s annual winter retreat and the annual varsa overlap, but they are not the same. The winter meditation retreat begins February 14.