Our fruit trees are laden, and the beautiful plums are coming out our ears! Guests are helping to process for freezing and drying, and we are sharing with local food banks as well.
To our great surprise, we’ve had our first snowfall at the end of September, even though the leaves have barely started to turn. The snow is melting quickly but it’s clearly time to get ready for winter.
Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron & the Sravasti Abbey Community
The Labor Day retreat usually attracts many guests, but this year it was exceptionally plentiful with nearly 60 people. Due to the hot weather and lack of air conditioning in the Meditation Hall, the teachings were held in the dining room, which necessitated reconfiguring the room several times a day. Everyone helped and it wasn’t a burden, but it sure will be nice when we build a Buddha Hall with lots of space for teachings and meditation. Watch the teachings here.
Many people commented on the benefit they gained from this retreat, which included teachings on how to cultivate serenity (samatha). Ven. Chodron referred to Following in the Buddha’s Footsteps—the latest volume in The Library of Wisdom and Compassion series—which includes teachings from the Pali, Chinese, and Tibetan traditions on how to cultivate meditative concentration. People asked excellent questions and they appreciated the meditation sessions during which they practiced what they had just learned.
Among the participants were two octogenarians, who never missed a session and were happy and smiling the whole retreat. We rejoice at their eagerness to learn and participate in the Abbey community. See photos here.
Geshe Dadul Namgyal Teaches the Six Perfections
Twenty-five guests—almost all of whom had been to the Abbey before—joined the community in welcoming Geshe Dadul Namgyal for his annual course at the Abbey.
For three and a half days we shared teachings on bodhicitta and the six perfections with Geshela. He was very generous with his time, continuing Dharma discussions with us at mealtime and tea breaks as well as during an extra Q&A session each day.
He approached the topic by using metaphors culled from an old Tibetan text and modernized through his contemporary examples, personal stories, excellent English, and humor. We’re very grateful for his teachings and compassionate care. Videos of the teachings will be posted shortly. See the photos here.
Visit from Gonzaga University Students
Venerables Tarpa and Tsepal spent an afternoon with graduate students from Gonzaga University enrolled in a Mindful Leadership and Communication course.
The nuns contrasted the students’ classroom understanding of mindfulness based on empirical neuroscience and research outcomes with an overview of ethics-based mindfulness from a Buddhist perspective, followed by a half-hour of meditation. We concluded with a lively Q&A discussion on sustaining one’s practice, and a tour of the Abbey.
Offering Service Saturday
We had a great time during September’s Offering Service Saturday, with fourteen volunteers and the Abbey community working together on a variety of activities. Some of us took the firewood that was drying on the landing and stacked it in the furnace room of Ananda Hall for winter heating. Another group worked in the veggie garden, while yet another harvested plums.
Two nuns removed dead trees from the forest, and a group of volunteers packaged and addressed over 300 copies of the book, Unlocking Your Potential by Ven. Chodron and Calvin Malone, to send to incarcerated people. We are very grateful to these dedicated volunteers who enable the Abbey to exist, to grow, and to benefit people. See photos here.
Listen to Joseph’s Bodhisattva’s Breakfast Corner talkon what he has learned through offering service at the Abbey here .
Sharing the Dharma Day
The teaching on this Sharing the Dharma Day was on the first three steps of the seven point cause-and-effect instructions—seeing all sentient beings as having been our parents in past lives, remembering their kindness, and having the wish to repay that kindness—as explained in An Open-Hearted Life.
Ven. Chodron talked about our relationship with our parents, especially our mother, and encouraged everyone to remember all they did to help us given their own life situation, the families they grew up in, and world events at that time. Watch the teaching here.
The afternoon discussions were dynamic as people processed their thoughts and feelings about their families of origin. Several people let go of resentment and came to see that our parents were doing the best they could—which was actually a lot—to bring us up to be kind individuals. See photos here.
The Buddha Hall
The Buddha Hall team (Vens. Chodron, Tarpa, Samten, and Damcho) met with our architect, Tim Wilson, for an afternoon to see the first draft of plans for the Buddha Hall. They were impressed. The plan was rough and we’ll change a number of things, but the basic visualization is there.
We met with the Abbey community the following day to show them and gather everyone’s ideas to send to Tim. The Buddha Hall will be home to a range of activities, so incorporating all the needs and arranging for the smooth flow of people is challenging. We are building for the future because the Abbey will grow far beyond what it is now, and all of us are contributing our creative ideas.
You can join in the collective effort to generate merit for this project by reciting Shakyamuni Buddha’s mantra. Go here for details.
Out and About
Spokane UU Services
Venerable Chodron gave two Sunday service talks at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane on “Conflict and Compassion: Opening Our Hearts When Our Views Differ.”
The talks encouraged people to see situations from different perspectives and open their hearts to others’ points of view, evoking appreciative nods and laughter, too. Afterwards, many people shared their appreciation of the Monday UU meditation classes offered by Abbey nuns for 11 years. Some told Ven. Chodron that the class has changed their lives.
Dharma in Tennessee
Venerable Semkye traveled to Nashville, Tennessee to share the Dharma at Tara Buddhist Center, where Yangsi Rinpoche is the spiritual director. Ven. Semkye gave two public talks. One addressed the ways to let go of anger and resentment, and the other spoke of forgiving oneself and others and using remembrance of the kindness of others as the foundation for that process.
Ven. Semkye then led a weekend retreat on the “Eight Verses of Mind Training” by Langri Tangpa. Following the retreat format used at the Abbey, the weekend provided many opportunities for the participants to share their experiences and understanding of the teachings by way of a group discussion and Q&A sessions, as well as guided meditations. The participants’ open heartedness made the weekend memorable and fruitful for all.
Interfaith Across the Aisle
Ven. Tsultrim and Ven. Lamsel attended a presentation entitled “The Threats We Face,” hosted by Republicans of Spokane County. County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich and others talked about combatting the threats of white supremacy, the Christian Identity movement, and other extremist activities in our region. The nuns were part of an interfaith contingent that provided an opening prayer to set a tone for open-hearted communication. Along with representatives from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities, they declared, “May we embrace our common humanity and help create a world where genuine peace may flourish.”
Seeking Solutions to Climate Change
Abbey monastics take climate change seriously. Ven. Jampa is especially interested in this topic, and she represented us at the Spokane climate strike. Bearing signs emphasizing our interconnectedness with the environment, she and some Abbeys friends joined more than 1,000 teenagers and young adults to march through downtown Spokane chanting slogans calling for change. The march culminated at Spokane Tribal Gathering Place where there were speeches by youths, local Native Americans, and Governor Jay Inslee. Read about the event here.
Ven. Jampa also represented the Abbey at an interfaith panel on Earth Stewardship at the Unity Spiritual Center in Spokane. The panel discussed how to inspire faith communities to take climate action and how to increase collaboration for greater effectiveness. Watch Ven. Jampa’s talk on compassion and climate change here. Watch Abbey guest Matt Gola share his views on environmental issues here.
Read H.H. the Dalai Lama’s message praising the work of climate activist Greta Thunberg and others who are actively seeking solutions to climate change.
A New Book!
Volume 4 of The Library of Wisdom and Compassion, entitled Following in the Buddha’s Footsteps, will be in bookstores on October 15. You can pre-order the book from Wisdom Publications or on Amazon. Learn more about the book here.
This book is a jewel, with an extensive explanation of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha Jewels, as well as on the three higher trainings of ethical conduct, concentration, and wisdom.
Those of you seeking in-depth teachings on meditative concentration and on the four establishments of mindfulness, as well as the thirty-seven harmonies with awakening, will find them in this book by H.H. the Dalai Lama and Ven. Chodron.
We’re always appreciative to those who make donations and send us parcels and want to thank you properly. Gifts ordered from a company online are often delivered without the donor’s name on or inside the box. If you send a gift in this way, please send a message to [email protected] so we can thank you. Please tell us your name, your email address, what item(s) you are sending, and when you will send the item. Thank you so much!
Ken shares his thoughts about MY and MINE, and how grasping at them bring us problems. Read his reflection here.
Check out the Tibetan Nuns Project’s recent bulletin here. See a video of the nuns taking their geshema exams this year.
To observe this year’s National Suicide Prevention Month, we share this information from the Alliance for Gun Responsibility—read it here.