Ven. Thubten Chodron, traveling with Ven. Damcho as her translator and assistant, was in Asia for about three weeks. After serving as bhikshuni witness at the full ordination ceremony (see photos below), Ven. Chodron gave talks at Luminary Buddhist Institute and Manjushri Vihara in Taiwan and at locations in Hong Kong.
Ven. Chodron was invited to participate in the full ordination of nuns at the Fu En Si Temple in Taiwan, accompanied by Ven. Damcho as her translator. It’s a great honor and also a great opportunity to learn how to perform the full ordination so we can offer it at Sravasti Abbey one day! Ven. Tsepal is at this same temple to receive the bhikshuni ordination. En route, Ven. Chodron also gave Dharma talks in Seattle and Taiwan. Video is here..
At the end of our winter Varsa (monastic retreat), the Abbey celebrates Kathina. Widely celebrated in Buddhist countries of Southeast Asia, the Kathina ceremony especially demonstrates the interdependent relationship between the ordained sangha and the lay community. Originally a time for lay followers to offer monastic robes—which were scarce in ancient India—it also offers a chance to help replenish the monastery’s supplies after a long retreat. Many guests joined us for this joyful event.
The Abbey sangha completed our 6th annual Varsa (our “snows retreat”) with the Pravarana ceremony. Ancient in its origin, the Pravarana is rite for inviting feedback from other monastics about our conduct during the Varsa period. The purpose is to strengthen our good qualities and to diminish negative actions. It supports the development of trust and connection within the community.
Our three-month winter retreat was totally dependent on our supporters’ kindness. We appreciate the donations, food, and other offerings you gave so monastics and lay practitioners could study and practice the Dharma. We finished our Vajrasattva purification retreat with a fire puja, a “go-around” where we shared our personal experiences, and a lunch outing sponsored by a kind donor. We also to a lovely side trip to visit a nearby lake and forest, enjoying our connections before the winds of karma send our guests back out into the world.
The three-month retreatants continue to focus on Vajrasattva, mind training, and the lamrim meditations. It’s a wonderful time for deep reflection and purification. We are very thankful to all supporters who make this time possible. All the merit gained from our practice is dedicated for all the supporters for their extensive kindness.
In February we’ve had so much snow that our break times are filled with shoveling. That’s not a complaint. We are happy about the abundance of snow! It’s beautiful and good for the environment. But mainly we continue meditating and receiving precious teachings by Ven. Chodron as well as Ven. Sangye Khadro.
February has brought big winter storms and a deep snow accumulation. Ice cubes are forming on edges of the roofs, animals are looking for food, and Tashi, our neighbor’s dog, comes up to keep us company. Thanks to the very kind volunteers who keep bring food through the winter!
This year 20 meditators—14 residents and 6 guests—are participating in our annual 3-Month Winter Retreat. We are meditating on Vajrasattva, who helps to purify negative karma and obscurations. With five meditation sessions every day, study time, regular teachings, and lots of snow shoveling, our days and nights are filled with the sounds and sights of the Dharma. May our practice be of benefit to all sentient beings!
This year Tibetan Losar and Chinese New Year were on the same day. This doesn’t happen every year. It’s a great day to create merit by offering to our precious teachers and the sangha, and to practice the Dharma. Watch Ven. Sangye Khadro’s talk about Losar.. You can also listen to Ven. Chodron’s motivation that explains the Singaporean prayer request. She gave it before the puja on Chinese New Year.
To finish their one-month Vajrasattva retreat, everyone joined in a Dorje Khadro fire puja to purify any lingering negativities and mistakes in their practice. One of Lama Tsongkhapa’s heart practices, the Dorje Khadro fire puja is a powerful way to clear the mind and remove obstacles caused by broken vows and commitments.
In all, 33 people began this year’s annual winter retreat doing the purification practice of Vajrasattva. Thirteen of them came for only the first month, and what a dedicated group! They were faithful in their practice and generous (and cheerful!) in offering service. At their closing circle, each one shared insights gleaned from their time in retreat. Here are their portraits. You can read a few words about each person’s experience in this post. We wish them all well as they continue to practice from afar and integrate their retreat experience into their lives.
The first month of our winter retreat includes Abbey residents and about 18 guests who spend five meditation sessions every day with Vajrasattva, Buddha of Purification. Our goal is to purify past negative actions and to gain a clear perspective on our lives. By this practice, may all being be freed from suffering and its causes!
We hosted about 40 guests and 16 residents over four days during the New Year Vajrasattva Retreat. It was a filled weekend—lots of people, meditation, and teachings on the practice of Vajrasattva, the Buddha of Purification, with Ven. Chodron. (See the teachings on our YouTube channel.)
We also enjoyed daily guided meditation sessions and group discussions. Throughout, we kept silence well and met each other in kindness, closeness, and understanding. Happy new year to all! May genuine peace — born from the Three Higher Trainings of ethical conduct, meditative concentration, and the wisdom realizing the ultimate nature — prevail!