2021 Photo Gallery

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Entering Our Annual Varsa – December

One of the three main rituals that Buddhist monastics perform is the annual varsa, or rains retreat. We refer to it as the “snows retreat” at the Abbey since we enter varsa during the winter. During this three-month period, we focus on cultivating our mind and stay within the bounds of the monastery. Our winter varsa overlaps with, but is different from, our annual winter meditation retreat. 

 

Monastic Training Course

The Abbey offered a two-and-a-half week training course for siksamanas, anagarikas, and two lay men (upasikas) who are seriously considering ordination. The training consisted of teachings on the siksamana precepts, discussion groups on monastic life, photo and video presentations on community life, rituals, chanting, and lots of fun.

Winter Life at Sravasti Abbey

Lots of snow has fallen so far this winter and we are shoveling nearly every other day. However, we take much joy in being outside in the crisp air, catching some sun rays, and watching deer in the garden in addition to our offering service routine.

 

Welcoming Winter

We have our first big snow for this winter. It’s good that we’re prepared, shoveling snow and plowing the Abbey roads. Meanwhile, inside the buildings, we enjoyed a Nyung Ne retreat and made lots of merit. We also welcomed some long-term guests for a monastic training program.
 

November Life at Sravasti Abbey

The Abbey community is grateful for the many opportunities to connect with like-minded people while offering service, taking care of the Abbey’s property, and enjoying this serene environment, especially the snow!

Know Your Mind Retreat with Ven. Sangye Khadro – November 

Ven. Sangye Khadro finished up a three-part series of weekend retreats entitled Know Your Mind, which covered the important study of mind and mental factors. Each retreat provided new insight into the mind’s capacity for transformation. The most recent retreat focused mainly on the six root afflictions and 20 auxilliary non-virtuous mental factors. Teachings and meditations from all three retreats are slowly being added to the Abbey’s YouTube channel. The series starts here.

Abbey Life – November 

As we approach the winter season, Abbey residents and and a few long-term guests enjoy the cooler temperatures, colorful forests and fields, shifting skies, and our first snow fall. We continue to offer service in the garden, kitchen, forest, the video department, and all the other places where we practice and share the Dharma.

Compassion in Action – November 

Lately, the Abbey community has enjoyed many opportunities to put our compassion into action. We received in-depth teachings on Lama Tsongkhapa’s classic Illumination of the Thought with Geshe Yeshi Lhundup of Drepung Monastery. We’ve also done a lot of outdoor work in the magnificent autumn weather, performed pujas, led online meditations, and much more.

Colorful October

Life at the Abbey has been as colorful as the autumn trees. Alongside the changing leaves, residents and guests have engaged in all kinds of activities, from rolling mantra to burning piles of forest debris, welcoming guests, hosting a film crew, attending teachings, and much more.

Geshe Yeshe Thabkhe teaches the Pramanavarttika – October

Residents and guests had another amazing opportunity to receive teachings from esteemed Dharma master Geshe Yeshe Thabkhe. This year, in the fourth year of teaching on this text, Geshe-la completed Chapter 2 of Pramanavarttika by master Dharmakirti. Many students joined the teachings on YouTube. Time and again Dharmakhirti and Geshe la outlined reasonings to show that the wisdom realizing selflessness offers the only way to attain liberation. Now it is up to us to meditate upon it again and again. 

Beautiful Autumn Life – October

Autumn brings brilliant colors to Sravasti Abbey, along with lots of outside activities—harvesting fruit, forest management, building maintenance—beautiful skies, and a brilliant moon.

108 Verses Praising Great Compassion with Geshe Dadul – September

The community looks forward to Geshe Dadul Namgyal’s insightful (and fun!) teachings each year. Though he was unable to be here in person, we met via Zoom. Over six days, Geshe la delivered profound teachings on Ven. Lobsang Tayang’s “108 Verses Praising Great Compassion called a Precious Crystal Rosary,” leading us to a deeper appreciation and understanding of great compassion.

Monastics Too Can Have Fun! – September

This month we took some time to rejuvenate and have fun on an outing to Priest Lake and to celebrate Ven. Chodron’s birthday.

Offering Service at Sravasti Abbey – September

Offering service to the Three Jewels in different ways is an essential part of everyday life at Sravasti Abbey. We clean the surrounding forest of overgrowth to protect it from fire and to support its health. We grow vegetables in our community garden, take care of the property’s infrastructure, and much more.

Labor Day Retreat 2021 – September

This year’s Labor Day weekend retreat focused on generosity, the first of the six paramitas. Ven. Chodron gave clear teachings on generosity from the book Nagarjuna on the Six Perfections and enriched each session with lots of stories.

More Ordination Pictures by Rev. Gen Heywood – August

Rev. Genevieve Heywood, pastor of the Veradale United Church of Christ in Spokane Valley, is a gifted and generous photographer. She brought her talents to capture the recent ordinations that took place at the Abbey.

Abbey Life in August

This month, we enjoyed the company of guests who helped us take care of the Abbey’s facilities and grounds. We connected with friends during Sharing the Dharma Day and offered a short weekend retreat with Ven. Sangye Khadro on mind and mental factors.

Exploring Monastic Life 2021 – August

Exploring Monastic Life is our annual program for Dharma practitioners wishing to explore monastic life. A daily schedule of meditations, teachings, discussions, and offering service provides participants the opportunity to discover their deepest aspirations and share them with others. This year, people participated both in-person and online.

Ordination Day – August

Ordination days are some of the most joyous times at the Abbey. On August 11, Venerable Thubten Chodron and the bhikshuni sangha ordained anagarika Nicole as Ven. Thubten Rinchen and Andrea from the Dharmadatta Nuns’ Community as Ven. Thubten Trinley. In addition, Stacy, Stephen, and Munsel (aka Sydney) took the eight precepts to begin their anagarika training. The ordination marked the end of this year’s Exploring Monastic Life retreat and gave participants a chance to witness this rare and meritorious event.

Abbey Life through Rev. Heywood’s Lens – August

Reverend Gen Heywood, pastor of the Veradale United Church of Christ and founder of Faith Leaders and Leaders of Conscience of Eastern Washington and North Idaho, is a close friend who visits us to photograph special events and daily Abbey life. She recently visited and took photos for a photojournalism article she is writing on spiritual communities. All photos courtesy Gen Heywood Photography.

Abbey Life – July

This month we welcomed many Dharma friends that we hadn’t seen since before Covid the lockdowns began. They brought lots of joy and support to help reorganize and clean out an office, stack firewood, and nourish flowers. We also reviewed our fire safety plan and supported Ven. Semkye with spreading the ashes of her dear sister Jane, who died three years ago. We thank all our volunteers for their immense kindness and support!

Medicine Buddha Retreat 2021 – July

The Medicine Buddha is a healer whose Dharma medicine addresses the root cause of suffering. We turn to Medicine Buddha when we are sick and when loved ones are ill or dying. This July, we had the opportunity to focus on the Medicine Buddha practice for one week to support the healing of others and ourselves. Ven. Chodron also continued giving commentary on Nagarjuna’s “Letter to a Friend,” containing advice to a king on how to improve his Dharma practice.

Sharing the Dharma Day – July

The community was thrilled to reopen the Abbey’s doors by celebrating a “hybrid” Sharing the Dharma Day in July. About 20 participants joined us in person and many others online via Vimeo Livestream and Zoom. Chenrezig Hall was full of joy as we reconnected with our friends and discussed the Dharma face-to-face.

Saying Goodbye to Our Old Log Cabin – June

In the beginning, Sravasti Abbey had only four buildings—Ananda Hall, a garage (converted into a Meditation Hall), a barn, and a small log garden shed. With a little work, the shed soon became a meditation cabin. It’s been the site for many personal retreats and preliminary practices, and has occasionally served as a bedroom. But now it’s gone, having been removed to make space for a new home for our teacher Venerable Sangye Khadro. We gave the cabin to a neighbor down the road, who stopped by with his family and friends to dismantle it.

Summer Courses, Retreats, and Much More – June

June has given us lots of opportunities to benefit our environment and serve all the beings that share our land. We finished building a woodshed, hosted an Exploring Buddhism course for young adults, received teachings on the mind, and did many other fun things.

Colors of Summer – June

Brilliant blue skies, fluffy white clouds, lush green meadows, and pink and purple blossoms invite beings of all kinds to enjoy the beauty of the Abbey’s spiritual and natural abundance.

A Lively Spring – June

These days, we are spending lots of time outside in the garden and forest. We were delighted to welcome a handful of fully vaccinated guests for an Offering Service Saturday after so many months of quarantine.

Good Karma Retreat with Ven. Thubten Chodron – June

For our annual Memorial Day Retreat, Ven. Chodron began teaching from Good Karma, her commentary on “The Wheel of Sharp Weapons” by Master Dharmarakshita. He wrote these verses on how to create the causes for happiness and avoid creating the causes for suffering centuries ago, but they are still applicable today.

An Active May

May brought a variety of activities, from building a new woodshed, to hosting a Sharing the Dharma Day and online teachings, to our Moving Day when all monastics change rooms. This annual practice helps us learn to let go and loosen attachment.

Wildflowers in May

The forests, meadows, and trails surrounding the Abbey are blooming with fresh flowers, green leaves, and tender needles. Stopping to look at the ground reveals a variety of wildflowers that are show-stoppingly beautiful, making our walks a feast of offerings to the buddhas and bodhisattvas.

It’s Blooming and Flourishing – May

May brings the community lots of opportunities to reach out to all sentient beings, not just by teaching the Dharma, but also by nurturing the garden and the forest. We are grateful to have this opportunity to study, practice, and benefit all kinds of beings.

Spring Activities at the Abbey – April

After a long winter, we now have many opportunities to go outside. Even our four-legged friends are using their outdoor “kitty condos” to watch the frogs and birds return. We joyously performed our annual Kathina ceremony and received the robe of merit.

Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature – April

In this five-day course, Venerable Chodron’s began teaching the third volume in the Library of Wisdom and Compassion series co-authored with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. About 100 participants joined, including residents and online listeners. Ven. Chodron did not shy away from presenting the reality of samsara by teaching us about the Four Truths of the Aryas. She will continue teaching from this volume on Friday nights. Go here to find the live and archived teachings

Abbey Life in Spring – April

Each spring brings magnificent skies, lots of sun, sweet smells, and animal mating calls to the Abbey. The community has begun to cultivate the gardens and put out the lawn furniture, while Ven. Chodron has offered a number of online teachings.