Rejoice in all the Dharma activities you helped to support last year!
The web version of our 2022 annual report is now available! It includes a message from Abbess Ven. Thubten Chodron (reproduced below) and highlights from the year.
To protect our donor’s privacy, their names, along with the 2022 financial report, are not included.
A Message From Our Abbess, Venerable Thubten Chodron
uilding was the overriding theme of 2022, and it continues into 2023. Although we’ve been building since I (and two cats) moved onto the Sravasti Abbey property in 2003, constructing the new Buddha Hall is taking us to another level.
We are not doing this alone and are encouraged by the tremendous outpouring of support from all of you, our Dharma friends and benefactors. Construction of this Buddha Hall really is by the people and for the people.
Watching the Buddha Hall come into being is exciting. We were inspired when Peter Griffin, the sculptor making the three large statues for the main altar in the Buddha Hall, visited the Abbey for three months last summer. The central statue is, of course, Shakyamuni Buddha, and to his right will be Ananda, his attendant.
To his left will be Mahaprajapati, the Buddha’s stepmother who brought him up. She is also the founder of the sangha of bhikshunis (fully ordained nuns). Despite her important role in Buddhist history, we know of only four statues of her. We will be delighted when the fifth statue takes her place on the Abbey’s main altar.
Of course this is not about physical construction in and of itself. As we watch world events unfold, we feel an urgency to share Buddha’s teachings to overcome violence with love, compassion, forgiveness and wisdom. By virtue of the Abbey’s growth, the Buddha Hall has become essential to forwarding our aim to create peace in a chaotic world.
Sharing the Dharma
We were delighted to see increasing in-person attendance at retreats and courses as Covid concerns relaxed. The community has grown in recent years, and our returning guests have been surprised (and happy) to see all the new faces. New friends are joining us now as well.
Most of our annual events—including Exploring Buddhism for Young Adults, Exploring Monastic Life, and Labor Day, Memorial Day, and other retreats—were offered in person and online in 2022.
Hosting so many virtuous activities continues to stretch our capacity. For example, the dining room is doing double-duty, serving as both an eating and a teaching space so that we can stream Dharma talks and meditations for people all over the world.
Zoom has opened up many opportunities to teach. I gave more than 40 talks in nine countries without leaving the Abbey. Ven. Sangye Khadro also gave many teachings online to seekers around the world.
In June I traveled with Ven. Damcho to Seoul, South Korea to present a paper for an international conference on Buddhist nuns, where we learned about a renowned Korean Zen master, Daehaeng Sunim. At a time when Korea was facing extreme financial hardship, she still insisted on building a temple to spiritually support and uplift the citizens. Her courage inspired us.
Then, in December, after a three-year hiatus, I returned to Singapore, joyfully sharing the Dharma again in a place and with some people I’ve known for decades.
Growing the monastic community and the Dharma
The Abbey’s principal mission is to support a flourishing monastic community so that the Buddha’s teachings will flourish in a new land. We offered a second round of our three-week Siksamana Training Course, an intensive program where the fully ordained monastics instructed the Abbey’s juniors and five guest nuns.
We rejoiced to give two novice ordinations this year to one nun (Ven. Thubten Monlam) and one monk (Ven. Thubten Ngawang). As these two people became novices, three more anagarikas (8-precept holders) came to train at the Abbey.
Geshe Dadul Namgyal of Drepung Loseling Monastery was with us much of the year while on leave from his work with the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative. His sincere practice and Dharma wisdom enhanced our community’s activities. (We are happy to add that after retiring from Emory in January 2023, Geshela has formally joined our community!)
Learning Dharma classics
Geshe Yeshe Thabkhe is an esteemed scholar and a living Dharma treasure. At 92, his brilliant wisdom flows through the teachings he has shared with us via Zoom. After completing Kamalashila’s Stages of Meditation—Middle Section, he agreed to teach The Rice Seedling Sutra. What fortune!
We continue to treasure our weekly private teachings with Dr. Jeffrey Hopkins, and we welcomed Geshe Yeshi Lhundup for a six-week residency to continue his teaching on Je Tsongkhapa’s Illumination of the Thought. Geshe Yeshi and Geshe Dadul were debate partners in their student years at Drepung Loseling, which made for lively and enriching Q&A sessions! Like all Abbey teachings, the talks are freely offered on the Abbey’s YouTube channel.
As the sounds of construction swell outside my window, writing and editing The Library of Wisdom and Compassion—the book series based on the teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama—remain my personal focus. Volume 7, Searching for the Self, came out in May 2022, and Volume 8, Realizing the Profound View, was released in December.
I was honored to have a very brief meeting with His Holiness to offer the four most recent volumes to him directly. With his kind blessing, the series will continue with a few more books. Volume 9 will be out later this year.
Spreading far and wide
There’s so much to share: our forest stewardship, the ever-growing prison program, community outreach, and the debut of Buddha Bear. You’ll find a summary and photos in the Annual Report.
Just as the Buddha Hall is by the people and for the people, so are all our Dharma activities. The Abbey is “by the people” in that every acre of land, every morsel of food, every book we’ve published, every talk we’ve given, every prayer we’ve said arises in dependence on the kindness of others, especially you, our supporters. It is “for the people” in that we train to dedicate our efforts to benefit you and all beings.
We frequently recall Lama Tsongkhapa’s aspirational verses, praying to share the Buddha’s teachings in regions where they have not been known before. This is what we are doing at Sravasti Abbey, and this is what your offerings support. With the Buddha Hall project and the Abbey’s numerous Dharma programs, we are building a spiritual home for all sentient beings, a beacon of peace in a chaotic world.