Carpenters are at work all over the building site, as they’ve been framing the downstairs rooms and working with the concrete folks to lay the floor for the second story. The Faswall team is also progressing steadily, cutting and placing the blocks that create the outer walls. You can see what the construction team has to contend with to build the Buddha Hall in winter. Go here to see Venerable Samten’s video tour of the lower level rooms.
After a time in Singapore, Ven. Chodron, Ven. Damcho, and Donyo made a pilgrimage to Bodhgaya, India—site of the Buddha’s enlightenment— where His Holiness the Dalai Lama was teaching for the first time since the Covid pandemic began. A group from Friends of Sravasti Abbey-Singapore (FOSAS) joined them, along with 60,000 other devotees who thronged to the holy site for the teachings. While there, the group made light offerings in a ceremony to dedicate the merit of more than 2000 donors and well-wishers of the Buddha Hall project. See the Light Offerings video here.
It’s January 6th here and guests are just arriving and getting settled before we officially go into retreat. We’ve chosen to look deeply at the Four Establishments of Mindfulness for these three silent months, and we’re happy to see many new and fresh faces joining us this year!
Over the New Year holiday weekend, the Abbey hosted our annual retreats on the Vajrasattva purification practice. Old and new friends joined us online and in-person for three days of meditation, teachings, and group discussions. Ven. Sangye Khadro led the course, offering clear teachings on karma and purification. (See the series here.) We’re grateful to everyone who joined us for this beautiful start to 2023!
Waiting for the slab to be poured, we chanted Tara mantra as the temperatures dropped and snow fell. Through the hard work and great kindness of many people, it finally happened in mid-December. Now that the concrete has cured, the interior walls are quickly going up and the rooms are taking shape.
Our abbess and teacher, Venerable Chodron, has headed off to Singapore for the first time since 2019. It’s been an annual tradition for her to share the Dharma with long-time students in Singapore, but Covid put that on hold. These photos show the joyful reunion of students with their teacher. In her teaching marathon, she shares the Dharma at numerous centers, meeting many old and new friends along the way.
We are always delighted to enter varsa, the annual three-month monastic retreat. During this time we are especially mindful of our speech and actions as we focus on community harmony and refrain from correcting one another. Varsa is one of the rituals the Buddha established for the monastic sangha. At least four fully ordained monastics are needed, and we are fortunate to have a flourishing bhikshuni (fully ordained nuns’) community here. The Abbey’s varsa overlaps with the annual winter retreat.
Our siksamana training course ended this week with the ceremonies to enter varsa, our annual three-month monastic retreat. The ceremonies nicely encapsulate all that we learned throughout the course about precepts and monastic roles and responsibilities. May all the benefits of our training ripple out to benefit all sentient beings!
Snow hasn’t stopped construction of Sravasti Abbey’s new Buddha Hall. Abbey residents play an essential role in keeping the building site accessible. Ven. Losang and other monastics take turns plowing the road so that trucks can come into the site. That will be essential when 15 concrete trucks come in to pour the slab. Read more about Building in Snow here.