Table of Contents

Deep blue skies with sparkling sunshine and a few white clouds adorn the Abbey in early spring. Of course, sometimes a few snowflakes will fall—this is especially beautiful when the sun is shining in the forest. Snow drops, the first flowers of spring, are up and the crocuses have made their entrance, not to mention the daffodil stalks poking up.

May all of us enjoy the freshness of spring by having a sparkling new attitude each day as we begin anew.

Bhiksuni Thubten Chodron and the Sravasti Abbey Community

Chenrezig Hall

Venerable Samten is becoming quite the video maker. Take a look at her video, “A Window of Opportunity” that documents pouring the concrete into the faswall walls of Chenrezig Hall. It was an exciting day at the Abbey!

You can also see her latest video on “Discovering the Beauty of Trusses.” Watching the forklift and crew lift the trusses in the air and relocate them on the second story was even more exciting than the concrete pour.

The crew has put plywood sheathing on the trusses and added a snow and ice shield on top of that. Now they are putting on the fascia. Once the timber arrives for the columns, they’ll be able to make the main entrance, frame the deck outside the dining room, and extend the eaves of the gables so that they will cover the decks. Once all that is done, the roofing will go on. Meanwhile, the plumber is at work, and the electrician will come in a couple of weeks.

Bev, who did the gorgeous stained glass window for Gotami House, has offered to do three stained glass windows of Chenrezig for Chenrezig Hall. She’s already begun the designfor the window of 1000-armed Chenrezig.

back to top

Completion of Winter Retreat

On March 3, our winter retreat formally concluded with a Lama Chopa Puja, which about twenty local volunteers and guests joined us to celebrate. After the puja the Abbey gave gifts and said thank yous to all the kind volunteers who made the retreat possible by shopping and offering food each week and doing various other tasks that keep the Abbey going.

For three days prior to the end of the retreat, we slowly came out of retreat by having fewer sessions and doing more offering service. We also had a go-around with everyone sharing their experience of retreat. So many people said that meditating on the four establishments of mindfulness was a fantastic experience for them, helping them to understand themselves and their situation better and to generate renunciation, bodhicitta, and wisdom.

We also did skits about our retreat experience, a tradition at the Abbey since the beginning. In the skits we made fun of ourselves, exaggerating (or maybe not) what was going on under the veneer of a silent retreat. Everyone had a good laugh. This concluded with a humorous and delightful dedication song on the “7 Weeks of Retreat” modeled on the “12 Days of Christmas,” performed by Venerable Tsultrim, Ruby, and Sherran.

We also received many kind comments and offerings from those of you who did the Retreat from Afar. Nearly 100 people from around the world joined the retreat, plus ninety people who are incarcerated in the US. We are so happy to have shared the precious opportunity to do retreat with all of you!

back to top

Many Ways of Sharing the Dharma

Our monthly Sharing the Dharma Day—the first one this year—brought sixteen guests plus Abbey residents together to begin studying the new book, Don’t Believe Everything You Think. Venerable Semkye gave a wonderful talk about the preciousness of our human life and the discussion groups that followed delved into the question, “What does it mean to live a meaningful life?”

Venerables Semkye and Chonyi showed slides from their recent trip to the Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India to over thirty people at the Unitarian Universalist Church. They discussed the difference between being a pilgrim and a tourist and how to think during a pilgrimage so as to inspire our practice and appreciation of the Buddha, his teachings, and the sangha.

Venerable Chodron spent a whirlwind weekend doing a book reading with Don’t Believe Everything You Think in Powell’s bookstore in Portland (about 230 people attended), a morning talk and workshop on “Is What We Think True?” (about 140 people attended) at Maitripa College, a book reading at East West Bookstore in Seattle, and a Dharma talk and children’s blessing at Dharma Friendship Foundation. It was lovely seeing so many old Dharma friends and meeting new ones.

You can watch the talks on “Is What We Think True?” (It begins with prayers and silent meditation, so if time is limited fast forward to the talk.) The next weekend she gave a talk to a full auditorium at North Idaho College on “Can There Be Peace in an Imperfect World?”

In addition, our series of weekly meditation class began again in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. These classes, taught by the Abbey nuns, are a favorite in these two local cities.

There were some especially interesting series of talks on Bodhisattva Breakfast Corner this month prompted by questions people sent in. A series on Buddhism and the 12 Step Program was one of them (a transcript is here), and the Critical, Judgmental Mind was another (a transcript is here).

back to top

Sravasti Abbey Friends Education Program (SAFE)

The Sravasti Abbey Friends Education (SAFE) program will resume on April 8, and all classes are full for this session.

Carrie wrote, “I am very much looking forward to the next SAFE program. I feel like I know you all because I listen to or view the recorded teachings almost daily now. I need teaching and training in the practice very badly, and after years of listening to different teachers here and there and picking up bits and pieces, I feel like I have finally connected with a resource for deepening my understanding of the Dharma and getting the full teachings from skilled practitioners. I am so grateful to have found the Abbey and patient teachers who explain the Dharma in a way that is understandable to Westerners like me.”

A new session will begin in September. SAFE course offerings begin with Courses 1A and 1B, “An Introduction to the Buddha’s Teachings.” Courses 2 through 4 cover “The Three Principal Aspects of the Path:” Course 2 focuses on Renunciation, Course 3 on Bodhicitta, and Course 4 on The Correct View. For more information and to sign up for September, please contact us!

back to top

Welcoming Guests

After our retreat, many people from far and wide asked to visit. Charlie and Bob from the Garden of 1000 Buddhas in Arlee, Montana came for a few days. They were great company, and we encouraged each other in our efforts to establish and spread the Dharma.

We were delighted to host Bhikkhuni Ayya Tathaaloka and Sr. Sumedha from Aranyabodhi Hermitage, a women’s monastic community in the Theravada tradition in California. Ayya T, as she is fondly called, and I have known each other for many years, and both of us have begun monastic communities and are training Western monastics, so we had a lot to talk about during walks in the forest. Ayya T gave two of Bodhisattva Breakfast Corner talks—on spiritual friendship and on the practice of humility —as well as a longer teaching addressing the four establishments of mindfulness while at the Abbey. We shared a wonderful bonding of people who have the same priorities and practices in life, and we hope to welcome them to the Abbey many times in the future.

We also welcomed some “visitors” by Internet. Venerable Jampa arranged an online discussion with Tibetan Center in Hamburg, the center she attended before coming to the Abbey. We had a lovely discussion with them and with many people from their community who live elsewhere in Europe.

Craig from Sandpoint came to offer service, Michael Schmautz is staying with us for a month, and more people are coming soon.

back to top

Opportunities and Change

Many causes and conditions must come together for the Abbey to present a Dharma program. This year several seeds planted in the past have ripened almost at once, changing our 2013 schedule a bit and offering some wonderful opportunities to receive teachings.

Our “Life as a Buddhist Nun” program will be re-scheduled to give the Mandarin-to-English translation team time to prepare some excellent teachings by Taiwanese Vinaya scholar, Venerable Ben Yin. Their work will enrich the Vinaya study program, and the extra time may make it possible for more nuns from India and Indonesia to attend. Venerable Ben Yin will visit the Abbey in person in the final days of the Exploring Monastic Life program.

After visiting the Abbey last summer, Diana Cutler of Tibetan Buddhist Learning Center in New Jersey assisted in inviting renowned scholar Geshe Yeshe Thabkye—professor emeritus at Central University of Tibetan Studies in Sarnath—to the Abbey to teach on Aryadeva’s 400 Versesin July. Geshe Thabkye was an adviser on the three-volume English translation of Je Rinpoche’s Lamrim Chenmo , and Joshua Cutler, editor-in-chief for that project, will interpret his Abbey teachings. We are told that Geshela rarely travels to teach, so this is a very special occasion.

Because we’re building Chenrezig Hall, we’ve had aspirations to host an initiation into the practice of Chenrezig, Buddha of Compassion. We are therefore honored that Dagri Rinpoche is able to come in September to give the initiation and teach on compassion. Rinpoche is known as a gentle and skillful teacher. He has been linked to Serlingpa—the lama who gave the Bodhicitta teachings to Lama Atisha, who brought them to Tibet—and it is fortunate to meet and receive teachings from Dagri Rinpoche. We’ll begin our annual one-week Chenrezig meditation retreat immediately after the initiation weekend to give people an opportunity to integrate the teachings.

In addition, Geshe Thupten Dorjee from the University of Arkansas will visit in October. All this in addition to many retreats and courses with Venerable Chodron and the Abbey community.

back to top

Spanish Speakers, Teachings for You

Friends of Sravasti Abbey in Mexico have organized a series of public talks and teachings with Venerable Chodron in Mexico City, Morelia, and Xalapa April 11-21. All talks will be in English with Spanish translation, and her teachings on “The Three Principal Aspects of the Path” will be streamed live at the teaching times.

No pre-registration is necessary. Go to facebuda.org to get a detailed streaming schedule, broken out by time zone for the various Spanish-speaking regions in the Americas and Europe, then click on to facebuda at the teachings times to tune in.

These teachings will also be archived on facebuda.org within a few days of their streaming.

back to top

Come and See! Young Adults Explore Buddhism

Looking for a meaningful way to spend your summer and have a lot of fun at the same time? If you’re 18-29 years old, Sravasti Abbey’s young adult program offers the opportunity to explore Buddhism with like-minded peers and learn how to build harmonious relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and most importantly, yourselves.

The program runs June 24 to July 1. Click here to find out more.

back to top

More News

Here’s the recording of the talk His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave to all the foreigners at the conclusion of the lamrim at Drepung Monastery last December. Venerables Chodron, Jigme, and Samten, and Ruby were present at the teachings and the talk.

Bhikkhu Bodhi writes about Getting Our Priorities Right in the Buddhist Global Relief newsletter.

Dakini Power by Michaela Haas features interviews with some prominent women in the Buddhist world in the West, including Venerable Chodron. Shambhala.com is offering a 30% discount for people who order directly from them before May (Discount code DPPC12 at).

After the winter retreat, Isaac shared his experience of identifying his need for autonomy, seeing he didn’t need to be rebellious, and choosing to live according to bodhisattvas’ values.

Sravasti Abbey exists by the kindness of volunteers. We connect to the real possibility of “creating peace in a chaotic world” through all that we do. Volunteering gives you the chance to engage in activities that reflect your life values. Plus it’s fun to work in a team—indoors and outdoors—having interesting discussions and making new friends as we care for the Abbey land and facilities. We welcome your skills, enthusiasm, and joy. Join us in transforming our world!

back to top