- Teens Visit the Abbey
- The Easy Path
- Sharing the Dharma Day
- Four Noble Truths Retreat
- Volunteer Appreciation Day
- Summer Guests
- Other News
Our summer temperatures this year have gone from highs in the 60s to 2 weeks in the 90s, and even hitting 100.
Every day is indeed a new day, and all told, all the Abbey’s residents and guests are enjoying the summer activities, which include lots of outdoor work as well as our two regular daily meditation sessions, teachings, and Dharma discussions.
Every day we can make use of our opportunity to cultivate compassion. May the warmth of summer kindle our kindness, helping to bring peace to our chaotic world.
Bhiksuni Thubten Chodron and the Sravasti Abbey Community
The Abbey is involved with Youth Emergency Services (YES), a grassroots organization that helps homeless teens in our county, now about 135 in number. Six of the teens visited the Abbey for a day this month and had a great time, as did Abbey residents.
After riding in the back of the pickup into the forest, the teens loaded it with firewood for the Abbey winter, then returned to unload and stack it. The lunchtime Bodhisattva’s Breakfast Corner talk that day introduced the Abbey to them.
After lunch and the lunchtime chanting, which they enjoyed, we went to the Meditation Hall. Feeling the serenity there, one of the teens sat down and was silent. Pretty soon, all of us were sitting silently and meditating. That gave way to another ride to the forest, this time to transplant baby cedar trees. When the teens arrived at the Abbey they were shy, but they hugged us goodbye when they left. We’d love for them to come again!
School starts soon and the 135 homeless teens in Pend Oreille County need backpacks filled with school supplies. We really want these teens to stay in school, take delight in learning, and tap into their beautiful human potential. If you’d like to help us give them school supplies, please go to Amazon.com: Youth Emergency Services of Pend Oreille County: School Supplies, or make a donation directly to YES.
We’ve been heartened by the response to the new series of streamed teachings on the lamrim text, The Easy Path, by Panchen Losang Chokyi Gyeltsen.
About 50 different sites tune into the live stream each week—including groups in Singapore, Peru, Mexico, and Russia. The video teachings are archived here, where an additional 200-400 people have seen them. These teachings are given Friday evening in the US, which is Saturday morning in Asia.
Meanwhile the Thursday evening teachings on Aryadeva’s Four Hundred Stanzas continues. We’re currently discussing time: is it permanent or impermanent? Do past and future things exist or don’t they? The daily Bodhisattva’s Breakfast Corner teachings also continue on YouTube.
This month’s Sharing the Dharma Day was about betrayal of trust, as taught in Verse 16 of the 37 Practices of Bodhisattvas.
Betrayed trust is a painful event that all of us have experienced, although, when we’re going through it, we think we’re the only one who has ever been hurt that badly.
The discussion group was fantastic, with people sharing on a personal level, not only about when their trust has been betrayed but also when they betrayed others’ trust. There is a lot to think about here. . .take a look at the video.
This three-day retreat occurred during a time of many forest fires in Washington State, so the air was smoky. As a result, the teachings took place in Chenrezig Hall where there is air conditioning, and therefore we could live stream the teachings.
The topic was the sixteen aspects of the four noble truths, a penetrating subject that left us all thinking deeply. Videos of the teachings are here.
The discussion sessions were fascinating too, and one participant told me that he was surprised how open people are in these groups. I replied that it’s because we create a safe space at the Abbey where people know that they will not be judged.
Volunteer Appreciation Day happened on a day with beautiful weather. For the Bodhisattva’s Breakfast Corner talk this day, the monastics gathered at the front of the dining hall, and each of us expressed our gratitude to our many volunteers near and far for all their support and help that enable us not only to spread the Dharma but also to maintain the Abbey buildings and grounds. You can watch that video here.
Volunteer Appreciation Day occurred on a weekend when we especially appreciated David and Janet. David spent from dawn to dark on the tractor mowing the forest paths. He did a stunning job, making it so much easier to walk in the forest or to drive the truck in. After working in the forest one day, Janet turned her skills to making homemade ice cream for everyone.
The “lazy” days of summer are filled with activity at the Abbey, with many people from all over the world visiting us.
Venerable Sherab from Argentina was here for over a month, Nate from Florida for three months, Christiaan from Belgium for 2.5 months, and Manny from Texas for a month. Alicia, Shane, Brian, and many others visited us for shorter times, and Andrew returned for another few weeks.
Cynthia from Nigeria and Kim were also here to visit their old college friend Ruby, aka Venerable Damcho. Jason from Singapore visited for ten days and did great working in the garden. (In Singapore, they only grow high-rise buildings, so this was a real adventure for him!)
Joanna from Australia joined the retreat on the four noble truths, and many other people from various parts of the USA spent time at the Abbey hearing teachings, working in the forest or the garden, and discussing Dharma with friends on the deck in the cool evening air.
Meanwhile some Abbey monastics visited other places. Venerable Chonyi attended Jangtse Choje Rinpoche’s teachings on Nagarjuna’s Precious Garland at Deer Park in Madison WI. Venerable Tsultrim visited her family in New England and also attended a retreat on thought training there. They both have returned to the Abbey with renewed appreciation and vigor.
Taking care of the forest is one of our chief summer projects. Brian, a skilled sawyer, is helping us tremendously as are the other volunteers. Clearing out the dead debris and thinning the trees is a group effort that builds camaraderie. There’s lots of laughter as well.
We were planning to hire a forest contractor to work on the vastly overgrown and debris-filled area we call “Milarepa’s Mile,” but the forest fires in other parts of the state have required their expertise there. But that hasn’t stopped the “knapweed brigade” that is doing all they can to cut, pull, and otherwise get rid of this noxious weed. Our land is looking very good now; if only there were a way to stop the seeds from our neighbors’ land from migrating to our property.
Nate has been taking care of the veggie garden, enabling us to have fresh greens every lunch, and Cheri and others have done a great job making the flower garden glow with color. Venerables Yeshe and Sherab have been pitting and freezing cherries for the winter, and we’re watching the apples grow day by day.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama celebrated his 79th birthday on July 6. May he have a long and healthy life and continue to teach and guide us.
As part of the consecration of Chenrezig Hall, the Singaporean band, Bodhicitta, recorded “She Carries Me” by Jennifer Berezan, and FOSA Singapore put it together with a video montage . They offered this during the celebration on June 14. “She” in the song is Kuan Yin, and it speaks of her compassionate action. Many of us teared up while listening and watching. Here is the same song with the video showing the studio where it was recorded.
Organizers of HH the Dalai Lama’s teachings in Hamburg, Germany, are offering a “side program” with additional talks after His Holiness’ teachings each day. Venerable Chodron was invited to give some of these talks. Please come and join us!
We employed lots of Tara mantra to help remove obstacles that might have threatened Geshe Yeshe Thabkhe’s visit to the Abbey in August. Fortunately, he was able to travel to the U.S. without problems! It is so rare to receive teachings from such a scholar as Geshe Thabkhe, and Aryadeva’s text is one of the foundational works of the Madhaymaka view. Do join us for his teachings over Labor Day—August 29 to September 5—while we have the chance.