Dear Friends,

The long summer continues and although we’ve had some very hot days, it hasn’t been as hot as in other parts of the country.

Dawa, the rabbit that supervised the sculpting of the Buddha statue in the barn last summer, has been joined by a friend, Devi. They hop around in the evenings when our cats have their evening walk (on a leash). 

The two huge trees near Ananda Hall had to be felled after we discovered much damage due to root rot. Watching a man limb the trees by beginning at the bottom, climbing up to cut off the top, and then lowering chunks of the trunk was enthralling. He did it fearlessly with such ease, and the team on the ground worked with him seamlessly.

We had some excitement the other day when a worker noticed a fire beginning about a mile away. The fire grew, but Pend Oreille County immediately sent out helicopters and small planes with water and fire retardant that quenched the fire. Meanwhile we were riveted to the decks of our buildings watching this. Our gratitude for the firefighters was huge!

Sravasti Abbey celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year. We’re planning a celebration on October 15, so keep that date open, and please come and join us then!

See recent Abbey life photos here.

Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron & the Sravasti Abbey Community

Exploring Monastic Life

The Abbey hosted its 19th annual Exploring Monastic Life program for three weeks in July. See photos from the program here and here. In addition to a few lay followers, most of the participants were anagarikas and the newly ordained sramaneras.

They knew one another well from living together at the Abbey, which made the discussions more open and deeper as they explored the benefits and challenges of being a monastic. 

Ven. Chodron, Geshe Chodrak, and Ven. Khadro gave Dharma talks about the monastic mind, monastics’ roles in society, the Buddha’s life, and other pertinent topics.

The Buddha left householder life and lived as a monastic because it facilitated subduing clinging attachment and worldly distractions. At the same time, the Buddha was involved with society and benefited people. As his followers, Abbey monastics aim to do the same.

Sakyadhita Conference

Vens. Samten and Jampa (who now lives in Germany but has a close relationship with the Abbey) attended the 19th Sakyadhita Buddhist Women’s Conference in Seoul, Korea.

In addition to attending plenary sessions and meeting a lot of remarkable Buddhist women, they offered a workshop on building a monastic community. Ven. Jampa wrote:

Some months ago, Ven. Chodron asked me if I would join Ven. Samten to hold a workshop at the 18th Sakyadhita International Conference in Seoul, South Korea. Of course I could not say no.

This was an amazing opportunity to share my experiences of training at Sravasti Abbey for 11 years and to connect with so many amazing women and men, supporting each other in our endeavor to empower women worldwide.

Ven. Chodron also told me it’s a helpful conference if one is interested in forming a community. And indeed it was! Read more here.

Ven. Samten gave a Bodhisattva’s Breakfast Corner talk about the conference (watch here), which was also featured in a Buddhistdoor article about the event (read it here). Her written report on the conference is here. See photos from the trip here.

The Buddha Hall

The trusses and sheathing are now on the entire Buddha Hall, save the Guest Teacher’s Wing. The slab on that wing has been poured, and soon Faswall will build up the walls. Meanwhile, framing the inside of the Buddha Hall is almost complete—what a project that was!

See the most recent construction photo gallery here.

Construction Reaches 1-Year Mark

In mid-July, Buddha Hall construction passed its one-year anniversary! To get a sense of the progress over the past year, check out our “One Year of Buddha Hall Progress” post with before-and-after photos of different site locations.

Stucco Application

A beautiful color of gold-tan stucco has been applied to the exterior of the bottom floor, completely changing the feel of the building from the dark gray hue of the Faswall underneath it.

The three-man stucco crew has left for now, but they will return to do the upper floor. All three of them were happy to hear our words of appreciation and delight for the very good work they have done.

Robert, the older man who is the chief stucco applier, said that kind of feedback really helps them strive harder to do good work. He also commented they feel “blessed to be here to do this work for you.” He added that Buddhism is foreign to what they know, but they are learning a lot from their interactions with us.

Framing of 21 Taras Paintings

Thank you to everyone who offered support to frame the 21 Tara paintings for the Tara Room! They soon will be in the frame shop, preparing for the day when they can take their place in the Buddha Hall. See up-close shots of the paintings in our “Rain of Taras” post.

Inviting Generosity to Raise the Roof

Meanwhile, the “Raise the Roof” effort continues to invite support to continue Buddha Hall construction.

Watch Abbey friend Andrea talk about why she supports the Abbey in the video “Sravasti Abbey: Focus on Others.”

International Bhikshuni Varsa at the Original Sravasti

Vens. Chonyi and Damcho headed to India to take part in the historic 2023 International Bhikshuni Varsa at the original Sravasti in India. Ven. Tsepal will soon join them to help guide the varsa ceremonies in English.

Centuries ago Sravasti was a flourishing metropolis, home to Jetavana Monastery where the Buddha spent 25 varsas (summer rains retreats) and gave over 800 teachings. Communities of monks and nuns flourished there for hundreds of years before the city and monastery eventually fell to ruins.

Learn how His Holiness the Dalai Lama selected the name for Sravasti Abbey here.

His Holiness Drikung Kagyu Chetsang Rinpoche wishes to revive the rains retreat at this historic site. In 2019, he sponsored 108 Therevadin monks for their summer varsa. This year, 145 nuns from nine countries will engage in a 6-week (half-varsa) rains retreat.

Rinpoche’s disciple, Khenmo Drolma, has led the effort to organize this international event. Ven. Guo Goang from Dharma Drum Mountain in Taiwan will serve as abbess for the varsa. Although Ven. Chodron was unable to accept the invitation to teach the nuns, Ven. Damcho—who has translated much of the bhikshuni training literature from Chinese—will speak in her place.

Ven. Chonyi gave a presentation about the varsa, its history, and present-day significance. Watch it here. You can follow varsa photos and updates on the Vajra Dakini Nunnery website. See the Abbey’s varsa chanting videos on YouTube here.

Read our post “Sravasti Nuns at Shravasti Varsa” to learn more about Buddhist history in Sravasti, the current event, and the Abbey’s role.

Sharing the Dharma Day

Now that Covid restrictions have been lifted, Sharing the Dharma Days are feeling more like the good ole days when sizable crowds of old and new friends came up to spend the day with us.

Venerable Sangye Khadro led this month’s group in a meditation on working with the “unhelpful friends” of afflictive mental habits and distorted views. Watch it here. Venerable Chodron taught from the chapter “Fear of Compassion” in An Open-hearted Life on common barriers to accepting compassion from others, which you can watch here.

Many stayed after the potluck lunch for an enlightening discussion on what makes us feel safe and what we can do to make others feel safe in turn. As usual, guests were treated to a tour of the Buddha Hall taking shape before our very eyes.

Offering Service Saturday

We had a wonderful Offering Service Saturday with various teams having a good time working together on various projects.

Two groups worked outdoors—one cleaning up a small orchard of apple trees at Tara’s Refuge that had been long neglected, and another working to remove dead limbs and clean up the forest.

A third group rolled mantra. The new Buddha Hall will house many beautiful statues—large and small—and each statue will be filled and consecrated in the traditional way, including thousands and thousands of mantras rolled around small pieces of incense and wrapped in saffron-colored cloth.

Rolling mantras is a very hands-on meditative practice that is one of the steps in transforming the statues from beautiful works of art into sacred objects of inspiration and worship. We greatly appreciate the ten volunteers who cut or rolled mantras this past Offering Service Saturday. Every mantra roll helps!


Venerable Semkye recently participated in an interfaith speaker forum sponsored by Interfaith Coeur d’Alene. The invitation was to speak alongside various faith traditions on “Religious Freedom and Tolerance within the Community.”

This is a relevant topic for the Coeur d’Alene area due to an unfriendly atmosphere beginning to take hold towards those of more diverse and inclusive faith traditions.

The three speakers represented the United Methodist Church, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Buddhist faiths. Read more here.

Prison Outreach

  • Earlier in the year Fleet Maull from the Prison Mindfulness Institute invited Venerable Chodron to be interviewed for the Prison Mindfulness Summit they organized. Watch their interesting discussion here talking about the benefits of Dharma in prisons and how much both of them have learned by reaching out to the incarcerated.
  • Tracy Kendall, a participant in our Prison Dharma Program who is incarcerated in Texas, shares his thoughts on “Moving from the Heart.”

Local & International Outreach

  • Vens. Sangye Khadro and Dekyi met in-person with the Sandpoint Sanga in Idaho for the first time in three years! Ven. Khadro led a meditation and gave a talk about the ideal state of mind to have while dying, which led to a meaningful discussion about death.

  • Ven. Damcho stopped in her native Singapore en route to the Sravasti Bhikshuni Varsa to give talks and teachings at Pureland Marketing, Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, and Buddhist Fellowship West. See photos of her visit to the My Little Gems preschool here.

  • Vens. Chodron and Khadro gave online talks for a pre-ordination course hosted by the International Mahayana Institute Sangha. Watch “Monastic Mind Motivation” here and “How to Stay Ordained” here.

Winter Retreat Will Begin Early

The Abbey’s annual One-Month Winter Retreat will begin November 29 and continue through December 22. This year, meditators will do the refuge ngondro (preliminary practice) to deepen their relationship with the Three Jewels and focus their analytic meditation on the four truths of the aryas. Read retreat details here.

Meditators can extend their visit to include our annual Christmas Day reading of Shantideva’s Engaging in the Bodhisattva’s Deeds, or stay through the Vajrasattva New Year’s Retreat. Please register for each event separately and indicate your wish for an extended stay in the long application.

Info about the Winter Retreat from Afar will come in the next month or so.

More News

“Courageous and Kind” Talks at Create Art Center

Starting Sept. 11 through Oct. 30, join Venerable Sangye Khadro and other Abbey monastics on Monday nights at 6:30-8pm for a series of talks on the theme “Courageous and Kind” at the Create Art Center in Newport, WA.

They will share some of the wisdom and strategies they have learned to increase their courage, kindness, and inner calm despite these scary times. Each session will include a guided meditation, Dharma talk, and Q&A and discussion. No meditation or Buddhist background is needed.

For more information, contact organizer Tracy or visit the events listing on our website.

Upcoming Events

Here’s what’s happening in August:

Plus regular ongoing teachings: