Winter retreat brings a quiet time at the Abbey. There’s a lot going on, but it’s happening within people’s minds and hearts, so there’s little news. The retreat community is harmonious and warmly supportive.
The silence helps us to be especially aware of the kindness that makes our annual retreat—and Sravasti Abbey itself—possible. We often think of the worldwide Abbey community as we dedicate our merit each day.
May compassion warm you and the hearts of all beings, and may harmony prevail throughout the world.
Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron and the Sravasti Abbey Community
We’re so happy to be back in the Meditation Hall! Although we have to wait til the spring to bring the altar in, backfill around the excavated area, and complete some details, the carpet and electricity are in. Everyone helped to move the furniture and holy objects and to make a temporary altar. We reconsecrated the hall and now are happily practicing there again. Having carpet makes a huge difference, and it’s a very peaceful place to practice.
In mid-January, we said good-bye to the 13 friends who joined us for the first month of retreat. Their departure was preceded by many Dharma activities: a Vajra Daka fire puja to purify negativities and a Lama Chopa puja to celebrate our opportunity to do retreat.
Since many people had asked us to fill and consecrate their Buddha statues, we did that too. It was the first time for many of the retreatants to witness everything that takes place in the statue-filling process and they happily participated. We also had a “re-entry” discussion about how to take the benefit they’ve derived from the retreat home with them, and we concluded with a sharing go-around. Those who departed did so with joyous minds, and the rest of us—15 people—have joyfully continued with retreat.
This winter has been comparatively mild for us, with little snow, which enabled us to complete moving the Meditation Hall. It also made walking between buildings easier for our guests. However, the lack of snow was not good for the forest. Interestingly, as soon as the Meditation Hall was finished and the one-month retreatants had departed, the welcome snow came and we sighed with relief.
Several of the retreatants have shared their inspiring reflections on practice: Ken speaks of discovering new aspects of the Vajrasattva practice and Atenea writes about the mirror of the mind.
The Retreat from Afar is going well too. There are over 240 participants (about 75 of them are inmates) from a wide variety of countries: Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Guatemala, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Tajikstan, United Kingdom, and United States.
Several people have written their gratitude to be participating, and Mary Grace tells about the beneficial effect of doing retreat from afar.
Teachings from the retreat are available online. My twice-weekly teachings on the bodhisattva precepts are on YouTube and the talks on the Vajrasattva practice given by some of the other Abbey residents are on Bodhisattva Breakfast Corner, the Abbey’s YouTube channel.
Religious News Spokane did a piece on the two new bhiksunīs at the Abbey and what that means for Buddhism in the West. Since we’ve been in retreat, most of you haven’t been able to see Venerables Chonyi and Jigme since they’ve received full ordination. If you would like to congratulate them and hear about their experience in Taiwan, come for the potluck, Lama Chopa puja, and sharing on March 11, our first public event in the relocated Meditation Hall.
More Dharma materials in Spanish have been uploaded. There are Spanish audio recordings and some transcripts from Venerable Chodron’s book, Guided Meditations on the Stages of the Path.
We’ve also uploaded two videos from Khensur Wangdak Rinpoche’s 2010 teachings on Chapter Two from A Guide to a Bodhisattva’s Way of Life.
Jillian shares about getting back on the path after being waylaid for a while. May her experience inspire us all.