Late spring, early summer weather finally arrived at the Abbey. The exceptionally wet spring was welcome—the trees and plants were singing after the drought and hot temperatures of last summer.
We also welcomed a new trainee, Dronsel, from Singapore. She has thought about monastic ordination for many years and we are delighted to see her take another step in that direction. See photos of her anagarika ordination here.
See photos of Abbey life in June here.
Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron & the Sravasti Abbey Community
Memorial Day Retreat
For the first time in over two years, the Abbey welcomed about 20 participants for an in-person retreat over Memorial Day weekend. It was also streamed live. Ven. Chodron continued teaching on Good Karma: How to Create the Causes of Happiness and Avoid Suffering, her commentary on the thought transformation text, “The Wheel of Sharp Weapons” by 9th century Indian sage Dharmarakshita.
Ven. Chodron dug deep into how the self-centered thought is the true enemy that brings us mental and physical suffering, and how we can overcome it by learning to cherish others.
There was much to meditate on and discuss. We look forward to these teachings continuing for many Memorial Day weekends to come!
Young Adults Explore Buddhism
Ten young adults joined the Young Adults Explore Buddhism course this year. It was a very mature group that brought up a lot of interesting questions about the Buddhadharma.
In the discussions, they shared some of the concerns of their generation, such as anxiety about the future. This led to an analysis of how anxiety arises and serves only to make us confused and miserable for no good reason.
Another topic that came up was the meaning of the word “trauma” in contemporary times. This is very different than the previous way trauma was understood. Now, their generation assumes that everyone has trauma.
We also discussed the five precepts—their value and importance and how they help us have a good life in this lifetime and in future lifetimes. Recordings of the talks will be posted online shortly. See photos here.
The Buddha Hall
We joyfully signed the contract with the contractor to begin construction on the Buddha Hall! The Abbey community began planning for this building almost 3 years ago.
Tim Wilson, a great architect who designed Gotami House and Chenrezig Hall, also designed the Buddha Hall. This building will give us needed room for meditation and ceremonies since our present meditation hall has become too small for the growing Abbey community and our many guests.
Ven. Tarpa, together with our lawyer, went through the contract with a fine-toothed comb, so that we and our contractor, John Young, are in accord. We were delighted that so many of you joined the beautiful livestreamed signing ceremony—your enthusiasm and support are crucial for this project. You can watch the video of the signing here.
We’re building the Buddha Hall so that you’ll have a place to meditate and hear teachings when you visit and so we’ll be able to increase the quality and quantity of streamed teachings.
The Buddha Hall, a 17,000 sq ft building with three meditation halls, a good-sized library, meeting rooms, and so forth, will further our mission of together creating peace in a chaotic world.
We’ll do a ceremony to consecrate the building site on July 17 after lunch on Sharing the Dharma Day. Our local friends are invited to join us. Please register here. Learn about Sharing the Dharma Day here.
A Conference on Buddhist Nuns in Korea
In June, Ven. Chodron traveled to Seoul, South Korea to present at a conference on “Buddhist Nuns’ Sangha Around the World: Present and Future.” The two-day conference was organized by Hanmaum Seonwon (One Mind Zen Center) to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the passing of their founder, the renowned female Zen master Daehaeng Sunim.
Ven. Chodron spoke on “Western Buddhist Nuns in the Tibetan Tradition: Past, Present, and Future,” alongside 14 other presenters who spoke on the situation of Buddhist nuns in the Himalayas, North America, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. The presentations were excellent and were livestreamed with Korean translation here and here.
Following the conference, all the presenters went on a tour of historic Korean temples, a Buddhist university, and three of Hanmaum Seonwon’s 15 branches in Korea.
Highlights included an audience with the patriarch of the Jogye Order at the 7th century Tongdosa temple, and a visit to the 8th century Seokguram Grotto with a magnificent statue of the Buddha surrounded by disciples and deities carved out of white granite.
On the final day, Ven. Chodron gave an interview at the Buddhist True Network (BTN) that visited Sravasti Abbey in 2009. We’ll let you know when that interview is broadcast.
Talks for Ganden Shedrup Ling
Ven. Chodron gave two talks on Zoom for Ganden Shedrup Ling in Puerto Rico, one on “Working with Fear and Anxiety” and another on “Working with Anger.” Ven. Nyima, who has been giving bi-monthly mind training teachings to the group online, offered simultaneous translation into Spanish.
The teachings were a much needed balm for these afflictions that have become more marked in society with the ongoing pandemic and now a war in Ukraine. Ven. Chodron exhorted everyone to take time to think deeply and meditate on these teachings so we can become doctors to our own minds. Watch the first talk here and the second talk here.
Ven. Chodron addressed the all-too-common experience of anxiety again in another talk, aptly titled “Ansidad” (“Anxiety”), broadcast with Spanish sub-titles on FaceBuda. Watch it here.
Ven. Chodron was interviewed on the Innercraft Podcast about how she came to ordain as a Buddhist nun and establish Sravasti Abbey. She spoke about the common features of meditation taught in various Buddhist traditions, emphasizing their similarities over drawing distinctions. She offered tips on how to establish a strong foundation as a Buddhist practitioner as well, highlighting the need to complement meditation with study and to be clear about what and why we are engaging in a spiritual practice instead of making our own “spiritual soup.” We’ll let you know when the podcast has been posted.
Sharing the Dharma Day
We enjoyed a lovely Sharing the Dharma Day with a few of our old friends. We had not seen two of them for several years. It was wonderful to reconnect and catch up on their lives and practice.
We also met a couple from Costa Rica who have been watching our videos for a long time. They now live in Idaho and finally had a chance to visit. They were moved to meet the community, tour the Abbey, and experience Sharing the Dharma Day in person.
Ven. Sangye Khadro gave the morning Dharma talk, which focused on the practice of offering positive feedback and praise to recognize the good qualities in others. She also honored the significance of the date, June 19, as Juneteenth. Long celebrated by African Americans, Juneteenth is now a federal holiday. It commemorates the day in 1865 when the last group of enslaved people learned of the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed them. Watch the talk here.
There were lively group discussions in the afternoon to help us integrate the teachings into our daily lives, rounding up a satisfying day full of Dharma, friendship, and joy. Watch the morning guided meditation by Ven. Lamsel here.
The Forest and Gardens
With good weather upon us, some monastics are enjoying helping plants to grow in both the veggie garden and the flower garden.
Our work in the forest continues—we’ve made many piles of dead debris to remove and continue to thin overcrowded areas. Local friends Jon and Dave are excellent guides in this respect, and Jon is teaching a group of people how to use the chainsaw.
More Offering Service Saturdays are coming. Please join us on July 9 for offering service outdoors and indoors. We depend on volunteers, so join us for the fun of working together for a good purpose. Learn more here.
Pride Interfaith Service
For the first time since the Covid pandemic began, the annual Spokane Pride Interfaith Service was able to meet in person, gathering this year at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral.
Vens. Chonyi and Kunga joined with other Buddhists and representatives of Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish faiths to support equity and inclusion with the LGBTQIA+ community.
This year’s theme, “Reimagining Pride,” invoked reflections on how the Pride movement has evolved over the past fifty-plus years, and several faith leaders shared moving personal stories.
Ven. Chonyi spoke about using imagination to realize our spiritual potential and the importance of taking responsibility for our own growth and development. Read more about the purpose and history of the Pride Interfaith Service here.
- Insight into Emptiness by Khensur Jampa Tegchok, edited by Ven. Thubten Chodron, is now available in French as Connaître la Vacuité. A former abbot of Seraje Monastery, Khensur Jampa Tegchok taught the Dharma for many years at Nalanda Monastery in France. This book is one that he enthusiastically supported to help his numerous students have a clearer understanding of the ultimate nature of persons and phenomena. Written in easily accessible language, it challenges us to think deeply about the important question: Who am I? Get the book here.
- His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Ven. Chodron explain the Buddhist view on “Free Will and Predetermination” in an excerpt from the latest volume of The Library of Wisdom and Compassion, Searching for the Self. Read it here.
- Watch Ven. Chodron’s latest monthly talk on Following in the Buddha’s Footsteps for Vajrayana Institute on “The Three Jewels” here. Her next talk is on July 16. Learn more here.