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Spring brings a wealth of activities to Abbey life: we plant a veggie garden, enjoy the blossoming fruit trees, welcome guests, work in the forest, attend Dharma classes and discussion groups, start a new SAFE module, resume our Nonviolent Communication classes, and much more. Plus, our 2012 Annual Report, with its lovely pics, is now online. Many people have commented on how much we have done in one year.
Bhiksuni Thubten Chodron and the Sravasti Abbey Community

Chenrezig Hall

Venerable Samten has made another short movie, this one about installing the timbers that support the deck. She says, “I love creating these little movies. It shows me again and again the beauty of every single person’s endeavors. Editing a film clip slows things down and brings out how we move through space and how one’s intention is visible through what we say and do. It is fascinating.”

This month has seen a lot of action on Chenrezig Hall: Progress has been made on the roof, the trusses for the eaves are up, windows have been installed, and the plumber proceeds with his work. The fire suppression and fire alarm systems are nearly complete, and the Hall’s electricity and water have been hooked up to the external infrastructure we installed when building Gotami House. The portion of the geothermal heating and cooling system that resides inside the building is well underway, so that we can begin the next step of boring and installing the pipes in the earth. Gary, the man who will cover the exterior of the faswall walls with stucco, is preparing the surfaces for his work, so scaffolding surrounds the building.

The Friends of Sravasti Abbey effort to invite generosity for the project got a tremendous boost when two anonymous donors made challenge gifts totaling $158,000. They want their offerings to inspire others to join in building Chenrezig Hall, so they will match dollar for dollar every gift received by July 12 up to $158,000. As of Vesak Day, over $104,000 has been offered against the challenge.

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Power of Love Retreat

Our retreat on the Power of Love at the end of April saw a full house of people eagerly investigating topics such as: What is genuine love? How does it differ from clinging attachment? And how do we cultivate impartial love where our emotions don’t depend on external conditions? With questions like these, needless to say, we had stimulating discussions following thought-provoking Dharma talks.

People were applying the teachings to their own lives in order to open their hearts to others, improve their relationships, and act with integrity and consideration for others for the benefit of all. The teachings on the Power of Love are on the web for you to watch.

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Sharing the Dharma Day & Other Guests

Nearly 40 people total filled the Meditation Hall for Sharing the Dharma Day. Many new people attended, among them a group of young people from a nearby alcohol/drug treatment program. They were amazing people and had powerful experiences, which made us all rejoice. They’ll return to the Abbey to volunteer in the forest.

Venerable Jigme spoke on “Calming the Mind, Simplifying our Lives” and after a potluck lunch, we broke into small discussion groups and talked about how to bring more peace and satisfaction into our lives.

In addition to attending programs at the Abbey, many people come for a few days or a few weeks to live with the community and experience a life imbued with Dharma. We love having guests and are fortunate that now that spring has arrived, many people are visiting us.

Charis from Singapore spent two months with us, and Lynn was with us for almost a month. Joey also visited for two weeks, and Marga has made multiple trips from Missoula for weekend visits. Several others—from Canada, Tennessee, and closer to home—have spent time at the Abbey lately.

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Out & About

Invited by the Kadampa Center, an FPMT Dharma center, I taught for a week in Raleigh NC. Classes were well attended, there was a nice connection with the people there, and I rejoice at the excellent children’s program they have on Sundays. I met Geshe Gelek, their resident teacher, and we connected because we both felt privileged to have met and studied with some of the great senior Tibetan masters before many of them passed away in the early 1980s.

Venerable Jampa and Venerable Chodron attended the Environmental Summit, featuring HH the Dalai Lama that was sponsored by Maitripa College in Portland. We enjoyed the program with His Holiness, as well as connecting with old Dharma friends and making new ones. Venerable Jampa diligently took notes and summarized the conference to the Abbey community in Bodhisattva Breakfast Corner talks, one, two, three. Venerable Chodron was struck by a sentence His Holiness said at Maitripa, “ Monasteries should be places of learning” and shared her thoughts about this.

may13abbeylife3.jpgVenerables Jampa and Chonyi traveled with Ruby to Eastern Washington University, where they met with students from the Compassionate Interfaith Society (CIS). Coming from a variety faith traditions—Muslims, Christians, and atheists were in attendance on the day the Abbey team visited—CIS members are dedicated to religious tolerance and to work against ignorance, bigotry, and hatred. Their weekly meetings are an on-going interfaith dialogue, and they welcomed the Buddhists with a delicious lunch and many good questions. After the meeting, the Abbey team joined CIS members for a photo at the campus peace pole, then invited students to the week-long Come and See! Young Adult Explore Buddhism course coming up in June.

CIS students have visited the Abbey several times. One young woman, a Muslim, said that her life made a dramatic change after attending the Abbey’s Sharing the Dharma Day. Venerable Jigme had given that day’s talk on death and impermanence. Speaking from her experience as a former nurse, Venerable Jigme had noted that people who carry grudges and resentments throughout their lives often die with regret, whereas people who have forgiven the past die more peacefully. The student was struck by this and set about to repair a feud with her husband’s past girlfriend. Now, she reported, the two women are great friends. Since reconciling this rivalry and to her surprise, she finds herself much happier and more confident in general.

The pics from Venerable Chodron’s teaching tour in Mexico in April are up, so take a look. Our Mexican friends treasure the Dharma and have supported the Abbey for many years.

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Another Bhikshuni

Venerable Yeshe just returned from the two-month triple-ordination platform program at Miao Fa Chan Temple in Taiwan. She is now a bhikshuni—a fully ordained nun—the seventh at the Abbey [there are two siksamanas (novices) and two anagarikas (trainees) too].

Venerable Yeshe is glowing and the change in her is apparent: she understands at a deep level the privilege and responsibility of being a bhikshuni. She expresses her gratitude for the profound opportunity in two Bodhisattva Breakfast Corner talks: one and two.

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Prison Outreach

While teaching in Raleigh, I visited two prisons. At Nash, I gave a talk to about twenty inmates, emphasizing that our mind is the creator of our experience, and especially of our happiness and suffering. They also talked about the disadvantages of the disturbing emotions and how they depend on our way of interpreting a situation. The men listened intently – they are really seeking methods to change – and asked great questions.

The second visit was a private talk with an inmate who is in for life for a double murder. He was delighted to have this visit; since we live on opposite sides of the country, he’d wondered if we’d ever meet. He, too, is working at changing the self-pity mind that is often behind the outbursts of rage we sentient beings have.

Venerable Tarpa joined the inmates at Walla Walla State Penitentiary for their annual Buddhist celebration on May 17th and spoke about the Four Noble Truths. About 15 to 20 men from this minimum security prison attended the talk. They were a harmonious group and appeared to be very supportive of each other. Their sincere discussion questions included a probing discussion about trust.

One man there, a long time Dharma practitioner, was just three days from release after 20 years in prison. Kind Buddhist volunteers have really helped him over the years, and he has taken the Buddha’s teachings to heart, transforming his views and growing deeply. On release, he will be a contributing member of society, and all who know him wish him the very best.

The next day Venerable Tarpa met with the 15 men on the maximum security side of Walla Walla prison complex. Most were new to Buddhism and had their first opportunity to learn breathing meditation. Venerable Tarpa also led a guided meditation that helped them look more closely at how their perceptions and attitudes contribute to their experiences in life, which sparked a lively discussion. The skillful local Buddhist volunteer, who meets regularly with this group, thought this visit planted positive seeds that he could later build on, as he could see that the men were really thinking deeply about the topic.

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Our New Facebook Pages

Double your daily dose of Dharma! For those who use Facebook, we now have two great pages offering daily Dharma inspirations.

The Sravasti Abbey page posts the Bodhisattva Breakfast Corner (BBC) videos, Dharma quotes from the monastics and Abbey community members, and information on upcoming events. If you formerly “liked” the Sravasti Abbey Facebook Group, you may know that we’ve moved now to a new page so that our posts reach you more directly.

Also, Venerable Chodron has recently added a Facebook page with Dharma quotes, information on her teaching schedule, and links to her books and videos.

Both accounts are also on Twitter. Check us out, and please share with your friends!

These pages are only possible through the wonderful efforts of volunteers Cheri and Joey who manage these pages from afar. They do a great job communicating with all of you, while helping us to keep our monastic training guidelines to avoid the social media scene.

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More News

We were delighted that Geshe Thupten Phelgye came to join us for lunch. Now that he’s at Eastern Washington University, he shared with us his thoughts on the sacredness of education.

Venerable Chodron gave a talk on “Love, Serve, and Remember”on Mother’s Day at Gardenia Center in Sandpoint, Idaho.

We are delighted to host Geshe Yeshe Thabkhe who will teach Aryadeva’s 400 Stanza on the Middle Way at the Abbey,July 9-15. Regarded as one of the most eminent scholars of both the Madhyamaka tradition and the Indian Buddhist studies, Geshe Thabkhe was born in 1930, earned the Geshe Lharampa degree at Drepung Loseling Monastery, and he currently teaches at the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in India. This teaching on Aryadeva’s text is very precious, and we encourage you not to miss it.

The Abbey is helping Youth Emergency Services, a grassroots organization formed in our local town of Newport to help homeless teens. A website has been set up, and we need a volunteer webmaster. The job doesn’t require a lot of time and the sites reaches out and benefits many people. If you have web skills and would like to volunteer, please let us know.

Ken shares how he used thought training practice to transform his attitude at work.

The Tibet Post International and other sources report a shopping mall development in Lhasa that threatens to destroy parts of a 1300-year-old section of the city, including the Jokhang Temple, one of the most sacred sites of Tibetan Buddhism. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site which, according to the news report, the Communist Chinese government had promised in 2004 to respect and protect. We know of two petitions seeking international support to stop this development, each with less than 300 signatures. If it’s important to you to preserve the precious Jokhang Temple, please sign and share the Avaaz petition and the petition and exert whatever influence you may have to stop the mall’s development.

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