Dear Friends,

It continues to be a cool and wet spring at the Abbey sprinkled with days of sunshine. We’re not complaining about the rain, which is so good for the forest. Last year at this time, it was 90 degrees F!

The deer and turkeys are enjoying the weather, as are the mosquitos—we remind ourselves that they too are sentient beings who just want to be happy and not suffer. But we human beings are enjoying working in the forest and taking refreshing walks there.

See photos of May Abbey life here.

Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron & the Sravasti Abbey Community

A New Nun!

On Vesak Day, we commemorated the Buddha’s birth, awakening, and passing away by ordaining a new nun—Stacy Stein is now Venerable Thubten Monlam. “Thubten” means “the Able One’s (Buddha’s) teachings,” and “Monlam” is often translated as “aspirational prayer” or “resolve.” We were very happy that some of our long-term supporters attended the ordination.

To sum up the joy that we all felt, Chris Lovejoy, who has supported the Abbey from before we even bought the property, wrote, “I am so happy to have attended the ordination yesterday. It was utterly joyful to see the sangha growing; to witness the commitment of the entire community to study and practice. It was especially heartwarming to see how you’ve all grown in living in community (not an easy thing to do!); how you obviously support each other.”

 Danna Adams, a supporter for an equally long time, wrote, “Yesterday was such a blessing: the beautiful Abbey, the ordination of another monastic, the ordination in English, and the joy coming from all of you just filled my eyes with tears for most of the day. I feel so blessed to live so close to such wonderful examples of compassion and love. Hopefully this summer more lay people will be able to visit.”

Watch a video here of Abbey friends Chris, Danna, and Tracy Morgan reflecting on the Abbey’s growth. See photos of the ordination here.

International Teachings

Following in the Buddha’s Footsteps

Ven. Chodron continued monthly talks requested by Vajrayana Institute on Following in the Buddha’s Footsteps by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Teaching on “The Mind’s Potential and the Existence of the Three Jewels,” she explained Nagarjuna’s powerful reasoning on how dependent arising and emptiness establish the existence of the Three Jewels and give us confidence in our potential to become the Three Jewels. Watch the teachings here. Register with Vajrayana Institute here to join the next talk on June 11 at 6 pm Pacific Time.

Karma and the Twelve Links

Ven. Sangye Khadro taught an online course on “Karma and the Twelve Links” for Osel Ling Retreat Center in Spain. These two topics are essential to understand and integrate in our lives if we wish to be free of duhkha (unsatisfactory experiences). By understanding karma, we learn how to avoid creating the causes for suffering and problems. The teaching of the twelve links reveals the subtle processes that keep us trapped in samsara. Learning and reflecting on these teachings lead the way to complete freedom from all suffering and its causes.

The Buddha Hall

After receiving his proposal for the Buddha Hall’s construction and cost, the Abbey’s Buddha Hall committee met with our contractor John Young. We went through each item with John, approved or altered it, and added some items. John is now reworking the proposal and hopes to have it back to us next week.

Depending on the weather, we’ll break ground at the end of June or soon after. The weather plays a factor because if the earth is too wet due to all the spring rain, there will be a delay in the county lifting road restrictions. Country roads in rural areas do not have the drainage that city roads do. Heavy trucks for construction are restricted from driving on them until the snow melts and spring rains subside.

Needless to say, we are delighted that the beginning of construction is in sight! We’ll let you know when we sign the contract and when the ground-breaking ceremony will occur.

Our friend Larry Kulesza visited the Abbey to start discussing altar designs for the Main Hall and the Tara, Posadha, and Dedication Rooms. Larry was an integral part of the building team for Chenrezig Hall. He will be assisted by Shane Skutvik in creating elegant and graceful altars to support the beautiful images of holy beings.

Meanwhile, the sculpting of the three statues for the main hall continues to progress. Sculptor Peter Griffin sent us some early photos. Take a peek here.

Relating to Our Spiritual Teachers in Life and After Death

At the request of Shantideva Center in New York, Ven. Chodron gave two talks on “Saying Goodbye to Our Spiritual Teachers: How to Process and Prepare for Their Passing” via Zoom.

Teaching from chapters 4 and 5 of The Foundation of Buddhist Practice by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, she described the qualifications to look for to choose excellent spiritual mentors (charisma is not included among them). She went on to explain how to establish a good relationship with our spiritual mentors while they and we are alive.

On this basis, when our spiritual mentors pass away, we will have the inner determination to carry on with our practice and our activities to preserve and spread the Dharma. These are the best ways to show our appreciation for their immeasurable kindness. Watch the first talk here and the second talk here.

Busy Teaching the Dharma

In May, Ven. Sangye Khadro gave two more talks on “Awakening the Kind Heart” for Thubten Kunga Ling in Florida. She explored the last two of the four immeasurable thoughts: empathetic joy (sharing in the happiness of others rather than feeling jealous), and equanimity (learning to be free of biased attitudes such as attachment and aversion). Watch the full series of talks here.

She also began teaching an online course on “Seventy Topics” for Thubten Norbu Ling in New Mexico. These are the main topics in Maitreya’s classic text Ornament for Clear Realization, which unpacks the hidden meaning of the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras and explains the details of the bodhisattva path to awakening. Watch the ongoing series here. Register with Thubten Norbu Ling here to join live.

 At the Abbey, she is teaching the philosophical tenet systems in an in-house weekly class. So far, we have studied the main views of the two Fundamental Vehicle schools, Vaibhashika and Sautrantika. Listen to the teachings here.

In monthly online talks for the Sandpoint Sangha, the group discussed the first verse of Langri Tangpa’s mind training text, “The Eight Verses of Thought Transformation,” which focuses on viewing all sentient beings as dear and precious.

In the Community

Ven. Semkye gave a Sunday sermon for the Inland Northwest Unitarian Universalist Community in Spokane on “Compassion for These Days: A Different Kind of Wisdom, a Different Kind of Strength.”  She spoke on how a mind of compassion must be wise and strong to witness, stay open, and move towards others’ suffering. A daily spiritual practice is crucial and enables us to benefit those in pain as best as we can.

Closer to home, Ven. Semkye continues to be inspired by her involvement in an interfaith group in nearby Newport. Now in its second year, the group explores the common ground between all religions regardless of philosophical or doctrinal differences. The sharings have been honest, respectful, and insightful.

Offering Service Saturday

An enthusiastic group of friends spent the day felling dead trees and limbing branches on healthy trees in the Abbey forest. This is a long-term project for fire mitigation that helps to protect the Abbey’s forest and facilities in case of wildfires.

The team had lunch together and shared how both the Dharma and Mother Nature keep all of us balanced and joyful. Join our next Offering Service Saturday on June 4. Learn more here.

Sharing the Dharma Day

Continuing to read An Open-Hearted Life by Dr. Russell Kolts and Ven. Chodron, we came to chapter 50, “Apologizing and Forgiving.” This topic helps us to look more closely at anger and how we work with it.

All of us have made mistakes or engaged in harmful actions that we would like to apologize for, but our pride often prevents us from doing so. Similarly, we hold hurt and grudges from the times we experience harm.

Although forgiving is simply setting down our anger—an action that benefits us more than the harmer—we often cling to our hurt and make an identity out of it, which only makes us more miserable. The meditation, talk, and afternoon discussion that followed enabled participants to learn from one another about apologizing and forgiving.

Watch the guided meditation by Ven. Sangye Khadro here and the talk by Ven. Chodron here. Join the next Sharing the Dharma Day in person or online on June 19. Register here.

New Books and Translations!

Searching for the Self

Searching for the Self, Volume 7 of The Library of Wisdom and Compassion by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Ven. Chodron, has been published! This is the first of three books—Volumes 7, 8, and 9 in the series — that give an in-depth presentation of the topic of emptiness and dependent arising.

Watch Ven. Chodron introduce Searching for the Self here. She reads a subsection of the book, “Who Am I?” here. Read an excerpt from the book here on “Why Realizing Emptiness is Important.”

A Children’s Book Award

The Story Monsters Award was given to Gavin Discovers the Secret to Happiness written by Albert Ramos and illustrated by Miguel Rivero—a book published by the Abbey and available on Amazon here. Judged by kids and industry experts, the award recognizes children’s literature authors whose books inspire, inform, teach, or entertain. Abbey friends have been sharing the book with their dogs too! Learn more about the award here.

French and English Translations

Luc from Quebec, Canada, who will be returning to the Abbey to train this month, has been translating the Dharma into French with great enthusiasm. Read his French translation of Seven Tips for a Happy Life here and Guided Meditations on the Lamrim here. He has also translated two talks on the “37 Practices of Bodhisattvas” here and here. Keep an eye on’s French section here for more translations to come!

Ven. Damcho offered a translation of the sutra The Eight Auspicious Ones to 84,000, a project to translate the Tibetan Buddhist Canon into English. With help from Geshema Chopa Tenzin Lhadron from Jamyang Choling Institute and the 84,000 editorial committee, this sutra, which is the basis of the prayer, “The Verses for the Eight Auspicious Noble Ones,” is now published online. Read it here.

Buddha Bear

For everyone who thinks monastics live a very austere life without any fun, we recommend that you meet Buddha Bear. Every Friday evening at 6 pm Pacific Time, at the beginning of teachings on Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature, Buddha Bear receives a short Dharma teaching from Ven. Chodron.

Buddha Bear started out as a way for us to introduce kids to the Dharma, but adults told us they’re enjoying it too. Our purpose remains to benefit sentient beings, and one of the ways we’re doing this is by learning to lighten up and get in touch with our more playful side, especially in light of worldwide hardships that we all currently face. Several episodes are on our YouTube channel here.

 Buddha Bear also joined Ven. Damcho to celebrate Vesak Day with My Little Gems Preschool in Singapore via Zoom. She met a new friend, Brown Bear, who asked many questions about the rituals that take place in Asia on Vesak Day.

After that, Buddha Bear and Ven. Damcho joined the Singapore Buddhist Mission’s Vesak celebration. Ven. Chodron pre-recorded a talk for them on “Why We Celebrate Vesak,” which you can watch here. At the end of the event, Buddha Bear and Ven. Damcho led a dedication of merit. Watch Buddha Bear in action here.

More News

  • Watch His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s inspiring Vesak Day message here. May we all strive to put his advice into practice and say, “Bye bye!” to the state of an ordinary sentient being!
  • To celebrate Vesak Day, Abbey residents and a handful of local guests completed a day and a half retreat on Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion. It was a great lead-in to Ven. Monlam’s novice ordination on the following day.
  • Read Anagarika Munsel’s reflections here about her experiences participating in the Exploring Buddhism for Young Adults program last year. This year’s program for young adults aged 18 to 29 runs June 9 to 15. Learn more here.