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While our friends on the East Coast of the US have been battered with snowstorms and unusually cold weather, we’ve hardly had winter at all. The snow melted by the second week in February, and temperatures have been 20 degrees warmer than they should be. We all love spring, but not in February!

It’s mid-retreat time, so the enews is brief. While things are quiet on the outside, people are doing deep work internally to allow wisdom and compassion to transform our minds. We dedicate that these qualities will flourish in all beings.

Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron and the Sravasti Abbey Community

Completion of the One-Month Retreat

During our three-month winter retreat period, we invite guests who cannot stay for all three months to attend the first month of the retreat.

The first month of retreat saw 24 people happily meditating on either Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom, or his fierce manifestation, Yamantaka. Here’s a collection of retreatant portraits.

At the end of the first month, the seven one-month retreatants departed, but not before we did the Dorje Khadro fire puja, a Lama Chopa puja to express our gratitude to the Buddhas and bodhisattvas for the possibility to do retreat, and a concluding go-around in which people shared their thoughts and reflections about retreat. (Photos are here.) Many people also renewed their refuge in the Three Jewels and the five precepts.

The group had bonded strongly, so for the first few days after the seven people left, it felt a bit strange, but we sent them on with our love and encouragement to continue with their daily Dharma practice now that they are used to keeping a meditation schedule.

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… and Retreat Goes On

Meanwhile, the seventeen people doing the three-month retreat are continuing to enjoy the time to meditate and study. Retreat life photos are here.

In addition to a full meditation schedule, there are three classes each week—one taught by Dr. Jeffrey Hopkins over skype, and I am continuing to teach on Aryadeva’s 400 Stanzas and on a lamrim text by Panchen Losang Chokyi Gyeltsen. Both of these are streamed live and all are invited to tune in.

We have Bodhisattva’s Breakfast Corner talks four times a week too. The three anagarikas and two others are doing the first Sravasti Abbey Friends Education module during retreat and having good discussions.

Hearing teachings during retreat is especially powerful because we have time to think about and digest them.

We are very grateful to all of you who support the Abbey; it is due to your kindness that we have the opportunity to go deeper into the Dharma during these three months. We hope you will be able to join us at a future winter retreat.

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Tara Puja for Chinese New Year & Tibetan Losar

In addition to dedicating for our sponsors twice a month on tsog days, we do a large puja once a year to dedicate for their successful Dharma practice. We also dedicate for their well being, long life, and good health; for good relationships; for those who are recovering from injury or illness to recover quickly; for those who have died to have a good rebirth; and for people to be free from all obstacles.

Our Singaporean friends specially request this puja, and we put the names of the people they want us to dedicate for on the Meditation Hall wall and read them aloud as well. Our experience was enriched by having three Singaporeans with us for the long retreat.

This year we did Tara Puja, an invigorating practice, on the first day of the lunar New Year. We made special offerings on the altar, due to the kindness of some local friends who did the shopping while we were in retreat. Purifying our minds, creating merit, and wishing each other Happy Losar and Happy Chinese New year made for a joyful day. Photos are here.

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Praise for Chenrezig Hall

Shelter Works Ltd., the makers of Faswall, whose business focuses on healthful and sustainable building products, featured the Abbey in their newsletter. In a short article entitled “Tibetan Buddhist Monastery Chooses Faswall,” they said:

“We’re honored that the nuns at Sravasti Abbey chose Faswall for a multi-purpose facility on their property in Newport, Washington. They selected Faswall for its many beneficial characteristics, including durability, pest resistance, energy efficiency, and other “green” characteristics. The abbey building serves as a great reminder that Faswall is great for offices, shopping centers, industrial buildings, and other structures in addition to homes.”

Read more and see the accompanying video about Chenrezig Hall on this blog post.

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An Open-Hearted Life

Last month we told you about the US edition of An Open-Hearted Life: Transformative Methods for Compassionate Living from a Clinical Psychologist and a Buddhist Nun, the book Venerable Chodron co-authored with psychologist Russell Kolts. The book is available on Amazon on March 3 and should arrive in bookstores soon.

This book addresses a general audience and discusses compassion, how to cultivate it, its benefits, and methods to overcome obstacles such as anger. Read about the book launch in Singapore, watch Dr. Kolts and Venerable Chodron’s talk in Singapore, and go to the book page to learn about the book.

And speaking of books, for our friends in the Spokane area, Venerable Chodron will read from the book she co-authored with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions, on March 14 at Auntie’s Bookstore in downtown Spokane at 7 pm.

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More News

Bev continues to work on the stained-glass window of 1000-Armed Chenrezig for Chenrezig Hall. The work is very detailed and she’s doing it with a lot of love and devotion. Look at the progress.

Read Ken’s reflection on how practicing the Dharma works!

Your Amazon purchases can now benefit the Abbey through the AmazonSmile program. Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases when you shop with them online. AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know—same products, same prices, same service. Just log in like you normally would and select Sravasti Abbey as the non-profit that you would like them to donate to. Click here to learn more.

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