Table of Contents

We’re enjoying a lovely spring with clear blue skies, and of course some April showers that will bring those May flowers. Abbey life for both residents and guests flows along with everyone working together to create peace in our chaotic world. There’s always something happening at the Abbey.

Bhiksuni Thubten Chodron and the Sravasti Abbey Community

Chenrezig Hall

Venerable Samten made a new video that shows the roofing and support beams, including a mini-tour with Venerable Jampel. Take a look.

Construction on Chenrezig Hall is progressing. The plumbing, heating, and electrical systems are all being installed, and the crew is erecting the huge timbers that support the deck. Venerable Tarpa, the project manager, talks about the construction of Chenrezig Hall as being a teaching on interdependence and kindness.

Bev, the artist who made the gorgeous stained glass window of Mahapajapati Gotami for Gotami House, offered to make a stained glass window of 1000-armed Chenrezig, which will be the centerpiece of the dining room of Chenrezig Hall.

Bev came to visit us in early April to show us the window design and the beautiful colored glass she will use. She also showed us a piece of glass on which she drew a section of Chenrezig’s 992 extended hands. Everyone was in awe envisioning how this Chenrezig image will appear. Take a look at her working on the stained glass window of Chenrezig. With “om mani padme hum” playing in the dark room, she chants the mantra and works over a light box so she can draw all the details very clearly.

We’ve had some exciting developments in the “inviting generosity” department, and will send an announcement in the next few days. Stay tuned!

back to top

Sharing the Dharma Day

About 20 guests came for April’s Sharing the Dharma Day. I spoke about the three poisonous attitudes—verse 2 from her commentary on the “37 Practices of Bodhisattvas,” from Don’t Believe Everything You Think. You can watch that talk online.

After a yummy potluck lunch, Venerable Tarpa took folks on a tour of Chenrezig Hall and then we broke into discussion groups to share our reflections on intriguing questions that helped us to relate the Dharma to our lives.

back to top

Dharma in Mexico

For the last 20 years I’ve gone to Mexico almost every year to share the Dharma with enthusiastic Mexicans. My Spanish is very poor so Patricio and Peter did wonderful translations of the talks.

After a public talk in Mexico City, I headed for Morelia where we had a weekend retreat at a beautiful site just outside the city. 90 people attended the retreat and the teachings were streamed live to another 120 sites in 25 countries. The talk at the Universidad Latina de America had an audience of about 120 people, and the public talk in Morelia was standing room only with 200 people.

From there I went to Xalapa in Vera Cruz state, where there was a public talk (250-200 people) and four sessions for Dharma students (100 people each). These talks as well as the ones at the retreat in Morelia were streamed live. The first four talks are already available online. The remaining ones will soon be posted to so people can watch them.

On the last evening there was another public talk in Mexico City with about 250 people. The Mexicans are warm and friendly, and the Dharma moves their hearts. I especially enjoyed seeing families attending the retreat and talks, with two or three generations sharing the Dharma together.

back to top

Guests Experiencing Life at the Abbey

We were delighted to have the family of Ben, Shannon, and Alex visit us for a week. Having heard a talk on forgiveness I gave in Madison WI last summer, sixteen-year-old Alex chose the Abbey as the place to go for spring vacation. While here he requested to take refuge and 3 of the 5 lay precepts. All of us rejoiced, thinking if only we had been able to do that at his age, we would have avoided a lot of problems.

Sue and Aster drove from Seattle for the weekend, bringing a huge offering of Chinese food. Sue worked for hours to make homemade pot stickers for the community, then spent most of her time here preparing delicious meals and teaching us how to use the ingredients. Resident Ruby and guest Charis, both from Singapore, were especially delighted to enjoy the tastes from home.

After spending a month with us, Michael departed for Seattle. He was a great help: he did an expert upgrade to the veggie garden watering system, and he and Jack had a lot of Dharma discussions as they put new beds in the garden. He helped a lot when we had a leaky pipe, too. He may come to visit us again in the summer.

Lynn has been with us for a month. Assisted by Tanya, Ruby, Eng Kiang, Peter and others, she has undertaken the huge job of giving a makeover. It’ll take a while to re-organize the massive amount of material on the website, but the result will make it easier for you to find the teachings you’re looking for.

We also welcomed some “visitors” by Internet. Venerable Jampa arranged an online discussion with the Tibetan Center in Hamburg, the center she attended before coming to the Abbey. We had a lovely discussion with them and with many people from their community who live elsewhere in Europe.

Venerable Deshe and her friend Ruth visited from Canada for a few days, and Craig from Sandpoint comes regularly to offer service. We’re moving into the visiting season at the Abbey, and more people are coming soon.

back to top

Out & About

Venerable Semkye recently joined Professor Russell Kolts in a talk on compassion and connectedness during a week-long “In Pursuit of Happiness” event at Eastern Washington University. Both of them encouraged students to see their similarities—equally wanting happiness and to be free of suffering—rather than their differences. Russel led an experiment where students looked at each other face to face around the room and silently wished each other happiness. After some moments of awkwardness, smiles broke out on many faces as people recognized the importance of connecting in this way.

Venerable Tarpa made her quarterly visit to the Airway Heights Correctional Center. The inmate Dharma group is studying karma and had lots of good questions for her. Venerable Tarpa is always impressed with the men’s sincerity and diligence, as they practice under very difficult conditions. She will soon travel to Walla Walla WA for more prison Dharma and to support an inmate group’s Buddha Day celebration.

Venerables Chonyi and Samten completed their 5-week course on the 6 Far-Reaching Practices with the Coeur d’Alene Dharma group, and Venerables Semkye and Jigme have another 2 weeks of classes on Meditation & the Five Hindrances with the UU Dharma group in Spokane. Students in these local Dharma classes—Buddhist and non-Buddhist—tell us how much the Buddha’s teachings help them in their day-to-day lives. A new Spokane UU series begins June 3.

back to top

Join Us as a WWOOFer

WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, an organization that links volunteers with opportunities to build a global community conscious of ecological farming practice. While the Abbey is not a farm, we are a community that supports wise environmental practices. We welcome qualified WWOOF volunteers to spend time at the Abbey working in our forest and organic garden.

Last year, two “WWOOFers” came and gave excellent support to our forest clearing projects. One even returned for winter retreat!

To volunteer, learning forest and garden skills and living with a monastic community, go here for more information about WWOOF or contact the Abbey directly.

back to top

More News

Our 2012 Annual Report is out!

We’ve also begun to work in the forest again, clearing debris and creating a healthy environment for the trees and animals with whom we share the land. Working in the forest is not only a lot of fun, it’s also good exercise!

Venerable Jampel, who came to help with building Chenrezig Hall, has now resumed wandering, first to his mother’s home in Oklahoma. We appreciate his offering service very much. Katya, who was here as an anagarika for nearly a year, wanted to be with her terminally ill aunt and has returned to be with her family in Belarus. We wish both of them well.

I gave a short talk on forgiveness that appeared in the Huffington Post. Though given a few weeks ago, it applies to the Boston tragedy.

To help people think about the Boston bombings, I also gave a Bodhisattva Breakfast Corner talk explaining how to bring Dharma knowledge and practice to this tragedy.

To encourage young people to join our Come & See! program for young adults, we’ve posted a series of short videos of last year’s participants sharing their experiences. Here’s the link to the playlist. A new video will go up each week until the program starts on June 24.

Underscoring the importance of guiding and inspiring young people, watch His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s recent address to students at Bern University in Switzerland. Among other topics he speaks about technological development, respect for religious traditions, and the qualities of leadership.

Sakyadhita, the international association of Buddhist women, has launched a new blog, “Awakening Women.” Please check it out here.

back to top