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Fall colors are upon us!

The Abbey trees are brilliant with their turning leaves, gleaming in the refreshing autumn showers interspersed with pockets of sunshine. See photos of our fall grounds here.

We continue to enjoy visits from guests of all ages, and hope you’ll come be with us before we close for Winter Retreat. See Abbey life photos here.

Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron and the Sravasti Abbey Community

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Western Buddhist Monastic Gathering

Vens. Chodron, Tarpa, Losang, and Lamsel attended the 24th Western Buddhist Monastic Gathering at Spirit Rock in California.

Unlike our monastic ancestors, who lacked modern transportation, means of communication, and didn’t speak a common language, monastics living in the West have the ability to meet, learn about one another’s traditions, and practice together.

The friendships that develop among us are precious and help us in the adventure of bringing the Dharma and the monastic way of life to a new culture. All this bodes well for Buddhism in the West.

Read Ven. Lamsel’s whole report on this wonderful gathering. Ven. Chodron also gave a Bodhisattva’s Breakfast Corner talk about the gathering, that you can watch here. Photos are here.

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Students and Camp Fire Kids Visit the Abbey

For the fourth year running, about 30 students and their teacher from an anthropology class at Sandpoint High School visited the Abbey for a half-day program.

The morning began with a slideshow on Tibetan Buddhist history by Ven. Damcho, followed by a talk by Ven. Semkye on how the mind is the source of our happiness and pain. Abbey residents then took the students on a tour. The last stop was the Meditation Hall, where Ven. Jampa introduced holy objects, and Ven. Samten guided a short meditation.

After the Bodhisattva’s Breakfast Corner talk by Ven. Lamsel on living with a moral compass and a break for lunch, the students had to get back on the bus. Many of them said how interesting and stimulating it was to visit the Abbey, and we monastics marveled at their thoughtful questions.

On a Saturday, Camp Fire Kids and their leaders from Athol and Newport came to visit. Former schoolteachers Vens. Samten and Damcho facilitated icebreaking activities, a short tour of the Abbey, and led walking and sitting meditation for kids (and grown-ups). Ven. Chodron, who was a Camp Fire girl herself, spoke about the advice she would give now to her younger self—watch it here. The visit ended with a discussion on kindness and much rejoicing in everyone’s good qualities.

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Sharing the Dharma Day & Offering Service Saturday

About 25 guests joined the Abbey community for Sharing the Dharma Day. Ven. Chodron spoke about how to work with unwanted thoughts and emotions in beneficial and creative ways, instead of criticizing ourselves for having them, which doesn’t help at all. Watch the talk here.

During the discussion session, we practiced the methods taught in Chapter 13 of An Open-Hearted Life on accepting the fact that these unwanted thoughts and emotions arise in our minds, and then creating a sense of safety in ourselves, so that we can steer our minds toward more positive thoughts and emotions. This fruitful discussion helped people to share their experiences and practice transforming their minds. See photos here.

Ten people came to help us on the October Offering Service Saturday and did we get a lot done! All the herb and tomato plants were taken inside, logs were cut and stacked, weeds in the meadow were picked. A few people moved dirt and compost outside Prajna Cottage and planted grass seed there to replenish the meadow. It was a fun day, with lots of good will and sharing as we worked together for our common goals. Many thanks to the volunteers! Photos are here.

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Ven. Semkye Teaches in Colorado

Venerable Semkye made a week-long trip to Carbondale, Colorado organized by the Way of Compassion Dharma Center. She led a weekend retreat on concentration and several weekday meditation sessions.

Ven. Semkye also gave an interview at public radio station KDNK and visited a residential drug recovery center for teens. She led 15 to 18-year-olds in a meditation and discussion on self-confidence and self-acceptance.

Her visit ended with a rare opportunity to receive teachings from Zong Rinpoche on the 12 links of dependent origination.

The whole visit was a fruitful and joyful opportunity to share the Dharma.

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Ven. Chodron Teaches in Portland and Seattle

Ven. Chodron spent a weekend in Portland teaching at Maitripa College and also addressing the young people and adults at the Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association.

While in California, she gave a talk at Google, and the following weekend she taught at Dharma Friendship Foundation and Sakya Monastery in Seattle. Watch the public talk at East West Bookshop on The Library of Wisdom and Compassion here, and retreat teachings on Practical Ethics and Profound Emptiness here and here.

Ven. Chodron has many friends and followers in both cities, and she enjoyed seeing diligent Dharma students again and practicing with them. She also paid a visit to the former director of the Osel Shen Phen Ling center in Missoula, MT, who is now living in a retirement community near Seattle. Ven. Chodron reminded this Dharma friend, whom she has known for almost 30 years, to chant om mani padme hum.

Photo courtesy of Maitripa College.

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Teachings in Coeur d’Alene

Ven. Chodron spoke at North Idaho College (NIC) on “Being Human: Not Seeing the World as Us and Them.” Organized by NIC Diversity Events and the Coeur d’Alene Dharma Friends, the talk drew over a hundred students and townspeople, who appreciated hearing how to work with our minds in these polarized times. See photos here. The next day, Vens. Damcho and Nyima went to Dr. Laura Templeman’s religious studies classroom to take questions on Buddhism.

Coeur d’Alene Dharma Friends also invited Ven. Tarpa for a weekend of teachings on “Learning to Calm the Heart and Mind.” To a mix of 33 new and old Dharma students, she gave an evening talk on the Buddhist presentation of concentration meditation. A rich Q&A session followed on what keeps us from having a calm and peaceful heart. Grief and trauma were raised as obstacles, with acceptance, self-compassion and loving-kindness presented as antidotes.

The following day, Ven. Tarpa, led a day-long meditation retreat drawing on teachings from both the Pali and Sanskrit traditions. The beautiful time of silence and meditation gave about 15 longtime practitioners a motivating taste of the peace of mind that can be achieved by putting the Buddha’s teachings into practice.

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Prison Outreach

Airway Heights Correctional Center

Ven. Losang, who volunteers regularly with the Buddhist group at Airway Heights Correctional Center, gave a talk there based on Good Karma, a commentary by Ven. Chodron on Dharmarakshita’s The Wheel of Sharp Weapons.

One of the verses he taught reads:

“When selfish craving enters my heart,
I will expel it and offer my happiness to all beings.
If those around me rise in mutiny against me,
I will relish it, thinking, ‘This is due to my own negligence.'”

He then led the inmates in the taking and giving meditation, imagining taking on the suffering of others and using it to destroy their own selfish craving, and giving their possessions, body, and merit to others with love, bringing them great happiness.

Monroe Correctional Complex

While in Seattle, Ven. Chodron visited the Buddhist group in a prison in Monroe, WA. They meditated together, and the inmates listened with rapt attention to the Dharma talk. Many nodded their heads when she spoke about being responsible for our actions and their results—both the results in this life and the karmic results to be experienced in future lives. The men asked excellent questions and were very appreciative.

McNeil Island Corrections Center

For years, we have corresponded with some of the men held in civil detention in Steilacoom, WA. They constructed a Buddhist pagoda and meditation garden, and in August they formally opened it at their Buddha Day celebration. See a drawing of it that they used on placemats for their guests here.

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Recovering from the U.S. Senate Battle

Many people have told us how upset they’ve been over the division that was so evident during the Kavanaugh nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court. Although it’s tempting to remain angry, no matter which side you were on, anger helps neither ourselves nor the country. We can speak up for equality without anger and resentment. Compassion is the key, as evidenced by H. H. the Dalai Lama regarding the Communist Chinese rule of Tibet.

While the Kavanaugh nomination and approval process has been hard on the country in many ways, it is heartening to hear that many men take women’s reports of sexual assault seriously and are doing something about it. Jackson Katz, a specialist in the field, is one of them. See this article and make sure to watch his TED talk.

Patricia, an Abbey volunteer who counsels college students about drug and alcohol use and sexual assault, gave us a list of other resources: Bryon Hurt on toxic masculinity, Howard Cunnell on the poison of traditional ideas of masculinity, nonprofit organization Men Can Stop Rape, and Brad Pankey and his podcast, the Modern Masculinity project.

Patricia also commented, “As I, and many others, have stated before: If gender-based violence were just a ‘women’s issue,’ the work would have been completed centuries ago. The only way this violence will decrease is if men discuss together, set their intention and motivation, and then whole-heartedly practice healthy and nonviolent masculinity. To that end, I know that the work of Sravasti Abbey on gender-based violence will benefit all sentient beings.”

And if you need some tips on defusing anger, see Ven. Chodron’s book, Working with Anger, and read this short excerpt on giving up the ways to retaliate from her book on Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion.

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Seeking Social Media Volunteers

When Ven. Chodron travels abroad to teach and attend teachings, streams of strangers thank her for making the Dharma freely available on the web. It’s entirely thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers that this is possible.

We’re now looking for more support for our social media manager, who handles our Facebook and Twitter pages. If you have good writing skills, are comfortable working with photos for the web, have a good sense of social media and the Abbey’s online voice, and would like to share the Dharma with the world, write our office and let us know how you can help.

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Supporting Tibetan Nuns and Children

For those of you who love the Tibetan Nuns Project Calendar, you can now order it online at www.tnp.org. The calendar contains beautiful pics of Tibetan nuns at the many nunneries that the Tibetan Nuns Project (TNP) supports. It also has the dates of Buddhist holidays and special offering days.

The Abbey has had a long connection with the TNP, which has improved the accessibility of quality Buddhist education for over a thousand Tibetan nuns. TNP also helps build nunneries so the nuns have safe and healthy places to live, study, and practice.

While in India, Vens. Chodron and Damcho learned about Help with Books, a non-profit organization started in 2008 to create libraries and promote a reading culture for children in Tibetan settlements in India. They are seeking book donations for Shiwatso Library in Mundgod, inaugurated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2016, and the first public library in Dhondenling Settlement started in 2017, which has a mobile library that serves villages on school holidays. You can offer books on their wish lists on Amazon by clicking on the links below, or send Amazon.IN gift cards to info@helpwithbooks.org. (Please note that only Amazon India gift cards are acceptable.)

Wish list for Shiwatso library, Mundgod
Wish list for Mobile Library, Dhondenling

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More News

It’s time to sign up for the Vajrasattva Retreat from Afar! Join the Abbey’s winter retreat from your home by doing at least one Vajrasattva session each day. Retreat begins December 28. Details are here.

Ten more nuns have become geshes in India! The Tibetan Nuns Project said, “Once they obtain their Geshema degrees, besides being in possession of a treasure of knowledge, the nuns will be eligible to assume various leadership roles in the monastic and lay communities, bringing them one step closer to standing as equals.” Read about it and see pics here.

The Abbey is on Instagram! Check it out here.

Read about the translations of Ven. Chodron’s books into various languages, helping the Dharma to spread internationally.

Ken gives a Buddhist slant to Halloween.

Luis shares a poem about “The Human Story.

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