Autumn’s changes exemplify impermanence. Last week, the garden maples shone like crimson jewels. Today, leaves are brown and decaying on the ground after our first light snowfall. Watch autumn unfold in our Abbey Life photos here and here
Change was also evident as the Abbey marked our 20th anniversary. Read on for more about the anniversary celebration and other happenings.
Since our founding in 2003, thousands of people have touched the Abbey and been touched by the Dharma. Thanks for your participation, support, and practice. Together, let’s continue to create peace in a chaotic world. It is sorely needed.
Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron & the Sravasti Abbey Community
20th Anniversary Celebration
Vens. Chodron, Tarpa, Jigme, Semkye, and others talked about the Abbey’s early days during a slide show that showed many of the senior monastics with long hair before they ordained. We had some good laughs as we told funny—and true—stories.
Computers were set up in the Kwan Yin Room to run sequences of photos depicting the development of the Abbey—the growing number of monastics; the buildings we had to construct to accommodate them; the ever-increasing lay community who came for retreats, courses, Offering Service Saturdays, and Sharing the Dharma Days. Watch a slideshow of ordination photos here.
After a huge spread for lunch, Ven. Samten and others guided the guests to see the gold-colored Dharma wheel and deer that will grace the east entrance of the Buddha Hall and to witness the Buddha Hall’s continued development.
After a lovely day of community sharing and the closeness that comes with that, several people wrote in to share their experience. Here is one sample:
“Sravasti Abbey is like no other place. It is here in our world, not far away, where visitors and monastics together live and practice the Dharma every day. This is due to incredible teachers, the BBC [Bodhisattva’s Breakfast Corner] talks, the SAFE [Sravasti Abbey Friends Education] program, and the immense online library of teachings.
The continual events at the Abbey and online are all so accessible, and they keep me practicing. Because of keeping the five lay precepts and practicing ethical conduct, my afflictions have begun to lessen. I know that there is peace in my family that would not have been cultivated without finding Sravasti Abbey.
It’s happening—the Abbey is creating peace in the world, in my life, and so many others’ lives far and wide around the world. It’s truly beautiful and so inspiring!”
Local news also wrote about the Abbey’s 20th anniversary. Spokane’s FāVs News interviewed Ven. Chodron about the history and contributions of the Abbey to the broader community. The Fig Tree, a newspaper that promotes interfaith communication and shared interests in eastern Washington, interviewed Ven. Semkye about her spiritual journey and how being a monastic at the Abbey fulfills her values and aspirations.
Our friend Doug wrote a beautiful letter about the joy of supporting the Abbey in this anniversary time. Read his invitation to “Join in an Action of Joy.”
The Buddha Hall
Tremendous progress continues on all fronts of Buddha Hall construction. Watch Ven. Samten’s tour of the Buddha Hall construction progress.
Indoors: Many subcontractors—electricians, fire suppression installers, and the duct installation team—are now onsite. The wall insulation is nearly complete, and drywall workers are attaching sheetrock as fast as they can.
Outdoors: The stucco team continues to do beautiful work. They completed the teacher’s wing and will return to finish the east side of the Buddha Hall when other outdoor work is complete.
Infrastructure: Extensive work continues on the septic field and its sand filters, along with the water tanks at the top of the meadow. After many weeks of installing the geothermal field in the upper meadow, it has been hydro-seeded and secured with straw wattles to prevent erosion. In time the meadow will be restored to its previous magnificent state!
Roof Ornaments: The Dharma wheel, two deer, and the two 5-foot ganjiras have been painted a beautiful gold color at an automotive shop in Priest River, ID. Brian, the owner and painter, is now working on the final piece, the 8-foot ganjira.
Support: Friends of Sravasti Abbey (FOSA) joined together to invite anniversary gifts for the Buddha Hall. Watch Gifts to Celebrate 20 Years here.
Eventually we will have a beautiful building where you can come to listen, reflect, and meditate on the Buddha’s teachings.
Good Grief Retreat
The Abbey’s Covid outbreak nearly canceled Ven. Sangye Khadro’s Good Grief retreat. However, she was able to offer it over Zoom for several dozen grateful online participants.
From his first teaching, the Buddha frequently named grief as one of the sufferings of cyclic existence. The experience is universal.
Ven. Khadro presented psychological views on grief as well as Buddhist perspectives, particularly drawing from Buddha’s Five Recollections: that we are of the very nature to age, sicken, die, and be separated from what we love, all resulting from our karma.The closing session introduced tools for transforming grief into the spiritual path.
Along with meditations and online discussions, the retreat opened a window on a painful experience that is often hard to talk about. Many people wrote in their appreciation. Teachings will be posted soon.
Offering Service Saturday
With wonderful joyous effort, our remarkable friends and volunteers focused on splitting the immense Douglas fir trees taken down this summer. Ananda Hall’s furnace is now filled with seasoned firewood for winter heating.
Crews also brought down and burned forest slash piles. Geshe Chodrak joined volunteers who rolled mantras for the Buddha statue in the new Buddha Hall.
Venerable Chodron’s Teachings
Ven. Chodron’s teaching schedule has been chock-full, including:
- Open Heart, Clear Mind, a talk for the Metta Convention in Sydney, Australia. Look for it soon on Metta Centre’s YouTube channel.
- Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind, a talk for the online meditation group, Innercraft. Venerable shared how reflecting on our precious human life, death and impermanence, karma, and the defects of cyclic existence energizes our practice. Watch out for the recording on the Innercraft YouTube channel. Ven. Sangye Khadro’s talk are there as well.
- Kindness in Practice, an online talk as part of the Abbey’s long-standing connection with North Idaho College. Ven. Chodron spoke emphatically about how violence does not beget peace, drawing especially on examples from the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. Instead, we have to work to overcome the enemy within—our ignorance and partiality—by learning to put ourselves in others’ shoes and appreciating their kindness.
- Working with the Eight Worldly Concerns, a short talk for the Dharma in Daily Life conference organized by the Vajrayana Institute in Sydney, Australia. Watch it here.
- Open Heart, Clear Mind: Buddhism for Modern Life, a seminar for the Theosophical Society in America explaining how our mind—not external people, objects, and situations—is responsible for our happiness and misery.
- What if the Buddha Were a Laywoman?, a Q&A session with Tibetan Center Hamburg’s Dharma College. It centered on why the Buddha left his family to attain full awakening.Watch it here. Ven. Chodron described hypothetical scenes of villagers coming to the palace and being greeted by a female Buddha holding her crying baby while dinner was burning on the stove, and a male Buddha trying to read security updates and decide how to move his armies while a crowd waited outside for Dharma teachings. Ven. Chodron did a Q&A with this group last May on monastic community life and putting the Dharma into practice. Watch that here.
- How to Cultivate a Healthy Sense of Self, a talk for Vajrayana Institute in Australia. Rather than trying to find out who we are, she explained, in Buddhism we are discovering who we aren’t. Together, the group dissected conventional identities such as nationality, gender, occupation, political affiliation, and so forth, investigating if we are who we think we are. Then they looked for the “I,” or self, who we think is those identities. It was like a treasure hunt looking for the self, but not finding it. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the self still exists because we can say, “I thought this, I went there, I was happy,” and so forth. The talk will be posted later on the Abbey’s YouTube channel.
- Meat and Three, a podcast by Heritage Radio Network, interviewed Ven. Chodron about our communal meals at the Abbey. The episode features eclectic stories about communal meals, from murder mystery dinner parties to supper clubs and potlucks that promote diversity. Listen here.
Venerable Sangye Khadro’s Teachings
Ven. Sangye Khadro likewise offered a plethora of teachings this month, many requested by Dharma centers across the world:
- Compassion for Oneself, Compassion for Others, a talk for the Metta Convention in Sydney, Australia. Check Metta Centre’s YouTube channel for the video.
- Cultivating Loving Kindness, a talk for the online meditation group, Innercraft. Watch it here.
- Seventy Topics, an online weekly class for Tse Chen Ling center in San Francisco that explores the main points in Maitreya’s Ornament for Clear Realization, an important text from the Nalanda tradition. The series continues through November 30. Check it out here.
- How to Deal with Laziness and Other Obstacles to Meditation, a talk for the Dharma in Daily Life conference organized by the Vajrayana Institute in Sydney, Australia.
- A Glimpse of Emptiness, a weekend course for Togme Sangpo Buddhist Group in Scotland that explored the importance of emptiness in the Buddhist path, as well as several simple ways to gain an understanding of emptiness and use it in our daily life.
- A Matter of Life and Death Workshop for Amitabha Buddhist Centre in Singapore on the benefits of being mindful of death in our daily life and how to prepare spiritually for death. Watch it here.
- Sandpoint Sangha monthly meeting, which also explored how to prepare spiritually for death.
More Dharma Outreach
- Vens. Dekyi and Monlam gave a talk on the North Idaho College (NIC) campus on How to Cultivate Kindness, following Ven. Chodron’s online talk for NIC. The participants were very engaged and asked good questions enjoying the theme of learning how to bring more wisdom and kindness into their daily lives.
- Abbey nuns led weekly meditations, teachings, and discussions on “Kindness and Courage” at the Create Art Center in Newport. Attendance grew throughout the month, with a few regulars now attending. Topics included loving-kindness, the kindness of others, and equanimity. Participants enjoyed connecting with like-minded people and gaining food for thought. We rejoice in reconnecting with our neighbors after the long Covid-induced break.
- Ven. Damcho spoke to students of Parami University, an online liberal arts college for students in Myanmar, about the Therigatha. This collection of verses by elder nuns, preserved in the Pali Canon, reflects the spiritual aspirations and accomplishments of women practitioners since the Buddha’s time and challenges misogynist perspectives that persist to the present day. You might like to read Parami University students’ reflections on life in Myanmar after the 2021 military coup.
- Vens. Semkye, Gyatso, and Puntsok attended an inspiring gathering held by Faith Action Network, a statewide multi-faith partnership that strives for equitable, compassionate, and sustainable communities through social action. Monastics learned about the most pressing issues facing Spokane, including homelessness and affordable housing, and shared about the Abbey’s support for at-risk young people, local food banks, environmental action, and our outreach to the incarcerated.
- Ven. Chonyi gave the “sermon” at the North Idaho Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Coeur d’Alene by leading a meditation on developing love. The congregation is committed to social justice and warmly welcomed the meditation’s guidance to share love widely, even to strangers and so-called enemies.
- Ven. Semkye continues her monthly connection with the Newport Interfaith group, now in its fourth year!
Living the Vinaya: An Introduction to Karmans and Skandhakas
The Abbey has just published a new book intended for monastics written by Taiwanese Vinaya Master Venerable Bhikshuni Master Wuyin and the nuns of the Luminary International Buddhist Society.
Translated from Chinese, the book features Ven. Master Wuyin’s discourses on the prescriptive precepts the Buddha established. These describe virtuous activities that Buddhist monasteries engage in to contribute to the flourishing of the Three Jewels.
Learn more about the book here.
- BuddhaFest, Lion’s Roar’s online festival of Buddhist films, music, and Dharma talks, has been extended to November 8. All events are available on demand. Register here.
- Sravasti Abbey app: We’re no longer updating the Sravasti Abbey app on the Google Play and Apple App stores. Instead, volunteers have helped to create a progressive web app that you can access using a web browser on any device. The app now has 100 new quotes since it was launched and we’re working on a feature that will allow you to access the app offline. Check out the Sravasti Abbey progressive web app here
- Searching for the Self: Beginning November 1, you can watch the teaching series Ven. Chodron gave for Jewel Heart Center in April on Searching for the Self. Four videos will be posted over consecutive days. Drawn from Volume 7 of The Library of Wisdom and Compassion, the teachings cover the importance of realizing emptiness, the middle way view, and how to identify the object of negation.
- Breaking Barriers: The Abbey contributed to Breaking Barriers, a short video produced by the Metta Centre in celebration of International Bhikkhuni Day that was shown at the Metta Convention in Sydney. Watch it here.
Here’s what’s happening in November:
Now – Nov. 8: BuddhaFest with Ven. Thubten Chodron on Zoom, hosted by Lion’s Roar
Now – Dec. 31: Teachings with Ven. Thubten Chodron in Asia
Nov. 2-30, Thursdays: 70 Topics with Ven. Sangye Khadro online, hosted by Tse Chen Ling
November 11: Offering Service Saturday with the Sravasti Abbey community
November 12: Medicine Buddha Puja with Abbey monastics on Zoom
November 19: Sharing the Dharma Day with the Sravasti Abbey community
Nov. 29 – Dec. 22: One-Month Winter Retreat: Four Truths and Refuge Ngondro
Dec. 29 – Jan. 1: New Year’s Vajrasattva Retreat with Ven. Sangye Khadro
Plus new weekly teachings online:
Taking Refuge with Ven. Thubten Chonyi, streamed live Thursdays mornings. Time is 9 am Pacific Time this week and changes to 8 am Pacific Time through November & December.
Middle-Length Lamrim with Ven. Sangye Khadro, streamed live Fridays at 5 pm Pacific Time.