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The days are getting shorter; being so far north the changes in season are very noticeable to us. But the warm summer days continue, and we love the bright blue skies in midday and the way the sunlight plays on the other side of the valley in the early evening.

Bhiksuni Thubten Chodron and the Sravasti Abbey Community

Chenrezig Hall

All the pieces are coming together for Chenrezig Hall. In early August, we had another exciting day watching the crew install the septic tank, pump chamber, and grease trap, with a crane moving these concrete containers high in the air and then setting them down just perfectly and level in the holes. The soffits are up, and finally, after a long wait for the fire marshal to come to the Abbey, he came and approved our fire suppression system. The pipes are dug underground for the geothermal heating and cooling system and they’re finishing up the rest of it now.

Venerable Samten has made another video on the Hidden Wonders of Chenrezig Hall. The inner workings really are hidden now that the sheetrock is up and the walls are getting painted.

At the moment things are really moving along — the exterior stucco is almost done, the interior of the entire building is painted, the decorative beams in the dining room are up, they’re installing the toilets and sinks, and the concrete stoops at the doorways are getting poured. Unfortunately the backhoe digging the drainage field broke, so we’re waiting for that to be fixed before resuming the work on the septic system. The linoleum in the bathrooms is going in, and the kitchen floor is now tiled. It’s beautiful!

Will Olson and his friend Mike joined Venerable Semkye in making altars for the chapel and dining room as well as planter boxes. They’ve been installing cabinetry too, which we really appreciate. Meanwhile, Venerables Tarpa and Yeshe are scouting out commercial stoves and woks and all the kitchen equipment that is needed to meet the health department code for commercial buildings.

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Exploring Monastic Life

A lovely group of people attended our ninth annual Exploring Monastic Life program, which consisted of meditation, teachings on monastic life, discussion groups, and offering service. The teachings this year centered on the Vinayas from the seven previous Buddhas, most of which are short verses with a depth of meaning.

People really opened up in the discussion groups as we tackled topics involving ordination, which requires a commitment to make the Dharma foremost in our lives. We talked about how we relate to “rules” in general—what issues do we have with them due to our upbringing and previous experience. We also discussed the role a spiritual mentor plays in our lives, our attachment to reputation, and how peer pressure has influenced us.

Offering service time often became an opportunity to continue these discussions and introduce new topics while picking knapweed, cleaning the forest, canning peaches, laying a new stone path to the cabin in the garden, and harvesting garden veggies.

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Guan Yin Arrives!

Due to the kindness of some friends who work in China and researched Guan Yin (Chenrezig) statues for us there, a most beautiful Guan Yin arrived at the Abbey this month. Weighing about 350 lbs., she is carved from a single piece of cypress wood and is exquisite. At first we weren’t sure the truck could get up the road to the Abbey. But it did and the driver put the crate in the barn, where Guan Yin will safely reside until she’s ready to be moved into the completed Chenrezig Hall, which hopefully will be soon.

We blew conches and lit incense to welcome her and then carefully opened the crate. She is even more beautiful “in person” than in the photos and we stood quietly, taking in her presence. Her peaceful gaze says it all. After bowing, we did a short blessing ceremony, invoking all the holy beings and asking them to reside in the statue.

America needs Guan Yin’s compassion and wisdom so desperately, and now she is here to help us create peace in a chaotic world.

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Forest and Garden

Our flower garden is gorgeous as it is every year, and this year Belinda’s gift of tomato and eggplant seedlings has enabled us to enlarge our veggie garden. In addition, Friends of Sravasti Abbey has offered us many boxes of local peaches that we’re canning and freezing for the winter.

Our work clearing the forest and thinning the trees continued until the wasps and yellow jackets said, “Hey, how about taking a break until the weather cools down?” Since they asked with such stinging sincerity, we’ve complied.

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Invitation: 10th Anniversary

Can you believe it’s been ten years since we founded the Abbey?

After many years of planning and dreaming, we signed the papers to buy the Newport property in September 2003. With the help of many friends, the two cats and I moved here in October.

Since then, you and thousands of others have been a part of growing this Dharma network called Sravasti Abbey.

Please join us on September 15 to celebrate. We’ll dedicate the merit of the last 10 years, share a meal, and set a clear bodhicitta motivation for the future. And, of course, we’ll reminisce a little and take a tour of the soon-to-be-completed Chenrezig Hall.

Festivities begin at 9:45 am and end about 4 pm.  Click here to let the office know you’re coming. (An RSVP isn’t absolutely necessary, but it’s helpful to know how many will come for lunch.)

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More News

Take a look at what summer at the Abbey is all about, and what we and our guests are up to.

Meet the Abbey’s monastic community, complete with baby pictures.

The photos are up for the Power of Compassion retreat at the end of July. Nancy, an ER doctor for 30 years, tells us about her experience at the retreat.

A new Sravasti Abbey Friends Education distance learning session begins September 16. The entry level course is full, but there are still spaces in courses 1B, 3, and 4 for the people who have completed the pre-requisites for these. You can write the SAFE coordinator for more information. The next session will begin in Spring 2014.

HH the Dalai Lama is doing a retreat this month, meditating on Chenrezig. He has requested people to recite 1000 Chenrezig mantra — om mani padme hum — and dedicate it for the benefit of Tibet and for the awakening of all sentient beings.

Our local, grassroots organization to help homeless teens, Youth Emergency Services (YES), has a new Facebook page. Come see us! Also the website has been redesigned due to the kindness of volunteer Brandon.

People often write ask how to support a loved one through the dying process. There are two new short videos about this on Bodhisattva’s Breakfast Corner — Helping 1 & Helping 2.

Sometimes we hear people say, “Compassion is very nice, but how effective is it in addressing society’s problems?” I give suggestions for Applications of Compassion in this article published on the Spokane Faith & Values website.

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