My name is Alice Chng, and I have known the Abbey’s founding abbess, Ven. Thubten Chodron, for nearly 40 years.

I have been trying to persuade Ven. Chodron to build a new residence since 2010.

Back when the Abbey was new, Venerable’s students built her a writing studio so she would have a quiet place to meditate and write. It didn’t have much: an altar, a desk, a bed—simple and functional. (See 2005 construction photos.)

She loves that writing studio, and many books and teachings have come from it.

But it has no plumbing

Now I’ve never been to Sravasti Abbey, but when I learned Ven. Chodron has no running water in her little writing studio, that really hit me. Whenever she has to shower she has to walk to Ananda Hall, the main building, even in rain and snow!

For me, running water is the number one most important thing about building a new residence. And finally, after all these years, Ven. Chodron has agreed to let us do it.

The building has a design and a name—Prajna House. “Prajna” is Sanskrit for “wisdom,” indicating that a person needs a lot of wisdom to lead a monastic community. And yes, there’s running water.House with running water.

On top of that, a kind donor has given a $100,000 as a challenge gift . Our donor challenges Venerable’s students to offer an additional $100,000 by August 1. That means all gifts now are matched $1 for $1.

Total cost for the project is $238,000. That includes a few things more than the building itself.  Prajna House alone is $183,000. Because of the Abbey’s rural setting, they can’t just get running water from the city line. Therefore, setting up utilities cost more.

Plus, in keeping with the Abbey’s commitment to preserve our planet’s resources, Prajna House will be powered by the sun. Solar panels and installation are $21,000, a cost that pays for itself over a few years. See the project budget on the Prajna House page.

Ven. Chodron is such an important person at the Abbey. She is the Abbess of the monastery! Humble as she is, she has lived with the inconvenience. But don’t you think she should have a proper house with easy access to a proper bathroom?

So building this house is very important. We want Ven. Chodron to keep teaching and writing for a long, long time.

Her work helps so many people, myself included.

In the 1980s, after my parents passed away, I wondered where they went after they died. One day I picked up and read Ven. Chodron’s book entitled I Wonder Why, and it really touched my heart.

I wanted to learn more, so I called the number of the Dharma center listed in the back of the book. Ven. Chodron picked up the phone. This is how I first met her—through her books and later through her teachings in Singapore. Buddhism became important to my life.

I bet Buddha’s teachings, Ven. Chodron, and Sravasti Abbey have helped you too.

At my age, I will probably never travel to Sravasti Abbey, but I will continue to support it from afar. I hope you will too.

Building Prajna House— this “house of wisdom”—will ensure a safe home for the abbess, Thubten Chodron, for a long time to come! And when the time comes for the next abbess or abbot to move in, that person will have a proper shower from the start!

Alice Chng

Friends of Sravasti Abbey-Singapore

Find out more on the Prajna House page.

Make an offering to help build Prajna House.