It has been two months since we moved in to ‘Jessen House’, the old name of the house at 28 Jessen Lane where Ajahn Anando and Tan Saddhammo and I have been living, and which has also served as our place for pujas and meals. We started at the height of summer, and fall is at the door. Our erstwhile lay attendant Zack Roberts has been with us for this time too, staying in ‘Cliff House’ – the old name of the second little house we are renting for use as a guest house for overnight visitors. Yesterday Zack joined the monastic community as an anagarika, an eight-precept postulant with a commitment to stay with us for at least one year, as a first step towards becoming a monk.
The inherited names of these houses and the other parts of this varied property may stick or may well be replaced as the monastery takes shape over time. This whole area is rooted in long history, hundreds of years of old New England evident in every stone wall and historic farmhouse one sees at every turn. We are conscious of this as we begin planting the seeds for the growth of a new monastic community, while being likewise aware of the long history of the Sangha – at 2557 years, along with the Jains it’s the oldest living community in the world. The challenge of facilitating this introduction and cooperation between established cultures is our task, one the Sangha has managed at different times over the centuries, and particularly over the past few decades in England and other countries outside of our own community’s traditional home of Thailand.
The fact that so many westerners have found the Buddha’s teachings relevant to their lives, and that enough of them have wished to ‘go forth from home life to the homeless life’ as Buddhist samanas (monks and nuns) so as to inspire the establishment of monasteries, speaks to the universal applicability of these teachings to the human experience, whatever the culture, whatever the time. Certainly we’ve felt uplifted by the level of interest and support showing itself already, here at the nascent Temple Forest Monastery. May these efforts bring blessings to all.
This coming month, some supporters have asked to organize a ‘Pa Bah’ (Offering Ceremony) , which has been scheduled for Sunday, October 5. Some of you will remember the Pa Bah last year at the end of our stay in Boston; this should be a similar affair. A more detailed schedule for the day will be set out in a further announcement, but here are the basic details:
Pa Bah Offering Ceremony – Sunday, October 5
Where: 28 Jessen Lane, Temple, NH, 03084
When: 10 a.m. – 2.30 p.m.
Luang Por Viradhammo will be coming from Canada along with two of the monks from Tisarana Monastery. Also coming from Canada, Ayya Medhanandi Bhikkhuni will join us with one of the nuns from Satisaraniya Hermitage. Ajahn Caganando, who was with us last year and plans to return to join us again next year, will also be present, having come from the Pacific Hermitage.
Anyone interested in the monastery is encouraged to come and join us on this day, as it will be the one big gathering day of the year for the whole community, monastic and lay, to come together – and as such represents the best opportunity to meet everyone and see what’s going on. Traditionally, a Pa Bah (similar to a ‘Kathina’ ceremony), is an opportunity for the lay community to make offerings, so in addition to it being a good time to come together and to meet Luang Por Viradhammo or Ayya Medhanandi etc., this year in particular the lay sponsors will be focusing on the opportunity to support the purchase of this property – so that a monastery can indeed be established.