Here there is snow, pure, white powder, and it is deep and quiet.
It has been a great while since we posted an update on how things are going here at the monastery. Please accept our apologies if you have been wondering. Many of you have stayed in touch through visits and emails, yet as it happened the busyness of the summer and autumn made way to a natural dampening down of activity here, and a somewhat commensurate reduction of attention to the website and mailing list. Having entered our three-month ‘winter retreat’, with recent snowstorms dropping the blanket, it feels wonderfully still.
And it is beautiful - as was the foliage last fall, especially for those of us who have not been around for many New England Octobers in recent years. My first for many was in 2013, when I and Ven. Caganando and Bruce and Barbara Kantner and a few supporters and board members were making hopeful arrangements to embark on the journey which has carried us here, to the beginning of Temple Forest Monastery and the plan to purchase the property for its establishment in Temple, NH.
Where things have continued to go well. A pleasant Vassa last summer culminated in the Pa Bah ceremony held on October 5, when many friends from far and near came to join us for the occasion. This was also a chance for people to just come and see what’s happening – a Buddhist monastery is a rare thing, and rather unusual in New England. It was a great, sunny day, and we were joined by Luang Por Viradhammo, Ven. Cunda and Anagarika Zaw from Tisarana Monastery, Ayya Medhanandi from Satisaraniya Hermitage, and Ajahn Caganando from Pacific Hermitage. Luang Por V gave a wonderful talk, which can be listened to here. There were many photos taken on the the day, many of which can be viewed here.
In October Ajahn Anando returned to the UK, where he will stay at Amaravati Monastery until rejoining us here for two months this coming June. Yet he and I have continued to liaise quite closely over the past weeks and months, as we help the Jeta Grove board in handling the various decisions and aspects of the sale process required for this old New Hampshire property. For I’m happy to report that things in this department have been going well. In November we received permission from the town zoning authority to build a monastery as we envision it, with a Dhamma Hall and kutis, etc. And we have been blessed with several very generous donations that, in addition to the amazing Pa Bah offerings (roughly $150,000) our Thai friends organized along with others here in New England and in the UK, mean we are actually close to being able to close on the property, perhaps with financing involved. Our financial steward, Jeta Grove, should be sending out an announcement in the next day or two to let you know where things stand. From the Sangha, all we can say is a sincere anumodanā for the interest and support so far shown for a monastery project we are committed to help become a blessing for all beings.
As far as ‘life at the monastery’ currently goes, we have a community of three plus two: myself, Tan Saddhammo and Anagarika Zack make up the monastic community, and we are supported by two guests named Mat and Mick. After our retreat period ends at the end of March we’ll be joined by Tan Pamutto, a monk from Abhayagiri Monastery in California. And Ajahn Caganando, whom many of you will fondly remember from his time with me in Boston, will be returning to join us again in July. While during our retreat period we will not be receiving overnight guests, you are still welcome to join us for scheduled pujas, Dhamma Talks and sittings or to help offer the daily meal. Please check the website Calendar page for the current schedule, as the routine will change from time to time during the retreat. We will be happy to accept male and female overnight guests again from the beginning of April onwards.
While the physical space of the monastery comes into being here in Temple, we can each, wherever we are, form an inner monastery within the temple of our hearts, by keeping to the training the Buddha offered us all of cultivating the good, avoiding the harmful, and purifying our minds. Indeed, the monastery is always within.
With metta and gratitude,
P.S. With the imminent possibility of coming into ownership of this large property, we are looking for a volunteer resident caretaker, to look after supervising grounds and maintenance work on the six buildings and several fields (the ‘outer’ monastery). Here is the announcement from the front page:
Volunteer help needed
Temple Forest Monastery is looking for a longterm volunteer caretaker/maintenance person, preferably a male with some experience with tools and garden machinery. The ideal period would begin in April 2015 and last for an initial month-long trial period, with the intention of making a one-year commitment. This first year would entail working with the monastic community as we learn the ropes in caring for this large and varied property.
If you would like to live, practice and work with the monastic community for a year or more by managing the grounds and buildings maintenance at the fledgling Temple Forest Monastery, please contact Ajahn Jayanto by email or phone.