Everyone at the monastery sends you warm greetings from Temple.
It’s been another eventful year as we continue the gradual process of laying down roots so that Jetavana, Temple Forest Monastery may provide a place of training and spiritual sanctuary for many, long into the future. That’s the vision anyway, and the signs so far have been excellent.
I hope you’ll forgive us for not posting or sending out much news on the website or to the mailing list these past two years. We are aware of and very grateful for the interest and support so many have shown to the sangha, including those of you unable to come physically to the monastery on a regular basis and thereby catch up with what’s going on. Here is a little summary of some of the recent, current, and future goings on.
Luang Por (Ajahn) Sucitto currently visiting Temple
Luang Por Sucitto, beloved teacher and known to many here in New England where he has led many retreats and offered talks for decades, has just finished teaching a month-long retreat at the Forest Refuge in Barre, Mass. – and he is visiting us at Temple for the next two weeks. If you are interested in meeting him, the best time is, as usual, at and after the 11 a.m. meal offering every day, when he will usually be available to converse afterwards. Tomorrow (Sunday, Dec. 11) he will lead the weekly meditation workshop, and it is possible he will do so next Sunday (Dec. 18) as well. He will also give the Dhamma Talk after evening puja on the next full moon day, Wednesday, Dec. 14. Please feel free, as always, to join us for those occasions, or any day during Luang Por’s stay. He will depart for Canada in order to spend the winter retreat at Tisarana on Dec. 23.
Luang Por Sumedho to visit in June, 2017
We will be honored to host our teacher and the founding abbot of so many of our monasteries, Luang Por (Ajahn) Sumedho for a visit to Temple from June 12–29, 2017. More information about his visit, and any public talks or teaching events, etc. will be posted closer to the time, probably sometime next spring. Some of our supporters wish to offer a Pa Bah in honor of Luang Por Sumedho’s visit, and, as the central event, invite him to offer an afternoon Dhamma Talk: that will be on Sunday, June 25 – so do book that into your calendar as it should be a special day.
Luang Por Piak to visit in April/May 2017
Another highly respected teacher will be visiting Temple next spring, from April 28–May 1: Luang Por Piak, an accomplished disciple of Luang Por (Ajahn) Chah, will offer teachings on the weekend of April 29 and 30, including a public talk at 1 p.m. on the Sunday afternoon, in place of the usual meditation workshop. More details about this event will be worked out and posted on the website closer the time.
Kathina Ceremony & abbots’ gathering in October 2017
And on Sunday, October 8, 2017, Temple Forest Monastery will receive its first Kathina offering. The ceremony will be attended by most of the abbots of the Ajahn Chah affiliated monasteries in North America, because we will also hold an annual abbots’ gathering here after the kathina. Luang Por Pasanno, Luang Por Viradhammo (who will arrive the day after the kathina), Ajahn Sona, Ajahn Punnadhammo, and Ajahn Sudanto will join us for the occasion (abbots of Abhayagiri, Tisarana, Birken Forest Monastery, Arrow River Hermitage, and Pacific Hermitage, respectively).
Winter Retreat 2017
The monastic community’s annual three-month Winter Retreat will take place from the beginning of January through to the end of March. This will be a period of silent retreat for the monks, with no short term overnight guests as well as no Sunday meditation workshops between January 1 and April 1. These three months of the year have come to serve an important function in our Western branch monasteries, with the traditional three-month Rains Retreat taking place in summer and fall which in European and American climates is often the best time to be active and working. Therefore the winter months of January, February, and March have become a time for the Sangha to put many activities down and have an extended period reserved for formal meditation practice.
Winter Retreat support opportunity
During the Winter Retreat the meal offering will be the same as ever: every day at 11 a.m. anyone is welcome to come to the monastery to offer (and share in) food to the Sangha. And while we won’t be accepting overnight visitors in the usual way, it would be helpful to have three or four laypeople stay at the monastery in order to support the monastic community’s retreat. Ideally these people will have stayed at the monastery before, and be able to stay for the full three months (or at minimum for one of the months). They would join in most of the group practice periods and there will likely be much unstructured solitary time to use to further one’s practice. Therefore they should be experienced in staying in a silent retreat atmosphere, and comfortable with solitude. If you are interested in supporting the Sangha in this way by helping with meal preparation, shoveling, cleaning, etc. from January 1–April 1, do send us an email.
Sangha and lay guests at the monastery, as well as some generous volunteers, have worked on quite a few projects this year. A few of the most notable:
The “Duplex” becomes the “Triplex”
The long process of work on the lay guest accommodation building (the long red building attached to the barn) this year is coming to a close with only finishing work left before laying down tools for the winter (there will be some more to do next year). It seems that so many furry four-legged friends had been sharing the building with its human residents over the decades since it was constructed in the early 70s as an office building, that monastery guests could hear – and smell – this reality to the point it was becoming disruptive. Since we would not harm them, we attempted to convince them all to live elsewhere. This effort seems to have been successful (easy enough, during the warmth of summer). In order to prevent the rodents from returning we separated the building from the barn, and installed steel mesh around the base of the building, one foot up from the ground, one foot down into the ground, and one foot back under the ground. In addition we stripped out all the ceilings and insulation in the middle section of the building, installing a new ceiling and new insulation. This provides for three discreet sections: one for women, one for men, and one which can be for men or for women depending on need (and thus the new moniker “triplex”).
Book storage container
We have been so generously offered so many free distribution Dhamma books to store for distribution over coming years, that in order to keep them safe from mold and damage the monastery purchased a shipping container, had it insulated, and built shelving to store them all. A little heater for the winter and dehumidifier for the summer should keep our Dhamma books in good condition for years to come.
And, now that it has started snowing, we have embarked on the building of two more kutis (meditation cabins for the monks). Late last year, with a generous donation we were able to build one. Further generosity received over the last year or two from supporters in the UK provided for the construction of another kuti this year, but the contractors involved could not start until a couple of weeks ago. And as a result of the offerings received at this year’s Pa Bah (held here at Temple on Sep. 18) we are able to build a third kuti: the monks are helping a carpenter friend currently working on it with another friend, Bob Berube, who is volunteering his valuable help on most days.
The resident sangha here at Temple is currently five monks (bhikkhus) two novices (samaneras) and two postulants (anagarikas): Ajahn Jayanto, Ajahn Caganando, Ajahn Jivako, Tan Nyanassaro, Tan Sunyo, Samanera Candapanyo, Samanera Mejjho, Anagarika Barnes, and Anagarika Michael.
Next year Ajahn Anando, who was with us again this year for the Vassa, will return to Temple for another extended stay in June 2017.
Hopefully we’ll be a bit more regular with our website/mailing list news updates next year too.
In Dhamma, and with gratitude,