This year’s Vassa, or Rains Retreat, is coming to a close on October 24. An annual three-month period of stability for Buddhist monks and nuns for over 2,500 years, the Vassa marked the monsoon time when the typical wandering of samanas (renunciant monks and nuns) from place to place would become impractical and risk damaging the rainy season crops. Since then, as the Sangha (the Buddhist monastic community) has become rooted in different countries and climes, the Vassa has remained a time of stability in Theravada Buddhist monasteries, with the resident community remaining in place for the three months between the full moons of what is usually July through October.
This year at Temple the resident sangha has included Ajahn Sucitto – or Luang Por, as elder monks in the Thai tradition are often called – who will be moving onwards after our Kathina on November 4 (which, by coincidence, will also be his birthday). Luang Por will offer a Dhamma Talk at around 1pm on that day as part of the occasion. We’ve also had the pleasure of Ajahn Anando’s company since he arrived from Amaravati in April; he has been mostly on retreat during his stay this year at Temple, and we have been making arrangements to apply for a long-term visa so that he’ll be able to rejoin the community indefinitely. Ajahn Suvijano, from Thailand, has similarly been with us for a another six-month stint, and we hope also that he will be able to return next year. And a further addition to the sangha this year has been Ajahn Pasadiko, an American monk who’s trained at our monasteries in Thailand for the past twenty years. With the departure of two anagarikas (Nathan and John) and the addition of another (Andy), the sangha at Temple for the vassa of 2018/2561 has been: Ajahn Sucitto, Aj. Jayanto, Aj. Anando, Aj. Pasadiko, Aj. Caganando, Aj. Kumaro, Aj. Jivako, Aj. Suvijano, Ven. Sunyo, Ven. Candapanyo, Ven. Santi, Samanera Jino, and Anagarika Andy.
Visits & Events
This year we were honored to host a number of visits from senior sangha members, including Ajahn Amaro in May, who officiated at a Visaka Puja (Wesak) Day Bell Dedication Ceremony, inaugurating the newly-offered monastery bell; Luang Por Liem and Luang Por Jundee in July, who likewise presided over a simple ceremony to inaugurate and bless the newly-offered Buddha-rupa (statue of the Buddha); and Ajahn Viradhammo, who came down from Tisarana in August to act as upajjaya (preceptor) for Samanera Santi (formerly known as Anagarika Michael) who became Santi Bhikkhu, and Anagarika Jeff, who became Samanera Jino. Anagarika Andy was given precepts in June.
Upcoming: Kathina Offering on November 4
The last major event of the year will be the annual Kathina to be held on Sunday, November 4. Ajahn Sucitto will be the senior monk, and several monks from Tisarana and Abhayagiri will be joining us for the occasion. A little background on the ceremony (hat tip to abhayagiri.org):
Each year since the time of the Buddha, at the end of the Vassa lay communities around Buddhist monasteries have gathered to celebrate its completion by offering to the resident sangha gifts of cloth, supplies, and other requisites that will be useful for the coming year. Some of the cloth offered on that day is cut, sewn and, if needed, dyed by the monks to make a robe on that day to offer to one of the monks who spent the vassa at that monastery.
This 2,500-year-old tradition is carried on in the West in Theravada monasteries. The offering is initiated by a lay supporter or a group of supporters who request to organize the preparation and formal offerings. It is a significant and joyful occasion that, over time, has become emblematic of the richness of the relationship that exists between the lay community and the Sangha. This relationship is characterized by deep bonds of friendship and commitment to mutual support. All year round, the monastery functions solely on offerings from the lay community.
Accordingly, people have been inquiring about what the monastery could presently use. For this, please check the Dana List. There are also building materials and larger or more expensive tools and equipment we can use to help with buildings and grounds maintenance and the continuing construction of kutis (small cabins) in the forest for use as traditional monastic dwellings. Please contact Ajahn Jayanto or Ajahn Caganando via the monastery contact address for any questions about these. So far over the past three years we have put up six kutis and one yurt, using a local contractor for five of the kutis.
We hope to see you sometime at the monastery – do come to the Kathina if you are interested and wish to connect with the greater community as well as the sangha.