Foundations

Luang Por Liem instructs Anagarika Zack – now Samanera Suñño – during his novice ordination

Dear Everyone,

Warm greetings from Temple. It’s been an active summer at the monastery, with new community members and the assumption of responsibility for the whole property, and as we get closer to this year’s Pa Bah gathering this week it is high time for an update.

2015 Alms-giving Ceremony – Sunday, Oct. 4

First off, this year’s Pa Bah Offering Ceremony will be held this coming Sunday, October 4, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Similar to the event last year the day will serve both as an almsgiving occasion for those who wish to support the new monastery with requisites and donations, as well as a sort of festival day to simply gather and share a meal, witness or take part in a traditional offering ceremony and listen to a Dhamma Talk. The talk will be offered by Luang Por Viradhammo, the abbot of Tisarana Monastery, who will be visiting along with Ajahn Sudanto, abbot of Pacific Hermitage. It’s a good time to meet the monks and other supporters, and see the monastery. Do come along for any part of the day – everyone is very welcome.

Please see the announcement for more details >

Opening of Jetavana, Temple Forest Monastery

From June 26 until July 2 the Sangha at Temple was very fortunate to host a visit by Luang Por Liem, the abbot of Luang Por (Ajahn) Chah’s monastery in Thailand, as well as Luang Por Jundee, another respected senior Thai abbot. They were accompanied by Ajahn Sehk and Ajahn Thaniyo, a Thai and Australian monk respectively, the latter serving as a consummate translator from Thai to English of the teachings offered by the Thai ajahns during their visit.  (The Dhamma Talks they offered can be heard or downloaded here >) We were also happy to have with us Ajahn Anando who returned to Temple for a month and Tan Ruciro, another English monk from Amaravati.

As the property had been purchased just a few months earlier, Luang Por Liem agreed to preside over an opening weekend which included a novice ordination on June 27 and an opening ceremony on June 28 to inaugurate and bless the new monastery. We were honored to have the Thai ambassador to the U.S., Ambassador Pisan Manawapat, and his family come for the occasion. While Luang Por led the thirteen monks present in chanting traditional Paritta blessings, the Ambassador, along with the president of the Jeta Grove board of directors and the former property owners, represented the lay donors in unveiling the ‘Jetavana Stone’ – an ancient granite boulder left by ice age glaciers in the monastery’s large field where for the occasion of its official opening a local artist had carved the name of the monastery and the Buddhist and Western calendar years alongside a Dhammacakka: a Dhamma Wheel symbol which was one of the earliest representations of the teaching of the Buddha.

In addition to the name of the monastery we most often use – Temple Forest Monastery – the monastery has a Pali name: Jetavana. Jetavana (“Jeta Grove”) was the monastery where the Buddha spent more Rains Retreats than any other during his lifetime, and gave many of the teachings recorded in the Pali Canon. It was a beautiful forested park purchased at great expense by the wealthy lay disciple Anathapindika in order to donate it to the Sangha as a place where the Buddha’s disciples could practice in a suitable setting for generations to come. Historically, when Buddhism has become established in new countries there have often been monasteries named after the original Jetavana.

Despite weather which was cool, blustery, and wet to say the least (as rain is considered auspicious in Buddhist countries we took it as a sign that someone was very happy about the event!) the day was attended by many supporters and visitors, pretty much filling up the large tent high up on the field. All in all a thoroughly joy-filled occasion. Some pictures from the opening ceremony and the weekend’s events can be viewed here > 

Community

When the three-month Vassa (Rains Retreat) began at the end of July, the Thai and English monks had departed as had Tan Pamutto, who had set off on foot having decided to further explore the life of a wandering monk during this phase of his training. (He has since written to let us know he is spending the Vassa in a garden shed somewhere in the Quabbin woods, and is being well looked after.) The Sangha here at Temple is currently five monks (bhikkhus) and a novice (samanera): Ajahn Jayanto, Ajahn Caganando, Tan Jivako, Tan Saddhammo, Tan Nyanassaro, and Samanera Sunyo. Another young man is in line to join us as a postulant (anagarika) within the next couple of weeks.

Activity & Volunteering

Having inherited a to-do list typically long for an old property of this size as well as needing to begin adapting it for monastic purposes, the Sangha and guests and volunteers have been busy making various repairs and getting to grips with caring for the grounds and buildings. We’re very grateful for all the help so many people have generously offered this summer.

If you would like to join in by contributing in one way or another by helping with grounds or maintenance work – or in some other way – you are most welcome. Please just send us an email either through the contact page or to the following email address: 

volunteer@jetagrove.us

Winter Retreat Support

Speaking of opportunities to help, we are beginning to look ahead to the monastic community’s annual three-month Winter Retreat which will take place from the beginning of January through 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 western 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.

During the Winter Retreat the meal offering will be the same as ever: anyone is welcome to come to the monastery on any day 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 two or three 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.

Protecting the Land

A significant event that’s taken place this summer has been the unexpected decision of our next door neighbor to sell his property. This 10-plus acre property abuts the field right over the Sangha living area (Jessen and Cliff houses) and cuts along the overlooking ridge where we plan eventually to have elders and other kutis. We always knew the monastery would need to try to protect it from development if at all possible – by purchasing that 6–7 acres of the ridge ideally – but had hoped our neighbor would hold on to it for some years so the board wouldn’t have to think about it yet. However, when a FOR SALE sign popped up after initial discussions between him and monastery friends and it went suddenly onto the market, one supporter stepped forward and in order to help the monastery by preventing it going to an unknown party – purchased the property! That person needs to sell at least some of it now for financial reasons; therefore, there is currently an opportunity to protect our land by purchasing the area in question for the monastery.

Practice at the Monastery

Finally, just a reminder and encouragement to feel welcome to come to Temple Forest Monastery, the morning work and around the midday meal being the best times to engage with the community, as well especially as the Sunday Meditation Workshops from 1–3 p.m. every Sunday. The 7 p.m. evening pujas (Tues.–Sat.) are a good time to come and quietly meditate and chant with the Sangha as well, and normally there is a Dhamma Talk offered after the weekly moon-night puja.

With all good wishes in Dhamma,

Jayanto Bhikkhu

Pa Bah Offering Ceremony – Sunday, Oct. 4

Please join us on October 4, 2015 for a traditional ceremony organized by local friends who wish to offer support for Temple Forest Monastery. It will also be an opportunity to meet with friends and the monastic community including visiting monks, and to hear a Dhamma Talk.

Everyone is welcome to join us for any part of the occasion: an alms-round and shared meal, a Buddhist ‘Offering Ceremony’ (called a “Pa Bah”) and a Dhamma Talk offered by Luang Por Viradhammo, abbot of Tisarana Buddhist Monastery in Perth, Ontario. We will be honored also to have with us Ajahn Sudanto, abbot of the Pacific Hermitage in White Salmon, WA.

From right to left: LP Viradhammo, Aj. Jayanto, Aj. Sudanto, Aj. Caganando

When:
Sunday, October 4, 2015, 10 a.m.–3 p.m.

Where:
Temple Forest Monastery     
32 Derbyshire Ln,
Temple, NH, 03084

Schedule:
10.15 a.m.   Introductory Remarks
10.30 a.m.  Prepare Food Offering  
10.45 a.m.  Alms-round
11 a.m.        Shared Meal
12.30 p.m.  Precepts, Paritta Chanting & Offering Ceremony  
1.30 p.m.    Dhamma Talk by Luang Por Viradhammo  
2.30 p.m.   Close of Ceremony & Chance to meet Sangha
3.00 p.m.   End

Gathering in the tent at the Pa Bah in 2014

Opening Day, with Dhamma Talk & Blessing Ceremony – Sunday, June 28

Temple Forest Monastery

Please join us for a day of celebration and an opportunity to mark the opening of Temple Forest Monastery with a ceremony and a Dhamma Talk led and offered by Luang Por Liem (Tan Chao Khun Pra Rachabhavanavigrom) – the abbot of Wat Nong Pah Pong, Ajahn Chah’s main monastery in Ubon Province, Thailand. Luang Por Liem is Preceptor to many of the Ajahn Chah monks, both Western and Thai, and is a revered teacher in his own right.

Schedule:

10.00 a.m. – Introduction
10.30 a.m. – Alms-round (offering rice into monks’ bowls)
11.00 a.m. – Meal Offering
1 p.m. – Dhamma Talk by Luang Por Liem
2 p.m. – Blessing Ceremony for the Foundation of the Monastery
3 p.m. – End

This is a rare opportunity to meet the senior monks visiting from Thailand, and to hear a Dhamma Talk by Luang Por Liem. Luang Por Jundee will be with us as well,  and Luang Por Viradhammo, abbot of Tisarana Monastery in Canada will be with us too.

The Thai Ambassador to the U.S., Ambassador Pisan Manawapat, will be honoring us with a visit on both days of this Opening Weekend, for the events on Saturday and Sunday, June 27–28.

The day will begin with an introduction and a traditional alms-round where those who wish will have an opportunity to offer rice into the monks’ bowls, and then share a meal made up of whatever food offerings are brought by the people who come (Buddhists have been eating pot-luck for 2,500 years). After the meal, at around 12.30 or 1 p.m., we will invite our special guest Luang Por Liem, the abbot of Wat Pah Pong in Thailand, to offer us a Dhamma Talk which will be translated by an English-speaking monk. After the talk the gathered monks will do some traditional chanting for the auspicious occasion, and a foundation stone will be unveiled and dedicated.

Luang Por Liem

Luang Por Liem (Tan Chao Khun Pra Rachabhavanavigrom) is abbot of Wat Nong Pah Pong, Ajahn Chah’s main monastery in Ubon Province, Thailand. He is Preceptor to many of the Ajahn Chah monks, both Western and Thai, and is a revered teacher in his own right.

Luang Por Jundee

Luang Por Jundee is likewise highly respected and was a monk with Ajahn Chah having grown up in the same village as the monastery; he is now the abbot of Wat Pah Ampahwan in Chonburi Province, Thailand.

 

Dhamma Talk and Novice Ordination – Saturday, June 27

Please join us at the monastery on Saturday, June 27, for a meal offering at 11 a.m. with the visiting senior monks from Thailand and Tisarana: Luang Por Liem, Luang Por Viradhammo and Luang Por Jundee; and/or for a Dhamma Talk which will be offered by Luang Por Jundee at 1 p.m.; and/or for a Going Forth (pabbajja) ceremony at 2 p.m. – where Anagarika Zack will become a novice monk (samanera).

This is a special opportunity to meet the visiting monks and to witness Anagarika Zack’s Going Forth “from home to homelessness”.

Do join us on this day (and/or the next day) –everybody is welcome.

Schedule:

11 a.m. – Meal Offering
1 p.m. – Dhamma Talk offered by Luang Por Jundee
2 p.m. – Pappajja (Novice ‘Going Forth’ Ordination)
3 p.m. – End

 

Opening


Dear everyone,

The weeks seem to have flown by since the end of our snowy winter retreat, and it is hard for me to believe it’s now the first day of June. Much has happened.

The property has been purchased

It is with tremendous gratitude and a sincere anumodanā (appreciation for goodness done) that I can recount that due to the amazing generosity of many people wanting to support this happening – those here in New England and North America, and in Thailand, and particularly in the U.K. and in Malaysia – we were able to purchase the property for Temple Forest Monastery at the very end of March. (There is a mortgage: for more details see the Jeta Grove website.) We intend that this monastery will be a place for the cultivation and realization of the Dhamma for generations to come, for the benefit and welfare of all beings. May the blessings of all the many actions and gifts by everyone that have led us to this milestone be for their benefit and the benefit of all.

Visit of Luang Por Liem

From June 26–July 2 we will be fortunate to host a visit from two of the most beloved senior monks of the Ajahn Chah community from Thailand: Ven. Ajahn Liem Thitadhammo – or simply “Luang Por Liem” – and Ven. Ajahn Jundee (“Luang Por Jundee”). Ajahn Liem is the abbot of Ajahn Chah’s monastery in Thailand (Wat Pah Pong), and was the monk whom Ajahn Chah chose to succeed him 35 years ago; he is a humble, wise and greatly respected central elder of our monastic community. Ajahn Jundee is likewise highly respected and was a monk with Ajahn Chah having grown up in the same village as the monastery; he is now the abbot of Wat Pah Amperwan. The two Luang Pors have been invited to visit some of the North American monasteries in our community – of which Temple is now one – and we thought we’d take the opportunity to mark the establishment of this new monastery with a ceremony and open gathering where Luang Por Liem can lead the blessings and offer a Dhamma Talk.

Opening Day celebration: Sunday, June 28 – everyone welcome

The Opening Day will take place on Sunday June 28, from about 10 a.m. till around 3 p.m. and will be similar in format to the Pa Bah ceremony we had at the monastery back in October. The schedule is flexible as we continue to work things out but will begin with an introduction and a traditional alms-round where those who wish will have an opportunity to offer rice into the monks’ bowls, and then share a meal made up of whatever food offerings are brought by the people who come (Buddhists have been eating pot-luck for 2,500 years). After the meal, at around 12.30 or 1 p.m., we will invite Luang Por Liem to offer us a Dhamma Talk which will be translated by an English-speaking monk. At some point either before or after the talk the gathered monks will do some traditional chanting for the auspicious occasion, and we currently plan for a foundation stone to be dedicated (anyone who wishes to contribute towards the carving of such a stone, feel free to contact us).

For that weekend we will welcome quite a few visiting monks and guests. The senior monks’ party will include Luang Por Viradhammo from Tisarana Monastery near Ottawa, as well as two other monks, Ajahn Sehksan and Ajahn Thaniyo, and two laymen traveling with the party from Thailand. Our own Ajahn Anando along with Tan Ruciro, a two-vassa English monk, plan to visit from Amaravati and stay for a month, and Ajahn Khemavaro, abbot of Wat Buddha Dhamma in Australia, will pass through from the 22–26th. The Thai ambassador to the U.S., Ambassador Pisan Manawapat, and his family also plan to come to pay respects to the senior monks and to see the monastery and be part of the occasion.

The resident community

In addition to visiting monks the resident community will soon include several new faces. In April we were joined by Tan Pamutto, a monk of five years from Abhayagiri Monastery who has also spent time training at Tisarana. It’s been great to have him here, as along with myself and Anagarika Zack we are the only Sangha members resident at the moment. For about a month we were joined by Tan Varadhammo, or Jake, a visiting monk from Forest Dhamma Monastery in Virginia originally from Massachusetts, who had been considering a return to the lay life and who took that step a couple weeks ago – he was a pleasant and supportive presence at the monastery and we all wish him well in his new life. For the past month Tan Saddhammo has been helping to care for his parents in Portland, Oregon and he will be staying at the Pacific Hermitage until he returns to rejoin us at TFM on June 17.

June 17 is also the long-awaited day that Ajahn Caganando – who was with me in Boston when we first came to Temple in 2013 – will rejoin the community here; it will be wonderful to have him back with us. On June 11 we expect a monk of two vassas originally from the Midwest to arrive from Wat Pah Nanachat, and on the 25th another American monk will arrive from Buddha Bodhivana Monastery in Melbourne Australia: Tan Jivako, who is from Amesbury, Massachusetts.

Anagarika Zack, who is from Westford, Mass. and who has been with us since we moved in last July, is approaching one year in the community, and he has asked to go forth as a samanera, the next stage of novitiate training and one which involves him giving up money and donning two of the three robes of a monk. His Going Forth (“Pabbajja”) ceremony will be finalized soon, but looks set to take place on the afternoon or evening of June 27 – everyone is welcome to attend and wish him well as he moves further along the path to becoming a monk.

A mix of cultures

As has been the case in monasteries around the world and throughout Buddhist history, this fledgling monastery acts as a meeting place for people of different walks of life and different backgrounds. Many Americans are interested in learning from Buddhist teaching and practice; and many people born into Buddhist cultures, in Thailand or other Asian countries, are interested in deepening their relationship to their own religion, especially in a place where Buddhist monasteries are few and far between.

So on any given day, at the 11 a.m. meal or one of the Evening Pujas, or at the 1–3 p.m. Sunday meditation workshops, there will often be a mix of various people and traditions, the Western and the Asian, the local and the far-afield. Of course, distinctions are not necessary – everyone is a human being who experiences happiness and suffering and can experience peace in the same way, and these are the focuses of the Buddhist Path for any who wish to interact with it in whatever way. Along with the many Thai people who have been coming to the monastery since we arrived in Temple last year, there are increasing numbers of interested people – from locals in Temple, Wilton, and Milford, to those from Keene, Nashua, Manchester, Concord, and areas in Massachusetts from Boston to Northampton.

Getting to the monastery

This has meant that there are now people in various areas interested in coming to the monastery who may not have the means to do so; therefore, in the face of the lack of any public transportation, there are discussions amongst lay people for setting up ride share boards or something similar. One such effort has begun in Boston, and there is a Google Group one supporter has set up and manages at the following link (note that the monastery is not involved in this and assumes no responsibility for it): https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en#!forum/tfm-rides

Opportunities to practice and to get involved

Please do join us for any of the daily routine at the monastery, the regular practice opportunities as well as the work periods and, of course, meals. As we move into more of the property and take the reins of care, there are many things we can use a helping hand with, from mowing lawns to driving to maintenance and repairs. Contact us if you’re interested in helping out.

With gratitude and metta,
Jayanto Bhikkhu 

The Sound of Snow

Dear everyone,
 
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,

Jayanto Bhikkhu 

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.

Pa Bah Offering Ceremony – Sunday, October 5

From Jeta Grove Foundation, and the organizing supporters for this event:

Please join us for a traditional gathering to support the establishment of a new branch monastery of Ajahn Chah in New England, organized by friends from the area and abroad. It will mark the end of the first Vassa (Rains Retreat) the monastic community have spent at the property – and be a great chance to gather together and see what’s happening.

Everyone is welcome to join us for any part of the occasion: an alms-round and shared meal, a Buddhist ‘Offering Ceremony’ and a Dhamma Talk offered by Luang Por Viradhammo. 

We are honored also to have with us for the day Ayya Medhanandi Bhikkhuni from Sati Saraniya Hermitage, as well as Ajahn Caganando, who was with Ajahn Jayanto in Boston last year. 

Schedule:
10 a.m. – Introductory Remarks
10.15 a.m. – Paritta Chanting
10.30 a.m. – Prepare Food Offering
10.45 a.m. – Alms-round
11 a.m. – Shared Meal
12:30 p.m. – Precepts & Offering Ceremony
1 p.m. – Dhamma Talk by LP Viradhammo
2 p.m. – Close; chance to meet Sangha members

Where:

Temple Forest Monastery
28 Jessen Ln
Temple, NH, 03084
tel. (603) 654-2292

~

Dhamma Talk to be offered by Ven. Ajahn Viradhammo

Luang Por Viradhammo is abbot of Tisarana Monastery in Perth, Ontario. He was one of the earliest of Ajahn Chah’s Western disciples and has been a monk for over forty years.

 Luang Por Viradhammo

Luang Por Viradhammo

*If anyone would like to come up to the monastery to help on the day – or the days before or after – please don't hesitate to contact Mark Lewis at [...]

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September

Zack Roberts takes up the anagarika training

Dear everyone,

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.

Jayanto Bhikkhu

~

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.

Special Guests:

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.

Sunday afternoon meditation and Dhamma Talks, 1– 3 p.m.

The Saturday evening Dhamma Talk routine that we have experimented with has worked out well enough so far, with a Talk offered after the usual puja from 7–8 p.m. However, it seems that an afternoon timing would allow more people to come who would like to attend. Therefore we plan to change the routine to having a Dhamma Talk and/or discussion following a group meditation on Sunday afternoons instead of on Saturday evenings, beginning on Sunday September 21, from 1–3 p.m. With the meal at 11 a.m. as usual, you can come for that (and bring some food to share) and then stay on for the meditation and Talk – or simply arrive anytime before 1. From now on, Saturday Evening Pujas will no longer be followed by a Dhamma Talk.

Car for the monastery

As the snowy New Hampshire winter draws nearer, we have been informed of the usefulness (need?) for any monastery car to have all-wheel-drive capability. If anyone happens to be wanting to get rid of (or, possibly, sell) a used AWD largish car that can haul both people and things (e.g. something like a Subaru Forrester) – please feel free to contact the monastery and let us know.

 

The beginning

Dear everyone,

Greetings!

First of all, thank you to the various people who have been writing and asking how things are going and how to get involved or visit us as we establish the fledgling monastery this summer. Your interest has been noted and appreciated, even if our response has been delayed until now.

I’m pleased to inform you all that, after wrapping up multifarious things at the monasteries in England, on Tuesday, July 1 I was able to move in to Jessen House, on the property we hope can be purchased for a monastery in Temple, NH. I am accompanied by a young man named Zack Roberts, who will serve as a lay attendant with a view towards eventually becoming an anagarika either here or elsewhere, and so far the two of us have been moving and sorting through things stored in Boston from last year, cleaning etc.

Moving in to Jessen House

Monastic Community

Today Ajahn Karunadhammo from Abhayagiri, who is on a visit to his sister in Massachusetts, will arrive and plan to stay with us until after the meal on Saturday. Tomorrow, July 4, Ven. Saddhammo will arrive in order to stay here for the Vassa period, the three-month ‘Rains Retreat’ that Theravada monks and nuns observe each year. Tan Saddhammo is from Portland, Oregon, and became a monk at Wat Pah Nanachat in Thailand about five years ago. And next Saturday (July 11) we’ll be joined by Ajahn Anando, a friend of mine and one of the senior monks at Amaravati, and who has begun helping me to guide this project. Ajahn Anando will need to return to England after the Vassa, as he helps to care for his elderly parents there, yet he wishes nonetheless to maintain a connection to the budding Temple Forest Monastery with a view to joining me in a role of shared responsibility when conditions permit in the future. Ven. Caganando, whom many of you will remember from last year when he and I lived at the temporary vihara in Allston, is currently looking after the Pacific Hermitage in Washington State, where the abbot, Ajahn Sudanto, is absent as he takes a nearly year-long solitary retreat. Tan Caganando will plan to join us in Temple once Ajahn Sudanto returns to Pacific Hermitage next spring.

Routine

The Vassa this year will begin on Sunday, July 12. That’s when I expect we’ll be somewhat better set up here to begin a more usual monastic routine, with the next week or so still a bit here and there while we get oriented. Although we translate ‘Vassa’ as ‘Rains Retreat’, it’s not necessarily a retreat in the commonly-understood sense, with silence and a group meditation schedule etc.; it’s more a time when the monastic community stays put in one place. Therefore we are happy to receive day visitors and overnight guests here at the monastery (apologies if the announcements about the rental opportunities next door were confusing in this regard). Events at Temple Forest Monastery do not require booking. However, those wishing to stay overnight need to book in advance. All activities at the monastery are free of charge; that is, there is no fee for attending events or for staying overnight. The time to come during the day is around the meal-offering time (11 a.m.) or thereabouts. We should have a schedule similar to last year’s at the vihara: morning and evening pujas with a Dhamma Talk about once a week, probably on Saturday nights. Otherwise anyone is welcome to come for the meal offering any day at 11 a.m. (no booking necessary, though it would be useful to know if you’re coming, especially if you plan to offer food). 

We’ll post confirmation of puja times and meal offering info, Dhamma Talks, etc. on the website over the next week or so. But I expect it will be 5 a.m. morning puja, 11 a.m. meal, and 7 p.m. evening puja, with a talk on Saturday nights. After the meal on any day I or another monk should be available for conversation. There will likely be days when we are not at the monastery, so do please check our calendar on the website or call beforehand before making the journey. In the meantime though, from now on anyone is welcome to come for the meal, to help offer or to visit etc. Please call to check that we’ll be here (contact details below).

Friends-of-the-monastery gathering

We thought it would be nice to start things off semi-officially with a more organized communal meal offering, on the day after Vassa begins: next Sunday, July 13. So please do feel free to join us for a meal here at 28 Jessen Lane at 11 a.m. (do bring offerings or food to contribute if you’d like – which is traditional – but no need, come all the same). It might be useful to know how many are coming, so drop us an email if you can.

Needs

Some of you have been asking what we need. Indeed, moving in to two empty houses we could use many household things, and there are other items that will be useful longterm. Therefore here is an initial list with various things we either need or would find useful; it will be replicated – and added to – on this website soon.

Dana List:

Amazon Gift Cards (or Gift Cards from other big stores including Lowes, etc.) – In case this is the easiest or preferred method for some of you, we can use Gift Cards to acquire needed items ourselves; this can be very useful for the monastery. Amazon Gift Cards can be emailed to contact@jetagrove.us

Fans – powerful, quiet, portable room air circulators would be much appreciated.

wide brooms 

straw mats (for placing on a carpet in order to eat on the floor, protecting the carpet).

electric kettle

tea-making things (tea pots, strainers, etc.)

serving trays

office-sized waste bins

small water pitchers

small kitchen strainer

various furniture and carpets, mattresses – we will try to organize this, so please contact us if you have items you want to donate.

UPDATE (forgot these larger items):

washing machine

dryer

HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner

 

Contact Details

This year the monastery will consist of two adjacent rented houses. The monks will stay in one, and overnight guests in the other. Our address and phone number is:

Temple Forest Monastery
28 Jessen Lane
Temple, NH, 03084

tel.: (603) 654-2292

email: contact@jetagrove.us

(In case it’s not clear: Jeta Grove [Jeta Grove Foundation] is the non-profit body created to handle the financial aspects of the monastery project. Therefore donations can be made out to Jeta Grove Foundation. Temple Forest Monastery is the name of the new monastery [not Jeta Grove].)

That’s all for today,

All blessings,

Jayanto Bhikkhu 

 

Short-term rentals available next door

North Duplex, Derbyshire Ln., Temple, NH, 03084

Update from Jeta Grove:

(PLEASE NOTE: The following rental opportunities would be a separate, private arrangement with the owners, unconnected to staying as a guest at the monastery. It's simply a chance to ‘live next door’.)

Two rental opportunities are being offered by the current owners of the Temple, New Hampshire property that is proposed for a new monastery in Ajahn Chah’s Thai Forest Tradition. After July 1st, the monks will be renting an adjacent property, so there’s the opportunity to be close to the new monastery at this early stage in its development. Here is the owners’ description of the two rental units: 

Duplexes for rent on beautiful, peaceful setting on hilltop field facing Pack and N. Pack Monadnock Mountains. Six minute walk to monastery where monks arrive on July 1st. Simple, functional structures, separated from each other by owners’ storage room. Lightly furnished or bring your own. Internet service. Available 1 June 2014 to 31 May 2015. Rent negotiable for 1 week to 12 months. People may share. (Option to help explore possible mindful cohousing elsewhere in neighborhood.) Contact Bruce or Barbara Kantner: 603-654-2523, bruce@tellink.net.

North Duplex: 1,800 sq ft. First floor (linoleum on concrete): entrance + dining room + kitchen (one long room); washer/dryer area; 1/2 bathroom; full bathroom (with tub); living room with outside back door to fields; two bedrooms each with closet; small study. Second floor: one large 24’x24’ room with knee walls.

South Duplex: 1,200 sq ft. First floor (pine & linoleum): large entrance; kitchen; dining room; living room with picture window; small bedroom without closet. Second floor: stair hallway; bedroom; bathroom with shower. Reserved August-December.

Please contact Bruce or Barbara for rental rates and other questions: 

Bruce & Barbara Kantner: 603–654–2523, bruce@tellink.net.

 

April Update

 Ajahn Metta, Ajahn Sucitto and Ajahn Jayanto at the Insight Meditation Society, April 2014

Ajahn Metta, Ajahn Sucitto and Ajahn Jayanto at the Insight Meditation Society, April 2014

Dear everyone,

The annual three-month Winter Retreat for the monastic communities at Amaravati and most of the other Western Ajahn Chah branch monasteries finished at the beginning of April, and we have been moving into a more active mode ever since. I accompanied Ajahn Sucitto to Boston on April 10, having been invited to help with his retreat here at the Insight Meditation Society. So, having spent the winter in England, I am writing this first message of what will be an important year for the new New England monastery from Barre, Massachusetts, where the retreat at IMS is coming to an end today. (After writing “We’ll keep you posted. More soon …” on November 28 last year … I suppose ‘soon’ must be appreciated as a relative term – our apologies for the long wait for news.)

The plan is that I will return to the UK next week, finish up my affairs at Amaravati over the following two months, and move back to the US to take up residence with another monk or two at the prospective monastery property that Jeta Grove is renting/hopes to purchase in Temple, NH, from July 1 onwards. Everyone is welcome to drop in once we arrive; despite the sporadic nature of recent posts, by that time we should be providing fairly regularly updated news with more details of how to get involved.

In the meantime, this week Ajahn Sucitto will be giving a talk at a Buddhaparisa event in Lexington, MA on Tuesday (tomorrow) evening – details here. Also, I thought it might be a good opportunity while I’m on this side of the pond to invite any of you who would like to get together at the property in Temple for an afternoon for some meditation and Dhamma dialogue, and to have a chance to be there together and discuss the year ahead. Bruce and Barbara Kantner have graciously allowed us to do so: we’ll use the ‘Meeting House’ which we used for the day-long meditation event we held there last September. There should be an opportunity too to see the property. Further details for these two events are announced below; everyone is welcome to come along.

With metta,

Jayanto Bhikkhu


Dhamma Talk by Ajahn Sucitto – Tues., April 22

7–9 p.m. in Lexington, MA

Details and directions on the Buddhaparisa website:

http://buddhaparisa-events.blogspot.com/


Meditation at the Temple property – Sat., April 26

2–4 p.m. in Temple, NH

A chance to get together at the property in Temple for some meditation and Dhamma dialogue, as well as to have a chance to be there and discuss the year ahead. There should be an opportunity to see some of the property. All welcome!

Directions Here >

Enquiries: (857) 202-0572

Transitions

Pa Bah Offering Ceremony in Allston, Oct. 27

Dear everyone,

It’s been quite a few weeks now since our activities in New England came to a pause and we wrapped up the temporary vihara in Allston. After a full few final weeks, many goodbyes and with a warm feeling in our hearts, Tan Caganando, John and I went our separate ways, with the plan being for us monks to return next summer to take up residence on part of the property Jeta Grove now hopes to purchase in Temple, New Hampshire.

John set off to visit various people and places before going to Abhayagiri Monastery with the intention to join the monastic community as an anagarika. He’ll spend the Winter Retreat (January, February and March) there as part of the lay support team. He was a great support during his two-month stay with us in Boston, and goes with our best wishes and blessings.

Ven. Caganando returned to the Pacific Hermitage, and has reiterated his wish to be part of the new monastery; however, he will not be able to join us until probably April 2015 – as he has a previous commitment to support the Hermitage by covering for Ajahn Sudanto who will be on personal retreat from next April until then. So, initially I will be returning with at least one, maybe two or three other monks-to-be-determined next year.

Meanwhile I have been back to Amaravati and am now in the midst of various teaching engagements in Malaysia and, soon, Thailand. I must apologize for the fact that we’ve left these bulletins and the website somewhat in need of attention in the weeks since the very uplifting Pa Bah Ceremony held just before we left. Much enthusiasm and interest for the monastery project was expressed, as well as generous donations towards making the vision a reality. Things are well in motion now, and I expect that the Jeta Grove Board will make an announcement or two over the coming weeks to let you know how things stand. Also, we welcome any expression of interest or help – we’ll see what opportunities to gather arise in the coming months during this hiatus while we wait to return in, probably, July. For now, Ajahn Sucitto is currently teaching at the Forest Refuge in Barre, and will be in Boston for an event or two organized by Buddhaparisasee their website for details.

The Forest Monastery News website may remain somewhat out of date on some pages for another few weeks I’m afraid, but should slowly shape up, and include some of the many wonderful images of the events this past vassa, as well as of the beautifully suitable property in Temple we hope will be able to be purchased. We’ll keep you posted. More soon …

With metta,

Jayanto Bhikkhu

Ajahn Jayanto and Tan Caganando on the property in Temple, NH

 

As Things Turn

Dear everyone,

The last two weeks have been full for us here at the vihara, where besides the regular routine we’ve had talks and workshops at CIMC and Northeastern University and in Arlington, Concord, Gloucester, Brattleboro VT and Hanover NH. We were happy to meet new friends in all these places, particularly those associated with Vermont Insight and Valley Insight, who, all being well, may become our Dhamma neighbors to the north and west – since we now hope to return to New England next year to the previously mentioned property in Temple, NH.

As the weather turns and the air becomes crisp and clear, so too our way forward is becoming clearer. Our searches this summer for a site for a potential monastery turned up nothing nearly as suitable, all factors considered, as this quite special farm-cum-forest in Temple. Jeta Grove has been speaking with the owners, Bruce and Barbara Kantner, about possible ways forward, and we have asked the Elders’ Council in Europe (the communal decision-making body for Ajahn Sumedho’s branch monasteries) for permission to proceed. As there is not enough money for a purchase at this point, we may look to begin by renting. We will keep you posted.

For any of you wishing to see the property and walk the land the Kantners have invited us and those interested in the project for a day to gather at the property on Saturday Oct. 26, when everyone’s welcome to come and see the site. (In fact they are very welcoming generally of visits at other times too – if you’d like to visit the property at a different time, contact us and we can help arrange this.) This will also be an opportunity to meet Ajahn Viradhammo, who will be driving down from his monastery in Ontario. He will join us for the day in Temple, and will be there for the meal and time we walk the land together, before we all travel down to Allston where he will take part and give a Dhamma Talk at the Offering Ceremony the next day

It’s been inspiring to witness the arising of interest and opportunity here during these past months. Please do join us on these occasions, and for any other events here at the vihara or elsewhere during our last few weeks in Boston.

All blessings,
 Jayanto Bhikkhu

 

 Sunday Workshop, The Arlington Center

Sunday Workshop, The Arlington Center

The Kataññuta Group based in Malaysia has very generously sent us five palettes of free-distribution Dhamma books. Here Anagarika John and a neighbor help receive the shipment.

 
 

Pa Bah Offering Ceremony – Sunday, Oct. 27

 St. Luke’s & St. Margaret’s Church   

St. Luke’s & St. Margaret’s Church

 

The schedule for the Pa Bah (Offering Ceremony) has been determined. Everyone is very welcome to join us for the whole or part of the event. People will be bringing food to offer and share – feel free to join in with this and bring some food along (anything is fine; it’s the offering that’s the point).

The day will begin at 10 a.m. with some introductory remarks, then with the monks chanting Parittas from around 10.15. At 10.30 the food will be formally offered and people will be invited to fill plates with rice and arrange themselves to offer it into the monks’ bowls as they walk on ‘almsround’ within the indoor space. After the monks chant a blessing everyone will be invited to share a meal. At noon the formal Pa Bah ceremony will begin, with a chance to take the Five Precepts, and then lay supporters will offer robes to the monks (people may offer donations towards the prospective monastery, though the monks do not receive money – there will be ways to do this managed by Jeta Grove and the Pa Bah sponsors). At around 12.15 Ajahn Viradhammo will offer a Dhamma Talk, and he and Ajahn Jayanto and Ven. Caganando will be available for conversation afterwards.

Schedule:

10 a.m. – Arrive, Introductory Remarks
10.15 a.m. – Paritta Chanting
10.30 a.m. – Prepare Food Offering
10.45 a.m. – Almsround
11 a.m. – Meal
12 p.m. – Five Precepts & Pa Bah Ceremony
12.15 p.m. – Dhamma Talk by Luang Por Viradhammo
1.30 p.m. – Finish & Clean Up

Where: St. Luke’s & St. Margaret’s Church: 5 St. Luke’s Rd, Allston, MA, 02134

When: 10 a.m.–1.30 p.m.

(Parking in Allston should be free on this day, as it’s a Sunday.)

 

 

Day to Gather and See the Temple Property – Saturday, Oct. 26

Pond at Derbyshire Farm in Temple, NH

Everyone interested in the potential new monastery is invited to join Ajahn Jayanto, Tan Caganando and special guest Luang Por Viradhammo (abbot of Tisarana Monastery) to see the farm and forest that make up the site in Temple, NH, where – all going well – they hope to be able to make a start at establishing a monastery by living there next year. The very supportive owners, Bruce and Barbara Kantner, will be our hosts. Please bring a packed lunch, perhaps with some to share. We will eat together from 11–12, then wander the large site including some of the forest in the early afternoon. The monks hope to head back to Boston around mid-afternoon. All are welcome. (Rides may be available from Boston – please let us know if you need a ride or have space in your vehicle to offer one.)

When:

Saturday, October 26

10–11 a.m. Arrive
11 a.m. Meal for the monks (bring packed lunches)
12 p.m. Walk the property together (bring good shoes)
3 p.m. Depart

Where:

32 Derbyshire Ln, Temple, New Hampshire, 03084

Directions >

 

 

Back From Tisarana

With Luang Por Viradhammo and the Tisarana monastic community


Dear Everyone,

We have settled back in to the Allston vihara after returning from a week-long visit to our nearest branch monastery, Tisarana, in Ontario, Canada. As I prepare to head out on our morning almsround to Allston, I reflect on how much has unfolded during these past months and how appreciative Tan Caganando, John and I feel for the warm welcome – and welcome change of pace – we were so generously given by the abbot, Luang Por Viradhammo, and the resident community at Tisarana.

Tan Caganando and I were particularly grateful to be staying in kutis (huts or cabins) in a quiet natural setting, having been living in our unusual-for-for-us city digs since mid-July. Ajahn (or Luang Por, as we are beginning to call the more senior elders in our maturing Western branch monasteries) Viradhammo celebrated the day effectively marking his 40th vassa (years as a monk) just as we were leaving. Witnessing the blessings arising for the communities within and around his monastery, with a growing monks’ community and visitors engaging in various ways, many of us feel a powerful gratitude to those able to enter and stay in the monastic life for so long. We were also fortunate to spend a delightful afternoon and evening meditation at the nearby Sati Saraniya monastery where Ayya Medhanandi, now a bhikkhuni and a nun in the robes for around 25 years has similarly established a field of blessings for all – particularly her fledgling nuns’ community.

We were grateful too to Luang Por Viradhammo (who has been involved in the establishment of five monasteries over the years) for helping us think things through regarding where we are in our own process of monastery-beginning here in New England. As you may know, we have been searching for available properties suitable for a forest monastery for much of the past two months. That search was hastened by the fact that a quite wonderful property was shown to us shortly after we arrived in late July: as it seemed an excellent prospect, we realized we’d better investigate other options if we were to make an informed decision so soon about pursuing any prospective site. This is the property in Temple, NH, where we held the day-long retreat on Sep. 21. The owners, Bruce and Barbara Kantner, have been extremely generous in their wish to support the arising of a monastery quite possibly on their land, and Bruce even offered to drive the three of us up from the vihara to Tisarana for the week and back, which I had suggested might give him a sense of what monasteries in our tradition are like. LP Viradhammo was especially helpful in helping us all consider the whole picture and how we might proceed.

He has also accepted our invitation to join us in Boston at the end of the month for the end-of-the-vassa alms-giving ceremony, called a ‘Pa Bah’ in Thai, which supporters in Boston have asked if they can sponsor. This will take place on Sunday, October 27 at St. Luke’s and St. Margaret’s church in Allston, and is a traditional ceremony/festival that is held in lieu of a ‘Kathina Ceremony’ – where a Kathina traditionally requires at least five bhikkhus to have spent the vassa together. We being just two (Tan Caganando and myself) a Pa Bah will be held instead. We’ll be blessed to have Luang Por Viradhammo join us for this special event, offer a Dhamma Talk and be generally available on the day. We believe it’s the first time he’s been to the Boston area. Please put it in your calendars – everyone is very welcome!

All blessings,

Jayanto Bhikkhu 

 

Pa Bah Offering Ceremony – Sunday Oct. 27

Our friends Tu and Ni at the Brown Sugar Restaurant wish to invite all of the friends and supporters of the forest monastery project – and anyone who would like to come – to join us for a celebration and alms-giving ceremony to mark the end of the three-month ‘Rains Retreat’ period – and the end of the period the monks will be here this year in Boston. This will be an opportunity to say goodbye to Ajahn Jayanto and Tan Caganando and Anagarika John, as the monks will be returning to their monasteries a few days later. Their hope is to return next year to begin to establish a new monastery – this will be an occasion to hear more about this and how to support the effort for those interested.

We will be honored to have Luang Por Viradhammo, abbot of Tisarana Monastery in Canada, as our senior guest for the day. Ajahn Viradhammo is one of the most senior Western disciples of Ajahn Chah, and a respected teacher in the monastic community.  He will offer a Dhamma Talk (time to be announced) and be available after the proceedings for those who wish to meet him. Stay tuned, we’ll have more details on the schedule for the day to be announced soon.

Everyone is welcome – please join us!

Where: St. Luke’s and St. Margaret’s Church, 5 St. Luke’s Rd., Allston, Boston, MA 02134

When: Sunday, October 27, 10 a.m. – 1.30 p.m.
 (Specific details on the schedule for the day coming soon)

Other Upcoming Events

Aside from the regular schedule of pujas, Moon Day talks and Sunday workshops, there are some upcoming events listed on the new Events Calendar on this website:

Click for a ‘calendar view’ of upcoming events

Click for a ‘list view’ of upcoming events (better for small screens)