Venerable Nyanaponika Mahathera 20th July 1901 - 19th October 1994
Shortly after the Vassa ended on 19th October, we received a fax from Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi informing us that his mentor Venerable Nyanaponika Mahathera had passed away. Funeral ceremonies would be beginning shortly and the Sangha here were asked to make their contribution with some chanting and a short period of meditation.
Venerable Nyanaponika spent over 58 years in robes, receiving samanera ordination from his fellow ex-patriate German, Venerable Nyantiloka, in Sri Lanka in 1936. He spent most of his 57 rains as a bhikkhu in Sri Lanka, becoming a Sri Lankan citizen in 1950 and settling in Kandy in 1952.
Venerable Nyanaponika was a key figure in bringing Buddha-Dhamma to the West, largely through his many essays and two major books - Abhidhamma Studies and The Heart of Buddhist Meditation - and through founding the Buddhist Publication Society in 1958. This Society has made available to the English-speaking world hundreds of compact low- price books and booklets on every aspect of Theravada Buddhism and still continues to do so under the capable guidance of Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi. The BPS has established the standard for what is the mainstream of thought in Theravada, beginning at a time when there was little else to read but the sutta translations of the Pali Text Society.(Comparisons of their respective translations of the suttas are rewarding and insightful.)
In the last few years of his life, the Venerable Mahathera continued to receive visitors, and was devotedly attended by Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi.
Dhamma Hall Demolition
As many of you may already know the old Dhamma Hall at Amaravati is to be demolished, making way for the construction of the new temple. It was decided that, rather than have contractors do this work, the community - both resident and wider - come together for a grand spring 'working bee'. One advantage this has is the selective recycling of the old materials.
For those who have been with the Sangha for a number of years, the memories of well-run, energetic, communal work projects are often amongst the fondest.
The work will start on March 6th and (hopefully) be finished in time for the ground breaking ceremony on May 13th. If you have any spare time between these dates you can be assured that there will be something you can do - teamaker, wall-basher, cook, nail-puller, cheer-leader, etc.
Dhammapala After Six Years
Ajahn Tiradhammo offers some reflections on the development on the monastery in Switzerland.
After more than six years we are able to say that Dhammapala Monastery is well-establishcd and smoothly running.
The early years of getting started in a new country with its particular laws and language, the complexities of finding and purchasing a suitable property and the hard work of transforming a former hotel into a meditation monastery are fortunately now history. The legal procedures are now set up, the location is suitable and the Dhamma is being practised.
The monastery building, an 88 year old classical Bernese Oberland chalet, of course needs continuous maintenance but there are no absolutely pressing projects, unless we decide to undertake the building of an avalanche guard! In the meantime we are gradually proceeding with redecoration of sonic of the seventeen bedrooms as time and energy allow.
Since this was the first Western forest monastery in a non-English speaking country, we quickly realised that it was important to make available some of the teachings of the forest tradition in other languages. We have thus worked on publishing various booklets and to date have four publications in German and five in French, with several more German publications in various stages of completion.
Our 'leap-of faith' move high up into the Bernese Alps has proved to be very fortuitous. We not only have an excellent place for monastics to live and practise, but it is also greatly appreciated by an increasing number of guests seeking a respite from the stress of hard-working, competitive European society through the practise of meditation in a peaceful environment.
As the glaring heat of summer passes we watch the snowline gradually creep down the mountain Slopes, enveloping us in a soft, silent mantle by mid-November.
Not until next March will we see the green grass of the surrounding meadows as the spring sun gains intensity.
It is with some regret that we inform friends and supporters that Ajahn Santacitto has decided to disrobe. Ajahn Santacitto trained for more than a decade in Thailand before coming to Britain in 1984. Since that time he had lived at Amaravati, and was the abbot of the Devon Vihara for five years. His decision to put aside the bhikkhu training after 23 years has been taken for personal reasons and after extensive reflection and consultation with the senior Theras of this community. We wish to express our personal appreciation of his company and support over the years, and our gratitude for his service to the Buddhasasana.
Sangha Walks - Devon
This years walk, led by Ajahn Subbato, will be in Devon. It will be seven days long, starting from the Devon vihara, climbing up onto Exmoor to join the North Coast path. There will be a return bus to the vihara. The group will be small and camping in out-of-the-way places. You must have had experience of meditation in this tradition and of hill-walking and be able to supply your own equipment (except, possibly, for a tent). There is a fee of GBP60.00 to cover costs.
Dates 27th - May 4th June.
The walk is for men only. It is hoped that a similar walk for women, led by a nun, can arranged this year or next. For more information please write to: Sangha Walks, Mote Hills, Elsdon, Northumberland, NE19 IAB.
From the 28th February to the 5th March 1995 the monastic communities of the six monasteries in Europe will assemble for the Sangha Gathering at Amaravati.
Following the success of a conference style meeting earlier this year, plans are being made for a slightly down-scaled version in 1995. As well as providing an opportunity for the Sangha to share their various experiences of the holy life, it is hoped that, as last year, there will be a day for the lay community to gather to meet and discuss their role as lay practitioners and supporters of the Sangha. This will to occur on Sunday 5th of March. Invitations will be made to those participating in the Upasika and Amaravati Support Network groups associated with Amaravati and other parallel groups in the UK. If you are not involved in any of these groups, but would still like to participate, please let us know by sending on a S.A.E. to the office during the retreat.