Forest SanghaNewsletter
July 1995

A Temple Arises; Ajahn Amaro
Conducting the Orchestra of Form; George Sharp
Renunciation & Devotion: Stalk & Fragrance; Ajahn Munindo
Growing the Dhamma Tree; Lay Supporter
Supporting the Project; Krishna Padayachi
Sutta Class: Morality, Transformation & Liberation; Ajahn Sucitto
In Memory of Luang Por Jun: Pt. 1; Sister Sanghamitta
The temple: A space for Right Ritual; Ajahn Sucitto

Signs of Change:



Venerable Master Hua:
Just as the Newsletter was going to print, we received word that Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua, Chairman of the Sino-American Buddhist Association and founder of many monasteries and Dharma centres thoroughout the West Coast of America and Canada, had passed away. He was 77 years old.
    The Venerable Master was born in N.East China, took shramanera precepts at the age of 19 and after the upheaval of the Second World War entered the bhikshu Sangha. From an early age, the Master cultivated remarkable determination, practising by his mother's grave for three years without lying down. He maintained this austere practice throughout his life and made it one of the training standards of the monasteries that he founded.

Having received Dharma transmission from the Venerable Master Hsu Yun, he began serving the Sangha in various teaching functions, spending a decade in Hong Kong where he established and supported several temples. It was in 1962 that the Master came to California, speaking no English, but determined to set the Dharma wheel rolling. When conditions were ripe, he undertook detailed sutra instruction (sessions could last for three months or more), gave bhikshu and bhikshuni ordination and established Gold Mountain Monastery in San Francisco.

From this seed, a vigorous growth has taken place. Supporters and disciples of Amaravati will remember Ajahn Sumedho's reports of the Master, and descriptions of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. The vows and practices of the Master's disciples give some hint of the Master's own stature: apart from their standard of austere practices, all residents of the monasteries support the full routine of pujas and study, while many are involved with the massive project of translating the entire Chinese Tripitaka and commentaries into English. Bhikshus and bhikshunis have visited Cittaviveka and Amaravati several times. In 1984, we welcomed four bhikshus on their world tour, two of whom had undertaken a two-year 'bowing pilgrimage' from their monastery in Los Angeles to the City in Northern California.
    In 1990, the Master himself visited Britain with an entourage of bhikshus and bhikshunis. Members of our Sangha have visited the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas several times and been received with great hospitality; in fact the Master on more than one occasion has offered facilities for our practice, and even residences for us to establish monasteries, one of his avowed intents being a rapprochement between the Mahayana and Theravada traditions. Ajahn Sumedho, who was visiting the West Coast when the Master passed away, has been invited to the funeral which will be held over July 26th - 28th.

Rains Retreat in California:
As part of the slow but sure development of a Theravadan forest meditation monastery in Northern California, four bhikkhus will spend the Rains Retreat in seclusion at Bell Springs Hermitage, a 170 acre site high in the hills of Mendocino County, 165 miles north of San Francisco.
    Such a rural retreat is the ideal environment for the cultivation of formal meditation practice. It is also the very type of situation that is envisaged for the eventual establishment of a permanent forest monastery in Northern California. Since it is not yet possible for the Sangha to commit itself to a long-term establishment, this temporary arrangement for the coming Rains will both provide an alternative retreat location for the monastic community, under the overall guidance of Ajahn Sumedho, and, perhaps more importantly, give the West Coast Buddhist community an opportunity to help support and experience first-hand the pattern of life of Theravadan forest monasteries.
    The monks participating in the retreat will be: Ajahn Amaro, Ajahn Thanavaro (taking a well-earned respite from his Dhamma work in Italy), Ven. Sugato (who will continue on to New Zealand to take up residence there after the Vassa), and Ven. Khemarato. Along with them will be a small number of lay helpers; some resident for the whole retreat, some for shorter periods. The living conditions on the retreat site will be quite rustic and the land can only support about 10-15 people at any one time due to the small water supply from the local springs. The bhikkhus and the lay helpers on the retreat will all be living in tents, caravans and a couple of 'yurts', so it will be an ideal opportunity to develop formal meditation practice in the simplest of living conditions. It is also significant that the bhikkhus will be solely on retreat for the three months and will not have any teaching duties during this time - the Buddhist community of California being glad to simply support them in their spiritual endeavours.
    Further information about the retreat may be obtained Tel. (415) 455-5879.

Jill Osler 'Retires':
Jill Osler writes on her 'retirement' from the Retreat Centre.
Dear Retreatants and Friends,
    Many, many thanks for your generosity and kindness in giving me such an amazing gift (UKL 1500) for my sabbatical. It was a complete surprise when it arrived in the post to-day (19th May).
    As many of you know, I decided to take a sabbatical because I was about to become a grandmother - I now have a grandson - my house needed a lot of attention after eight years neglect and I wanted a bit of 'space'. In March I did a self retreat in the mountains of Spain and it was then that I realised the benefits of more solitude; I took stock of my age - 60 this May - and knew it was time to stop being so busy. Thus my sabbatical has turned into 'retirement' from being the Retreat Centre Manager. However I shall certainly be around Amaravati, as helper and supporter, as long as I am able and so I very much hope to still be seeing you all.
    It has been such a good eight years for me, with the opportunity to be part of the Amaravati community and serving the Retreat Centre. I really have loved loving you all!
    I am deeply grateful to the Sangha and lay people for all the help and support I have received. It truly has been a wonderful experience to be the facilitator for all the generosity, skill, time and talent of so many people.
    So - THANK YOU everyone - it is so good to feel your warmth and appreciation. I shall use the money you have given me to return to the mountains of Spain for a much longer period of self-retreat over the next two years which is something I feel will be truly beneficial for me - bodily, spiritually and mentally; and so, thank you once again for making all this possible.
With much love,