Forest SanghaNewsletter
October 1997

Wings of the Eagle; Ajahn Jayasaro
Living in Faith; tudong - faith & vulnerability.
Universal Loving Kindness; Ajahn Sumedho, 1996.
Beyond Belief; Ajahn Candasiri
Mindfulness & Clear Comprehension, Ajahn Sucitto
Peace on Earth; Ajahn Candasiri
Signs of Change:



New Zealand
Ajahn Subbato arrived in early July. Some will remember him from the veryearly days here. He helped with the building of the first structures on theproperty and the exploration of the surrounding bush. He has spoken ofcrawling through thickets following pig trails, and climbing trees to get andidea of the lay of the land. He has agreed to come here to be the abbot for ayear or two while Ajahn Vajiro is away from the monastery. With his arrivaland the return of Venerable Sugato from visiting his parents in the USA, theSangha entered this year's Rains Retreat with a compliment of four monks.Wayne, Chris and Craig arrived to fill the gap left by Cameron's departure.Each came with a one year commitment to the monastery and in August aceremony was held to confer anagarika status on all three. A number of laysupporters and friends attended, adding a sense of importance to thispreliminary step into the brahmacariya.Having a community of seven homeless ones makes the running of the monasteryless demanding, thereby giving everyone more time and energy forall-important practice. During the month's 'closed' retreat, the monks wereable to walk on almsround in Stokes Valley, where several householders hadoffered dana on prearranged days. Pindapata is an important part of themonastic tradition and the Sangha is grateful to have the opportunity toexperience this aspect of monastic life, so common in Buddhist countries butso rare in the West. Ajahn Vajiro will be leaving in early November for awell earned year's sabbatical, during which he intends to make a pilgrimageto the Holy Places and to visit Sri Lanka, Thailand and Europe. Shortlybefore he leaves we will be welcoming Ven. Prof. Dhammavihari, who will bearriving in Wellington of 24th October; we hope that he will kindly offer aDhamma talk in Sinhala as well as some talks in English. The monks lookforward to discussing Dhamma with him.

An extract from an article by Ven.Santidhammo in Bodhinyanarama's Newsletter:
... My personal preference has always been for a greener cooler forest and Ilike nothing better than to extend my dawn walking meditation into acircumambulation of the monastery. The circular pathway leads deep into theovergrown recesses of our little 'sub-valley', with a small extension at theend of the the main valley (Stokes Valley proper). Twin streams merge underpalm fronds, ferns, creepers, tree ferns, shrubs and trees which unite toalmost block out the sunlight on many sections of the path. The combinedwater of both streams and many springs unite to gurgle past the sala wherethe circular pathway terminates. There are meditation seats at strategicspots with either closed forest views or spectacular outlooks over themonastery buildings far below, glimpses of suburbia beyond and distantranges-upon-ranges framing the horizon to the north. To the rear of theseated viewer, through the dense undergrowth that covers the higher slopes,lies the ridge which forms the natural boundary to the monastery, shelteringit from the southerly winds. From the summit one has views of Wellingtonharbour, the central cityscape and, on a clear day, the snow-capped peaks ofthe South Island.Sounds of suburbia barely penetrate the inner reaches of the monastery: somuch beauty, lushness and solitude put one in a joyful mood conducive tomeditational calm. Proceeding mindfully along the leaf-strewn path, colouredgolden brown by autumnal offerings from a delightful glade of southern beechtrees, the fallen leaves give cause for reflection on impermanence. The upperlayers of gold and rustic colours grade into ever deeper shade of brownfeeding the rich brown humus; a return to mother earth, to provide nutrientsfor the whole cycle to repeat itself yet again. 'Earth', foremost of the fourmahabhuta, the four great becomings; for earth, water, fire and airceaselessly combine in an ever changing multiplicity of forms.
Spring saw another major transition at Dhammapala. Upon Ajahn Tiradhammo'sreturn from Canada, Ven. Dhammavaro set off to visit family and friends inGermany, and eventually returned to a remote hermitage in Thailand for theRainy Season Retreat. In early June, Ven. Su˝˝ato bid farewell to manyfriends of Dhammapala and, after a short visit in England, returned to Canadaas a lay person. In May we had another special visit from Chao KhunPa˝˝ananda who, even at his advanced age, still has the energy to makeanother trip through Europe. At the end of May, Dhammapala hosted severalhundreds of people for the celebration of Wesakha Puja, together with acombined alms offering from the Thai Embassy in Bern, the Thai Mission to theUN in Geneva and the Thai Mission to the World Trade Organisation in Geneva.We were gratefully assisted by two monks from Wat Sringarindravararam, andthe many participants generously offered an abundance of provisions andfinancial donations.
     A quiet June ended with a flurry ofvisiting Sangha, including Ajahn Tuwee from Northeast Thailand, Phra KruPaisan for North Thailand and Ajahn Pyrote from Bangkok. We also had asurprise visit from Sister Sanghamitta on a short visit from her new home inThailand to see her mother in Basel.
     Ven. Ottama returned from Czech Republic intime to accompany us to the Ordination Ceremony in England, and then took upresidence at Dhammapala for the coming months. Shortly after our return fromEngland we received a visit from a group of Thai supporters who were inspiredto travel from Vienna and Bangkok to make offerings at Dhammapala. In earlyAugust we received another surprise visit, this time from Ven. Khemasiri. Hewas finding his time in Asia very rewarding and had planned to stay there.However, upon receiving news that his father was gravely ill, he returned forsome weeks to support his family during his father's operation, and foundtime to spend a week with us at Dhammapala. With his father now quite well,he has returned to Asia to spend some months on retreat in Burma.
     Over the summer quite a few guests residedat Dhammapala and were very co-operative in helping out with the dailyactivities and our few work projects. Our September retreats, exceptionallywell-attended this year, provided a more focused and calm environment toallow the Sangha time for individual retreat. October will be a more activetime again with visits from Ajahn
     Munindo and Ajahn Chandapalo and also Ven.Dhammiko from the Italian Vihara, especially invited to participate in ourannual Kathina/Alms offering on 19th October. Shortly after this, AjahnTiradhammo will be travelling to England. He is also planning to visitThailand and Burma in November to meet with Sangha members in Asia. The yeardraws to a close with the traditional New Year's Retreat and then the Sanghawill be able to enjoy their own retreat in January/February. Following theretreat we begin the new year's regular programme of activities, hopefullywith somewhat more calm and clarity. This may seem like a small thing in ourbig world, however, it seems that more and more people are beginning toappreciate the difference it can make in their lives.
Devon: Ajahn Siripa˝˝a
Everything seems -- to us at least -- to be going very smoothly. We have beenwarmly welcomed by many people, both in person and through encouraging cardsand letters. We all enjoy the smallness and simplicity of our new situation,although we have needed to think much about striking the right balancebetween structure/formality and freedom. We are also gradually feeling ourway into finding rhythms and forms which work for a community of women. Itwill be an ongoing learning process, no doubt.
     Much of our energy and attention so far hasgone towards sifting through the various accumulations of the past residents,spring cleaning, and re-organising to suit our needs. We have greatlyappreciated the regular help from several long-time supporters in taking careof the grounds, the various temperamental machines, and in other odd jobs.It's impossible for us to cover all the maintenance work to be done really,so it's a good teaching...trying to do what we can without getting obsessedor losing the balance. Above all, remembering the priorities of the ordainedlife: to nurture ourselves and each other spiritually, so as to bring aboutsomething of true worth to offer.