Juanuary             2008                             2551                      Number     82
The Forest Sangha is a worldwide Buddhist monastic
community in the Thai forest tradition of Ajahn Chah

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About this issue

templeAs one year ends and another begins, many of our monasteries (in the northern hemisphere) prepare to enter a three-month winter retreat. In a way, it is our vassa – although the actual vassa occurs from July to October or thereabouts.

The vassa, or ‘Rains Season’, was the period of the year when the Buddha’s disciples would stop in one place for at least three months, until the monsoon had ended. Accordingly the Sangha’s discipline requires that we determine a suitable place to reside for the duration of that period. In the forest monasteries of Thailand it’s a time when the resident community is usually all together, returning from wandering or periods of practice elsewhere, and a special atmosphere of dedicated Dhamma practice throughout that period is the norm.

In Europe and North America the monsoon doesn’t apply; rather, the weather during the vassa tends to be the most appropriate of the year for movement and activity. It’s the winter months, when it’s cold, damp and dark, which are effectively our Rains (or Snows as the case may be).

The turning of the year, then, is seen as a kind of stopping and restarting point in the monasteries as well as in society. It’s a time of finishing up and beginning a different cycle, one with a vassa-like special community atmosphere of dedicated practice. So the January edition of the Forest Sangha Newsletter, coming as it does at this time, is a good place for checking-in with the various Sangha communities at least in some way each year.

The contributions included this time around were invited with the idea they could take whatever form – whether an article, a brief message or series of photos, or a kind of community report. Some are longer, some are short, some written from a personal perspective, and others are ‘from the Sangha’. And for more … of course there is the Web. The Sangha website,, is a portal to each monastery. You’ll find a lot there, including an updated list of current Sangha community members.

So as a new year begins, may we in the Sangha wish you well-being in the Dhamma, and offer our anumodana for all skilful actions taken to further the Way.

Bhikkhu Jayanto




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