FOREST SANGHA
newsletter
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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Monasteries 2007

Checking-in with some of the monasteries at the end of another year

amaravat nuns

Sutta discussion at the nuns’ vihara, Amaravati

Amaravati

Amaravati nuns

There has been much movement in the nuns’ community this year, with Ajahn Upekkha leaving for India in July, Ajahn Sundara spending the vassa in the US and Ajahn Candasiri taking care of her father in Edinburgh up to the time of his death in August. Also, several of the sisters have been travelling and teaching in different parts of Europe as well as the US: Ajahn Candasiri in the Czech Republic, Ajahn Anandabodhi with Sister Sumedha in Norway, Ajahn Metta with Sister Chandasara in Switzerland and Ajahns Sundara and Metta in the US.

We welcomed Anagarika Miriam to the community in May and Anagarika Maria in July, both from the UK. Chiara returned to Italy in June after completing her year of anagarika training. Anagarika Bryony left the community to go on pilgrimage to Mount Kailash with Ajahn Thitamedha, and has returned to ABM to continue the training.

There are many women who are interested in taking up the anagarika training at this time. With our accommodation being limited, we are looking into possibilities of expanding in order to meet this need. All being well, planning permission for four kutis for nuns will be finalized this year and we hope to complete the building of two of them next year. Foundations for our meeting hall, ‘Nissoko’, have been finished and we hope to have the building completed within the next couple of years.

Looking further afield, the Saranaloka Foundation (www.saranaloka.org) has invited us to investigate the possibility of establishing a nuns’ monastery in America. The Saranaloka Foundation was established to support a nuns’ teaching presence in the US with the possibility of establishing a vihara when conditions were ready. In November Ajahn Metta and Sr Jotipanya spent three weeks on the West Coast sharing Dhamma and establishing contacts with people interested in this possible new venture.

Ajahns Anandabodhi and Santacitta will be spending eight weeks of the winter retreat on the West Coast to further the connections already made and Ajahns Thanasanti and Upekkha will go in the spring. There is also a very real possibility now to establish a small monastic residence for nuns in Scotland.

In the summer, a number of senior nuns and monks travelled to Hamburg to attend the International Congress on Buddhist Women, which was instigated by the Dalai Lama. It was very helpful for us to connect with the wider Buddhist community and to consider the momentum for bhikkhuni ordination and our own situation as ten-precept nuns. This sparked some lively debate in the community as a whole about the place of women samanas in the Theravadan tradition.

During vassa each of the nuns and anagarikas had the opportunity for some time in solitary retreat. We also had weekly Vinaya classes and monthly Vinaya review days, studying the training and how we apply it in our lives. Our monthly Dhamma days also brought much joy and inspiration.

In November we were happy to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Siladhara Sangha, commemorating the ordination of the first four nuns and rejoicing in the continued evolution of this community of female Sangha members.

Looking ahead, Ajahn Sundara has been invited to Thailand over the winter for a long-needed hip replacement operation. We are glad to have Ajahn Candasiri back with us in the community and we are looking forward to Ajahn Upekkha’s return in January. Ajahn Metta will be leaving in January for a sabbatical year. She will be travelling to Sri Lanka and India and intends to spend much of her time on retreat.

We would like to express our gratitude to all the people who have offered their support to the nuns’ community in so many ways over the years. We are blessed to live the samana life and to have the full encouragement to work to liberate our hearts from delusion and in this way to be a support and example to others.

May all beings be liberated.

amaravati

The Amaravati community at the end of vassa 2007
( click the image or the link to see the big image)

 

 


 


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