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As this issue of the newsletter is finally being prepared for print, it’s once again a good time to reflect on change. From its homespun beginnings in the eighties right up till this year, the Forest Sangha Newsletter has, more or less, been appearing quarterly – emerging from the make-do editorial efforts of monastic volunteers and their donated typewriters, copy machines and computers.

Over this time, the FSN has served many people in many ways. For a long while, for people who were not in a position to come regularly to a monastery to hear Dhamma Talks, the newsletter (along with cassette tapes from the now defunct Amaravati Cassettes) was virtually the only access they had to new Dhamma offerings from the Sangha. Likewise for news and announcements.

In recent years this has all changed, with the Internet providing easier and more effective means for all this and more. From the vast range of new and archived Dhamma material available from the many monasteries and teachers in our worldwide Sangha, to the frequently updated announcements and schedules posted on monastery websites (as well as the fact that all of the monasteries aside from Amaravati now have their own individual newsletters), many of the functions we used to rely on the FSN to provide are now being served in that way.

With all of this, along with inevitable fluctuations in appropriately skilled and available Sangha personnel, our ability to continue producing the Forest Sangha Newsletter four times a year has been in question for some time. This year the January issue barely got done, April’s newsletter came out closer to May, the July edition was cancelled altogether, and here I am finishing up the October issue at the end of October – replete with dates for all the Kathina ceremonies that will have already happened by the time it’s printed and posted.

This is not to complain but to flag for all our regular readers that things for the FSN next year will most likely be changing. While it’s not yet entirely clear, it looks now like Amaravati will follow the other monasteries in providing local updates and announcements through a small newsletter of its own, and the Forest Sangha Newsletter may become an annual periodical. Please stay tuned. We plan to produce the next issue (January 2010) as usual, and full details of any changes for next year will be published there. And before then, when we have more finalized plans, there should be relevant announcements posted on both the FSN and Amaravati websites: www.fsnewsletter.org and www.amaravati.org respectively.

ATTENTION PLEASE
IMPORTANT CHANGES AHEAD!

Next year we will be making some significant changes, both in how often we produce the Forest Sangha Newsletter and in how Amaravati keeps people informed of monastery news (probably via a small, more regular newsletter).

Soon we will want to confirm our mailing lists.

Please stay tuned. Announcements with full details will be made on the fsnewsletter.org and amaravati.org websites, as well as in the next Forest Sangha Newsletter, to be published as usual in January 2010.
Thank you

This issue of the FSN features part of a chapter from a new book published by Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro. The Island collects and comments on scriptural descriptions of Nibbana (sanskrit: nirvana; liberation, awakening), the goal of the Buddhist path – or what Luang Por Chah called ‘the aim of all this difficult practice we put ourselves through.’ Ajahn Sumedho provides an introduction to the subject of Nibbana for the book, and it is reproduced here.

There have been some significant Sangha movements coming to fruition this year, one of which was the decision of one of the most senior nuns, Ajahn Upekkha, to leave the monasteries where she’s lived for over 20 years in order to continue living as a nun in London. Her main focus involves visiting hospitals and hospices, sharing her practice with people who are close to death. Sister Dhammadira asks Ajahn Upekkha about her new situation in an interview entitled Freedom Pass.

And this year the move to begin a branch monastery in California for the siladhara nuns’ community has finally gone ahead. Ajahns Anandabodhi, Metta and Santacitta will be starting an all-nuns monastery in the San Francisco Bay Area, from November onwards. Here they offer their observations of how it all came about in Seeds in the Bay.

The Grapevine still has up-to-date announcements, and please remember to check the newly-available dates for Amaravati Retreats in 2010.

With all best wishes from the Sangha,

Jayanto Bhikkhu

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