What’s Happening at the Hermitage

Things have shifted a bit at the Hermitage in the past few weeks. Weekend meal offerings have resumed on a scheduled, limited basis, and the monks are enjoying being able to spend some (socially-distanced) time with members of the community. Suzy and Casey have begun their roles as meal dana coordinators, if you have any questions you can reach out to dana@pacifichermitage.org. And Ajahn Karunadhammo and Tan Rakkhito arrived safely to the Hermitage.

Right Now, It’s Like This: The Pah Bah

The community has always cherished this annual time of coming together to support and honor the Hermitage. Alas, for the safety of all in these uncertain times of the pandemic, the Pah Bah will not be held this year. With sadness at the loss of this meaningful occasion, the thought of Ajahn Sumedho’s instruction, right now It’s Like This arose. Yes, it is.

And we can appreciate the chance to connect with the Hermitage every day, online. Admittedly, one probably couldn’t have imagined when Ajahn Sudanto’s YouTube endeavor first began that being connected online could truly feel like a sangha. That it could be possible to have dialogue and ask real questions about the practice and the teachings in our lives. That we could hear dhamma reflections, speak of topics from impermanence to the weather and actually connect, online. And yes, right now it’s like this, too.

Kalynamitta is a tremendous source of nurturing our faith…We know the importance of being a kalynamitta to our friends. With the restrictions we’re under, there’s extra efforts to try to be available and nurture those relationships, and nurture the faith.

Ajahn Sudanto

Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu.

Our Connected Sangha

In addition to Morning Coffee Time, Ajahn Sudanto, now with Tan Rakkhito are still sharing with us the morning and evening chanting and meditation online. If you missed attending Ajhan’s chanting seminar a while back that provided some instruction, you an still view the recording. And you an always join and meditate while listening to the chanting.

New Jhana Series: On Sunday, June 28, a series of talks on the cultivation of the jhanas began. Each Sunday for six weeks, a talk is released on Ajahn Sona’s YouTube channel at 1:00 p.m. Pacific time. Then on Mondays, Ajahn Sudanto discusses that teaching during Coffee Time at 8:00 a.m.

Did You Miss…

Morning Coffee Time

Did You Miss
These morning coffee time conversations on these themes?
Listening
The Pressure of Discontent
The Wandering Mind is Unsatisfactory

An Auspicious Occasion

This July is the 10-year anniversary of the Pacific Hermitage. We are so grateful to have the Hermitage in our community and to be a part of this sangha.

As a way to mark this occasion, we will be putting together a celebratory card/booklet to give to the Hermitage in gratitude. Would you like to share any words of appreciation, or something about what the Hermitage has meant to you in your life and practice? You can add you good wishes to the card by sending your thoughts via email to amsiebenborn@gmail.com.

Image: Pacific Hermitage
Ajahn Sudanto at the Entrance to thePacific Hermitage

Ajahn Reflects On: Faith

[Excerpted from Morning Coffee Time with Ajahn Sudanto, 6.23.20]

I think of faith and conviction as really one of the foundational spiritual faculties. Growing up, faith was something I thought more along the lines of either you have it or you don’t. This is the problem with personality view, it thinks of things through identity – as ‘I was born with it, or I wasn’t. But these things exist because of causes and conditions. Think of [faith] as a spiritual faculty, and one that needs to be nurtured, cared for, and strengthened into maturity.

If motivation and energy towards our spiritual life and practice is flagging, this is oftentimes one of the best things to reflect back on: what’s going on with the faculty of faith and confidence that I have in Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha? I mean that in the most profound sense, not just faith in the historical Buddha, the Dhamma teachings, and the sangha, but what those qualities are really speaking to – faith in the potential for us to awaken.  If you think of it as a faculty that needs to be nurtured, then it’s like anything, there are various practices and commitments that one needs to make to cultivate that.

Fundamental to [faith] is association with the wise – good friends, kalynamitta. We spend time, we draw near, we exchange ideas, we share our practice, we see their examples. This goes a long way toward feeding and caring for our faith. And we can practice doing that for other people through spiritual community, through sangha. When we talk about the gradual training or the gradual path, this is one of the places that the Buddha starts when he talks about the gradual training. I can’t say enough about that.

We need to have an array of practices, and we need to reflect on, be mindful of, and recollect the faculty of faith, and where we are with it. And to be sure we set our life up in a way that we have good friends, good teachers, and that we’re spending our time in ways that deepen and nurture that faith and confidence.

Think about faith as a spiritual faculty – it is a very important one – and reflect from time to time, what is it that I’m doing, what is it that I’ve committed to help protect, nurture, develop, and deepen it?

Ajahn Sudanto

Speaking of Suttas

Ajahn shared the teaching on The Discourse about Bahia [Udana 1.10], which you can find here. https://suttacentral.net/ud1.10/en/anandajoti

A Successful Virtual Retreat

The first-ever Birken Forest Monastery and Pacific Hermitage virtual retreat was an overwhelming success. Hundreds of retreatants joined us – from South Africa to Azerbaijan, from Canada to White Salmon, WA. There was great appreciation for Ajahn Sona and Ajahn Sudanto for their generosity in bringing this to us, and gratitude for the strong sense of sangha.

There was a wide range of positive feedback on many fronts. In terms of the flow, it was quite beneficial to have coffee time in the morning to discuss the prior evening’s dhamma talk. Many appreciated the flexibility of being able to do the retreat at home. And a benefit particular to the online format was that it was helpful to integrate the teachings real time. Overall, we were connected, inspired, and enriched.

“I’m really big on the value of commitments. If you did the retreat and derived some benefit from it, it’s good to not just go back to your normal life without making some sort of commitment to yourself.”

Ajahn Sudanto

Our Connected Sangha

Our sangha continues to flourish online. Morning coffee at 8:00 a.m. with Ajahn Sudanto has fast become a cherished daily ritual for many in the community, near and far, a precious silver lining out of the challenging causes that precipitated it. Add to that the twice daily chanting and meditation live streams – deep bows of gratitude for the compassionate support for our sangha!

What’s Happening at the Hermitage

We are excited to welcome Ajahn Karunadhammo and Tan Rankkhito to the Hermitage for the summer, arriving on June 8th. That same week, Ajahn Sek and Tan Khantiko will be returning to Abhayagiri. We have enjoyed their stay with us.

Welcome Our New Meal Dana Coordinators

Welcome to our new meal dana coordinators, Suzy and Casey! They take the reins from Joseph and Kalyani on June 7th. We are grateful for the generous efforts of Joseph and Kalyani supporting the monks in a time of great change.

Meal offering procedures continue to evolve as conditions change, so please make sure to check the website for updates, and contact dana@pacifichermitage.org with any questions.

Ajahn’s Reflects On: The Hindrances

[Excerpted from Morning Coffee with Ajahn Sudanto]

The Buddha talks about the hindrances as the nutriment for and the cause of ignorance and craving, as obstacles for everything that we desire. These five things are obstructing us, weighing us down from easy access to joy, happiness, peace, serenity, lucidity, clarity of mind.

Why is it that we can’t see anicca, anatta, and dukkha? These habits of sense desire, ill will, lethargy, restlessness, and doubt are operating. Not always at full volume…but midling, mild, and subtle forms of these are constantly being rehearsed. These are habits of consciousness, they are emotional habits that we have, and we need to become a student of them.

One way to inspire ourself is to come back to this question and ask: Why is it I’m not enlightened? Why is it I suffer? Why is it that joy doesn’t just arise more frequently in my mind? The Buddha’s answer is because these other dynamics [hindrances] aren’t well understood. We’re not mindful enough of them. We don’t recognize the full cost of what it is they are doing to our consciousness. And we haven’t learned how it is they arise, how they’re maintained, and how they can cease. We would do well to internalize a practice of recollecting that, of checking in on that.

As Ajahn Sona says, awareness is not enough. It’s a particular kind of awareness that we’re after in the Buddha’s path of practice.

Speaking of Suttas

If you missed Ajahn Sudanto sharing these teachings during coffee time, good news, you can watch the recordings on YouTube. And even if you didn’t miss them, they are available to revisit and reinforce our learning 🙂


AN 10.51 Your Own Mind
SN 46.55 With Sangarava

Stay Tuned for more information
With the Covid-19 situation, our plans for the Pah Bah are undetermined.

Join the Pacific Hermitage on YouTube daily
5:30 a.m. Morning Chanting & Meditation
8:00 a.m. Morning Coffee with Ajahn Sudanto
6:00 p.m. Evening Chanting & Meditation
(currently chanting the 3 cardinal suttas in Pali, one each evening)

The work of contemplation is to listen more deeply, more clearly, more carefully, to go beyond what we already know.

Ajahn Sudanto

Update From the Hermitage: The Virtual Retreat Starts Today

The Online Retreat

Focused on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, the virtual retreat offered by Ajahn Sudanto and Ajahn Sona starts May 1st and continues through May 10th. It is open to all, registration is not required, and you can find more information here. We look forward to practicing with those of you who are able to join.

Our Connected Sangha

Ajahn Sudanto has so generously offered his time and efforts to connect with us online and share the dhamma, and our sangha is flourishing. There are many offerings on the Pacific Hermitage YouTube channel:

  • Morning and evening chanting and meditation,
  • Dhamma reflections,
  • Daily 8:00 a.m. Coffee with Ajahn Sudanto sessions, and
  • Saturday afternoon Teatime at 4:00 p.m.

In the interactive sessions, Ajahn shares reflections, and encourages questions of a practical nature about applying Buddhadhamma and practice to our lives and the issues that arise.

Since we’re coming together online and are not bound by geography, people are joining us from across the globe to right here in White Salmon. We will be very happy when we can again visit the Hermitage in the future, and we are also very grateful that we can connect online now. There are many of us who already can’t imagine not starting our day hearing Ajahn’s reflections and answers to our questions at 8:00 a.m. (clinging!).

Note: From May 2 – May 10 during the retreat, the regular Pacific Hermitage YouTube programming will occur as part of the retreat on the Ajahn Sona channel only, so there will not be programming on the Hermitage channel. The only exception is that the daily 8:00 a.m. Morning Coffee with Ajahn Sudanto will still occur on the Hermitage channel.

“…This is the entire holy life Ānanda, that is, good friendship, good companionship, good comradeship. When a bhikkhu has a good friend, a good companion, a good comrade, it is to be expected that he will develop and cultivate the Noble Eightfold Path.”

-SN.45.2

New & Upcoming

We are very pleased that Ajahn Karunadhammo, co-Abbott of Abhayagiri, will be joining us at the Hermitage this summer. He will arrive on June 8th, and is happy to have the time to return for the summer period.
It has been wonderful having Ajahn Sek here over the winter and spring, he will be returning to Abhayagiri via the transportation that brings us Ajahn Karunadhammo that same week.

Dana volunteers Joseph and Matt at the Hermitage to meet Ajahn Sudanto

Around the Hermitage

The Meal dana process has stabilized for now, and the monks are well cared for by the efforts of the community and the meal dana coordinators. If you have any questions about the process or how you can share support, please email dana@pacifichermitage.org.

Plans for Ajahn’s new kuti continue, with help from a new member of the community and dana volunteer, Matt. A recent transplant from Florida and practitioner in the Thai Forest tradition, Matt has a background in architecture, and is assisting with the design drawings for Ajahn’s new kuti. Welcome Matt!

Work is underway upgrading the equipment to support a simple and improved ability to live stream and stay connected online.

“Nothing ever completely matches our expectations, and this can be a source of great suffering for us.”

– Ajahn Sudanto
Morning Coffee with Ajahn Sudanto

Everything You Need to Know for the Virtual Retreat May 1-10

Mindfulness in the Time of the Pandemic: An Online Retreat Open to All

This year, Ajahn Sona and Ajahn Sudanto are bringing the Birken Forest Buddhist Monastery and Pacific Hermitage Annual Retreat online. The focus is The Four Foundations of Mindfulness, a central theme in the teachings of the Buddha.

The Details

How to Join
All sessions will be live streamed on YouTube on Ajahn Sona’s channel.

The Schedule
The schedule (sidebar) lists all sessions to be live streamed on YouTube. The periods in between these sessions are for your individual practice, offline on your own.

Registration
Pre-registration is not required. However, if you do plan to attend, this optional registration enables the retreat team to send you some useful information in advance. In addition, your answers to the brief questions will be helpful for the Ajahns as they share the teachings and give instruction.

The Schedule

May 1
8:15 – 9:00 pm Opening Dhamma talk with Ajahn Sona

May 2 – 10*
5:30 – 6:40 am Morning chanting & meditation
2:30 – 4:00 pm Afternoon group meditation
4:00 – 5:00 pm Teatime with Ajahn Sudanto
7:00 – 8:00 pm Evening chanting & meditation
8:15 – 9:00 pm Dhamma talk with Ajahn Sona

*Retreat ends on May 10 at 8:00 pm after chanting & meditation


Q & A

Can anyone join? Do I need to have a lot of meditation experience?
All are welcome, you do not need a particular level of meditation experience. For those who are newer to meditation, or for anyone who would like additional guidance before the retreat, you can watch Ajahn Sona’s video on breath meditation.

Do I have to attend the whole retreat?
No, it is not required that you attend the entire retreat, join when you are able. To the degree that you can, it is beneficial that you create supportive conditions and participate as fully as possible so you may benefit from the teachings. Ajahn Sona has posted a video sharing guidance about preparing for a virtual retreat and creating supportive conditions.

Will I be able to ask questions?
Ajahn Sudanto will address some questions during his daily 4:00 p.m. Teatime, and questions on the topic of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness are encouraged. Each day, questions submitted by 9:00 a.m. via this online form may be addressed during teatime. Though there will not be time for all questions that arise, we hope that all benefit from those discussed, and encourage your continued curiosity.
Please note that YouTube will not be enabled for questions, they will need to be submitted via the online form noted here.

I am not very familiar with chanting, will there be any guidance to help me with that?
Ajahn Sudanto will be sharing some chanting information and instruction on the Pacific Hermitage YouTube channel. All are welcome to join live on Thursday, April 23 at 4:00 PT here. The session will also be available as recorded video after that date.

Do I need to do anything to prepare in advance of the retreat?
No, the videos noted above on breath meditation, online retreat preparation, and chanting instruction are optional resources.

Is there a cost to attend this retreat?
No. This retreat is organized by the Birken Forest Buddhist Monastery and the Pacific Hermitage for the benefit of meditators worldwide. Teachings of the Buddha are considered priceless, and are offered freely.

May you be well, happy, and peaceful.

April 7 Hermitage Update

https://www.youtube.com/c/PacificHermitage

Staying Connected with Our Sangha

The monks are healthy and well, and committed to staying connected in these times. Thank you to the more than 1,600 people who have subscribed to the Pacific Hermitage YouTube channel. Ajahn Sudanto has begun live streaming events:

  • We can now join the monks daily for chanting and meditation, live at 5:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
  • Ajahn is looking at various options for online events including more interactive Q&A discussions, so watch for updates (and select “All” notifications on the YouTube channel).

A Virtual Retreat

Ajahn Sudanto and Ajahn Sona are offering a virtual retreat May 1 – 10, The Four Foundations of Mindfulness. The retreat is open to all, registration is not required, and you can find more information here, and even more on Birken.ca.

The Latest on Meal Dana

The meal dana coordinators and the sangha have met the changing conditions with an outpouring of support. As of today, the options for offering meal dana are below (varies by geography and day of week).

Local White Salmon (Mon-Wed):

  • local sangha members bring to meal dana coordinators (or offer restaurant meals).

Portland/Non-local

  • (Thurs-Sun): Portlanders can offer restaurant meals through one of the designated local restaurants on the meal dana coordinator list.
  • (Bi-weekly on Saturday): Chevy is making a bi-weekly trip from Portland bringing homemade frozen meals to White Salmon. They will be stored in local homes until needed (alternate Mondays and as needed). If you would like to participate, please contact the dana coordinators.

New processes have been put in place to care for the health and safety of all, and only one person, Joseph, actually offers to the monks.

If you have any questions about offering a meal, please contact meal dana coordinators Kalyani and Joseph directly at dana@pacifichermitage.org.

As previously noted, the laity has accumulated a two-month supply of food to store at the Hermitage, which the vinaya allows for in the type of situation we’re facing. This does not change the current meal dana process in place, it is a backup plan. The monks cannot mix alms with the emergency pantry provisions; such provisions would only be used if all other options became unavailable.

Many thanks to Anna for doing the shopping and managing this process.

Would You Like to Volunteer?

Kalyani and Joseph’s six-month commitment as meal dana coordinators is nearly finished, so there is opportunity for someone to volunteer for that role. It entails scheduling and coordinating the offerings of various groups that provide meals, and ensuring that the Monks receive meal offerings every day.

This is a wonderful opportunity to serve the Monks and the lay community. To learn more about what’s involved, please email dana@pacifichermitage.org.

“What are some practical ways to be the source of your own inner light? One is to really put aside the obsession with self and turn towards selfless giving and selfless generosity…looking for opportunities to give, to serve, to be selfless, to be kind, and give to others quite naturally brightens our mind, and brightens our life, brightens our relationships, and is something that should be attended to, not neglected. Every day, in some little way…looking for opportunities to give and to be kind, is something for me, brings that extra kind of brightness.” – Ajahn Sudanto.