Birken Retreat & Winter News

The Sala at Birken Forest Monastery is a still, silent and beautiful place for meditation.

A Tradition Returns: This May, Pacific Hermitage Retreat at Birken

This treasured tradition – the Pacific Hermitage meditation retreat at Birken Forest Monastery – will return in 2023. It is scheduled for May 1-15, and it will be the first time since the pandemic that the retreat will occur in person. The Theme is The 37 Factors of Awakening, and as always, Ajahn Sona will offer reflections each night on the theme.

Members of the community interested in attending can request to participate by filling out this application – requesting either one or both of the two weeks. Please register by December 31, and those accepted will be notified by late January. Also:

  • Details about coordinating carpools will be shared after this time.
  • With the recent renovations at Birken, each participant will have a single room.

If you have any questions, please email Ajahn Sudanto at, and put “2023 Birken Retreat” in the subject line.

Birken Monastery is a beautiful setting quite conducive to deeper meditation, investigation and reflection. What a joy that this tradition returns!

Hermitage Monks Traveling in December

Ajahn Sudanto and Tan Suddhiko will be visiting Birken Monastery from December 12 – January 11. During this time, Tuesday nights at Yoga Samadhi will continue, led by volunteers from the lay community, anumodana!

The community wishes Ajahn Sudanto and Tan Suddhiko a beneficial retreat.

Happenings at the Hermitage

A Joyous Pah Bah

This year’s Pah Bah was again held at the Underwood Community Center on September 17 & 18. Many thanks to Ladawan & Hiran Kongkarat, and Sudthida Suthikulphanich for sponsoring the event. This long-standing, joyous tradition celebrates the interdependence of the monastics and lay community.

Thanks also to the many organizers and volunteers who helped make the event happen, and to the large community of supporters from near and far who attended. Anumodana! More than $62,000 was raised in support of the Hermitage.

Joining Ajahn Sudanto, Tan Suddhiko, and Tan Tissaro on this auspicious day were Ajahn Nyaniko, Tan Yasa, and Anagārika Justin from Abhayagiri Monastery, and Ajahn Nisabho from Clear Mountain Monastery.

Building Progress Continues

Progress continues on the Abbot’s kuti, with the building permit expected to be issued this month. Preparations have moved forward, with the water storage shed now completed, and driveway improvements to prepare for utilities are about to begin, along with work on the foundation. The goal is to have the these items done and the foundation poured before winter to enable an early start in the spring.

In other building news, the budget for the Monks’ Retreat House has been finalized, and the design is expected to be done in the spring. Its purpose will be to house senior monks and other monastics as a retreat facility.

The 2022 Garden Party Season Concludes

As usual, October ends the garden party season with splitting and preparing wood for the winter (a.k.a the “Woodchuckers’ Ball). Each year this event helps to ensure that there is enough wood to fuel the wood stove for the winter. Thanks to Keith for offering a great deal of wood, and to Holly for the use of the hydraulic wood splitter. A big thank you to all who participated in October, and in all the garden parties this year. The generosity of the community who help care for the land and the Sangha is greatly appreciated, anumodana!

Garden parties, held the first Saturday of each month, will resume again in May 2023.

Ongoing Events

Weekly on Tuesdays: Meditation & Dhamma talk at Yoga Samadhi. From 5:15-6:15 PM is a silent sit, and following a 15 break is the 6:30-8:00 PM session which includes meditation, a Dhamma talk, and Q&A.

Weekend meal offerings: There is the opportunity to offer meals in person at the Hermitage on Saturdays & Sundays, and to talk Dhamma with the monks afterwards. To sign up or get more information, email

Comings & Goings

With the observance of the vassa concluding, Tan Tissaro will depart for Thailand in early November. Ajahn Sudanto and Tan Suddhiko will remain at the Hermitage; it’s not yet known if an additional monk will be joining them.

The Abhayagiri November Retreat

Abhayagiri continues the tradition of a November retreat, which will be held online November 6-12. Click here for more details or to register.

Ajahn Sudanto Reflects on: Arousing Joy

Don’t be afraid to be engaged and proactive in arousing joy – sometimes we can be a little too patient just waiting for joy to spontaneously arise in the mind. And whether we’re talking about the cultivation of samadhi or any skillful state, the Buddha praises putting forth effort to arouse skillful states of mind and make that your habit, and joy would be a great one. 

Just imagine if we were better at kindling joy, remembering to arouse a sense of wholesome joy in the mind. It helps if we have a storehouse of good deeds, good merit, good karma.  But sometimes we haven’t learned how to remember how to delight in, nurture, and sustain joy – and to create the habit of arousing joy in the mind.

In the teachings on dāna and the perfection of generosity, the Buddha says one of the aspects that enhances being generous is to recollect acts of generosity that we’ve done, and to delight in them.

Just any sensitive, selfless act of caring and giving is something worth remembering and delighting in. It brings a sense of ease and lightness and joy to the mind, which is the kind of fuel we need for spiritual happiness, and the motivation to keep growing in Dhamma.

The September 3rd Garden Party: Getting Ready for the Pah Bah

‘Many hands make light work’

It’s that time of year – the Pah Bah celebration is fast approaching, and there’s lots to do in preparation.  There are tent sites to clear for visiting monks who will be camping out, and clean up of small branch piles ahead of driveway improvements, among other light outdoor tasks – all easy for most to participate in, no expertise needed.

This is a wonderful chance to join fellow community members in this beautiful offering of generosity. It’s especially joyous to contribute to getting ready for this auspicious occasion. You can join for any part or all of the day’s schedule, and no signup is required.

Anumodana for all of the beautiful generosity in caring for the land and the Sangha!

The Schedule

Meal Offering: 11:00 AM. Feel free to bring a dish for the potluck style meal offering (please arrive by 10:30 if you’re bringing food).

Garden Work: 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM. Please also feel free to bring any extra garden tools for the day, and dress in your ‘garden clothes.’

Tea: 3:00 pm – 4:00 PM.

Note: If you can’t join on the 3rd but would like to help at another time, please contact Ajahn Sudanto for details at

Bhikkhus, householders are very helpful to you, as they provide you with the requisites of robes, almsfood, lodgings, and medicine. And you, bhikkhus, are very helpful to householders, as you teach them the Dhamma admirable in the beginning, admirable in the middle, and admirable in the end, as you expound the holy life both in its particulars and in its essence, entirely complete, surpassingly pure. In this way, the holy life is lived in mutual dependence, for the purpose of crossing over the flood, for making a complete end to suffering

Khuddaka Nikāya, Itivuttaka 107

The 2022 Pah Bah: Clearing the Path

Photo: 2021 Pah Bah Gathering in Underwood
2021 Pacific Hermitage Pah Bah Gathering at the Underwood Community Center.

“Clearing the Path” is the theme for this year’s Pah Bah, to be held on September 17th and 18th.

The annual gathering will once again take place in Underwood, Washington. We will celebrate with and enjoy visitors from Temple Forest Monastery as well as from Abhayagiri.

Event Location and Schedule

The Pah Bah weekend is being held at the Underwood Community Center 954 School House Rd., Underwood WA 98651 (10 minutes from Hood River Bridge) 

Saturday, Sept. 17:

  • 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Meditation retreat

Sunday, Sept. 18:

  • 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Meal Offering. All are welcome to join the potluck meal. Or if you prefer, please feel free to bring your own meal with you. If you would like to bring a dish to share, please arrive by 10 a.m.
  • 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Pah Bah Offering Ceremony.

Reminders and Requests as We Draw Near

  • If you would like to stay overnight in the area, book early, as things do fill up this time of year.
  • We are seeking a volunteer or two to lead the kitchen, lead the set-up on Saturday, and lead the tear-down on Sunday. Please contact if you are interested.
  • All are welcome to attend any part or all of the activities. Kids and families will enjoy the ample room at the UCC to run and play outside – there is a playground for kids and kids at heart.


Donations offered will support development activities on the upper parcel of the Pacific Hermitage property, clearing the path for the Abbot’s Kuti to be constructed next spring. The Sanghata Foundation will also direct a portion of funds raised toward a down payment on future land purchases as they become available to create a buffer between the Pacific Hermitage and development in the area. 

To donate, please visit the Sanghata Foundation website.

Contact Information

For more information about this year’s Pah Bah or to volunteer, please contact

[W]ith wealth acquired by energetic striving, amassed by the strength of [their] arms, earned by the sweat of [their] brow, righteously gained, the noble disciple establishes an uplifting offering of alms—an offering that is heavenly, resulting in happiness, conducive to heaven—to those ascetics and brahmins who refrain from intoxication and heedlessness, who are settled in patience and mildness, who tame themselves, calm themselves, and train themselves for nibbāna.”

AN. 5.41

PCT Update #2: Begin Again

Photo: Monk hiking on the PCT trail

Snow levels on the Pacific Crest Trail are improving with the full heat of summer now upon us. Likewise, the time to begin the Vassa retreat has also been quickly melting away. 

Thursday July 28th Ajahn Sudanto and Venerable Suddhiko will begin a section hike on the PCT from White Pass aiming to finish August 10th in Stevens Pass, WA. 

Many people came forward to help support with food, lodging, transportation, and most importantly remote meal offerings. Over 30 in total. Anumodana ! 🙏🏼

As the monks can’t store or cook food, a backpacking trip like this is only possible with the support of the lay community and several trail devas.

From White Pass to Snoqualmie Pass several have arranged to meet the monks at various trail crossings, or hike in food over a short distance.

At Snoqualmie Pass, after a meal offering with Ven. Nisabho and a few supporters from Seattle,  the monks will be backpacking with Mike and Danny to Stevens Pass, a section with no road crossings.

Interactive Map and trail updates :

Venerable Nisabho, from Clear Mountain Monastery has been generous, reaching out to the sangha in the Seattle area for support. He also volunteered to be an emergency contact for us on the trail should any deviations or dangers arise. 

The monks will have a phone for emergencies and when possible check-in with him along the way. If any urgent contact is needed, please contact him at:

Following the hike they’ll be in Seattle for two nights to meet with Venerable Nisabho and friends from the Clear Mountain Sangha for a meal offering in Volunteer Park, on Thursday August 11th. 

The monks will rejoin Venerable Tissaro on Saturday August 13th for a group meal and the Garden Party at the Hermitage.