As in years past, we’ll prepare for the upcoming winter by readying the wood needed to fuel the wood stove. This year, the wood is already split, we’ll just be moving and stacking it. This is a wonderful opportunity to offer generosity by working together with the monks in joyful community!
Dates: Saturday, September 26th & Sunday, September 27th
Time: 12:00 – 2:00 pm both days
Note: These are separate events from the meal offerings. If you are thinking of joining earlier for the meal, please contact the meal dana coordinators as usual, email@example.com.
Typically, 8-12 people join us for these events. We will maintain Covid-19 safety requirements, including social distancing and the wearing of masks at all times. We are mindful of the health and well-being of all, please do not attend if you have any symptoms, or have had any risky exposure in the past two weeks.
This is a wonderful opportunity for the community to gather at the Hermitage while the weather is still good. It’s also a chance to see Ajahn Karunadhamo and Tan Rakkhito before they return to Abhayagiri on October 3rd.
This summer has brought the return of (socially-distanced, scheduled) meal offerings, allowing members of the community to share time and talk of dhamma with the monks. It is the intention of the Hermitage to remain as open and welcoming as possible, and to make room for more friends of the Hermitage to visit within the Covid-19 restrictions. Hence:
In addition to Saturdays and Sundays, some Thursdays may now be available for meal offering visits, all continuing with current protocols, including schedule through the dana coordinators.
If you want to visit and see a name already on the meal calendar for a specific day of interest, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Some of these scheduled visits may have less than the maximum 5 people allowed under state guidance. So it could be possible for you to visit that day, the meal dana coordinators will let you know.
Our Connected Sangha
Our connected sangha continues to thrive, with dhamma friends from near and far joining Morning Coffee Time and Puja to grow in the dhamma. In fact, for 114 consecutive days, Ajahn Sudanto generously shared the teachings, offered reflections, included us in puja, and answered our questions every day – guiding us all to skillfully incline our minds, and grow faith and confidence in the dhamma.
And so when Ajahn announced that he would temporarily pause most YouTube livestream events for August except Monday Morning Coffee Time, we wished him beneficial rest, and gratefully said sadhu, sadhu, sadhu.
Morning Coffee Time will resume daily at 8:00 a.m. on weekdays the first week of September.
“There are these two acts of generosity. What two? Generosity with material things and generosity with the teaching. These are the two acts of generosity. The better of these two acts of generosity is generosity with the teaching.”
This Fall Brings A Sabbatical
In December, Ajahn Sudanto will be embarking on a sabbatical. The exact length of time is as yet undetermined, but expected to be at least one year. For some part of that time, Ajahn Cunda from Abhayagiri will be visiting the Hermitage. More details will follow in later updates. We wish Ajahn Sudanto a deeply beneficial and fruitful retreat.
An Auspicious Occasion
As previously noted, this July was the 10-year anniversary of the Pacific Hermitage. As a way to mark this occasion, we will be putting together a celebratory card to give the Hermitage. 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 your greetings to the card by sending your thoughts via email to email@example.com October 2, 2020.
And on a related note… In honor of the anniversary, a friend of the Hermitage, Ladawan, has generously made and donated 400 masks commemorating the occasion. If you would like one mailed to you, please contact Ladawan directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. She would be happy to send you (offered freely except the shipping cost, $5, with any leftover going to the Hermitage). Thank you so much Ladawan!
[Excerpted from Morning Coffee Time with Ajahn Sudanto, 8.7.20]
I’m a strong believer in incrementalism for many reasons. One, it honors this truth of conditionality which the Buddha points to, which is a far superior way to relate to your world and your experience and your being. Far superior to personality view, I would say. So rather than you being a good person or bad person, you exercise goodness, you refrain from unskillfulness, you resolve the pull to act in unskilled ways. You build the conditions for those things to exist, it’s not necessarily who you are, it’s how you respond, and the energy you put forth and the investments you make into developing goodness and practicing skillfulness in your life.
I think also part of the value in incrementalism is we can oftentimes be paralyzed by big challenges. They can paralyze us, they can provoke doubt, and the truth of it is, you don’t really know what you’re capable of if you could put sustained and relatively constant forward momentum into developing certain conditions. A fair amount of the limitations that you imagine that you’re living underneath are just unexamined aspects of self and personality.
And I think there can be a tendency sometimes to be stuck in wishing and wanting and a kind of longing for a once-and-for-all fix. Sometimes I think of this as kind of a lottery mentality. We’re waiting for that one word, that one book, that new technique, that blazing insight. That transcendental experience in our meditation and our contemplations – the silver bullet. I think there’s a tendency in us to want to a once-and-for-all fix, maybe because we don’t have sufficient faith in ourself and the efficacy of just putting forth effort and building good conditions. Maybe because we’re a little impatient. Maybe because we’re a little lazy to commit to doing the work. There might be many reasons. So that silver bullet lottery mentality, that kind of longing for somehow life just to magically just transform – through some hack, through some tweak, through discovering treasure buried in the words of another book – I think I think we need to be sensitive to that, if not abandon that altogether.
…See if you can develop the strength of character and the humility to be willing to do the work. Sort out for yourself how it is that suffering arises and suffering ceases and in your mind in your heart in your life with the conditions that you are living with in some non-abstract way. And of course, in the here and now. It’s really a bit of a stretch to think about ending suffering forevermore, all you’re really charged with is dealing with the present moment. And that bite-sized task is both more manageable, and in some beautiful way, more humble than our grandiose dreams of being happy forevermore.
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 email@example.com. 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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.”
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 email@example.com 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 🙂
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,
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.”
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.