May 2019 Birken Retreat

Birken Forest Monastery (Sitavana)
May 1 – 15, 2019
Ajahn Sona Retreat on Right Effort

Join the Pacific Hermitage monastics and lay community members  for this opportunity to deepen your meditation practice in a beautiful British Columbia setting.  Applications accepted starting November 1.  Visit Ajahn Sona’s  YouTube channel to see why he is respected as such a gifted and clear teacher!

New:  Use Retreat Website to Apply

Check out our new Retreat Website!  Browse for information or click on”Apply” to fill out the application form.  The application period begins November 1.   Ajahn Sudanto will make the final decision on the list of participants.

Attend for One Week or Two

Once again, we are offering the option of coming for one or two weeks.  If you’re a less experienced meditator or have less flexibility, you can request only the first or second week.  More experienced meditators may find the full 14-day option more beneficial.  Here are the dates/options:

Week #1 (May 1 to 8) – Arrive the evening of May 1 and depart early May 8.
Week #2 (May 8 to 15) – Arrive the evening of May 8 and depart early May 15.
Both Weeks (May 1 to 15) — Arrive the evening of May 1 and depart early May 15.

Birken Monastery is Beautiful Inside and Outside 

Birken Forest Monastery is south of Kamploops, in British Columbia.  Meditate in the peaceful sala or on the indoor walking paths, or take your meditation outside in the fresh air, amidst trees, ponds, lakes and trails.  Visit the Birken website for more information and pictures.  Be sure to look at “Visits” and read the Guest Guidelines.

Retreat is Offered on Dana Basis

There is no cost for the retreat.  It is offered on a “dana” basis.  You give what you feel called to/are able to give.  Food and lodging are included.  Like the Hermitage, Birken is supported only by offerings from lay supporters.

Questions?  Apprehensive?

Almost everyone is a little apprehensive about going to their first retreat, wondering if they’re really up for it, will be able to handle it, etc.   Don’t feel self-conscious about asking questions or talking about what might hold you back.

Spend some time exploring the Birken and Retreat websites and talking with others who have attended Birken retreats, then feel free to email our retreat coordinator, Chevy, with questions.  Please do not contact Birken Monastery.  They have limited staff and time to devote to questions.

More information will be added to the retreat website as it’s developed, including ride sharing and travel details.

2018 November News and Events

* New wood is stacked  *  Ajahn Geoff visits 11/6  *  Last 2018 Half-Day is 11/10  *  CANCELLED:  PFoD November visit *

How Much Wood Does a Woodchucker Chuck?

Plenty!   Hermitage helpers were full of smiles, hard work and good company as they chucked wood at the last work parties for 2018.  Many thanks to the 20 or so people who helped gather, split and stack wood.  Special thanks to Holly Griswold for once again lending us her log-splitter.

These newest stacks of wood will be drying for use next winter, while this winter the monks use up the seasoned wood you helped stack in previous years.  The Hermitage relies primarily on wood to heat the main house, so the monks are very grateful for your help.

November 6:  Ajahn Geoff in White Salmon

Ajahn Geoff -Thanissaro Bhikkhu will lead the regular Tuesday night meditation at Yoga Samadhi, 6:30 – 8:00 PM, White Salmon, WA.  He’ll also be visiting the Portland Friends of the Dhamma November 2-4.  Check their website for more information about his visit.


Other November Events

NOVEMBER 10 — Half-Day of Meditation with the Monks:   Join Ajahn Sudanto and Ajahn Kassapo, 1 – 5 PM at Yoga Samadhi, White Salmon, for the last 2018 half day of walking and sitting meditation.  Brief dhamma talk.  Cushions & chairs available.

CANCELLED:  Last PFoD visit of the year has been cancelled, since Ajahn Sudanto will be away, helping lead the Abhayagiri Monastic Thanksgiving Retreat.

TUESDAY NIGHT SITS — Community Meditation continues, every Tuesday night, 6:30 – 8:00 pm, at Yoga Samadhi,White Salmon, WA.  Cushions & chairs available.

Comings and Goings

  • Ajahn Sudanto and Ajahn Kassapo return November 2 from the Abhayagiri Kathina and Ajahn Amaro’s Abhayagiri visit.   (Venerable Suddhiko will remain at Abhayagiri.)
  • Ajahn Geoff leads Tuesday night meditation in White Salmon, November 6.
  • Ajahn Sudanto leaves November 14 for the Abhayagiri Thanksgiving Retreat, and will travel from there to Birken Forest Monastery for the first part of his Winter Retreat.  He’ll return to the Hermitage after the meal on January 30.
  • Winter Retreat begins December 1 and lasts through the end of March.
  • Ajahn Kassapo will remain at the Hermitage through the Winter Retreat.  He’ll be on his own* from November 14 – 28, then will be joined by Venerable Kovilo (from Abhayagiri).

*A Note About Meal Offerings to One Monk:  Monastic rules do not allow one monk to be alone with women for any significant amount of time.  If you’re planning to offer a meal to a single monk, you can either just drop off the food to him (you must hand it to him) or arrange to have another male with you.  It is fine to offer food on alms rounds, since it is a more public setting.

2018 Pah Bah: Balloons, Generosity, Community

Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!

Pah Bah 2018 was a fun and happy event!

The kids stole the show again this year with balloons and bearing wonderful gifts from Portland Friends of the Dhamma.

Thank you PFoD friends.  The power tools are greatly appreciated!

 

It Was a Family Affair, Especially for Our Sponsors

The Pah Bah was very much a family affair as epitomized by our sponsors  Swee, Chek and son Kyson Tan.  Their extended family traveled from Malaysia to come with them to the Pah Bah!

The family is pictured here on a Hermitage walking meditation path.

Swee, Chek and Kyson live in Vancouver BC, Canada.  They first heard about the Pacific Hermitage at Birken Forest Monastery, when our own Tandin (Elena Smith) was there on retreat and invited them to last year’s Pah Bah.  Not only did they come, they asked to sponsor this year’s Pah Bah.

Many thanks to the Tans!

Our Lay Supporters Were Very Generous

Photo:  Sanghata unveils the unbelievable generosity of our friends, who contributed over $170,000.  It will be put to good use to help build the abbot’s kuti and other important projects, like protecting the seclusion so important to monastic practice.

Thank you for such generous support!

2018 October News and Events

Woodchuckers Ball * Regular Events * Our Family of Monasteries * Comings & Goings

Time Again for the Woodchuckers Ball:  October 6 & 7

A name like that requires an explanation!

It’s a two-day garden party (last of the year) to cut, split and stack wood for heating the house.

No ballroom dancing involved!   (Ajahn just likes to play around with names for these things.)

Come for one or both days, any or all activities:
10:30 am   Potluck meal*
–   1:00 pm   Woodchucking and yard work
–   3:00 pm   Tea/chat until 4 pm

*Please tell the meal dana coordinator if you’re bringing food.

Other October Events

OCTOBER 13:  Half Day of Meditation with the Monks, White Salmon, 1-5 pm, at  Yoga Samadhi.  Walking and sitting meditation.  Brief dhamma talk.  Cushions & chairs available.

OCTOBER 19 & 20 — Monks at Portland Friends of the Dhamma (PFoD) Friday evening and Saturday through mid-day.  Check the PFoD website for specifics.

OCTOBER 21 — Monks at Hillsboro Meditation Hall.  More information here.

TUESDAY NIGHT SITS — Community Meditation, 6:30 – 8:00 pm, at Yoga SamadhiWhite Salmon, WA.  Cushions & chairs available.

A Family of Monasteries, A Tradition of Mutual Support

With the Abhayagiri Kathina coming up and our Pah Bah just over, it’s a great time to shine a spotlight on a lovely aspect of this tradition — how monastics from the Ajahn Chah monasteries support and interact with one another.

Whether it’s senior monastics attending our Pah Bah, hundreds gathering to honor Luang Por Chah, or monks and nuns helping Abhayagiri celebrate the opening of their new hall, monastics from around the world travel to honor and support one another’s monasteries.

Each Ajahn Chah monastery is its own entity, a place for monastic practice and a base of support for lay community practice.  Each one exists only if there is enough local support to sustain it.  At the same time, each monastery is part of a larger whole — a family of monasteries.  Ajahn Chah monasteries intentionally cultivate, nurture and support relationships among their monastics.

This is evident in how Ajahn Sudanto warmly refers to his fellow monks as “brothers.”  The time he spends with them enriches and supports his practice and his role at the Hermitage.

The family aspect is obvious when you see how many monastics from around the world meet and gather to honor one another’s ceremonies, to share information, or to work through administrative discussions.   You’ll also see monks training at several different monasteries, further connecting them with more than one Sangha.  Once in a while, one monastery may even offer monetary support to another.

As Scott Benge, President of Sanghata, says, “It’s kind of sweet, really, the way the monasteries of this tradition help one another.”  And, as a lay community, we are fortunate beneficiaries — we’ve received Dhamma reflections from even the most senior monks and nuns of this tradition.

In 2010, probably before most of us even knew about the Hermitage, beloved monks from around the world celebrated the brand new Pacific Hermitage.  They are shown below paying their respects to Luang Por Sumedho at the first Hermitage location, on Tunnel Road, in the hills above White Salmon.

Comings and Goings

  • Venerable Suddhiko returns to Abhayagiri October 24.
  • Ajahn Sudanto and Ajahn Kassapo also leave October 24 to attend the Abhayagiri Kathina.  They return after the meal on November 2.
  • Ajahn Sudanto leaves November 14 for the Abhayagiri Thanksgiving Retreat, and will travel from there to Birken Forest Monastery for the first part of his Winter Retreat.  He’ll return to the Hermitage after the meal on January 30.
  • Ajahn Kassapo will remain at the Hermitage through the Winter Retreat.  He’ll be joined by Venerable Kovilo (from Abhayagiri) in late November.