2017 Birken Retreat Talks

Ajahn Sona’s Metta Window at Birken Forest Monastery.

Download from Google Drive (12 talks, both weeks)

Week One: May 3-9

Week one retreatants with monks and Birken stewards.

Week Two: May 10-16

Week two retreatants with monks and Birken stewards.

Willa Thaniya & Jitindriya Teaching in NW

Thai Forest Tradition teachers offer two full-day meditation daylongs:

  • Meditation:  Integrating Calm and Inquiry
    Aug. 30, 2017,  9:00 AM – 4:30 PM, Underwood, WA
  • Peace is in Every Breath
    Sep. 2, 2017,  9 :00 AM – 4:30 PM, Portland, OR

Meditation instruction, Dhamma reflections, and questions and answers included.  All levels of experience are welcome.  The teachings are freely offered.  Retreat descriptions are below.  Contact Carole Melkonian for more information.

The Teachers:  Willa Thaniya and Jitindriya

Willa Thaniya Reid (formerly Ajahn Thaniya), has been practicing formal Buddhist meditation since the 1980s. Her primary training has been through the Thai Forest Tradition of Luang Por Chah. The Forest Tradition is in harmony with her affinity for the natural world and for reflective teachings. For 18 years she was part of the monastic community of this tradition based in England. As the senior nun of Cittaviveka for eight years, she offered support to the lay and monastic community and taught retreats in the UK, USA, Europe and Australia. She brings to her teaching a love for the original suttas of the Buddha. Since leaving the monastic order, Willa has gained a Master’s degree in relationship counselling, as well as clinical pastoral training, and has worked in the community in Melbourne, Australia offering spiritual support to the dying and their families. In 2015 she returned to her native country, New Zealand, to develop a meditation community with her partner.

Jitindriya (Loraine Keats, formerly Ajahn Jitindriya), has practiced Buddhist meditation and spiritual inquiry for over 30 years, 17 of which as a Buddhist nun in the Thai Forest Tradition of Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Sumedho. During that time Jitindriya offered teachings to the monastic and lay communities in the UK, USA, Australia, and elsewhere. After leaving the monastic order, Jitindriya gained a Master’s degree in Buddhist Psychotherapy with the Karuna Institute in the UK. She since returned to live in her native country, Australia, where she continues to teach the Dhamma and has a private practice in Mindfulness Based Psychotherapy. In both personal practice and teaching Dhamma Jitindriya draws inspiration primarily from the early Buddhist suttas and the Forest Masters of the Theravadan tradition, as well as from pertinent Dzogchen teachings from the Vajrayana tradition. The interface of Dhamma with psychospiritual work is also an area of interest for Jitindriya.

The Daylongs

Meditation:  Integrating Calm and Inquiry (Aug. 30, 2017)
9:00 AM – 4:30 PM, Underwood Community Center
951 Schoolhouse Rd, Underwood WA 98651

Practicing meditation on the natural breath is a way of cultivating a sustainable place of ease and well-being. It can give us the resources to both meet and free ourselves from the anxiety and complexity we can often experience in the world. The Buddha gave detailed instructions on this practice, mindfulness of breathing, which explore the processes of calming and settling the body-mind (samadhi), and developing our capacity for inquiry and clear seeing (vipassana). These two factors of calm and inquiry are mutually supportive in meditation, and work together as a pair in the process of releasing the heart-mind from all stress and confusion.

Peace is in Every Breath (Sep. 2, 2017)
9 :00 AM – 4:30 PM,  Friends Mtg. House
4312 SE Stark St, Portland, OR 97215

Enhancing awareness of the breath and body is a primary way to establish mindfulness in the present moment. It helps us come out of the stress of mental proliferation and we develop the capacity to meet our presently arising experience. As we do this, we begin to recognize how we can either struggle with ‘the way it is’ or be in wise relationship with ‘the way it is’. Seeing and understanding this process directly leads to ‘insight into the Noble Truths’, and brings deep peace in its wake. This is more than just the peace of relaxation or tranquility, which is also a benefit of breath meditation – it is the peace of insight into ‘Dhamma’, reality. This is the possibility with every breath.


May 2017 Events and News

Early Notice:  PAH BAH* is September 16 & 17, 2017

Reserve your lodging now!
Lodging in and near White Salmon is already filling up!

Regular Events in May

TUESDAY NIGHTS — Meditation/Talk with monks, 6:30 – 8:00 pm, Yoga Samadhi.  All welcome.  Cushions & chairs available.  No charge.

MAY 6 — Garden Party at Hermitage
Come for any or all of the party!

  • 10:30 am — Arrive for potluck meal.  Coming?  Please let meal dana coordinator know.
  • 11:00 am  Meal, cleanup and preparation for yard work.
  •  1:00 pm — Yard work (and play!)
  • 3:00 pm — Tea party and chat

MAY 13 — Half-Day Retreat in White Salmon, 1- 5 pm, at Yoga Samadhi.  Enjoy sitting and walking meditation with the monks, and Dhamma reflections by Ajahn Karunadhammo.  No charge.  All are welcome.  Cushions & chairs available.

MAY 19 & 20 — PFoD visit CANCELLED because there will be no Ajahns in residence.


  • APR 29 – MAY 1 — Ajahn Sudanto away to Abhayagiri for Upasika Renewal weekend
  • MAY 3 – 27 — Ajahn Sudanto away to Birken Retreat (Canada), then Amaravati (UK)
  • MAY 3 – 17 (Corrected return date) — Tan Kondañño away to Birken Retreat** (returns late May 17)

Friends Visiting in May

Photo: Ajahn Karunadhammo [photo: jfoto.com]

Ajahn Karunadhammo (pictured) and Tan Khantiko will return to the Hermitage and be there while both Ajahn Sudanto and Tan Kondañño are away.

MAY 2 – 14 — Ajahn Karunadhammo will help hold down the fort for a couple of weeks.  We welcome this gifted teacher, even if his stay is far too brief!  He and Tan Khantiko will arrive with Ajahn Sudanto after the meal on May 2.

MAY 2 – JUNE 3 — Tan Khantiko also has spent time at the Hermitage.  Welcome back!

Food Offerings are Needed Daily

Pacific Hermitage monks follow the Buddha’s tradition of relying on the lay community for their meal every day.  Monks are not allowed to grow, buy or prepare food.

It’s sobering to realize that if no one offers them food in the morning, the monks won’t have a meal that day.

Offering “meal dana” is a heart-opening, joyful experience.  Ask anyone who has done it!   Not only is it a way to get to know the monks and ask them questions one-on-one, it is a direct and traditional Buddhist way of practicing generosity.

We always need more people to:

  • Offer a meal at the Hermitage (mostly needed on weekends), or
  • Offer food to the monks as they walk alms rounds in White Salmon (mostly needed on weekdays).

More information — Check Support on the website or contact me (Debie), meal dana coordinator.  Feel free to just ask questions.  There’s no obligation.  Or talk with someone else who has offered food.  If you’re a little nervous, I understand.  I certainly was my first time!

To offer a meal at the Hermitage — Please check the Calendar to find out when meals are needed, then contact the meal dana coordinator to schedule your offering.

*A Pah Bah is a traditional Thai ceremony for giving robe cloth and other necessary items to monastics.  For more information or to volunteer, email pahbah@sanghata.net or check the Sanghata website:  sanghata.net.  Sanghata is the Board of Stewards for the Pacific Hermitage.

**Birken Retreat — Lay community members join Ajahn Sudanto and Tan Kondañño for a retreat at Birken Forest Monastery (Canada), May 3 – 13.  All spaces are full.


April 2017 Events

April Events Begin with a Garden Party — Saturday April 1

Help give the Hermitage grounds a Spring cleaning!

Free those spring flowers from the weeds, clean up Winter’s aftermath, and help move what’s left of the woodpile to a more “fire safety” location.

All are welcome.  Join us for any or all of the fun!  Here’s the schedule:

  • 10:30 am — Time to arrive with your dish if you’d like to be part of a potluck meal.
  • 1:00 pm — The garden/yard work begins after the meal, usually around 1:00 pm.
  • 3:00 – 4:00 pmRefreshments and some informal Dhamma talk.

Half-Day Meditation Retreat — Saturday, April 8

Spend a peaceful afternoon (1:00-5:00 pm) deepening your practice and meditating with the monks at Yoga Samadhi in White Salmon.  Enjoy silent sitting and walking meditation, as well as Dhamma reflections from Ajahn Sudanto.

All are welcome.  Cushions, blankets and chairs are available.  Stay for all or part of the afternoon.  If you enter or leave after meditation has begun, please be as quiet as possible and try to do so when there is a break between meditations or between meditation and the Dhamma discussion.

Portland Friends of the Dhamma (PFoD) — April 21 and 22

PFoD hosts the monks once a month, beginning in April and continuing through November.  Here is the schedule:

  • Friday, April 21, 5:30 – 9:00 pm — Tea, questions, meditation and a Dhamma talk (5:30 – 9:00 pm)
  • Saturday, April 22, 10:30 am – 1:00 pm) — Alms round on Hawthorne Street (10:30 am), then a meal offering at PFoD beginning at 11:00 am)

For more information, contact PFoD.


March 2017 Events

Weekly Meditation and Dhamma Talks

Join us every Tuesday evening, 6:30 – 8:00 pm, at Yoga Samadhi in White Salmon, WA.

Over the next several weeks, following meditation, Ajahn Sudanto will lead a discussion of the book: The Buddha’s Teachings on Social and Communal Harmony.

Everyone is welcome.  Cushions and chairs are available.

Meal Offerings are Needed on Weekends

Offering a meal is a lovely way to support the monks, and an opportunity to practice generosity, offer gratitude, ask dhamma questions, see the Hermitage and get to know the monks in a less formal setting.

You can find out when meal offerings are needed by checking the Hermitage Calendar. There are plenty of opportunities.  On weekdays, their meal comes from food people offer the monks during their alms rounds.

It’s important to contact the meal dana coordinator (Debie) to schedule your meal offering.  At least let her know you are coming.  Otherwise, if it looks like no one is offering the meal, she’ll call on the “rescue squad” (people who may be able to bring a meal on short notice).  If she knows you’re coming, this won’t be necessary and will reduce the number of times she needs to call on these volunteers.  Check out the Support tab for more information about offering food, or contact Debie with questions.

Admirable Friendship

“The Buddha said there are two factors that help most in the arising of discernment, that help you most along the path.   The foremost internal factor is appropriate attention.  The foremost external factor is admirable friendship.”   (From Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s book, Meditations)  From time to time, we’ll use this Admirable Friendship section to introduce you to a friend who is part of the Pacific Hermitage community.

A Friend of the Hermitage … Scott Benge


Your first conversation with Scott may or may not be related to Dhamma.  Given half a chance, Scott probably will talk about his two granddaughters.  They happen to be “wonderful, exceptional, beautiful, athletic, talented” (you get the picture)!  Since one is only two years old, we asked how athletic she possibly could be.  Undaunted, Scott answered, “Well, she walks!”

It’s no surprise that when Scott and his wife Joan recently moved from their Lake Oswego home of 26 years, it was to Bend, Oregon (where those amazing granddaughters live!).

If you do have a Dhamma-oriented conversation with Scott, it will quickly reveal a dedicated practitioner who values generosity and ethical behavior.  In his words, “People who congregate around and support the monastics, who are dedicated to personal practice, and who embody generosity and ethical behavior — they are different.  They’re more grounded, centered, at ease, kind and loving.  I find them inspiring.”   If you get to know Scott, it’s clear that he not only values those characteristics in others, he embodies and demonstrates them himself.  An inspiring and admirable friend himself.

Scott initially became active in Portland Friends of the Dhamma (PFoD) in about 2004, and he helped with their efforts to bring a permanent monastic presence to this region.  In 2007, he was a steward for Ajahn Sudanto and Ajahn Karunadhammo when they came to the Columbia River Gorge to see if a hermitage might be appropriate here.  When Abhayagiri Monastery approved the idea, Scott worked on the PFoD organizing committee to make that happen.

When the Hermitage was established, Scott was asked to be president of Sanghata, a lay board of stewards that helps support the Hermitage and manages all its financial matters.  Since monastics are not allowed to handle or use money, all monetary donations must be sent to Sanghata.  Find out more about Sanghata by visiting sanghata.net.



Buddha’s Teachings on Social and Communal Harmony

Book for Tuesday Night Meditation/Dhamma Talk

Over the next few weeks, Ajahn Sudanto plans to reference a book by Bhikkhu Bodhi in his reflections and the discussions at Tuesday night meditation sessions.  If you are interested, you should be able to find a paperback of The Buddha’s Teachings on Social and Communal Harmony by Bhikkhu Bodhi online for about $11.  It’s also available in electronic form.

All are welcome to come meditate with the monks, Tuesday nights, 6:30-8:00 pm, at Yoga Samadhi in White Salmon, WA.   Cushions and chairs are available.

February 2017 Events

The weather seems to be moderating a little bit, many roads are good to passable, and White Salmon hasn’t had temperatures in the teens or single digits for a couple of weeks.

Perhaps the monks can now settle into more of a normal “Winter Retreat” routine, rather than working on repairs, heavy-duty snow removal or preventing new snow/ice problems.

February Events:  A Quiet Month
  • Venerable  Saddhammo visits Jan. 31 – Feb. 7 (approx. dates)
  • Meditation with the Monks, Tuesdays, 6:30-8:00 pm, Yoga Samadhi, White Salmon, 6:30 – 8:00 pm
Keeping it Kind of Quiet Through March

With all the snow, ice and cold-related work, Ajahn Sudanto and Venerable Kondañño haven’t had the extended period of relative silence, meditation and study that usually defines Winter Retreat.   This normally is an important time of intense practice and renewal for monastics.

Their Winter Retreat “officially” continues through February, but the monks will try to maintain a retreat atmosphere through March.  You can help them do this for the next couple of months by curtailing unnecessary talking, offering them food for their daily meal,* or giving your time if it’s needed.  This type of support reduces demands on their time, which helps them focus on their practice as much as possible.   (Note:  It’s OK to say hello or ask Dhamma questions after offering a weekend meal or at Tuesday night meditation!)

* This is a daily need, throughout the year.  Please see the Support page or contact the meal dana coordinator for information or to schedule a meal offering.

UPDATE: Monks Return January 11 (Delayed)

Snow at HermitageUPDATE:  The monks will now return 1/12 or 1/13, due to weather related problems.

Ajahn Sudanto and Tan Kondañño will soon leave a cold and snowy Birken Forest Monastery (British Columbia) … and return to a cold and snowy Hermitage!  (In fact, we’ll have to see if this weather allows them to return on Jan. 11th.)

A warm welcome to both!

Meet Venerable Kondañño
tan-kondannoWelcome to Tan Kondañño!  He will be staying at the Hermitage at least through the end of Winter Retreat.  Originally from Pittsburgh, Tan Kondañño’s first exposure to the Dhamma was in the late 90’s at Mt. Baldy Zen Center, CA.  After a short stint with Zen, he began attending Goenka Vipassana courses, and in 2009, he moved to California to help develop the Northern California Vipassana Center.  In 2011, he began visiting Abhayagiri Monastery to diversify and deepen his practice.  He ordained there as a Bhikkhu on June 5, 2016.
Honoring Monastic Winter Retreat (Dec. 1 – Feb. 28)

Ajahn Sudanto

During the monastic Winter Retreat, monks live in greater silence and focus more on meditation and study.  It’s a time for them to recharge and deepen their practice.

We gently ask folks to honor the monks’ Winter Retreat.  One way to do this is by curtailing unnecessary speech. Good news, though — Tuesday night meditation in White Salmon still offers a venue for Dhamma questions and discussions, so please feel free to bring your questions there!

Offering Alms and Meals

Another gentle reminder, this time about offering food. The monks eat one meal each day from food offered to them each morning.  This type of support is needed daily.

Food may be offered to the monks as alms or meals.  While several local families regularly offer food to the monks while they walk on alms round through White Salmon (nearly every morning), and various friends in the region bring meals to the Hermitage, more support is always needed and welcome.  The monks rely primarily on alms food during the week and meals offered on the weekends at the Hermitage.

For some, offering food to the monks is simply a joyful act.  For others, it may reflect their appreciation for the teachings or just being able to connect and talk with monastics (quite a rare situation in the US!).  In any case, offering food is an act of generosity that truly gladdens the heart … of both giver and receiver!

If you have questions or would like to help, please visit our Support page or contact the meal dana coordinator for more information.  Meal offerings at the Hermitage should be scheduled through the meal dana coordinator.  The Support page also has information on other ways to offer support* — services, time, etc.
*A Note from Sanghata
The monks follow monastic practices established by the Buddha, including one that does not allow them to receive, handle or ask for money.  As a result, you won’t find much information about monetary support on the Pacific Hermitage website.  You’ll need to visit Sanghata.net for that.  Sanghata is a Board of Stewards that handles all financial matters for the Hermitage.   Please feel free to visit Sanghata.net for more information.

2017 Events Schedule (and Monastics Return!)

2016-ph-bridge-w-snowMonastics Return January 11th

There ‘ve been only animal tracks on the Hermitage driveway since that white, fluffy stuff began falling from the sky a few weeks ago.  That will change soon.  The driveway snow will either melt or be plowed for Ajahn Sudanto’s and Venerable Kondañño’s arrival on January 11.

The monks may leave cold and snowy (and beautiful!) Birken Forest Monastery in British Columbia, only to return to pretty darn chilly and snowy White Salmon, Washington!  

Regular / Recurring Events with the Monks

Weekly, Meditation with the Monks, Resuming January 17th

  • The monks will resume leading meditation and offering Dhamma reflections, on Tuesdays, 6:30 – 8:00 pm, at Yoga Samadhi.  All are welcome!

Monthly, Beginning in April

  • Community Work Parties at Hermitage   (1st Saturdays, 1:00 – 3:00 pm, Apr.-Sep.)
  • Half-Day Retreats at Yoga Samadhi   (2nd Saturdays, 1:00 – 5:00 pm, Apr.-Nov.)
  • Portland Friends of the Dhamma   (3rd Fridays & Saturdays, Apr.-Nov.)
    • Tea, questions, meditation and Dhamma talk  (5:30 – 9:00 pm, Third Fridays)
    • Almsround and Meal Offering at PFoD  (10:30 am – 1:00 pm, Third Saturdays)

NOTE:  Yoga Samadhi and the Pacific Hermitage are in White Salmon, Washington.  Portland Friends of the Dhamma (PFoD) is in Portland, Oregon.

Special Events, Comings, Goings and Retreats

  • Dec. 1 – Feb. 28       2016-17 Winter Retreat
  • Jan. 11                        Aj. Sudanto & Tan Kondañño return to Hermitage 
  • May 3 – 17                  Retreat at Birken  Monastery for Hermitage group
  • May 19 – 27                Aj. Sudanto to Amaravati Monastery (UK)
  • July 7 & 8                   Luang Por Sumedho visits
  • July 9 – Oct. 5           Vassa (Monastic Summer Retreat)
  • Aug 19 – 22                Aj. Sudanto to Steens Mtn. / Bend
  • Aug. 29 – 30              Willa & Jitindryia Tuesday, plus Daylong
  • Sep. 6 – 13                 Yosemite Monastic Retreat  
  • Sep. 16 & 17            Hermitage Pah Bah*
  • Oct. 6 – 12                 Aj. Sudanto to Temple Monastery Kathina
  • Dec. 1 – Feb. 28      2017-18 Winter Retreat 

*If you will need lodging for the Pah Bah, it’s best to arrange it as soon as possible.

Please check the Pacific Hermitage website often to keep current with any additions, cancellations or changes.  To learn about or offer alms food or a meal to the monks, please visit our Support page or contact Debie at dana@pacifichermitage.org.

Best wishes for the new year!

Community Meditation Continues Through Winter

Join Us:  Tuesdays, 6:30 – 8:00 pm, Yoga Samadhi, White Salmon

P1040951Several members of the local community have offered to host Tuesday night meditation while the monks are away (now until January 11).

Please join us!  Some hosts may just begin and end the meditation, while others may lead a discussion or read something that speaks to them.  No matter what, it will be a warm and supportive space to meditate with new or longtime Dhamma friends.

Our Hosts:  Bruce Anderson (11/22 & 29), Colleen Regalbuto (12/6), Ellen Donoghue (12/13 & 1/3), Debie Garner (12/20) and Anna Siebenborn (1/10).   We’ll announce a host for 12/27 a bit later.

Weather (not to mention life!) is uncertain, so please check the Pacific Hermitage website for any last minute notices about the schedule.

Monks Return January 11

Ajahn Sudanto will return to the Hermitage January 11, after first attending the Abhayagiri Thanksgiving Retreat, then traveling to Birken Forest Monastery (Canada) for the first part of his annual Monastic Winter Retreat.  Venerable Kondañño, an Abhayagiri monk, will return with him and stay at least through the rest of the Winter Retreat.