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.”AN 2.143
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 by 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!
Ajahn Reflects On: Incrementalism
[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.