Now Welcoming Applications for Anagarika and Nekkhamma for the Vassa
Dear Dhamma friends,
With the full moon supermoon that just passed on June 14, we have now entered the last month before this year's 2022 Vassa.
Temporary ordination with extended stay for monastic life immersion in the monastery for the period of the Vassa is a time-honored tradition in the Southeast Asian Theravada Buddhist traditions of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Burma. In past years, Dhammadharini has offered the opportunity to undertake Anagarika or Nekkhamma precepts for the Vassa. In the recent years, we paused in publicly offering this opportunity as we were already full up with aspirants, trainees and bhikkhunis - and then came lockdown. Last year we began to slowly reopen again to long-term visitors; we are happy to once more offer this opportunity this year in 2022.
If you or someone else you know may be interested, we encourage you/them to fill out the application form (please mention the anagarika/nekkhamma program in your application). You are welcome to forward this email. For those with interest in monastic life, a period of time as a nekkhamma or anagarika can be an excellent way to gain significant monastic life experience through immersion, living and practicing together with the monastic community. With our Dhammadharini Sangha, one year as an anagarika is preliminary to going forth in the saffron robes as a samaneri (female novice - samana-in-training), with the ten precepts, which include the renunciation of money and wealth, for those who wish to go deeper into the way of life of the Buddha.
Anagarika means "one who has left home" for the monastery or monastic life. In this program, Anagarikas will undertake and train with the eight renunciate precepts, with shaven head, wearing full white robes. White robes represent brahmacariya, living the "holy life" as a celibate renunciate.
Nekkhamma means "a renunciate", whether living at home or in the monastery. Nekkhammas undertake the same eight precepts as the Anagarika, but with hair pulled back or cut short without shaving their heads; they wear simple, modest white clothing (or white on top and black on the bottom), without the long, full white upper robe.
This opportunity is for those who would like to undertake Anagarika or Nekkhamma precepts for the whole Vassa in residence with the Dhammadharini monastic community. The full period is for three-four months. The minimum period is one month.
Priority will be given to those who are:
interested and able to join for the full three-four months of the vassa (arriving for short safety quarantine before Vassa)
known to our Dhammadharini community or to our closely related community (others may be asked for letters of recommendation)
dedicated practitioners of Theravada Buddhism and who wish to more fully develop such a dedicated study & practice
fully vaccinated from Covid 19 and happily willing to practice the evolving Covid safety guidelines of our Dhammadharini community
US or North American residents (who do not need visas or immigration, although non-NorAm residents may be considered from some areas)
with ability to pay for their own medical expense
People often ask "what is the cost?" for such programs.
This Vassa-time monastic life immersion program is a traditional offering of the Theravada Buddhist traditions and communities of Southeast Asia. There is no charge for room & board, and there is no requested or expected monetary offering to the preceptors or teachers. It is traditional to offer a small bouquet of flowers, candles and incense at the time of undertaking the Anagarika or Nekkhamma precepts with a teacher or preceptor (these can be provided by the monastery). All donations of money (to Dhammadharini Support Foundation) or gifts of useful supplies, are best when offered purely by free-will inspiration, and are never expected or required. One's complete and whole-hearted dedication to the monastic way of life and training during one's period of Anagarika or Nekkhamma is considered to be the greatest gift and offering to oneself, to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, and to all beings.
Dhammadharini Monastery will provide information on request for the preparation of one's simple Anagarika robes (very simple and easy to measure and sew).
What are the Eight Precepts? | The eight precepts include the five precepts recommended by the Buddha for all lay Buddhists, plus three (and one more transformed) renunciate precepts.
The Buddhist Five Precepts:
1. abstaining from taking the life of any living creature
2. abstaining from taking that which is not given
3. abstaining from sexual misconduct
4. abstaining from false and harmful speech
5. abstaining from drink and drugs which lead to carelessness
The Eight Renunciate Precepts:
~> no. 3, the “abstaining from sexual misconduct” precept of the five precepts changes to “abstaining from all sexual activity,” the renunciate precept of celibacy
6. abstaining from eating “outside the proper time” = not taking food after solar noon other than allowable tonics and medicine
7. abstaining from entertainment, beautification and adornment
8. abstaining from the use of high and luxurious sleeping places
2022 Vassa dates
Begins - July 14th full moon (observance begins on July 10th with Dhamma Day Asalha Puja)
thru October full moon Oct 9th (bhikkhunis' Pavarana with bhikkhu sangha extends thru Oct 10th).
The Kathina Season begins directly after Vassa and lasts for one lunar month (the Dhammadharini Kathina "Offering the Robe of Merit" is planned for October 15)
Dates to plan to arrive to join in the 2022 Vassa Anagarika and Nekkhamma program:
June 25th-July 14th: to join from the beginning of Vassa: please plan to arrive for brief safety intro quarantine beginning sometime between June 25th and July 14th. Because our quarantine facilities are limited, we will need to coordinate carefully for several visitors to arrive and quarantine before Vassa-- please inquire about exact dates
for those who will join only for only one or two months: please inquire as to dates
daily practice: chanting and meditation, regular Dhamma teachings and discussion, silent meals, mindful service work
fortnightly (every two weeks) Uposatha: New and Full Moon observances with Refuges & Precepts renewals and Dhamma teachings
special full moon days:
Dhamma Day Asalha Puja July Full Moon Sun. July 10th at the beginning of Vassa: commemorating the Buddha's own going forth and entering monastic life and his first teaching "Setting the Dhamma wheel in motion (date of Anagarika and Nekkhamma precepts for those joining for the full three months of the Vassa)
September Full Moon Anniversary of the Founding of the Bhikkhuni Sangha Sun. Sept 11th: commemorating the Mahapajapati Gotami Theri & 500 founding bhikkhuni foremothers ordination (actual full moon date is Saturday Sept 10th)
October Full Moon End of Vassa Sun. Oct 9th: followed by Oct 9th Bhikkhuni Sangha Pavarana ("the Invitation") and Oct 10th Bhikkhu Sangha Pavarana.
Kathina "Offering the Robe of Merit": October 15th (Rain Date/Fire Date Oct 29th)
Application: If you or someone else you know may be interested, we encourage you/them to fill out the application form (please mention the anagarika/nekkhamma program in your application).
Extension of Anagarika period: it is expected that those who undertake Anagarika for the Vassa will return to their home life afterwards. If a person wishes to continue in the Anagarika life after the Vassa, they may apply to extend for up to one year with Dhammadharini, or be recommended to another of our related bhikkhu/ni monasteries. Application for extension is not guaranteed, and is based on community review and approval. For Nekkhamma, likewise; or one can continue to live with Nekkhamma precepts at home. Several of the Buddha's leading Upasaka and Upasika disciples were Nekkhammas for several years of their home life, for example, Nakula's mother and father.
OTHER OPPORTUNITIES -
Stewardship and Day Visitors
Stewardship - (when filling out the application form, please mention "resident steward" or "forester" on the application).
Resident stewardship (aramika)
We also welcome and invite applications for those who would like to offer in-residence stewardship service in support of the sangha at our monastery or hermitage, for all or part of the Vassa, with a minimum of one month. Stewards undertake the same eight precepts but do not need to wear robes or cut hair, although we ask our resident stewards, per the traditions, to wear white upper wear and black or dark brown lower wear as much as possible, in keeping with precepts of simplicity. A period of stewardship is a great opportunity to make a big difference in offering support, care and nurturance to the bhikkhuni sangha.
Aranya Bodhi Hermitage has one position open for a full-time resident forester/forest steward. Preference for those with previous forestry experience including training in safe use of a chainsaw, and/or maintenance and repair skills. Minimum of one month, extendable. Forestry service volunteer days visits are also available with arrangement. Please contact the hermitage (contact at the end of this message) for details.
Non-resident stewardship with Dhammadharini Support Foundation as an officer, director or committee member:
Contact Dhammadharini Support Foundation to speak with a board member, or contact our monastery or hermitage (contact info at the end of this email) to speak with one of our monastic leaders, Ayya Tathaloka or Ayya Sobhana.
There is an ancient custom in Buddhism--still very much alive and practiced in Theravada Buddhist countries--for day visits to the monastery on or around the full moon, new moon and lunar quarter (half moon) days to:
offer Meal Dana and useful supplies
offer volunteer service
undertake and renew one's Refuges & Precepts,
request to listen to a Dhamma talk or to ask Dhamma questions and join in Dhamma discussion
request to hear chanting of the Buddha's teaching and/or blessings
During the Vassa, day visitors are invited to observe the five or eight precepts, and are welcome to wear white clothes, or white on top and black or dark brown on the bottom, as a symbol of your dedication to be joining in the monastic way of life for that period of time. A day visit is a wonderful way to join in the monastic community's way of life for short periods when you have time, and is excellent for maintaining a sense of positive connection and taking part with the monastic sangha.
We welcome day visitors who would like to offer Lunch Dana and/or groceries and supplies, and/or who would like to listen to Dhamma or have Dhamma discussion from 10:30am to 1pm Wednesday-Saturday outdoors at our monastery and daily at our hermitage, and to offer outdoors volunteer service on specially organized volunteer days, or by pre-arranging a day that is best for you. It is also possible to offer volunteer service from afar.
Please contact our Dana Coordinator Lal for day visit information. Contact our monastery or hermitage (contact below) for distance volunteer opportunities.
With whole-hearted Blessings of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha,
the Dhammadharini monastic community