Emerging from Winter Retreat into Spring and the Astro-Solar New Year (Gratitude & Blessings)

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❧ Dhammadharini Monastery

Apr 14, 2024, 1:05:45 AMApr 14
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Community gathering for Dhamma sharing, on the last evening of Winter Retreat

Warm greetings dear Venerable monastics and Dhamma friends - 

Here at Dhammadharini, we have just emerged from a wonderful and inspiring winter retreat - so grateful for this time of practice and Dhamma contemplation - and for all those who practiced along with us, and supported our retreat time.

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Join us at the monastery tomorrow!

You are warmly welcome to join us for our first in-person gathering of the year upon emerging from winter retreat, at Dhammadharini Monastery this Sunday April 14th from 10am-2pm. This week many of our friends are celebrating the South & Southeast Asian Astro-Solar New Year, in Sinhala Avurudu, in Thai Songkran and Wan Kataññu ("Day of Gratitude"), and in Khmer Chaul Cham Thmey. In South & Southeast Asian Buddhist cultures, the Astro-Solar New Year is a time of cleansing, renewal, forgiveness, blessings, and honoring our elders.

Special for this year: We will be appreciating and blessing newly-retired president of Dhammadharini Support Foundation Srisakul "Susie" Kliks for her decade-long service on the DD SF Board of Directors, and welcoming in and blessing Dhammadharini founding friend and former Secretary of the Board Supatra Chowchuvech stepping into role of DD SF president. We'll also be celebrating the birthday of our Dhammadharini co-founder and president emeritus friend Sampunnā Shari Gent - Shari is offering a special Birthday Lunch Dāna. It will be a lovely springtime gathering of old & new friends, full of blessings. 

For more information and to register, see our website.
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On the final day of retreat, our resident monastic retreat community came together for chanting blessings at the close of our retreat time. We prepared a list of everyone who had participated and supported the winter retreat time - those who were in residence with the community, those who joined programs online, those who made financial donations, those who brought meal dana, and those who sent useful requisites from afar. It was a very long list, in very small print! How heartwarming, to think of all of us joining in this time together, in all of these different ways, and bringing this energy together towards practice and awakening. Here are their first names (very approximately in alphabetical order): 

Gratitude & Blessings

🌸 🌸 🌸 All Dhammadharini support foundation officers & directors, committee members and volunteers, All donors of the monastery, hermitage, and their facilities, All of last year’s Kathina donors, All donors of our monastic robes, almsbowls, and other basic requisites (like toiletries), All monastic medical fund donors and medicines donors, All vehicle and transportation donors, All anonymous recurring donors, Alliance for Bhikkhunis, Adam, Augustina, Ajitha & Family, Aloka Earth Room Sangha, Amber, Amdee & Philip, Amparo & Family, Andreas, Annaneia, Annmarie, Anubha & Aanchal Family, Anurada, Aparna & Kiran Family, Bo, Bob, Buddhinie & Shamal Family w/ Friends, Brahmavara(Bhikkhuni), Branden, Brandon, Brenda, Bryanna, Celeste, Chai & the HVAC committee, Charlesly, Charlie, Chathuri & Dilshan Family w/ Friends, Carudhamma & Suruttuma, Cherini & Family, Christine, Corina, Daham, Dakota, Damon, Dan, Darlene, David, Dennis, Devi, Dhammanusari(Bhikkhuni), Dhammavara(Bhikkhuni), Dhruva, Diana, Dilshan, Dinesha & Friends, Din-Whee, Dixon Landing Dental, Dominic, Dori, Dunilka, Elaine, Elisabeth, Elise, Emir, Enoka, Erin, Eva, Farine, Forest Dhamma Monastery, Former president Obama and all taxpayers for offering us health care, Frederick P Lenz Foundation, Gabriella & Allesandra, Glen, Gotami(Sayalay), Grace, Guneshi, Hannah, Hasini, Hisayo & Ying, Holly, Hong Wei, Hongrui, Indra, Jane, Janet & Donnel, Jayantha & Gamini,  Jian Ping, Jeevani, Jennifer, Jill, Jim, Joan, John, Jon, Joy & Richard, Judy, Kaccayana(Bhikkhuni), Kai & everyone involved in truck fundraiser, Kamani & Ajith, Karen, Karuṇā, Kasi & Friends, Katherine, Kathy, Katie, Kellie, Khamla, Kimloan, Kiran, Kovilo(Ajahn), Kristin, Kristine, Kumari & Maya, Kusala~Judy, Maya, Kusala, Lal & Rasika Family, Larisa, Laurent, Leslie, Lim Pim, Linda, Lisa, LisaK, Lori, Louisa, Maheeka & Rukshan, Mahen & Sepali, Maisie(Yen), Maitri, Mala & Friends, Mala & Family, Malaka & Virasha Family, Marko, Marlai & Family, Martina, Masina, Marajina(Bhikkhuni), Mary, Matthew, Maureen, May, Melody, Meng, Meredith, Metta, Mittakhanti(Anagarika),  Molly, Monika, Naresh, Nathan, Nhi, Niluka, Panyavimutti~Judith, Nok, Pali & Pasan Family, Palitha, Pat, Patipada(Nekkhamma), Patricia, Paula, Payal, Philip, Pradyut & Aditie, Pragya, Praneel, Prerana, Pubudini & Supun Family, Raymond, Ren, René, Richard, Rita, Roger, Rohana, Romona(Nekkhamma), Rose, Roxanne, Rukshan, Ruwanthi, Ryan, Ryan(MaungMaung), Samattapañña(Anagarika), Sab & Family, Sadareka & Family, Sally, Sameera, Sampunna~Shari, Samudra, Sandali & Family, Sandip & Monica Family, Sanjeewa, Satima(Samaneri), Savini & Family, Sepali & Mahin Family, Setiawan, Sha, Shamal, Sharanya, Sheila, Sherry & Janaka Family, Shirley, Shreyans & Family, Shweta, Sinclair,  Siriwan, Siva & Sanchana Family, Smita, Sobhana(Theri), Soma(Bhikkhuni) Soucheng, Srisakul, Stacy, Stevie, Sumana, Sunitha, Supatra, Suranga, Suriyakumar, Suruttama~Ron, Suvijjana(Theri), Susan, Susan, Susan, Susána & Friends, Susie, Suzanne, Suzin, Tangerine, Tathaloka(Theri), Tatiana, Tereza, Teri, Thao, Thavira(Samaneri), Thilini & Evan Family, Thilini & Ruwan Family, Thuloan, Tim, TimK, Todd, Todd’s friend the plumber, Tricia(Mom), Tsung Ying, Udana & Niranji Family, Upasamaya~Shirley, Ute & the book team, Vijith, Viviane, Wannee, Wat Buddhanusorn, Wiley, Yenni 🌸 🌸 🌸

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We are especially grateful to Ayyā Sobhanā for leading up the Teachings this winter retreat, with support from Ayyā Suvijjānā and Ayyā Brahmavarā, as well as Ayyā Somā.

We are also especially grateful for the many friends who have contributed to Ayya Tathaloka’s medical care this past winter – Anumodana! During the retreat she was able to focus on her medical care, within the quiet container of the retreat, which she found enormously beneficial. She has been receiving good care during this retreat time, and your generosity has been such a blessing for her, and her gradually- and significantly-improving health. 

The Dhammadharini community also has particular gratitude to the Dhammadharini Support Foundation Board of Directors, and all committee members and volunteers, for their hard work in wrangling the multitude of practical and financial details of having a registered legal non-profit here in the US, making so many donations tax deductible, and allowing and supporting our monastics to live a pure monastic life here in American. Special gratitude to our Dana coordinator, Lal Senanayake, for his faithful and inspiring support coordinating the many generous donors of hot meals and groceries. 

We also have had particular appreciation of the long-long-wished-for, and newly-installed-at-the- beginning-of-winter-retreat HVAC system, which has kept the monastery warm and comfortable all winter!

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Spring flowers and the moon at dawn, at the monastery
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Winter Retreat Dhamma Teaching

During this winter retreat time, our community was exploring the teaching theme “Practicing for Stream Entry.” What a rich topic - and so beneficial to directly focus our attention on that practice which moves us forward along the path. 

For those who wish to watch or rewatch any of these teachings, the YouTube playlist is available here - with teachings offered by Ayya Sobhana, Ayya Suvijjana, and Ayya Brahmavara.

Ayya Sobhana has also made a wonderful resource document, which we encourage you to explore. 

There were also two special programs during the retreat time, honoring the great ancient Arahant Bhikkhunis: 

On March 3rd, we held a daylong program “Honoring the Parinibbana of Mahapajapati Gotami and the Courageous 500.” The recordings from this year’s program, as well as our honoring of this anniversary in recent years, may be found on our YouTube Playlist: Mahapajapati Gotami Bhikkhuni Founders Parinibbana Day

And on March 25th, as part of our final winter retreat Uposatha program, we commemorated - for the first time - the Parinibbāna of Bimbā Yasodharā Therī, also known as Bhaddā Kaccānā Therī, and as Rāhulamātā. Here you will find the recording of the full Uposatha evening program, including meditation and Dhamma reflection from Venerable Sobhanā Therī. For an excerpt of just the presentation about Yasodharā Therī, you may find the recording here.

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With the altar to Yasodharā Therī, following the Uposatha program

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Reflections from the community

At the close of winter retreat, some of the community members who were with us during the retreat time offered these reflections: 

“I am grateful for the opportunity to sit this most recent winter retreat, to study the Suttas and share reflections about the way to sotāpanna stream entry, together with Ayya Brahmavara and Ayya Suvijjana.  The Dhamma discussion was repetitive in a very good way as we circled around the conditions for stream entry, the fundamentals of our path of practice, what is truly seen when the Dhamma Eye opens, and how one’s character is transformed.  Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s study guide, “Into the Stream” gave a helpful outline for our 12 week program.  

During the winter retreat we celebrated the Parinibbāna of the founding bhikkhunīs, especially Mahāpajāpati Gotami and her five hundred disciples, and Bimba Yasodhara.  Our retreat was all the more profound as we increased knowledge of their lives and accomplishments. ❤️”

- Ayyā Sobhanā

“I spent the winter retreat time in service, with several different roles over the course of the three months. It was very gratifying and lovely to be able to see the community gradually entering deeper into silence and simple harmony during this time, and even in the midst of activity, I appreciated how the growing quiet made it easier to stay patiently with my own mind and heart, seeing places where they were getting caught and working again and again to release them and carry on in a simple and natural way. Much appreciation to all who joined in serving and supporting in so many ways throughout this time, making it possible for such beneficial conditions to arise.” 

- Ven. Kaccāyana

“...among the verses that sunk in deeply and turned the mind (in this winter) retreat toward a very beautiful trajectory for me:

‘When it is said, ‘The way leading to the cessation of identity,’ the meaning here is this: a way of regarding things that leads to the cessation of suffering.’ SN 45(2) Khandha Samyutta.

Click!  It is now conventionally considered springtime, when the cherry blossom flowers can be found, though not by sawing the tree in half, but emerging by the grace of the gentlest breeze.*

May all beings be happy!”

*my translation of a poem I heard today

-Sāmanerī Satimā

Winter retreat at Aranya Bodhi, by Samaneri Thavira

“A frequent reflection, for me, during the retreat was on the unique nature of having retreat within the monastic community: where we are both creating and holding the retreat container - taking care of the daily practical matters of running the community - as well as practicing within it. It was so beneficial to focus on my own responsibility and agency within that - how to do that as skillfully as possible, for myself and the others. It led to so much appreciation for the opportunities of this way of living, to truly have practice suffusing all daily activities, not isolated in just silent meditation time. Though of course, I also deeply enjoyed and benefited from my silent secluded retreat time at the hermitage!”

-Sāmanerī Thāvirā

“For me this winter retreat has been a great opportunity to focus on right effort. It is possible to point the mind towards wholesome qualities again and again. Also, reflecting on your own goodness and service (like the Buddha recommended we do) doesn't turn you into an egomaniac, instead it makes you want to do even more good things. Mega gratitude to everyone who supports this community! ❤️!” 

- Anagārikā  Mittakhantī

“Arrived to serve in mid-February. When I saw Venerable Satima serving my meals in seclusion, I was overjoyed to see the face of my family here at DM. I  gave her a virtual hug. It was like seeing my grandmother's face. I never thought I would have the experience of being with an African-American Bhikkhuni in training. What a once in a lifetime joyous experience for me. During this time I felt the presence of my ancestors and family with me here at DM because of seeing Ven. Satima every day. She supported me by serving the sangha meals for several days to give me rest time. A joyous surprise indeed. Venerable Satima's presence and dhamma sharing was essentially important to me.  Thanks for a highly beneficial time of greatly supported service.- Sharing this metta with my friend Eleen Lum who is dying and her family,  as well as my husband Craig for his support, our family friends and all beings. - With metta and gratitude 🙏 ❤

- Patipada

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News of our monastics

With winter retreat coming to an end, our community has had several comings-and-goings. 

We enjoyed a brief return visit from Ayyā Niyyānikā at the end of March, and then Ayyā Suvijjānā (who was back with us for the whole winter retreat) departed together with Ayyā Niyyānikā for a visit to our bhikkhunī sisters at Karuna Buddhist Vihara south of the Bay. Samaneri Satimā departed at the beginning of April, headed for a return visit to her preceptor Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society, where Ven. Tisaranī Bhikkhunī (ordained with us in 2021), Sāmanerī Sīrinandā (with us for Vassa in 2021) and new-Sāmanerī Tissā are visiting from Germany for the Mettā Retreat at Bhavana.

Saying farewell to Ayya Suvijjānā and Ayya Niyyānikā

Venerable Dhammānusārī Bhikkhuni has recently returned to us from her months away in Bodhgaya, India, her country of birth, Cambodia, and her country of citizenship, Canada. She is planning to stay with us through the upcoming Vassa - we’re delighted to have her back! 

New Bhikkhunī Venerable Dhammavihārī has also just arrived for a return visit after time away in her country of birth Vietnam, Sri Lanka (where she received higher ordination) and Canada (her country of citizenship) - she visited Dhammadharini several years ago as a sikkhamānā, then named Sikkhamānā Adhicittasikkhayā, and we’re glad to have her with us again. We are happy to see our North American Bhikkhunī Sangha growing!

We also look forward to soon welcoming Ven. Bhikkhuni Vandanā from India, who has often joined our programs online the past few years, and who has been trying to come visit us since before pandemic - having received her visa at last, she will be arriving in early May for her first visit with us.

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Venerables Kaccāyana Bhikkhuni (left) with newly-returned Dhammānusāri Bhikkhuni (center) and Dhammavihārī Bhikkhuni (right),  ready to go out for the Cambodian New Year’s celebration at Wat Meangkolvorn in Santa Rosa April 13th

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Resuming regular outdoor programs

Next weekend, we plan to resume our usual Sunday programs held outdoors in the Dana Sala - all are welcome to join in person or online: 

  • 9-10am: Sunday morning guided meditation and Q&A

  • 11am: Welcome to join for an outdoor pot-luck meal

  • 1-2:30pm: Sunday afternoon Sutta study

Our Tuesday evening Dhamma talk program continues, online-only. 

To register for these events, see our News and Events page.

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A verse offered by Ayyā Tathālokā on our final evening of retreat:

“Find joy in not clinging to anything.
Free from afflictions, and radiant with wisdom,

May you attain Nibbāna in this very life.”

Yesaṁ sambodhiyaṅgesu sammā cittaṁ subhāvitaṁ |

Ādānapaṭinissagge anupādāya ye ratā |

Khīṇāsāvā jutimanto te loke parinibbutā ||

  • - the Buddha, Dhammapāda 89
    (English adapted from second half of verse)

Offered upon the completion of Dhammadharini’s winter retreat 31 Mar 2024
Sharing blessings, amidst the spring blossoms at Dhammadharini Monastery

May you be well and happy!

With metta,

-from the Dhammadharini Community

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All Dhammadharini programs are freely offered as gifts of Dhamma Dana. If, out of gratitude, or to “pay it forward,” you wish to offer Sangha Dana of food, lodgings or any of the other four requisites of life to support the Dhammadharini Bhikkhuni Sangha, information can be found here.

Dhammadharini Monastery
6791 Sturtevant Dr., Penngrove CA 94951
tel or text: +1 707.583.9522
more info on the web @ dhammadharini.net
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