2011 Nov 22 Vassa Thanksgiving

Giving Thanks and Sharing Joy ~ Highlights of the 2011 Vassa and Beyond

Dear Friends of the Buddha, of the Dhamma and of our Sangha,

In this time of Thanks Giving, our Dhammadharini Women's Monastic Community and Friends would like to thank you for making all this possible.

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We share with you some of the highlights of what you have joined, shared in and supported during these past months time.

Dhammadharini was able to host a full Bhikkhuni Sangha here in Northern California for the full Three Monthlong Vassatime Retreat for the 2nd year in history,  hosting bhikkhunis and samaneris from the US, New Zealand, Australia and Germany ~ with five bhikkhunis, two novices, two regularly visiting novices, one anagarika and nearly ten part-time visiting lay women retreatants.

Building our Greater Women's Monastic Sangha  
At the beginning of vassa we enjoyed our growing sense of Bhikkhuni Sangha community in the West, with Skype visits with the bhikkhuni communities at Sati Saraniya Hermitage in Canada, Bhavana Society in West Virginia, Mahapajapati Monastery in the Mohave Desert and Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage in Australia.

Deep Retreat Time  
This year, for the first time, we were able to offer deep and secluded, fully supported, one-month-long retreat for four bhikkhunis, two novices and one longterm lay steward.  One bhikkhuni shared afterwards: "This makes it all worth it."  Another friend gave thanks, saying her retreat time was the best time of her entire life.

Ven Suvijjana Bhikkhuni meditating down at Dharma Creek

We would especially like to thank Jane, Healah, Ruth, Shari, Tara, and Sherry who helped with vassa preparations, and served as the main Vassa Retreat support team, in addition to our resident monastic community.

We'd also like to thank our main Supporters ~
Jill Rayna who offered meal dana three days of the week the whole Vassa-long, 
The dedication and commitment of Lal, June, Brenda and Sumana towards providing requisites with the commitment that we would not lack for what was necessary,
Lal and Udana and Friends, Pamela, Sumana, Hisayo and Friends, Holly and Martha for their visits and offerings of meal dana, 
And both Jane and Samaneri Sr Nibbida for their all-important kitchen management.

The Support of Dhamma Teachings ~ We were blessed with Dhamma Teachings from the in-person visits from the Ajahn Pasanno, Bhante Shantarakshita, venerable Bhikkhuni Metteyya, and Ajahn Brahmali, as well as by Ajahn Maha Prasert Kavissaro's Ovada at Wat Buddhanusorn, and personal meditation teachings by Skype from Ajahn Brahm and Bhante Gunaratana, as well as regular teaching from Ayya Tathaaloka and Ayya Sobhana. We thank ALL of our teachers.

Special Gifts during this Vassatime
Ann Valliant joining us in that all-important position as a volunteer bookkeeper for our Dhammadharini Support Foundation.
We had a special visit from the Awakening of Deep Refuge group from East Bay Meditation Center led by Joan Doyle,
Varuni and her mother and Dhammika's offering of the completion of our Micro-Hydro --> now Solar Project,
And Gwyn's mother donation of our hermitage's 6th kuti.

there was the Very Uncommon Gift of the Stupa
Tremendous Anumodana and gratitude to Amparo and David, Ayya Sobhana, Supatra, Amadee and Pimjai, Gwyn, Lulu and Julie, Jill, Christopher and our neighbor Don, Ven Adhimutta, Sr Marajina, Ajahn Anan, Bhante Shanta and fellow bhikkhu from ABS Temple, Lal and Waruni, Mythilla and Milindha who brought sand.

clouds like a gathering of devas above the cap-stone on the stupa moving morning

Then there was 
the first International Bhikkhuni Day on September 17th (see Sarita's charming slideshow herefor which we wish to thank Susan Pembroke and the Alliance for Bhikkhunis for their brilliant idea, Jill for her inspiration and organization, those who brought the gift of sacred relics to be enshrined and the gift of Buddha Rupas, and Shari Gent for making our first hermitage calendar, offered on that day.

On September 21 Ayya Tathaaloka also offered our women's monastic community's Participation in the International Prayer for Peace in Fremont with Interfaith Women for Peace, which she participated in co-founding earlier in the year.

We also dearly mention our great gratitude to
dear Friend and former treasurer Karen Welz who passed away just at the end of this past vassa, with thanks to Ven Adhimutta who shared a message on behalf of our entire monastic and lay friends' community at Karen's memorial service on October 16th, the eve of the ordinations.

Also for the ordinations eve, we wish to share our special gratitude for venerable Bhikkhu Analayo's dedication of his teaching at Spirit Rock to our Bhikkhuni Sangha.

on October 17th, upon the completion of our Vassa, 
there was the crowning gathering of the Four-fold Sangha, 
the Bhikkhuni Ordinations at Spirit Rock.
You can see a video of the procession hereand photos here.

Ayya Tathaaloka reading the first instructions to the newly ordained bhikkhunis at Spirit Rock
Photo: Ed Ritger www.edritger.com 

The Western Buddhist Monastic Gathering also began on the evening of October 17th at the City of the Dharma Realm, with a gathering of Western Buddhist Monastics from all traditions around the country.  Read a report in Shambhala Sun here

And as the formal closing celebration of this year's Vassa, we had the second ever Aranya Bodhi Bhikkhuni Sangha Kathina, this year, with nine bhikkhunis gathered together: our Aranya Bodhi Bhikkhuni Sangha, Ajahn Thanasanti from Awakening Truth, and the new bhikkhuni venerables from Aloka Vihara ~ Ajahns Anandabodhi and Santacitta.

Upasika Dhammika and friends in our Dhammasala yurt
offering pure white Kathina cloth to the gathered Bhikkhuni Sangha

Through all of this, there was the steady support of our Dhammadharini Board of Directors and Committee Members together with our friends who have offered our women's monastic community the use of the Sonoma Coast land that is our Aranya Bodhi Awakening Forest Hermitage and East Bay house that is our Bodhi House.

And in Outcome,
a Very Wonderful Thing has Happened ~ with four bhikkhunis and two novices interested in staying on in harmonious community together here beyond the vassa.  This is a truly rare and precious gift, hard to come by, for which we are most grateful.

With the solar project, plus only two kutis and one accessible kuti remaining, we are coming near to completing Phase I of our hermitage master plan.  It is time for us to see if we may be able to support the presence of a Bhikkhuni Sangha, a women's monastic community, here in Northern California year-round.

May your hearts rejoice in all of our good intentions and their fulfillment.

Anumodana & Thank You!

With Metta,
Dhammadharini Sangha & the Friends of Dhammadharini

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Dhammadharini is supported 100% by your charitable donations and efforts.
Click here to make a donation in support of the future of our Northern California Bhikkhuni Sangha