S A N T A C I T T A R A M A B U D D H I S T M O N A S T E R Y
What comes foremost to mind as the winter retreat draws to a close is a sense of appreciation and gratitude for all the support that we have received during this precious time. Providing for the material needs of a community of eleven residents is no small matter, and the generosity of many kind people has been keeping us well nourished and in adequate comfort. Given the greater stability and focus of the last three months, apart from the individual inner work that such an occasion offers, it has also been very conducive in developing community cohesion and cooperation. Several visitors have recently remarked on the monastery's bright and harmonious atmosphere.
While it has been a relatively quiet time for the community, it has not been entirely uneventful. Ajahn Jutindharo returned to Thailand for several weeks in January and was honored with an ecclesiastical title in recognition of his Dhamma service overseas. The title is "Phra Khru", perhaps vaguely comparable to Monsignor in the Catholic tradition, and with it comes a new name - Santidhammaviteth - which may be translated as "Messenger of Peace". It is his preference, however, considering this to be merely a worldly convention of no great significance, to continue to be called Ajahn Jutindharo. At a formal ceremony in Bangkok he received a special ceremonial fan and certificate, shown in the photograph below.
Ajahn Jutindharo with his parents
Ajahn Suvaco also returned to Thailand, for the first time since arriving in Italy nearly three years ago, and we look forward to having him back here in early April. It was thought that he would need an eye operation but, fortunately, the problem was resolved instead with medication.
Good Friday this year coincided with the equinox, the first day of spring, and was also the full moon and last day of the cold season in our Buddhist calendar. On this auspicious occasion Jaime and Luis, two young Spanish men that have been here since November, shaved their heads, donned white clothes and formally took the eight precepts, thus beginning their monastic training as anagarikas.
It also happened to be on a Good Friday that Ajahn Chandapalo first arrived in Italy, when Santacittarama was still based at Sezze Romano. He will be visiting England until April 11th, spending some time with his parents and attending a gathering of senior monastics at Amaravati.
Anagarikas Gianni, Luis and Jaime
Work began a little later than planned on Kusala, the men's guesthouse, which was very soon discovered to have inadequate foundations, for what is considered a seismically active area. This means that, first of all, the existing foundations need to be reinforced, which considerably adds to the cost of the project and to the length of time for its completion. Any financial contributions, however modest, will be much appreciated. Please don't hesitate to contact us for details of the monastery account.
Hopefully it will be finished and usable again by late July. In the meantime the accommodation available for male guests is very limited, especially as the resident community is already quite large. Perhaps two men will be able to stay at any one time, in quite basic, shared, camping-level conditions. However there are several possibilities for lodging outside the monastery, including a very reasonable "bed and breakfast" facility only 15 minutes walk away, and we are happy to provide information to anyone who might be interested.
When the builders have completed what they are contracted to do, there will still be some finishing work that we will undertake, such as plastering and painting, before it will be ready for use. Help at this stage would be very useful, so please let us know if you have any skill or time and energy to offer. We can let you know what is needed, and when, nearer the time.
Volunteers needed for study of the effects of meditation
A group of researchers at the Faculty of Psychology at the Università Sapienza of Rome are conducting a study of the effects of Buddhist meditation on lay practitioners. Anyone interested in participating, whether beginners or more experienced, are invited to contact Dr. Antonino Raffone (Nino) at the following email address: [email protected] for further information.
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