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
Our recently concluded month-long retreat, although relatively quiet and much appreciated, has not been entirely uneventful. Apart from the burst water pipe, however, these developments have been long awaited and much welcomed. After being held up for several weeks at the port of Genoa, we imagine due to the perplexity of the customs officials, our new Buddha image finally arrived and looks majestic among the trees in front of the main house. It is made from bronze, with an oxidised surface to withstand the weather, is in the walking posture and, including the plinth, is almost 4 metres high (it had to be taller than Ajahn Chandapalo!). The left hand is raised with theforefinger touching the thumb in the "blessing mudra", thus welcoming and blessing visitors as they arrive at the monastery. It was sculpted especially and uniquely for this monastery by a well known Thai architect. The donor will be here with a large group of friends from Thailand for a formal offering and inauguration ceremony at the time of the Kathina on Sunday 11th October. Naturally you are all most welcome to attend, see programme for details.
When we had almost given up hope that Ajahn Jutindharo's application for Italian citizenship would ever be accepted, even this eventually came through and a few days ago he formally took the statutory oath in front of the Mayor of Poggio Nativo, thus allowing him to have an Italian passport while still retaining his Thai nationality. As well as making his residence in Italy more secure it also means that it will be much easier to visit other European countries, especially England, where it would be useful for him to attend some of the meetings of senior monks that take place on a regular basis.
Having a large unfenced property with ill-defined borders has meant that, up until now, hunters have had the legal right to enter and shoot within the monastery precincts, a situation that has been very undesirable, to say the least. This year, just as the hunting season was due to begin, this problem has been resolved with the granting of a nature reserve status and we have been given "hunting forbidden" signs to put in strategic places. Rejoice all living beings at Santacittarama, now able more than ever to live up to it's meaning of "Garden of the Peaceful Heart"!
Many of you will remember Anagarika Gianni from Sienna. He is now wearing the brown robes of the novice monk (samanera) with the name of Aruno, which literally means "dawn" as in the rising of the sun and thus symbolises the process of awakening. May this inspiring name be a constant support and reminder to him through the ups and downs of monastic life. The ceremony took place at Chithurst Monastery in England, where he will remain for the time being, and was attended by our good friends Luciano and Alma, who formally offered his alms bowl.
Back at Santacittarama, a young man from Latina called Giovanni, who has been staying for several months, is preparing to shave his head, put on white clothes and formally request the 8 precepts, to begin his monastic training as an anagarika (postulant). After two years as a lay resident, Daniele has moved on, but not very far. In fact he is only 12 Km away at Fara Sabina and looking for suitable work in the area. Marco, who was here for around eight months has now returned home, near Ancona, perhaps to return for next year's winter retreat.
A recent addition to the forthcoming programme is the weekend retreat to take place near Ragusa in Sicily from 6th to 8th November. Places are limited, so anyone interested should contact the organiser as soon as possible, and before 15th October. There may also be a meeting at a yoga centre in Catania on the evening of Monday 9th November, details will be available nearer the time.
you all a most peaceful autumn!