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
e w s l e t t e r J a n u a r y 2 0 0 5
Looking back as another year draws to a close, as usual this one has had its ups and downs, its comings and goings. Not always as regular and predictable as the seasons, yet never failing to demonstrate the ever changing cycles of nature. Overall it has not been a bad year for us; indeed we have a lot to be grateful for. The sangha abides in harmony and is generously supported. An encouraging level of interest in Dhamma principles and practice continues to manifest. During the last few months I've had the opportunity to lead retreats at Greccio, Piacenza and in Sardinia, and have also visited Bari, Lecce, Catania, Palermo and Rome, giving public talks and meditation workshops there, as well as here at the monastery. It does feel like a privilege and an honour, as well as a challenge, to be involved in this 'Dhamma work'. We have also received much appreciated visits from senior monks, including Ajahn Sumedho, Ajahn Tiradhammo, Ajahn Sucitto, Ajahn Munindo, Ajahn Vajiro, Ajahn Suriyo and Ajahn Ariyasilo, who spent three months with us.
Ajahn Sucitto with anagarikas
Prospects for future development of the property suddenly look more promising. After some trials and tribulations, we now have the license to convert an outbuilding into accommodation, for women guests, and to modify the existing guest house. Soon we will be asking for estimates from building firms, and may begin work around spring time. Although the major structural work needs to be done by accredited professionals, we aim to do some of it ourselves.
Our surveyor informs us that obtaining a permit for a meditation hall should not be too difficult, as it only needs authorization from the local council. There isn't much choice with regard to location. It will have to be in the area where the cantina is, behind the tent, in order to satisfy building regulations of a distance of 150m from a water course. However, a two-story building seems feasible, having a large hall above and various utility rooms below. The main limiting factors now are related to deciding on a suitable design, and availability of funds.
Although this is an exciting and necessary development, it also occurs to me that one day we shall probably look back with nostalgia to the 'old days', when things were more basic and cosy. So, in the meantime, I've decided to appreciate and enjoy what is available for us now. Which may be a useful principle for life in general.
With all kind wishes for the new year,
Once again the community of Santacittarama is in silent retreat until the end of March. We very much appreciate this opportunity to dedicate ourselves more fully to meditation practice and Dhamma reflection, and we are grateful for being supported in this. Day visitors are still welcome if they wish to share the silence, bring food offerings or help in the kitchen. We will not be able to offer overnight accomodation during the retreat, and we will answer the telephone only in the morning between 7:30 and 8:30.
Ajahn Jutindharo is due back in mid-March from his 3-month visit to Thailand. During the winter we are three bhikkhus (Ajahn Chandapalo, Ajahn Sawaeng and Tan Mahapanyo), three anagarikas (Francesco, Quinto and Simon) and Luca, a long-term layman. Anagarika Mangalo has transferred to Aruna Ratanagiri Monastery in northern England, to continue his training there. We wish him well and hope to see him here again before too long. Quinto is an Italian from Potenza, while Simon is from Ljubljana in Slovenia; they took the precepts together in mid-November.
Ajahn Chandapalo is likely to be away on a 'sabbatical year' beginning in July. After 25 years of monastic life – half of this spent in Italy – much of the time engaged in helping to build and run monasteries, it seems a suitable time for a break from the duties of leading a community. His tentative plan is to spend the summer months on retreat in Slovenia and then, after a brief visit to Santacittarama for the Kathina ceremony (likely to be on October 22nd), to travel to Asia. He is due to participate in a meeting in Thailand with the abbots from the various western branches associated with Ajahn Chah. After this he may visit the branch monasteries in Australia and New Zealand. He is expected back at Santacittarama by July of 2006, at the latest.
Dhamma books on the web
A collection of newly translated talks by Ajahn Chah, "Everything is teaching us" is available at: http://www.forestsangha.org/chah.htm
Various books, including a new one by Ajahn Sumedho entitled "Intuitive Awareness" may be downloaded from: http://www.amaravati.org/abm/english/tch.html
A new collection of Dhamma Talks by Ajahn Munindo, entitled "An Unexpected Freedom", is available at: http://www.ratanagiri.org.uk/announ.htm.
A calendar for 2005 may be downloaded from here: http://www.ratanagiri.org.uk/talks/Cal2005.pdf