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December Newsletter



by Ajahn Chandapalo


As the end of the year approaches we are preparing for the usual influx of guests over the festive season, and for the monastic retreat which follows.  Although the guest house is already fully booked for the Christmas and New Year holiday period, and so further overnight accomodation not available, the monastery will remain open for day visits.  One is welcome to come for the meal at 11am - possibly bringing a contribution - and for a silent meditation at 4pm (which will be part of the daily routine from Dec 27th until Jan 6th), followed by tea at 5 and evening chanting and meditation at 7:30.  The small meditation room attached to the guest house is always open for those looking for a quiet place to meditate at other times of the day.


Occasionally, around this time of year, someone brings a tree to plant, and this is something that we would like to encourage.  Most of the fruit trees here were planted long before we came, and probably won't last many more years, so it would be good to start planting some younger ones.  In our English monasteries a tradition has developed of planting trees in the memory of deceased relatives or friends, and this could also happen here.  It can be a meaningful way of making an offering on behalf of a loved one, thereby also giving shade and sustenance to other living beings as well as enhancing the monastery grounds.  If anyone is interested in planting a tree - before our retreat starts on January 8th - please let us know, so that we can suggest what types would be suitable in this environment and prepare the ground beforehand.

Anagarika Barry has returned to England after being here for almost a year.  Unfortunately he had to leave several weeks earlier than planned due to his father's rapidly declining health.  He had already intended to transfer to Amaravati monastery towards the end of the year, primarily in order to be closer to his elderly parents, and has asked to receive the 'going-forth' as a novice there.  We have appreciated his cheerful and helpful presence and are sorry to see him go, but wish him well in his continued monastic training.  Tan Savako, a French monk from Chithurst Monastery in England, has come to stay for one year and is quietly settling in.  He is doing well in gradually recalling the language, after having learnt it while living in Italy about 10 years ago.

Ajahn Jutindharo left for Thailand about a week ago, and I will join him there around January 7th.  We will return to Italy together with Ajahn Sawaeng on February 1st, to be here for the last two months of the winter retreat.  It is five years since I have been to Thailand, and the main reason for going this time is to be present at the 'casting-ceremony' of a specially-made Buddha image to be offered to Santacittarama.  Some very senior monks will be present at the ceremony, including Tan Somdet Buddhajahn, Abbot of Wat Saket - the Gold Mountain Monastery - in Bangkok; Ajahn Liam, Abbot of Wat Nong Pah Pong - Ajahn Chah's main monastery and Ajahn Sumedho.  The image will be about 2 metres high and in the 'Sarnath style' of the Buddha giving the first discourse to his five former ascetic companions.  Being in Thailand at this time will also give us the opportunity to attend the 12th anniversary commemoration of Ajahn Chah at Wat Pah Pong, together with other monks and lay disciples coming from many of the 250 associated monasteries.


We are beginning to draw up a programme of events for next year, and should be sending it out within the next few weeks.  Happily, we are now able to confirm that Ajahn Sumedho will be leading a retreat near Settefrati in the National Park of Abruzzo over Easter, from April 9th - 14th.  Ajahn Khantiko will also be leading a retreat at Casaprota, near Santacittarama, from April 23rd - 25th, if there is sufficient interest.  Both retreats are being organized by the A.Me.Co. (Association of Mindfulness Meditation) and bookings are not taken until one month before the retreat begins.  More detailed information will be available in the next newsletter.


We welcome any suggestions for themes for the 'Study and Practice Days' that are held here almost every month between spring and autumn.  Although we have already covered the most fundamental topics - Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, the Four Noble Truths, the Three Characteristics, the Divine Abidings etc., there is no reason why they cannot be repeated.  Please let us know what you are interested in.


Two more Dhamma talks in Italian translation have been added to the 'Insegnamenti' page of the web site: 'Dana' (Generosity) by Ajahn Vajiro and 'Il Giusto Controllo' by Ajahn Chah, both having a certain degree of relevance to the festive season!

The Sangha at Santacittarama send all their best wishes for peace and well-being in the new year!

Programme 2004

2nd - 6th JANUARY 2004:   Residential retreat near PIACENZA

With Ajahn Khantiko, at "Pian dei Ciliegi", Ponte  dell'Olio.  For booking and information contact: Gianni, tel: 0523-878948, email: [email protected]. Website: http://www.piandeiciliegi.it/.  In English with translation into Italian.

8th JANUARY - 31st MARCH:  Monastic Winter Retreat

Once again the community at Santacittarama will be on silent retreat. We greatly appreciate this opportunity to dedicate ourselves more fully to meditation practice and Dhamma reflection, and are grateful for being supported in this way. Day visitors are still welcome if they wish to share the silence, bring food offerings or help with cooking. During the retreat the telephone will be answered only from 7.30 to 8.30 am, and it will not be able to offer overnight accomodation.

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