Change and transience are obvious topics for a news report and they will take centre stage in this one too, albeit in conjunction with stability.
Our monastic community for example remained stable over the summer – as proscribed by our rule, which requires us to stay in one place between the full moons of July and October. Some of us went on shorter travels, but always coming back to Kandersteg.
Unfortunately the coronavirus – with ups and downs in the number of infections, with sometimes tightened, sometimes relaxed anti-Covid measures – remained a constant companion too. Nevertheless, over the summer months we were able to keep the monastery open for overnight guests and also hold some courses with a reduced number of participants. Ajahn Khemasiri and Ajahn Abhinando were even able to lead courses in France and Spain respectively.
This year, at the end of October, we also had the opportunity for a larger celebration during Kathina time. Around 240 visitors, all of them vaccinated, recovered or tested, came to the Kandersteg village hall to be part of the event and bestow the monastery with their generous gifts. Ajahn Kongrit from our sister monastery Amaravati in England overcame all corona hurdles to visit us and keep alive the good Dhammapala tradition to deliver the Dhamma talk in Thai. We very much enjoyed also having him with us for over a week afterwards. For our Thai supporters it was a special pleasure to finally be able to receive instructions in meditation and Buddhist practice in their mother tongue.
The streaming of some of our Saturday evening talks or question & answer sessions have proofed to be very popular, so we have three more of them planned for the rest of the year – one in English and two in German (see our web-calendar for details).There will most likely be a pause for these events during our winter retreat period, before we resume them again in April.
As one would expect, the physical shape of the monastery also remained stable, or at least changed only very little over the last months. Our only shape shifting project has been the renovation of our larder. Thanks to energetic efforts by our good friend Erich Leu and a few other generous helpers it now looks much brighter and more orderly, with all sensitive food items being protected against hungry rodents by new steel shelves encaged in wire-mesh. Only the floor got left behind, still showing its rugged appearance from bygone days. We intend to give it a tiled face lift after the Winter Retreat.
We hope that the courses that are still planned here at Dhammapala during the remainder of the year can take place as planned despite the increasing number of Covid infections in Switzerland.
After the New Year’s course, our community plans to withdraw as usual into the annual winter retreat, for which we were again able to put together a very compact support team. Several friends have even pledged to stay for the whole winter until the end of March or beyond. So, during winter the monastery will remain closed to the outside world and thus to the ups and downs and back and forth of the Covid pandemic. It remains to be seen, whether that persistent virus, or one of its mutations, will continue to ‘stand on the mat’ to thwart our plans, when we reopen the gates at the end of March.
Unfortunately, instead of the virus, we are sure to ‘get rid of’ someone else, whom we would have loved to keep with us for longer: Our secretary Doris is looking for new challenges in her work life. After more than four years of excellent cooperation, she will leave her job in the monastery, but will hopefully stay with us as a friend and visitor. Doris was a stroke of luck for Dhammapala. The generosity with which she brought her many professional and human skills to the monastery has contributed greatly to the harmonious development of our community over the past few years.
Fortunately, in Tanja Klee, we have also found a very promising successor for Doris. Tanja has been visiting Dhammapala and other monasteries of our tradition regularly since the early 1990s and is accordingly as familiar to us as our tradition is to her. Tanja will take over the monastery office from the beginning of 2022, initially as a guest and part of the winter retreat support team, and from the beginning of March as a paid secretary.
Of the monastic community, Tan Jayaviro will return to Santacittarama in Italy at the beginning of December. Ajahn Ariyo would like to join us again from England and stay at Dhammapala for half a year. We hope to be able to give Anagarika Lionel the samanera precepts before the end of the year.
And that is enough changes for us for the time being.
Let’s hope that the virus will leave us alone a lot more in the coming year and that we can get back to something like our usual rhythm. Most of the events that we have planned for next year are already displayed in the event list and the web calendar or should appear there soon. We hope to see many of you here again next year.
With kind regards,