The resident community of the monastery consists usually of four to six monks, one or two novices (Anagarika) and a secretary. Presently, the following people are living on a long-term basis at Dhammapala:
Ajahn Khemasiri was born in Magdeburg in former East Germany in 1950. He first became interested in Buddhism in 1977 in Berlin, after having met two respected monks from the Tibetan tradition, the late 16th Karmapa and Kalu Rimpoche. In early 1978 in London, he encountered Ajahn Sumedho – the senior Western disciple of the Thai meditation master Ajahn Chah – and was inspired to begin Dhamma practice under his guidance. Eventually he moved to England and in 1984 became a postulant (Anagarika) in the newly opened Amaravati Buddhist Centre. In 1986 he was granted acceptance into the Bhikkhu Sangha at Chithurst Forest Monastery (Cittaviveka). He spent his primary monastic years in several British monasteries and then moved on to Dhammapala Monastery in the Swiss Bernese Oberland in 1993. His time at Dhammapala was interrupted in 1995 by an extended visit to the Buddhist holy places in Nepal and India and an almost four-year stay in monasteries and secluded places in Thailand and Burma. He returned to Switzerland at the end of 1999 and in 2005 became the successor to Ajahn Thiradhammo as the leader of the small monastic community in Kandersteg.
In 2018 he relinquished his administrative and leadership duties, passing on the responsibilities to his successor Ajahn Abhinando. During the following approx. two years he visited several European branch monasteries, which included extensive stays at Santacittarama in Italy, Tisarana Monastery in Ontario/Canada and Amaravati Monastery in England. He returned to Dhammapala in July 2020 as a GEM to the local community – a Guiding Elder Monk – which is a gracious but deliberately nebulous description of his new role within the Swiss monastery.
Ajahn Abhinando was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1966. His first Dhamma teacher was Godwin Samaratne from Kandy in Sri Lanka, whom he met during a weekend course in Hamburg in 1991. The following year he encountered Ajahn Sumedho in Hamburg and was deeply impressed by him. So he moved over to Chithurst Monastery in England, where he was accepted into the Bhikkhu Sangha with Ajahn Sumedho as his preceptor in 1994. Initially he stayed for five years at Chithurst, with Ajahn Sucitto as his abbot and mentor. After that he also lived at Santacittarama Monastery in Italy and at Bodhinyanarama Monastery in New Zealand. Eventually in 2002 he was drawn to Aruna Ratanagiri Monastery in the North of England. There he served the community as the second monk behind Ajahn Munindo for fifteen years and also started to offer teachings to the many supporters and visitors of the monastery. Since 2004 he is also teaching meditation courses in other places within Europe. In the summer of 2017 he became a member of the monastic community at Dhammapala which, since the hand-over from Ajahn Khemasiri in October 2018, he is now serving as abbot.
Ajahn Kāñcano was born in Montijo, Portugal, on 22nd July 1968. He lived in England for almost nine years, where his interest and practice of Buddhism began. In late 2003 he moved to Thailand with the intention of further developing his practice and seeking higher ordination. He lived for two years at Wat Pah Nanachat and on 6th July 2005 he received upasampadā (bhikkhu ordination) with Luang Por Liem Thitadhammo as preceptor. He then lived for a further nine months at Ajahn Anan’s monastery, Wat Marp Jun, near Rayong. In November 2006 he returned to England and lived at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery until July 2012, at which time he was invited along with Ven. Ajahn Vajiro and Ajahn Subbadho to initiate the project for a monastery in Portugal. Since December 2012 he has been offering his solid support to the community in Dhammapala.
Ven. Manuñño (Didier Linares) grew up in the South of France. As a teenager, a brief description of Buddhism in a book led to a Eureka moment and an ongoing fascination with Buddhism. He went on study chemistry, but just before completing his engineer’s degree, he moved to London in the late 90s, where he ended up working as a night editor in a media monitoring company. In 2004, the obsessive reading of Dhamma books resumed and the search for ‘the perfect teacher’ began. The journey started with Tibetan Buddhism before discovering the teaching of Dogen Zenji and Soto Zen. In 2006, while looking online for longer meditation retreats near London, he found Amaravati. Numerous retreats at Amaravati Retreat Centre led to a growing appreciation for the teaching of Luang Por Chah and the Thai Forest Tradition, and culminated in Ven. Manuñño joining the community as the Retreat Centre Household Manager, a role he remained in for three years. In 2016, Ven. Manuñño finally decided to jump in the deep end by requesting the Anagārika training. On 27 July 2018, he received full acceptance as a Bhikkhu with Ajahn Amaro as preceptor. He has been spending a year and half in Norway before joining the Dhammapala sangha in May 2023.
Anagārika Robert was born in Timișoara, Romania, in 1980 with Hungarian and German roots. He came into serious contact with Buddhism for the first time in 2012 during his studies in Konstanz in the form of “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction”. This secular program left many unanswered questions and so he traced back until he arrived at the forest monastery tradition and at Luang Por Chah, whom he experienced in a particularly impressive way in “The Mindful Way”, a BBC documentary, which became a key experience for him. From Lake Constance he traveled several times to meditation retreats on the Beatenberg near Interlaken, where he got to know various teachers from different traditions; However, he initially didn’t dare to go to Dhammapala monastery because he wanted to continue working as a teacher: in 2015 he moved to a housing project in Bremen and taught history, ethics and Spanish at a Delmenhorst high school. After several years of professional practice, the essential question that had accompanied him since the beginning of uncovering the roots of mindfulness finally caught up with him again with increasing urgency: whether ordination was not the right thing for him. He came to the monastery for the first time with this question in 2020 and since April 2023 Robert has been on the way as anagārika to turn the question into the answer day by day.
Tanja Klee was born in Essen in 1967. On a trip to Thailand during her studies, she visited Wat Pah Nanachat in 1990 and became acquainted with the practice of the forest monastery tradition. Having reached the end of her search for the “right” religion, she took refuge and the 5 precepts with Ajahn Jayasaro. After returning to Germany, she became a regular visitor to the Dhammapala Monastery in Konolfingen, later in Kandersteg and the Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in England. Since March 2022 she has been supporting the community as secretary.