The continuous snow cover already left our valley at the end of February and since then, despite the rather changeable weather, coltsfoot, liverwort, crocus & Co. have been beautifying the landscape with their dabs of colour. By now also the calendar confirms that it is spring again. And with that, another harmonious, pleasantly uneventful winter retreat has come to an end.
Well, some of you may have heard of the ‹most newsworthy› event in our closest vicinity: the big rock fall in Kandersteg. However, though for a short while shrouded in a cloud of dust, we were only observers of the event; the monastery was not damaged in any way. We just had to put in an extra cleaning session. Due to the far-spreading cloud of dust, the area for about a kilometer around looked something like after a volcanic eruption: everything was covered with a thin layer of limestone dust.
But that too now belongs in the realm of memories. Construction workers by now are busy with heavy machinery, clearing away the felled piece of forest and, as far as possible, moving rubble to allow the stream to flow away from the waterfall in an orderly manner again.
Ajahn Kancano has returned relaxed and refreshed from his four months time out in Thailand and Sri Lanka, Ajahn Khemasiri already having rejoined us in the beginning of February. In the photo above you can see us with our secretary Tanja, our aspiring anagarika Robert and Iren of the Winter Retreat team during our tradional ‘end-of-winter-retreat-outing’ on the Sunnbüel here in Kandersteg. Up there certainly even at the end of March we still had a very continuous snow cover!
As always, we would like to thank this year’s Winter Retreat team and all our many friends who have supported us so generously in our seclusion.
As planned, Tan Mahabodhi and Anagarika Yegor, who have been valued members of our community for almost 6 months now, will be leaving us in April. Tan Mahabodhi will return to Santacittarama in Italy, to help prepare for the official opening of the new temple and then move on to Sumedharama, our Portuguese monastery, in the summer. Yegor goes back to this same Sumedharama and then on to Thailand to become a monk at Wat Pah Nanachat. We wish both of them all the best and much success on their further path.
The good news is that we expect long-term ‘replacements’ for both of them. On April 16th, we want to impose the longed-for anagarika rules on Robert from Germany and welcome him into our community as the new postulant. He has already lived a quasi-novice life for two months as part of this year’s Winter Retreat team, so he is well prepared. Tan Manuñño wants to join us on May 22nd. Tan Manuñño has already spent time at Dhammapala Monastery as Anagarika Didier, then, as a monk, lived primarily at our main monastery, Amaravati, near London, and most recently as a junior monk at Lokuttara Monastery, near Oslo. Tan Manuñño is originally from France.
For this year’s vassa (the traditional rainy season retreat, usually from July to October), Tan Ice, a Thai monk from Santacittarama, would like to join us; so that, if everything works out, for this year’s vassa we will have five monks and one anagarika at the monastery. After vassa, Tan Ice will return to Thailand for a while and later to Italy, but should be replaced here by Ajahn Viranando. Ajahn Viranando is originally from Germany and lived with us for a longer period during 2019 and 2020. Now he also wants to join our community in the long term, so that – if all our plans come true – in terms of the monastic community Dhammapala should be a ‘full house’ for the foreseeable future.
In addition, we again itend to welcome several monks as guests this year. For the Vesakha celebration on May 21st and for almost two weeks before that, Ajahn Kongrit wants to join us again and will then be available in particular for our Thai friends. Since the beginning of this month Ajahn Kongrit is the new Abbot-designate at Lokuttara Monastery, and we are particularly grateful that he has graciously persisted in scheduling a visit despite his new commitments.
Right after our Vesakha celebration, Ajahn Amaro will stop by for almost a week. Ajahn Amaro, who has been Abbot of the Amaravati Monastery for many years, teaches a course in Frankfurt and from there comes to us by train before flying back to England. Ajahn Amaro has not been here for many years and, as the abbot of our largest monastery, is perhaps the busiest monk in our order. So we are particularly looking forward to his visit.
Our old friend Bhante Sukhacitto will be visiting us twice this spring, from May 8th to 15th and from June 8th to 13th. And in June, Ajahn Buddhivaro, a student of Phra Dhammapitaka Payutto, who some of you may remember from an earlier visit, will be visiting. Ajahn Buddhivaro brings with him two younger Ajahns from his monastery and will stay with us from 5th to June 20th. Dates that particularly our Thai supporters might also want to remember.
Then a third abbot, namely Ajahn Chandapalo of Santacittarama, has announced that he will be visiting from July 12th to 19th. He is now an almost regular and always very welcome guest. Ajahn Chandapalo will be accompanied by Tan Ice, who, as I mentioned, would like to spend the Vassa with us.
With Bhikkhu Vivekananda at the end of April another German monk, from Pa Auk Sayadaw’s monastery in Myanmar, will be visiting as well. And these are just the visits that are already agreed. So we have a lively first half of the year ahead of us.
This year we are again offering various courses and events, both in the monastery and abroad, including some Zoom talks. You can find more information on our website under the headings ‹Calendar›, ‹Events› and ‹ Guest at the monastery›. Many of the monastery events in the first half of the year will probably already be fully booked. It is also advisable to book early for visits outside of the courses.
First of all though, we look forward to see many of you at this year’s Vesakha celebration on Sunday 21st of May. It will be held again at the Kandersteg Gemeindesaal and is scheduled to start as usual at about 10am. No booking is needed for this event. All are welcome! You can find more information on our website calendar and soon also as a separate news item at this location.
With kind regards,