At the beginning of our active period in 2018 we are reminiscent of the fact, that the current year actually marks the 30th anniversary of Dhammapala in Switzerland. As the longest standing member of the present monastic community I have the felt sense, that only a maximum of 20 years could have possibly passed by in the meantime. But perceptions of time can be very deceptive, depending on many factors: one’s own age, the abundance of events, the multiple changes within the local and wider Sangha community etc.. So we are not going to follow any individual temporal deceptions, but are making a very conscious note of the fact, that Dhammapala has now without doubt grown into adulthood.
(details about the early days and the development of Dhammapala you can find here).
By coincidence we recently even found out the exact date of Dhammapala’s beginning in Switzerland. Ajahn Chandapalo, who besides Ajahn Thiradhammo was one of the first monks who moved into the old Dhammapala in Konolfingen near Bern in 1988 and is now the abbot of Santacittarama in Italy, stumbled across his first registration document whilst cleaning up old piles of paper, which had the precise date on it of the opening of the monastery: May 4th, 1988.
The second version of Dhammapala began in Kandersteg in the spring of 1991. The continuity of its existence ever since the beginning has of course been dependant upon the monastic community. Many monks – and occasionally even nuns – have been part of maintaining Dhammapala as a place for further monastic training and practice. Some felt called to take on a stronger commitment to the place by accepting leadership roles and teaching commitments, whilst the majority played a more supportive role in the background. There have been times of challenges and times of smooth sailing within the community, but overall the strong commitment to the Dhamma-Vinaya by its individual members prevailed even over the greatest challenges.
Slowly and gradually Dhammapala has since then also developed a reputation of being a place of spiritual refuge for many laypeople of the most diverse backgrounds and nationalities. Besides that its integration into the local village network has also been firmly established, and despite its ongoing exotic image we’re generally met locally with a great deal of kindness and appreciation.
Another important reason for reminiscence during this calendar year is the 100th birthday of our much loved and revered teacher Ajahn Chah – or Luang Por Chah as he was affectionately called – on the 17th of June. In Thailand this anniversary has already been commemorated around the 16th of January – Ajahn Chah’ death day – as climatical conditations are more favourable around that time of year for thousands of people to set up camp inside Wat Nong Pah Pong (Ajahn Chah’s monastery). Three full days were spent meditating and contemplating together the teachings and the heritage of Luang Por Chah (see photos above).
As climatical conditions in Switzerland are generally more favourable around the time of Ajahn Chah’s birthday in June, we would like to reminisce our teacher at that time. We invite everyone, who has been appreciating his teachings over the years, to join us for a day of commemoration. The whole day will be spent with quiet meditation and reflection, punctuated by readings and short talks about the significance of our teacher’s heritage. If you are interested to participate, please contact he monastery office for details from June 1st onwards.