This spring Luang Por Sumedho has brought us great pleasure with another visit to Dhammapala Monastery. Luang Por came for two weeks, together with his longtime assistant Ajahn Asoko, whose family lives in Geneva. Their stay was a kind of extended stop-over on the way from Singapore, where Luang Por had been teaching, to Canada and the USA, where the two are visiting both Ajahn Viradhammo and his community in Tisarana Monastery near Ottawa and Ajahn Jayanto and team at Jetavana Monastery in New Hampshire. We therefore promised to give him plenty of time to rest and recover before the jump across the Atlantic.
Luang Por certainly enjoyed his rest, and had plenty of spare energy to inspire us and many of our friends with Dhamma talks and conversations. Luang Por attended our Vesak celebration in Hinterkappelen offering the Dhamma talk in Thai. A large number of visitors then came to the monastery on Sunday 26th May to listen to his reflections in English. It turned out to be an over two hours long meeting! Luang Por’s English language talk is available on our English Dhamma audio page with the title: Awareness is Peaceful.
A week later we received a visit by Luang Por Damrong and Luang Por Sophon, two Thai disciples of Ajahn Chah. Both of them, like Luang Por Sumedho, have been wearing the monk’s robes for more than 50 years. Both have previously visited Dhammapala. This time they stayed for five days. Unfortunately they don’t speak any English and none of the monks resident here at the moment speak any Thai, which limited our communication. They did enjoy their stay though and many of our friends of Thai descent took the opportunity to visit and speak with the experienced teachers from Thailand.
Now we are looking forward to the vassa of the Buddhist year 2562. In Asia the vassa (rainy season) traditionally is a time of retreat for the monastic communities, in which their members focus more intensely on formal meditation practice and the study of their rules. Here in the west however, summer tends to be the busiest time for us. Our formal retreat time instead does take place during the winter months. We still observe the formal framework of the traditional vassa though (for example restrictions on travel) and it will as usual be completed with the Kathina ceremony, the traditional celebration of community and generosity (see events).
For this year’s vassa we are expecting the arrival of two monks: Ajahn Dto Pesalo; who many of you know from his previous extended stay at Dhammapala, plans to be with us for six months until the end of the year. And Tan Viranando, a German monk who started his training at Wat Pah Nanachat, staying for nine months until after the winter retreat. So then we will be five monks and an anagarika (novice) as Peter Heini, a longtime friend of the monastery, will start his training before the vassa; his precept ceremony will take place on the 1st of July.