Wednesday, 7 October 2009
Thursday, 1 October 2009
Ajahn Punnyo (by Ron Livingston)
Our rains retreat (or Vassa) has entered its final week and on Sunday it will come to a close with the Pavarana day, a traditional day to mark the occasion where monks invite their fellow monastics to offer admonishment regarding their behaviour over the last three months. This observance is aimed at fostering communal harmony within a monastery, which usually grows in members for the rains retreat, and it also serves as an important chance to reflect on our own deeds and how we relate to those around us. Shortly after Vassa many monasteries host a Kathina festival where the lay community gather to offer the Kathina robe, and this year Harnham’s is on the 11th of October (click here for more details). Many guests are expected including Luang Por Sumedho and the Thai Ambassador, His Excellency Mr.Kitti Wasinondh. Our sister monasteries are also hosting Kathina’s - most on different days to ours - and information is on their websites. Back at Harnham, we were happy to be visited by our neighbours, Brian and Lindsey, this week. They had been growing potatoes and decided to offer a bagful as Dana to the monastery. It has been rather an active week all round including a mass visit to the dentist by 5 of us, an inspection of Yurts over at Burnlaw, virtual completion of the wi-fi downloading facility of Dhamma talks at Kusala House and Ajahn Munindo's sabbatical book project going off to the printers. Ajahns Abhinando and Punnyo visited Micky and Trudy for a night then walked three and half hours back to the monastery (a wee dander compared to Ajahn Punnyo's usual marathons to Hexham and back). And finally this week saw us join in for the big kitchen cleanup, where we made the larder, fridges and oven squeaky clean ready for the visitors at Kathina. Samanera Ariyo and Anagarika Gabor were especially diligent with cleaning the kitchen conservatory and oven, an area that is occasionally missed in the daily washing up. Ajahn Munindo has announced to the Sangha here that this Sunday evening's Dhamma talk will be different.Turns out it will be 8 talks - one from each community member. That will be different, and interesting!
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
The days are becoming noticeably shorter but we are still enjoying these lovely late summer/early autumn weather. Ajahn Punnyo’s weekend retreat, which was held over the weekend, went very smoothly. Many of the retreatants were regular and experienced but for others this was their first retreat in Theravada meditation. The teachings were focused on mindfulness of the body and the breath, as well as discussing the theme of the ‘tools’ we can use in meditation to overcome specific hindrances. Immediately following the weekend the monastic community engaged in our own quiet time for a few days. We have now returned to normal schedule (although the on-line calendar indicated we were on retreat for longer. Can’t always believe what you read). The dry stone wall behind Kusala House is being repaired - damage from the time of installing the sewerage system had caused it to gradually lean over to one side looking perilously like it could collapse. A small new store room is being constructed by Samanera Ariyo behind the Dhamma hall. It is interesting (and at times challenging) to notice how apparently straight-forward tasks are not necessarily easy. This applies to the job of tidying up of our monastery address book. Not wanting to rely too much on computers we maintain a paper copy also. This apparently simple task has occupied our resident computer expert Anagarika Gabor for weeks. It seems we are there now. If any of you change your contact details please don’t hesitate to let us know.
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
Picnic at the Sneep Farm
Our annual Sangha picnic was held on Saturday at The Sneep, the home of Micky and Trudy Macgregor, which is about an hours drive from Harnham. The day started with a shared meal out in the garden where fortunately the sun shone persistently all day (hats and sun-cream were wisely worn). After the meal Ajahn Abhinando and Micky led the Sangha and many friends on a trek around the neighbouring countryside, up hills, through woods and over streams and after three and a half hours (seven and a half miles) we returned to the garden for a cup of tea. The following day Harnham Monastery was paid a visit from Peter Harvey, the Buddhist scholar and Professor at
On Friday Ajahn Punnyo’s weekend retreat begins in which 20 or so meditators are expected to join in a few days of mindfulness and reflection, and at the same time Ajahn Abhinando is visiting
Thursday, 10 September 2009
Thursday, 3 September 2009
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
On Monday, this week’s quiet day, the Sangha went to Holy Island, the historical home of Saint Cuthbert. Dana was offered by Mame, Maureen, Daeng, Kath and Penny. After the picnic the community went exploring, fortunately all managed to return to the mainland before the tide came swooping in.
Kusala house is host to an abundance of guests this week, including Tan Nyanamoli’s mother, Mrs Molnar, who has come from Serbia and KH manager Myke’s big sister, Helena, who has come from Wales. Also Ben (of Friday 7th August blog entry) is back with us after spending time at a School of Mystics just north of the border. Our old friend Martin Reilly is arriving on Thursday (he will come from Amulree) to consult on Dhamma and dry stone walling. We are hoping he will be pleased to see the work we have performed on his Kusala House sign (with text now highlighted by Skipper) and the ‘splitting ignorance asunder while I sit on the mountaintop’ inscription, which is now visible to the left of the Dhamma Hall. The inscription is taken from the Theragatha (v. 544) and is attributed to King Asoka's nephew Kaludayin, post-enlightenment, in reference to his determination in pursuing the goal.
The future is holding many auspicious events for Harnham. On Sunday the sixth of September Anagarikas Michael and Skipper will go forth as novice monks in a double pabbajja. They are working hard to put the finishing touches on their robes with the help of Ajahn Sawaeng. The date for Kathina has also been decided and we are delighted to confirm that Luang Por Sumedho (Tan Chao Khun Raja Sumedhajahn) and the Thai Ambassador (His Excellency Mr.Kitti Wasinondh) will be attending. All are welcome and we hope to see many new friends as well as old.