Wednesday 7 October 2009

New Aruna Ratanagiri Website - New Blog

We redesigned , the 'Dana List and Announcements' has been moved to that website.

To see the blog, please click here.

To see the announcements, please click here.

To see the dana list, please click here.

Thursday 1 October 2009

The Final Week

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

Ajahn Punnyo's Retreat

Bolam Lake

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

The Sangha Picnic

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 Sunderland University. He led a day of study on the suttas, focusing on the Mahasatipatthana Sutta of the Digha Nikaya. In this crucial discourse The Buddha expounded the four foundations of mindfulness as a means to liberation. We would like to express our gratitude and appreciation to Professor Harvey for his time and effort and we eagerly await his next study day. Ajahn Munindo reached the age of 58 this Wednesday. Abramina offered a full Dana to commemorate the day, and also her last day at the Monastery as she leaves for The Netherlands on Thursday. We wish her a safe journey and hope she returns soon.

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 Edinburgh to also lead a retreat for the weekend. This union of meditation joining the two countries is an inspiring thing to witness and we hope to see many people attending.

Thursday 10 September 2009

Aerial Antics in our Attic

going forth

After weeks of preparation, rehearsals and sowing, the Pabbajja (going forth) took place on Sunday morning. Anagarika Skipper is now Samanera Ariyo and Anagarika Michael is now Samanera Bodhinando. (For more photos from the ordination please click here.) We are all very happy to see them living the holy life once again. We had mixed reactions on Monday to the discovery that we have at least three new residents who have taken lodgings in the attic of our Main house. They are of course… Bats! Plans to renovate our roof required sensitivity to all the residents. The bats are from three completely different species, and it’s inspiring to see them coexisting so serenely in such a small space. This in some way mirrors our own international Sangha which is still peaceful and content. On Tuesday Ajahn Vajiro and Ajahn Achalo arrived to stay at Harnham for three nights, travelling up from Amaravati. On Wednesday the junior monks were given a talk from Ajahn Vajiro which has surely inspired diligence.

Thursday 3 September 2009

Old Friends and New Beginnings

fit for a samana

We are now in our final month of the (very) Rainy Season Retreat (vassa). Kathina preparations are underway, guests continue to visit and share in the quietude of the monastery and Harnham’s resident community is still evolving. On Monday Ajahn Munindo went to Amaravati to pay his respects and spend time with Luang Por Sumedho. On the same day Ajahn Abhinando returned refreshed from leading a retreat in Spain. On the horizon is Sunday’s Pabbajja, in which Anagarikas Michael and Skipper will become Novice monks (Sameneras). All are invited to this very auspicious event and witness the precept ceremony which will begin at 9:30 am. Final preparations are underway, and both applicants are pleased to have their sowing finished and their new robes ready. Many friends will be here for the occasion. We’re delighted that Andrew, our since retired Kusala House Manager, will be coming up from Hull to see his friends enter a new stage of their lives. An international crowd also arrived on Thursday, with Abramina arriving from the Netherlands to stay for a fortnight. Ajahn Abhinando’s mother is likewise staying for two weeks. We may not have the European weather to share with our visitors but we trust they will find other joys during their stay.

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Splitting Ignorance Asunder

our contemplative artist in residence

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.

Ajahn Abhinando left on Tuesday with Cesare for the airport, where he heads south for Spain to lead a retreat. Cesare returned to his homeland of Italy and we eagerly look forward to his next visit. Ajahn Punnyo has returned to Yorkshire to visit his parents and will be meeting with the Leeds group, Dhammapala, on Friday.

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.