My updates trailed off in February 2013, sorry! Some updates and reflections can be found on Facebook under “Ven. Sudhamma” (www.facebook.com/ayyasudhamma.)
Here are some highlights from the missing months:
February: Realizing that Vien Quang Monastery, a friendly and beautiful Vietnamese temple in Clover, SC, had no internet presence, I created a Facebook page for them, www.facebook.com/CloverBuddhist. (First I had to learn how to do it.) These good monks and nuns give a heart-warming welcome to all beings. Each day they compassionately chant & ring an enormous bell half an hour
at daybreak and again at nightfall in hopes of briefly alleviating the pain of hell-beings, and they are even more kind towards human beings.
March: I gave some teachings here and there, and spent some days visiting Vien Quang Monastery and another temple. At this time I created the Bodhi Calendar of insight meditation sitting groups and related Buddhist activities in Charlotte.
April: Hiked a beautiful local mountain with a great
friend, Rev. Martha; did some teachings and some good deeds;
and attended an especially useful week-long meditation retreat at Southern Dharma Center led by Sayalay Susila (photo below).
May: Vesak full moon celebrations (Buddha’s birthday). Visited nuns’ communities in northern California for more than a month:
In Aranya Bodhi Hermitage’s thick woods, near Jenner CA, we held a weeklong camping conference of bhikkhunis that we called “Bhikkhuni Camp”. (Right click any photo for a better image in a new window.)
Some of us once visited the nearby beach, where our leader Ayya Tathaaloka walked in the bitterly cold waves to strengthen her balance (doctor’s orders). (This photo shows her afterwards shivering and getting covered by warm sand.) Also I visited a couple of centers run by solitary bhikkhunis, giving a Vesak talk at one. And I got to sit a 10 day retreat with an unusually large company of Theravada bhikkhunis and novices, generously hosted without charge by Spirit Rock Meditation Center (photos from Ajahn Sucitto’s retreat with a dozen nuns).
June: Upon my return to Charlotte from California, on the way home from the airport, some friends offered me the amazing opportunity to start a new little Vihara (a suburban house/temple/monastery) in a rental house right here in my hometown. Their motivation? To keep me here instead of moving into the Vietnamese temple in Clover, SC, where the monks and nuns had kindly offered to give me a place to
me a place to live. (I was staying at my mother’s home.) The Vihara house would be within walking distance of my family home, so I’d still be able to assist Mom as needed. I hesitated for several days, aware of the great commitment involved in organizing a community, before making the decision and happily forging ahead.
July: In mid-July, just before Vassa began, I moved into the new Charlotte Buddhist Vihara, already well-furnished by the efforts of many kind and generous donors.
August-now: It’s all about the new Vihara.
However, near the end of October , I did take a “vacation”, a 10 day trip to California for the Western Buddhist Monastic Conference (WBMG).
The WBMG is an annual warm friendly gathering of English-speaking ordained Buddhists of all traditions which meets in harmony, focused not on sectarian differences but on what we, as dedicated followers of the Buddha, have in common. Read about the gathering here. or view photos of the gathering and our related hunger walk fundraiser for Buddhist Global Relief.
(While in California I also visited Ayya Tathaaloka’s community’s pleasant and spacious new Vihara in Santa Rosa which opened just weeks after our Vihara.)
A dear friend of many years, Ayya Suvijjana Bhikkhuni, joined me at Charlotte Buddhist Vihara for a 3-month visit August-November. I don’t think I could have managed without her.
Just before she left, our end-of-Vassa (Kathina type) celebration was led by the
founder of the Staten Island Buddhist Vihara, the delightful Bhante Kondanna, with a good turnout.
The newest thing: We are initiating meditation groups at the Vihara through Meetup.com, the website that organizes people to meet to engage in hobbies or activities. See our Meetup page: www.meetup.com/Meditate-with-Monk-Buddhism-in-Charlotte. In the week since our page was announced on Meetup an astonishing fifty-two people have signed up for future meditations at the Charlotte Buddhist Vihara.
So this brings you up to date. My apologies to those whose comments have languished awaiting a response since I last used my password here. At least I have mostly maintained updates for the Bodhi Calendar which you can find embedded on this site, therefore to that extent my blog has remained alive.
Some new writings are in the works so this blog will soon again be a place to find Dhamma teachings and monastic life updates.
I hope this holiday season finds you filled with peace and joy — as always!