“Go with all your heart”

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Holiday Season Greetings!

Dear friends and supporters of our Dhammadharini community,

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I’m Chanaka, the treasurer of the Dhammadharini Support Foundation, the non-profit steward of our Dhammadharini Bhikkhuni sangha. 

As the calendar year comes to a close, I want to send a note of appreciation to all our friends and supporters on behalf of all the directors of our Dhammadharini support foundation, and to highlight some of the developments at Dhammadharini! 

 

We are very grateful to all our supporters for a very successful Winter Retreat, Vassa and Kathina this year 2021, and for being able to complete one of our main projects this year—the new open-air Dana Sala pavilion—at our Penngrove Dhammadharini Monastery—Anumodana!

As we leave 2021, I’d like to give you an overview of some of our successes that you have all together supported this year as a community … 

Fire safety has been an enormous concern in California these past few years, and thanks to two exceptional donations, we were able to make great progress with several sessions of recommended fire abatement work at our forest hermitage, Aranya Bodhi, doing our best to keep our monastics and our neighbors safe and well.

Towards our aim to be contributing to the Bhikkhuni revival in Theravada Buddhism, also this year, even with pandemic, Dhammadharini was able to safely host three international candidates for bhikkhuni ordination, a big contribution towards the development of the Bhikkhuni Sangha in Europe. Together with our own “homegrown” Ven. Kaccayana Bhikkhuni, and Samaneri Thavira, they trained throughout the Vassa at our Aranya Bodhi forest hermitage, and were ordained as bhikkhunis and samaneris in September. 

Also thanks to an exceptional donation for “the Bhikkhuni Sangha around the world,” Dhammadharini Support Foundation was able to make significant contributions towards: (1) the first Theravada Bhikkhuni Residence in New Zealand led by Ayya Adhimutti with the New Zealand Bhikkhuni Sangha Trust (Ayya Adhi ordained with us in 2010), (2) the “First Bhikkhuni Sangharama in India” project spearheaded by one of our former students from India who has now entered monastic life, and (3) the purchase of the up-till-now-rented Charlotte Buddhist Vihara led by Dhammadharini’s longtime friend and participant Ven Bhikkhuni (Ayya) Sudhamma Theri in Charlotte North Carolina. 

It is heartening and encouraging during these difficult times to be able to be a part, together with our global community, in offering such support.

Another donation earmarked specially for paying down the monastery mortgage was able to be applied towards paying down the balance, which is now just over $300K. We really appreciate our friends and supporters who have enabled us, these past several years, each year, to keep paying down significant portions of that balance. 

I’m also happy to report that our 2020-2021 initiative for “recurring donations,” to provide a secure basis for our Bhikkhunis’ community, especially during this time of pandemic, and for the long run, has been a real success. Friends and supporters offer all amounts: from $5 to $300/month. It is normal that a few people drop off each year. If as many supporters sign on for offering a recurring gift in this New Year—whether making a recurring gift for “Lodgings Dana,” “Grocery Dana,” “All Four Requisites Dana,” or “for whatever is most needed”—we will be in good stead for supporting our monastic community’s Winter Retreat going into 2022. I want to greatly appreciate everyone who has signed up or continued with this important initiative in 2021 for your offering of not only “Requisites Dana” but also Abhaya Dana—the Gift of Fearlessness”—the gift of safety, security and continuity for our Bhikkhuni Sangha.

Speaking of “Requisites Dana”—I would like to commend our Dana Coordinator Lal Senanayake and all friends and families who joined in for the success of the “Grocery and Hot Meal Dana Program” during both our last year’s 2021 Winter Retreat and this past Vassa. You can find information about joining in during our upcoming 2022 Winter Retreat at the bottom of this letter.

Last but not least,

This year’s Kathina—in which I had the honor of playing a leading role this year together with Mala Wijekoon & Family—was well-attended, both outdoors in Covid-safe numbers, and online. Even during these challenging times, it was heartwarming to see how successful it was. We were happy to see so many familiar faces at the Kathina ceremony in person this year,  as well as online.  A result of our friends’ and supporters’ Kathina donations is that a new visitors’ restroom at our Aranya Bodhi Hermitage, which has been dreamed about for several years, is now fully funded. We look forward to being able to go ahead with this project in spring of 2022 after the rains.

And, as you know, our new Dana Sala pavilion construction was just completed in December shortly after Kathina. That was an enormous effort by Ayya Sobhana with support from more than one hundred of our supporters and their families! The new Sala pavilion has turned out beautifully and if you get an opportunity, please stop by the monastery and see it for yourself. This will enable us to have a welcoming space for getting together safely outdoors, even if the weather is not cooperating.

Personal Experience  

Typically, I like to share a personal experience in these communications. As many of us likely are aware, 2021 is labeled the year of “great resignations,” aka “the big quit.” Many people have either retired from their jobs or quit for a different job, after thinking and truly evaluating what is important in life.  To this point, my heart was also calling to evaluate what is important. My parents are in Sri Lanka and they are getting older and will soon need someone to help them. So, I also decided to quit and find something more meaningful that will give me flexibility to help my parents and further develop my practice of meditation. 

We are given this great blessing of having a Buddhist monastery for bhikkhunis in our own backyard in the San Francisco North Bay, enabling our ability to practice and be involved in person, which has now, during pandemic, opened up to the whole world. I know this gives me happiness in my heart.  I encourage every one  of us to continue supporting our monastery and forest hermitage,  and the aspirations of the monastic residents, visitors and all who participate with Dhammadharini. 

This includes offering a refuge—as Buddhism traditionally does—to those who come to us “exploring monastic life” and for “monastic life immersion” among those who are seeking a new and more meaningful way forward in life, with the support of ethics, meditation, the Buddha’s wisdom, and refuge of community. Among those, I know there will be the great Bhikkhunis of the future. And not only the Bhikkhunis, but also those in our society who have been nurtured and grown from their time with the refuge of the Sangha.

For all of our Holiday Giving this year in support of our Bhikkhuni Sangha, there are these carefully-chosen worthy projects and initiatives that I would like to recommend.


In 2021,  we had a really good balance between specially-designated donations for special projects, and general/undesignated donations which our support foundation can apply wherever needed. Both are very important for our successful stewardship of the Sangha. If we can continue in this way in 2022, we will be doing well, and be successful.

Contributions of any amount towards any of these special initiatives below—as well as “whatever is most needed”—are warmly welcomed.
As the Buddha says: “drop by drop fills the bucket full.”
 

  • To pay down and pay off the mortgage on our new Monastery property in Penngrove.  There is $300,000 left, and Dhammadharini has been paying $1,700/month.  Your designated gifts, whether large or small, will be used for a lump sum prepayment of the mortgage.

  • To renovate the Monastery’s heating and ventilation systems, including safe and breathable air and backup battery power for the now regular summer and autumn “public-safety power shutdowns” during wildfire season, as well as heat in winter and cool in summer. We are extremely fortunate to have a professional volunteer who has offered their services to design the system. The goal is to provide a safe HVAC system that reduces both operating costs and environmental impact.  Dhammadharini support foundation has set a target of $30,000 for this project, with nearly $2,000 funded so far by designated gifts.

  • To build a small office studio at the side of the commons area of Aranya Bodhi Hermitage for Ayya Tathaloka, rededicating the lower landing “Sangha Hall kuti” for all hermitage residents’ communal use. Target: $20,000, with $4,200 already donated. 

  • To create a gracious outdoor Dana offering and lunch visitation area at Aranya Bodhi in the upper commons adjacent to yurt and kitchen for all who come to offer meals and supplies during this time of Covid-safety and beyond. Target: $13,000, with $8,800 already donated.

  • To beautify and increase the functionality of the landscaping around the new Dana Sala at the Monastery, creating an inspiring space for outdoor meditation, and materials for volunteer landscaping projects.  Target: $5,000. 

  • To replenish the fund for Aranya Bodhi emergency repairs. Recently the support foundation used up this fund for emergency replacement of the Aranya Bodhi solar electric system inverter (cost was $3,340).  Your donation replenishes the Aranya Bodhi repair fund.  Target: $4,000.
     

We are extremely grateful for your continued generosity, warmth and support, and I look forward to seeing you in person very soon!

Wishing you peace, well-being, safety, love, joy, and what is truly important:
Happy Holidays!—all the blessings of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.

On behalf of our support foundation, and all the friends and supporters of our Dhammadharini Bhikkhunis’ community,

Chanaka Ekanayake
Treasurer, Dhammadharini Support Foundation 

P.S. Please let me know if you would like to discuss offering a special gift in support of our Bhikkhuni Sangha.
 

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Visit  Dhammadharini Support Page, for financial donations

Visit Dhammadharini’s Useful Things List, for in kind donations to Monastery & Hermitage

Contact Lal Senanayake to offer one-time or regular in-person Hot Meal Dana or Grocery Dana at our Monastery & Hermitage

Contact Dhammadharini Leadership be part of the Dhammadharini Support Foundation as a committee or board member.

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6791 Sturtevant Drive, Penngrove, CA 94951

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