Sravasti Abbey

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Sravasti Abbey
Sravasti Abbey.jpg
Monastery information
Location Newport, Washington, USA
Founded by Thubten Chodron
Founded 2003
Type Tibetan Buddhist

Sravasti Abbey is a Buddhist monastery in the Tibetan tradition established in October 2003 by Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron. Situated on 240 acres (1.0 km2) of forest and meadows; it is 11 miles (18 km) outside of Newport, Washington, near the Idaho state line. Sravasti Abbey is a training monastery and is open to visitors who want to learn about community life in a Tibetan Buddhist monastic setting. The name comes from the fact that during the Buddha's time, there had been both a community of nuns and a community of monks at Sravasti.[1]


The Abbey’s founder, Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron, is an American who was ordained in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche,[2] H.H. the Dalai Lama's senior tutor. She lived and studied in India and Nepal for many years, and her teachers include His Holiness the Dalai Lama,[2] Tsenzhab Serkong Rinpoche[2] and Thubten Zopa Rinpoche.[2] Under her guidance, Sravasti Abbey is bringing Western sensibilities to monastic life by having male and female monastics train together as equals, and by bringing social service as a key component of community life. At the same time, the Abbey cultivates the traditional Buddhist values of non-harming, mindfulness, compassion, inter-relatedness, respect for nature and service to all sentient beings.

On October 2, 2006, Jan Howell became the first person to ordain at Sravasti Abbey, taking her sramanerika (novice) and sikasamana (probationary) ordinations with Venerable Chodron as her preceptor in 2006.[3][4][5]

The Abbey has regularly practiced posadha (the bi-monthly confession) since 2011.[6]

The Abbey is highly notable because it is home to a growing group of fully ordained bhikshuni (Buddhist nuns) practicing Buddhism in the Tibetan tradition.[7][8] This is unique because the tradition of full ordination for women was not transmitted from India to Tibet.[8] Elsewhere, ordained women practicing in the Tibetan tradition hold an ordination that is, in effect, a novice ordination. Venerable Thubten Chodron, while faithfully following the teachings of her Tibetan teachers, has arranged for her students to seek full ordination as bhikshunis in Taiwan. As of 2014, there are ten nuns at the Abbey, seven of which are bhikshunis. In January 2014, the community of seven bhikshunis and three novices formally began their first winter varsa (three-month monastic retreat), which lasted until April 13, 2014. [9][6] As far as the community knows, this is the first time a Western bhikshuni sangha practicing in the Tibetan tradition has done this ritual in the United States and in English.[6] On April 19 the Abbey held its first kathina ceremony to mark the end of the retreat. [10]

Recently completed construction includes a new monastic residence, called Gotami House. It is named after Mahapajapati Gotami who was the first woman to request and receive ordination from Buddha Shakyamuni. There is also a new constructed residence for guest teachers and a guesthouse called Chenrezig Hall.[11]

Daily Schedule[edit]

The Abbey’s daily schedule begins at 5:00 a.m.[12] when both monastic and lay students perform preparatory practices and tasks such as water bowl offerings, and so on. Morning meditation practice begins at 5:30[12] and lasts an hour and a half. Ven. Chodron then gives a short morning teaching as a motivation for the day, followed by breakfast in silence.[12] For an hour and a half after that, there is either another teaching or personal Dharma study time. From 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. residents “offer service”[12] performing tasks that contribute to a harmonious community life within a practice of generosity. This is followed by the traditional food offering and eating lunch in silence.[12] An informal Dharma discussion often follows lunch. There is another period of offering service in the afternoon, followed by a short, informal, and optional meal at 6:00 p.m.[12] Evening practice begins at 7:00 pm[12] and lasts an hour and a half. Subsequently, people read or meditate in their rooms.

Besides the daily schedule, the abbey hosts programs on an annual basis, including an annual three-month winter retreat, which is done in silence with a weekly teaching and Q&A session. Exploring Monastic Life (EML) is another annual program dedicated to cultivating a monastic mind for those aspiring to ordain as monastics. In 2006, the abbey launched the first annual week-long Young Adult Retreat in order to bring Buddhist solutions to situations facing today’s youth. The abbey also has monthly Sharing the Dharma Days for visitors, weekly tele-teachings (on the phone), several other retreats and activities throughout the year, as well as talks in the surrounding towns. Programs are open to monastics and the general public.

Friends of Sravasti Abbey[edit]

In keeping with the traditional interdependent relationship between lay and monastic practitioners, Friends of Sravasti Abbey (FOSA)[13] was developed as a network of lay supporters who supply the Sangha with the four requisites: food, shelter, clothing, and medicine. FOSA has three branches: one in North America, one in Singapore, and one in Mexico. In order to cultivate this interdependence, the monastics only eat the food that has been offered by lay support.

The educational program includes monastic training, teachings on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment (Lamrim) and Thought Training (Lojong), supplemented by philosophical studies and some tantric practice. An emphasis is placed on community life as a vehicle for working on our own minds and for developing love and compassion for others.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Why "Sravasti?"". Sravasti Abbey. Retrieved May 8, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Abbess Thubten Chodron's Biography". Sravasti Abbey. Retrieved May 8, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Introducing Ven Thubten Tarpa". Sravasti Abbey. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Venerable Thubten Chodron, Founder and Abbess". Sravasti Abbey. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  5. ^ "U.S., European Buddhist nuns ordained in Taiwan". The Buddhist Channel. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c "Guest post: Sravasti Abbey nuns conduct first traditional, three-month monastic retreat ritual in Tibetan tradition in North America". Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  7. ^ Janelle Atyeo (October 2008). "Buddhist Abbey Celebrates Five Years in Newport" (PDF). The Miner. Retrieved May 8, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b "Sravasti Abbey A Dream Fulfilled For U.S. Buddhist Nuns". The Huffington Post. May 8, 2012. Retrieved May 8, 2012. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "2014 News About The Abbey". Sravasti Abbey. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g "Daily Schedule". Sravasti Abbey. Retrieved May 8, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Friends of Sravasti Abbey". Sravasti Abbey. Retrieved May 8, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°04′37″N 117°08′23″W / 48.07694°N 117.13972°W / 48.07694; -117.13972