|Location||Newport, Washington, United States|
|Founded by||Thubten Chodron|
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Sravasti Abbey is a Buddhist monastery in the Tibetan tradition; it was established in October 2003 by Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron. It is the only Tibetan Buddhist training monastery for Western nuns and monks in the United States. The Abbey practices in the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya. The Abbey does not observe The Eight Garudhammas. It is situated on 240 acres (1.0 km2) of forest and meadows, 11 miles (18 km) outside of Newport, Washington, near the Idaho state line. It is open to visitors who want to learn about community life in a Tibetan Buddhist monastic setting. The name Sravasti Abbey 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.
The Abbey’s founder, Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron, is an American who was ordained in 1977 by Kyabje Yongdzin Ling Rinpoche, 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, Tsenzhab Serkong Rinpoche and Thubten Zopa Rinpoche. Under her guidance, Sravasti Abbey has male and female monastics train together as equals, and uses 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. The Abbey has a monastic residence called Gotami House, named after Mahapajapati Gotami who was the first woman to request and receive ordination from Buddha Shakyamuni. There is also a residence for guest teachers and a guesthouse called Chenrezig Hall.
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.
Also 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 has regularly practiced posadha (the bi-monthly confession) since 2011.
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. This is special because the tradition of full ordination for women was not transmitted from India to Tibet. Ordained women practicing in the Tibetan tradition usually 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. In January 2014, the Abbey, which then had seven bhikshunis and three novices, formally began its first winter varsa (three-month monastic retreat), which lasted until April 13, 2014. As far as the Abbey knows, this was the first time a Western bhikshuni sangha practicing in the Tibetan tradition had done this ritual in the United States and in English. On April 19, 2014 the Abbey held its first kathina ceremony to mark the end of the varsa. Also in 2014 the Abbey held its first Pavarana rite at the end of the varsa.
In October 2015 the Annual Western Buddhist Monastic Gathering was held at the Abbey for the first time; it was the 21st such gathering.
The Abbey’s daily schedule begins at 5:00 a.m. 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 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. 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” 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. 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. Evening practice begins at 7:00 pm 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), and 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
In keeping with the traditional interdependent relationship between lay and monastic practitioners, Friends of Sravasti Abbey (FOSA) 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.
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- "2014 News About The Abbey". Sravasti Abbey. Retrieved February 2, 2014.
- "Introducing Ven Thubten Tarpa". Sravasti Abbey. Retrieved February 2, 2014.
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- "U.S., European Buddhist nuns ordained in Taiwan". The Buddhist Channel. Retrieved February 2, 2014.
- "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.
- Janelle Atyeo (October 2008). "Buddhist Abbey Celebrates Five Years in Newport" (PDF). The Miner. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
- "Sravasti Abbey A Dream Fulfilled For U.S. Buddhist Nuns". The Huffington Post. May 8, 2012. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
- "2014 News About The Abbey". Sravasti Abbey. 2014. Retrieved 2015-11-07.
- Thubten Chonyi (2017-01-15). "Varsa Begins with Vinaya Teachings - Sravasti Abbey - A Buddhist Monastery". Sravasti Abbey. Retrieved 2017-02-01.
- "2015 News About The Abbey". Sravasti Abbey. 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
- "2015 News About The Abbey". Sravasti Abbey. 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-07.
- "Daily Schedule". Sravasti Abbey. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
- "Friends of Sravasti Abbey". Sravasti Abbey. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
- Sravasti Abbey Official Homepage
- Harvard Pluralism Project
- Interreligious Monastic Dialogue