The picture above shows Ajahn Go and Anagarika Michel heading off on their daily alms round to the village that lies in the valley below Santaloka, our small hermitage near Monte Rosa. Michel has already returned to Santacittarama while Ajahn Go is due back in time for the Kathina ceremony, after completing the three-month "rains retreat". They have been very well supported during their stay and have practically completed all the remaining building work on the former cow-herder's cottage.
We will also be joined for the Kathina ceremony by Ajahn Vajiro, abbot of a new monastery near Lisbon, Portugal. Ajahn Vajiro was among the last group of western disciples to be ordained by Ajahn Chah. All four that were received into the sangha together are still monks, 35 years later. One of his published talks, on dana or generosity, is particularly relevant to the Kathina ceremony, and can be read here (in Italian translation): santacittarama.altervista.org/dana.htm.
Since Santacittarama was first established the Sri Lankans living in and around Rome have been regular and generous supporters of the monastery. This last September, after completing an initial year of training, our Sri Lankan anagarika Vidure, requested pabbajja from the sangha, and took the ochre robes, alms-bowl and ten novice precepts in a ceremony that was attended by an estimated 700 people. It was probably the biggest event we've ever held and fortunately the weather was glorious. He is now known as Samanera (novice) Vimutto, which means 'freedom' or 'liberation', reminding us all that the religious life is not lived for status or personal gain, but liberation from greed, hatred and delusion and thus complete freedom from suffering.
Anagarika Maurizio suddenly decided to leave in early September, and news has come to us that a few days later he took novice precepts in Sri Lanka. We wish him well. In the meantime a young man from near Lake Garda, Samuele, is preparing to formally take the eight anagarika precepts, having settled in over the last three months. Giovanni has gone to help out for a while at Aruna Ratanagiri monastery near Newcastle, and will be missed by all of us. On the other hand we will be glad to have Samanera Mahabodhi (formerly anagarika Diego) with us again. He is due to return in early November, accompanying Ajahn Chandapalo, who will be spending three weeks in the UK, visiting his mother and attending elders' meetings and Kathina ceremonies at Chithurst and Amaravati.
Events at Santacittarama do not require booking and are free of charge. However, those wishing to stay overnight need to book in advance. Unforeseen circumstances may cause changes to this programme, so it is worthwhile checking beforehand on the website, which is regularly updated.
12th OCTOBER: KATHINA - Offerings ceremony
Sunday, 10:30am - 15:00 p.m. All are warmly welcome. KATHINA is a joyous celebration, re-affirming the mutually supportive relationship of monastic and lay Buddhists, and happens only once a year in each monastery wherever a community of monks have completed the three-month rains retreat residence. Traditionally it centres around the giving of cloth for robes, but in modern times it has also become an opportunity for offering other requisites that meet the needs of the monastery and its residents.
It is advisable to arrive by 10:30 am as the programme begins at 10:45 with the offering of rice to the Sangha on almsround, followed by a meal for all. Contributions for the meal are welcome. After a pause for clearing up, the ceremony begins in the large tent at around 13:00, with the taking of the three refuges and five precepts, followed by auspicious chanting, formal offering of cloth and requisites and a Dhamma talk.
18th OCTOBER: Seminar on “Dying, death and beyond”
Saturday, 9:30 a.m - 5:00 p.m. In Buddhist teachings death is regarded not as an end but as a mere transition. Meditative seminar with Ajahn Ottama, in English with translation into Italian. The seminar begins with an introduction of the topic, so please arrive by 9:30 a.m. (later arrivals disturb). Please bring a contribution for lunch, which is at 11 am.
15th NOVEMBER: Meditation class for beginners
Saturday, 3:30-5:00 p.m. In italian. Due to space limitations it will be necessary to book in advance, preferably via email (email@example.com). Priority will be given to those who have never previously attended such a meeting. From 5th November booking will be open to all.
20th NOVEMBER: Public Meeting in CAGLIARI
Thursday, 5:30 p.m. With Ajahn Chandapalo, in Italian. Meditation and talk on "La Via del Risveglio" at MEM (Mediateca del Mediterreano), Via Mamelli 164, Cagliari.
22nd-23rd NOVEMBER: Residential retreat near CAGLIARI
With Ajahn Chandapalo, in Italian, at Solanas. For information and booking: firstname.lastname@example.org, 328.446.9251 (19:30 - 21:00), Maria Bonaria: 333.103.8750 (16:00 - 18:00).
13th DECEMBER: Meditation class for beginners
Saturday, 3:30-5:00 p.m. In italian. Due to space limitations it will be necessary to book in advance, preferably via email (email@example.com). Priority will be given to those who have never previously attended such a meeting. From 3rd December booking will be open to all.
26th DECEMBER - 6th JANUARY: Daily silent meditation
Every afternoon there will be a silent meditation at 4 p.m. followed by a tea break at 5 and evening chanting and meditation at 7:30 p.m.
7th JANUARY - 31st MARCH: Monastic retreat
A period for the resident community of Santacittarama to develop their practice, free of other commitments. Day visitors are still welcome if they wish to share the silence and meditate or to support the retreat by bringing food offerings. Overnight stays will not be possible during this period.
The evening meditation beginning at 7:30 will continue as usual, except for Mondays. During this time there will be no informal meeting over tea at 5 pm and the telephone will be answered only in the mornings between 7:30 and 8:30.