Please Note: This Dhamma Hall (above) has been built 2015/2558
The year 2014 was an important year for the residents of and community associated with Anandagiri Forest Monastery for it was a year that saw much development. These developments were not really new initiatives in themselves, but rather they appear to have been more like the deepening of the roots of a tree and the spreading out of its branches. As well as being able to observe the steady growth of the 17 000 actual trees that have been so lovingly planted and fertilised over the previous three years, we were also able to expand the actual size of the monastery and further develop its infrastructure. Two more pieces of land were purchased, land which curiously was not on the edge of the existing property, but rather in the centre of what had already been offered. The encouraging sense of filling in and firming up of boundaries gave us both the confidence and also the space for expansion. Within this space there was the successful construction of two nun’s kutis and a womens retreat kuti, in a clearly defined area that has been specifically developed for supporting the practice of women. The participants in this year’s rains retreat comprised of a community of five Bhikkhus as well as two dedicated eight precept nuns. Pertaining to our local lay community, we were also able to observe a considerable increase in the attendance of lay men from the surrounding villages in the chanting and meditation sessions held on the lunar observance days.
The development of a large and open flat space for the purpose of accommodating bigger outdoor gatherings also opened up the opportunity to commission and enshrine several new powerfully evocative sacred images. Our Thai and overseas supporters were eager to sponsor a new Buddha statue, (a statue that would also serve as a reliquary for Buddha relics to be enshrined under the crown protrusion upon his head) We had literally only just finished phase one of this new gathering space and placed the Buddha statue on its stand a few days before our biggest gathering to date occurred. When Ajahn Sumedho, and the abbot of Wat Pah Nanachat, as well as many other monks and several hundred lay people attended our Kathina ceremony and joined in the formal offering of the Buddha statue as well as the enshrining of the relics, all in attendance felt a wonderful sense of uplift and blessing. And it certainly seemed a good idea to have developed a space that could welcome such an auspicious gathering!
The ongoing support from a sincere group of Chinese Malaysians also became more clearly represented within the monastery through the acquisition and enshrinement of a Beautiful statue of Kwan Yin Bodhisattva. This statue was specially commissioned and sculpted in mainland China by a family of very talented artisans coming from a long lineage of unbroken tradition. It was then transported to Thailand overland via Malaysia. The image of the Bodhisattva represents the Four Bramha Viharas that we all need to cultivate to some degree, in order to nourish the process towards liberation. Loving-Kindness, Compassion, Mudita and Equanimity truly appear to be palpably “present” in the lines of this stunning piece of symbolic sacred art weighing 2 and a half tonnes! There are several photographs in this slideshow that were taken during a special blessing ceremony performed by the Malaysian group themselves, where important prayers and dedications were made for the benefit of any beings who may still be wandering and suffering in the areas surrounding the monastery… an area that was rife with violence during a long struggle between communist and government forces just a few decades ago.
But whether you have ever been to Anandagiri or not, I sincerely hope that the images here may prove to be uplifting and encouraging to you wherever you find yourself now. May the year ahead also be a year of growth and of deepening, especially of the inner qualities of peacefulness and insight… qualities that assist us tremendously in identifying and “letting go” of the causes of stress and suffering. For it is the mind that has the power to let go of the causes of suffering that can experience freedom from suffering.