“Just as the light of a candle has the power to dispel darkness in a room, so
also the light developed in one man can help dispel darkness in several others.”
– Sayagyi U Ba Khin
Update About Center Capacity
We’ve recently increased our student capacity from 16 to 22 students and are looking to slowly expand further when restrictions due to COVID are relaxed. However, due to the current increase in cases, we have decided to hold our capacity at this level until it’s clear that we can safely expand. In addition, we’ve enhanced our procedures to prevent COVID from entering the Center by requiring a PCR type COVID test within 5 days of arriving at the Center. (Previously it was 7 days). Students and servers are also bringing a rapid antigen test to the Center for testing on Day 0.
This initial capacity increase was accomplished by removing the female cushion closet from the back of the Dhamma Hall. Once we can safely expand further, our goal will be to reach a capacity of 27 students. This will still enable us to provide a private room with private bathroom for all students and servers. Hopefully this is a first step towards a full reopening.
With an increase in students, we will also have a need for an increased number of servers on each course. We currently operate with 5 servers per course and anticipate we’ll need 7 servers on the larger courses. Over the last couple months, we’ve sometimes had to scramble to have 5 servers, so we’re a little concerned about finding 7. If you have an interest in serving, please watch the course sign-ups for opportunities. Also, if you’d like to keep informed of our need for servers you can join our server announce list by sending a blank email to [email protected].
Pali Language Course
MAVA started an online Pali course to help Vipassana Meditators understand the Buddha’s words better and strengthen their practice. The course is being offered every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month between 12:30am to 1:30pm. New students are still being accepted, if you are interested in attending the class, please email [email protected].
Garden Committee Update
The Dhamma Pubbananda Garden Team within the Grounds Committee kicked off in August 2020. They meet and plan monthly online (second Wednesday) and serve monthly at the Center. The members have donated plants, tools & hoses.
A few highlights of their activity over the last year:
- Treated 4 Ash trees against the Ash Borer, so far in June 2021.
- Weeded, prepared soil and planted four Cherokee Brave Dogwood trees, two Oak trees, native/propagated plants donated and purchased by old students. Continue to weed at the Center and plant around the Pagoda.
- Dug the ground to expose asphalt for a women’s walking path located parallel to the sunny wall of the Pagoda.
- Landscaped 3101 Green Street (Male LTS/Office) and around womenand men entrances to the Meditation Hall.
Interview with Sit/Serve Student
Adam Novak, a Sit/Serve student, has been at the Center since June. Trupti Pandit sat down with him to learn about his experience and to share it with you.
What motivated you to join the Sit/Serve program?
Adam: After the first 10-day course, I realized the immense gratitude towards family members, for the great childhood I had, as well as for the Dhamma and the great line of teachers. After the first course, I tried to do a daily practice, but after a few months, it was hard to maintain the daily practice. When I had summer vacation, I decided to take this great opportunity of the Sit/Serve program to deepen the understanding of Dhamma and strengthen my meditation practice. Without this program, I would have to join a monastery for long time for such a deep and grateful experience.
How was the overall experience of the Sit/Serve program?
Adam: It is a great experience! Of course, I am not completely liberated from sankharas, like anger, but I am much better at handling anger, conflicts and other emotions. The supportive environment of a Center and the service experience serves as a bridge to bring meditative awareness and equanimity to daily life and its mundane chores.
What are your future plans and how would the Sit/Serve program assist in your future goals?
Adam: I will be returning to The University of Southern California in the fall. I am much better at handling my emotions and reducing my own reactions, which is definitely a great benefit of this program. I feel fortunate to have made great Dhamma friends during this Sit/Serve program. With one of my Dhamma friends, I am planning to sit virtually on a regular basis, so it will give both of us motivation and accountability to meditate regularly.
Dhamma Service Period
The next Dhamma Service Period will take place from October 10-22. During these periods the Center takes a break from conducting courses so that old students can come to meditate together and help with projects that can’t be done while courses are going on. At the end of this period the Annual Trust Meeting will take place and we’re hoping to have an open house for the general public to show off our new residence building. All old students are invited to come help out for some or all of this service period.
We had a very successful Dhamma Service Period in May where much was accomplished by more than 15 people who participated. It was a great time to make friends, learn about the Center, and meditate together. Some of the larger projects included removing the closet from the female side of the dhamma hall, installing curtains in all rooms in building 3, getting all the student use closets in order, deep cleaning the kitchen and dining halls, replacing the clocks throughout the Center with ones that would keep the correct time, improving walking paths on the female side, and getting the street lights fixed. Even with all this work the list of things to do keeps growing.
During the upcoming service period we’ll be starting a remodeling project in Building 1 that will enlarge the male mudroom, add a male bathroom, and enable us to remove the closet from the male side of the Dhamma Hall. We’re also looking to continue gardening projects, deep clean parts of the Center, paint, and improve walking paths. Hope to see you here!
Now that building 3 is complete there are a lot of other projects going on around the Center.
We’ve engaged a contractor to do the demolition on the inside building 4 prior to beginning construction there. The demolition work will begin on August 18th and is expected to take a month.
Plans for the remodeling of building 1 are nearly complete. There we’ll be adding a male bathroom, expanding the male mudroom, and removing the closet from the male side of the Dhamma Hall to enable us to get a few more students in. There will also be some reconfiguration in the residence part of the building. Our near term use for the building will be as a place to house the female AT and a trainee, along with all the female servers. There will be bathrooms accessible to both male and female students. We hope kick-off the project during the upcoming Dhamma Service Period.
A significant project is currently going on at the Male Longterm Server House where water damage and termite infestation took place over the years due to problems with the siding around the windows. We’ve replaced the roof, removed the siding and sheathing, replaced many studs in the walls that had been damaged by termites, and reinstalled insulation and siding. Now that the outside is secured we’ve begun repairing the damage on the inside. This involves replacing the kitchen, showers, and a significant amount of drywall. We anticipate completion of this project by the middle of August.
Finally, the Center Development Committee is hard at work on a master plan to guide future development at the Center. They’re currently meeting on a biweekly basis to put together option to bring to the community.
The Buddha himself had a good friend in one of his past lives who aided him. In that life, his name was Jotipāla, and it was during the time of his predecessor, the Buddha Kassapa. Jotipāla was to receive his final sure prediction (Niyatavivaraṇa) from Buddha Kassapa. His friend, Ghaṭikāra, suggested they visit the Buddha, but Jotipāla answered, “Who wants to meet a shaven-headed monk!” And due to the unwholesome mental volition accompanying that negative remark, when he was Bodhisatta Siddhartha, he had to work for six years in order to attain Awakening. If he had not said that, it would have been much quicker.
Jotipāla’s friend decided to make him be reasonable, even if it meant being rough with him. So when they were bathing in the river, he grabbed Jotipāla by the hair and threatened to drown him if he refused to go see the Buddha Kassapa. And that worked. In this past story, Jotipāla was the Gotama Buddha and Ghaṭikāra was Ananda.
(MN 81 Ghaṭikāra Sutta: Ghaṭikāra the Potter)