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Tisarana Blog

Occasional reports from the resident community


Luang Por Viradhammo and the community are delighted to report that after several
years of careful pondering and planning (and a two-year delay) Tisarana’s Dhamma
Hall is now formally under construction.

Following the excavation work which began in early May, in the past two weeks, the
final surveying has been done, the forms have been laid, concrete poured, and the
first rows of eco-friendly, insulated blocks have been set in place for the foundation.
On June 2 these blocks were filled with another round of concrete. When cured,
this will leave the site ready to be backfilled and have established the level of the
Hall’s floor. Far from the site, meanwhile, massive Douglas fir and pine posts and
beams are being meticulously crafted. Many architectural elements of the Dhamma
Hall make this building unusual, recently prompting one of the workmen to remark
that for him the project may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Proving that it’s
not only the monks who are enjoying the show!

As admittedly absorbing (from our on-site perspective) as it is to watch these skilled
workers ply their trades, our pleasure in witnessing these ‘bricks and mortar’ details
is animated by an ongoing appreciation for the myriad forms of encouragement,
generosity, and hard work that have brought us to this stage.… Read the rest

New Guest Orientation Weekends 2022

We are delighted to announce the resumption of our New Guest Orientation Weekends. This is a great opportunity to welcome new guests for an overnight visit and to experience life at Tisarana.

Please refer to dates on our calendar.

Please note that those registering are required to attend for the full duration – arriving on a Friday afternoon and departing on the following Monday morning. … Read the rest

End of Year Reflections (2021) by Ajahn Pavaro

Another round of seasons at Tisarana. The quiet, open space of the previous winter retreat is long past; subsequent seasons have been filled with regular pujas and Sangha gatherings, daily chores, needed kuti repairs, cabinetry, and numerous planning meetings for our prospective Dhamma Hall. Especially since mid-August (when a public ceremony marked the Hall’s formal site clearing) more folks have arrived for visits. It’s been a pleasure to see people’s full faces again and to share in their appreciation for rejoining the Tisarana Sangha, and one another, in person.

Now it’s December 25th. My day has begun by sitting with the community, as Luang Por Viradhammo leads a meditation session, and responds to questions over Zoom from students in distant Singapore. While listening to Luang Por, from time to time my awareness gathers elsewhere. The theme of my delinquent morning attention? Ingmar Bergman’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Watching the film in lay life for many years on Boxing Day has rendered it, seemingly indelibly, into the mood of the season for me. After all, this is a season redolent with perception and memory, even within our rich Buddhist environment. (As further demonstrations, a festive little tree stands near the food-offering area; today’s meal will include shortbread and fruit cake.)… Read the rest

2021 Kathina Announcement

This year’s monastic Rains Retreat, marking another ‘year in the robes’ for Bhikkhus at Tisarana Buddhist Monastery, will end on October 21st. Traditionally, what follows is a month-long period during which a ‘Kathina cloth’ may be offered by lay supporters. This has long been a beloved event in Buddhist cultures, one arranged in advance by the donors. On the day it is offered, some of this cloth is dyed and sewn by the resident Sangha, and presented to one of the monks before the following dawn.

For many reasons – both ancient and altogether contemporary – Kathina is a truly auspicious day of the annual monastic calendar, and one in which gratitude and blessings abound.

This year’s Kathina is being offered by the Royal Thai Embassy, Ottawa, on October 31st.

Covid protocols currently in place for outdoor public gatherings are restricted to 25 people. Therefore our formal Kathina ceremony on the 31st  will be restricted to the Embassy staff and their families. 

However, in what remains of the Kathina month (until Nov 21, 2021), groups of 25 people or less are invited to join the Tisarana community for the meal and to make offerings if they wish. Those seeking to do so are requested to please email the Tisarana Office in advance, to ensure that groups don’t exceed the maximum number.… Read the rest

Reflection on Winter Retreat 2021 from Richard

Signs of spring are making themselves felt. The early birds have started arriving, showering us with
their multiple calls and exhibiting their mating dances. The sun now feels quite warm, even on days
where the air is cold. The snow is all gone; the coyote and deer are free to roam unconstrained by their
narrow trails. Hello, I am Richard. I have been a steward at Tisarana for the past two years. Luang por
Viradhammo has invited me to write a blog entry about the winter retreat.
Every year the community at Tisarana works hard to maintain and further establish the monastery,
doing so both on the grounds and in the offices. The winter retreat is thus set aside expressly to provide
an opportunity away from these duties in order to focus on meditation. The winter retreat is quite quiet
both in terms of routine and nature that surrounds us. The pace, with its daily work period, already
begins to slow down as the cold weather arrives. And so, very naturally the monastery settles into the
long wintery quietness of retreat, like the first dusting of snow gently falling to the ground. In order to
relieve the monastic community from their mundane duties yet keeping the monastery functional, a lay
retreat crew is invited to serve on the retreat.… Read the rest

Ajahn Pavaro’s Reflections on 2020

Reflections on 2020

Ajahn Pavaro

December at Tisarana. Each day we walk by the deer in their thickened fur – the does with their observant young, foraging on grass and congregating at the salt lick near our main buildings. The Canada geese have now flown South with their happy racket. Only a few hardy species of birdlife remain, like the chickadees with their pinprick eyes, darting between the low bushes to feeders we fill for the simple pleasure of seeing them thrive.

I’ve now been at Tisarana for half a year; it’s my first Canadian winter after living in Thailand for nine years. Each morning’s community meeting contains a brief weather update – seldom a pressing matter in S.E. Asia. Since returning my supply of clothing and footwear has tripled. Snow has come and gone… and come and gone, and come. Almost without noticing, my acquaintance has returned with the crackle of ice underfoot, the moods of a wood stove, and the uncanny compaction of sound in dense cold.

Yet for all the differences, living as a bhikkhu in this tradition ensures a fair continuity of purpose and practice, something that differing weather, and alterations of flora and fauna, do not disrupt.… Read the rest

Tuesday Dana in Barhaven

Anumodanā from Luang Por Viradhammo, the sangha and residents of Tisarana for the Dana received on April 7th in Barrhaven. Such spontaneous generosity is inspiring and delightful to witness. Many thanks to Bee Sterling and Niranjala Weerakoon for taking the lead on this and much Anumodanā to all our friends who participated. Here are some pictures, a recorded message from Luang Por and the sangha chanting verses of appreciation. May all beings be well and happy.

Sukhassa dhātā medhāvi,
sukham so adhighaccati
The wise one, giving happily,
gets but happiness in return.
– Anguttara Nikāyā. V 37

Greeting from LP Viradhammo, and Anumodana chanting from the community (6 min.)
Many contributions from friends
Fitting it in the truck
Received at Tisarana
Read the rest

Adapting and carrying on

We had a meeting yesterday to talk over points of the new Dhamma Hall construction contract. Here we are, all in the office. Gabriel took the picture using a fish-eye lens to get us all in the shot!

When you have to meet, maintain six feet…

We’ve heard that at Wat Pah Nanachat they’ve cancelled the daily Pindabhat and, like Tisarana, have a small group of lay volunteers cooking for the community. There’s a vinaya rule against wearing the ‘wrong’ colors (blue, white, others) and so the Nanachat monks are wearing face masks made with robe-cloth covers.

Our discussion this morning centered on how best to carry out the Patimokkha, given that the instructions require the monks to be within about 18 inches of each other. The vinaya (rules for monks) also wisely contains several allowances for extraordinary circumstances (e.g. a time of illness, a time of dangers, and the like) which give us some maneuvering room to figure out how best to respond. In this case we’re planning to do the ceremony, but maintain the 6-foot rule.

It’s all part of the life… … Read the rest

Improvising & Caring

Bee’s mum died on Monday. She was ill with cancer so Bee and Steve have been caring for her in this time of dying. Without belittling the loss, I would say she had a good death – a good death because she lived a good life. She was cared for and loved. She knew the meaning of presence. Her passing was timely.

We couldn’t go to the service, only Steve and Bee attended her body. But love’s ingenuity saw an easy way. Four bhikkhus sitting in a circle at Tisarana. Our beloved Ayyas sitting in front of the shrine at Satisaraniya. Steve, Bee and deceased Geetha in the funeral chapel. Three locations and three phones between us – on speaker mode. We chanted and chatted and spread good-will, love and human-caring between ourselves. Fare thee well Geetha…

I have been told to self-isolate by several people because I’m 73 but our small community is living in isolation already, that seems safe enough. We talk about the pandemic, sharing stories we have read asking each other about our respective families. I will at times put myself in the shoes of a doctor who has to make a decision about who to give and who not to give a ventilator, a solo mum with no work and little food or a political leader who has to make terribly complicated decisions which everyone will critique in hindsight.… Read the rest