Fridays Evenings Cancelled

After a seven month run, Upavana’s Friday evening meditation will be stopping for now.  With good weather having Tahn Pamutto and the other monastics roaming about western massachusetts with little internet access, as well as a dwindling interest in the session, it is hoped that freeing up the slot and energy will pave the way for whatever offering is going to come next.

Anyone with particular interest in future Upavana programs should contact us at info@upavana.org

Retreat Postponed, Talk tonight

One of the core concepts of being a monastic is developing a continuity and rhythm in our lives.  This allows us to stay balanced and more easily discern the ‘worldly winds’, the natural ups and downs of life.  One of the worldly winds we’ve been observing the last week is the need for people around us to get in a few last vacations, trips or fairs before the school season starts!  Town has been a lot quieter lately!

Because of a lack of ability to participate, the planned online retreat “The Citta Saṇkhāra” will be postponed.  If you are still interested in this retreat and would like to participate in making arrangements, please reach out to info@upavana.org

Tonight the planned opening talk for the retreat will still be given at 9pm EST.  In addition, rather than a closed retreat, open Zoom meditations will be hosted through Saturday and Sunday in the Upavana ZOOM.  These will occur at these times:

6-7 am EST

9-10am EST

3-4pm EST

7-8 pm EST

Uposatha Tomorrow

Tomorrow (Sunday, August 22 at 8pm), as local friends are taking shelter from the landfall of Hurricane Henri, Upavana will be hosting its bimonthly Uposatha gathering in person at the Wendell Senior Center in Wendell, MA. What good fortune to have a stable shelter to practice on a stormy night!
Inclement weather can sometimes provide wonderful opportunities to stop what we are doing and pay attention to the forces at work around us.
For those not able to attend in person, the event is also broadcast via Zoom (provided power and internet are not lost). You can find the link at:

Retreat starting Friday

Tomorrow, our weekend retreat “The Gradual Training” will begin with an extension of the normal Friday meditation session on Zoom, at 8pm EDT. After the meditation there will be the opportunity for participants to take the Refuges and Precepts, and then at 9pm Tahn Pamutto will offer a talk outlining the theme for the weekend.

This retreat is being offered In-Person in Shelburne, MA, but the reflections given will be available on the ‘Innovative Dhamma’ YouTube channel either as they happen or in the coming days.

When It Rains It Pours

Lots of news!

News, like the rain, is rarely purely good or purely bad, but a mix of both. For instance, in the materialistic West, the approach to rain is often as the destroyer of vacations and the ruiner of fun. Hench the children’s rhyme – “Rain, rain, go away, come again another day!” Yet in the East the monsoon rains flood the fields and grow the rice. Rain is seen as the benevolence of protector spirits and dragons, and is only an adversary when it fails to arrive on time or comes too generously and floods the villages.

Maybe our approach to rain in America says something about why our News is almost all Bad News. The reality of the situation is often more in the middle. Good, welcome news brings challenges, and hard, unwelcome news brings opportunity for change.

Because of all the things going on, there’s been less time and energy for updates to the facebook and webpage. But, like the weather, this is just part of a cycle that will come around again.

The first piece of news is that Upavana Foundation has finally received confirmation of its status as a 501.c3 Non-Profit. This won’t have many affects in the short term, but will absolve it from having to pay taxes and will make donations to it tax-deductible. There are a wealth of resources to help non-profits flourish – we just need to find them! After many long months of waiting (the process of applying for non-profit status used to take only weeks pre-covid), it’s hard to know where to begin.

Second, several monastic friends have asked to join the fold, coming up to visit and spend some time with Tahn Pamutto in Massachusetts starting in July. It’s always a delight to connect with and support other monastics; at the same time, it will be an interesting logistical challenge to find a place where three monastics can both come together in practice and spread out to live comfortably. In the short term, the community will probably need a new spot for the mobile-temple, and offers of meals and supplies will be even more helpful to be sure they can continue the lead the holy life in earnest.

Third, Upavana was offered a professionally-built website based on the old website. This new site is in WordPress, something which Tahn Pamutto (who, by the way, lives in the woods) is not familiar with. The new site is up and running, though we’d be happy to talk with anyone who is very familiar with the WordPress system who might be able to help with changes to the set-up and design to better suit the different avenues of Upavana’s mission.

Finally, with more friends getting involved, it’s becoming easier to offer things to the community and breathe life into things that have gone dormant during COVID, like local Meditation Groups and Retreats. Tomorrow Tahn Pamutto will sit in on the first meeting of a group in the small town of Wendell that ran every Sunday for years before the lockdowns. It’s not easy for one person to be in many places, but that’s the default for many people! So if you’re nearby and looking to connect with good people, drop us a line or just keep an eye on the website for updates about activities in your area.

This Full Moon will be the beginning of the Rain’s Retreat, a time of stability for monastics during the monsoon. Though we don’t (usually) have quite so much rain during this time of year, it’s a great opportunity to fix up a structure, get comfortable, and develop a close connection with the community. Let it rain!

Our First Retreat

Upavana’s first in-person/online retreat was a big success! Many thanks to everyone who helped out, especially our retreat coordinator Alex, our hosts Donna, Sandy, and Issa, Lusiana and family who provided delicious food for everybody, and for everyone who joined and helped spread the word. By the final talk, when Zoom had had enough and the livestream was slipping, the feeling of camaraderie was palpable.

Samadhi was the theme of the retreat, and that was our focus – to create a relaxed and focused space for practice and to support each other in developing confidence in the main exercise of meditation. Anyone who would like to revisit the talks or run the schedule for themselves in the future, the full retreat is available at the link provided below.

The mission of Upavana is not any particular structure or service, but to support the growth of dhamma, practitioners, and community. In this experimental retreat we were able to demonstrate that all of that could come together flawlessly from little more than a date and an intention.

Perhaps the most fulfilling aspect of the retreat was the ability to connect together as meditators, and to help each other describe a meditation experience that is relaxing and purposeful in equal measure.

Have you ever thrown a party and no one came, only to turn on your computer to see all your friends sharing your party from their own space? Pandemic life is so weird!! In some ways it was a tremendous relief that most of the in-person attendants, including some possible other monastics, weren’t able to make it. Even with a doubled online presence, there was no extra work to be done. I don’t think I’ve ever emerged from a retreat as refreshed and relaxed! And that’s maybe the best sign for the growth of Upavana’s resources and reach – that the retreat ended with spaces fresher, fridges fuller, and organizers more ready for the next retreat.

A space has been offered for a retreat towards the end of next month. Anyone who would be interested in helping organize the online aspect of the retreat, including postings, Zoom room management, and scheduling, please visit www.upavana.org and get in contact with us.

Many blessings for continued practice through the heat of June!

https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhHe4p1yupnvjz2sLxWVbDjDYrmC0Ul71

The Bamboo Grove

Upavana now has a piece of property to take root in, a camper which can be a meeting place and shelter for monastics through the summer, and has already seen much in the way of its mission of building community. Though much of this has come about seemingly all at once, it is the fruition of a strong, clear intention, a bit of faith, and some hard work.

“When you ask the universe for something,” a friend said recently, “you should be very sure what it is you want. And be ready! — you just might get it.”

That simple advice has been resonating a lot recently. Part of returning to western mass and the wandering monk way of life was setting a very strong intention for a community – thinking of a place, some basic services to provide, and thinking of structures to start with. At the beginning of May, Upavana had its first online ‘open house’ to discuss some of these points and get word out.

For several weeks it wasn’t clear that anything was happening, but that’s the way it goes. Checking out rental units, searching online lists for campers and pop-up tents. Then, last Wednesday, everything came together. Like most things that come from Faith and Hard Work, the results have been better and more accurate to the original intention than could reasonably be expected.

A good friend, Rich, has offered a piece of property in Leverett, MA, until it sells or until Upavana can arrange to buy it. The land is four acres of level field with a clean, gushing well and some of the healthiest, tallest Japanese Knotweed I’ve ever seen. The property, lush with the bamboo-like plant, has been lovingly named Veluvana – “The Bamboo Grove”, in remembrance of the first monastery given to the Buddha.

The camper was a bit of a mess, but American monks have to do a lot of renovation, and a trained eye could see through the grime that the base was good. It came with more open space than most campers – perfect for a shrine and chanting/meditation.

The Bamboo Grove is not yet a public site available for drop-in, but friends are welcome to arrange to visit. The first group meditation was held on the day of arrival with the delivery of some chairs for outside, the second meditation also brought the first meal offering. Tomorrow, the first almsround will leave from the site into the surrounding town.

Many blessings to all who have joined in making this possible!