A Spring of Faith: Recollections from a Growing Community

Jul 14, 2023 | Newsletters

Traveling back to Seattle along the North Cascade Highway last month, Ajahn Kovilo and I descended through the choke of rock past where Diablo Lake shines turquoise in the mountain’s hand. I’m struck by that descent every time, seeing the passage carved by water and the ancient story visible in Azurite Peak’s sheer granite. Rain from the Methow and glacial runoff navigate the Cascade’s narrows until they tumble into the Skagit river, a silver thread connecting pristine mountains to the cities beyond.

Our headwaters are ancient as well. To watch the Buddha’s teaching chart a course through the narrows of this project’s initial years into the modern landscape of Seattle reveals constant surprises. A waterfall breaks into mist and we find ourselves seated one June day with nearly two hundred others listening to the voices of nuns and monks chanting an ancient blessing for the dream of a monastery tomorrow.

Last month, Clear Mountain’s community came together for its first formal and formative event—a “Finding a Home” Ceremony meant to celebrate and seed the search for our future monastery’s home. The surrounding days featured visits and teachings from some of America’s most senior monastics, including Luang Por Pasanno, Ajahn Ritthi, Ayyā Anandabodhi, Ayyā Santussikā, Ayyā Cittānandā; the fourfold assembly gathered for a precious moment. The day, coincidentally falling on Luang Por Chah’s birthday, featured meditation, teachings, a shared meal, and a powerful upwelling of generosity.

Overall, more than 150 donors contributed over $60,000 to Clear Mountain’s Land and Building Fund (the amount increasing due to later donations), bringing support for the monastery’s potential future purchase of land to over $450,000—a hundred small tributaries swelling the initial creek into a living current.

The stream is still small compared to what we may someday grow into, but we should remember the inexhaustible headwaters that feed it, a teaching crystalline as snow, and rejoice in how water laughs through its first stumbling steps towards home. Do not worry if you weren’t there in-person; all rivers eventually join.

Plus, we took pictures!

May all beings be well!

New Album: “Finding a Home” Ceremony

Clear Mountain’s community participates in its first “Robe Offering”, a traditional ceremony of giving and Dhamma. The ceremony, held with hope toward finding a home for the future monastery, was blessed by visits and talks from senior bhikkhunis and bhikkhus, and the presence of many who’ve been touched by the aspiration thus far.

Ceremony YouTube Playlist

Watch the playlist of teachings, chanting, and reflections from the ceremony; a peak in for those who weren’t there, and sweet recollection for those who were.

Clear Mountain in Northwest Dharma News!

The most recent edition of Northwest Dharma News features a beautiful article about Clear Mountain written by our very own Katie McKenna! Read the full piece below.

Clear Mountain Monastics Visit Sravasti Abbey

For several days, Ajahn Kovilo and Ajahn Nisabho visited Sravasti Abbey, a Tibetan abbey in Eastern Washington where Ajahn Nisabho grew up. The visit was a joyful one, filled with meaningful exchange between the traditions. View the summary, photos, and accompanying videos in Sravasti’s July newsletter below!

A Recollection of Community, by Cheryl Marland

I volunteered for the AV desk Thursday night at St. Mark’s, Friday night at Seattle Insight, and then again with a full team on Saturday morning for the “Finding a Home” Robe Offering ceremony. This gave me a front row seat (as it always does) to just how beautiful spiritual community is.
On Saturday, during the ceremony, Ayya Anandabodhi spoke about what is now so deeply embodied in me. They said, “This is why community is so essential – we come together and we become whole together. We’re not meant to be complete, perfectly well-rounded individuals. So much sense of lack and not good enough, worrying, I’m not as perfect as I’m supposed to be. The Dhamma is forgiving; the arms are wide. We can realize our own imperfections, but we’re not being asked to be perfect beings.”

Luang Por Passano remarked that this is the first large gathering in support of Clear Mountain’s new home. Seattle will have (and has already even before ground is broken) an example of monastic presence. It can help remind us that the purpose of our life is not just to make more money and die with more things. We are coming together with a similar aspiration and vision to uplift the heart. 

During his talk at Seattle Insight on Friday night, Luang Por Passano recognized that SIMS has been here for many decades. Now we have an opportunity to see if a monastic presence will be welcome here. From where I’m sitting, so far so good! Ajahn Nisabho talked about the growing friendship between Clear Mountain and Seattle Insight—this is the first time we’ve come together as a shared community—and the hope that it’s the beginning of a warm and vibrant relationship. All of this makes my heart sing as these two strong Dhamma organizations find their ground together.

My practice with SIMS began in late 2017 and my practice with Clear Mountain began in September of last year. It is easy for me to participate and volunteer at both, because there is no difference in the teachings themselves. We practice in the same tradition of Thai Forest. I also agree with Luang Por that faith is required to bring my heart into the practice. It’s really wonderful to have a monastic presence in Seattle, and I am also so grateful for the lay teachers who have taught me so much and have helped me understand what it means to practice. Grounding oneself in the traditional forms of refuge is how we follow the path.

Luang Por went on to say how many expressions there are of the Dhamma, and to get a flavor of them and see how they speak to you. Part of what Luang Por finds beautiful within the tradition is the opportunity to relate to a religious spiritual tradition from a place of faith amidst a society focused on the rational and material. This is a quality that the Buddha lays out as a foundation. Faith allows me to open my mind and my heart and allow awareness to be present. Faith keeps me coming back when it feels too hard. Taking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha is what it’s about. Taking refuge in the Sangha is real. We are together here.

My joy spills over. When I had the mic on Saturday, I said that I just can’t get enough sangha!  I’m so happy and grateful for all of the community, metta, right livelihood and all that comes with it. I am experiencing a beautiful flow with my practice at both Clear Mountain and Seattle Insight. Maybe this is a great example of greed, as I couldn’t imagine being without either! I will remember everyone’s smiles and joy and all the friendship shared. May we all be happy, may we all be well, may we all live with ease.

Oct. 7 – Oct. 8: Restraint, Patience, & Virtue (All the Unpopular Buddhist Topics): A Weekend Meditation Retreat (In-person in Twisp, WA)

In Buddhism’s coming to the West, several key teachings—such as patience, virtue, and restraint—have been underemphasized. However, these represent meaningful parts of the Buddhist path, and their omission can limit our practice. Using breath meditation as a basis, participants will have the opportunity to explore these key stepping stones on the path.

New Interviews: Ajahn Sona, Ven. Thubten Chodron, & More!

Over this last month, we’ve been blessed with the opportunity to interview some of modern Buddhism’s most esteemed teachers. You may view the full playlist here.

Other Ways to Draw Close: Discord Community, WhatsApp, Community Page, & More!

If you live far from Seattle (or not!), you can draw closer to the growing community in several meaningful ways: