Over 1000 friends and supporters of the Sangha gathered together at Amaravati Monastery on Sunday 15th November to participate in the Kathina ceremony. This annual occasion for reaffirmation of spiritual community is always poignant, but this year was made particularly so with the awareness that our teacher, Luang Por Sumedho, would soon be leaving to return to live in Thailand.
H.E. Mr. Kitti Wasinondhi offered the Kathina cloth on behalf of His Majesty the King of Thailand during a Kathina ceremony headed by ‘The Tuesday Group’ of Thai friends. When this was completed, by way of opening a Ceremony of Taking Leave, Ajahn Amaro made a public statement to Luang Por mentioning our deep gratitude to him and extending an invitation to return at any time he might wish to live at any of our monasteries in Europe. Then Mr. John Stevens (previously known as Bhikkhu Attapemo) delivered a tribute to Luang Por. The contents of this talk are available here.
As a gift from the community of lay supporters eight photo albums were presented for Luang Por to take back to Thailand. They featured photos of the eight monasteries he has founded over the last three decades: Cittaviveka, Amaravati, Aruna Ratanagiri, Hartridge, Dhammapala (Switz), Santacittarama (Italy).
This presentation was followed by the traditional ceremony of asking for forgiveness after which Luang Por delivered an inspiring Dhamma talk.
As is usual at this time of year Luang Por brought the gathering to a close by giving out copies of the Forest Sangha calendar. This year’s gift was accompanied by a beautiful photo album and CD of 108 Dhamma talks produced by generous friends in Kuala Lumpur. The album depicts Luang Por’s life as a bhikkhu and contains excerpts from his teaching on the Four Noble Truths. For those who did not have the opportunity to participate in these celebrations and would like copies please contact your nearest Forest Sangha monastery. [link]