Former Resident Monk
Our History--Our Purpose
The Sarasota Forest Monastery belongs to the school of Buddhism called Theravadan Buddhism. Theravadan literally means the “Teachings of the Elders,” which draws its scriptural inspiration from the Tripitaka (Pali Canon). These writings are considered by scholars to be the earliest extant writings of Buddhist literature.
The core of the Buddha's teaching is simply stated in the “Four Noble Truths,” namely:
The human condition is one of dis-ease, unhappiness, and stress. This truth is to be comprehended. There is, however, a reason or cause for this condition. This reason or cause is to be abandoned. And therefore, it is up to each individual to discern the cause of his/her stress and realize the way to overcome this state. The Buddha gave us the “Noble Eightfold Path” as a way to live life and train the mind as keys to enter a more enlightened, stressless state of living-- a way of life that is to be developed.
It is this virtuous life--doing no harm, and training the mind to be aware of and know stress and its causes--that is at the core of Theravadan Buddhism.
Origins of the Monastery
The history of Sarasota Forest Monastery, and its predecessor--The Buddhist Association of Central Florida--started in November 2011, when a group of Buddhists living in Manatee, Sarasota and Charlotte counties invited Thai Buddhist monks to Southwest Florida to teach and give counsel. The monks encouraged those community members to practice a way of life as instructed by the Buddha some 2,500 years ago, for the benefit of the practitioners themselves, and all other living beings.
Acquiring the Monastery Property
The Buddhist Association was eventually able to purchase a site and obtain the necessary zoning approvals for the building of the Sarasota Forest Monastery in August–October 2015. Nestled on nearly nine acres of forested land in Englewood, Florida, the site offers both serenity and accessibility.
The Monastery Today
Currently, the community is renting a residence adjacent to the monastery grounds at 520 Lewis Street to house the current resident monk--Ajahn Thiep--and any visiting monks. Dhamma teachings, chanting, meditation, food offerings, ceremonies, and monthly board meetings are held at this site.
The long-term plan is to raise sufficient funds through private donations to build monks' residences, a meditation hall, and a general purpose hall on the monastery grounds for use by the lay community. A major fundraising effort is currently underway to raise the monies for building this permanent monastery. All operating expenses and building fund capital are obtained from donations freely given by those who come to hear Dhamma talks and seek guidance from the monks.
Once the necessary structures are built at the forest site, the monks will continue to officiate Buddhist ceremonies and provide Dhamma instruction for all who seek it. The monastery will be a source of information and learning about Buddhism, as well as provide a space for those who wish to come on short- or long-term retreats to deepen their practice of the Buddha's teachings.