Male Monastic Community
The bhikkhu community at Amaravati was founded by Luang Por Sumedho in 1984. Its first members came from Cittaviveka Monastery. Many had spent some time training in Thailand at Wat Pah Pong.
There are usually between fifteen and twenty-five monks (bhikkhū) and novice monks (sāmaṇerā) in residence at Amaravati, living a contemplative, celibate, mendicant life according to the Vinaya and Dhamma. They provide a living link with the Order founded by the Buddha over two thousand years ago. The community also includes anagārikas, white-robed postulants observing the Eight Precepts, who after a year or two may be given sāmanera ordination.
The community is not static as there are close links with the other branch monasteries in England and abroad; bhikkhū (monks) and sāmanerā (novice monks) move between the monasteries.
In November 2010, Luang Por Sumedho handed over the duties of Abbot of Amaravati to Ajahn Amaro.
Monks – Bhikkhū
Luang Por Sumedho – Founding Abbot
Luang Por Sumedho (Ajahn Sumedho) was born in Seattle, Washington in 1934. After serving four years in the US Navy as a medic, he completed a BA in Far Eastern Studies and a MA in South Asian Studies.
In 1966, he went to Thailand to practise meditation at Wat Mahathat in Bangkok. Not long afterwards he went forth as a novice monk in a remote part of the country, Nong Khai, and a year of solitary practice followed; he received full admission into the Sangha in 1967.
Although fruitful, the solitary practice showed him the need for a teacher who could more actively guide him. A fortuitous encounter with a visiting monk led him to Ubon province to practise with Venerable Ajahn Chah. He took dependence from Ajahn Chah and remained under his close guidance for ten years. In 1975, Luang Por Sumedho established Wat Pah Nanachat (International Forest Monastery) where Westerners could be trained in English.
In 1977, he accompanied Ajahn Chah to England and took up residence at the Hampstead Vihara with three other monks.
Luang Por Sumedho has inspired more than a hundred aspirants of many nationalities to go forth into the samaṇa life, and has established four monasteries in England, as well as branch monasteries overseas. In late 2010 he retired as abbot of Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in Hertfordshire and took residence in Thailand.
Luang Por returned to Amaravati in January 2021 and has been offering regular Dhamma talks on the moon days. Please note that due to his venerable age, Luang Por is generally not available to meet with visitors, but you are welcome to contact him via snail mail.
Ajahn Amaro – Abbot
Born in England in 1956, Ven. Amaro Bhikkhu received a BSc. in Psychology and Physiology from the University of London. Spiritual searching led him to Thailand, where he went to Wat Pah Nanachat, a Forest Tradition monastery established for Western disciples of Thai meditation master Ajahn Chah, who ordained him as a bhikkhu in 1979. Soon afterwards he returned to England and joined Ajahn Sumedho at the newly established Chithurst Monastery. He resided for many years at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, making trips to California every year during the 1990s.
In June 1996 he established Abhayagiri Monastery in Redwood Valley, California, where he was co-Abbot with Ajahn Pasanno until 2010. He then returned to Amaravati to become Abbot of this large monastic community.
Ajahn Amaro has written a number of books, including an account of an 830-mile trek from Chithurst to Harnham Vihara called Tudong - the Long Road North, republished in the expanded book Silent Rain. His other publications include Small Boat, Great Mountain (2003), Rain on the Nile (2009) and The Island - An Anthology of the Buddha's Teachings on Nibbana (2009) co-written with Ajahn Pasanno, a guide to meditation called Finding the Missing Peace and other works dealing with various aspects of Buddhism.
In December 2015, along with Ajahn Pasanno, Ajahn Amaro was honoured by the King of Thailand with the ecclesiastical title ‘Chao Khun’. Together with this honour he was given the name ‘Videsabuddhiguna’. In July 2019, again with Ajahn Pasanno, he was honoured with the title ‘Chao Khun Rāja’ and received the name 'Rājabuddhivaraguṇa’
Ajahn Kongrit Ratanavaṇṇo lived for many years at Amaravati, and accepted an invitation to become the abbot of Lokuttara Vihara in Norway (see this post for more information.) Due to his visa situation being normalised, Ajahn Kongrit will be spending the vassa 2023 at Amaravati.
Ajahn Ratanavaṇṇo was born in Korat, north-east Thailand, on 10 February 1971. After finishing high school he worked in an industrial concern for a year, and then, as he had not been called up for military service, he decided to become a monk for three months. Those three months have extended indefinitely. In his fifth year as a monk Ajahn Ratanavaṇṇo moved to Wat Pah Nanachat, where he acted as the monastery secretary. In 1999 he spent a year at Abhayagiri Monastery, before moving to Amaravati in 2001. Ajahn Ratanavaṇṇo returned to Amaravati in late November 2012, after spending the three previous years back in Thailand.
Born in Hitchin in 1961, Ajahn Kalyano has been a practising Buddhist since he was 17. He began visiting Amaravati in the 1980’s. As a layman his path of practice and enquiry led him to work in hospitals for nearly twenty years specialising in neurological rehabilitation and learning disabilities as a Clinical Psychologist, Physiotherapist and Tai chi teacher.
He has a particular interest in exploring the relationship between body and mind. He took a sabbatical from his Ph.D in psychology at Southampton University to be an anagarika at Chithurst monastery and stayed to take full ordination as a Bhikkhu in 1998 and has since travelled to Italy, Thailand and Australia.
Ajahn Kalyano retired in early 2023 from being Abbot of Lokuttara Vihara (Skiptvet Buddhist Monastery) in Norway.
Ajahn Asoko grew up in a village near Geneva in Switzerland. His mother brought Buddhism into the family life. As a teenager, he visited Amaravati Monastery, where he first met Ajahn Sumedho and was fortuitously able to attend a ten day retreat with Ajahn Sucitto. At 19 years old, he decided to take a sabbatical year off and spend it at Wat Nanachat, Ajahn Chah's branch monastery for Westerners in Thailand, under the guidance of Ajahn Pasanno.
After 9 years back in lay life, it seemed time to return to Thailand, and was ordained as a bhikkhu by Luang Por Liem. He spent 18 years in Thailand, the last 8 years as Luang Por Sumedho's attendant and secretary. He came to stay at Amaravati Monastery in January 2021 as Luang Por Sumedho returned to live there.
Ajahn Vinīta was born in 1977, in Embilipitiya, Sri Lanka. There he became a Samanera (novice) in 1994. He first visited Amaravati in 2003, and came back to join the community in 2005. In summer 2006, he received the Upasampadā from Ajahn Sumedho in the Amaravati temple Sīmā.
Ajahn Dhammadharo was born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1986 and had his first real exposure to Buddhism when his mother bought him a book on the Buddha's teachings for Christmas when he was 16. After finishing high school he ordained as a novice at Wat Nong Pah Pong (Ajahn Cha's monastery in Ubon, Thailand) and subsequently took Bhikkhu ordination in 2006 at Buddha Bodhivana Monastery (Ajahn Kalyano's monastery in Melbourne, Australia) where he stayed for many years. Since then he has spent time in Thailand, Ireland, and has just arrived in Amaravati to spend the rains for 2023.
Ajahn Mahā-Somphob Bhūriñāṇo
Ajahn Mahā Somphob was born in Bangkok, Thailand. He became interested in Dhamma both in theory and meditation practice at the age of 28. He ordained as a bhikkhu on the 10th of July 2011 at Wat Nyanavesakavan in Nakorn Pathom, Thailand. Throughout 2022 he was residing at Pak-Chong where he received Dhamma training from Ajahn Jayasaro. With his encouragement and support, he decided to spend the vassa 2023 at Amaravati and have the opportunity to share Dhamma with foreigners and Thai supporters of the monastery.
Bhikkhu Narindo was born to Chinese-Malaysian parents in the Netherlands in the winter of 1981. In addition to pursuing his studies he helped with his parents' restaurant business. In 2005 he completed his studies at the Rotterdam school of Management, and started working in international sales and marketing for a Dutch multinational.
His interest in people of various cultures led him to travel to different countries. In 2004, during a study exchange in Singapore, he came across a well-informed Buddhist who introduced him to many different traditions of Buddhism, but especially the Ajahn Chah lineage. To his amazement, the Buddhist teaching revealed itself as something he had partly incorporated in his life, without knowing it was “Buddhist.” The emphasis in the Buddhist teachings on personal morality and on sharing goodness in body, speech and mind was very inspiring. His strong aspirations resulted in serious commitment to the Three Refuges and Five Precepts.
From 2004 he spent his holidays mostly in Asia (Thailand, Burma, Tibet, Malaysia, Singapore) to visit Buddhist places with his Dhamma friends. After some years he felt a need for more guidance in his meditation practice, and looked for meditation classes connected with the Ajahn Chah lineage. In 2009 he found the Amaravati Retreat Centre on the internet, and in June of that year during a ten-day retreat; he surprised himself: there was a sudden urge to renounce his lay-life. In the winter of 2010 he arrived at Amaravati and found the monastery supportive for the practice. Venerable Narindo was ordained as a bhikkhu on 29 July, 2012, with Ajahn Amaro as preceptor.
The Anagārika Precept Ceremony for Venerable Balado was held at Amaravati on 2 May 2015 with Ajahn Amaro as his preceptor.
Bhikkhu Pasādo was born in Bletchley, England in 1970. His first contact with Buddhism happened through a number of inspiring events of good fortune and acts of kindness from people he met while travelling through India. It was at this time that the idea of becoming a Buddhist monk first arose in his mind.
Later Bhikkhu Pasādo encountered the Thai Forest Tradition through attending meditation classes at a Samatha Meditation Centre, while he was studying in Manchester. He was inspired by a book he received about the life of Ajahn Tate, who practised meditation in the seclusion of the forests of Thailand.
After completing his degree course, his interests in hydrogeology took him to Kent where he lived and worked for many years. Bhikkhu Pasādo started attending a local Buddhist group in Maidstone, Kent, which greatly helped to support and deepen his practice. It was during this time that Bhikkhu Pasādo first heard the teachings of Ajahn Chah and was inspired by his simple, direct style of teaching.
Bhikkhu Pasādo began attending meditation retreats at a number of centres around England including Amaravati Buddhist Monastery. His confidence grew in the Buddhist path and with it came a firm aspiration to enter into monastic training. Eventually, through good fortune, the right conditions came about for him to leave the household life and enter into homelessness, and his Anagārika Precept Ceremony was held on the full moon observance day on 2 May 2015. He received the Pabbajjā or novice 'going forth' in a ceremony held at Amaravati on 20 May 2016, and Full Acceptance into the Bhikkhu-Sangha on 2 July 2017, with Ajahn Amaro acting as preceptor.
Bhikkhu Pasādo would like to express his heartfelt gratitude for all of the kindness and wisdom he has received from those practising Dhamma across the world.
Venerable Issaro was born in Stalowa Wola, south-east Poland, in 1985. His search for true happiness brought him to the Buddha’s teachings. Initially he did not want to meditate, until he read the life story of an extraordinary female meditation master, Dipa Ma, which marked a turning-point in his life. In 2009 he attended his first 10-day Vipassana Meditation course, taught by SN Goenka. While his interest in the Dhamma was increasing, he discovered the teachings of Ajahn Chah, Ajahn Sumedho and other great Thai Forest Tradition masters. He decided to request to undertake the anagārika training at Amaravati, and his Anagārika Precept Ceremony was held on 17 November 2013. Venerable Issaro received the pabbajja or novice 'going forth' in a ceremony held at Amaravati on 2 May 2015. On 27 July 2018, he received full acceptance as a Bhikkhu with Ajahn Amaro as preceptor.
Bhikkhu Jayadhammo was born in Doncaster, England in 1979. He joined the community at Harnham Buddhist Monastery in 2013, where he stayed for three years, initially as a lay-resident and then going on to train as an Anagarika. He continued his training at Chithurst Buddhist Monastery, where he received Pabbajja as a Samanera ('Going Forth' as a novice monk), before joining the community at Amaravati in 2018.
Before joining the monastic life, Dīghadassī (Jeroen Akershoek) was living and working in the Netherlands as a System Developer and Administrator. He had a good job, but felt uncomfortable about being part of an economic society that is based on greed and competition, while the negative impact this has on people and the environment is so obvious. It seemed to him that living this way had no meaningful purpose, but he could not see an alternative. Subsequently, he became interested in meditation but eventually grew weary because it only seemed to offer temporary relief from the stress of modern society. It did not give him the answers he was looking for.
In 2013 he came in contact with the Buddha's Teachings through a 10 day Goenka Vipassana course, which had a big impact on him. It gave him the confidence and trust that there actually is a complete teaching for living a wholesome and purposeful life. One year later, after reading the book 'The Buddha and his Teachings' by Ven. Narada, he seriously started thinking about entering the monastic life. He discovered the Thai Forest Tradition and was drawn by Ajahn Chah's simple and direct teachings. He started living at Amaravati in 2016. His upasampadā or full acceptance into the Bhikkhu Sangha was in December of 2018.
Jalito was born in Latvia in 1986. His first contact with Buddhism came during his studies in high school. At the age of 21, when going through a difficult time in his life, he came upon a transcript of a talk given by Ajahn Sumedho. It deeply resonated with Jalito Bhikkhu, and for the first time he visited one of the monasteries established by Ajahn Sumedho. After years of trying to settle in the worldly life, he returned to a monastery at the age of 28. Two years later he took on the training and white robes as an anagārika, and received the pabbajja or novice 'going forth' in a ceremony on the 3 June 2018, with Ajahn Amaro as his preceptor.
Venerable Adicco (Nicolas Kermarc) was born in Évry, France, but grew up in the south, near Montpellier. After several years in San Francisco in his early twenties, he stumbled upon a book by Ajahn Chah and decided to visit Abhayagiri, which sparked a desire to embark upon the monastic path. In the spring of 2017, he became an anagarika under Ajahn Dtun at Wat Boonyawad, Thailand. He subsequently came back to the West and trained for four years at Aruna Ratanagiri in the north of England. He was accepted into the bhikkhu sangha in September 2020 with Ajahn Amaro as preceptor, and formally joined the community at Amaravati in December 2021.
As a layman, Tan Cittasamvaro used to have recurring dreams about missing trains due to having so much baggage to lug about. He doesn't have those dreams anymore.
When he first read about the four noble truths a spark was ignited. He started by practising on his own. After a year or so he decided that it would be beneficial to find the support of a group, this led him to Hartridge Buddhist Monastery. He felt he could trust the monks as they were walking the walk. He felt very welcomed by the Abbot, Ajahn Jutindharo, and the rest of the community. After a period of participating in the Sunday evening pujas he stayed for a weekend. During this weekend, in addition to finding the community life very appealing, he attended a talk given by Ajahn Khemmanando. The Ajahn said something along the lines of "...if one gets the opportunity, then the most worthwhile way to live life is as a Bhikkhu......" Tan Cittasamvaro totally believed the sincerity of his utterance and for the first time he realised that he too could be a Bhikkhu once my personal circumstances were favourable. It took a while to get the ducks in a row.
Tan Cittasamvaro went forth as a novice in Hartridge with Ajahn Sucitto as preceptor and had his bhikkhu ordination on 27th December 2020 with Ajahn Amaro as preceptor. He very much enjoys living in a mixed community with his brothers and sisters in the holy life.
Born in the French-speaking area of Switzerland, Cittadhammo Bhikkhu grew up in a small alpine village. After completing high school in Switzerland, he moved to Montreal, Canada to live and pursue university studies in physics and mathematics. During his first year of university, he participated in a 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat in the tradition of S.N. Goenka. This had a great impact on him and he continued to meditate and serve in this tradition for many years. After completing his undergraduate degree, he discovered the Ajahn Chah tradition and decided to dedicate himself to the monastic life. He spent two years at Tisarana Monastery in Ontario under the leadership of Ahahn Viradhammo, and after a short trip to Thailand, decided to continue his training in England. He is now a resident at Amaravati.
Novice Monks – Sāmaṇerā
Samanera Dhammatejo hails from Santacittarama monastery in Italy, and is spending the vassa at Amaravati.
Sāmaṇerā Samāhito was born in 1993 in Seine-Saint-Denis, France. He received the ten precepts with Ajahn Amaro as the preceptor on 16 November 2022.
Anagārika – Eight precepts
Anagarika Tim, from the UK, took the eight precepts in July 2023, with Ajahn Amaro as preceptor.
Anagarika Hito, from Japan, took the eight precepts in July 2023, with Ajahn Amaro as preceptor.
Ajahn Ñāṇarato (Nyanarato, Shigehito Nakao) was born in 1958, in Nara, Japan. His profound interest in the meaning of life began when he was being trained as a doctor in Kyoto University.
After graduation, he decided to go to India on a spiritual quest instead of becoming a doctor. He spent one year there and then moved on to Thailand, where he visited various monasteries including Wat Pak Nam and Wat Suan Mokkh.
After another year of exploring in Thailand he came to Wat Pah Nanachat. Impressed by the serene presence of the Sangha there, he finally found a place to settle. In 1986 he was ordained as a sāmanera and he received upasampadā the following year.
Later, Ajahn Ñāṇarato started to live under the guidance of Ajahn Gavesako, a senior Japanese disciple of Luang Por Chah. In 1989, they walked together on pilgrimage from Tokyo International Airport to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (around 1,000 kilometres). This took 72 days and was supported by the words of Ajahn Gavesako, “every single step of ours is a peace march.”
When Ajahn Gavesako set up Wat Sunandavanaram in Kanchanaburi in 1990, Ajahn Nyanarato joined that community and lived there for ten years. He also worked for Maya Gotami Foundation, a charity for poor youth in Thailand established by Ajahn Gavesako.
In 2000, Ajahn Ñāṇarato went to Nepal, intending subsequently to spend a few years in Sri Lanka, but the political situation there at that time did not allow him to do so. As he was also interested in learning how to live in the Sangha in the West, he came to England instead and spent the Vassa at Chithurst. He moved to Amaravati in 2001. Deeply inspired by Luang Por Sumedho and his teaching, he has resided there ever since.
(Ajahn Nyanarato is spending the vassa in Japan.)
Growing up in London, England, Ajahn Dhammanando came from a family largely uninterested in religion and thoroughly sceptical in spiritual matters. Consequently he never regarded himself as a "spiritual seeker", nor did he feel the need to make any spiritual commitments in his early years. However, a two year period in his twenties as a volunteer teacher of English in Thailand changed that. It brought him into contact with Buddhism and its outer forms, although he didn’t, by any means, as yet understand it.
It was after meeting Ajahn Sumedho and other western monks in London, a few years later, that the relevance of the Buddha's teachings to his own life became more apparent to him. This was especially the case following a 'baptismal' ten day retreat in a house not far from Chithurst Monastery, which convinced him that somehow or other he must be "a Buddhist".
From that time onwards he either pursued the path of practice in everyday life (helping to set up a Buddhist group in Northampton, England) or else he trained as an anagarika (postulant) for two years with the Sangha in Amaravati and Chithurst. Not yet ready for monkhood, he returned to the lay life as a teacher in South London and pursued a higher degree. However, four years later, having abandoned those more worldly ambitions, he returned to re-join the Sangha and took bhikkhu ordination (Upasampada) with Luang Phor Sumedho in 1993.
Since ordination he has trained in most of the UK monasteries, as well as spending time in monasteries outside the UK (Switzerland, Italy, Australia and New Zealand) where he gained useful experience. More recently he has resided at Amaravati Monastery in the UK, where he has taken a special interest in receiving school and other educational groups on visits and in meeting inmates in a local prison, at least up until the onset of Covid.
He has also paid regular visits to both Hungary and Ireland, teaching in Buddhist Centres in those countries and encouraging an interest in the theory and practice of Buddhism.
(Ajahn Dhammanando is spending the vassa in Hungary.)
Ajahn Ṭhānavaro was born in Budapest, Hungary, where he studied and practised Buddhism before coming to Amaravati for the first time in 2007. He took the anagārika precepts in July 2009 and received pabbajja (novice ordination) on 27 July 2010, with Luang Por Sumedho as preceptor. On 10 July 2011 Ven. Ṭhānavaro received full ordination as a bhikkhu, with Ajahn Amaro as his preceptor. (Ajahn Ṭhānavaro is spending the vassa away from Amaravati.)
(Ven. Ruciro is presently in Thailand and shall return to Amaravati in 2024.) Venerable Ruciro was born in Croydon, South London in 1978. He studied at university and achieved two degrees, one in Sports Science and the other in Physiotherapy. For eight years Venerable Ruciro worked for the National Health Service (NHS) as a physiotherapist, specializing in the field of neurology during the last three years. He first became interested in Buddhist meditation as a way of coping with ‘stress’ when he was twenty-five years old. He started visiting Wat Buddhapadipa in Wimbledon, London on a regular basis, and later began coming to Amaravati. He attended retreats in Thailand (Wat Suan Mokkh and Wat Umong), and also spent ten days at a monastery in Sri Lanka.Venerable Ruciro was extremely inspired by Luang Por Sumedho and his teachings, and similarly by Ajahn Amaro. This culminated in his decision to ‘go forth’ as an anagārika at a ceremony held at Amaravati on 25 August 2012.Venerable Ruciro requested the sāmanera pabbajjā on 10 August 2013, at a ceremony held in the Amaravati Temple.
Samanera Surato took the eight precepts of an anagarika in June 2022, and went forth as a samanera in July 2023 with Ajahn Amaro as preceptor. (Samanera Surato is spending the vassa at Chithurst monastery.)