Portland Friends of the Dhamma is a Buddhist center supporting people’s spiritual and mental well-being, regardless of experience or financial means.
1327 SE Tacoma St. #159
Portland, OR 97202
Our mailing address is not the same as our location. Please send mail directly to our mailing box. We will not receive mail sent to our location.
1422 SE Tacoma Street, Portland (in the Sellwood area)
Right next to the Sellwood United Methodist Church, Second Floor
Friends of the Dhamma exists to support access to the Buddha’s teachings. We encourage contact with like-minded individuals (both lay and monastic) through community gatherings, retreats, and the free distribution of books and tapes.
Friends of the Dhamma arises from the Theravada, Thai-Forest meditation lineage of Ajahn Chah and is advised by and affiliated with Abhayagiri monastery. We welcome all traditions dedicated to the integrity of the Buddha’s teachings: generosity, virtue, mental cultivation, wisdom, and compassion.
Friends of the Dhamma is supported solely by contributions (dana) from the community and does not charge fees for events or use of its facilities.
Friends of the Dhamma was founded in 2000 by Barbara Backstrand, Chris Robson and Sakula Mary Reinard. We’ve had the great honor of hosting several Monks and Nuns both within and without North America. Though most of our visits have been from monastics of the Ajahn Chah/Ajahn Sumedho lineage we’ve also been blessed by visits from other lineages.
Portland Friends of the Dhamma and teachers are supported by the generosity of its members, friends and anyone so inspired. We never charge a fee for any events taking place at our facility. Our doors remain open because of the voluntary contributions of time, effort and/or financial (tax deductible) donations of participants. Please do not hesitate to come whatever your financial situation may be, all contributions are deeply appreciated whether that be in the form of graciously accepting from this gift of Dhamma and/or giving of spiritual, material or financial means.
— Robert Aitken, The Practice of Perfection
This center is affiliated with Abhayagiri—a Buddhist monastery in the Thai Forest Tradition of Ajahn Chah—and its local branch, the Pacific Hermitage.
The Thai Forest tradition is one branch of the Theravada Buddhist tradition. Theravada Buddhism, also known as the Southern School of Buddhism, is present throughout Thailand, Burma, and Sri Lanka. The Theravada tradition is grounded in the discourses recorded in the Pali Canon, the oldest Buddhist scriptures. Theravada literally means the Way of the Elders, and is named so because of its strict adherence to the original teachings and rules of monastic discipline expounded by the Buddha.
Continue reading at ForestSangha.org →
‘Everything Is Teaching Us’ summarizes Ajahn Chah’s approach quite neatly. Showing us the immediacy of the Dhamma, he demystified the concepts of Buddhism so that almost anyone who listened could get the point, be they barely literate farmers or highly educated city people, Thais or Westerners. Yet nothing was compromised, and through his unmatched skill people usually got more than they bargained for.
He taught villagers how to manage their family lives and finances, yet he might be just as likely to tell them about making causes for realization of Nibbāna. He could instruct a visiting group on the basics of morality, without moralizing and in a way that was uplifting, but would gently remind them of their mortality at the end of infusing them with his infectious happiness; or he might scold the daylights out of local monastics and lay people. He could start a discourse by expounding the most basic Buddhist ideas and seamlessly move on to talking about ultimate reality.
Abhayagiri Monastery exists to provide an environment in which individuals and families, guests and residents, are given the opportunity to be in contact with the principles of the Buddha’s teachings and cultivate those same qualities in their own lives. The monastery derives from the Thai Forest Tradition of Theravada Buddhism and is open and respectful to all traditions that embody the central elements of the Buddha’s Path: generosity, virtue, mental cultivation, wisdom, and compassion.
Having traditional monastic practice as its foundation, Abhayagiri provides an opportunity for men and women to live the ‘forest-dwelling’ life of simplicity, meditation, and self-discipline, thereby supporting all to fully enter upon the Buddha’s Path to Enlightenment.
Continue reading at Abhayagiri.org →
Nestled in the Columbia River Gorge along a forested stretch of White Salmon’s Jewett Creek is the home of a small group of Theravada Buddhist monks. The Pacific Hermitage is a branch of Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery in Redwood Valley, California.
Established in the summer of 2010, the Hermitage is a place of solitude for these monks who devote their lives to meditation and simple living. The monks walk daily through the town of White Salmon to accept donations of food, and are available to the community as a spiritual resource. They also teach and lead Buddhist meditation locally and in the region.
Continue reading at PacificHermitage.org →
This center’s Spiritual Director is Sakula Mary Reinard. Programs are lead by Sakula and also Matthew Grad. Community operations are supported by a Board of Directors and various committees. Here are some photos of the community.
Sakula is the Spiritual Director of Portland Friends of the Dhamma and a student of the Western Forest Sangha—the lineage of Ajahn Sumedho and Ajahn Chah. Soon after meeting Luang Por Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro in 1997, she made a formal request to Luang Por Pasanno who accepted her as his lay student, eventually giving her the Pali name Sakula meaning One of Good Family. In 2001, Sakula was invited by them to join eleven others and train as a lay minister, graduating in 2004. She co-founded Portland Friends of the Dhamma in 2000 and leads a meditation group every Friday.
Matthew Grad leads the bi-monthly class Walking the Eightfold Path and co-leads the monthly Magga-Bhāvanā Program. He has practiced in the Theravada lineage for over 25 years. Before joining our community, Matthew taught an ongoing course in sutta study for Spirit Rock Meditation Center. When teaching from the suttas (discourses of the Buddha) he emphasizes their direct application in daily life. His practice is rooted in Ajahn Sumedho’s teachings on intuitive awareness, and the teachings of Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Thanissaro on training the mind and heart.
Governance at Portland Friends of the Dhamma is handled by a Board of Directors and various committees. Meetings are open to the entire community.
Board of Directors
The Board of Directors of Portland Friends of the Dhamma meets at least four time a year. Meetings are open to all community members. The board is governed by its bylaws. Members of the board serve a two-year term for up to three terms before a one-year sabbatical is required. Elections are held at the annual meeting in May. The current Board members are: Alistair Williamson (President), Jim Walker (Treasurer), Greg Satir (VP), Sakula Mary Reinard, Sallie Odenthal, Jessica Swanson and Rachel Telesmanick. Mary Meyers is serving as Secretary.
The Program Committee meets on the first Monday of the month, except when the month has a Board meeting. The committee is chaired by the Community Spiritual Director who together with the Board, elects its members. The Program Committee is responsible for:
- Programs and teachings offered by, at, and/or on behalf of Portland Friends of the Dhamma.
- Deciding which monastics to whom Portland Friends of the Dhamma will extend invitations to teach at or on behalf of Portland Friends of the Dhamma.
- Deciding which laypeople will lead, facilitate, or teach programs and teachings offered on behalf of Portland Friends of the Dhamma.
The Finance Committee is chaired by the Treasurer of the Board and is formed to assist with the Treasurer’s duties. The committee is elected by the Treasurer and the Board. Current members are: Jim Walker (chair), Ruby Grad, Alistair Williamson, Scott Benge and Greg Satir. The Finance Committee is responsible for:
- Assisting the Treasurer with the Treasurer’s duties and providing the Board of Directors with an annual financial report.
- Establishing and reviewing internal financial controls.
- Reviewing any and all financial statements of and involving Portland Friends of the Dhamma.
Friends of the Dhamma hosts weekly programs, special classes and visiting teachers.