932 Mett St. NE, Olympia, WA 98516, Phone: 360-350-0897
Buddhangkura Buddhist Temple began humbly in 1999 on property with a house suitable for a monastery. The house, or monastery, also serves as a kitchen and gathering place for a local population of Buddhists, mostly Thai, Laotian and Cambodian, with some European Americans sprinkled in. These lay people welcome everyone, and generously share the food they bring with anyone who walks through the door.
The adjacent temple (photo above) was completed some years later. Subsequently, numerous kuti were built, plus gardens, alcoves, and shrines on this extensive, wooded property with trails. All the traditional Thai Buddhist events are celebrated at the temple. The laity are the sole support of the monks and the property.
In June 2018, the temple was consecrated. This means that permanent ordinations can be held there.
In the summer, there is a temporary ordination for youth. Such ordinations are the norm in Thailand, and the novices often live in the monastery the entire summer. Here in Olympia, they stay two weeks at the temple, where they learn the dhamma and vinaya (rules in monasteries). Everyone is invited to the ordination ceremony, usually held in July.
The resident monks were ordained in the Thai Forest tradition, including the abbot, Phra Ratsamee, who was here from the beginning when the property was purchased. Buddhism in Southeast Asia is mostly Theravadan, which adheres closely to the Buddha’s original teachings. The Thai Forest tradition follows the monastic rules as closely as possible to Buddha’s time. Here is where you’ll find the core of the Buddha’s unmodified teachings.
If an official beginning of the English-speaking group, Theravada in Olympia, has to be identified, it would be October 19, 2015 when the first talk by a fluent English-speaking monk was given at the temple. Subsequently, there were monthly long sits, and a few talks from other monks fluent in English.
This nascent group struggled on until Monk Steve (Pattago Bhikkhu) arrived on the scene, giving the group a tremendous boost. An American, he had lived for almost a year as a layman in a kuti at the temple while his decision to ordain solidified. He carried out this decision in May 2017 when he ordained in Thailand.
Upon returning to Buddhangkura as a fully ordained monk, having been allowed to skip the novice period because of his extensive studying and meditating for many years as a layman, he dove headfirst into teaching meditation. A weekly guided meditation was offered immediately, and soon thereafter we had a weekly silent meditation, and a monthly long sit and sutta study.
After a year, Monk Steve decided to live with his teacher in Portland where he had meditated for many years. After his move, participants of Theravada in Olympia asked that he continue giving us guided meditations. He now drives up twice/month to fulfill those wishes. Currently, there are also Silent Meditations on alternate Tuesdays.