Portland Friends of the Dhamma was founded in 2000 by Barbara Backstrand, Chris Robson and Sakula Mary Reinard.
We first met in a shared art studio in Portland’s northwest industrial district, and those humble but sincere beginnings attracted Western monastics from the Ajahn Chah lineage and other superb lay teachers to visit and teach. We met on several days each week for nearly five years in this space before moving to our Sellwood location where we would remain for eight more years.
In our Sellwood location we expanded our offerings to nearly every day of the week. We developed a Portland Upasika group (now held in White Salmon and led by the Pacific Hermitage monastics) modeled after the Abhayagiri Upasika program. We strengthened our bylaws and mission and grew our board and committees. Sakula was appointed Spiritual Director, and Matthew Grad eventually joined Sakula as a lead teacher. And a most notable achievement was starting a project to establish an Abhayagiri branch vihara in the Pacific Northwest. All the while, we hosted senior Thai Forest monastics from around the world.
Alas, in the fall of 2012 our beloved rented space — which we painted and plastered and made beautiful — was sold, and we were once again in need of a new home. Today, we find ourselves in that new home, and we are working toward making it a permanent city Dhamma center, perhaps for generations to come. Our sangha continues to grow and our relationship with the Ajahn Chah lineage flourishes. And even as we work toward establishing a permanent home in the city of Portland, we find again and again that Dhamma is our refuge, and where there is the peace of true Dhamma, we are always home.