Born in Portland, Oregon in Ajahn Sudanto became interested in Buddhism and Indian spiritual traditions while completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Oregon. After a year of traveling, he proceeded to Thailand to begin a period of intensive study and meditation, which drew him to Wat Pah Nanachat in the Northeast of Thailand. There he met Ajahn Pasanno (then the abbot) and requested to ordain and train with the resident community, taking full ordination as a bhikkhu in 1994. After training for five years at Wat Pah Nanachat and various branch monasteries in the Ajahn Chah tradition, he came to Abhayagiri to live and train with the emerging sangha in America. Ajahn spent the summer of 2007 together with Ajahn Karunadhammo (below) in the Columbia River Gorge on retreat in a temporary forest hermitage supported by the Portland Friends of the Dhamma. Later he was asked by the Abhayagiri community to lead the effort to establish the Pacific Hermitage in 2010.
Sakula, Mary Reinard
In 1996 Mary Reinard (Sakula) came into contact with Buddhism through an internet search that led her to a beginners course at Dharma Rain Zen Center. One year later she met Luang Por Pasanno and then co-abbot of Amaravati, Ajahn Amaro, for the first time and immediately felt at home. Luang Por accepted her as his lay student, eventually giving her the Pali name Sakula meaning One of Good Family. In 2001, Sakula was invited by the venerables to join eleven others in a three-year training. The group graduated in 2004 as Community of Abhayagiri Lay Ministers, or C.A.L.M.
Sakula co-founded Portland Friends of the Dhamma in 2000 and leads the Sunday Sila Program.
Luang Por Sucitto
Ajahn Sucitto is a British-born Theravada Buddhist monk. He is, since 1992, the abbot of Chithurst Buddhist Monastery (Cittaviveka). He was born in London, and was ordained in Thailand in March 1976. He moved to Britain in 1978 and took up training under Ajahn Sumedho at the Hampstead Buddhist Vihara. In 1979 he was one of the small group of monks, led by Ajahn Sumedho, who established Cittaviveka in West Sussex. In 1981 he was sent up to Northumberland to set up a small monastery in Harnham, which subsequently became Aruna Ratanagiri. In 1984 he accompanied Ajahn Sumedho in establishing the Amaravati Monastery in Hertfordshire, eventually being appointed abbot of Cittaviveka. For more about Ajahn Sucitto visit his monastery at:Cittaviveka and Everything Ajahn Sucitto
Luang Por Passano
Luang Por Pasanno took ordination in Thailand in 1974 with Venerable Phra Khru Nanasirivatana as preceptor. During his first year as a monk he was taken by his teacher to meet Ajahn Chah, with whom he asked to be allowed to stay and train. One of the early residents of Wat Pah Nanachat, Ajahn Pasanno became its abbot in his ninth year. Luang Por became a well-known and highly respected monk and Dhamma teacher in Thailand. For more about Luang Por Pasanno visit: Dharma Seed and Abhayagiri Monastery
While traveling in Nepal, Tibet and Thailand in 1987, inspired primarily by the devotion witnessed in the Tibetan people, Debbie took her first retreat in Thailand, hoping to learn a little about Buddhism. Passing through England on her return to the USA, she visited Amaravati Monastery and spent almost a full year between Amaravati and Chithurst monasteries, gaining a bit more understanding of this path. Involved with the Sanghapala Foundation since its inception, she moved to Abhayagiri Buddhist monastery in Redwood Valley, California in 1998.
Ayya Santussika began exploring meditation in the late seventies. In 2002, she received a Masters of Divinity degree after completing a four-year interfaith seminary program to become a minister. In 1999, Ayya Santussika made her first trip to Thailand to visit her son who had ordained there as a monk in Ajahn Chah’s international monastery, Wat Pah Nanachat. Over the years, she traveled to Thailand learning from master teachers including Ajahn Jayasaro, Ajahn Anan, Ajahn Dtun, Luang Ta Maha Boowa, and Ajahn Pannavaddho.
In 2003, she formally became a student of Ajahn Pasanno. In 2004, she spent time in Australia with Ajahn Brahm and at Ajahn Kalyano’s monastery near Melbourne where she met Ajahn Plien, whose teachings strongly impacted her development.
She took Anagarika Precepts with Ayya Tathaaloka Bhikkhuni in 2005 and spent a year helping start Dhammadharini Vihara. She then took up training at Amaravati and Chithurst Monasteries in England until 2009, when she moved with three of the Siladhara nuns to San Francisco to start Aloka Vihara. Ayya Santussika received samaneri ordination in the Sri Lankan tradition in 2010 and bhikkhuni ordination in 2012 at Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Vihara with Ayya Sudarshana and Bhante Piyananda as her preceptors.
In 2012 Ayya Santussika started Karuna Buddhist Vihara. The recent donation of a forest property in the Santa Cruz mountains has shifted Karuna Buddhist Vihara from a neighborhood monastery to a forest monastery. For more about Ayya Santussika visit Karuna Buddhist Vihara and Dharma Seed.