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Getting to Know You: Michael Joliffe

Michael Joliffe

Why Portland Friends of the Dhamma?

The direct, simple, and down-to-earth quality of the Thai Forest teachings, emphasis on practice and direct experience, following closely the traditions laid out for the monks by the Buddha, believing freedom from suffering is possible in this life, and the tight coupling between monks and laity really resonate with me. Listening to Ajahn Chah’s teachings and realizing a person with little formal education sitting under a tree in the forest of Thailand knew more about my own mind, motivations, and causes for my suffering than I did, despite my years of formal education, led me to search out a place and people that could help me learn more about the nature of my mind, and I got lucky to find PFoD in Portland and the Hermitage in White Salmon! 

How long have you been with us?

Since December 2018.

My favorite Dhamma activity is …

Oooh, this is very tough! I think practicing generosity. I really enjoy the sense of heart-warmth and openness and connection to others I get from putting food in monks’ bowls, helping during work periods. I remember a silent smile I shared with a monk while cleaning a toilet at Abhayagiri and realizing I was more content in that moment than I’d been at any time during an ostensibly wonderful vacation I took to Mexico.  

My favorite hobby is …

Watching and being in nature.  

Something you might not know about me is…

I like really spicy food. REALLY spicy :)

Also, I sometimes try my hand at poetry. (But I don’t really know the rules!)


My mind woolly

a sheep, wandering,

collects burrs


My mind clear, calm

a mountain pool

collects snowflakes