Forest Dhamma Monastery is a monastic community in the lineage of Ajaan Mahā Boowa that emphasizes the practices of the Thai Forest Tradition. The Monastery was founded by Ajaan Dick Sīlaratano in the autumn of 2011 when 217 acres of woodland were purchased in the Allegheny foothills of Rockbridge County, Virginia. The land is thickly forested with large patches of tall oaks and poplars, and intersected by two small streams that traversed its full length. The purchase was funded entirely by public donations. The Monastery is located 23 miles southwest of Lexington, Virginia at 255 Snakefoot Lane. There are currently four monks in residence.
The overall Monastery building plan is designed to make the best use of the forest environment for the specific and unique purposes of Forest Dhamma Monastery, while simultaneously conserving the environment by making as little negative impact as possible. Although we have built numerous dwellings, these structures are for the most part small and constructed to blend in with the surrounding forest. We consider the land to be an integral part of our monastic experience and will strive to preserve it to the best of our ability.
Most of the work of building Forest Dhamma Monastery was being accomplished by a dedicated group of volunteers sacrificing their time and energy to create an exemplary Sangha community. At the heart of our team were the monastics, who felt they were building an outer home as a place to practice the Buddha’s path to liberation for the purpose of establishing a peaceful and secure inner home within their hearts. Another important component of our team is a steady group of 5-6 lay volunteers, many of whom aspire to become members of the Sangha in the future. Our funding comes from the merit of faithful donors whose generosity is inspired by the legacy of community support left behind by the Buddha. Our food and other requisites come from the same source. Our supporters view building a Buddhist monastery as a special opportunity to engage in something unique and immensely satisfying. At Forest Dhamma, a group of people has come together who are willing to sacrifice a part of themselves and a part of their lives to accomplish something that has the potential to benefit not only them, but many other living beings as well.