This Sunday, Penticton will be visited by a Buddhist monk for a rare speaking engagement.
There is little doubt that the Venerable Ajahn Sona is a popular speaker, but combining speaking tours with his work as abbot of the Birken Forest Monastery near Kamloops — B.C.’s only Buddhist monastery — keeps him a very busy cleric.
“It was the only day in his year that he was available to come. He is a well-recognized international speaker and lecturer,” said Jerome Abraham, the local meditation teacher who arranged the visit.
Abraham had recently visited the monastery and thought it would be a great idea to have Sona, who has just finished a three-month silent retreat, visit Penticton.
“He is going to be in Kelowna the day before, doing a day retreat. So I just asked the stewards if he would be able to come. And it turned out to be the only day that he could come in this calendar (year),” said Abraham. “His family lives here, so I think he really wanted to come here and speak again.”
It’s not the first time Sona has delivered a lecture in Penticton. He was the first speaker at Penticton’s Philosopher’s Café when it started in 2002, and more recently delivered a lecture on Green Monasticism for the TEDx Talks at Okanagan College last summer.
“I have gone to the monastery and heard him speak at tea discourses and I have watched him speak online,” said Abraham. “At the monastery, he does a tea discourse every night and I imagine this will be similar to that.”
Abraham explained that Sona’s talk, The Feeling of Freedom, would be about the practise of meditation and how that practise is freeing for people. He expects that Sona will keep the discourse general and accessible for a wide range of people.
“I don’t think he is going to get too deep into Buddhist thought, but I think he will talk in general terms on just how meditation can free you,” said Abraham. “Usually, the general lectures he does are not as pointed towards Buddhism as you would get in his tea discourses at the monastery.”
Abraham said he was surprised that there was quite a good response from people in the community as he delivered posters for the event and sent out announcement emails.
While Penticton doesn’t have a formal temple, Abraham thinks there is a fairly large lay community here, and the Birken Monastery has strong connections with the area.
“Ajahn Sona is fairly well-known here and in Naramata as well,” said Abraham, noting that before the monastery moved to its present site near Kamloops, it was in Princeton. “I think a lot of people in this area know of the monastery and him.”
Sona will be speaking from 7 to 9 p.m. at Orchard House, 157 Orchard Ave. on April 27. No pre-registration is required for this event and donations are welcome.