Nestled in the Columbia River Gorge along a forested stretch of White Salmon's Jewett Creek is the home of a small group of Theravada Buddhist monks. The Pacific Hermitage is a branch of Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery in Redwood Valley, California.
Established in the summer of 2010, the Hermitage is a place of solitude for these monks who devote their lives to meditation and simple living. The monks walk daily through the town of White Salmon to accept donations of food, and are available to the community as a spiritual resource. They also teach and lead Buddhist meditation locally and in the region.
Abhayagiri Monastery is the first monastery in the United States to be established by followers of Ajahn Chah, a respected Buddhist master of the Thai Forest Tradition of Theravada Buddhism.
Ajahn spent the summer of 2007 together with Ajahn Karunadhammo in the Columbia River Gorge on retreat in an impromptu 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.
Ajahn Jotipālo was born in 1965 in Indiana. He received a B.A. from Wabash College and worked for six years in technical sales. He became interested in Theravada Buddhism after sitting several Goenka retreats. While on staff at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, he met Ajahn Amaro and Ajahn Punnadhammo. After leaving IMS, he spent three months with Ajahn Punnadhammo at the Arrow River Forest Hermitage in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. Ajahn Jotipālo came to live at Abhayagiri in 1998 and subsequently spent two years training as an Anāgārika and Sāmaṇera. He ordained as a Bhikkhu with Ajahn Pasanno as preceptor on Ajahn Chah's birthday, June 17, 2000. Since that time, Ajahn Jotipālo has also stayed at Ajahn Chah-branch monasteries in Thailand, Canada, and New Zealand. He returned to Abhayagiri for the vassa of 2012.In 2010, he came to White Salmon, WA to help Ajahn Sudanto establish the Pacific Hermitage.
Sāmaṇera Khantiko was born in 1979 and raised in Nashville, TN. He gained a strong interest in the teachings of the Buddha after the death of his brother, David in 2004. Following the death of his father in 2006, he sought out ways of developing his understanding of Dhamma. This eventually led him to a degree program at the Graduate Theological Union/Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, CA. After graduating, he decided to pursue monastic training and arrived at Abhayagiri in December 2012. He went forth as an Anāgārika on May 5, 2013 and as a Sāmaṇera on May 17, 2014.