News & Events

Ajahn Sona on CBC Radio

This week Daybreak's Jennifer Chrumka from CBC Radio Kamloops visited us to interview Ajahn Sona and learn more about Birken. There are two parts to the interview: first is a tour of the monastery and then the interview with Ajahn Sona. To listen to the entire interview, just follow this link:

Arrow River Forest Hermitage needs stewards

Ajahn Punnadhammo, the abbot of Arrow River Forest Hermitage, is looking for a steward to stay at his monastery. The hermitage is located in Northern Ontario, 50 miles southwest of Thunder Bay, with 92 acres of land in a beautiful mixed forest.


This year Ajahn is short handed after having had some cancellations of stewards. If interested, please write to him at


Harityana (Green Vehicle) Fund Update: We've reached our goal!

In January we began our Haritayana (Green Vehicle) Fund with the goal of raising $35,000 in donations to purchase a new plug-in hydrid SUV for the monastery. Thanks to everyone who contributed so generously we have reached our goal! We will let you know when the new vehicle has been purchased, including a photo so you can see the results of your great merit.

Again, to all who helped in this endeavour, Anumodana! We rejoice in your good merit and generosity!

Nearing Our Goal: Haritayana (Green Vehicle) Fund

Thank you to everyone who has contributed thus far to our Haritayana (Green Vehicle) Fund - Anumodana!

If you haven't heard, our able and upright Toyota van, that has served Birken so faithfully these many years, is aging (as are we all) and needing more and more repairs. Ajahn Sona has decided our next vehicle will be a plug-in hybrid, fitting Birken's commitment to green monasticism in all its forms.

We would like to purchase a new SUV later this year. To aid in that effort, we have established the Birken Haritayana (Green Vehicle) fund. As of this date we have raised close to $31,000, well within reach of our goal of $35,000. If you would like to contribute, please indicate "Haritayana Fund" or "Green Vehicle Fund" on your donation. To find out more about how to make a donation to the monastery, visit our Monetary Donations page:

Anumodana! We rejoice in your good merit and generosity!

April - December 2016 Bookings Now Open

The monastery continues to be closed for Winter Retreat until April 1st. However, bookings are now open for Personal Retreats, Scheduled (Formal) Retreats, and Day Visits, for the period of April - December 2016.

Please consult the Birken website at for more information on how to book a Personal Retreat at the monastery:

This year, Ajahn Sona will be leading two Scheduled (Formal) Retreats at the monastery:
-July 15 - 17, 2016: Absolute Beginners Weekend Retreat (registration open until May 31st)
-Sept 30 - October 9, 2016: 10-Day Silent Retreat (registration open until June 30th)
Please see for information on how to register for one of these retreats.

Ajahn Sona will also be leading a few Offsite Teaching Events in Kamloops, Surrey, Cortes Island, and Victoria. Please see for more information.

Our Upāsikā Program begins its second year - a structured program of spiritual training for dedicated lay practitioners. For more information, please see for more information. To register or to find out more about this program, please email: no later than March15.

For an overview of events for the coming year, please see the EVENT CALENDAR on our website at

We look forward to welcoming you to the monastery sometime soon!

FINAL YEAR - Ajahn Sona's Offsite Teaching Events

Ajahn Sona

Over the years Ajahn Sona has led public talks and retreats outside of the monastery. 2016 marks the final year Ajahn Sona will offer such offsite retreats. Starting in 2017, with the exception of one prior commitment and his monthly visits to Kamloops, Ajahn Sona will be shifting his teaching schedule exclusively to Birken. He requests that no further invitations be extended to him either by email or in person. Thank you for your commitment to the Dhamma and for respecting Ajahn Sona's wishes.

This change of direction will open the door to many new opportunities for you to deepen your relationship with Birken. Besides continuing to share his teachings with individuals and groups who visit the monastery, Ajahn Sona will be focusing on new media outlets to share the Dhamma, including videos at his YouTube channel, audio podcasts and Ebooks of Birken publications, both to be launched later this year, as well as maintaining our extensive collection of audio Dhamma talks.

To learn more about Ajahn Sona's 2016 Offsite Events visit our Offsite Events page. To find out more about group bookings at Birken, or if you have any further questions, please email us at

The Dharma Bum | New Documentary Film about the First Western Buddhist Monk

 Dear Friends of Birken,

We wish to inform you of an exciting new documentary in the works. The Director of this documentary is now in the final phases of a crowdfunding campaign to bring this documentary into being.  If you feel inclined to support this important project, please visit:  The Dharma Bum crowdfunding page:
"The Dharma Bum" is a feature documentary film directed by Ian Lawton that unearths the adventure story of Laurence Carroll, a free-thinking atheist alcoholic Irishman born in Dublin in the late 1800s, who went on to become U Dhammaloka - the world's first Western Buddhist monk.  Legend has it that in the dawn of the 20th century, Laurence ordained as a Buddhist monk in a remote forest monastery in Burma, aka Myanmar, where he trained in ancient Buddhist practices, while maintaining an activism that denounced dogma, orthodoxy, the hypocrisies of the Church and his own Catholic upbringing.  Standing up to the British Colonialists who were spreading over Southeast Asia at the time, Dhammaloka was under constant police surveillance until his conviction for sedition. After traveling the world under multiple aliases, faking his own death, being an outspoken activist, spending 13 years as a monk, Dhammaloka mysteriously disappeared, without a trace.  Over the following century knowledge of his life was lost from history. Only recently has his groundbreaking story been unearthed.  When The Dharma Bum is released, it will provide audiences worldwide with the missing link in the origin story of Western Buddhism.  For more details, please see the Dharma Bum website (which features a brand new animated trailer):


2015 Birken AGM Minutes & Financials

Birken's 2015 Annual General Meeting was held on September 6, 2015, at the monastery.  The Minutes of the meeting, along with financial statements for our 2014-15 fiscal year, are attached below.   Any questions may be addressed to:

Anumodana for your continued support throughout another great year!
-Birken Forest Monastery ('Sitavana')