News & Events

Registration for Silent Winter Retreat is now open

January-March is the annual period of monastic-centred Silent Winter Retreat for the resident community of Birken. Monastery duties are wound down and a more tranquil atmosphere is fostered, as the monastics and residents turn their attention towards personal practice. During this time, Birken will accept a limited number of bookings from experienced meditators who have visited Birken for extended stays in the recent past and who are willing to lend a helping hand towards the daily running of the monastery. All guests will be assigned light chores for the duration of their stay. Priority will be given to those who have attended previous winter retreats at Birken or who have been visiting Birken regularly over the last two years.

Sāmaṇera Nandaka's Ordination

On the auspicious day of August 20, 2016 (2559), Birken Forest Monastery’s resident community, along with many upāsikās and friends, was witness to a very special sāmaṇera (novice monk) ordination ceremony. Ajahn Sona ordained Espen Østrem Nesse (former upāsaka and long-term steward) as Sāmaṇera Nandaka.

It is said that, at the time of the Buddha, a householder named Nandaka was inspired by a monk named Sona to enter the robes and thereafter attained arahantship. Sāmaṇera Nandaka will be trained as a novice monk under Ajahn Sona’s tutelage at Birken during the coming year and will then move to another monastery to pursue his higher bhikkhu ordination and training. We wish Sāmaṇera Nandaka the very highest blessings as he embarks on this auspicious new life in the robes!

Join us for Anagarika Espen's Sāmaṇera Ordination

In June of this year Ajahn Sona ordained Espen Ostrem Nesse, a member of Birken's Upasika program and long-term steward at Birken, as an Anagarika, an eight-precept postulant, the first step in his commitment to a monastic life in the Thai Forest Tradition. On August 20 Anagarika Espen will be ordained here at Birken by Ajahn Sona as a Sāmaṇera, a novice monk. We invite you to join us for this most auspicious and special occasion.

DATE: Saturday, August 20
TIME: 9:30am (please arrive no later than 9:15am); lunch will be served at 11:30am
WHAT TO BRING: If you plan to stay for lunch, a prepared potluck dish to feed 6-8 people. A gift for Anagarika Espen is optional.

This will also be the weekend gathering of our second group of Upasakas so we anticipate a very full day of devotion and celebration. We look forward to welcoming all of you to Birken.

Sister Mon on Retreat

This month Sister Mon began an extended silent retreat. She will remain at Birken during Vassa and then head off to Vancouver Island from early November to early February. She will return to Birken in February to finish out her retreat.

If you visit the monastery while she is in silence, please respect her inward journey and avoid eye contact and conversation with her.

To Sister Mon, Anumodana! We rejoice in the generosity of your practice and good merit.

And to you, all our kind supporters, this message from Sister Mon:

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!