In l978, in his twenty-first year, Ajahn Amaro began his training in the forest monasteries of Northeast Thailand under Venerable Ajahn Chah. By late l979, he returned to England, going to Chithurst Monastery to study under Ajahn Sumedho.
After two years at Chithurst, he spent ten years in residence at Amaravati. When he had been precepted for five years, he requested and received permission to conduct a Tudong, a “wandering” traditional to the forest monks in Thailand, on the soils of England. “I was also inspired by the first Three Steps, One Bow pilgrimage conducted by monks from the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association,” he relates. He and his companion monk “wandered” from north to south in England between May and August, l983. Records of his journey are published in the book Silent Rain.
In l990, Ajahn Amaro was invited to the United States for the first time and it was then that he met Venerable Master Hua and the Sangha of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Actually, he had long been influenced by Master Hua's teaching and Mahayana practices, and even developed a nagging internal conflict about the two traditions. This internal struggle, which disturbed his practice of either tradition, persisted until the Venerable Master Hua appeared to him in a dream and with one sentence, made him realize the folly of his superficious discriminations that had been undermining his faith.
After that first visit to the US, he came every year, with a view, inspired by Ajahn Sumeda, of starting a monastery in America. “By the end of May, l995, permission had been granted by the Sangha in England and two of us monks came, ready to undertake the task. We began to search for land in Mendocino County California. At that time Ajahn Sumedo was at Long Beach, having gone to pay respects to Venerable Master Hua, who had already been hospitalized. Although the Master was too ill to receive Ajahn Sumedo personally, he was, as always, ready with the right expedient for the occasion. Thus it was that three days after our search for land began, we received word that Master Hua had directed [several years previously] that a gift of 120 acres of forest land in Mendocino County be given to Ajahn Sumedo and his Sangha! I thought, “Oh! So that's how it is to be! And immediately I saw that I was destined, in whatever ways I could, to help continue the process of bringing the Theravada and Mahayana traditions together in an harmoniously unified and mutually non-obstructive way, a goal that Master Hua had always been diligently dedicated to. The Sangha of England gratefully accepted the gift and the title was transferred on July 27, l995.“
Ajahn Amaro presides as Abbot of the monastic facility called Abhayagiri, which means “Mountain of Fearlessness.” Located in Redwood Valley, Abhayagiri offers opportunities for the faithful to attend meditations and Dharma talks.