Ven. Ajahn Karunadhammo was born in North Carolina in 1955. He was trained as a nurse and moved to Seattle in his early twenties where he came in contact with the Theravada tradition. In 1992 he helped out with a monastic visit to the Bay Area and spent another two months helping on a winter retreat at Amaravati. He decided to "Go Forth" while in Thailand in December 1995 and asked if he could be part of the prospective California monastery. He arrived in San Francisco in May of 1996, took the Eight Precepts on the thirty-first of that month (Vesakha Puja Day) and was part of the original group arriving at Abhayagiri on June 1, 1996. After a little over a year in white, Anagarika Tom became Samanera Karunadhammo on the Full Moon Day of July 1997 under the preceptorship of Ajahn Pasanno. In May 1998 Samanera Karunadhammo took full bhikkhu ordination, and became the first American-born bhikkhu at the first American branch monastery of the Thai lineage of Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Sumedho.