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FAQ

Q. May I visit the monastery?

Yes. You are quite welcome. The monastery is always open as a quiet sanctuary for those who seek peace and solitude. For nine months of the year, April through December, it is also possible to arrange a stay as an overnight guest for limited periods of time. Those who stay as guests participate in the life of the resident community-sharing the routines of chanting, meditation, work, communal meals, and private time. Please refer to the visiting page for more information.

As a mendicant tradition, Theravada monasteries exist in a close relationship with the greater lay Buddhist community. Thus, along with the element of seclusion, which is essential to a contemplative life, there is also the element of accessibility. The monastery provides spiritual support for the community at large and the laity provides material support for the monastery.

Q. When can I visit to attend a meditation session or listen to teachings?

Almost every morning, starting at 5:00 am, the monastery gathers for chanting and meditation. Chanting usually lasts about fifteen minutes and is followed by an hour of silent sitting meditation. On Lunar Observance Days, the Abhayagiri community does not formally gather for morning meditation. Please see the Abhayagiri Calendar for the Lunar Observance Day dates.

In the evenings, beginning at 7:00 pm, there is an identical chanting and meditation gathering which typically lasts until 8:15 pm. There is no evening chanting or meditation on the day after the Lunar Observance Day. 

On Sundays, instead of the evening session, there is an afternoon session beginning at 2:00 pm and, after the group meditation, a forty-five minute or so public talk is given by the Abbot or one of the senior monks. The same format applies to Lunar Observance days, except the session begins at 7:30 pm and is followed by a late night vigil.

Q. When should I come to the monastery if I want to visit with the monks or ask questions?

One suitable time to visit is just as the meal is finishing (11:30 am to 12:00 pm). The senior monks are generally available to receive guests around this time. Another excellent opportunity to visit with the monks is during the informal teatime gathering, which begins at 5:30 pm. At this time, the monks and lay people have the opportunity to visit with each other. The abbot or senior monk usually take their tea in the meditation hall and are available for discussion and questions.

Q. Will Ajahn Pasanno be there when I visit?

Ajahn Pasanno, Abhayagiri’s abbot, does his best to meet with guests around evening tea time, but due to the monastery’s busy work routine and the Ajahn’s travel schedule, this is not always possible. Abhayagiri is fortunate to have, however, multiple teaching monks in residence who may also be able to meet with you. They or the abbot are typically present at the informal evening tea gathering at 5:30 pm to answer questions and Ajahn Pasanno and the teaching monks deliver Dhamma talks on Saturday evenings and Lunar Observance Days, all of which are open to the public. For more information about these days, please refer to the Abhayagiri Calendar.

Q. What if I want to hike the trails and see the monastery?

Anytime during the day is usually fine for people to hike the monastery trails and sightsee. We just ask that you stay on the trails, pay attention to the trail signs, be aware of your footing and keep as quiet as possible.

Q. Is it okay if I bring family or friends along with me when I visit for the day?

Yes, groups are welcome, but if your group is any bigger than five people, we would appreciate notice prior to the arrival of your party.

Q. May I bring my dog, cat or other pet to the monastery?

As a monastery policy, we strongly discourage bringing pets to Abhayagiri. If a day visitor brings a pet, we ask that the dog or cat be leashed and with the owner it all times (or left in a car—weather permitting). Some people are highly allergic to pets and may be prevented from visiting if pets are around Abhayagiri or have been in the guest living spaces. In addition, we do not allow pets to stay overnight in the monastery. These policies ensure safety for the pets, visitors, residents, and wild animals that live in the monastery.

Q. Do you offer retreats and can I book one?

No, Abhayagiri does not provide retreats on the monastery property, either for groups or for individuals. However, there are Dhamma talks and retreats given by monks and nuns associated with this monastery, offered in various parts of the United States. For example, in the third week of November, Abhayagiri offers a ten day monastic retreat in Santa Rosa during the Thanksgiving Holiday. Click on the Abhayagiri Calendar to view upcoming events and scheduled retreats at other locations.

Q. I’ve decided that I want to explore being a Buddhist monk or nun. What should I do?

Arrange to visit Abhayagiri. Very often the concept of Buddhist monastic life is very different from the actuality. As T.S. Eliot put it, ”Between the ideal and the reality falls the shadow.” Every day there is a public informal tea time gathering at 5:30 pm in the Dhamma Hall and either the abbot or another senior monk present can answer questions you might have at that time. This will be able to give you a clearer picture of what life is like as a monastic. If you do not live so close, then arranging for a three day to one week stay will offer you a bigger picture of life in a monastery. It should be noted that Abhayagiri is not a training monastery for nuns, although women are welcome to live here for short or long periods of time. If you are interested in training as a nun, please refer to the Monastic Training for Women page for more information about nuns’ communities. 

We do offer the possibility of long-term stays or residence at Abhayagiri, but please note that any request for a long-term stay must be considered by the resident community and is by no means always possible or appropriate. Longer stays are always preceded by one or two short stays so that both the visitor and the community can see whether a longer stay would be suitable. In addition, Abhayagiri tends to schedule long-term stays by evaluating the stay every two weeks. Although we will set aside an agreed time period for a longer stay, such as three months, there is no guarantee that a guest can stay for the entire period if the community decides that his or her visit is not working out.

If you are interested in arranging an overnight visit, please read the information on the Overnight Stays page and use the contact form provided.

Q. What time is best to come if I want to offer my assistance and help with monastery work?

Every morning, the monastery holds a work period from 7:30 am to 10:30 am. We start with a work meeting in the hall at 7:30 am, followed by a short Dhamma reflection by one of the senior monks. After this, we clean up, get dressed in our work clothes/robes, and set off for our various tasks. We have a wide variety of projects that people can help with, depending on their abilities. Any help is welcomed and greatly appreciated. On the Lunar Observance Days and the following day there is no work period. Occasionally, the monastery hosts a Community Work Day- a full day of work projects usually revolving around a central theme. The afternoon session begins at 1:00 pm with a second work meeting and reflection and goes until around 4:30 pm. If interested, check the Abhayagiri Calendar to see when the Lunar Observance Days occur and also to see if there are any upcoming Community Work Days as these days will be decided upon as the need develops.

Q. How might I help the monastery? Do you have specific needs that I might review before a visit?

Yes, and thank you for asking. The material support by the community at large is both appreciated and essential for the monastery. Please find more information as to how this all works by referring to the support page page.

Q. Does the monastery accept monetary donations?

Donations are welcomed and greatly appreciated and go exclusively towards support for the monastery. The steward organization for supporting Abhayagiri is the Sanghapāla Foundation. Sanghapāla is an incorporated nonprofit and all donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

Q. If I wish to make a monetary donation, who should I make it out to?

Donations should be made payable to:

Sanghapala Foundation
16201 Tomki Road 
Redwood Valley, CA 95470
USA

For more information, please visit the donations page.

Q. Is it possible to offer food and other supplies?

Absolutely. The monastic code requires the Saṇgha to be dependent upon the lay community for all their physical needs. You can request a current list of needed items by contacting the monastery.

Q. Is it possible to offer services or help at the monastery?

Yes. Often the monastery needs volunteer support for various tasks and professional services. If you would like to volunteer your support, please contact the monastery. Also, each morning the monastery holds a work period from 7:30 am to 10:30 am. We have a variety of projects that people can help with depending on their abilities. Any help is welcomed and greatly appreciated.

Q. If I have any other questions what address should I use to post a letter or send an email?

The mailing address of the monastery is:

Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery
16201 Tomki Road
Redwood Valley, CA 95470

To send an email please use the contact form.

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