Abhayagiri Monastery provides an environment in which individuals, families, guests and residents are given the opportunity to be in contact with the principles of the Buddha’s teachings and to cultivate those same qualities in their own lives. The monastery’s origins are in the Thai Forest Tradition of Theravada Buddhism. We are open and respectful to all traditions that embody the central elements of the Buddha’s Path: generosity, virtue, mental cultivation, wisdom, and compassion.
With traditional monastic practice as its foundation, Abhayagiri provides an opportunity for men and women to live the forest-dwelling life of simplicity, meditation, and self-discipline, thereby supporting all to fully enter upon the Buddha’s Path to Enlightenment.
The monastery exists in many dimensions: as a dwelling place for a resident community, as a sanctuary for those who visit regularly and as a spiritual presence in the world. The goal is to serve these functions through monastic training and freely share the fruits of this practice.
At Abhayagiri’s heart is a community of monks (bhikkhus), novices (sāmaṇeras), postulants (anagārikas) and devoted lay male and female residents (upāsaka and upāsikā) pursuing a life of meditative reflection. Frequently, monastics from other branches of the global Buddhist community come and stay for periods of time.
The sangha lives according to the Vinaya, the code of monastic discipline established by the Buddha. In accordance with this discipline, the monastics are alms-mendicants, living lives of celibacy and frugality. Above all, this training is a means of living reflectively and is a guide to keeping one’s needs to a minimum: a set of robes, an alms bowl, one meal a day, medicine when ill, and a sheltered place for meditation and rest.
The Vinaya creates a firm bond between the sangha and the general public. One reason for this is that without the daily offering of alms food and the long-term support of ordinary people, the sangha cannot survive. Obviously, the necessary support will only be forthcoming if the sangha provides an example that is worthy of support. This relationship creates a framework within which generosity, compassion, and mutual encouragement can grow.
Dependence upon others encourages monastics to live in faith and be content with a humble standard of living. For those who support the sangha, this opportunity to give provides occasions for generosity and a joyful and direct participation in the spiritual life. The sangha offers spiritual guidance by teaching Dhamma and through their example as dedicated and committed monastics living the holy life.
Venerable Ajahn Pasanno and Venerable Ajahn Amaro guided the monastery as co-abbots starting in 1996. In 2010, Ajahn Amaro accepted an invitation to serve as abbot of Amarāvati Buddhist Monastery in England, leaving Ajahn Pasanno to lead the community for the next eight years. In spring of 2018, Ajahn Pasanno stepped back from his role of abbot to enter a year-long retreat overseas. After his retreat, Ajahn Pasanno returned to Abhayagiri in the role of Guiding Elder. Ajahn Karuṇadhammo and Ajahn Nyaniko served as co-abbots until June 2020, when Ajahn Karuṇadhammo stepped back from his administrative duties. Ajahn Nyaniko is now serving as the abbot of Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery.