The term “upāsikā” means “one who sits close by” and it has come to refer to lay people who join with monastics in the practice of the Dhamma. Following the model established in England, Abhayagiri Monastery has created its own Upāsikā Program to provide a structure for lay people to practice and study together. Regular Upāsikā Days are held at the monastery each year, where Upāsikās renew their commitment to the Three Refuges and Five Precepts, participate in a study session focusing on a Dhamma topic, and practice meditation. Over the course of the year, topics cover the five themes of sutta study, daily life practice, meditation, devotion and ritual, and Dhamma in the broader world. A list of suggested readings is also provided for those wishing to delve more deeply into each topic.
Typical Upāsikā Day Schedule
- 10:30 am - Refuges and Precepts
- 10:45 am [11 am DST] - Meal offering (bring a dish to share if you would like)
- 1:00 pm - Meditation, teachings & discussion
- 4:30 pm - Tea with monastics (optional)
Attendance at Upāsikā Days is open both to those who have made a formal commitment to the program and to those who may simply wish to attend for the day. Each year’s commitment ceremony takes place in the spring. All are welcome.
- To enhance individual practice and increase self-discipline through making a formal commitment to spiritual training.
- To deepen both the intellectual and experiential understanding of Dhamma.
- To have more supportive contact with like-minded people and the ordained Sangha.
- To be better equipped to communicate the Teachings to others.
The following Upāsikā Program guidelines are meant as an outline for spiritual training of the individual and are intended to provide a structure for those seeking support and encouragement in their practice.
- Undertake to live by the Three Refuges and the Five Precepts.
- To take the Theravada Thai Forest Tradition as the focus of one’s Buddhist practice.
- Attend regular gatherings with other Upāsikās, either at the monastery or in our own homes.
- Visit the monastery and formally take the Refuges and Precepts at least quarterly.
- Observe the Uposatha days of the full and new moons in some fashion appropriate to our living situation.
- Practice meditation daily.
- Find some time each year to go on retreat.
- Attend at least one festival day or communal gathering at the monastery each year.
- Cultivate a basic working knowledge of the Teachings.
- Support the sangha according to our means and abilities.
- Keep to the training for at least one year after having made the formal commitment.
2019 Upāsikā Days
- Sunday, April 21 - Upāsikā Renewal Day: Devotion/Ritual: “Refuge, Precepts and Faith”
- Saturday, June 29 - Sutta Study: Satipatthana: What Actually is Mindfulness?
- Sunday, August 11 - Practice in a Global/Socia Context : Praise, Criticism, and Diplomatic Speech
- Saturday, October 12 - Practice in Daily Life: Love, Attachment, and Friendship
- Sunday, December 1 - Meditation: Developing Skill in Reflective Meditation
This is a brief outline of the planned themes. Each one will be developed more fully prior to its date, with readings, reflection questions, and more background to be provided. Please mark your calendar and stay tuned for more information in the weeks ahead.