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“Beings are owners of their actions, heirs of their actions; they originate from their actions, are bound to their actions, have their actions as their refuge. It is action that distinguishes beings as inferior and superior.”
~ The Buddha
MN 135


Behavior with monastics

For many people, the monastics at Bhavana are the first monastics they ever meet.  Often people are nervous or uncomfortable.  No need for that here!  If you have never interacted with monastics before, things may seem a bit formal and stiff.  If you are accustomed to very formal monasteries, you may find us quite casual.  We hope that as you get to know us any discomfort will fade away.

The Buddha wanted his nuns and monks to be able to interact with lay people to share the teachings. He also wanted them to be separate from worldly affairs so they could focus their energy on spiritual practice.  For that reason the Buddha laid down rules of behavior for monastics.  These rules permit interaction, while at the same time discouraging intimacy.

So for example, the rules for Theravada monks and nuns requires that they do not touch members of the opposite sex.  Therefore, you can greet them by holding your palms together in the praying position instead of shaking their hands.

People often ask how to address monastics.  Address fully ordained monks as “Bhante” (pronounced BON-te), and nuns as “Ayya” (pronounced I-ya), novice monks as “Samanera” (pronounced sa-ma-NAIR-ra) and novice nuns as “Samaneri” (sa-ma-NAIR-ree). These translate roughly as Venerable Sir, Venerable Madam, and novice.

General rules of politeness will probably cover anything else.  If you have questions once you are here, please ask.

Updated: Jun 21, 2016

You may be interested in the following article on Access to Insight:

The Bhikkhus’ Rules: A Guide for Laypeople

These rules permit interaction, while at the same time discouraging intimacy.