The Experience of Visiting
Spending time in a Buddhist community
Between public retreats (including the Residents' two-month, annual retreat held January through February) the Bhavana Society is open to visitors who would like to share the experience of monastery life for a short time. By visiting you will experience a taste of the benefits of monastic life without having to make a life long commitment. Before making arrangements for a visit, please check the dates when visits are restricted due to a formal retreat being held.
Visitors participate in the daily schedule of the monastery. We wake in the morning for silent meditation at 5:00 a.m. This meditation is followed by chanting in Pali, the language of the Buddhist texts. We do this chanting to set the intention for the day’s activities. It reminds us that we have dedicated our lives to learning and putting into practice the teachings of the Buddha. After the chanting there is a short discussion of the work to be done for the day. As a visitor you will probably be assigned simple chores to help out and practice mindfulness in working.
We eat breakfast and lunch together in silence. Although this may seem strange and unfriendly at first, we do it so it is easier to reflect on the real reason we are eating. As the monastics chant before each meal, “not for fun, not for pleasure, not for fattening, but only for the nourishment of this body and keeping it healthy, helping with the holy life.” Further details can be found on Bhavana's Mealtime Practice page. There is no evening meal served or any solid food eaten after noon. We do this small amount of fasting each day to practice moderation. It also means there is one less meal to cook! Most people find that they are not uncomfortable after the first day.
In the evening we meditate together around 5:30 p.m. After meditation we chant in English what we chanted in the morning in Pali. Usually there is some evening program, either a talk, a discussion or an opportunity to ask questions of a senior monastic. If you are considering coming just for a day visit, please arrive after 2:00 p.m. since all residents have their personal time between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Visitors, including overnight visitors, should arrive no later than 7:00 p.m., ideally before evening meditation.
In your free time you are welcome to walk the grounds, meditate in your room or the meditation hall, or browse our library.
Spending time in a Buddhist community allows you to experience a deep immersion into the Buddha’s teachings. While we observe silence from the evening until the following morning, there is plenty of time to speak with the residents, both lay and monastic throughout the day. Many people tell us that they learn more about Buddhism from a week of visiting our community than they have from years of reading books.
The Buddha was very clear in telling his disciples that it was important to visit the monasteries and speak about his teachings with learned people.
If you are interested in visiting, please read the General Guidelines on this website and then register on line using the Visit Registration form. (NOTE: You must register as a user to establish an Account Profile before you can submit a visit or retreat registration form.) We can only accept visitors when we are not in formal retreat. Please check the dates when visits are restricted due to a formal retreat being held. Please plan your visit for a different time. Thank you.