Frequently Asked Questions



The four-fold assembly gathers for a talk in the Temple by Somkid

General


Do you eat meat?

As alms mendicants, we ourselves do not cook; we try to be easily satisfied with whatever food comes from the kind offerings and generosity of the lay supporters. Nuns and monks are trained to receive whatever is offered with a grateful heart. There is no prohibition against eating cooked meat or fish, as long as the animal was not killed specifically for offering to a monk or nun.

Why do you shave your heads?

This is a tradition which dates back to the time of the Buddha. It can be seen as a symbol of renunciation and simplicity.

What does sangha mean?

Traditionally, the term ‘Sangha’ refers to the community of Buddhist monks and nuns.  As a separate category, those who have attained any of the four stages of enlightenment, whether or not they are members of the monastic community, are referred to as the Ariya-Sangha or ‘Noble Sangha’. When the ‘Sangha Refuge’ is spoken of, it is this Ariya-Sangha that is being referred to. This is not to be confused with ‘the four-fold assembly’, which means ‘The four human assemblies: monks, nuns, male lay followers and female lay followers,’ a term which often occurs in the Suttas.

Do you ever go out?

Yes. This is not a cloistered tradition. However, during the Vassa or traditional rains-retreat, a three-month period from July to October each year (the rainy season in India, where Buddhism originated), the monks and nuns usually stay in one place and do not travel unless this is absolutely necessary.

Why do the monastics have different coloured robes?

The different coloured robes distinguish between the monks (ochre robes), nuns (brown robes) and anagārikas/novices (white robes).

Are you celibate?

Yes. All the monastics keep the precept on refraining from any kind of intentional sexual behaviour. This is also the standard for guests and those attending retreats.


Siladhara's chanting in Amaravati Temple - IEM 2014
Monks’ and Nuns’ communities chanting in the Temple

Community


What do you do at the monastery?

This is a contemplative tradition and so the practice of meditation or mindfulness is our main work. However the monastics also serve the wider community, maintain the monastery, receive guests and offer Dhamma teachings and guidance; we try to incorporate all of these as part of our mindfulness practice. See our daily schedule for more information.

How many people live at the monastery?

Usually about 60: 25 monks, 10 nuns and 25 lay residents and guests.

Is it possible to meet a monk/nun?

For day visitors: please arrive before the mealtime if you wish to speak with a monk or nun.

Guest staying overnight: the guest monk/nun is usually available to meet guests who are staying at the monastery.

Others: Please complete an online form to contact the monastery secretary to arrange an appointment.

Is it possible to meet Ajahn Sumedho?

No. Ajahn Sumedho relinquished his duties as abbot of Amaravati in November 2010 and is now based in Thailand.

Are the nuns bhikkhunis?

No. They have not taken the bhikkhuni ordination. They follow a training comprising 150 rules and observances that are based on the Ten Precepts, and guidelines for community living.


Zafu – meditation cushion

Meditation


Are there any meditation groups which sangha members visit regularly?

Yes. See the details below for where the groups are, when they are visited and a contact person for each group.

Bath
Thursday – Weekly
Anne Armitage (01225) 859217

Edinburgh
Thursday – Weekly
Neil Howell (0131) 226 5044

Glasgow
1st Friday – Monthly
Paul Hansen (0141) 564 5994

Leeds
Friday – Weekly
Daniela Loeb (0113) 279 1375 – Anne Grimshaw (01274) 691447

Hampstead
Wednesday – Weekly
Kate Tribe (020) 8444 8820  –  Clara Grattidge (020) 7267 3913

How do I apply to take part in a retreat?

Please refer to the information relating to bookings in the Retreat Centre section on the homepage.

Can I get instruction on meditation?

Yes. There is a meditation workshop from 2 – 4pm on Saturday afternoons in the Temple at Amaravati.

Please also refer to the Retreat Centre Schedule section on the homepage for information about forthcoming retreats at Amaravati, and the Audio & Books section on the homepage for information about books and recorded talks which offer teachings on meditation.

Is it possible to do retreats at the monastery?

Yes. Please refer to booking information in the Retreat Centre section on the homepage.

When is it possible to hear a talk at the monastery?

Every week on the Observance Day there is a talk in the Temple following the evening chanting and meditation. During the summer months (July, August and September) there are also public talks every Sunday, beginning at 2pm. For details of Observance Days and Sunday talks, see our News & Events section.


Ajahn Jayasāro answers questions in the sālā

Supporting the Sangha

How can I contribute to the community?

Please refer to the Support section on the homepage.

Is there anything useful I can bring when I visit?

Any food or household items are always welcome. For more specific information, please go to the Support section on the homepage.


Ajahn Amaro answering questions in the sala

Visiting


What is your daily routine?

Please refer to the Visiting section on the home page.

What are the Eight Precepts?

The Eight Precepts are the basic standard of behaviour for our life in the monastery. You will find out more about these when you come, but as a guide, they are:

  • Harmlessness: not intentionally taking the life of any living creature.
  • Trustworthiness: not taking anything which is not given.
  • Celibacy: refraining from any sexual activity.
  • Right Speech: avoiding false, abusive or malicious speech and idle speech.
  • Sobriety: not taking any intoxicating drink or drugs.
  • Renunciation: not eating after midday (1pm in summer time).
  • Restraint: refraining from games, listening to music and other entertainment and from self-adornment (Guests are asked to dress modestly and not to use electronic devices which offer music, social networking, films, TV or similar media distractions).
  • Alertness: to refrain from over indulgence in sleep.

These precepts form the basis of ethics and renunciation on the Buddhist Path and are used as a framework for the development of virtue and insight.

How can I get to the monastery?

Please refer to the Visiting section of the home page, under Getting Here.

Is it possible to stay at the monastery?

Yes. Please refer to the Participate section of the home page, under Staying Overnight.

Can I bring my children? My baby?

Children and babies are welcome to visit with their parents during the day, provided they are adequately supervised. There are several residential family events each year; advance booking is necessary for these.

Can I bring my guide dog?

Yes – although we would ask you to be sensitive to the resident cats; they may be less eager to welcome even the most friendly, well-trained guide dog.

How should I dress when I come to the monastery?

You should wear modest, loose-fitting clothing that covers the body between the elbows, collar and knees, so that you can sit on the floor without embarrassment. Slip-on shoes are also handy, as shoes are removed when entering all buildings.

What kind of accommodation do you offer to guests?

Most accommodation in the women’s guest house is in small single rooms, with one shared room. For male guests most accommodation is in dormitories.

Are there any rules I need to know about?

The monks and nuns are not allowed to accept money, or to consume food or drink (other than water) that has not been formally offered. They may not speak privately with someone of the opposite sex, so in such cases a monk or nun would be accompanied by a suitable chaperone.

This guide is aimed at providing an introduction to some aspects of monastic discipline for those lay people who are interested in understanding something of the background to the rules and conventions which structure the way of life of the monks and nuns of this tradition.

How should I relate to the monks and nuns?

It is best to avoid physical contact. The most suitable greeting is anjali – the hands are raised palm to palm at chest level.

This guide is aimed at providing an introduction to some aspects of monastic discipline for those lay people who are interested in understanding something of the background to the rules and conventions which structure the way of life of the monks and nuns of this tradition.

Do you have disabled access?

Yes. There is disabled access to most public buildings. If you wish to stay overnight, please let the guest monk/nun know if you have specific needs. We would hope to be able to make suitable provision for you to stay.

How much does it cost to stay at the monastery?

There is no set charge for staying. However the community is entirely dependent on donations so offerings (dāna) of any amount are always very much appreciated.

How long may I stay?

The initial visit is usually for up to one week (for overseas visitors this may be longer). After that, arrangements can be made with the guest monk or nun for a longer visit.

Is it possible to have an evening meal?

Not usually. However, if you have a particular medical condition that necessitates eating in the evening, you can inform the guest monk/nun or retreat manager, and special arrangements can be made.

What should I bring with me when staying as a guest?

If possible, please bring your own bed-linen (e.g. duvet cover, sheets, pillow case, towel etc), plus personal toiletries, a small torch, an alarm clock, comfortable loose-fitting clothing, slip-on footwear and a small blanket or shawl for meditation.

What time of the day is it possible to visit the monastery?

The monastery is open from early morning until 9.30pm. Good times to visit are the mealtime (11am), tea-time (5pm) or for the evening puja (7.30pm). Each Saturday there is a meditation workshop in the Temple at 2pm.