Welcome! Mahapajapati Monastery is a meditation monastery for women dedicated to living the Buddha's teachings. As a monastic and contemplative community, we value both solitude and social harmony. We're happy to have you here to share in our simple, quiet life of practice and study. By observing the guidelines outlined in these orientation materials and doing your best to fit into the monastic culture and routine during your visit, we trust that your stay will help you to cultivate greater peace and wisdom in your mind.
When visiting Mahapajapati Monastery, whether for a few days or a few weeks, it's good to remember that this place is unique. We may not do things in the same way that things are done at other monasteries or retreat centers you have stayed in, and we may not do things the way that you would do them if it were up to you. It is good to have a cheerful and flexible attitude about these differences, to take direction from the residents, and to focus your mental energy on your meditation and study. Here you have the precious gifts of the time, space, and silence for practice, and an excellent library for your use. Use them well, and your visit will be most beneficial for you and all those whose lives you touch.
We expect your first visit is maximum one week, except visitors out of state or from foreign countries should stay with us for at least 10 days. Your extension of staying or the length of your second/ third visit will be considered by the management/ the Abbess.
WHAT TO BRING
BEDDING: Bring sheets and a pillowcase. The accommodations are all equipped with heating/ac units, and include a bed with a mattress and pillow. Please bring a blanket or sleeping bag in the cooler months (October - March). If you're traveling light, the monastery does have extra blankets available.
MEDITATION CUSHIONS: if you prefer you may bring your own. The meditation hall may be cool, so it is also advisable to bring a shawl or thin blanket to use in the meditation hall.
CLOTHING: Very Important: Shorts, sleeveless tops, transparent, tight, low cut, or revealing clothing is NOT PERMITTED. Tights or leggings should be worn only under a knee-length top or skirt.
Bring enough comfortable, loose-fitting, modest clothing for during the time of your visit.
Summers are very hot. Lightweight cotton clothing and a sun hat are recommended.
TEMPERATURES FLUCTUATE IN FALL, WINTER, AND SPRING. Please check the forecast before coming and bring a variety of options. In the winter, definitely bring a warm coat and hat.
LAUNDRY: Due to short of water, doing laundry is minimize as much as possible. Clotheslines are available. It is highly recommended to bring enough clothing for the time you are here if possible.
TOILETRIES: Towel, soap, shampoo, lotion, lip balm, brush or comb, toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, shaving, and sanitary supplies, etc. Important: Please bring only unscented products. Please do not bring any food based products, such as coconut oil.
MISCELLANEOUS: Bring a flashlight and extra batteries, and a water bottle. (Be sure to drink lots of water since this is a very dry climate.)
THE EIGHT PRECEPTS:
All overnight guests follow the eight precepts while staying with us. These are:
1. To refrain from taking the life of any living creature. This includes animals and insects.
2. To refrain from taking what is not given.
3. To refrain from false and harmful speech.
4. To refrain from any kind of sexual activity.
5. To refrain from consuming intoxicating drink and drugs that lead to carelessness.
This does not include medications that have been prescribed for you by your physician when taken in the recommended doses. Please continue to take your prescription medications while you are here.
6. To refrain from eating after the noon meal.
Although we do not eat another meal after lunch, there are some foods that are allowable at teatime if you have a need, such as honey, ghee, oil, sugar, cheese, plain dark chocolate, and miso paste. If you have a medical reason for requiring other food in the evening, please speak to us about this before you come, and you may be permitted to bring what you need. Trying to minimize your need and simplify your life is an integral part of the practice.
7. To refrain from entertainment, beautification, and adornment.
This means that we do not read novels or use the internet for entertainment, and we do not wear makeup or jewelry.
If you need to use the internet for reasonable purpose, please feel free to see our management for a support. You have an option to use our office computer about 15-30 minutes for checking email, etc.
8. To refrain from lying on a high or luxurious sleeping place.
As this is a meditation monastery, our daily schedule is intended to provide the maximum time for individual study and practice.
From waking until breakfast: Chanting and meditation on your own.
5:30-7:30 am: Prepare and eat breakfast on your own.
( 6:30 am: Optional morning chanting and meditation. )
7:30 am: Walking or Sitting Meditation
9-11:00 am: Assist preparing noon meal, or other work service as assigned
11-11:45 am: Silent, mindful meal
11:45-12:30 pm: After the meal: everyone helps to clean up.
After the clean-up: your afternoon is free unless you have been asked to help with a special project. As a general matter, we discourage work during this period, in order to provide the time for practice and study.
5:00 pm: Optional informal tea break. Please make it simple.
(4 pm as following winter schedule)
6:00 pm: Chanting in the shrine room followed by meditation. The meditation period is open-ended, and you may quietly leave at any time. The rest of the evening is free for practice and study.
(5 pm in the Winter as updated)
Please mindfully minimize using the kitchen in the evenings.
During the period from9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., you have the opportunity to offer service to the community. You may be asked to help in the kitchen, or to clean one of the bathrooms. If you are not asked to do a specific job, there are several things you can do on your own initiative:
• Clean and vacuum the shrine room
• Vacuum the stairs
• Mop the kitchen floor
• Wash any windows or glass doors that need washing
• Launder bathroom hand towels and kitchen dish towels (to wash separately)
• Sweep outside patio
• Take out the recycling (It goes in a bag in the well house)
• Take out the trash (It goes in the silver metal cans outside near the well house)
• Water some trees with gray water
SPEAKING AND SILENCE:
As contemplatives, we value silence as a means to see clearly what is going on in our own mind and heart. But as a community, we also value mindful, beneficial speech as a part of living in harmony. In considering when to speak and when to remain silent, silence should generally be the default mode. If you have something logistical to discuss, consider whether it can wait until a time that generally involves some speech---such as after the lunch meal clean-up. If you'd like to have a conversation with someone, consider whether it can wait until the 5:00 optional evening tea, or whether you might like to ask the person if she would be available to talk one-on-one at some other time. And you can always request an interview to discuss your practice with Ayya Gunasari.
THE SHRINE ROOM:
The shrine room is upstairs in the main building. You are welcome to meditate there at any time.
THE LIBRARY AND OFFICE:
The library is in the container building across from the main building. You enter through the door on the right-hand side marked “Office.” You may use the library at any time, and you're free to borrow any of the books during your stay. There is a notepad for you to write your name, the name of the book you are checking out, the date you removed the book, and the date you returned it. When you check out a book, take note of where you got it so you can return it to the same place. Please remember to put the book back before you leave.
The office is for the use of the monastery. Please don't use the computer, printer, or other supplies without asking the management.
Breakfast is on your own, and we will show you where the pots and pans, dishes, and silverware are, along with what food may be used for your breakfast.
The kitchen manager decides what food will be served for lunch. If you are helping to cook the lunch meal, please take direction from the kitchen manager, who knows the residents' dietary restrictions, along with what food might need to be used in order to avoid waste. Of course, if there's something you would like to make, please feel free to discuss it with her.
***Food allergies and Special Diets: Vegetarian/ Vegan
1. Generally we allow 1 or 2 persons with different allergies to cook their own dishes (not more than 2 kinds for each meal). More than 2 special diet yogis, plus regular kitchen-cook become a big crowed in the small kitchen unless cooking is done at separate time intervals.
2. Organic choices
We try to avoid fruits and vegetables that have reputation for high pesticides level, and buy organics. To be totally organic becomes very costly; also many food donors cannot use ONLY organic. When we depend on people’s donation, it is not appropriate to demand organic food only.
CONSERVATION OF RESOURCES:
Please turn off all lights, fans, etc. when leaving a room. This avoids unnecessary waste and helps to keep our bills as low as possible.
We have a clothes line behind the main building, which should be used if possible in order to conserve energy and keep down utility costs. However if you use sheets and towels belonging to the monastery, then before you leave, please strip your bed and place them in the washing machine (or on it, if there are other things inside). Someone will wash them when there are enough things to make up a load.
There are wild animals in the area, including rattlesnakes, bobcats, rabbits, rodents, scorpions, and bees, among others. Keep all doors closed to prevent animals from coming inside---rattlesnakes are known to come in if doors are left open. If you are bitten by a rattlesnake, immediately *call 911 and tell them we are at 3368 Chaparrosa Road, off of Pipes Canyon Road, 1.2 miles west of Old Woman Springs Road.
PETS: You may not bring pets to the monastery.
You are welcome to photograph the monastery grounds and residents. By being here, you also consent to have your picture taken and included in our email newsletter, Facebook page, or other materials that let people know about what's going on here at Mahapajapati Monastery. If you would prefer not to have your picture taken, let us know.
DANA: The practice of generosity
There is NO charge for your visit. Your stay here is made possible by the kindness of those who are inspired by our women's monastic community and have donated in the past. Just as those donors have benefited you by their support, you have the opportunity to benefit others with yours.
Like any home or organization, the monastery must pay for food, property taxes, liability and fire insurance, car insurance, car repairs and gas, and we have regular monthly bills for electricity, phone, internet, office supplies, trash collection and recycling, in addition to ongoing building and maintenance projects. Please consider supporting Mahapajapati Monastery so that we may continue to dedicate ourselves to living the Buddha's teachings and providing a monastic experience for those who wish to visit. You can pledge monthly on our website or offer a one-time donation, in accordance with your means and your inspiration.
May your generosity bring you lasting happiness. And may it provide the gift of Dhamma to all those who come in contact with Mahapajapati Monastery.
A FINAL NOTE:
We hope you have a wonderful stay here and that your visit brings you many blessings on the path. Please let us know if you have any questions or if there's anything we can do to help you make the most of this time of retreat and immersion into monastic life.