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.
THE EIGHT PRECEPTS:
All overnight guests follow the eight precepts while staying with us. These are:
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 a.m.: Prepare and eat breakfast on your own.
7:30am.: Walking or Sitting Meditation
9:00-11:00 a.m.: Work practice---offering service to the community
Prepare lunch on your own when no a volunteer is for cooking.
11:00 a.m.: Silent, mindful meal
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 p.m.: Optional informal tea
6:00 p.m.: Chanting in the shrine room followed by meditation. The meditation period is open-ended, and you may leave at any time. The rest of the evening is free for practice and study.
During the period from 9:00 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:
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 a resident.
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.
All water at the monastery comes from a well, and we depend on this well for our existence here. Please take great care in your use of water, and be mindful not to waste any.
When taking a shower, use no more than five minutes' worth of water total, by turning the water off when soaping up, shampooing, etc.
Do not flush the toilet when there is only pee in it.
Take care not to just let the water run when you are washing your hands and face, or brushing your teeth. You can turn it on and off quickly, or you can use the plug to stop up the sink and use a small amount of water that way.
In the kitchen, we pour the the rinse water collected in bowls into a bucket, which is then used to water outdoor plants. (Ask a resident about which ones to water.)
Our septic system is extremely delicate and will back up if toilet paper is flushed down the toilet. Please place all (yes, that means all :)) used toilet paper in the trash cans.
CONSERVATION OF OTHER 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.
If you stay a week or less, do not do any laundry, in order to conserve our well water. If you stay longer, please take care to do laundry as infrequently as possible---not more than once a week. 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. If you are driving here---or if you are flying and are able to make room in your luggage---it is extremely helpful for us if you can bring your own towel and sheets or sleeping bag and then wash them when you get home so that we do not have to launder anything when you leave. 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. Please do not place food or water out for the animals, as this will increase the rattlesnake populations, since snakes feed on rodents. If you are bitten by a rattlesnake, immediately call 911 and tell them we are at 3368 Chapparrosa Road, off of Pipes Canyon Road, 1.2 miles west of Old Woman Springs Road.
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.