Saturday, December 29, 2012

Leaving for Australia

Tonight I will be taking a plane to Australia. Once I make it to Australia, I will be headed to Perth, which is located in the south west part of the country, and then Serpentine, and then finally Bodhinyana monastery.

I've mentioned my upcoming trip to various friends and relatives over the hoildays and I've been told, more often than not that, "you must be really excited!" To be honest, I don't really feel excited so much as I feel optimistic.

I think I feel optimistic because it feels totally possible for me to slow down, to really slow down. Having kept (a modified form) of the 8-precepts with no egregious lapses for last two and half months has given me an incredible amount of inner self-confidence (i.e., I don't feel like I have to worry so much about my behavior). I've also recently quit my job in good standing and have helped my family with a lot of the transitionary duties that needed to be done, so I don't feel anything particularly pressing on me back in the non-monastic world. So, deep down, it feels totally fine for me to settle down, settle in, be quiet, and to not accomplish anything at all. I can just enjoy whatever happens in the day or during the meditations. I can hear and learn more Dharma (teachings) from the monastics. It feels nice.

I also want to mention that I won't be writing any more entries blog for at least a month because computer access is not allowed at the monastery for visitors. So don't worry if you don't hear anything from me in a while. At the very least, I'll write something by April because that's when my visa expires and I have to leave the country.

Until next time...have a happy and safe 2013.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Road Trip with Mom

At the start of November, I left Abhayagiri and headed to Los Angeles to stay with my mother. Earlier in the year, my father, her husband, passed away. So, it made sense for me to spend some extended time with my mother. After all, I had no (paid) work, and my plans for staying longer at Abhayagiri didn't turn out as expected.

I spent most of my time helping her out with the variety of bureaucratic paperwork, the kind that needs to be handled after somebody dies. Letters, phone calls, death certificates, beneficiary forms, etc. It's surprisingly detailed and onerous. So, if it's possible, try not to die – it makes like really complicated for your loved ones!

Sometimes our conversations were about my experiences at Abhayagiri. Sometimes, it was about my interests in potentially becoming a monastic. She seemed curious about the whole affair. (I'll put aside her opinions about it.) After a while, she inquired if she could see a monastery herself. "When can I go see it" she asked of me. So I said, "well, you have the time, let's go visit." She agreed. So, a couple weeks ago, we packed up a few belongings and started a road trip up through California.

We first stopped in San Luis Obispo to see my younger sister. She has a new a home that she has been remodeling with her new husband. After our stay in San Luis Obispo, we traveled up to Santa Cruz to visit my old friend from college named Jeff. Jeff was one of the people who introduced to meditation and the Buddha's teachings many years ago. I also was interested in visiting Santa Cruz, as I never had done so before. It held a certain mystique in mind given the descriptions given to it by other friends. I wish I could say the mystique was confirmed or I was disappointed, but alas, I didn't get enough time in town to really say one way or the other. But I must, the nearby college campus was indeed beautiful.

After our stay in Santa Cruz, we drove past San Francisco and briefly stopped in San Rafael to pick up a few Arizmendi half-baked pizzas as a food offering for the next day. We spent the night in Geyserville and then, the next morning, we drove through various roads (including some more rural, windy ones my that concerned my mother), before arriving at Abhayagiri.

We got there in time to help prepare the meal as well as take part in the meal ceremony. There was an additional ceremony as Ajahn Passano (the abbot) was leaving for a month and Ajahn Yatiko was taking over in his absence. After the meal, my mother and I helped with the clean up and then went out for a walk around the monastery.

We got a chance to talk with Ajahn Passano before we set out. My mother was curious about where he came from (a small town in Canada), how he got into Buddhism (developed the interest in college) and what his mother felt about it (she supports him and visits the monastery from time to time). Afterwards I found out that my mother actually had no idea he was the abbot and thought he was just another monk (perhaps because he was not wearing anything special like a crown or special robe)!

My mother and I got a chance to walk around the monastery a bit, but because it her age and the very hilly nature of the forest, we had to end the exploration after an hour. She did get to see a deer, which surprisingly, was the first time she ever saw one. We headed back and my Mom got a chance to talk with a couple of the lay visitors about life at the monastery while we rested up.

After leaving Abayaghiri, we visited the City of 10,000 Buddhas just outside of Ukiah based on the recommendation of one of the lay visitors. There is an interesting history between the two places. Master Hsaun Hua, the founder of the city, gave Abhayagiri the first plot of land shortly before he died. It was a really fascinating place, having primary and secondary schools for children, a farm for growing food, a restaurant to raise money and a temple with 10,000 Buddhas (no kidding). My mother wasn't too interested in this stuff and was much more interested in the peacocks that made their home on the grass (as well the roads).

We spent the next day in Berkeley, the town that holds the university where I did my undergraduate studies. We ate at Chez Panisse with a long-time roommate named Randall and poked around a few places in town (northside and downtown area). The following day I drove her to the airport for her to go back home while I stuck around the East Bay to see a few friends and get a little vacation for myself.

Now, a little more rested, I'm back in Los Angeles staying with my mother to stay until the end of December. The holidays are coming up, and I'll be helping my Mom with the remainder of the paperwork and a bunch of things. Decorations, trees, shopping, the list is endless. It seems that there is no end of things to do, that things are never really done. This is, of course, until we say things are, in fact, done.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

So Where Exactly is John?

I've been receiving a few emails recently where it's come to my attention that people might be a little confused as to where I'm currently residing and/or where I'm going next. So here's a quick update about me...

Back in October, I visited Abhayagiri monastery for two weeks. Most of these posts I have been writing have been about the two week trip. Mostly I did this because Internet access is not generally allowed while at the monastery. (If I stayed for a longer period of time, then I would be permitted some Internet time here and there.)

Since November, after I got back from Abhayagiri, I've been staying with my mother in Los Angeles. The reason is simple, Abhayagiri is booked up until April 2013 to guests. Wat Metta, the other monastery I was considering studying at near San Diego, is also booked up until January 2013. So I've been trying to figure what I'm going to do next.

So what I decided to do, given all this, was plan a trip to Australia! After all, isn't that what everybody else does when their plans get derailed?

Actually, there is a less whimsical reason for me going to Australia. When I first thinking about which monastery I wanted to study at, my first inclination was to go study with Ajahn Brahm.

Ajahn Brham receiving alms on Kathina day
Ajahn Brahm is the abbot of Bodhinyana Monestary in Western Australia near Perth. He's also well known for providing very accessible and humorous Dharma talks. For other reasons, mostly having to do with being close to my mother, I decided to try Abhayagiri in northern California instead of going there. So given that's not really a possibility right now, I'm going with my first inclination.

So, just before the new year, I'll be heading over to Australia for three months. In the meantime, I've been spending a lot of time with my mother and she lives in Los Angeles. But, I'm currently in Berkeley, California. With my mother. Confused? I'll explain more in my next post...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Work at Abhayagiri

This is my last post regarding my 2-week trip to Abhayagiri where I'll talk a little about what doing work at the monastery was like.

One morning I was working with Tan Pesalo to stain a large tinder box which would be used to store scrap wood to burn during the cold season. While we making preparations to stain, he stopped and reminded me that while it was our a job to stain the tinder box, our real purpose was to be mindful while we were doing it.

Mindfulness is one of those words that's used a lot these days. You see it a lot now in the popular culture, and being "mindful" is considered a very good thing. Sometimes it gets expressed as awareness or being present.

From my experience, mindfulness, in the context of the Buddha's teachings, is a very dynamic quality that encompasses a lot more than just being aware or present. From the suttas (recorded words), the Buddha and his followers spoke about right mindfulness and wrong mindfulness, the former being is conducive to the teachings and the latter going against it. One of key aspects of mindfulness, from my experience, is that its a mental skill of keeping to what we set out to do. There's also an aspect of keeping in mind where we're going or what we're looking to cultivate or let go of.

So there's a immediate job of staining the tinder box. But there's also keeping in mind the far more important things, like keeping our precepts (training rules) and getting along with others in the community. This gives things a very different flavor with how things are often done (or at least encouraged) in my worldly life.

Regular jobs, for me at least, can often take on a very different bottom line. For example, completing the project on schedule can take precedence over everything else. In doing so, with keeping this priority at the top of the list, I can end up doing like say or do insensitive or hurtful towards others, compromise my own health and take on really negative emotional states like rage or depression when things don't go the way we think they should go. While often a work environment can encourage these mal-adaptive bottom lines, I have, more often than not, found that they come into fruition from my own directives.

So even though I am far from an office setting, these habits came raging through while in the middle of a quiet forest setting. "I like using this type of stain!" "It has to be applied in this way!" "We should use this amount of it!" "I should be doing that!" "He should be doing that!" Oh, why is he doing it that way? That doesn't make any sense!"

Of course, because of a different kind of momentum, the momentum of being at a monastery, of making the commitments I did, and even help from friends like Tan Pesalo who make really explicit reminders. Yes, there was also another train moving in a different direction, and sometimes I hopped on it. Is doing things that way really that important? What happens when the most important thing in life staining the tinder box on time? What happens when we do the best we can while maintaining an atmosphere of good will and harmony?

And so, that's what a lot of my work was like at Abhayagiri.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Day at Wat Metta

I'm taking a slight detour from writing about my experiences at Abhayagiri last month to write about my visit to the Wat Metta monestary last night.

I woke up around 4am and headed out a little before 5am. Wat Metta is out by Pauma Valley which is sort of in-between Los Angeles and San Diego. It took about 2 and half hours to arrive (with no traffic). Towards the end of the drive involved a lot of turns and winds. I passed by a couple monks who were doing alms-rounds in the neighborhood which was impressive because they had to walk quite a long distance to do so!

Eventually I got on the Wat Metta property after having saw the welcome sign which was a welcome relief not being sure if I had made the right turns. After parking I found a few of the lay residents working in the kitchen. The night I had before I had made a platter of Inarizushi as offering for the daily meal and so I placed that on the serving cart. I then joined the rest of the lay people and helped finish the morning meal.

At around 8:40am, the monks came down the road for a traditional rice offering. The first minute or so of the following video gives an idea of what this rice offering is like...

After the rice offering, the monks left for the main hall (Sala) and the lay residents and a few other young people who were there for the daily offering followed along with the rest of the food on a big cart, which I helped push.

After arriving at the top of the hill, people took different responsibilities to unpacking the food, laying out the food, and bringing it into the main hall to offer the monks. After all the food and drink were offered, most of the people went into the hall for the chanting and blessing of the meal. After the blessing, we went back down the hill with the cart and the remaining food and had our meal at the lay kitchen/dining area. Like at Abhayagiri, there was a lot of food to choose from as there were many dishes prepared as well as many other dishes brought in from people coming in for the daily meal.

After the meal, we did kitchen cleanup. I think more than food, washing a lot of dishes with others is one of the experiences that is so similar in almost any family and communal living situation. Hot water, dirty water, drying, putting away. Lots of random conversations, questions about where things go, things occasionally breaking.

After the kitche cleanup, one of the residents (Saulo?) gave me a brief tour of the local area. Wat Metta is basically located on a number of Avocado groves. Both the lay residents as well as the monks live on platforms/tents or more permanents huts underneath or besides avocado trees. I took the following pictures while I was there to give you an idea of what it looked like...

The typical vegetation in the area

A tent for a lay resident
Avocados - not quite ripe yet!
A meditation platform in a grove of avocado trees
I spent most of the afternoon doing meditation practice, both sitting and walking meditation. Later, at around 4pm, I went with other lay residents to gather at the main hall to speak with the Abbot, Ajahn Geoff.

A picture of Ajahn Geoff giving a talk at a different event
We all got a chance to ask questions about practice. I asked him about worldly winds, and in particular, how I would often get blown around by the praise and blame winds, and if I had any suggestions. He replied that this is common and that practice is about training our minds to understand that this is going to happen and respond appropriately when it does. For example, if we get criticized or blamed for something (which happens to everybody, even the Buddha!), we can look at it and see if it's true. If it is true, then we can thank the person for pointing out something we did not see. If it's not true, we can understand that this is just about the other person and it has nothing to do with me.

After the question and answer period, there a short work period where I helped out a monk with a fellow lay resident hall some gravel to smooth out a driveway. By the time the work period ended, it was getting dark so I went back to the kitchen to get some tea and chocolate, and then do some meditation practice for about before the final evening gathering at 7pm.

The final evening gathering was like Abhaygiri's puja, which consisted of chanting and meditation. Ajahn Geoff couldn't be there so a short recording of a talk he gave earlier was played for us to help us during meditation. We left the hall at 8:30pm and said goodbye to the friends I had made that day and left back from mom's place in Los Angeles, another 2 and half hour drive. Tired, sleepy, I went to bed at around 11:30pm.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Forests at Abhayagiri

This is the third update of my 2-week trip to the Abhayagiri monastery.

The monks who live at the monastery at Abhayagiri practice what is known as the Thai Forest Tradition of Buddhist monasticism. Thus, a remote forest (or jungle) in which to dwell alone is a very important part of a monk's training.

To accommodate this, Abhayagiri includes 280 acres of land, most of which is very steep and hilly. If you're not in reasonably in shape, spending a week or so will get you there pretty quickly!

From what I understand, the monks (and guests) live in fairly isolate kutis (dwellings) that are mostly isolated from one another.

Most of the dwellings are small and simple which allow for an ease and simplicity. (The bigger the dwelling, the more cleaning and upkeep you have to do!)

Well maintained paths cut through the forest to give access to the different dwellings on the land. (Unlike what's depicited below, a large percentage of the paths are steps because the terrain is so steep.)

A good chunk of work I did while up at Abhayagiri was helping clear the paths of encroaching tree branches or clearing leaves that are piling up besides the roads (that stop-up draining during rains).

The main hall and kitchen are located at the bottom edge of the monastery near the entrance. This is where most of the non-monk specific community functions are held.

There is also a few, remote meeting places just for monks, including a sauna!

There is a loop trail that goes around the monastery property which takes about a 60-90 minutes to complete. I found a couple graves along the way, including one of Henry Denison, or Ruth Denison's husband.

I first learned meditation many years ago through a 10-day course one of S.N. Goenka's meditation centers in California, and Goenka and Ruth had the same teacher. Small world!

In the next post, I'll write about my work and practice experiences at the monastery.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Meal Time at Abhayagiri

This is the second update of my 2-week trip to the Abhayagiri monastery.

One of thing that really struck me about being at monastery was an atmosphere of generosity and mutual support. It's hard to describe why I felt this way so I'll try to describe some of the basics.

Buddhist monks in this tradition cannot grow nor prepare their own food. Any food they eat must be given to them by a lay person (or Anagarika). In addition, they must receive their food between dawn and noon. In a very real sense, the monks are dependent on the lay people, otherwise they would have to leave (less they starve)! Similarly, the lay people come to the monastery, in part, to be around the monks. For me, a lot of it was for inspiration, curiosity, guidance, or just a sense of brotherly connection of those walking the same journey. Without the monks the monastery would be little different than a stretch of forest (perhaps a great place spend time and hike, but one without the community of like-minded friends).

So the monks and the lay people form a dependent relationship around generosity and trust. Without the monks sincere effort in living an upright life in pursuit of their goal, the lay people would lose their confidence and interest. Without the lay people's generosity and interest in the teachings, the monks could not sustain themselves.

The noon meal time was a pronounced time that this relationship came into full effect. I spent a number of days in the kitchen helping to prepare the meal. More experienced lay people or Anagarikas would lead the charge with the others chiming away to do what we could to make enough food. Every day there was a big pot of rice (and sometimes Thai-style sticky rice) and some sort of basic protein (like some sort of egg scramble). But there was always much more than that. We would make new dishes based on what was going old in the pantry so as to minimum food waste. If there were left-overs from the previous day, we would always use that too (unless it went bad). Many days lay people would bring in additional dishes like stir fries or other dishes. By the time the meal was served, we usually had on the order of 15+ dishes, arranged neatly on a bed of attractive serving dishes.

In addition, we had a number of other plates of food like salads, fresh fruits, soups, and desserts (lots and lots of desserts) also available to eat. On bigger days, we needed two or even three tables to lay out all the food. It was challenging balancing making enough food for everybody (monks and lay people) yet not making *too* much where things would have to go to waste. Drinks were a mish-mash of freshly-made apple juices to teas to donated cans of soda or even energy drinks.

More often than not, as the time approached 11am (when the meal was supposed to be finished), the pace would quicken and the tempo would step up as people would race to try to finish things as quickly as possible. Long ago, a very wise and kind person had taped the word "calm" over the kitchen clock, which helped me personally on a number of occasions. One day when there wasn't enough food, and the lead Anagarika ordered "PB&J!" which was code for a basket of bread and peanut butter and jelly jars. From my understanding, the monks really liked PB&J so it actually wasn't a bad thing at all.

Once the food was done, prepared, laid-out and the kitchen was reasonably clean, two of the kitchen workers would ring the two different bells signaling that lunch was ready. As explained in the previous post, two to three monks would come in and lay people would offer them each plate to be completely explicit that all the food and drink was offered to them.

After the monks received the food, the other monks (who were in the hall at the time) would come in single file, ordered by seniority, and place the food of their choosing in their alms-bowl. The Anagarikas, who are usually training to be monks to themselves, would file right after the monks. (The alms-bowl were actually pretty nice, donated stainless-steal which were kept rigorously clean by their owners. The alms-bowl were one of their few personal possessions.) While the monks and Anagarikas were getting their food, the lay people would grab a seat in the main hall. Monks would come in, one-by-one, into the hall with the food that they had taken and close the lid and wait patiently for the rest to arrive. All this was done in silence.

After all the monks returned to the main hall with their food, the lead monk would start a blessing chant. This was a really positive time for me especially after working hard in the kitchen because I got a chance to reflect on what I had just done, and I could genuinely feel that the blessing chant was, in part, for me. Afterwords, the monks would take off the lids off their alms-bowls, inspect the food and then recite the following together:
Wisely reflecting...I use alms-food. not for fun, not for pleasure, not for fattening, not for beautification, but only for the maintenance and nourishment of this body, for keeping it healthy, for helping with the holy life. Thinking thus, I will allay hunger without overeating, so that I may continue to live blamelessly and at ease.
After this, the monks would then start eating in silence. The lay people would leave the hall and begin helping themselves to the food that was remaining (which was always way more than what we could possibly eat). Often their was a feeling of camaraderie and high spirits amongst the lay people having worked so hard to prepare this meal, we could take the food into our own plates or bowls, relax, and settle down for our meal of the day. Some lay people went off to eat quietly by themselves, but most people enjoyed the company of the others to chat and eat, perhaps on the porch or courtyard if was warm and sunny, or in the indoor annex by the kitchen if it was cold and rainy.

In the next update, I'll describe some of my experiences with the forest itself.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Typical Day

Today I returned from Abhayagiri and will be headed to Los Angeles shortly. There is a lot to write about so I will try to do so in small chunks in the coming days so as to not create one large post.

A lot of people are curious what life as a lay-person is like at the monastery so I will try to describe a typical day of what life was like as a lay-person at the monastery.

Most mornings I would wake up sometime between 3 and 4:30am (depending on various factors), get dressed and do some personal meditation if there was time. I then would get to the main hall at around 5am and where the entire monastic community and other lay residents and guests would gather. We would do about 20 minutes of chanting followed by meditation until 6:30am. I would do a small chore that was assigned to me (namely, cleaning the men's bathroom near the main hall) until 7am.

At 7am we had a light breakfast consisting of oatmeal and tea or coffee. After breakfast, we would have a work meeting with the monks and other lay people to determine the work that day. Because monks cannot handle or prepare their own food, the lay people (or Anagarikas) would prepare the main meal for the day. Other lay supporters would work with the monks to help work on various projects around the monastery (about 300 acres or so to take care of!).

The bell would ring around 11am which would signify lunch. All the dishes and drinks for the meal would be laid out on tables and then lay people would "offer" the dishes to the monks. I'll describe the main meal in more detail in a later post, but just briefly, lay people offered to 2-3 monks who would then just "acknowledge" the offer by pressing down the dish that the dish was received. Once this was done, all the food would on those tables would then be understood as received and then could be handled by the other monks. Once this process was completed, all the monks would file in a single line, by seniority, place food into their bowls, and then would return to the main hall. Once all the monks, Anagarikas and lay people are in the hall, they provide a blessing chant in Pali and then would recite an observation chant.

After the chanting, the lay people would leave the hall and enjoy themselves to whatever is left (which is was almost always *a lot* of very fantastic food). After the meal, the Anagarikas and lay people (and sometimes 1 or 2 monks) would clean up the kitchen which would usually last until 1 or 1:30pm.

The time between kitchen clean up and 5:30pm (ish) was used individually. I personally spent that time either in person meditation practice, or doing essentials like taking a shower, brushing my teeth or taking a short nap (the work day + kitchen work can be exhausting). At 5:30, there would evening tea and 1-2 monks would hang out in the main hall for informal chatting. Topics could range from friendly, conversational themes to more specific questions on practice. After tea there would be kitchen clean-up and short break. At 7:00pm, we would do evening chanting followed by meditation which would usually last until 8:30-9pm. Most days I would eventually get to sleep at around 9:30-10pm.

I'll write much more about the experience later but I thought this would be good for now.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Heading to the Monastery

This morning I am leaving for the monastery. I'll be taking a bus up through Ukiah, and then getting a taxi to take me the rest of the way. Today I also start practicing the 8-precepts. Let's see what happens. Onwards I go...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Towards California

Today, while holding my bags and stepping aboard Amtrak train 449, I began my trip towards California.

A little over two years ago, I came to Boston from California. Most of the motivation at the time was wrapped up in a subtle desire to "move on" with life. I had a few ideas what I was moving-on towards, but I wanted to allow things to take their course. And I felt I needed to be far away, and to live alone, in order for this process to work.

After 3-4 weeks of apartment-searching, I would end up deciding to move close to a meditation center in the heart of Cambridge. Initially this idea was only a passing thought. But, as I walked from apartment to apartment in the sweltering July heat, it came to the front of attention as I asked myself, "so John, what exactly are you looking for?"

The center seemed like an opportunity to be with others who were really interested in Buddhism and meditation. Before, I had been practicing on my own, mostly out of not knowing it would be possible or helpful to find others with similar interests. In retrospect, it seems absurd considering how many people practice and form communities around Buddhism in the Bay Area (where I had just moved from), but that's just how I saw things at the time.

And so, as I head to California to join another community, it's now abundantly clear how much I value companionship on this journey. A friend of mine recently emailed me concerned that going to a monastery would possibly over-stimulate my introverted tendencies. I assured him that this probably wasn't the case, and that monasteries are, to my understanding, fairly communal places. Perhaps I'll take some time in the future to be on my own, but for now, I plan to be living with others.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Last Friday was my last day of work. This week will be my last week living in Boston. Or is it?

This last month I've been spending a lot of time visiting and saying goodbyes to friends and family. For example, I recently went to visit my friend Tom for what I thought was going to be my last time seeing him for at least several months, if not years. So, as we said our farewells, I told him that I probably not see him again for a long time.

After the visit, he called me a couple days later saying I had left my umbrella at his place! So I went back to visit him again, even though I had thought I would not see him for a long time. Yet, there he was, just a wee And as we departed, we said our goodbyes again, and again I thought, this will probably be the last time I will see him for quite a long time...but is that so?

The monastery I will be attending is a branch monastery of Ajahn Chah, a famous Thai master of the 20th century. He liked to talk a lot about the uncertainty and its connections to life. For example, here a short snippet from a talk he gave to some of his students:
...All states of mind, happy or unhappy, are called arom. Whatever they may be, never mind — we should constantly be reminding ourselves that "this is uncertain."
This is something people don't consider very much, that "this is uncertain." Just this is the vital factor that will bring about wisdom. It's really important. In order to cease our coming and going and come to rest, we only need to say, "This is uncertain." Sometimes we may be distraught over something to the point that tears are flowing; this is something not certain. When moods of desire or aversion come to us, we should just remind ourselves of this one thing. Whether standing, walking, sitting, or lying down, whatever appears is uncertain. Can't you do this? Keep it up no matter what happens. Give it a try. You don't need a lot - just this will work. This is something that brings wisdom.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


There were a couple topics I was thinking of writing about before I go, but I was thinking that it would be a lot of fun if I could instead just listen to what you have to say, and if you have any questions, try to answer them to the best of my ability. You can leave something below in the comment section or write me an email at


Q: Wow, John; are you really serious about this?
Yes, I am. ;-)

Q: Is the Buddhist monastery for free to live? Do you have to pay a certain amount?
As far as I know, almost all (or all) Buddhist monasteries offer their teachings free of charge including housing. This includes the one I am planning to study at.

Q: Are you open to going home if it isn't a positive experience for you?
Part of the spending time at Abhayagiri is that I can't just spend an indefinite amount of time there. I have to apply, spend a short time, then leave and re-apply for longer periods of time. Then repeat. It's only after doing this on multiple occasions where both the community and myself feel comfortable, and that there is room for me, that I would be allowed to spend very long periods of time there.

So regardless of whether it's positive or negative, I will be going home from time to time.

Q: Are you afraid of what you will encounter as you enter the stillness?
I don't feel particularly afraid or anything. In fact, there's a lot of interest and optimism in what may come to be. It's unclear of what there will be, but isn't that the same for everybody?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

About this blog...

As you may have heard, I am planning to live and study at a Buddhist monastery for some indefinite amount of time starting mid-October, 2012.

I will be quitting my job of 5 years, giving away or selling most of my belongings, and staying as a lay resident at what most likely will be a monastery in northern California. I am going with the intention of being a lay resident and exploring the possibility monastic life. At this moment, it's not clear to me whether or not I will become a monk, or just spend a significant amount of time studying as a lay resident.

Over the last year or so, I have been talking to many of my family and friends about my intentions. Thankfully, almost everybody I spoke with expressed a lot of enthusiasm and support. Many of them were also really curious and wanted to know what life would be like for me. After reflecting on this, I decided to write a blog about my upcoming experiences. So this post is the first of several entries detailing my experiences over the coming months (or years).

I will also be writing a few introductory entries to give readers, especially those who I have not spoken with in a long time, some background on my motivations and interests for doing this.

If you would like to get emails delivered directly to your inbox, just subscribe to the email list. (If you're technically inclined, feel free to subscribe to the Atom feed.)

Until then...