There are various options for living at Bodhinyanarama beyond staying as a short-term guest. There are several positions where a degree of responsibility is taken for running some part of the monastery including garden, grounds, forest, library, kitchen, maintenance, etc. and duties are assigned relative to abilities. This opportunity is available for both women and men. Although work is not the full criteria for a long-term stay everybody contributes to the day-to-day running of the monastery in some way.
The monastery is a place of worship, a place to study and apply the teachings of the Buddha, to develop monastic practices. Extended residency is the most effective way to do this. There is a structured training for long-term residents which deepens relative to commitment and length of stay. This can sometimes lead to an interest in ordination.
An anagarika requesting samanera ordination
Studying the teachings and training rules (Dhamma and Vinaya) alongside meditation brings maturity and understanding both on a personal and community level. This possibility is available to all but the monastery, as a training center for monks, only offers higher ordination for men.
The stages of the monastic journey are roughly as follows:
- Develop a comfortable connection with the tradition, the monastics and the monastery - ideally in the place where you will ordain. Visit regularly, discuss your intentions with those you meet, ask questions, read, extend your meditation practice... This is as a layman and usually involves a period of weeks, commonly months.
- If all seems clear and agreeable the next step would be taking anagarika (postulant) ordination. The trainee now wears white and is living full time in the monastery under the guidance of a teacher. This training is usually for a year.
- Then, if the postulant and the community are both in accord, the next step is to ordain as a samanera (10-precept novice) and wear the brown robe. The extent of teaching and training gradually becomes broader and deeper in relation to the degree of commitment. This stage is also for about a year.
- After approximately two years (anagarika + samanera) if both the candidate and sangha agree then bhikkhu ordination is the next step - a jump to 227 training rules. The commitment at this stage is to undertake bhikkhu training and follow the guidance of one's preceptor for five years.
If you live in New Zealand you can Email
or phone to ask questions and discuss your situation. It is important to get direct experience of the monastic lifestyle to compare your ideals and perceptions with the actual reality. Almost everybody experiences a difference. If you live locally, you can join us for the meal any day at 10:30am and make yourself, and your intentions, known to one of the monks. You can take part in any of the scheduled events - see: Teaching
or arrange to come and Stay as a Guest
There is a brief outline on Monastic Etiquette
which has a link to a more detailed guide on Discipline and Convention
There is also a version of The Anagarika's Handbook
which gives a good outline and explanations of various conventions and practices.