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Welcome! Tilorien is a meditation monastery for nuns 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 Tilorien, 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 a collection of Early Buddhist texts 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:
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 in the afternoon 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.
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.
8. To refrain from lying on a high or luxurious sleeping place.
Also during the building phase we want to keep a contemplative and harmonious monastery atmosphere. For this reason we wish to indicate that visitors, even if hosted outside the monastery, are asked to keep at least the five precepts. On the monastery grounds the eight precepts apply, and we would like to encourage you to keep those in your accommodation too.
When visiting the monastery, please make sure that you bring clothing that is loose-fitting, comfortable, and covers your body at least from the shoulders to the knees. The Tilorien residents are fully celibate monastics. It is not allowable for monastics to be alone or to come into physical contact with the opposite sex.
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: Meditation on your own.
6:30 a.m.: Prepare and eat breakfast.
7:00 a.m.: Breakfast cleanup.
7:30 a.m.: Walking or Sitting Meditation.
8:30-11:00 a.m.: Work practice—offering service to the community.
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.
The rest of the day is free for practice and study. Please maintain noble silence in and around the house so as not to disturb others who may be meditating.
During the period from 8:30 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 rooms. If you are not asked to do a specific job, please check with a resident if there is anything you could help with.
The daily schedule as outlined above will not be kept exactly that way during the building phase. Especially the work period may be longer.
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 the work period or after the lunch meal clean-up. If you’d like to have a conversation with someone, consider 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 also request an interview to discuss your practice with a resident monastic.
THE MEDITATION ROOM:
The meditation room is upstairs in the main building. You are welcome to meditate there at any time.
THE LIBRARY AND OFFICE:
Our collection of early Buddhist texts is in the meditation room. 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 enter unless you have been asked by a resident.
The kitchen manager decides what food will be served for the meals. 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/him.
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.
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.
CONSERVATION OF ENERGY AND HEAT:
Our main building is a low-energy house that automatically regulates airflow. The inbuilt ventilation system reclaims the heat from the air going out and warms up the incoming air for maximum energy efficiency. Please keep windows closed. If there is a bad smell and you have to open the windows, make sure to close them again after a few minutes.
CONSERVATION OF OTHER RESOURCES:
Please turn off all lights, etc. when leaving a room. This avoids unnecessary waste and helps to keep our bills as low as possible.
CANDLES AND INCENSE:
We ask you not to light any candles or other open fires in your room, due to the fire hazard. Please also refrain from lighting incense. Tilorien residents have incense allergies and the smell or smoke will cause health problems.
If you stay a week or less, do not do any laundry, in order to conserve water. If you stay longer, please take care to do laundry as infrequently as possible—not more than once a week. 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.
Smoking is not permitted anywhere on the monastery grounds.
This is an area where the majority of ticks carry lyme disease. Make sure you check daily for ticks and remove them as early as possible.
You may not bring pets to the monastery.
The residents of Tilorien are happy to share their space with you and give you the opportunity to practise the Buddha’s teaching in their community. Please respect their privacy and keep out of areas that are marked as „Sangha area“, especially around the tents/kutis.
Please ask before taking photos of residents and visitors of the monastery. Tilorien residents may occasionally take pictures to be included in our email newsletter, Facebook page, or other materials that let people know about what’s going on here. If you would prefer not to have your picture taken, let us know.
DANA—THE PRACTISE 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 water, electricity, phone, internet, office supplies, trash collection and recycling, in addition to ongoing building and maintenance projects. Please consider supporting Tilorien 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 Tilorien 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.