Tilorien Monastery

Orientation Notes

GENERAL PRINCIPLES

Welcome! Tilorien is a meditation monastery for monastics 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.

While staying here, 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 centres you have stayed in, and we may not do things the way that you would do them if it were up to you. We encourage everyone to keep in mind that we all come from different backgrounds and have different routines and preferences; to investigate their own habits and tendencies, and to be sensitive to the fact that everyone’s actions of body, speech and mind can affect those around them—positively and otherwise.

It is good to have a cheerful and flexible attitude about these differences, to take direction from the long-term 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 at your disposal. 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 make-up or jewellery.

  8. To refrain from lying on a high or luxurious sleeping place.

SCHEDULE

As this is a meditation monastery, our daily schedule is intended to provide the maximum time for individual study and practice.

Early morning

Private meditation (optional)

6:00 am

Group meditation and homage to the Triple Gem (please arrive at least a few minutes before the session begins).

7:00 am

Breakfast

7:45 am

Sutta reading followed by work meeting

8:15 am

Work practice—offering service to the community (beginning with breakfast dishes).

11:00 am

Lunch dāna and clean-up.

Afternoon onwards

Unless you have been asked to help with a task, the rest of the day is free for personal practice (until the evening group meditation or sutta class, if one is scheduled).

Please maintain noble silence in and around the house after 1pm so as not to disturb others.

(Sat) 4:00 pm

Sutta class

(Sat) 5:30 pm

Tea and “allowables” with the resident monastics

(Mon, Wed, Fri) 6:00 pm

Group chanting and meditation (you can stay meditating in the hall for as long as you like; no bell will sound).

(Sat) 6:00-7:00 pm

Group chanting and (guided) meditation

WORK PRACTICE

You have a wonderful opportunity to offer service to the community during the work period (8:15–11:00 am). You may be asked to help in the kitchen, or to do some cleaning, gardening, maintenance work, or some other task contributing to the monastery’s upkeep and smooth running. Jobs that need to be done will be discussed and assigned at the daily work meeting. It is beneficial to keep in mind that this period can be a valuable part of practice and not only gives the chance to generate a lot of joy that comes from service, but also to develop mindfulness, both of which are a great support for meditation.

SPEAKING, SOUNDS AND SILENCE

As contemplatives, silence is highly important to us as a support for cultivating mindfulness and turning inwards to understand what goes on in our own heart and mind. At the same time, as a community, we also value mindful, beneficial speech as a part of living in harmony.

Before engaging in speech, reflect for a moment whether it is an appropriate time for talking, or for practising silence. The general preference should be to lean towards silence, but of course, if, for example, you need to know where something is, or need help with other quick, practical matters, please don’t be afraid to ask.

If you would like to address something that might require longer discussion, try to wait until a time that involves a little more speech, such as the work period or the clean-up after lunch. Should you wish to have a conversation with others, ask them if they are willing to do so at an agreed time and place. You can also always request an interview to discuss your practice with a resident monastic.

In addition to considering the right time for speaking, please also be aware that in the main building, most sounds—even small sounds—can be heard in all rooms and that real care needs to be taken to not disturb others. Trying to make as little noise as possible in your everyday activities is a great gift to your fellow practitioners and can be taken as a joyful cultivation of subtle forms of non-harm and generosity.

Practical tips for reducing noise:

  • Follow the daily schedule as closely as possible.
  • Arrive for group meditations at least a few minutes before they begin. If you’re running late on a particular occasion, don’t attend that session and instead sit quietly in your room to avoid making sounds moving around the house while others are meditating.
  • If you want to engage in conversation make sure you do so somewhere where it will not disturb others.
  • Practice “Gentle Door”, a light-hearted mindfulness exercise that helps you to stay aware and in the present moment by placing your focus on trying to open and close doors, cupboards, draws, etc. (and generally handle all objects) as quietly as possible.
  • If you are staying outside of the main building, try to do, or collect anything you need to in as few trips to the house as you can, combining visits where possible.

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 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 long-term resident.

USING RESOURCES WISELY

Everything we live on in this monastery has been donated and it is therefore especially important that all resources are used with respect and care, and that we avoid waste as much as possible. Contemplation of contentment is also an extremely valuable aspect of practice.

The kitchen

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 them.

Water

Please take care in your use of water, and be mindful not to waste any.

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 in the when it is cold. 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 which will help to keep our bills as low as possible. If you need to use the internet (e.g. during the work period, for study, or some practical issue), please keep in mind that we have a limited monthly data allowance and data-heavy content should be avoided if possible, particularly between the hours of 6am–6pm on weekdays.

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 will cause health problems.

LAUNDRY

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 please wash them before you leave.

SMOKING

Smoking is not permitted anywhere on the monastery grounds.

SAFETY

This is an area where many of ticks carry Lyme Disease. Make sure you check daily for ticks and remove them as early as possible.

PETS

You may not bring pets to the monastery.

SANGHA AREA

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 their private bedrooms.

PHOTOGRAPHS

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 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 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.