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Dharma Programs


Exploring Monastic Life

"I rejoice in this opportunity that not only monks and nuns, but also lay persons contemplating ordination have available at Sravasti Abbey. And I rejoice in the positive force built up by Ven. Thubten Chodron and all those who join her there."

  Alexander Berzin

Exploring Monastic Life
2016 dates are not yet determined

To our knowledge, there is no other program in the US like Exploring Monastic Life to help Western Dharma students investigate the many facets of ordination.  Exploring Monastic Life is for qualified lay people and for monastics that have been ordained for five years or less. Admission is by application. 

“The Exploring Monastic Life program was, by far, one of the most transformative and beneficial experiences I've ever had,” wrote one newly ordained participant.

“We received teachings not just about keeping the specific vows, but also on using ordination as a profound thought transformation practice. I found Ven. Chodron's teachings remarkably insightful, practical, and personal.”

Ven. Thubten Chodron leads the course, sharing her vast experience from training and living as a monastic in Asia, Europe, and the US for nearly 40 years. 

The course covers topics from the sutras about the origins of Buddhist monasticism as well as issues that contemporary monastics face. Daily discussions help participants examine their personal inner resources and obstacles.

In addition, EML participants live and practice with Sravasti Abbey's resident monastic community, joining in the daily schedule of meditation, teachings, and offering service. 

Applicants must have taken refuge in the Three Jewels at least one year ago and must not be in a long-term relationship. Preference will be given to applicants under 50 years old.

Application Information

Please download and fill out the application and return to the Coordinator. Space is limited. To create a cohesive group, everyone must attend the entire program. Partial attendance is not possible.

Please read our website (especially the sections on Visiting and Monastic Life) thoroughly to become familiar with the Abbey's vision and lifestyle. During your stay you will be living within the five lay precepts.

What to Expect

Participants will follow a full daily schedule. This involves waking early in the morning for meditation, attending teachings, study, discussion groups, and offering service.

Participants may take turns cooking for the community and are expected to clean, tend the garden, transcribe Dharma talks, etc. as part of your service here.

To lessen distractions, we will not engage in outside communication, just like being in retreat. Please leave computers and listening devices at home, and we'll keep your cell phones for safekeeping for you while you are here.

Only emergency phone calls may be made while you are at the Abbey. Please do not expect to do email or text, listen to music, or watch television. We are a vegetarian community. Recreational drugs, alcohol, and tobacco products are not permitted.

A monastic lifestyle enables us to focus our energies on our spiritual life and practice. There will be time for personal reflection, walks in the woods, and relaxing. You will receive personal guidance in your Dharma practice and share a monastic lifestyle with other like-minded people. During these weeks, we want to provide participants with a full experience of living joyfully in community according to a monastic schedule.


Like all activities at the Abbey, no fee is requested to attend this program. However, in order to have the resources to be able to make it happen, we ask participants to help gather the dana (donations) to support it. We estimate that each person should raise or contribute about $475 USD. If others would like to contribute, all donations will be gratefully accepted. Please make checks out to Sravasti Abbey (write on the memo line on the check: Exploring Monastic Life") and send to:

Sravasti Abbey
PO Box 447
Newport WA 99156-0447

5:00 a.m. Wake up
5:30 - 7:00 a.m. Meditation Practice
7:30 a.m. - 8:00 a.m. Breakfast (in silence)
8:30 a.m. - 12:00 noon Offering Service
12:00 noon
Lunch (in silence) and personal time
2:30 - 4:00 p.m. Dharma Discussion
4:30 - 5:45 p.m. Teachings
6:00 - 6:45 p.m. Medicine Meal (optional light meal)
7:00 - 8:30 p.m. Prostrations and Meditation
8:30 p.m. Vajrasattva Practice (optional)
Dharma Programs