Since this post has already become bit too long, I have decided to put upcoming events and updates about Buddha Bodhivana Monastery in different posts. To view these events just click on the Events link.
|Main Meditation hall, Bodhivana Monastery|
The current Abbot of the Bodhivana Monastery is Venerable Ajahn Kalyano who has trained for many years with Venerable Ajahn Anan (the Abott of Wat Marp Jan, Rayong, Thailand), one of several disciples of Ajahn Chah who have become highly regarded as meditation masters in their own right.
(2011 Wikimedia Foundation, Inc , Bodhivana Monastery )
There is not much information on internet about this place. So I thought it will come handy for someone if I share my experience visiting Bodhivana Monastery during past few years. So here it goes.
This place is quite nice and very relaxing. Do carry some worm cloths if you are travelling there in winter as the temperature can drops to uncomfortable levels in mornings. People usually go there around 9.30 - 10.00 AM to participate for the alms giving round that take place around 11.00 AM every day.
Weekends and public holidays can usually get very busy and can exceed 100 or more visitors.
This centre sometimes holds all night meditation sessions for lay followers. These are usually open events and do not require any prior registration. Upcoming events are usually advertised on the notice boards placed in the dining hall and in kitchen.
Twice a year on Vesak day and on the day of Katina ceremony, lay visitors are allowed to visit kutis build high up in the mountains and a guided tour is provided usually after the lunch on these specific days. Do carry a bottle of water and wear some good and comfortable shoes as the climb can be steep and the paths can be extremely muddy and slippery.
Good and healthy segment of lay followers visit the center mostly consisting of Thais, Srilankans , Burmese and Australian (By Australian I meant Caucasians). In recent times Im observing a rapid increase in Srilankan visitors though.
What to do:
- Bring some food for the alms giving round. It doesn't have to be exotic. But clean and fresh.
- Clean up / sweep the hall, garden before the alms giving round begins.
- Participate in the Alms giving round by offering rice to the Bhikkus.
- There is usually a Dharma talk and question and answer session after the lunch. If you have a pressing question /doubt, this is the time to ask it from a Bhikku to get some insights.
- Help cleaning and tidying the place once the alms giving round and lunch is over.
- Donate money. Without generous donations from devoted followers it wouldn't have been easy to build a a wonderful and comfortable monastery like this one. Donating some money , even if it is a very small amount will go a long way in assisting the new development of the monastery than bringing in bundles of toilet papers ,juice bottles and cereal boxes. I’m not saying that you should not bring in those items as donations , but the fact is that those only get bundled up (You see there is a limit to a consumption of toilet papers and juice by a handful of humans) and never get used by monks and ultimately will be given away. So why not do something wiser and worthwhile? Donation boxes/envelops are located in the Kitchen and in the entrance to the main meditation hall.
- Collect heaps of merits and above all enjoy the peace and serenity of this wonderful place.
What not to do:
- Taking photographs and videos of Bhikkus. In special occasions such as the day of the Katina ceremony , visitors are allowed to take photos/videos though. Signs are displayed everywhere stating not to take any photographs of the monks But still some people arrogantly ignore these signs and go about doing their business. Bhikkus will usually not protest but it is our responsibility to comply with their wishes rather than applying guerrilla tactics.
- Trespassing. Stay in the visitor's area. Don’t go wondering around.
- If possible please avoid bringing in small children in to the meditation hall during the Dharma talk. Usually children start crying and make havoc when they don’t get enough attention and it is a massive distraction to everyone who are concentrating on the speech and to the speaker who tries to explain something. Please have some common sense and take the crying child outside. Many parents do not have this common sense and the sense of duty towards others , so they keep sitting in there making unsuccessful attempts to stop the cry baby and bugging everyone in the process.
- Sitting on the floor spreading feet towards the Lord Buddha and Bhikkus. In Asian cultures and that included Srilanka as well, it is a dishonor to show an elder or a respectable person your feet or to spread your legs in the direction of statues and idols worshiped by others. Thai people usually sits in Vajrāsana which I think is a really good , comfortable and a respectable posture.
- Do not be in contact with monks. its is not a serious offence. But its good if you can avoid that.
- Put your donation money in to donation boxes. If the amount is large discuss with Ajahn Kalyano about other options to transfer money. Its good if you can avoid handing over money directly to the abbot.
Following is a small video that was taken on 2011 Vesākha day at Bodhivana Monastery.
While discussing with some friends, I have realized that many first time visitors miss out on certain daily activities in the temple due to lack of communication and awareness. So here I will put down what happens in a regular day in the temple. As I’m not aware of the actual normal full day schedule of Bhikkus, this will only consist of things that take place during the lunchtime.
1. 9.00AM - 10.30 AM Lay visitors arrive to the temple. Early birds can participate in following activities.
- Prepare the kitchen
- Take out dishes and arrange
- Sweep and arrange the dining hall attached to the kitchen
- Sweep the garden
- Place what they have brought for lunch on the dinning hall tables.
- Put small portions of white rice in to plastic disposable plates to offer during the simulated alms giving round.
- Have a coffee and relax till 10.30 AM
2. 10.30 AM -11.00 AM Participate in the alms giving round conducted in the garden outside the dining hall. You can take a plate of white rice and join the queue to offer rice to the parade of Bhikkus.
3. Once the alms giving round finishes, monks will go in to the dining hall again, get what they need to eat and go to the main Dharma hall to offer merits (punyanumodana) to the donors.
As a lay person if you would like to participate in this, once you finish offering rice to the Bhikkus, you should keep the disposable plates on the kitchen table (wait .... don't throw them) and go to the main dharma hall and wait there till monks arrive and conduct the punyanumodana.
4. Once the punyanumodana finishes, leave Bhikkus alone and head back to the main dining hall again to eat something. (My favorite part of the journey ^_^)
5. 12.00 PM -1.00 PM after you finish your meal head back to the main dharma hall again to listen to the short dharma talk delivered by the head monk at the center on that day. Once it finishes there will be a short question and answer round. This is a good time ask any question (related to Buddhism and/or practice) and I have been impressed many times by the nice, relevant, concise and brilliant answers provided.
6. Once the question and answer time finishes you can offer things (if any) you have brought for Bhikkus and then head back to the kitchen and participate in following activities, if they have not been completed by someone already.
- Clean and sweep the kitchen and the dining hall
- Wash, wipe dry the dishes and clean the kitchen
- Collect your utensils and leftover dishes
- Have a coffee and head back home.
Hope this description will help first time visitors. Please note that this normal daily schedule may slightly differ during the special days such as vesak , Katina ceremony day and during retreat days in Christmas.
Address: 780 Woods Point Road East Warburton Vic 3799
Phone: 03 359 665 999
Fax: 03 359 665 998
(2011 BuddhaNet, World Buddhist Directory - Bodhivana Monastery)