There are no scheduled retreats at the Monastery as there are at most meditation retreat centers. Rather, one could say the Monastery is always in “retreat” mode, and visitors drop into the routine and out of it according to their own scheduling restrictions. Usually, there are five to twenty visitors at any one time, and the high season is the summertime despite the hot weather.
First-time visitors are allowed to stay for periods of up to two weeks. All visitors are asked to observe the Eight Precepts and to participate fully in the daily schedule of the Monastery.
If you would like to come for an overnight visit, we ask that you write or call the monastery to obtain permission and to guarantee that the monastery is not closed to visitors at the time you would like to come.
We don’t charge for room or board, as all our activities are funded by donations. Our accommodations are very simple. We have a dormitory-style guesthouse, and there are also 8'x8' wooden platforms in the avocado orchard where tents may be pitched in the shade.
If you have strict dietary requirements, e.g. illness or allergy related, or vegan, please call the monastery to confirm that the Monastery kitchen will be able to accomodate them.
Upcoming Closures to Visitors
The Monastery is closed to overnight visitors when the abbot is away and also when the Monastery is anticipated to be full. This is Taan Ajaan Geoff's known travel itinerary, but it will usually be incomplete.
Apr. 23 - 29
Teaching at Sati Center (Redwood City, CA)
Teaching in Saskatoon, Canada (please see dhammatalks.org links page)
Teaching at the Ottawa Buddhist Society in Ottawa, Canada
Transportation from the Airport
The advice given here is not necessarily complete and current. Do your own research to confirm the routes and prices listed here. The most highly recommended website is the San Diego Metro Transit System, which has a very useful trip planner page. Apparently, if you punch in the Valley Center Library as the destination, the planner puts out a good itinerary. You might also try the Monastery's street address, which is 13560 Muutama Lane, Valley Center, CA 92082. The Shuttle Services will get you all the way, but public transport only gets you to within 10 miles. Generally, the goal is to get at least to the Escondido Transit Center, and hopefully to Valley Center, and then someone from the Monastery will pick you up if you arrange it a few days in advance (see below). Cash is needed to purchase most of the tickets. There are ATMs at the airport and train station. The transport options include:
- The Ride Share Board: Friends of the Monastery have created a ride share board where visitors to the Monastery who need a ride or want to offer a ride can communicate. You may or may not find a ride, but it’s worth trying. Also, this service is independent of the Monastery, and the Monastery takes no legal responsibility.
- Airport Shuttle Services: Cloud 9 / Super Shuttle charges $71 each way, and every add'l rider is $9. Their numbers are 800-974-8885 and 800-974-3826. You might wish to google for other shuttle services as well.
- Car Rental: Some guests find that renting a car, even for a week, is a cheaper option.
- Trains: There are commuter trains going north and south along the coast called the Coaster. It's $17.00 (they want exact change) from the Santa Fe Depot in San Diego to the city of Oceanside where you can pick up a spur line called the Sprinter to the Escondido Transit Center in the city of Escondido for $2.00. These seem to be part of the San Diego Metro Transit System, and you can get the schedules and prices from the www.sdmts.com website. See "the 992" below for getting to the Santa Fe Depot; and see "the 388 or 389" below for getting from the Escondido Transit Center to Valley Center.
- Buses: The public buses here are run by the called the San Diego Metro Transit System and the North County Transit District. Check their websites at www.sdmts.com or www.transit.511sd.com and www.gonctd.com, respectively, for bus routes and schedules. The ones that come into play that we know of are:
- The 992 gets you from the San Diego Airport to the Santa Fe Depot, which is San Diego's downtown public transport hub. It's about a 10 minute ride and runs every 15 minutes on weekdays and every 30 minutes on weekends. If you buy a day pass for $5.00, it's only an extra $2.00 for the express bus (the 810/A below), and then no additional charge for the bus to Valley Center (the 388/9 further below).
- The 810 or 810A Express to the Escondido Transit Center. There's some confusion as to whether this is a San Diego Transit bus or a North County bus, so double-check their websites. Also, make sure you get the Express. The local takes three or more hours!
- The 388 or 389 goes from Escondido to Valley Center. You get off at the corner of Valley Parkway and Cole Grade Road. You're still 10 miles from the Monastery, though, so you'll have to arrange for someone to pick you you up (see next).
- To arrange to be picked up call Amira at least a few days in advance at 440-522-8476. If you can't reach Amira you can call the Monastery's general number at 619-813-8461.
Meditation instruction follows the teachings of Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo, a member of the Thai Forest Tradition. If you wish to get a head start with the meditation techniques taught at the Monastery, please read and experiment with the following:
- "Method 2" in Ajaan Lee's Keeping the Breath in Mind
- The "Guided Meditation" in Thanissaro Bhikkhu's Noble Strategy
Many of Thanissaro Bhikkhu's transcribed Dhamma Talks are available in the Meditations series of eBooks. Mp3 recordings of his talks are available at dhammatalks.org.
The following generalizes the Monastery's weather by season:
- Winter: Mostly winter days are clear and mildly crisp. Normal lows are in the low 40s F. Normal highs are in the mid-50s to mid-60s F. It is very rare the temperatures go below freezing. Winter is also our rainy season, but the historic rainfall average is 13" per year. Most years it's less. Last Winter and this year, however, have been much wetter than normal.
- Spring: Possibility of rain, but after April it's very rare. Lows in the 50s. Highs in the 70s and 80s. Chance of early morning fog and spiders' webs across the roads: 100%.
- Summer: It never ever rains in Summer (except for this year). Practically speaking, though, it's still basically impossible, and one can reside outside here even without a tent. Lows are usually in the mid-60s; highs in the high-80s to mid-90s. It's worth mentioning that "it's a dry heat," and temperatures in the 90s are quite comfortable in the shade, and especially the deep shade of the avocado grove. However, every Summer there are heat waves, and sometimes they're extreme. They last about a week on average. Lows can be from the high-60s to high-70s. Highs can be from the low-100s to mid-110s. While it's still a "dry heat", this is our most challenging weather since there's no air conditioning at the Monastery. Coping strategies include, but are not limited to, wearing wet towels on your head and taking cold showers in the afternoon.
- Fall: Fall is nice. Mostly the weather is similar to Spring, and we get a lot of 50 F nights and 70 F days with fog in the morning. Heat waves are still possible, but not the extreme Summer kind. We are subject to Santa Anas, however. Santa Anas are hot, dry winds blowing in from the deserts to the east, and they last an average of two and a half days. They can happen any time of year, but are more likely in the Fall. This, by the way, is the weather phenomenon behind So. California's wildfires. It's generally not a problem, as we've only had to evacuate once in twenty years.