The Monastery is open every day, year-round to day visitors. It is not necessary to call for permission to visit. The most important facts for day visitors to know are listed below. More information can be found at Monastery Etiquette.
- The monks’ alms round is at 8:30am every day. If you are running late, the last chance to offer food to the monks is 9:00am at the Sala. This is the only meal of the day. If you arrive after 9:00am, the resident laypeople can receive the food, store it overnight and offer it to the monks the next day.
- The best times to speak with Taan Ajaan Geoff (without having called for an appointment) are between 10:00 - 11:00am and between 3:30 - 5:00pm. Outside of these times he is generally unavailable.
- Visitors are welcome to participate in the daily activities of the Monastery. Alternatively, you are welcome to spend the day meditating in the Sala (Meditation Hall) or on the platforms and walking paths located throughout the avocado orchard.
- There are books and mp3 CDs on meditation and Buddhism in the Sala (Meditation Hall). These are distributed free of charge, and you may take what you find useful.
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.
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. The sixth of the eight precepts basically limits overnight visitors to one meal per day. If you have a medical condition or other compelling reason to be exempted from this precept please call the monastery to alert one of the monks to your situation.
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’x 8’ 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.
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 dewy 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.