Staying at Sunyata
Thank you for your interest in visiting Sunyata. The following contains information about our way of practice and what’s expected from our visiting guests.
Sunyata is a Buddhist meditation retreat centre of the Thai Forest Tradition. It belongs to the lineage of Ajahn Chah, and his disciple Ajahn Sumedho, who opened our dhamma hall in July 2000.
Sunyata provides an opportunity for people to deepen their understanding of Buddhism and themselves, to practice mindfulness, or simply take time away from their everyday lives to reflect. Ethical guidelines, meditation practice and community work all help to maintain an environment conducive to these practices.
The rhythm of life at Sunyata is an essential part of our spiritual practice. Using the ordinary activities of daily life, we try to bring mindfulness and composure into our experience, whether in activity or in stillness, in relationship or in solitude.
The vassa, or rains retreat, is an annual period of monastic retreat which dates back to the time of the Buddha. We will have six monks in residence at Sunyata until the end of November, and the centre will be run effectively as a monastery during this time.
Ethical guidelines serve as the foundation for life here at Sunyata, helping both to develop insight and encourage harmonious community life. Guests are expected to observe the following eight precepts:
- Harmlessness: not intentionally taking the life of any living creature.
- Trustworthiness: not taking anything that is not given.
- Chastity: refraining from any sexual activity.
- Right Speech: avoiding false, abusive or malicious speech.
- Sobriety: not taking any intoxicating drinks or drugs.
- Renunciation : not eating after mid-day.
- Restraint : not wearing make-up, jewellery or immodest clothing; not playing radios, music tapes or musical instruments.
- Alertness: to refrain from overindulgence in sleep.
Although there is much time for individual meditation and contemplation, guests are expected to take part in the daily routine, and also to help out with certain tasks.
The schedule at Sunyata is open to change at different times, particularly when there are monastics in residence, but an average day will look something like this:
(Everyone welcome to attend)
|9.00-10:30am||Morning work period|
|2:00pm – 4.00pm||Afternoon work period|
Living in Community
Sunyata is run entirely by volunteers and there are many types of activities that are required to keep the place going. There are many jobs that need to be done around the centre such as in the kitchen, garden, the forest and with keeping the buildings clean. The working time set aside each morning helps to maintain the centre and also helps us to practice mindfulness in ordinary tasks.
We are grateful for your help. We hope that the structure of the day, with its times of silent contemplation together, individual reflection and more engaged work, can help each of us to find a balance in our practice.
We would appreciate it if you could be mindful around the conservation of energy and protecting the beautiful natural environment here at Sunyata. Please keep communal areas clean and tidy and remember no smoking, candles or incense in any of the rooms or buildings.
Guests are asked not to listen to music or engage in other forms of entertainment whilst at Sunyata. As with other guidelines, this is simply a way of creating an environment conducive to contemplation. We also ask guests to keep noise to a minimum after 9 pm.
Guests are asked to respect the sanctity of the meditation hall by using it only for meditation and following the guidelines related to its use.
We do not supply bedding unless you are travelling from overseas – please let us know in advance if this is the case.
As is traditional in this lineage of Buddhism, everything at Sunyata is offered free of charge so that the teachings and practice are available to everyone. As the centre is supported solely by donations, any contribution you are able to make for your stay here is much appreciated. The donation box can be found in the foyer of the dhamma hall.
If you have any questions or we can be of help in any other way please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Finally, we would like to thank you in advance for your consideration for other guests and for the centre itself, and hope that you find your stay at Sunyata rewarding and nourishing.