Thank you for your interest in volunteering at 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.
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:
1. Harmlessness: not harming any living creature or support any act of harm through body, speech and mind.
2. Trustworthiness: not taking anything that is not given. Practicing generosity and respectfulness in thinking, speaking, and acting.
3. Chastity: refraining from any sexual activity. Learning appropriate ways to take care of sexual energy. Cultivating loving kindness, compassion, joy, and inclusiveness.
4. Right Speech: avoiding false, unmindful or malicious speech. Cultivating loving speech, deep listening and non-discrimination.
5. Sobriety: not consuming intoxicating drinks and drugs, that lead to carelessness.
6. Restraint: not indulge in eating. Consuming in a way that preserves mindfulness, joy, and well-being in body and mind.
7. Modesty: not indulge in consumption of sense impressions, volition and consciousness. Not to wear make-up, immodest clothing and jewellery. Cultivating a conducive environment for all by refraining from playing music, radios or musical instruments, gambling. Not consuming certain websites, games, books or conversations out of distraction or to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering.
8. Simplicity: refraining from unnecessary luxuriousness and indulgence in comfort, sleep. Cultivating gratitude and contentment with the present moment and simple conditions.
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. Sunyata is run entirely by volunteers and there are many types of activities that are required to keep the place going.
|7.00am||Morning puja & meditation|
|9.30am – 12.30pm||Morning chores|
|3.00pm – 5.00pm||Afternoon chores [optional, depending on workload]|
|7.00pm||Evening Puja & meditation|
Moon Day: Traditionally on the weekly moon day, time is given to focus on individual practice in noble silence. Lunch will be cooked sufficiently the day before. There is no work period on this day.
Living in Community
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. As with other guidelines, these are simply ways of creating an environment conducive to contemplation.
Personal life challenges: It is important to understand that while mindfulness and meditation are a support for challenging times, it is not a substitute for psychological interventions. If you are experiencing a period of intense distress or psychological difficulty, then it may be better to reconsider your visit and come to Sunyata at another time. If you have any concerns in this area during your stay, please do not hesitate to speak to a manager.
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 all areas clean and tidy.
As some people, we have learned, are allergy sensitive please minimize or eliminate the use of scented products and avoid using candles or incense in any of the buildings.
We do not supply bedding unless you are travelling from overseas – please let us know in advance if this is the case.
Sunyata grounds are non-smoking. You are welcome to smoke in the outdoor grounds outside of Sunyata.
Please refrain from using phones and electronic devices in the common areas (kitchen, hall).
We ask guests to keep noise to a minimum after 9 pm.
Please respect the sanctity of the meditation hall by using it only for meditation and
following the guidelines (information page in hall) related to its use.
If you are unable to work or partake in the schedule for any reason please let the centre manager know – all volunteers are supported to take time during their stay if they need rest due to illness.
If you are experiencing symptoms of menstruation or menopause and feel you need time for rest or self-care please feel supported by the community to do so.
If you experience any kind of discrimination during your stay in Sunyata, please address us.
Traditionally 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. You can also make a donation on our website.
If you would like to book a visit or to get in touch with the contact person onsite, please email: [email protected]
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.