1. Common understanding
Songdhammakalyani monastery is generally open for genuine female spiritual seekers of different religions (rare exceptions for accompanying husbands / teachers may be granted upon personal consultation with Ven. Dhammananda).
There should be common understanding for visitors, particularly those who want to stay overnight. It is understood that visitors come to the temple with an interest to have a unique experience of monastic stay, therefore it is expected that they follow the monastic regulations, which include attending morning and evening chanting. There is also an hour of shared work either in the garden or other routine tasks. Visitors can also assist the regular members in doing their chores.
Going on alms round: on Sunday and on Wanpra (Buddhist day), visitors can take this great opportunity to follow monastics on their alms round. This is a unique opportunity since now visitors are following female monastics so you can experience for the first time female monks receiving the alms round and you can assist them in the simple act of pushing the cart carrying their food.
Visitors can also request to meet with Ven. Dhammananda in the evening. She normally is available at 4 P.M. She is willing to have a casual conversation with the visitors.
2. Schedule: Daily & Weekly Routines
|5.30 – 6.30 am||Morning chanting and silent meditation|
|6.30 – 7.00 am||Cleaning dining hall and library|
|7.00 – 7.45 am||Breakfast – vegetarian food|
|8.00 – 11.00 am||Doing the assigned job, reading, personal meditation, helping in the kitchen, etc.|
|11.30 am – 12.15 pm||Lunch – vegetarian food|
|12.15 pm||Washing up and tidying in the kitchen|
|13.15 pm||Doing the assigned job, reading, personal meditation, study time|
|4.00 -4.30 pm||Coffee or tea time|
|4.30 – 5.30 pm||Community work – maintenance of the monastery, cleaning, pruning, weeding sweeping fallen leaves etc.|
|7.00 – 8.00 pm||Evening chanting and silent meditation|
|10.00 pm||Lights off|
Saturday & Sunday
|8.00 – 8.30 am||Meditation at the Medicine Buddha Vihara|
Saturday & Buddhist Day
|6.00 – 7.00 am||Alms round|
|10.00 – 11.15 am||Taking the Three Refuges and Five or Eight Precepts by Laypeople. Dana offering ceremony and Dhamma talks at the Uposatha|
Buddhist Day (full moon & dark moon)
|1.00 – 3.30 pm||Receiving instruction from a senior monk & reciting monastic codes|
|6.30 – 8.00 pm||Evening chanting at the Medicine Buddha Vihara and sharing good feelings of the day|
Normally Buddhists take the 5 precepts when they come to stay at the temple.
To visit the monastery, it is not necessary to convert to Buddhism however, you must keep the 5 precepts while you are here. The 5 precepts are ethical code of conduct suitable for all people, no matter their beliefs.
• Abstaining from killing any sentient beings
• Abstaining from stealing
• Abstaining from sexual misconduct
• Abstaining from false and harmful speech
• Abstaining from taking any intoxicants
On Buddhist days, some Buddhists like to observe the 8 precepts, which are the basic 5 precepts plus:
• Abstaining from eating in the afternoon
• Abstaining from entertainment and beautifying oneself
• Abstaining from using luxurious furniture
Also, abstaining from sexual misconduct becomes being total celibate.
4. Proper interaction with Bhikkhuni/s
• When you see a monastic, greet them with hands together like in prayer, bow your head and if you want, you can say ‘namaskar’.
• Please do not touch a Buddhist monk, so no hugging, handshaking or putting an arm around the shoulder.
• Please do not sit higher than a Buddhist monk.
• Monastics do not sit on the same seat with laypeople and they eat separately.
• Do not engage with a monastic while she is eating.
5. Proper behaviour in the Temple
• Please remove shoes before entering.
• Please do not stretch your legs.
• Please do not point your feet toward any Buddha statue or monk.
• Please sit with your feet behind you and knees near each other (virasana, seiza or with knees bent and feet to one side, i.e. bharadvajasana). During meditation, you can sit cross legged.
• You may bring a cushion to sit on.
• Please refrain from talking.
• Please dress properly (see dress code).
6. Meeting with Ven. Dhammananda
If you would like to receive explanations in English or would like to have an appointment with Ven. Dhammananda, kindly schedule this in advance by contacting us a few days in advance by e-mail.
Ven. Dhammananda meets visitors between 02.00 P.M. – 04.00 P.M.
7. Dress code
You are coming to a temple, therefore kindly cover yourself properly.
Shoulders and knees should be covered and long hair tied or pinned up.
Please avoid tight or transparent clothing.
Loose clothing is advised for sitting in the shrine room if you participate in morning and evening chants and it’s ideal if you can wear white for the chants, if not, it’s not a matter of life and death.
8. Daytime visitors
You can visit the temple (e.g. Medicine Buddha, Vihara, library) from 08.30 A.M. to 05.00 P.M.
For one of our monastics to show you our premises, there is no need to book an appointment in advance.
Simply report to the front desk at the left side.
9. Overnight guests
Please contact us well in advance by email, stating your motivation and desired period. We will get in touch with you to evaluate the options. During your stay, you will be considered a member of the sangha (i.e. you must follow the monastic schedule).
Kindly note that we offer very basic accommodation and are located on the highway, meaning this experience is for the interested seeker of the Dhamma.
We work with various international universities and companies, offering motivated groups of up to 30 participants, specific programs to experience the monastic life. The stay lasts usually around 3 days. Teachers interested in taking their students are asked to prepare their students well in advance on the uniqueness of the monastery, its Theravada lineage and basic Buddhist knowledge (see also publications and social media).
Also, a specific focus of our teachings and Dhamma talks for that group can be discussed with us in advance (e.g. talks and games on leadership or teamwork values).
If you would like to arrange a group stay in a different format, kindly consult with us.
To cover basic expenses for your stay and the upkeep of the monastery, we will kindly ask you to contribute with a basic donation (currently around 25 USD per person/day).
If you would like to top this up with an additional donation, we will appreciate it very much, but please do not worry about it if your budget is tight.
10. What to bring
For visitors staying at the temple, it would be good to bring working clothes for gardening work that are not white, too.
We will provide you with a pillow, bed sheets and a towel; if needed, also with shampoo and soap.
Flip-flops are convenient as shoes are not allowed in the buildings.
Visitor rooms are double rooms (single occupancy if available) and have fly screens, so there is no need for a mosquito net.
Please also research the Thai weather conditions when packing. Insect repellent, sunscreen, and water bottles are advised.
Please avoid leaving plastic waste in the monastery.
11. What to expect
We have 2 meals a day, breakfast at 07.00 a.m. and lunch at 11.30 a.m.
If you are a layperson, you might keep some of thelunch meal for your dinner at 06.00 p.m.. Coffee, tea and soya milk are provided at the dining hall.
Going for Alms round
At least 3 Sangha members go out for alms round on Sunday and Wan Pra (Buddhist day). They start out as early as 06.00 a.m. and as visitors you may like to follow them. The walk lasts approx. one hour.
The library is open from 08.00 a.m. to 05.00 p.m. and we have both English and Thai books.
Please replace the book exactly where you found it and do not take the books out of the library.
This is a requirement for everyone staying at our temple, whether as a guest or regular member. We spend 1 hour together cleaning, raking, cutting grass, branches of the trees, etc.
We consider this time spent together as an equalizer.
It is a beautiful way of giving and the best kind of giving is to give up our ego, the ‘holding on’ to the illusive self.
Kindly remember that you are coming to a temple to practice, and the first note for practice is to look inward, into yourself, for improvement. Looking outward, you can end up only criticising others and missing the point.
We wish that you have a pleasant and productive stay in this unique space!