A: Orientation, Monastic Life, Buddhist Classes (16 days)
On the first day of the retreat is an intensive orientation to adjust participants to all the details of daily monastic life: etiquette and behavior when relating to peers, monastics and teachers; shrine room, dining hall and meditation hall protocol; dormitory rules; and general Buddhist ethics for the monastery. While the participants will not receive any formal monastic initiation or ordination, such monastic basics as sexual restraint and vegetarianism are required throughout the entire retreat.
With these basics in hand, the following two weeks will follow a schedule and lifestyle similar to that found in a modern Buddhist Monastic College. This includes rising at 5:30am and lights out at 10:00 pm, with daily morning meditation and evening chanting services, as well as three formal meals in the dining hall. Morning class sessions will focus on a range of classes on Buddhist thought and practice, especially that of Humanistic Buddhism. Afternoons will be time for learning about forms of Buddhist practice, including the various activities of a large monastery.
Late afternoons may include some community service for the monastery. Evenings will feature Dharma talks by senior monastics and discussion time to reflect on what has been learnt. All this will be led by a team of highly trained and experienced monastic and lay staff who will be able to convey the intricacies of Chinese Buddhist culture intelligibly into Western modes of thought.
A typical daily schedule of these first two weeks. [Check Schedule]