Becoming a Resident

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Life at the Abbey

Drawing from all that we’ve learned in our history, Gampo Abbey is currently three years into what continues to be a fertile period of developing the Shambhala Monastic Order in the vision of our lineage holder Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. One aspect of this vision involves the monastery being a training ground for enlightened society; offering an immersion experience in the Shambhala Buddhist dharma and providing an expedient and powerful opportunity for processing within the sacred container of monastic community. In this spirit, we have been holding 9-12 month residencies based on the four dignities of the Shambhala path: Tiger, Lion, Garuda, Dragon, and our currently in our Lion year.  You can read a detailed article about our previous residency here. The next opportunity to become a resident and join our community will be for The Warriors Who Are Fearless, based on Garuda, and described in detail along with how to apply here. All aspects of living at the Abbey, including the practice of offering service, are part of this experience.

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Discipline

Discipline is the foundation of monastic life which provides a simplified environment conducive to waking up. Therefore, all residents are required to live by the five Buddhist precepts and adhere fully to the Abbey schedule. The five precepts are: refraining from taking life, refraining from stealing, refraining from sexual activity, refraining from lying, and refraining from intoxicants.  The schedule includes up to four hours of meditation daily, observing silence before noon and after 8 in the evening, attending morning and evening chants and other liturgical ceremonies.  Each resident also has house chores, dish clean-up, and a four-hour work period five to six days per week. Life at the Abbey is rigorous; you should be in good health if you want to consider applying to be a resident. You may also enjoy visiting the “Monastic Ordination” section of our website.

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Meditation

Gampo Abbey follows the view and the meditation practices as taught by our founder, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and his heir and lineage holder Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. The Abbey follows the forms and traditions of the Shambhala and Karma Kagyu schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Shamatha/vipashyana meditation as taught by the Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is the meditation technique shared by all Abbey residents, as well as Shambhala Meditation and other core practices. Students who have received ngondro, sadhana, or other advanced practices will be supported to practice these, as residents typically have a three hour period each day to engage in their main practice. Other Buddhist practices can be done during free time.

Central to the practice life of the Abbey are various liturgical ceremonies, such as taking the daily precepts, as well as offering chants and supplications to protectors. All community members are required to participate fully in these.  Each Abbey resident meets regularly with a Meditation Instructor.

Wisdom

Our educational training is based on the Shambhala terma teachings of our founder, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and teachings of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, which are the central lens through which we study and practice the vast and profound lineages of the dharma. We hold classes twice a week which take a contemplative, interactive, and experiential approach, and also have periods of study on classic topics which help deepen our understanding. Education at the Abbey is an opportunity to allow the dharma to soak in at a pace and in a container difficult to find in the modern world. Like everything at the Abbey, our education is also very much a journey of community.

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Community Life

The Abbey is a vibrant community, living and working in close quarters. Community life can be joyful as well as challenging.  It is necessary that you are willing to meet and work with these challenges. We ask that prior to coming to the Abbey, you be well grounded in Buddhism generally, and have at least six months of well-established sitting meditation experience.

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Cost of Staying at the Abbey

When planning for your stay as a resident at Gampo Abbey you need to consider two different types of costs — the resident’s program fee, and personal living expenses.

Resident’s Fee:This program resident’s fee covers only a portion of the actual costs of life at the Abbey. We rely on the generosity of our donors to cover most of the operating costs of the Abbey and to help us to keep the resident’s program fees low enough so that the fee will not become a barrier to those who wish to explore monastic life at the Abbey.

Personal Living Expenses: You should also budget for any additional expenses like purchases from the Abbey bookstore, stamps, long distance calls, or personal items like toiletries that can be purchased through the bi-weekly town trips.

Suggested Readings

If you are not very familiar with Tibetan Buddhism or the teachings of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche or Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, we ask you to have read at least the first two books on the list below.

Ruling Your World Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche Morgan Road Books
Shambhala, The Sacred Path of the Warrior Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche Shambhala Publications
The Myth of Freedom Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche Shambhala Publications
The Practice of Tranquility and Insight Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche Snow Lion Publications
The Wisdom of No Escape Pema Chödrön Shambhala Publications
When Things Fall Apart Pema Chödrön Shambhala Publications

Health and Well-Being

The diet at the Abbey is vegetarian. Special diets are not provided. For medicinal purposes canned tuna is available once a week on open days. Evening meals are “medicine meals” consisting of soup. Alcohol and smoking are forbidden.  The daily schedule provides one and a half hours for mind/body work including hiking, yoga, tai chi. While the discipline and schedule at the Abbey are extremely enriching, they are also rigorous and demanding. Therefore, it is important that you are in good mental, emotional and physical condition for your time at the Abbey

Daily Schedule

Although the schedule can vary occasionally, generally we work Monday through Friday. Saturday is an open day (no schedule) and Sunday is nyinthün (all day practice and silence). See the practice schedule for the usual schedule at the Abbey.