Becoming a Resident


We invite you to apply to come to Gampo Abbey to practice, study, and participate in our monastic community life.  The Shambhala teachings on enlightened warriorship form the backbone of Abbey monastic life. The focus of living at Gampo Abbey is on experiencing monastic life through taking temporary ordination. (Note that in order to take temporary ordination you must have taken refuge — become a Buddhist.) You should also have at least six months of well-established sitting meditation experience. Due to the current monastic training underway, experience with the Shambhala teachings is strongly recommended.

A Nine Month Monastic Training Residency
in the Shambhala Monastic Order

The Shambhala Monastic Order is delighted to accept applications for The Warriors Who are Joyful, a nine month monastic training residency at Gampo Abbey beginning 4 January 2016. The training will be based on the teachings of the Snow Lion drawn from the Shambhala terma and related teachings of the Sakyong lineage with supplementary material from the tradition of sutra. Join us for an in-depth journey through these teachings on joyful discipline in the supportive container of monastic life.

Here is some of what you can expect:

  • 4-6 hours a day of meditation practice including three hours of one’s main practice

  • Yarne (annual winter retreat) led by Acharya Pema Chödrön

  • Weekly experiential classes and additional deep study courses offered by Gelong Loden Nyima, Shastri Alice Haspray, and resident monastics/teachers

  • Temporary monastic ordination received from preceptor Gelong Lodrö Kalsang after initial entry period

  • Regular practice of Shambhala Meditation and the Shambhala Sadhana

  • Four hours of daily service

Participants in our current program say:

“There is no substitute for this kind of training”, Tharpa Chödrön (Emma Cataford), 31, formerly of Boston Shambhala

“Temporary ordination is the best decision of my life at this point.”, Tharpa Lodrö (Daniel Baker), 25, formerly of Washington DC Shambhala

“It feels like this is an important, precious, and fortunate time in my life that the Abbey is offering support for”, Dawa Chödzo (Mihai Tudorascu), 33, formerly of Dechen Chöling

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the nature of the accommodations available at Gampo Abbey as of June we are only accepting applications from women.  New applications from men will go onto a waiting list. 

Fees: The fee for the nine month program is $3,600, or $400 per month. There will also be a Patron level fee of $4,500 for the nine month program, or $500 per month for those who have the financial means to make a greater contribution towards the full cost of this program. Fees are non-refundable once the program has begun. See the application form for further details on the schedule for payment of the program fees.

Optional Extension: There is the option of participating in a three month extension to the Lion Year program, arriving on Oct 4, 2015 and living in residency through January 4, 2016 when the 9 month program begins. Those who wish to participate in the optional three month extension will be expected to complete the entire 12 months of their commitments, including full payment of the 12 month fees of $4,800 or $6,000 for Patrons.

Contract: All participants will be expected to sign a contract which commits them to the terms of the program prerequisites and to the payment of the full program fees once they have been accepted and prior to their arrival at the Abbey to begin the program. A copy of the contract will be provided to all those who are being considered for the program.

Life at the Abbey

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. Please read the information on Living at Gampo Abbey for a better understanding of monastic life at Gampo Abbey

Meditation Practice at the Abbey

Gampo Abbey follows the view and the meditation practices as taught by our founder, Chögyam Trungpa 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.  Residents are expected to learn and practice this technique while at the Abbey.  There is also time available in the daily schedule for the preparatory practices of ngondro or other advanced practices (such as yidam practice) for those who are authorized to practice these.  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.

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. In order to maintain continuity in the community and to deepen the experience of contemplative life, residents are asked not to leave the Abbey for the first six months of their stay.

Celebratory lunch offering - A super Gampo Abbey cookie
Feast practice in main shrine room

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.

Feast practice in the Main Shrine Room
Celebratory lunch offering - A super Gampo Abbey cookie

How to Apply

Please download and complete our application form and return it by email to

Resident Handbook

We have prepared a handbook which provides additional information on being a resident at Gampo Abbey. Click here to download the Resident Handbook .


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