Your Do's and don'ts at BVMC while you are on retreat
Daily Schedule - Please be on time for all morning sittings, meals, and Dhamma talks.
(You can print this out)
5:00 am Wake up -your alarm clock
5:30 am Taking Refuges and Precepts - Sitting & walking
7:00 am Breakfast -Bell
7:35 am Work period
8:45 am Sitting and walking meditation to Lunch
-9:00 am Interviews start with Bhante
11:25 am Lunch - Bell
12:30 pm Rest
1:30 pm Sitting and walking meditation
6:00 pm Tea time
6:30 pm Dhamma talk and discussion
8:00 pm Sitting and walking meditation
10:00 pm Bedtime
- Please keep your 8 precepts strictly while you are on retreat. We say them daily in the morning.
- Inform your family, before you arrive, that the standard procedure for a retreat is that you will be out of touch for the period of the retreat. If there is an emergency, your family may contact Dr. Saccānanda Mahāthera's at cell 646-600-0385. Our retreat support staff will alert you if you are needed.
- Of course, there are no drugs or alcohol allowed.
- Please, let us know if you are using antidepressants or other prescriptions on your paperwork.
- Smoking is not allowed at the Center. (Many people have given up smoking in just one 10 day retreat!)
- No reading unless the book is assigned or given to you. No taking books off shelves in the library or dining hall and looking at them if you are on retreat. Bhante will give you all the instruction you need in the Dhamma talks.
- Be quiet and do not talk unless it is a necessary communication. No Chatting with other meditators. Please allow everyone the chance to do a silent retreat.
- Should you become aware of another meditator having any sort of problem, and for whatever reason not making our staff aware of it, please do bring it to our attention. If you see anything out of the ordinary, please don’t assume it will just solve itself. We have a nearby clinic and hospital for immediate medical attention, should the need arise.
Dining Hall -Do's and don'ts
- Bells will be rung for the Breakfast and for the Noonday meals. Please be on time.
- Be quiet and do not talk, unless it is necessary, for example "please pass the salt".
- At the noon-day meal a general blessing is performed with Bhante leading it. Please come to the buffet and place both hands on the counter to join us while he chants the blessing.
- Monks and Nuns go first in line to be served food at both meals. Not all monastics attend the morning meal so no need to wait unless they are there.
- After breakfast please stay to be assigned your morning task for a short work period of 30-60 minutes long. Never work more than 1 hour on any assigned task. Bring your meditation to your job with a smile and remember that “Meditation is life, Life is Meditation”. It isn’t qty done but the quality of your mind and using the harmonious Practice (Right Effort) doing the tasks.
- After each meal we ask that you to please help us by washing your dishes in the kitchen.
- Tea is placed out and only available at Tea time. Wash your cups after tea in the kitchen.
- The kitchen is off limits other than at the meal times. The refrigerator, and any additional food, is off limits. Please do not go into the kitchen and help yourself to the refrigerator without asking or getting pre-approval. Do not cook anything outside of the meal time without consulting the cook or retreat manager first. If you are having difficulties with the amount or type of food, please talk to the retreat manager. If you have medical needs concerning food, please alert us and we'll make sure they are met.
Your Room is Basement Hall
- Please keep your beds made and your Room neat. Brooms and dust pans are in corner of Basement.
- Be mindful of the Fan or heat being left on, while you are gone for long periods.
- We have a washing machine on-site to use, if you need to wash clothes. Ask staff to show you how. Don't use powder in the machine. Do not wash rugs or other center items without asking first.
- Should you need anything at all, we will supply it for you - just ask: Flashlights/Alarms, towels/washcloths, Clocks/pillows etc.
- Please do not listen to music or read anything during your retreat. This is your time to discover your inner mind by being quiet. Your cell phones will be taken for safekeeping.
- There are 2 Bath Houses and 2 shower rooms. You can use whatever you want. You may place your personal items on the shelves/drawers provided in the shower rooms. You can place your towel on racks there. You can pick on of the 2 shower rooms and place your things in there.
- Please do not use any scented products while on retreat. No scented soaps or aftershaves, perfumes or oils should be used because this may disturb others when you are sitting next to them.
- Our septic system is ok - you may flush every time and throw the toilet paper into the toilet. please, just go easy on the paper. We use septic safe one-ply to keep things running.
- All of the products, like soap and shampoo, that are out in view and not in someone's bags, are free to use. We have plenty more soap and shampoo and toothbrushes and toothpaste and shaving materials. Just ask.
Dhamma Talks Etiquette
- Please be on time for the 6:00 PM talks.
- Please remove your shoes before coming into the Dhamma Hall and leave outside.
- Stand when the monk enters. Stand when he leaves - out of respect.
- You can address Dr. Saccānanda Mahāthera as just "Bhante" (Reverend Sir).
- Please don't cross your arms or legs while listening to a Dhamma talk. This is a closed thinking position, you cannot retain the information while receiving it in this position. It is disrespectful to a member of the Sangha who is teaching the Dhamma and against monks’ rules. Yes, it is in the Vinaya (Monks Discipline).
- You may sit in the chairs while listening to talks or meditating. There is no "magic" in the floor. Chairs are good for long sits.
- Don't close your eyes during the talk, please give full attention to Bhante.
- Please take your bathroom breaks before the talk begins. Do not leave after the talk starts without permission.
- Dress Code – Do not wear tight or low cut clothing. Do not wear above the knee shorts or sleeveless shirts - No tights please and avoid showing excessive skin. Women kindly please wear bras and cover up.
- You are invited and urged to ask questions during the talks if you hear something you do not understand.
- You may take written notes. No laptops please.
- There will be a Q & A time at the end of each talk. You may also ask questions about your practice.
Dhamma Hall Meditation Etiquette
Please remove your shoes before coming into the Dhamma Hall.
- Do not use timers. If your sitting is going well, sit longer. You can open your eyes to check the clock occasionally. We have placed clocks everywhere, so you can see the time.
- Always follow Bhante's instructions and don't mix practices. This confuses the mind and slows down your progress.
- Always sit for at least 30 minutes and walk 15 minutes to 45 minutes - longer walking periods will tire you out.
- Do not discuss your meditation with other meditators - just the teacher at interviews.
- Always give honest answers in your interviews so that the teacher can properly assess your progress and offer you the best advice.
- Please let us know whether you are maintaining a Bodhisatta vow as it may affect your meditation.
- At night please don't turn off the lights in the Dhamma Hall while you are meditating. It will lead to sleepiness.
- Last person out at night can turn all the lights off. Thankyou!
Critters - Should I worry? Nope!
- If you go out of meditation hall please use Bug Repellant especially on your legs and feet. Best to stay on gravel roads for walking.
- There are almost no mosquitos so don't worry about that. There are some "noseeums" out of meditation hall and don't walk too much on the grass or you might find yourself a little itchy and not sure why. There are some ticks in the deeper woods. Please use your bug catcher to remove bugs from your room at all times. No killing.
Exiting your Retreat
At the end of your retreat, on the last day, please prepare your Room for the next person.
- Empty your trash bag and replace it with a new bag.
- Sweep your room and porch.
- Bring your sheets, pillowcases, and towels to the laundry room (leave the blankets and mattress covers) and place them into the hamper. Please do not use the washing machines without supervision.
- You have only paid your room and board. Bhante gives you these teachings for free. At the end of the retreat you may offer Dāna (Donations) for the teacher/center), in envelopes, to Bhante at either your last interview or following the last talk. When you offer Dāna to a monk, it is proper etiquette, to offer it with two hands and have a happy thought that you are offering to the whole sangha with the Buddha at its head. Bhante receives this Dāna as a representative of the Sangha. These are not personal gifts to one monk. Dāna supports the Center and monastics here. Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu! ( Well-done!)
Phew! Now that we have gone through all the Do's and don’ts we are glad you have come to visit the center, and we hope you have a life changing retreat experience! You'll have all this down by the 2nd day - not to worry. May you attain Nibbāna quickly and easily without delay!