Who We Are

A Buddhist monastery & a non-profit organization connecting people with monastics.

Ayyā Somā

Co-Founder / Bhikkhunī

Ayya Suddhāso

Co-Founder / Bhikkhu

Ayya Mettiko

Bhikkhu in Training

Ayya Vaddha

Novice in Training

Ayya Sumitta

Cloud & Water Bhikkhu

Ayyā Brahmavarā

Cloud & Water Bhikkhunī

Wanida Kim



The Monasticat

What We Do

Our mission is to make monastic teachings more accessible to the general public. Since our inception in 2016, we have invited Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis from various Buddhist traditions to offer the gift of the Dhamma in urban centers. In 2019 we started Empty Cloud Monastery, a gender inclusive monastery, where everyone can practice and study the Buddha’s traditional teachings.


The Dhamma is priceless, so there are no fees to participate in any of our classes, retreats and residency programs at Empty Cloud Monastery. Complying with ancient Buddhist tradition, we operate entirely through the principle of generosity (dāna). This allows the teachings to be accessible to everyone, and gives participants the opportunity to practice generosity by giving out of a sense of gratitude and compassion.

What We Do
Who We Are
Empty Cloud

How it Started

Buddhist Insights (BI) was founded in early 2016 as a collaboration between Ayyā Somā and Bhante Suddhāso, who both held the deep aspiration to connect laypeople with Buddhist monastics. Based initially in New York City, BI embraced the diverse, eclectic, and vibrant atmosphere of the city, and offered free pop-up classes, talks, and meditation events throughout the five boroughs – in art galleries under stunning installations, on bustling subway platforms, and on the sandy shores of Rockaway Beach. BI also partnered with large organizations such as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Google, and the New York Botanical Garden, as well as several other art galleries, businesses, and communal spaces, to offer the gift of Dhamma to as many people as possible.

Over the years, BI has invited experienced and senior monastics from a variety of Buddhist traditions and lineages, including Bhikkhu Bodhi, Khenmo Drolma, Ajahn Brahm, and Venerable Chang-Zhai, to share how the timeless teachings of the Buddha have shaped their deep and dedicated practice.

Since its inception, BI has operated strictly on free-will donations, holding dear the Buddha’s teachings on generosity and giving. In fact, it was through the generosity of others that BI was able to put down roots at the Rockaway Summer House in Far Rockaway, Queens. There, BI offered hundreds of daylong, weekend and week-long retreats free-of-charge to both beginner and experienced meditators from around the world.

Then, in 2019, Buddhist Insights found a new home at Empty Cloud Monastery in the suburbs of West Orange, NJ, just outside New York City. The two-and-a-half acre property was the result of the boundless generosity of countless supporters who wished to see BI grow as a monastery and Dhamma practice center, for the benefit of all. Now, with all the challenges and opportunities 2020 has brought, Buddhist Insights and Empty Cloud Monastery continues to be a refuge for all who wish to wholeheartedly learn about and practice the Buddha’s teachings, so that they may transform their hearts and minds and become beacons of personal and societal change.

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A Gender Inclusive Monastery

Empty Cloud is an international Buddhist Monastery based in West Orange, NJ.

We are a gender inclusive community of Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis following the early teachings of the Buddha. While our practice is rooted in the Theravada tradition following the Pāli Vinaya, we welcome ordained monastics of all lineages and sects of Buddhism.

Everyone is welcome at Empty Cloud. The monastic community is supported entirely on free-will donations and there are no fees to participate in anything offered by the monastery.