About

Buddhist Insights is a 501c-3 non-profit organization connecting people with monastics. We are the founders of Empty Cloud, a Buddhist monastery in northern New Jersey, right outside of New York City.

WHAT WE DO

Our mission is to make monastic teachings more accessible to the general public. Since its inception in 2016, Buddhist Insights has invited monks and nuns from various Buddhist traditions to offer the gift of the Dhamma in urban centers. In 2019 we started Empty Cloud to offer monastics and laypeople a gender inclusive monastery, where they can practice and study the Buddha’s traditional teachings.

HOW WE OPERATE

There are no fees to participate in our classes, retreats and residency programs at Empty Cloud Monastery. Complying with ancient Buddhist tradition, Buddhist Insights operates 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.

Bhikkhu Bodhi Bhante Suddhaso and Ayya Soma

Bhikkhu Bodhi with the founders of Buddhist Insights: Bhante Suddhaso and Ayya Soma

WHO WE ARE

Buddhist Insights is the brainchild of Bhante Suddhāso and Ayyā Somā.

Bhante Suddhāso is a Buddhist monk living in New Jersey, USA. He is a practitioner of both Theravāda and Mahāyāna Buddhism, with a particular emphasis on the teachings found in the Pāli Suttas and the methods of practice used in Chan/Zen. His teachings focus on incorporating multiple step-by-step meditation techniques, as well as on detailed explanations of the Buddhist scriptures that provide the underlying theoretical framework for Buddhist meditation. Bhante Suddhāso has studied under the direct guidance of some of the most well-respected monastics in Western Buddhism, including Ajahn Pasanno, Ajahn Amaro, Ajahn Vīradhammo, and Bhante Gunaratana. His monastic life began at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, where he was trained in Soto Zen Buddhism; during that time, he discovered a deep affinity for the Theravāda Forest Tradition, which led him to receive ordination at Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery in California. Since then he has lived at several different monasteries of various Buddhist traditions. In 2019, together with Ayyā Somā, he co-founded Empty Cloud Monastery in New Jersey, where he currently resides as co-abbot. www.bhantesuddhaso.com

The founders at the inception of Buddhist Insights

The founders at the inception of Buddhist Insights

Ayyā Somā is an Italian Buddhist monk and co-abbot of Empty Cloud Monastery in New Jersey. As the co-founder of Buddhist Insights, a non-profit organization connecting people with monastics, she has learned the Dharma through the perspective of monks of all different traditions, and incorporates aspects from all of them in her own practice. Her first encounter with Buddhist monasticism was at Santacittārāma Buddhist Monastery in Italy, in the Ajahn Chah Thai Forest tradition, where she became intrigued by the profound teachings of the Buddha; however, she did not begin to practice seriously until years later, when she attended a weeklong retreat at Bhāvanā Society in West Virginia. The experience was deeply transformative, and inspired her to commit fully to Buddhist practice, planting the seeds in her mind that ripened a few months later  in the establishment of Buddhist Insights. She received monastic ordination in 2018 and full bhikkhuni ordination in 2020. Her spiritual path is inspired by the social engagement of Venerable Paññāvati Bhikkhuni; by the knowledge and wisdom of Ven. Robina Courtin; and by the compassion of Khenmo Drolma.