All posts by Buddhist Insights

Viaggio in Italia

Questa primavera Ayya Soma e Bhante Suddhaso torneranno in Italia in compagnia di Bhante Sumitta (un monaco dello Sri Lanka ordinato da 40 anni), Tan Sutham and Tan Mon (monaci della foresta Thailandesi). Siete tutti benvenuti a raggiungerli durante nei luoghi seguenti dove offriranno incontri di Dhamma (scrivete pure a info @ emptycloud.org per ulteriori informazioni):

 Maggio 23-31: Costiera Amalfitana

Il Sangha è stato invitato all’Hotel Panorama di Maiori. Durante questa settimana ci sarà la possibilità di trascorrere qualche giorno, o l’intero periodo, con i monaci in Costiera Amalfitana. Puoi partecipare ai seguenti incontri pubblici, oppure dal 23 al 26 incontrare il Sangha durante le attività quotidiane fuori programma (meditazione sulla spiaggia, escursioni con meditazione camminata, incontro con altri buddisti italiani del luogo, etc.):

  1. Venerdì, 27 Maggio, 9:00-17:00 Escursione con Meditazione Camminata e Seduta da Maiori al Santuario dell’Avvocata. Incontro alle 9:00 di fronte all’Hotel Panorama
  2. Venerdì, 27 Maggio, 19:00 Meditazione della Sera in Spiaggia dell’Hotel Panorama
  3. Sabato & Domenica, 28 & 29 Maggio14:00-17:00 Pomeriggio di Mindfulness sulla Terrazza dell’Hotel Panorama 
 

Giugno 1-6: Cisternino, Puglia

Il Sangha sarà ospite dell’Ashram Bhole Baba a Cisternino. Ci saranno i seguenti incontri offerti al pubblico:

  1. Giovedi 2 & Venerdi 3 Giugno: 15:00-17:00 Incontri di Dhamma all’Ashram
  2. Venerdi 3 Giugno: Questua alle 10:00 a Cisternino citta’. Se vuoi offrire il pranzo al Sangha, porta le tue offerte di cibo in centro citta’ e offrile nella ciotola dei monaci.
  3. Sabato 4 & Domenica 5 Giugno: 9:00-20:00
    Weekend di Meditazione e Dhamma Buddhista, con offerta di Riti Hinduisti dell’Ashram


    PROGRAMMA WEEKEND:
    ore 9.00: (offerta Buddhista): 3 Rifugi e 5 precetti, seguiti da discorso di Dhamma e meditazione guidata
    ore 11:00: KARMA YOGA / preparazione pranzo e pulizia tempio
    ore 12.00: (offerta Buddhista) Offerta del Pranzo e Anumodana dal Sangha dei Monaci Buddhisti
    ore 13:00: KARMA YOGA, pulizia cucina / tempio
    ore 14.00: (offerta Buddhista): Discorso di Dhamma
    ore 15.00: (offerta Buddhista): Guida meditazione seduta e camminata
    ore 16:00: (offerta Buddhista): Domande / Risposte
    ore 16:30: (offerta Buddhista): Ultima Sessione di Meditazione e Condivisione dei Meriti alla Fine.
    ore 17: KARMA YOGA
    ore 18.00: (offerta dall’Ashram)OFFERTA E ARATI AL DHUNI
    ore 19.00: (offerta dall’Ashram) ARATI AL TEMPIO


Giugno 6-16:  Lazio

Il Sangha inizierà il Thudong per 10 giorni in giro per il Lazio. Puoi vedere gli spostamenti del gruppo su questo gruppo Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/966063977410991/

Giugno 16: Roma

Incontra i Monaci al Giardino degli Aranci, a Roma, alle 18:00. Ci sarà l’opportunità di ascoltare discorsi di Dhamma, fare domande al Sangha, e meditare un po’ insieme.

 Giugno 18-19: Milano

Il Sangha condurrà un ritiro nel fine settimana al Tempio Dharma Nikethanaya in Via Padova 318, Milano.

  • Sabato & Domenica, Giugno 18-199:00-16:00 Ritiro di Meditazione al tempio. Presentati direttamente al tempio o, se hai domande, invia un’e-mail a annamaria.disieno@libero.it o chiama +39 3338289236

Giugno 21: Verona

I monaci di Empty Cloud saranno ospiti del centro Samma Sathi, in Via Ventotto Gennaio 27, 37136 – Verona. Durante questo incontro mediteremo insieme e discuteremo di Dhamma dalle 19:00 alle 21:00

 

 

DONAZIONI Se desideri sostenere il Sangha durante questo viaggio, puoi farlo nel modo seguente. Il Sangha viaggerà con un’assistente laica che potrà acquistare i biglietti del treno per loro, se ci sono donazioni monetarie per farlo.
  • Trenitalia Gift Card www.trenitalia.com
  • Donazioni monetarie per il i biglietti del bus e del treno (a Roma, Milano, Costiera Amalfitana), per i test Covid-19
  • Donazioni monetarie per la Visa per Bhante Sumitta
  • Gift Cards Internazionali in Euro 

Journey to Italy

This Spring Ayya Soma and Bhante Suddhaso will be heading to Italy in the company of Bhante Sumitta, Tan Sutham and Tan Mon. You are welcome to join them for part of the trip, offer them food, invite them over to your place, and ask them Dhamma questions. Below are the dates:

 May 23rd-31st: Amalfi Coast

Spend a few days or a week with us in the Amalfi Coast. The Sangha has been invited to Hotel Panorama in Maiori in Santa Tecla 8, 84010 Maiori (SA). You can either join us for the entire time, or join in for the following public meetings:

  1. Friday, May 27th, 9am-5pm: Day-Long Field Trip with sitting & walking meditation from Maiori to il Santuario dell’Avvocata, with scenic views over the coast. Meet at 9am in front of Hotel Panorama
  2. Friday May 27th, 7pm: Evening Meditation on the Beach at Hotel Panorama
  3. Saturday & Sunday May 28th & 29th2pm-5pm: Afternoon of Mindfulness on the Terrazza of Hotel Panorama 

 

June 1st-6th: Cisternino. Puglia

The Sangha will be the guest of Ashram Bhole Baba in Cisternino, in Puglia. Please send an email to info @ emptycloud.org if you would like to attend.

June 6th-16th: Thudong in Lazio

At this time the Thudong part of the trip will start and the Sangha will head to Santacittarama Monastery, a Thai Forest Monastery in the tradition of Ajahn Chah. You can periodically see the group’s movements on this Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/966063977410991/

June 16th: Rome

Meet the monks at il Giardino degli Aranci, in Rome, at 6pm. Meditate and ask Dhamma questions.

 June 18th-19th: Milano

The Sangha will be leading a weekend retreat at Dharma Nikethanaya Temple in Via Padova 318, Milano.

  • Saturday & Sunday June 18th -19th9am-4pm: Meditation Retreat at the temple. Simply show up, or if you have questions please email: annamaria.disieno@libero.it or call +39 3338289236

June 21st: Verona

The Sangha will be hosting an evening of Meditation, Dhamma, and discussion at Samma Sathi, in Via Ventotto Gennaio 27, 37136 – Verona. Meeting will go from 7pm to 9pm.

 

 

HOW TO SUPPORT If you would like to support the Sangha during this trip, you can do so in the way below. The Sangha will be traveling with a lay-steward who will be able to purchase train tickets for them, provided there are enough donations to do so.
  • Trenitalia Gift Cards www.trenitalia.com
  • Monetary donations for transportation, Covid-19 Tests
  • Monetary donations for Visa Applications for Bhante Sumitta
  • International Gift Cards in Euros 

Monastery Stewardship

Are you interested in spending time volunteering as a resident steward? In many monasteries like Empty Cloud, the community generally depends on the help of a long-term lay person. This person volunteers their time to take care of several necessary tasks. In turn, the monastic community can have more time to focus on practice and teaching.

It’s an excellent opportunity for someone looking to study the Buddha’s teachings, meditate more frequently, and offer meritorious acts of service to the Sangha—all while dwelling in a serene community of like-minded individuals.

A steward observes the Eight Precepts and follows the daily schedule of meditation and pūjas. There are also lots of opportunities for individual meditation practice.

Duties of a resident steward include:

  • preparing and offering meals
  • caring for and managing the kitchen
  • indoor and outdoor work including cleaning, gardening and property maintenance
  • assisting with office and administrative tasks

A suitable candidate:

  • Has a regular Dhamma practice
  • Wishes to deepen their practice of generosity by serving in a monastic setting
  • Is able to make a firm commitment to live at the monastery as a resident for a definite period of at least three months
  • Willingness to learn and adapt; to live and cooperate harmoniously in community
  • Very helpful to have a driver’s license (Canadian or American)
  • Good physical and mental health
  • Commitment to abide by the Eight Precepts while at the monastery

Benefits of serving as a steward include:

  • Lots of free time for meditation or study
  • Opportunity to learn from senior monastics and dedicated practitioners
  • Access to library of Dhamma books
  • The chance to make heaps of merit!

How to Apply:

If you are interested in serving as a steward at Empty Cloud Monastery, please read the general steward guidelines and descriptions shown above. To apply, please click the “Apply Now” button below to submit a letter of interest.

Many people’s perceptions of life at a monastery rarely match the realities of living in community. For all new stewards, even those people who have visited us as guests in the past, the first two weeks of your service period will be treated as a trial period to assess our mutual suitability.

Also, all prospective stewards are expected to have monastery retreat experience of at least seven days, preferably longer as a resident. Getting a sense of our way of being in advance of any long-term commitment may help you, and us, should you decide to join us at some point as a steward. Please see our Residency Guidelines page for more information on staying as a lay resident.

Before applying we also ask that all steward candidates read through our Residency Guidelines to get a sense of daily community life here at the monastery. Long-term stays are subject to the two-week probationary period mentioned above, as well as periodic approvals by the abbots and the monastic community.

Please don’t hesitate to email us at info [at] emptycloud.org if you have any questions.

APPLY NOW

Local Alms Round

What is alms round (pindapāta)?

Buddhist monastics rely on the generosity of others. The alms round or pindapāta is a tradition where lay people offer food to monastics to sustain their spiritual practice for the day. Monastics walk silently with their alms bowls through the town or village, and if people feel inspired, they may offer food as a gesture of generosity and kindness.

Going for alms is not begging. The monastics simply walk or stand silently and receive what is offered. It helps to develop contentedness and humility in the monastics, and generosity and service for the people offering.

When and where is Empty Cloud’s alms round?

Almsround is currently on hold but will resume at the end of June 2022
Currently, the monastics walk for alms on Saturdays through West Orange, NJ. The route begins around at Empty Cloud Monastery at around 9 a.m. and ends at the West Orange Farmers’ Market. They remain at the Farmers’ Market until around 10:30 a.m.

Can the monastics walk by my place?

Potentially! If you live in West Orange and would like the monastics to pass by so you can make an offering, contact our dāna coordinator here. If you have other questions feel free to ask the monastics in person, or contact us.

What can I offer?

Sādhu, anumodanā! The monastics are happy to receive whatever food you may like to give. Please note that our monastics are vegetarian, and that one of the monks is allergic to food from the USA made with non-organic pesticides and herbicides. Your kindness and generosity is very much appreciated!

Fun fact: The word pindapāta is a combination of two words, pinda and pāta in the Pāli language. Pinda means “a lump of food” and pāta means “bowl”. So pindapāta means literally “placing of food in a bowl.”

Residency Guidelines

The Experience of Residency at Empty Cloud Monastery

Please note, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have modified our residency guidelines as follows:

  • Short-term residents must commit to staying at the monastery for at least two weeks.
  • All residents are required to be fully vaccinated, with two weeks having passed since receiving the final dose of an approved vaccine.
  • If you are traveling from out-of-state, please review the CDC’s guidance on traveling to minimize risks.
  • If you are interested in a longer-term stay, please read about our stewardship opportunities here.

A monastery is not just a place where monks live—it’s a haven of peace and wisdom for the world. Accordingly, it is common for lay people to come and stay at the monastery for periods of time, experiencing the serenity of the monastery and learning how to integrate Buddhist wisdom into daily life. Here at Empty Cloud Monastery, we invite you to come experience residency at the monastery, immersing yourself in the Dhamma for a period of time.

The resident community is made up of monks of various gender identities, who follow hundreds of monastic precepts, as well as lay people who follow a basic set of training rules (see the “Residency Guidelines” and the “Eight Precepts,” listed below). Perhaps you are a layperson who would like to experience the benefits of monastic life for a period of time. Or you may be exploring the possibility of becoming a monk. Living and practicing with the monastic community could be an excellent opportunity to develop your spiritual practice.

First-time guests may stay for two weeks. If your first stay goes well, you may request to stay for a longer period of time. Returning guests may stay for up to one month.

Please read through all the information below, and feel free to ask any questions by email to the Guest Monk through the form on this page. Once you’ve read through all the information, please submit a residency application by clicking here.

Staying at the Monastery

The monastery is located on about three acres of property in West Orange, NJ. We are dedicated to studying, practicing, and sharing the teachings of the Buddha, and we invite interested laypeople to join us for a time, following the same routines and experiencing the blessings of monastery life.

How Much Does It Cost?

In keeping with the ancient Buddhist practice of generosity, there is no charge for anything at Empty Cloud, which is supported entirely by voluntary donations in the form of food and other material requisites, donations, and work tasks. While there is no obligatory charge to stay, guests are encouraged to consider how they might contribute to the needs of maintaining the monastery, developing the virtues of generosity, gratitude and kindness which are important qualities supporting the practice of mental cultivation.

Meditative Frame of Mind

A monastery is a sanctuary from the usual business of the world, which gives us the opportunity to commit fully to spiritual practice. In order to minimize distraction, maximize the benefits of your time here, and help you blend harmoniously with the resident community, it is advisable to set aside all external engagements for the entire time you plan to be at the monastery. Therefore, please take care of all relevant business before your arrival so that you can dedicate yourself wholeheartedly to the monastic practice during your stay.

Residency Guidelines

Conduct

  • Be thoughtful and considerate of all living beings, at all times.
  • When speaking, use gentle and loving speech, with a mind of kindness and compassion.
  • Follow the Eight Precepts at all times, whether in the monastery or outside of it.
  • Clean up after yourself, and help with kitchen cleanup after each meal.
  • Maintain an attitude of courtesy and respect towards the monastics.
  • Do not enter any area marked “Monks Only.” If you need to enter such an area, you must ask for permission from a resident monastic on each occasion.
  • Do not speak in or near the meditation hall at any time, even if there is no formal meditation session in progress.
  • To help keep the monastery a haven of quiet and simplicity, Internet and phone use is limited.
  • Personal correspondence is permissible in the basement on Rest Days from 8am to 2pm.
  • This is not an appropriate place to engage in flirtation or to seek a sexual relationship.
  • During your stay here, please refrain from any spiritual practices other than Buddhist training as taught by the monastics here.

Schedule

  • Follow the daily schedule and attend all scheduled activities.
  • Do not leave the monastery grounds. If you need permission to leave the grounds, ask for permission during the work meeting, as far in advance as possible.
  • When there are no scheduled activities, you are expected to engage in personal practice and study.
  • On Rest Days, although there is no formal work period, you may still be asked to help with meal preparation and cleanup.
  • If you are staying longer than one week, you may do personal laundry during your free time. Please do full loads; you may combine your laundry with other guests or with monastery laundry.
  • There are no permanently assigned rooms or beds. All residents should be prepared to move to a different room or different bed whenever necessary (such as during retreats).
  • If you wish to have people visit you at the monastery, discuss it with the monastic residents first.

Food

  • Only eat the food served at the monastery at scheduled mealtimes. Do not eat at other times or places. If there are exceptional circumstances, first ask permission from the monastic community.
  • Out of compassion, we follow the practice of only serving food that is vegetarian, cruelty-free, and free of harmful chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, hormones, etc.).
  • If you wish to offer food to the monastery or to invite the monastics to a meal outside the monastery, please discuss it with the Meal Coordinator first.
  • Do not store food or beverages anywhere in the monastery. Any personal food items found may be discarded or used in preparing the community meals.
  • The only edible items available in the evening are standard Theravāda “allowables” (juice, cheese, dark chocolate, honey, molasses, maple syrup, etc. – for more details about what is allowable, ask one of the monastics). Do not eat anything else in the evening, and do not eat allowables at times other than the scheduled time.
  • Do not enter the kitchen except during the work period on a day you are assigned to kitchen work.

Sample Daily Schedule

  • 5:30 AM Chanting & Meditation
  • 7:00 AM Breakfast
  • 8:00 AM Sutta Study 
  • 9:00 AM Work Period
  • 11:00 AM Lunch
  • 2:00 PM Personal Practice
  • 5:00 PM Tea Break
  • 6:00 PM Chanting & Meditation
  • 7:30 PM Dhamma Talk

The Eight Precepts

All guests at Empty Cloud Monastery follow the Eight Precepts. The Eight Precepts are:

  1. To refrain from taking the life of any living creature (including insects)
  2. To refrain from taking that which is not given
  3. To refrain from all kinds of sexual activity
  4. To refrain from false and harmful speech 
  5. To refrain from consuming intoxicating drinks or drugs
  6. To refrain from eating at inappropriate times (after midday)
  7. To refrain from dancing, singing, listening to music, watching entertainment, wearing jewelry or makeup or otherwise beautifying the body
  8. To refrain from sleeping on luxurious bedding

Items to Bring With You when Staying

Please bring your own:

  • twin-sized bedsheets or sleeping bag
  • pillow case
  • towel
  • toiletries
  • outdoor work boots/shoes
  • simple work clothes
  • sun hat
  • weather appropriate-clothing

Statues for The Monastery

Even the sight of a Buddha statue can plant the seed of Dharma in a person’s mind – or strengthen the faith of those who are already faithful. Placing statues at a monastery is therefore a way to help countless beings establish the conditions for awakening.

Here at Empty Cloud Monastery, we have many plans to continue “Buddhifying” the monastery inside and out. If you would like to contribute, either by making a donation to the general statue fund, donating to support a specific statue project, or even donating an entire statue yourself, you can send us an email or make a donation to the Statue Fund here:

Donate

UPCOMING PROJECTS

20 Row of Bhikkhunis, Wat Thepthidaram, Bangkok

Female Forms of Awakening

In the Buddhist scriptures we read of countless female disciples of the Buddha attaining full enlightenment. At Empty Cloud we wish to homage this legacy by putting in sixteen statues of female Arahants (enlightened beings), representing the Bhikkhunis (female monks) who attained enlighenment in the time of the Buddha. This will be in the form of two rows of eight, leading to a meditation platform housing a statue of Tara, a female Buddha.

If you would like to help us honor the female capacity for awakening, thus inspiring future generations of women to pursue enlightenment, please contribute to this worthy and meritorious project. Send us an email now for more info, or make a donation to the Statue Fund here:

Donate

 

Food Dāna

Thank you for your wish to offer food to Empty Cloud. We rely on your generosity to feed the Sangha!

Please make your food offering by emailing our food coordinator at food [at] emptycloud.org (check our calendar below for available dates)

If you would rather send a gift card, you can send an electronic gift card for Doordash or Mama Dag’s Pizza House to info [at] emptycloud.org

DANA LIST – Items that are currently useful/needed (updated on 5/05/2022):

FOOD

  • Vegetable Green Pressed Juice
  • Organic Vegetables
  • Vegan Coconut Yogurt
  • Gift Cards for Doordash (send to info@emptycloud.org)

OTHER ITEMS

Please make sure that all organic food items are labeled as such, as one of our resident monks is allergic to most pesticides and herbicides present in food made in the USA, so the residents will know it is safe for him to eat.

Dāna CALENDAR

Winter Retreat at Empty Cloud

The silence and stillness of wintertime provides ideal conditions for deep meditation practice. 

Accordingly, many Buddhist monasteries hold an in-house retreat for a period of 2-3 months during the winter months. This is a time for the resident monastics to put down all activities and engagements and focus entirely on the intensive development of concentration and insight. 

Here at Empty Cloud Monastery, our winter retreat will take place during January and February 2021. Joining the monastery as a lay resident during this time means supporting the monastics in their retreat time, by helping with the daily duties of cleaning, cooking, and maintenance, so that the monastics have more time to practice. Lay residents are also able to join in the majority of the retreat activities. 

Applicants must be willing to stay for at least one month, and must already have experience living at monasteries and provide references who can speak to your Buddhist practice. Ideally, applicants will be able to stay for the full two months (or at minimum for one month). 

They would join in most of the group practice periods and there will likely be much unstructured solitary time to use to further one’s practice. Therefore they should be experienced in staying in a silent retreat atmosphere, and comfortable with solitude. 

Update December 2020: We are no longer accepting applications for the 2021 winter retreat. Thank you to all who applied. If you would like to visit the monastery after the retreat, we will resume accepting regular residency applications in spring 2021 here.

 

 

Feed The Hungry during Covid-19

As the pandemic began, countless people lost their jobs, their income, their relatives, their friends. And as the pandemic grinds on, the problem is not going away – it’s only getting worse.

Every week since April 2020, Empty Cloud Monastery has been providing fresh organic food to families in need. As time has gone by, we’ve narrowed down our focus to serving local Latina women and their families. This community, comprising mainly essential workers, has experienced a huge number of sickness and death due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and their plight has been exacerbated by a lack of governmental support, job losses, and even deportation of family members by I.C.E.

Thanks to kind donations we have been able to feed more than forty families each week, giving food to about 150 people in need. We have seen that the program helps to not only address the emergency food shortage these families are facing, but that it’s also provided a source of nutritional, fresh food to families that don’t always have access to high-quality produce.

As we get more and more connected with the community, we would like to keep our program going! If you would like to nurture the Buddhist qualities of compassion and generosity, you can support our efforts by contributing to our project. All donations go directly to purchasing fresh organic produce, which is delivered to the doorstep of dozens of struggling families throughout the Newark area.

Donate

Donation Options:

$30 – Support one family for one week
$120 – Support one family for an entire month
$1200 – Support all the families for one week