The community at Empty Cloud Monastery is in constant growth.
Bhante Suddhāso is a Buddhist monk living in New Jersey, USA. He is one of the co-founders of Buddhist Insights, a non-profit organization created to help connect laypeople with Buddhist monastics. Bhante Suddhāso 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.
Ayya Soma 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 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.
Bhante Sumano is a Jamaican Buddhist monk. Rather than adhering to one tradition of Buddhism, Bhante Sumano prefers to seek the essence of the Buddhadhamma present in all traditions. He practices in accordance with the teachings of the Buddha as described in the Pāli Canon and the Chinese Āgamas, and values the contemporary wisdom of past and present meditation masters. Seeing that the Dhamma is ultimately a practice of the heart, Bhante Sumano is most interested in the teachings that lead to final liberation.
Bhante Pamutto was born in New Jersey, USA. After school and four years in the army, he aroused a strong desire to do something wholesome with his life and travelled abroad seeking a spiritual calling. He discovered Theravada Buddhism in Thailand and moved back to the U.S. to take up residence as an aspirant at Abhayagiri Monastery in California. He was ordained there in 2010 (joined by Bhante Suddhāso the next year) and spent the next seven years in the Ajahn Chah tradition studying under many well-respected monastic teachers. Ever wishing to get to the roots of the holy life, he began a period of solo dhutanga wandering in the forests and villages of Western Massachusetts, living on almsfood and spending much of his time in the forest. Occasionally, he would visit Buddhist Insights at its Rockaway Beach location to offer or receive teachings and delight in sangha. After three years, despite finding the lifestyle of a wandering monk incredibly rich, he became very ill from a tick-born illness and with a heavy heart decided to disrobe to attend to his health. The process of recovery was long, but in 2020 he returned to monasticism and ordained again as a Theravada bhikkhu. Through his illness and after, he has remained committed to Buddhist practice and monastic training in the United States. He currently resides at Empty Cloud Monastery.
Antoinette is a long-term resident at Empty Cloud. She was born in Jamaica and raised in New York (Harlem and the Bronx). As a poet, she was drawn to Buddhist Insights by the silence, attending numerous retreats in Rockaway to study with visiting monastics and Ajahn Stan below. As a Black woman, she was drawn to Empty Cloud by the presence of wisdom and compassion through the Dhamma. As a resident, she is here to serve and to also learn how Buddhist teachings can support an enlightened world free of misogyny and racism.
Stan is the resident cat at Empty Cloud. Also known as Ajahn Metta, he adores meeting new humans and teaching them loving-kindness by purring and sitting on their lap while they are doing sitting meditation. Stan appreciates all the donations his human friends send him to help with his skin allergies.