Our Story

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.