Reflecting about monastic life, 5 year monastic program?
To explore your aspiration we encourage you to:
read the Five Year Program Description and read the recommended books
come to Deer Park Monastery for a retreat (see more about how to register below)
continue your practice and study, look for a local Sangha
reflect on your aspiration in life and with the practice
stay longer at Deer Park Monastery (see more about logistics below)
share and listen to monastics at Deer Park about monastic life
General retreat two weeks and beyond
At Deer Park we offer general retreat (Friday arrival day) and special retreats. A wonderful way to start to get to know the community is to register (www.dpweb.org/visiting-us) for a retreat. You can register for up to two weeks initially. During these two weeks we ask that you offer the full contribution toward food, housing and tuition. Staying and practicing with the Sangha you will be introduced to the practice of the Plum Village Tradition, including the practice of the Five Mindfulness Trainings. You will participate in the schedule of the Sangha, including 5am wake up, daily sitting and walking meditation, vegan mindful meals, and working meditation and so on. You will naturally start to develop relationships with the monastics during this time. Right now we are 16 monks and 24 nuns living at Deer Park Monastery. If you want to stay longer you can write a letter before the end of your two week stay. We ask you to share about your aspiration in wanting to stay longer, what benefits the practice and life in the Sangha is bringing and how much longer you would like to stay. Normally we accept friends to stay three months at a time, but also reserve the possibility to evaluate your capacity to live in harmony with the Sangha and following the scheduled activities on a monthly basis. You can ask for another three month stay at the end of the first period. If you are not able to offer the full contribution during your extended stay, please share with us about your financial situation and how much you are able to contribute. We can offer some reduction and will ask you to enter into a service exchange (Mindful Living Exchange Program), which involves around 10 hours additional service meditation per week.
Steps to apply for the Five Year Monastic Program (in addition to the outline of the program)
Once you have had an extended period of direct experience of life and practice at Deer Park and your aspiration to enter the Five Year Program is clear and strong, we invite you to write a letter to the Sangha. In this letter, asking to become an aspirant, we ask that you share about yourself, your experience in the practice and your aspiration to enter the program. The Sangha will meet to read you letter and look deeply into your request. If the Sangha feels that the conditions are sufficient you would be accepted to enter the aspirant program. If not maybe we would ask you to stay longer or even go back home to look into your situation again. If you are accepted into the aspirant program you would receive a monastic mentor and be asked to participate in aspirant classes. Housing for accepted aspirants would be separate from the lay retreatants. You would get more opportunities to interact with the monastics and at times be invited into the monastic residence for tea and sharing.
Once you have lived and practiced as an aspirant for up to a year the Sangha will ask you to write a letter sharing your aspiration and asking for novice ordination. The Sangha would then come together to read and look deeply into your life and practice in the Sangha and your aspiration. The Sangha will decide if your request to enter the monastic life as a novice is acceptable at that time.
During your stay at the Monastery you will learn many things
about yourself, life, a life of practice and service.