Amaravati is a Theravada Buddhist monastery situated at the eastern end of the Chiltern Hills in south-east England. Amaravati Retreat Centre has been holding retreats since the monastery was first established in 1984. The retreats are led by monks and nuns trained in the Ajahn Chah tradition originating from the north-east of Thailand, which is part of the Theravada tradition of South Asia.
Although each retreat that is offered, at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, is slightly different, broadly they focus on the Buddha’s teachings in the Theravada tradition. They include periods of guided and silent meditation, walking meditation, reflections on aspects of the Buddha’s teachings, and an opportunity for questions and answers with the teacher. They do not charge for attendance at the monastic-led retreats. The teachings are given freely in keeping with the Thai Forest Monastic tradition, but donations are always welcome.
Established in the early 1980s, the Amaravati Buddhist monastery is inspired by the Thai Forest Tradition and the teachings of the late Ajahn Chah, a Thai monk and renowned Dhamma teacher. He encouraged Ajahn Sumedho to settle in England and found monasteries in this country. In Autumn 2010 Ajahn Sumedho handed over the position of abbot to the English monk Ajahn Amaro. The purpose of the monestary is to provide a place of practice for monastics in the Forest Tradition, whose shared intention is the realization of Nibbana, freedom from all mental suffering. It is also open to guests and visitors who wish to come and stay in a place where there is the opportunity to develop mindfulness, to explore spiritual teachings, and to contribute to the life of the community.The monastery also includes a retreat centre, where residential retreats are conducted for the public during most months of the year.
The Thai Forest tradition is one branch of the Theravada Buddhist tradition and it is the most strict one that holds the original monastic rules of discipline laid down by the Buddha. The First sangha includes two groups of monasteries:
Branch Monasteries - monastic residences fully affiliated with Wat Nong Pah Pong, Ajahn Chah's mother monastery in NE Thailand. In most cases they offer training to those wishing to 'go forth'.
Associated Monastaries - may be newly established and in the process of becoming fully affiliated with Wat Nong Pah Pong. Alternatively they may be more loosely linked to the family of monasteries. In some cases they are hermitages functioning as retreat facilities for the main 'Branch Monasteries'.
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