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I am looking for a monastic community that fits these criteria;

  1. Abhidhamma compliant

  2. Vinaya compliant; one meal a day, no afternoon snacks, not using money etc

  3. Analytical attitude towards the commentaries;

  4. Westerners can receive ordination and stay for the nissaya

No geographic preference.

If you know of a suitable community please do let me know.

Thanks

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2 Answers 2

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This institute fits the criteria you have listed. (one-meal is optional)

Most of the teacher monks at IIT are top scholars in different subjects. They are of Forest-Vinaya sect in Sri Lanka.

International Institute of Theravada (IIT)

Vision

To groom and capacitate the Buddhist monk who is capable in: • Attaining the ultimate liberation, the Nirvāṇa • Guiding others (both clergy and laity) in attaining the ultimate liberation, the Nirvāṇa • prolongating the sāsana by performing formal acts in the code of discipline (Vinaya Kammas) according to the exact teaching of The Buddha

Mission

The International Institute of Theravada (IIT), a fully-fledged training institute based on Theravada teachings is dedicated to the spiritual and academic development of Buddhist monks irrespective of sects (Nikaya) and other differences. A group of competent monk-disciples (who have completed Theravada Buddhist education in Myanmar and exposed different traditions in Thailand and elsewhere) of the Late Most Venerable Nā-Uyane Ariyadhamma Mahāthera, the vice president of the Śrī Rāmañña Mahānikāya and the Supreme Head of the Śrī Kaḷyāṇī Yogāśrama Saṃsthā, and also affiliated to the well-known Nā-Uyana Forest Monastery, Malsiripura, has already commenced initial work in establishing IIT at Karuwalagaswewa, Sri Lanka with the blessings and guidance of senior Mahātheras of both Rāmañña Mahānikāya and Amarapura Mahānikāya.

There is another Vinaya Monastery which is famous for its Classical Vinaya studies (No website yet).

And currently the biggest forest monastery in Sri Lanka (affiliated to Burmese Pa-auk) is Na Uyana where there are more than 150 monks.

All the 3 monasteries follow Vinaya, train monks, give Nissaya and have learned teachers speaking good English.

  1. IIT is more open-minded and analytical
  2. Diddeniya is more strict-vinaya and Classical
  3. Na uyana is more meditative but Pa-auk follower.
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While it's hard to find such a monastery that meets all the requirements that you have laid out, it's likely that the Thai Forest Tradition monasteries founded by Ven. Ajahn Chah and his students (see Forest Sangha for worldwide monasteries) could be credible. The main monastery for this lineage is Wat Pah Nanachat in Thailand. Ven. Ajahn Sujato and Ven. Ajahn Brahmali who are scholars of the Pali Canon and located in Australia, are affiliated to this tradition. The famous Youtube speaker Ven. Ajahn Brahm, who studied under Ven. Ajahn Chah, is the abbot of the Bodhinyana Monastery in Perth, Australia.

In California, you can consider the Metta Forest Monastery. The abbot of this monastery was or is Ven. Ajaan Thanissaro, another well-known translator and scholar of the Pali Canon. Ven. Ajaan Thanissaro is also of the Thai Forest Tradition. The main monastery for this lineage, founded by Ven. Ajaan Thanissaro's teacher Ven. Ajaan Fuang Jotiko, is Wat Dhammasathit in Thailand.

According to the Wikipedia page on Metta Forest Monastery (which quotes a book):

Ajaan Ṭhānissaro stresses the importance of strict adherence to the Vinaya or Buddhist monastic code which teaches relying only on donations from the lay community as well as living in the wilderness, a key feature of the Thai Forest Tradition of which he is a part.

It is also likely that some monasteries and some teachers lean towards Vipassana more than Samatha (jhana) or vice versa. For example, Ven. Ajaan Tong Sirimangalo and his student Ven. Ajaan Yuttadhammo may lean more towards vipassana, while Ven. Ajahn Chah and his student Ven. Ajahn Brahm may lean more towards samatha.

If you haven't read it already, the book "Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika would help you to avoid romanticizing life in Theravada monasteries, especially in Asia. However, at the same time, you should not let it discourage you, as there are bound to be a mix of good and bad experiences when it comes to monasteries and life in monasteries.

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  • I hope there are some Burmese communities but i don't know of any. Burmese tend to accept the abhidhamma so maybe some of them also eat once a day and will tolerate disagreement on commentaries. I've read the book and i want to see if i can find a suitable community to get well along with people if i was to live with them:)
    – user8527
    Commented Mar 3, 2019 at 20:13
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    Yes. According to this blog post, Burma or Myanmar studies Abhidhamma more than others. However, most traditional Theravadins accept the Abhidhamma, but not all give it higher importance compared to the Sutta and Vinaya.
    – ruben2020
    Commented Mar 4, 2019 at 1:42
  • Non of these places supports Abhidhamma. They are openly unorthodox. And everyone knows that as well.
    – Blake
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 1:24

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