Visiting for the Day

People are welcome to visit Cittaviveka. Come for an hour, an afternoon, an evening, a day….The Dhamma Hall is always open, and apart from the daily meal time period (10.30 – 11.30 a.m., Winter Time, and 11.30 a.m. – 12.30 p.m., Summer Time ) people are welcome to use it for silent meditation. There are mats and cushions in the vestibule at the back of the building, and chairs inside the Hall if you prefer to use those. There are group meditations most mornings and evenings (see The Daily Routine) which members of the public are very welcome to participate in. These group meditations generally begin with chanting and bowing to the shrine – join in if you feel comfortable, but don’t feel obliged to do so. We would only ask that you use the hall with respect, in silence and for sitting in meditation.

The main house, Chithurst House, has the ground floor as a public area. The upstairs area is reserved for male residents. You can enter the House during the day, and use the Shrine Room, or read in the Reception Room. If you are bringing uncooked food or other such offerings to the monastery, the best time to come is around 10.00 a.m. (or 11.00 a.m. during Summer Time), when you can take them to the Dhamma Hall to be formally received and blessed by the Sangha. At other times you can take food or domestic supplies to the Kitchen in the House. If you are bringing cooked food to offer for the meal, it’s best to arrive a bit earlier and take your cooked food to the kitchen where it can be integrated into the meal-time offerings.

We use Mondays as a day of silence and solitude. Also on most afternoons, the monastery may be quiet, but you are welcome to stroll or sit in the grounds. If on the other hand, you wish to talk with a monk or nun, the best time to come is around midday on Saturday or Sunday, or between 5.00 p.m. and 7.00 p.m. on Sunday when the Sangha receive people in the House. This is also a good time to meet other lay practitioners and make connections.

As overnight accommodation is limited and booked in advance, we can’t accommodate visitors without prior notification. For overnight stays, or longer, please read Staying as a Guest.

Lastly, if you plan to drive a car to Cittaviveka, we and our neighbours request that you drive slowly and carefully along our single lane roads. We have had reports of several close encounters with other vehicles, children, pets and horses.

 

The Daily Routine

The daily routine at the monastery varies depending on the day of the week and the time of year, but the following is a fair example of what to expect.

  • Most days begin with morning chanting and meditation, which begins at 5.00 a.m., so please be prepared to wake up at 4.30 a.m.
  • Morning chores begin at 6.15 a.m., followed by a light breakfast at 7.00 a.m. Breakfast usually consists of a hot drink, porridge, muesli and yoghurt.
  • At 8.00 a.m. guests help with meal preparation or attend the community work meeting if one is held.
  • The community gathers at 10.30 a.m. (Winter Time) or 11.30 a.m. (Summer Time) for the main meal. This is generally vegetarian, but the community’s requisites are offered by lay supporters, so alternative foods for special diets cannot be provided. 
  • Following the post-meal clean-up, there is often a period of free time unless the work period is scheduled for the afternoon. 
  • Tea is at 5 p.m. 
  • The day concludes with evening meditation at 7.30 p.m. On Saturdays this is usually followed by a Dhamma talk, and on Sundays there is usually a guided meditation. After the evening meeting, silence is observed in the House.

Occasionally the community will hold a meditation vigil, which begins at the evening puja and lasts until either midnight or 4.00 a.m. Guests are encouraged to participate as best they can.

For a detailed schedule for the female guests, please click here (PDF).

Group meditation periods and communal work do not take place every day. So a willingness to be flexible is the norm.

In the integrated context of Cittaviveka, there are many opportunities to practise the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. Right Aim, Right Speech, Right Action and Right Mindfulness are the fabric of the monastic life, practised every day while working alongside members of the community in the kitchen, the gardens, the workshop, or the forest. If you have any skills that may be useful to the community — e.g., gardening, building, decorating, etc. — please mention this to the Guest Monk or Nun.

If there is a need to go into town during their stay, guests should ask the Guest Monk or Nun beforehand. To use the telephone in the office please check with one of the monks. The monastery does not offer email access or computer facilities.

Staying as a Guest

In general, the emphasis in the monastery is on developing awareness through living in community, and on following a daily routine which includes silent meditation, social interaction and service. The whole is held within the ethical norms of the precepts and observances, which help to check the mind’s impulses and also promote harmony and trust. Teachings are given on a regular basis, and there are opportunities to talk with monks and nuns about Dhamma practice. There are also periods of time when the monastery is observing silence, and there are periods of relative solitude. Accordingly guests are expected to have a good degree of self-motivation and self-reliance. 

All teachings, accommodation and food at Cittaviveka are offered freely. As befits a sanctuary, there is no charge to stay in the monastery, although donations to cover costs as well as offerings of food and other requisites, are appreciated. If a person wishes to stay here, then it’s important to enter fully and sincerely into the daily life and practice of the community. This will make the stay more meaningful for oneself and harmonious for others. Please see these other practical considerations for further information.

Making Reservations

Booking requests can be made up to three months in advance of your requested visit. Please do not write further ahead than this.

The minimum stay for all guests is three nights. The maximum stay for new guests from the UK is one week. If one is coming from outside the UK, then a stay of up to two weeks may be requested. Previous overnight guests can request to stay longer based on how their prior visits have worked out.

Please note, on some rare occasions guests have come to stay at Cittaviveka Monastery whose conduct has not been in harmony with our community standards. Thus, we reserve the right to ask such guests to leave when we feel it is appropriate.

From January 2 to April 1 we hold our winter retreat and do not have overnight guest stays available. During this retreat time the booking form will be disabled and any guest-related emails will not be read. No reservations for the rest of the year can be made before March 25. This is the day we open for bookings in the new year.

Cancellation Policy

If a confirmed guest cancels their stay less than two weeks before their arrival date or doesn't show up, it is possible they will be asked to forgo staying at Chithurst for up to six months.

This policy deals with non-emergency and non-health related reasons for cancelling. In cases of emergencies or illness, please contact us as soon as possible to let us know of your need to cancel or your reasons to have not shown up for a reservation.

We have this policy in place due to the high number of overnight guest requests, our very limited accommodations, and a history of last-minute cancellations and no-shows. Thus, we ask that reservations not be made until one can firmly commit to one’s requested dates, so that other interested guests do not lose the chance to stay here.

Using the Booking Form

When making a reservation please use the booking form first rather than emailing the Guest Monk or Women’s Guest Assistant directly. Once we have received the booking form (below), we will confirm the booking by email.

The men's and women's accommodations are located separately in the monastery and so the the bookings are also made separately. 

If you have any questions for the Guest Monk or Women’s Guest Assistant not related to a reservation request please email guestmonk{at}cittaviveka.org (for men) or guestnun{at}cittaviveka.org (for women).

Male Guests

For the year 2019, we are closed for any further guest reservations. There are currently no vacancies left.

As stated above, we do not allow overnight guests to stay during our winter retreat, January 1 to April 7 and we will not take reservations for April 7, 2020 or later until March 25, 2020. To make a 2020 booking (at most three months in advance), please return here on March 25, and the 2020 Booking Form Button should appear and be in operation just below this sentence. 

Female Guests

For the year 2019, we are closed for any further guest reservations. There are currently no vacancies left.

As stated above, we do not allow overnight guests to stay during our winter retreat, January 1 to April 7 and we will not take reservations for April 7, 2020 or later until March 25, 2020. To make a 2020 booking (at most three months in advance), please return here on March 25, and the 2020 Booking Form Button should appear and be in operation just below this sentence. 

*Emails are generally checked once a day Tuesday through Saturday.

 

Precepts and Observances

The life at Cittaviveka is held within an ethical framework, which visitors and guests are expected to follow while they are here. This centres on the Eight Precepts:

The Eight Precepts

  1. Harmlessness: not intentionally taking the life of any living creature
  2. Trustworthiness: not taking anything that is not given
  3. Celibacy: refraining from any sexual activity
  4. Veracity: avoiding false, abusive or malicious speech
  5. Sobriety: not taking any intoxicating drink or drug
  6. Renunciation: not eating after mid-day
  7. Restraint: refraining from games and attending shows, and from self-adornment. (Guests are asked to dress modestly, and not to play radios, musical tapes or instruments)
  8. Alertness: to refrain from over-indulgence in sleep

These precepts are intended to moderate our outgoing tendencies, to heighten the sense of conscience and concern for others, and to encourage alertness. There are also a range of observances around maintaining quiet in the House, using the lodgings and requisites with care, and dressing in a simple way. These also help to check casual or half-aware actions that we may carry out daily without really questioning them. Precepts and observances therefore form a framework for contemplation, a guide to cultivating heart and mind, and a means for daily-life Awakening. The Guest Monk or Nun can advise you on the basic standards. 

Other Practical Considerations

Accommodation at Chithurst is simple, and often in shared rooms. Men and women are accommodated in separate dwellings and there is no shared living space for couples. Women stay in the nuns’ residence and will need to take a ten-minute walk up a lane to arrive at the main House, where the meal is offered and the weekend teachings are given.

Things to bring with you

  • Clothing and footwear suitable for chilly and damp weather, for working and meditation
  • Slippers or thick socks for indoors; slip-on shoes, wellingtons, or work boots for outdoors (no outdoor footwear is worn inside)
  • Please bring your own sleeping bag and a bed sheet or at least your own linen: a sleeping bag sheet, a pillowcase and a towel. If you have to borrow any bedding please ask the Guest Monk
  • Toiletries, a torch (especially in dark winter months) and an alarm clock

Electrical Appliances

Please note that due to current Health and Safety regulations, every electrical appliance - i.e. anything which needs to be plugged into a wall socket in the monastery, must first be checked and approved by a qualified electrician. This means that visitors can no longer bring items such as mobile phones, laptops, ipods, etc. from home to plug in and use while staying here. We regret any inconvenience caused.

Guests are requested to let the Guest Monk or Nun know when they are leaving and to clean their living quarters.

Lost Property

Please contact us if you think you might have left something at the monastery. It is our policy to keep lost property in store for a maximum of three months, after which we are likely to recycle accumulated items.


Health and Safety

The issue of Health & Safety is taken very seriously at the Monastery, and we recognise that we have a Duty of Care to all residents and visitors.

We want you to be safe and well during your stay here, and we would encourage you to be mindful of your situation, and to report any potential hazards to the Guest Monk or Nun, or if you are a resident to the Lodgings monk or nun.

The following notes cover areas of particular relevance to Health & Safety:

Fire Safety

Please acquaint yourself with the location of Assembly Points to be used in case of fire. These are:

MAIN HOUSE: cloister, walled gardenHealth and Safety

DHAMMA HALL: cloisters, walled garden

WORKSHOP: cloister, walled garden

ROCANA VIHARA: back lawn

ALOKA COTTAGE: front lawn by the stream

If you discover a fire, raise the alarm and leave the building immediately

Fire extinguishers are prominently placed. If you discover a small local fire, and need to use an extinguisher, please make sure that the extinguisher you intend to use is suitable for the type of fire you wish to put out, for example, an electrical fire.

Smoke alarms are checked regularly.Health and Safety

Please do not use naked flame in the monastery buildings. The use of candles is always supervised at Pujas and ceremonies. If you use candles in the kutis please do not leave them unattended.

 Please make sure that Fire Doors are closed as appropriate.

Health and Safety in the Kitchen

The maintenance of good hygiene practice is obviously very important in this area. Hand washing facilities are always available for use at all times when handling food.

It is important to keep the floor dry, and clear of any hazards which may cause someone to trip or slip.

Care should be taken when using sharps, or kitchen gadgets. These should be stored safely when they are not in use.

Please be careful when working near hot surfaces.Health and Safety

Careful storage of food is essential, ensuring rotation of the freshest foods, and disposal of out of date items.

 Please make sure that food stored in the fridge is suitably covered, and dated.

 If you need to work in the scullery, you should be mindful when using and storing cleansers of any kind, and of the need to keep the floor dry and clear of obstacles.

 Please report any concerns that you may have to the Kitchen Manager.

FIRST AID BOXES are checked regularly, and are kept in the kitchen, and in the office in the main house; and in the kitchens in Rocana Vihara, and Aloka Cottage. There is also a box in the workshop, and in the pick up truck.Health and Safety

In case of an accident, if you are a guest please let the guest monk or nun know, or if a resident of the community please let a Senior monk or nun know, and they will fill in the Accident book. You should always report near-accidents, so that preventative action can be taken.

Heath and Safety in the Workshop

If you spend work time in the workshop, please be very aware of potential hazard.

If you need to use any tools there, make sure that you take appropriate safety measures, i.e., use safety clothing such as goggles, masks, gloves and overalls. Also, make sure that you are conversant with the use of relevant small tools, and read any instructions available. If in any doubt, please consult the Work Monk or Nun. Please make sure that tools are stored safely and securely when you have finished with them.

You may not use large power tools without training and permission from the Work monk or nun.

Use of hazardous substances

If you use any substances which may be hazardous to health, please make sure that you take appropriate safety measures ie. use of safety clothing, such as goggles, masks, gloves and overalls. It is essential to read any notes specific to your task. You should refer to COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) notes. Theses are kept in the workshop office. Please make sure that substances are stored carefully at the end of your task. If in any doubt, please speak to the Work Monk.

Safe Manual Handling Practices

If you become involved with the moving and handling of objects, please take care to do so safely. Back problems are very common, so if you have such a problem please tell the Work Monk or Nun of your condition. If you do undertake moving & handling jobs take care to assess the situation, and then move the load carefully, paying attention to the weight and bulk of the load, and to your ability to lift and move it safely.

Care should be taken to keep rooms, walkways, and corridors free of hazards such as trailing electrical leads and objects likely to cause falls.

Thank you for taking time to read these notes. Our aim is to provide a safe environment for everyone who lives or stays here.

 

 

 

How to Get Here

Cittaviveka
Chithurst Buddhist Monastery
Chithurst, Petersfield
Hampshire, GU31 5EU
United Kingdom

By Car

The monastery is located approximately 70 miles south of the centre of London, off the main road (A3) from London to Portsmouth. Travelling south on the A3, turn left just before Petersfield, onto the A272. Seven miles along the A272, in the village of Trotton, there is a narrow bridge with traffic lights. After the bridge, take the first turn left, down the lane signposted Chithurst. The monastery entrance is about three-quarters of a mile up the lane, on the left.

Public Transport

Plan your trip door-to-door with www.traveline.info. Includes trains, buses and a map for the last leg which has to be walked. Enter Chithurst Buddhist Monastery (Address/postcode) as destination.

Trains

You can plan your train journey with www.nationalrail.co.uk or internationally through www.thetrainline.com.
London Waterloo to Petersfield (Portsmouth service): trains every 30 minutes.
Brighton or Worthing to Chichester: frequent service. 

Buses

    • London Victoria Coach Station to Petersfield - National Express. Tel: 0871-7818181
    • Petersfield to Midhurst
      Stagecoach bus number 92
      Mondays to Saturdays, a few buses per day stop near Chithurst. Check it goes via Trotton and ask for a stop after Trotton Church.
    • Chichester to Midhurst
      Stagecoach bus number 60 goes between Chichester and Midhurst several times a day.

Taxis

Available at Petersfield Station. Fare to Chithurst is about £20.

Airports

From Heathrow take the National Express coach to Woking, then take the train to Petersfield.

From Gatwick take the train to Guildford, then change for the train to Petersfield.

From Stansted take the train to Liverpool Street in London. Then underground to Waterloo, and a train to Petersfield.

Seeking Ordination

If you are interested in becoming a monk or nun, then Cittaviveka is a place to check out first as a guest. In fact it’s good to come a few times, and extend your stay for weeks at a time both to get a feel for the rhythms and changes of the monastic life, and also to acknowledge how the lifestyle affects you. Obviously, perhaps, it’s not all easy. Certainly things, or the absence of things, will be irritating at times. You need to know in yourself how you can handle the ups and downs of inspiration and negativity – this is the work of strengthening and purifying the mind.

The following are a few main areas which you will need to consider over a period of time:

How do the training precepts, the sense restraint and attention to details of behaviour affect me?
Do I enjoy solitude and community? Where are the difficulties? Do I value spiritual friendship?
How do I feel about others supervising my training?
How am I with being part of a tradition and following its customs?
Do I appreciate and benefit from the teachings that are given in this place? Or would another monastery be more suitable?

These are not questions that have immediate answers (in fact, beware of any 'immediate answers'...); but staying for periods of time at Cittaviveka may help you to see what they are pointing at. Then most likely it’s a matter of taking one step at a time while being aware of  how the affects and responses change within you.

After some time as a guest (it’s also recommended to visit other monasteries) you may decide that you’d like to make a year’s commitment to training in the community as an anagarika – literally ‘a homeless one.’ This involves shaving one's head, training within the Eight Precepts and putting aside concerns outside the monastery for a year. You can communicate your interest in making this commitment to the Guest Monk or Nun, and the Sangha can consider your request.

If the community does consider that, at this time, training in this monastery is something that they can help you with, you will have some time to finish off, or shelve, any domestic business and in due course take anagarika precepts with a teacher.

After a year or so, you may feel that you’d like to continue the training and request ‘ordination’ as a monk or nun. Again this is something that the Sangha, and specifically a teacher, has to feel is suitable, as they have to take on the responsibility of guiding you through potentially rocky patches as well as laying down a course of practice. In this tradition, there is no ‘Going Forth’ as a monk or nun without a teacher, so it is important that you feel you have access to someone you can trust, respect and confide in.

For men, ordination as a monk is in two stages: ‘Going Forth’ (pabbajja) as a novice (samanera) – whereupon you relinquish money and wear monk’s robes – and ‘Acceptance’ (upasampada) as a bhikkhu. Acceptance is a stage that you may enter or not, depending on your capacity and interest. You have to train for at least a year as a samanera first; and even then it is up to the Sangha of bhikkhus to decide whether you are ready for Acceptance. This is because bhikkhu life entails a very full training in precepts and observances and also carries a responsibility to the lineage, to the Sangha as a whole, and to the lay community.

For women, these two stages are covered by a more extended ‘Going Forth’ as a siladhara - which may occur after two or more years of training as an anagarika. As the Going Forth of women is still re-establishing itself within the tradition, the Nuns’ Communities at Cittaviveka and Amaravati work co-operatively. In undertaking the training both as an anagarika and as a siladhara you will be part of that larger sense of community, spending time training in both monasteries.

Both the bhikkhu and siladhara ordinations require an initial commitment of five years of training under a teacher in the monasteries of this lineage. These are serious commitments as each monk or nun is receiving offerings from faithful lay people whose trust deserves the greatest respect. Also, in this lineage each monk or nun is benefiting from a succession of masters who have given their lives to discovering truth and sharing it with others. To be an heir to such treasures is a privilege that should not be taken lightly….But to live that privilege joyfully, and without pretence…that’s what takes the time and deepening!

If you are interested in what is outlined here, you may come and stay for a while, and talk things over with a senior monk or nun.

Advice for Visiting Monks and Nuns

Cittaviveka is a monastery in a lineage that uses Vinaya-discipline extensively and follows the training of the Thai Forest Tradition. As this lineage has settled and adapted to the West, shifts in emphasis, and adaptations to local climatic and social conditions have gradually taken place. In the course of this, some Asian customs and mannerisms have been set aside, but the core Vinaya of the Theravada school, along with many of the observances of Ajahn Chah’s monasteries, is still central to our life. Accordingly, any visiting monk or nun should be prepared to conform to the standards in this monastery. Some of the outlines are as follows:

  • The use of, acceptance of, or soliciting of money in any form is not allowed.
  • Visitors should seek to fit in with the routines of the monastery, and offer such service as they are capable of.
  • The monastery is a ‘double-community’ of monks and nuns. While the nuns’ order is formally junior to that of the monks, nuns play an important and integral part in the life, teaching and management of the monastery. We support a courteous and friendly relationship between monks and nuns that emphasises our common practice rather than differences in terms of status.

As all Buddhist monastics are part of a long-standing common tradition, we wish to support those who can benefit from staying at Cittaviveka. If you wish to come as a guest, please write to the Lodgings Monk or Nun, giving details of your ordination, lineage, seniority and any recommendation from a teacher (if you have one). Our Sangha will then consider your request.