In the 1980s, in response to a large number of requests for full-time meditative training, the co-founder of the centre Alan James established a new Buddhist monastic order. The first monks entered the Monastery of Absolute Harmony in 1986; eighteen months later, the first nuns were ordained at the Monastery of Infinite Compassion.
Monks and nuns are fully supported by the Aukana Trust and, thus freed from all external distractions, are able to concentrate single-mindedly on putting the Buddha's teaching into practice.
The monastic discipline is in all important respects based on the traditional Vinaya rules of the Theravada school of Buddhism. New minor rules, however, have been adopted in order to reflect modern cultural and social conditions. The main point of deviation from the traditional discipline is that both monks and nuns follow exactly the same set of rules.
The daily schedule at the monasteries includes five (separate) hours of seated meditation and a wide variety of other activities, such as gardening, cooking, building work, clerical work, lecture writing and teaching duties. Whether engaged in seated meditation or in any other activity, monks and nuns aim to cultivate mindfulness in every waking moment.
To improve their theoretical grasp of the teaching, they also study the Pali Canon (the collection of the Buddha's original discourses) and attend weekly dhamma classes with the spiritual head of the Trust, Paul Harris.
The minimum period for full-time monastic training is two years. Anyone who is interested in applying for training should first read Postcards from Beyond to get a clearer idea of our approach to the Buddhist path, and then contact Paul.