Ever thought of going to a Buddhist monastery? Most people would normally think of going to one in Asia. But there are now a number of Buddhist monasteries across the United States so if one would like to visit a Buddhist monastery, one may not need to travel all that far (although remember these are working monasteries and not tourist destinations).

This article will not talk about all the monasteries in the United States, but just mention a couple of American Buddhist monasteries to get an idea of what is in the country. There are also a number of Hindu temples around the United States and the largest is in New Jersey and is open to all.

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Deer Park Monastery - California

Located in California, Deer Park Monastery is was first established in 2000. Today it is a 400-acre sanctuary for people to come and enjoy the peace and serenity of the sanctuary. It is idyllically set being surrounded by oaks and the natural landscape.

  • First Established: In 2000
  • Tradition: The Plum Village Tradition of Buddhism
  • Teacher: Thich Nhat Hanh (Thây)

There are now over thirty monastics and lay practitioners, who live and practice together year-round. The teacher is Thich Nhat Hanh (Thây) who teaches in the Plum Village tradition of Buddhism.

The monastery has two hamlets - one for men and one for women. They come together several times a week to practice. Each day they practice meditation in their activities outside of the meditation hall and are "guided by the teachings of Thây on mindfulness and peace-making."

  • Solidity Hamlet: For Monks and Laymen
  • Clarity Hamlet: For Nuns and Laywomen

Related: Tibet Has Its Own Cuisine And It's An Old World Full Of New And Exciting Flavors

Visiting Deer Park Monastery

Visitors are welcome to visit Deer Park but plan ahead as guests are permitted to visit on designated "Days of Mindfulness". Guests can also register for an overnight retreat. The monastery has certain opening hours and days when visitors can come, outside of those hours the monastery gate is closed.

Anyone can visit and one does not need prior meditation experience to visit. But one should be coming for the right reasons.

  • Public Visiting Hours: On Sunday Days of Mindfulness When The Monastery Gate is Open Until 10 am

For more information on when one can come for the day and coming up in their calendar, one can check their website. There are also a number of seasonal and special overnight retreats offered throughout the year. These too can be found on their website and one can apply online.

Sravasti Abbey - Washington State

"Sravasti Abbey is among the first of its kind—an American Buddhist monastic community where nuns and monks and lay students learn, practice, and live the Buddha’s teachings."

- Sravasti Abbey

Sravasti Abbey was founded in 2003 by the fully ordained nun Venerable Thubten Chodron and sits on a 300-acre property in Washington State. This Buddhist monastery practices Tibetan Buddhism in the tradition of the Dalai Lama.

  • Established: In 2003
  • Tradition: The Tradition of the Dalai Lama
  • Founder: The Fully Ordained Nun Venerable Thubten Chodron

This monastery also offers lay guests to come and experience the community life and see the life of the monastery for themselves (although their focus is monastic training and not visitors).

They say they are:

"We are both traditional and innovative in rooting Buddha’s teachings firmly in the West. The Abbey embraces gender equality. Social service is a key element of community life. We do prayers and practices in English."

Related: Seda Monastery: The Largest Tibetan School In The World

Visiting Sravasti Abbey

Note that as of the time of writing (March 2022) the abbey is closed to visitors until April 2022.

If one would like to visit, one must first get an appointment - regardless of the length of stay. One can make an appointment by contacting their office. Like Deer Park, they also permit overnight visits, but one must complete the registration form.

  • Appointments: It Is Required To Make An Appointment Before Visiting
  • Offline: Plan to Be Offline While Staying At The Monastery

Remember that the Abbey is a fully functioning, resident community of monks and nuns and is not like visiting a Dharma or retreat center. All guests are asked to attend all meditation sessions, Dharma talks, and chanting sessions along with study and offering service sessions. Visitors are also expected to help with daily chores like meal prep, cleaning, forest work, and Abbey projects.

There are five precepts at the monastery:

  • Respect life (Including Animals and Insects)
  • Respect others’ property
  • Do not engage in sexual behavior at the Abbey
  • Speak truthfully
  • Do not use intoxicants—alcohol, recreational drugs, tobacco, or vapor.

Alternatively, if one is going to Scotland or other countries in Europe, one can often stay at a number of (likely Christain) monasteries there too.

Next: Stay For Free & Enjoy a Monks Life At this Scottish Monastery