Monastic Life

Exploring Monastic Life

Thinking about becoming a Buddhist monk or nun?

Explore monastic life with Ven. Thubten Chodron and the Abbey nuns and monk.

Bring your questions and dreams.

What Is It?

Exploring Monastic Life is an intensive 3-week training program, held in August every year. It’s for people thinking about becoming a Buddhist monk or nun, and for newly ordained monastics. There’s no other program like it.

Venerable Thubten Chodron teaches from nearly 40 years of living as a Buddhist nun. You learn how and why the Buddha started the ordained sangha—the community of monks and nuns—and the ethical and behavioral guidelines for monastics.

You also live in community with the Abbey monastics, keeping the monastery schedule of meditation, learning, and offering service.

The Abbey monastics join in your daily discussions about family, career, romance, and “stuff,” to explore the issues that you need to think about.

See photos of 2019 EML here and here.

Program Specifics

Next course is August 2020.

Specific dates will be set in early 2020.

Admission is by application. Qualified applicants will:

  • Have taken refuge at least one year ago
  • Are not presently in a committed relationship
  • Agree to live within the 5 lay precepts during the course: refraining from killing, taken what has not been freely given, sexual misconduct (keeping celibacy during the course), lying, and taking intoxicants of any kind
  • Agree to live in a community and abide by the monastic schedule

How to apply:

  • The program is offered on a donation basis. To gather the resources for the course to happen, we ask participants to collect the donations to support it. Each person should raise or contribute at least $475 USD. Read about our Economy of Generosity.
  • Complete the registration form.
  • Read the Visiting Guidelines

Exploring Monastic Life helps you discern if monastic life is right for you. Come see for yourself.


“The Exploring Monastic Life (EML) program gave me a unique opportunity to look deeply at my aspiration to ordain. I highly recommend this thought-provoking and fun program to anyone wishing to become a monastic.”

Alicia Blanco

Sacramento, CA

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