Here you’ll find news and other resources for anyone interested in Temple Forest Monastery, a Buddhist monastery in the Thai forest tradition of Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Sumedho located in the small town of Temple, New Hampshire. A pleasant one-and-a-half-hour drive from Boston, the monastery benefits from a balance of wilderness, seclusion and accessibility historically typical of a Buddhist forest monastery.
A forest monastery in New England
The Buddhist ‘forest monasteries’ of Southeast Asia tend to be simple dwelling places for the monastic community (the ‘Sangha’), located in peaceful natural settings – usually forests. Their main purpose is to facilitate the practice of meditation and the living of the Buddhist monastic way of life.
In Thailand, the forest monasteries have played a role in helping to protect threatened forests and the many forms of life they host, and to provide sanctuaries where people can come to join the monastic community for shorter or longer periods, practicing meditation while living in nature in a similarly simple manner.
Since the monastic communities of Theravada Buddhism depend entirely upon the lay community for their material support – as they have for over 2,500 years since the time of the Buddha – the existence of a monastery depends upon the interest and generosity of people who find it to be of value.
The primary purpose of Temple Forest Monastery is to serve as a place where Buddhist forest monks are able to live, and where those interested can become monks and receive a traditional training. In addition the monastery acts as a religious center, or ‘church’, for local and regional Buddhists, and also as a resource for those of any faith or none interested in learning from traditional Buddhist monastic life, teachings, and practice, where one can receive guidance and find opportunities for meditation and quiet reflection. The monastery aims to provide an accessible contemplative sanctuary for anyone interested in this way of life.
It is therefore a place where cultures mix, and on any given day there may be local American as well as Thai or other Asian visitors, and occasionally guests from other countries. The monastery is part of an international monastic community based in Thailand, with branches in various Western countries. The monks at Temple are mainly Westerners who have taken ordination in Thailand or Western branch monasteries.
Since the early 1990s interested people in New England have been inviting the monastic community of Ajahn Sumedho to start a branch monastery in the region. In recent years Ajahn Jayanto, who is from Boston and was living at Amaravati Monastery in England, expressed a willingness to explore this possibility and now serves as abbot of Temple Forest Monastery.
A non-profit organization – Jeta Grove – was formed in order to act as a ‘steward’ for the monastic community, since the monks’ rules prevent them from directly receiving or having legal control over money. Jeta Grove receives donations and handles the financial affairs of the monastery on behalf of those wishing to support the monks, working closely with Ajahn Jayanto and the monastic community in providing for the Sangha’s needs.