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Teachings at Bodhinyanarama
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Teachings at Bodhinyanarama

Ajahn Chah Similies
From: "Tree in a Forest"

Fish Trap

If you see clearly the harm in the benefit of something, you won't have to wait for others to tell you about it. Consider the story of the fisherman who finds something in his fish trap. He knows something is in it because he can hear it flopping about inside. Thinking it's a fish; he reaches his hand into the trap, only to grab hold of a different kind of animal. He can't see it, so he's not sure what it is. It could be an eel, but it could also be a snake. If he throws it away, he may regret it, for if it turns out to be in eel, he'll have lost something nice for dinner. On the other hand, if he keeps on holding onto it and it turns out to be a snake, it may bite him. He's just not sure. But his desire is so strong that he holds on, just in case it's an eel. The minute he brings it out and sees that it's a snake, however, he doesn't hesitate to fling it away from himself. He doesn't have to wait for someone to call out, "Hey, it's a snake! Let go!" The site of the snake tells him what to do more clearly than words could ever do. Why? Because he sees the danger - snakes can bite and make you very sick or kill you. Who has to tell him about that? In the same way, if we practice until we see things as they are, we won't meddle with things that are harmful.


The teaching of the Buddha is both simple and subtle. Simple in the sense that the Four Noble Truths are sufficient as regards information, subtle in that while the structure of these Truths is quite accessible integrating it as a part of daily life is a real challenge. The logic of the teaching is quite clear but developing a complete, internal understanding requires a particular kind of investigation. Monasteries largely exist for this reason; to create a dedicated environment for this investigation. One of the best ways to deepen your understanding of the theory, in relation to meditation and daily life, is to spend time at the monastery staying as a guest

The internet offers an almost overwhelming range of material on Buddhism which can be confusing. There are many schools, lineages and traditions each with different benefits for different people. This web site, and the monastery it represents, is quite specific and to simplify your search along similar lines the Forest Sangha web site can be a good place to explore further. We don't have a lot of written or spoken material on this site but you will find plenty via the Books and Audio link

Monastery Teachings

There are regular events that you might wish to join. There is no charge or need to book.
  • Pujas. Every morning at 5:15 (upstairs shrine during winter months) and evening at 7 (main dhamma hall). Chanting and silent meditation. This varies slightly around observance days.
  • Observance Days. A day of quiet contemplation. No morning meditation. Afternoon Meditation: 2-5. Evening chanting, meditation and a dhamma talk: 7pm. These are every week but the day varies. See the events calendar for details.
  • Sunday Evening: every week, 6 – 8pm
    • You can come at 5pm for a cup of tea and to chat with others. A monk is usually present at this time.
    • The evening starts with chanting in Pali and English followed by a 45 minute meditation; some instruction and guidance is given.
    • Those who wish can then take the Three Refuges and Five Precepts.
    • After this there is a talk on some aspect of the Buddha's Teaching followed by an opportunity for questions and discussion.
    • The evening closes with a short chant about 8pm
  • Meditation Workshops:
    • The first Saturday of each month: 1 – 5pm
    • You would be most welcome to come at 10.30 and share a meal with us.
    • Otherwise the afternoon starts at 1pm with a short chant.
    • The time is then spent practicing meditation and developing an understanding of the Buddha's teaching.
    • Varied periods of teaching, discussion, walking and sitting meditation make up the afternoon.
    • The afternoon is suitable for both beginners and experienced meditators.
  • City Meditation:
    • The first Monday of each month: 6 – 8pm
    • Quaker Meeting House: 7 Moncrieff St (off Elizabeth; off Kent Terrace).
    • A varied version of our regular Sunday format.
    • The time is then spent practicing meditation and developing an understanding of the Buddha's teaching.
    • Short chanting, meditation instruction, meditation, dhamma talk, discussion.
    • This is suitable for both beginners and experienced meditators.
  • Retreats: details here

Around New Zealand

There are various lay-led meditation groups that the Sangha visits from time to time but scheduling varies a lot.

Palmerston North
We try to visit for the second weekend of every month.