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Teachings at Bodhinyanarama
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Teachings at Bodhinyanarama

Ajahn Chah Similies
From: "Tree in a Forest"


Our practice of contemplation will lead us to understanding. Let us take the example of a fisherman pulling in his net with a big fish in it. How do you think he feels when pulling it in again? If he's afraid that the fish will escape, he'll rush and start to struggle with the net, grabbing and tugging at it. In this way, before he knows it, the big fish will have escaped. The fisherman mustn't try to hard. In the old days, they taught that we should do it gradually, carefully gathering it in without losing it. This is how it is in our practice. We gradually feel our way with it, carefully gathering it in without losing it. Sometimes it happens that we don't feel like practicing. Maybe we don't want to look, or maybe we don't want to know, but we keep on with it. We continue feeling for it. This is the practice. If we feel like doing it, we do it. If we don't feel like doing it, we do it just the same. We just keep on doing it. If we are enthusiastic about our practice, the power of our faith will give us the energy needed to practice, but we will still be without wisdom. Being energetic alone won't make us benefit much from our practice. On the contrary, after practicing energetically for long time, the feeling that we are not going to find the Way may arise. We may feel that we cannot find peace, or that we're not sufficiently equipped to do the practice. Or maybe we feel that this Way just isn't possible anymore. So we give up! At this point, we must be very, very careful. We must use patience and endurance. It's just like pulling in the big fish - we gradually feel our way with it, we carefully pull it in. The struggle won't be too difficult, so continue to pull it in without stopping. Eventually, after some time, the fish becomes tired and stops fighting and we're able to catch it easily. Usually this is how it happens. We practice gradually and carefully, gathering it together. It's in this manner that we do our contemplation.


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.