Why must I observe noble silence?

Embracing the teachings of the Buddha, we invite all who visit to observe Noble Silence. This maintains the calm and nurturing space that provides visitors and practitioners alike, the benefit of being able to understand what the Buddha meant by “seeing things as they truly are”. Just as tea leaves settle down to the bottom of the cup with time, so does the mind with silence.

What is puja and must I attend it?

Pujas are daily ceremonies of chanting and offering of light, incense and flowers to the Buddha. Pujas are performed three times a day in the Main Shrine and Meditation Hall. All are welcome to join in and it is optional.

How should I conduct myself on a retreat?

We actively cultivate a safe environment for practice by requesting that all who visit observe the 5 mindfulness trainings:

  1. Not only to refrain from taking life; but also to cherish life
  1. Not only to refrain from taking what is not given; but also to practice generosity and gratitude for what is given
  1. Not only to refrain from sexual indiscretions: but also to protect the sanctity and security of one’s practice
  1. Not only to refrain from speaking untruths; but also to be honest with ourselves
  1. Not only to abstain from consuming intoxicants; but also to nourish the body and mind

During your stay, kindly note that complete segregation of the sexes is to be observed. Please avoid all physical contact except in case of emergencies.

Consuming of illicit drugs, alcohol and smoking are strictly prohibited.

What are the types of retreats offered at Paramita Meditation Centre?

Paramita Meditation Centre offers four types of Group Retreats

1. Basic Meditation Retreat
This retreat is the natural starting point if you’re new to Buddhist meditation. It aims to guide you along to experience the joy and benefits of meditation – starting with mindfulness of breathing and gradually presenting different types of meditation to cultivate tranquility, insight and loving kindness in the four basic postures. By engaging with a particular meditation practice you learn how to cultivate new, more positive ways of being.

2. Tranquility (Samatha) Meditation Retreat
Samatha or tranquility is considered to be a prerequisite of concentration and a preparation for insight (Vipassana) meditation. This retreat focuses on techniques which assist in calming the mind. One of the principal techniques taught by the Buddha for this purpose is mindfulness of breathing. With regular practice, the untamed mind gradually settles down into calmness and develops clarity. How our habitual mind works becomes more apparent to us and this increased awareness assists us in making better decisions to make the most of ourselves in our daily lives.

3. Insight (Vipassana) Meditation Retreat
Having discovered that the cause of suffering in life can be solved by seeing reality as it is, the Buddha taught Vipassana meditation, an insight into the three marks of existence: impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and non-self. Insight meditation is concerned with the present moment by observing the one’s own body and mind, gradually purifying the mind and eliminating all forms of attachment. In this retreat, see yourself as you really are through contemplation, introspection and observations of bodily sensations, analytic meditation and life experiences.

4. Metta (Loving Kindness) Meditation Retreat
Metta meditation encourages a feeling of connection to the whole world. By cultivating Metta, we develop a warm heart. When we cultivate metta within ourselves, we feel relaxed, comfortable and at peace with all things. In this retreat, learn how to practice metta in daily life to overcome anger and resentment, and the benefits gained from doing so based on the Metta Sutta.

What kind of clothes should I wear?

Please wear modest loose-fitting clothing with muted designs and colours to avoid being a distraction to others.

Tank tops, low-cut tops, shorts and tight-fitting clothes are unacceptable in an environment for quiet contemplation, so are noisy jewellery and clothing that rustles such as those made from nylon and corduroy.

Shawls, cardigans and thick socks are helpful in keeping warm when the weather turns cold in certain parts of the year.

Kindly also refrain from wearing perfumes or any strong scents.

Are there other cultural observances I need to take note of?

Shoes or slippers are to be removed upon entering any building or kuti, especially the Meditation Halls, Library and Dining Hall.

Upon entering and leaving the Meditation Hall, do face the altar and offer a gesture of respect to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha, either with a single bow or Triple Prostration (optional for non-Buddhist meditators).

If you have to come late to the Meditation Hall, please make sure that you come in make your way to the cushion quietly.

As a matter of respect and etiquette, it is considered inappropriate to point the soles of one’s feet toward a monk, nun or Buddha image. Please be aware of your posture in the Meditation Hall accordingly – do not stretch legs out toward the altar or lounge or sprawl on the floor.

Do not lie down in the hall without the permission of the teacher.

What kind of accommodation can I expect during my stay?

The cabins called kutis are equipped with modern toilets and showers, electricity and room fans. The beds have comfortable mattresses and linen is provided. They are all within convenient distance to the meditation halls, dining hall and the library.

On a space available basis, and earliest reservation date, single occupancy will be the preferred assignment. Two dormitories with multiple beds are also available for larger retreats.

In the spirit of generosity in communal living, please be kind, considerate, courteous, and not do anything that may cause an inconvenience to others. In accordance with the practice of mindfulness, all visitors are asked to maintain, clean up their kuti and dispose of their trash before they leave, in gentle anticipation of the next visitor.

We ask that Paramita Meditation Centre be respected as a sanctuary for study and meditation, not as a hotel or a recreation centre for passing tourists.

What kind of meals will be provided?

We provide nourishing home-style vegetarian food, cooked using fresh local produce.

Breakfast is often served simply, with lunch as the main meal of the day. As Buddhist monastics only observe two meals a day, a light snack and beverages will be served for those who require a third meal in the evening.

We do our best to cater to specific individual dietary requirements or medical needs where possible. However, please bring your own supplies, supplements and medications as necessary.

Noble silence is observed during meal times. The mindful act of consuming food reminds us of our dependence upon and the gratitude we feel towards the efforts of countless beings and conditions that have made each meal possible. Kindly also refrain from engaging in reading and other activities when you eat or drink.

It is in this same spirit that we ask you to kindly help clean up after each meal.

Is there laundry service?

Light washing can be done in the sink in your kuti. A washing machine is available for those staying more than a week.

Is Paramita Meditation Centre disabled and wheel-chair friendly?

As the Centre is built on a mountain, all visitors have to climb a steep flight of stairs to reach the main building upon arrival. As such, it is not usually disabled or wheelchair accessible although in very special cases, arrangements can be made to accommodate such a request to visit.

How much do I have to pay for accommodation and meals at Paramita Meditation Centre?

The simplest translation of Dana is “generosity”. It is in this spirit that we offer the Teachings and the Facility.

To contribute to the upkeep of this non-profit organisation, the management of Paramita Meditation Centre gently suggests that visitors make a fair contribution that will cover the costs of food and lodging. This kind gesture will go into helping us to not only maintain but also improve the quality of the facilities.

As it is upon the generosity of many others who have made this sanctuary of serenity possible, your gift will help ensure Paramita Meditation Centre’s longevity – to keep the doors of this special place open to benefit countless people from all walks of life and from every part of the world.

What should I bring on a retreat?

Embracing the teachings of the Buddha, we invite all who visit to observe Noble Silence. This maintains the calm and nurturing space that provides visitors and practitioners alike, the benefit of being able to understand what the Buddha meant by “seeing things as they truly are”. Just as tea leaves settle down to the bottom of the cup with time, so does the mind with silence.