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Meditation Seclusion - bhāvanā

The venerable bhikkhunī Visuddhi focuses mainly on the meditation practice of mettā and satipaṭṭhāna, thus the running

and structure of the monastery also serve the purpose to facilitate the practice, as a complement to the formal instruction she provides. For this reason while being at the ārāma Karuṇā Sevena it is not suitable to combine different practices, do yoga or other exercises, or consider the stay at the ārāma a vacation or therapy time. Everybody who wishes to stay here for meditation and seclusion should think this over, to be clear on what her/his intention is, and to take the opportunity for practice that the
ārāma offers very seriously. Most of us are used to meditation retreats where group meditation and fixed timetable are common. Venerable bhikkhunī Visuddhi prefers an individualised approach to each practitioner and offers her/him an opportunity for

a dedicated practice according to the person’s needs and inclinations. This is very rare. Everybody can arrange a meeting during his stay and ask the venerable for an interview, especially those who are new to meditation and need guidance.

Ārāma Karuṇā Sevena is a place of contemplation, meditation and a training of living in seclusion. It is a space free of hustle and bustle of everyday life. Therefore, it is not appropriate for you to take care of matters and affairs connected to lay life, and deal with your everyday problems during the course of your stay. It would be advisable to keep all your electrical appliances turned off the whole time and stay focused on the practice instead. It is vital to respect and keep up the atmosphere of contemplation that is based on mutual respect and consideration between visitors and lay practitioners.

The process of self-purification by introspection is certainly never easy-students have to work very hard at it. By their own efforts students arrive at their own realizations; no one else can do this for them. Therefore, the meditation will suit only those willing to work seriously and observe the discipline, which is there for the benefit and protection of the meditators and is an integral part of the meditation practice.

Rules and regulations have been developed keeping this practical aspect in mind. They are not primarily for the benefit of the teacher or the course management, nor are they negative expressions of tradition, orthodoxy or blind faith in some organized religion. Rather, they are based on the practical experience of thousands of meditators over the years and are both scientific and rational. Abiding by the rules creates a very conducive atmosphere for meditation; breaking them pollutes it.

The human mind is very unpredictable, and it is naive to think that we are able to confront the impurities of the mind and be vigilant, persistent, selfless, and motivated while being in the home environment. Mostly, we succumb to laziness, sensuality, desire, aversion and our own habits, our effort to practice decreases and it is hard to keep it up. On the contrary, the monastery environment brings us back into practice and anchors us.

These rules should be carefully read and considered. Only those who feel that they can honestly and scrupulously follow the discipline should apply for admission. Those not prepared to make a determined effort will waste their time and, moreover, will disturb others who wish to work seriously.

  • The stays are time-limited, you can attend a meditation retreat twice a year at the
    maximum of 10 days.

  • It is essential to follow the rules heedfully and to be disciplined, otherwise your stay
    could be terminated. If you break one of the
    eight precepts (attha- sīla) your stay is
    terminated instantly.

  • The one who attends a meditation seclusion for the first time is to be in a group with
    more experienced meditators. Senior members of KS will help the newcomer to
    observe the precepts and follow the daily schedule.

  • Currently, 8 people can attend a long-term meditation retreat at the maximum.

  • All who attend a course must conscientiously undertake the following eight precepts
    for the duration of the course:

1. to refrain from killing breathing beings
2. to refrain from taking what is not given
3. to refrain from sexuality and a misconduct concerning sense-pleasures
4. to refrain from lying and false speech
5. to refrain from alcoholic drinks or drugs that are an opportunity for heedlessness
6. to refrain from eating at the forbidden time
7. to refrain from dancing, singing, music, going to see entertainments, wearing garlands,
using perfumes, and beautifying the body with cosmetics and decorations
8. to refrain from lying on a high or luxurious bed

There is possibility to excuse student from observing 6. precept for health reasons. The seventh and eighth precept will be observed by all.

During the course, it is absolutely essential that all forms of prayer, worship, or religious ceremony — fasting, burning incense, counting beads, reciting mantras, singing and dancing, etc. — be discontinued. All other meditation techniques and healing or spiritual practices should also be suspended. This is not to condemn any other technique or practice, but to give a fair trial to the technique of satipaṭṭhāna practise in its purity.

Students are strongly advised that deliberately mixing other techniques of meditation will impede and even reverse their progress. Despite repeated warnings by the teacher, there have been cases in the past where students have intentionally mixed this technique with a ritual or another practice, and have done themselves a great disservice. Any doubts or confusion which may arise should always be clarified by meeting with bhikkhunī Visuddhi.

People with serious mental disorders have occasionally come to courses with the unrealistic expectation that the technique will cure or alleviate their mental problems. Unstable interpersonal relationships and a history of various treatments can be additional factors which make it difficult for such people to benefit from, or even complete, a course. Our capacity as a nonprofessional volunteer organization makes it impossible for us to properly care for people with these backgrounds. Although meditation is beneficial for most people, it is not a substitute for medical or psychiatric treatment and we do not recommend it for
people with serious psychiatric disorders.

It may be that a student cannot understand the practical reasons for one or several of the above rules. Rather than allow negativity and doubt to develop, immediate clarification should be sought from bhikkhunī Visuddhi.

It is only by taking a disciplined approach and by making maximum effort that a student can fully grasp the practice and benefit from it. The emphasis during the course is on work. A golden rule is to "meditate as if one were alone, with one's mind turned inward," ignoring any inconveniences and distractions that one may encounter.

Finally, students should note that their progress in meditation depends solely on their own good qualities and personal development and on five factors: earnest efforts, confidence, sincerity, health and wisdom. It is important that throughout the course there be no physical contact whatsoever between persons of the same or opposite sex.

Many lay followers think that if they take up the practice of renunciation and decide to give up desires, that there would be a sudden crossover from happiness to sadness and from abundance to deprivation. On the contrary, renunciation leads us away from coarse, clinging pleasure to noble happiness and equanimity, and from bondage to self-control. Nekkhamma or  “renunciation” gives rise to fearlessness and joy, desire by contrast brings about fear and grief.

“What taints, bhikkhus, should be abandoned by restraining? Here a bhikkhu, reflecting wisely, abides with the eye faculty, ear faculty, nose faculty, tongue faculty, body faculty and mind faculty restrained. While taints, vexation, and fever might arise in one who abides with the faculties unrestrained, there are no taints, vexation, or fever in one who abides with the
faculties restrained. These are called the taints that should be abandoned by restraining.” MN 2

Although physical yoga and other exercises are compatible with meditation, they should be suspended during the course because proper secluded facilities are not available at the course site. Jogging is also not permitted. Students may exercise during rest periods by walking in the designated areas or exercise in the nearby park or in the room after prior
agreement with their roommate.

No drugs, alcohol, or other intoxicants should be brought to the site; this also applies to tranquilizers, sleeping pills,

and all other sedatives. Those taking medicines or drugs on a doctor's prescription should notify bhikkhunī Visuddhi.

It is not possible to satisfy the special food preferences and requirements of all the meditators. Students are therefore kindly requested to make do with the simple vegetarian meals provided. The course management endeavors to prepare

a balanced, wholesome menu suitable for meditation. If any students have been prescribed a special diet because of
ill-health, they should inform the management at the time of application. Fasting is not permitted.

The contact to support projects and activities of the Association Karuṇā Sevena: 6855804001/5500, IBAN: CZ6755000000006855804001, SWIFT: RZBCCZPP  - The funds are used to cover the basic monastic needs of the Venerable bhikkhunī Visuddhi, such as - robe, food, medicine and abode (this also covers transportation, accommodation, air tickets, etc.). Distribution of books, construction of the meditation room, the furnishing of the monastery KS, insurance, utility bills, etc. Tax deductible in the Czech Republic. Please state the reason for the donation with the following note" For the Association KS."

The contact for the project Suriya Lamai: 6855679001/5500, IBAN: CZ4955000000006855679001, SWIFT: RZBCCZPP

- The intention of the project Suriya Lamai “The Children of the Sun” is to enable children from poor families to develop and educate themselves and to provide them with basic needs. The donation is tax deductible in the Czech Republic.

Neither of the above is a public collection, and therefore we ask all donors to add their contact information to their gift, so that we can issue a donation agreement contract or a donation receipt. We thank to all the donors.

Link to the Paypal for foreign donors: