First Saturday of every month – 9:00am – 4:00pm
Upasika Daylong attendance is limited. Please read the following. You may contact us if you have further questions.
The term upasika means “one who sits close by,” and it has come to refer to lay people who join with the monastics in the practice of the Dhamma. In general usage it means a lay Buddhist who has taken refuge in the Triple Gem:
The Buddha – awakened one seeing/knowing clearly
The Dhamma – teachings pointing out the way
The Sangha – community, friends developing the way
Upasikas endeavor to live in accordance with the Five Precepts, the basic moral guidelines that encourage respect for life and property, responsibility in relationships, truthfulness in speech and the avoidance of states of consciousness that impair mindfulness.
How did it all start?
The idea first arose in the English Forest Sangha (now known as the Lay Buddhist Community of Amaravati) in 1994 during discussions between the monastic and lay communities. The establishing of an Upasika program was seen as a way to support a growing interest amongst members of the lay community wishing to deepen their practice in the context of lay life. As the Forest Sangha tradition spread to Northern California the Upasika training program began to take root on American soil and continues to this day with the strong support of many.
After a visit to our community by Ajahn Pasanno in the fall of 2005 a few members of the Portland Friends of the Dhamma inquired about establishing an Upasika training program in our home town. With the blessings of both Ajahn’s Pasanno and Amaro our first Upasika daylong was held in December of that year, increasing the number of Upasika’s in the United States by a cool dozen.
What constitutes the Portland Training?
Recognizing the difficulty of maintaining individual practice in the world, Upasika Training:
Supports individual practice
Provides settings for developing experiential understanding of the Dhamma
Encourages contact with the monastic Sangha and like-minded people
With the help of the following basic guidelines:
To live by The Three Refuges and Five Precepts
- To cultivate a daily meditation practice
To attend regular gatherings at PFoD with other Upasikas
To respectfully acknowledge the Uposatha
To go on a retreat in the style of this monastic tradition at least once a year
- To attend teachings at PFoD with the monastics of this tradition
To support the PFoD community and it’s visiting monastic communities according to one’s means
To keep the guidelines for three consecutive months or to complete a 6 week Upasika Training course before attending an Upasika Daylong.
To attend the Upasika Daylongs as regularly as possible and renew the Refuges and Precepts monthly
How strictly are these guidelines observed?
Individual circumstances in lay life vary. Following the guidelines is encouraged to help maintain a commitment that can develop one’s practice and deepen insight and compassion. The guidelines are not enforced externally. Rather, they reflect a desire to practice that comes from within, supported by a shared commitment with like-minded friends.
Does the Upasika Program in Portland differ in any way to the Upasika Program at Abhayagiri Monastery?
The Upasika Program in Portland supports those interested in deepening and/or exploring a commitment to the Buddha’s teachings as expressed through Thai Forest Monastic community of the Ajahn Chah/Abhayagiri/Pacific Hermitage Sangha. Due to nearness of location, our intention for contact with the monastics is focused on those living and teaching at the Pacific Hermitage. Upasikas are encouraged to frequent the Hermitage as well as attend their teachings here at PFoD every third Friday of most months (see calendar for exact dates).
Do I have to take the Refuges and Precepts formally to participate in events?
Yes. Upasika daylongs are for those making at least a four month commitment. Once a year we will be traveling down as a group to join the ‘Upasika Renewal Day‘ at Abhayagiri where we can, if so choosing, commit to the precepts for one year.
How often does the Upasika Portland Program gather and what takes place?
We gather for a daylong of meditation and study once a month. An example schedule can be found below.
Does it cost anything?
There is no monetary fee to participate. This program, like our center, is completely supported through the goodwill and generosity of those so inspired. We are deeply grateful for any means of support you may offer and recognize we cannot sustain these offerings without your generosity.
Example Upasika Daylong Schedule
The first half of the day, including meal break, is in noble silence.
9:00am – 11:00am: Full Puja service, taking of the Refuges and Precepts, guided meditation, walking meditation, break
11:30am – 12:30pm: Potluck meal
12:30pm – 1:00pm: Clean up, optional meditation/study
1:00pm – 3:30: Reflections, Sharing and Break
3:30pm – 4:00: Work Practice and Closing Chant