Vimutti Monastery is a Buddhist community in the lineage of one of Thailand’s greatest meditation masters, Venerable Ajahn Chah. Created with the intention of generating peace and wisdom in the world, Vimutti is situated in the midst of 144 acres of native bush, pine forest, streams and rolling hills. The monastery offers seclusion and suitable conditions for those who wish to deepen their meditation, as well as the opportunity for people of all nationalities to join together in harmony and work towards a noble common goal. One can experience the rare and precious opportunity to take part in the daily life of a monastery, participate in regular meditation workshops and serve the community on ‘Good Kamma’ days. With the combination of a traditional approach to monastic training, a beautiful natural environment and a compassionate atmosphere, Vimutti is a powerful support for the alleviation of human suffering. True freedom and lasting happiness are to be found through the purification of the heart, the cultivation and perfection of the Buddha’s Eight-fold Path. By encouraging the study, practice and realisation of these teachings, Vimutti can truly be a liberating refuge on the way to awakening.
The name Vimutti was chosen for this monastery because it represents the highest and most noble potential for a human being. This term in the Pali language means liberation or ultimate freedom. Often at the conclusion of the Buddha’s discourses the minds of the listeners would, either immediately or after a period of practice, be ‘Vimuttied’—liberated from all the mental defilements that lead to pain and frustration in the endless cycles of life and death. Venerable Ajahn Chah used this word to refer to the ultimate level of reality.
Vimutti Buddhist Monastery is intended to be a secure and peaceful place where people of all nationalities can come together in harmony and mutual respect to hear and practice the sublime path of the Buddha. It is a place for people who are looking for more serenity and clarity in their lives, a respite from the worries and pressures of the world, a place where people care for each other. Within the tranquil surroundings of Vimutti you are invited to contemplate the highest priorities in your life. In the depth of your heart what do you feel is most worth dedicating your life to?
It is important to have a place where people can gather and relax in an atmosphere of loving-kindness and compassion, where people accept each other just as they are without judging or criticising. We are one big multi-cultural family, and like any family, each member needs care and respect. In a society where low self-esteem is so common, where many people have forgotten how to be their own best friend, it is very beneficial to learn how to have more compassion for ourselves. Through living a life of virtue, developing the mind in meditation and manifesting wisdom in our daily activities, it is natural that self-esteem blossoms, and we begin to understand what it means to have true love both for ourselves and others.
As Vimutti is a monastery in the Forest Tradition, our lifestyle incorporates many of the ascetic practices recommended by the Buddha, such as living in the forest, eating one meal a day and eating everything out of one’s almsbowl. These practices and many others of our daily life are intended to reduce and finally eliminate those mental states and habits that limit and defile the mind.
Vimutti is entirely dependant upon the generosity of others. We do not charge for any of the teachings, meditation workshops or facilities that we offer. This system of mutual giving has been practiced since the time of the Buddha. It places the responsibility on each of us to decide how we wish to, or are able to, support the Dhamma. Generosity is best practiced with the wisdom that understands the law of kamma. We are continuously creating our future happiness or suffering by how we respond to this moment right here, right now. Reacting unselfishly, with clarity, love and kindness, a human heart opens up and naturally wishes to help others and relieve their pain. The suttas are filled with stories that illustrate the amazing benefit that comes from making merit with material offerings, but giving can also go much deeper. Giving assistance to those who need it, giving time and attention to people who are close to us, giving up materialistic greed, giving up angry responses when we don’t get what we want, giving up thinking we are better or worse than anyone else, giving up the deluded notion that if I hold tightly to what I think is mine that somehow, someday I will be happy—these are all forms of generosity—giving everything back to nature. If we examine life we will see that we tend to get back whatever we give to others. So whatever you want in life, give it.
The Buddha created monastic communities as the optimal lifestyle for those seeking to understand the ultimate truths of reality. The main purpose and responsibility of a Buddhist monk or nun is to put the teachings into practice. Committed to simplicity, renunciation (having no money and few possessions) and devotion to meditation, monastics do not aim to seek pleasure through self-indulgence or worldly distractions. Instead they strive for a more subtle inner happiness, one that blossoms forth when peace and wisdom take root in the heart. As one’s wisdom develops so does one’s capacity to help others.
Monastic life in all of its activities is designed to develop positive qualities that lead to awakening — qualities such as generosity, loving kindness, integrity, humility, determined effort and a continuity of clear awareness. Since the time of the Buddha, monks and nuns have followed his example by living in forests, mountains and caves. Far from the stress and busyness that afflict city life, a tranquil natural setting provides the perfect environment for developing serenity and insight.
Current Resident Sangha
Ajahn was ordained as a Buddhist monk in 1990 in the lineage of Venerable Ajahn Chah of the Thai Forest Tradition. Born in 1962 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A., his interest in the teachings of the Buddha grew as he studied towards a BA degree in Religious Studies from Carleton College (1984). Following graduation, he began applying himself to training in meditation and subsequently went to Asia to find a monastery suitable for fully devoting himself to the Dhamma.
After practicing intensive meditation in various monasteries in Thailand and traveling extensively in Tibet, Nepal and India, he eventually settled at Wat Pah Nanachat, The International Forest Monastery, in the North-east of Thailand. Ajahn Chah established this branch monastery specifically for his English-speaking disciples. For the first five years after his full ordination as a bhikkhu, Ajahn Chandako was based at Wat Pah Nanachat.
He then began wandering, seeking out forest meditation masters and studying with them. Along the way he translated into English many of the teachings he received in Thai (see Teachings). Included in his translations is Ajahn Chah’s Unshakeable Peace. Ajahn Chandako is also the author of A Honed and Heavy Axe.
Nick Mole was born in Palmerston North in 1991. He attended University of Auckland, receiving a B.A. in 2014 and M.A. in 2017. Nick became interested in Buddhism in high school, and his interest in the Dhamma and monastic life gradually grew until he decided to pursue ordination in 2020.
Sam is an Auckland, New Zealand native. He has been interested in meditation and Dhamma practice for 10 years, and has often led tea ceremony workshops.
Anagarika Justin was born in America, studied physics and taught science. Justin moved to New Zealand three years ago and is enjoying deepening Dhamma practice at Vimutti Monastery.