FIVE PRECEPTS & BODHICITTA

These training precepts are offered to guide the ethical behavior of the entire Cloud Mountain community. Retreatants, staff, teachers, board members, and volunteers are all requested to do their best to cultivate these precepts while at Cloud Mountain Retreat Center. They are intended as standards we can internalize as a foundation for our individual practice and to support harmonious community, as the Buddha intended. 

1.   Refraining from Killing
Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I will cultivate the precept of not killing, and will not encourage others to kill. In undertaking this precept, I acknowledge the interconnection of all sentient beings.

2.   Refraining from Stealing
Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, injustice and stealing, I agree not to take anything that does not belong to me or has not been freely offered, and to respect the property of others. I will be honest in my dealings with money. 

3.   Refraining from Sexual Misconduct
Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I will avoid creating harm through sexuality, and will avoid sexual exploitation or breaking commitments of sexual fidelity.

4.   Refraining from False Speech:
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful and untrue words, I will undertake the training of speaking truthfully, with beneficial words. I will cultivate deep listening. I will refrain from gossip about others. I will attempt, with kindness and honesty, to resolve any conflicts I have with other people.

5.   Refraining from the Use of Intoxicants:
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption of intoxicants, I will refrain from abusing them, including non-medicinal drugs and alcohol.

We also ask that you bear in mind the principles of stewardship, renunciation and generosity while at Cloud Mountain, undertaking to give of oneself for the alleviation of suffering and the wellbeing of all.

NOBLE SILENCE

Most retreats are held in silence. By observing outer silence and temporarily renouncing our usual habits of conversation, we provide a support for the cultivation of a deep inner silence. You will be asked to refrain not only from speaking but also from activities like reading, writing and using technology or communication devices. A silent environment supports each retreatant to engage the immediacy of his or her experience in the present moment on deeper and more subtle levels than is normally possible.

Occasionally matters arise that need to be addressed through appropriate and skillful communication. Essential communication of this kind is done through notes on the center’s message board. For the sake of the integrity of your own retreat experience, however, we will ask that you keep notes to a minimum. In the event of an emergency, you are welcome to speak to a staff member in a way so as not to disturb other participants. There are a few exceptions to the silence: there will be daily Dharma talks and meditation instructions offered by the teacher(s), as well as opportunities to engage verbally during Q&A periods and during private practice discussions with the teacher(s).

ACCOMMODATIONS

Cloud Mountain currently offers a mix of single, double and shared rooms. Guest rooms are located in various buildings. In accord with our values of simplicity and renunciation, they are deliberately modest in character. You may take a tour of the Photo Gallery to view typical rooms in Diamond Hall, Alder Lodge, Yogi Hall and the Bamboo Room. The main toilet and shower facilities are in a separate building, the Showerhouse. Some sleeping areas have adjacent indoor toilets and showers. Many of the shared rooms contain bunk beds.

We understand that most people would prefer to have a single space while on retreat. Over the years, in order to be fair and equitable about assigning our limited number of single rooms, we have evolved the practice of assigning rooms on a first-registered first-housed basis. For the earliest registrants, we assign the singles, then fill doubles, and on very full retreats the last people to register will be housed in rooms with two or three roommates. If a cancellation opens up a single room, the next person on the list, based on registration date, will automatically move into that space.

The office staff needs to be alerted to any special needs IN ADVANCE of the retreat that are relevant to how we house you. Rooming is finalized just prior to the retreat start in order to accommodate any last minute changes, so in most cases we’re unable to tell you in advance what your specific housing assignment will be. We cannot guarantee last minute requests for changes, since the assignments are specifically geared to the number of retreatants and the various special needs requests we receive.

Camping is an option we can offer. There are numerous camping sites on the property and retreatants are welcome to bring tents and camping pads to utilize those spaces. There is no discount for camping; each participants is still assigned a space in a room in order to have a place to leave luggage and to return to in poor weather. It is helpful for us to know in advance if you plan to camp.

Please be aware that in assigning housing, we must meet a variety of needs with the resources we have available. We ask that you practice with whatever situation in which you find yourself and accept whatever housing assignment you’re offered with gratitude and equanimity.

FOOD

We serve three vegetarian meals daily. Healthy, simple, well-balanced meals are served. We use whole grains, fresh ingredients and unprocessed foods in our menus.

Although we serve a number of lacto-ovo vegetarian dishes (i.e., containing dairy and/or eggs), most of the food served is vegan. Tofu, beans, and/or lentils tend to be primary protein sources in most dishes.

Breakfasts consist of a hot cereal and plentiful condiments, plus hard boiled eggs. Lunch is the main meal of the day, as a reflection of the eating customs during the Buddha’s time, when monastics ate one meal per day, at midday. Although it is customary in monasteries to refrain from eating after noon, we do provide a light evening meal consisting of a hearty soup and artisan breads. You may visit Cloud Mountain Cookbook, a website on which we’ve posted most of our recipes, to view the kinds of foods we’ll provide you during your retreat.

Tea and light snacks are available at all times of the day and night. The snack table contains fresh fruit (apples, oranges, bananas), various whole-grain crackers, rice cakes, bread (both regular and gluten-free), butter (dairy and non-dairy versions), nut butters and jams.

The tea table offers a wide variety of herbal and caffeinated tea bags, various sweeteners and both dairy and non-dairy milks. Coffee is provided, and you are very welcome to bring your own personal supply. We provide cones and filters for coffee brewing.

While we use organic ingredients whenever financially feasible, we have chosen to not commit to going 100% organic since doing so would increase retreat fees. We practice the Middle Way in our kitchen by preparing food that we sincerely hope is tasty and healthy but that is not so rich, fancy or delicious that it becomes a distraction or detriment to meditation practice.

Considerations related to special dietary restrictions: 

An ingredient list is presented with all meals.

We offer non-dairy, non-wheat, and vegan options as necessary. We make non-gluten, non-wheat bread available, but do not guarantee to provide non-gluten meal options.

Although we make strong efforts to support those with dietary limitations to be well nourished during your retreat, we cannot guarantee to provide for all of the different dietary restrictions people have. For retreatants who have dietary restrictions other than non-dairy, non-wheat, or vegan, please be aware that ultimately it is your own responsibility to provide for your own dietary needs if they fall outside of the standard alternatives listed above.

If you have dietary needs we cannot guarantee to accommodate, we recommend that you bring along some supplementary food of your own to fill in with the provided food that you can eat. We offer refrigerator space, use of the microwave in the dining hall, and shelf space to those retreatants who need to bring some of their own food. We can also offer storage containers so that you can put aside portions of dishes that we serve during the retreat that work for your dietary needs to eat at later times when what goes out on the table won’t work for you. The cook will offer guidance on where and how to store your food.

Please alert us in advance if you have life-threatening allergies.

WORKING MEDITATIONS

Retreatants are asked to assist with daily tasks such as chopping vegetables, washing dishes, sweeping floors, etc. These tasks are offered as a form of working meditation. At the end of each retreat, participants are asked to clean their own rooms and to help with final clean-up, which usually takes about 30 – 45 minutes to complete. A working meditation chore training period takes place the first evening following dinner to ensure you are adequately trained and prepared to perform your task.

This participatory feature of retreat is important on various levels. Practically, it allows us to offer retreats and still maintain a very small staff. This is one of our strongest avenues to keeping retreat fees as affordable as possible. It is also an avenue for people to practice generosity in a direct and immediate way. Each person contributes time, energy and intention through their service toward the well being of the group as a whole. Alternatively, each person becomes the recipients of the gifts of others, which is also a powerful teaching that can foster deep gratitude! In the midst of our individual practice, which can feel quite solitary, the brocade of working meditations reminds us of our interconnectedness and interdependence.

In addition to practices like sitting and walking meditation, the ongoing work tasks also provide another vehicle for meditation, one in which we can observe our bodies and minds in the midst of simple daily-life activities. These meditations provide an avenue that assist later on in integrating the teachings into our lives when we return home at the end of the retreat.