Serve Long-term (sit & serve)
Long-term Dhamma service offers a student of Vipassana the opportunity to strengthen his or her meditation practice by applying it in daily life. It is for those who have a strong volition to serve and wish to develop more in Dhamma by staying at the Centre for an extended period. Long-term Dhamma service requires one to work hard in a surrendered, cooperative way, with an attitude of humility and renunciation. While difficulties may arise, the rewards are many as one grows and gets established in the Dhamma.
How long one may stay at the Centre is determined on a course by course basis. Usually long-term service may extend from three to six months. Every long-term server will sit one course for every two courses they serve. At the end of each course, whether one has sat or served, the long-term Dhamma server meets with the assistant teacher to discuss how things are progressing. This gives everyone the opportunity to evaluate the situation and determine if continuing is beneficial for both the student and the Centre.
The Centre is not a commune where one comes to live a householder’s life. It is not a place to come because one has nowhere else to go, or a place where one goes for a rest or to recover from an illness. It is a place of renunciation and celibacy where a student of Vipassana has a unique opportunity to grow in Dhamma by giving Dhamma service on an extended basis. For these reasons long-term Dhamma servers follow the regular Code of Conduct for Dhamma Workers. In addition, the following points should be clearly understood:
Five precepts ― Long-term Dhamma servers must observe the five precepts for the duration of their stay, whether on or off the Centre property.
Daily meditation practice ― They must attend the three daily group sittings, and also evening Metta (when an assistant teacher is present). Lights out at 10:00 p.m.
Facilities ― Long-term Dhamma servers will be given priority in the assignment of accommodations for Dhamma workers. Accommodations, however, may be changed often, to meet the immediate needs of the course. There should be no sense of “entitlement” to better accommodations just because one has been at the Centre for some time.
Meeting with assistant teachers ― As mentioned above, all long-term Dhamma servers, whether sitting or serving, are required to meet with the assistant teacher after each course. They may also meet with the AT by arrangement to discuss any questions or problems they are experiencing or to ask questions about the meditation,
Sitting course ― Long-term Dhamma servers should alternate between serving and sitting courses. This is generally on a sit one, serve two basis.
Serving course ― While serving on a course, long-term Dhamma servers should put aside their daily routines and give their full attention to the course. As far as possible personal affairs, medical appointments, etc., should be attended to between courses. Unless they are given permission to leave by the assistant teachers, Dhamma workers should remain at the centre during courses.
Long-term Dhamma servers may leave the centre between courses. They should notify the centre manager beforehand and inform him or her of the date when they will return. These breaks will be for rest or to conduct personal business. The centre should never be used as a base to go from one social affair to another. If a server feels a need for a longer break, then arrangements should be made to stay outside of the centre.
Segregation of the sexes ― To protect the Dhamma atmosphere of the centre, segregation of the sexes should be maintained at all times, both during and between courses. There are separate accommodations for men and women, and men and women eat separately as well. Dhamma workers must be very careful to treat those of the opposite sex as their Dhamma brothers or sisters. While Dhamma partnerships are not discouraged, the centre is not the place to develop them. Therefore, if two people find themselves attracted to one another, and want to pursue a relationship, they should immediately leave the centre.
Reading material ― Dhamma workers may use the small centre library of Dhamma books. Other reading material is not appropriate at the centre.
Telephone and email ― During a course, telephone use should be limited to only necessary or urgent calls. The centre computer is not available for server use during courses except with AT permission. Servers may check their e-mail accounts between courses as long as the computer is not being used for centre business. They should try to limit their use to 30 minutes on-line daily. Servers may go to Dhamma sites or to their e-mail accounts, but not ‘surf the net’.
Use of centre property ― As a Dhamma server, one lives the life of renunciation. The centre will provide the basic requirements of food and shelter; other expenses are the responsibility of the servers themselves. As everything at the centre is there as the result of Dana by other students, Dhamma workers should take care not to appropriate centre property for their own use without permission.
From time to time long-term Dhamma servers should, according to their means, not miss the opportunity to give monetary donation to the centre If you wish to serve long term, please go to the course schedule webpage and apply to serve the first course. Please write an e-mail to the Registration Coordinator indicating how long you would like to stay at the centre. Your application will be reviewed and you will be notified. We may contact you to see if you have any questions about giving service and staying at the centre.