Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery
About 13 miles north of Ukiah, the monastery has its origins in the 1980s when the UK-based Ajahn Sumedho, foremost western disciple of the Thai meditation master Ajahn Chah, started getting requests to teach in California. Visits by either himself or one of his senior monks or nuns resulted in the Sanghapala Foundation being set up in 1988. The monastery's 120 acres were given to the foundation by the devotees of Chan Master Hsuan Hua, founder of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Talmage, before he died in 1995.
At the time of writing there were a dozen renunciates in permanent residence: two abbots, two anagarikas or postulants, two samaneras or novices and six fully-ordained bhikkhus. Male residents live in small huts nestled in the forest. Female residents live in a house which was separately donated to the monastery. Guest teachers come from the forests of Thailand as well as England.
The daily schedule, in keeping with tradition, is rigorous. Most residents, monastics and lay visitors and alike, rise well before sunrise. Morning puja, as it's known, is at 5am and lasts an hour-and-a-half. This is followed by a half-hour work period, and a spartan breakfast of oatmeal. There are then three hours of physical labor, ending with lunch, which has to be consumed before midday. There follows free time for study, meditation and/or walking the extensive network of trails that wind about the mountainside. At about 5pm tea is served, sometimes followed by a Dhamma reading and, later, by a further puja. On lunar observance days, which mark the four moon quarters, this lasts until 3am the following morning.