The Newbury Buddhist Monastery (NBM) is supported by the Buddhist Society of Victoria (BSV) and is the first Theravādan monastery of its kind in the world. The monastery is based on the ‘fourfold assembly’ of the Buddha’s living disciples; the monks (bhikkhus), the nuns (bhikkhunis), the male householders and the female householders. The NBM is a place where monastic and lay practitioners may practice the Dhamma together.
Right from the beginning, Ajahn Brahm has been the number ONE supporter of the Newbury Buddhist Monastery (NBM) which includes the bhikkhuni sangha to complete the 4-fold Buddhist community.
The NBM project started as an idea that Bhikkhu Jaganatha and Bhikkhuni Upekkha developed when they were at Santi Forest Monastery in NSW. The concept involved establishing a forest monastery that supported the practice of the fourfold assembly of laymen, laywomen, Bhikkhus, Bhikkhunis with a focus on support for the training and ordination of bhikkhunis.
In 2011 Ajahn Brahm endorsed the establishment of a Buddhist forest monastery supporting the 4-fold assembly in Melbourne with Bhikkhu Jaganatha as the project leader working with the BSV. With the sangha support of Ajahn Brahm, Bhikkhu Jaganatha and Bhikkhuni Upekkha, communities of the BSV and Sanghamittarama, this noble vision was put into motion in 2012.
A 3-stage NBM master plan was soon developed when a suitable forested property in central Victoria was secured in September 2014. This was made possible through the hard work of the BSV and Sanghamittarama communities including supporters of Ajahn Brahm from within Australia and overseas.
The success of the NBM is a testament to Ajahn Brahm’s ability to share the Dhamma, guide and inspire confidence as a spiritual teacher, enabling the monastery project to be accelerated from a start in 2012 to the current 2nd stage of development.
Stage 1 – Monks Accommodation (Completed)
Stage 1 of the NBM development was the monks accommodation. Enough funding was secured to complete construction of the first stage of development by April 2020. Ajahn Brahm offered support to the project by raising awareness to his followers and supporters in Australia and abroad.
Here is a video of the Groundbreaking Ceremony led by Ajahn Brahm at the commencement of the project:
Stage 2 – Meditation Retreat Centre (Current Development)
The NBM Meditation Retreat Centre project was officially launched in March 2020 by Ajahn Brahmali and Bhante Mudito. The designs developed are sensitive to the pristine forested natural environment and work toward supporting spiritual activities taking place on site. The buildings are organized around a strong spiritual axis of progression from mundane to spiritual – Entry Foyer – Dãna Hall – Stupa Courtyard – and through to the Meditation Hall (to be constructed at a future stage). The cottages are placed around a series of courtyards connected by landscaped gardens and colonnaded walkways. They also serve as tranquil contemplative spaces and pathways for walking meditation.
The Centre will facilitate Ajahn Brahm, Ajahn Brahmali and other senior monastics to provide teaching to the community. The construction is planned to commence in September 2021. The current phase of construction will consist of:
• 24 rooms with en-suites for lay retreatants,
• Construction of the kitchen and Dãna Hall,
• Offices and general amenities,
• Caretakers’ cottages,
• All necessary infrastructure services.
Stage 3 – Nuns Accommodation (Next Development)
Once the Retreat Centre is completed, work will begin on the final stage of development, which will consist of new accommodation and dhamma hall for the nuns. There are currently very limited opportunities for bhikkhuni ordination. Australia now has a thriving order of bhikkhunis who have been able to enter monastic life thanks to the courage and compassion of leaders like Ajahn Brahm.
The NBM is continuing in these efforts to provide a place of refuge and support for women who wish to enter monastic life.