Becoming a Resident

A festive lunch

We invite you to apply to come to Gampo Abbey to practice, study, and participate in our monastic community life.  The Shambhala teachings on enlightened warriorship form the backbone of Abbey monastic life. The focus of living at Gampo Abbey is on experiencing monastic life through taking temporary ordination. (Note that in order to take temporary ordination you must have taken refuge — become a Buddhist.) You should also have at least six months of well-established sitting meditation experience. Due to the current monastic training underway, experience with the Shambhala teachings is strongly recommended.

One-Year Temporary Monastic Residency Program: Training in the Shambhala Monastic Order at Gampo Abbey


For many years, it has been the vision of our lineage of Sakyongs that practitioners seeking to deepen and strengthen have the opportunity to do so within the container of a temporary monastic ordination; this has been practiced at Gampo Abbey for decades.  At this auspicious time when Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche has established the Shambhala Monastic Order, we are now in the midst of this training for a one-year period which began in October 2014.  This year follows an in-depth curriculum based on the principles of Tiger—friendliness, mindfulness, discernment, renunciation, selflessness, exertion, contentment, and confidence.  It also include frequent practice of Shambhala Meditation and other teachings of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, as well as of the Druk Sakyong, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.  Our aspiration is that through training deeply within the Abbey’s close community, participants will strengthen their practice and receive profound tools to offer to the vision of enlightened society in returning to household life or journeying further along the monastic path. 

During this year, participants are enganged in:

  • 4-6 hours a day of meditation including a three-hour session of one’s main practice
  • Weekly classes with Shambhalian monastics and Shastri-in-Residence Alice Haspray
  • Regular group practice of the Shambhala Sadhana and Shambhala Meditation
  • Four hours a day of offering service
  • Yarne (annual winter retreat) led by Acharya Pema Chödrön
  • Temporary monastic ordination offered after three-month entry period and held for the duration of the stay
  • Opportunities for guided study with monastic graduates of the Abbey’s philosophical college (shedra) drawing from the rich body of seminary teachings

The fee for the next cycle of this program is under review and will be announced shorlty.  Please note, space is limited and applications will be evaluated as they are received. 

For more comprehensive information that you will need in order to plan to come and live at Gampo Abbey, download our Residents Manual (in PDF format; requires Acrobat Reader).

Life at the Abbey

Discipline is the foundation of monastic life which provides a simplified environment conducive to waking up. Therefore, all residents are required to live by the five Buddhist precepts and adhere fully to the Abbey schedule. The five precepts are: refraining from taking life, refraining from stealing, refraining from sexual activity, refraining from lying, and refraining from intoxicants.  The schedule includes up to four hours of meditation daily, observing silence before noon and after 8 in the evening, attending morning and evening chants and other liturgical ceremonies.  Each resident also has house chores, dish clean-up, and a four-hour work period five to six days per week. Life at the Abbey is rigorous; you should be in good health if you want to consider applying to be a resident. Please read the information on Living at Gampo Abbey for a better understanding of monastic life at Gampo Abbey

Meditation Practice at the Abbey

Gampo Abbey follows the view and the meditation practices as taught by our founder, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.  The Abbey follows the forms and traditions of the Shambhala and Karma Kagyu schools of Tibetan Buddhism.  Shamatha/vipashyana meditation as taught by the Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is the meditation technique shared by all Abbey residents.  Residents are expected to learn and practice this technique while at the Abbey.  There is also time available in the daily schedule for the preparatory practices of ngondro or other advanced practices (such as yidam practice) for those who are authorized to practice these.  Other Buddhist practices can be done during free time. 

Central to the practice life of the Abbey are various liturgical ceremonies, such as taking the daily precepts, as well as offering chants and supplications to protectors. All community members are required to participate fully in these.  Each Abbey resident meets regularly with a Meditation Instructor.

Community Life

The Abbey is a vibrant community, living and working in close quarters. Community life can be joyful as well as challenging.  It is necessary that you are willing to meet and work with these challenges. We ask that prior to coming to the Abbey, you be well grounded in Buddhism generally, and have at least six months of well-established sitting meditation experience. In order to maintain continuity in the community and to deepen the experience of contemplative life, residents are asked not to leave the Abbey for the first six months of their stay.

Celebratory lunch offering - A super Gampo Abbey cookie
Feast practice in main shrine room

Cost of Staying at the Abbey

When planning for your stay as a resident at Gampo Abbey you need to consider three different types of costs — the monthly resident's fee, program fees for shedra and house teachings, and personal living expenses.

Resident's Fee: Abbey residents fee is under review. A new rate will be announced at the same time as the details of the next cycle of the one year training program is announced. This resident's fee covers only a small portion of the actual costs of life at the Abbey. We rely on the generosity of our donors to cover most of the operating costs of the Abbey and to help us to keep the resident's fee low enough so that the fee will not become a barrier to those who wish to explore monastic life at the Abbey.

Program Fees: In addition to the Resident's fees, there are tuition fees associated with participating in our monastic college (shedra) and for our house classes (See the Residents Manual for more details). These fees assist with covering the costs of bringing in outside teachers for these programs. In addition to the tuition fees, personal teaching gifts may be provided to teachers.

Personal Living Expenses: You should also budget for any additional expenses like purchases from the Abbey bookstore, stamps, long distance calls, or personal items like toiletries that can be purchased through the bi-weekly town trips.

Suggested Readings

If you are not very familiar with Tibetan Buddhism or the teachings of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche or Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, we ask you to have read at least the first two books on the list below.

Ruling Your World Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche Morgan Road Books
Shambhala, The Sacred Path of the Warrior Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche Shambhala Publications
The Myth of Freedom Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche Shambhala Publications
The Practice of Tranquility and Insight Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche Snow Lion Publications
The Wisdom of No Escape Pema Chödrön Shambhala Publications
When Things Fall Apart Pema Chödrön Shambhala Publications

Health and Well-Being

The diet at the Abbey is vegetarian. Special diets are not provided. For medicinal purposes canned tuna is available once a week on open days. Evening meals are "medicine meals" consisting of soup. Alcohol and smoking are forbidden.  The daily schedule provides one and a half hours for mind/body work including hiking, yoga, tai chi. While the discipline and schedule at the Abbey are extremely enriching, they are also rigorous and demanding. Therefore, it is important that you are in good mental, emotional and physical condition for your time at the Abbey

Daily Schedule

Although the schedule can vary occasionally, generally we work Monday through Friday. Saturday is an open day (no schedule) and Sunday is nyinthün (all day practice and silence). See the practice schedule for the usual schedule at the Abbey.

Feast practice in the Main Shrine Room
Celebratory lunch offering - A super Gampo Abbey cookie

How to Apply

An application form for next cycle of the one year training program will be posted here when the details of the new program are announced..


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Gampo Abbey
Pleasant Bay, Cape Breton,  NS B0E 2P0
Tel. 902-224-2752    Email:

Shambhala, Shambhala Meditation Center, Shambhala Training, Shambhala Center and Way of Shambhala are registered service marks of Shambhala International (Vajradhatu).   Website by Blue Mandala