About Us

Click one of the links in the table of contents below or scroll down to find out more about Tisarana Monastery.

Contents:Description | Intention/Aim of the Monastery | Becoming a Monastic | Lay Community Involvement


Tisarana is located in Eastern Canada, approximately one-and-a-half hours southwest of Ottawa. It is situated on 167 acres of farmland, forest, and wetland. The main building is a three-story brick house which is the residence for lay support staff and visitors. Adjoining the house is the community’s meditation hall. There is also a double garage which has been converted into an office, a barn which has been rebuilt as a workshop, and another barn which is used for storage. There are eight kutis (small cabins) spread throughout the forest, which are used by monastics and long-term lay residents.

Tisarana is a monastery in the Thai forest tradition. Situated in rural settings rather than urban centres, these monasteries are focused on the Buddha’s path of contemplative insight. A strong emphasis is also placed on following the original monastic rules laid down by the Buddha. Living in such monastic communities involves a life of shared aspiration, shared values, shared responsibilities and shared resources. Tisarana Monastery is under the guidance of Ajahn Vīradhammo, who is one of Ajahn Chah’s earliest western disciples.

“Tisarana” literally means “three refuges.” In Theravāda Buddhism, the three refuges refer to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha – the Teacher, his teaching, and the community of his noble disciples. Along with the five precepts, the refuges form the basic foundation for the practice of Buddhism.

Tisarana Monastery is registered as a charitable organization with the Canada Revenue Agency. Financial statements are generated annually.

Intention/Aim of the Monastery

The aim of Tisarana Monastery is to be a centre of teaching and practice for people in both monastic and lay life. The resident monks offer regular teachings at the monastery and to Buddhist groups in Ontario and farther afield; thus Tisarana’s main emphasis is to support the resident bhikkhus (monks) who are available to teach the wider Buddhist congregation. The heart of the resident community is the ordained Sangha of Bhikkhus (monks), Sāmaneras (novices), and Anagārikas (postulants). Monastics from other branches of the global Buddhist community are occasionally invited to stay for periods of time.

Becoming a Monastic

Those wishing to join the monastic community initially make a commitment as an Anagārika for one year, during which time they are able to train in the monastic life and consider a longer commitment. After another year as a Sāmanera, those who decide to continue with the training may be accepted into the community of fully-ordained Bhikkhus.
If training as a monastic at Tisarana is something that interests you, the best thing to do would be to come and visit. While you are here, you can speak with the senior monk about your interest. It is important to get the chance to meet the monastic community and see if Tisarana is the right place for you. By the same token, it is important for the senior monk to have the chance to evaluate whether or not you would be a good fit for the community.
First-time visitors are limited to a one-week stay. Although, exceptions are sometimes made for those coming from far away. To come and stay, please read the daily schedule and the ‘Staying as a Guest’ section on the Visiting page. Then, go to the Guest Booking Form page and fill out a form. In the ‘other comments’ section of the booking form, you can write that you are interested in monastic training.

Lay Community Involvement

Although Tisarana Monastery does not offer residential meditation retreats, people are welcome to visit and join the community for morning and evening meditations, meal times, days of mindfulness and Uposatha days. There are also opportunities for guests to stay at the monastery overnight for short stays and share the lifestyle of the monastic community. If you are interested, please go to the ‘Visiting’ page on the website.