Bhavana Society Forest Monastery and Retreat Center

The Bhavana Society Forest Monastery and Retreat Center

  • Name of Center: The Bhavana Society Forest Monastery and Retreat Center
  • Address: Bhavana Society, Rte. 1, Box 218-3, Back Creek Road, High View, WV 26808 USA
  • Phone Number: 304-856-3850
  • Contact Email:
  • Tradition(s): Theravada Buddhism, (Sri Lanka lineage)
  • Technique(s): Vipassana, Bhante G, author of Mindfulness in Plain English
  • Cost: No cost, fully operating on donations, (dana).
  • Accommodations: Bhavana has both kutis, monastic style cabins, and dorm-style residences. Housing is strictly separated by gender.
  • Facilities: Meditation Hall, Kutis, monastic cabins and dorms. Kitchen and dining areas to accomodate approximately 50 people.
  • Physical Setting: Secluded woods in the front-range hills of West Virginia
  • Food (Vegetarian/Vegan/etc.): Food is not eaten after 12 noon each day. Only tea, juice or soft drinks are consumed after noon. (An evening meal for medical reasons must be approved at the time of registration.) The meals prepared here are vegetarian; please note, dairy and egg products may be used. Vegan options are usually provided.
  • Retreat Length(s): Typically 3-10 days, Self-retreats available for longer stays
  • Typical Schedule: Meditation hall open 24 hours, typical schedule for retreats
  • Issues of Taboos around attainment, real practice, disclosing insights, etc.: Bhante G has written many serious books like "The Path of Serenity and Insight" as well as "The Jhanas, in Theravada Buddhism". As long as Bhante G is at the Monastery, there is a great resource for interviews and discussions for serious meditators. I don't get the impression that the other monastics are all that interested in supporting intensive retreat experiences.
  • Issues of Rites/Rituals: Nothing out of the ordinary, not a cult.
  • Issues of Proper Dress: It's a Monastery, so conservative clothing, but nothing out of the ordinary
  • Issues of Etiquette:
  • Issues of Language: All Monastics speak English
  • Health Issues: No concerns.
  • Logistical Issues:
  • Strengths: The retreats have a real authentic feeling that is missing at the more secular centers that feel more like a psychologist conventions. I love the Kutis, monastic style cabins and the meditation hall. It has a really good vibe, in part due to the opportunity to sit with Bhante G who has been a monastic since he was 12 and he's in his 90s! It's definately worth checking out if you live in the Mid-Atlantic.
  • Weaknesses: It's probably worth mentioning that although it has an authentic vibe, one gets the feeling that western non-monastics are tolerated but not catered to. In other words, there is a definite preference for all things Sri Lankan here and its unlikely that they are going out of their way to make sure that you achieve some level of Jhana or insight during your visit.
  • Other Comments:
  • Overall Impression: Hands down the best place to go on retreat in the Mid-Atlantic. The only place I like better is the Forest Refuge in Berre, MA.
  • Worthy of recommendation on the Dharma Overground?