Hermitage Meditation Centre, located in Rawdon, Quebec, is the home and teaching centre of Ajahn Dhammarakkhito. The place began in 1998 as a gift from Eric DeLorimier, whose life had drastically changed when he became Ajahn’s student two years previously.
In the beginning, it was the project of Eric alone to build the place from scratch, on a forgotten piece of land in the forest. Since that time, it has grown into a small community of lay students and supporters of Ajahn.
Ajahn accepts few students, only those who are seriously intent on making profound changes in themselves and wishing to correct deeply, practicing celibacy and dedicating their lives to this work for a long-term period. Essentially, to all intents and purposes, we practice like monks and nuns, although we do not wear robes, eat more than once a day and do not chant or practice any kinds of rituals or ceremonies. Since we are not a traditional monastery with support from lay people, we also work to maintain and support the meditation centre ourselves (see note about Hardy Fruit Tree Nursery below).
Our practice of Buddhism is “unorthodox” in the sense that it does not match that which is practiced in traditional monasteries and nunneries, but in the true sense of the word it is “orthodox”: that is, we are dedicated to practicing the pure teaching of the Buddha as it was given, nothing added and nothing removed.
On Hardy Fruit Tree Nursery
Eric’s interest in self sufficiency, and particularly in growing fruit trees, led him to plant an orchard full of many different varieties of apple, pear and plum. Gradually, as more and more people showed interest in purchasing some of what Eric produced, his hobby started to undergo a transformation into a small fruit and nut tree nursery, now known as Hardy Fruit Tree Nursery.
The nursery is an important aspect of the place, as it provides a way for the students living and working there to maintain and fund the meditation centre, and is what makes it possible for new people to come and learn meditation freely. It is run entirely by the students of meditation, along with volunteers from all over the world.
At present, we are six permanent meditation students along with Ajahn. Until now, most of us in this community of meditators have originally arrived as volunteers at the nursery, and the nursery work continues to be a big part of how we spend our time.
While we are happy to do this, both as a means of supporting Ajahn and the community, and because we think that the result of people growing more of their own food and being more independent can only be positive, our true aim with this material work is only to use it, and all parts of our daily life as a meditation, to work on ourselves by removing impurities and cultivating goodness and wisdom in ourselves.