FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: If I am accepted into the program, may I share the password and website with my family and friends so we can study together?
A: No. If you are accepted into Birken’s Upāsikā Secluded Study program only you will have permission to access the website and teachings. If you share the website and password with anyone else you will be asked to leave the program.
Q: About how many hours of study time should I plan on each month?
A: Generally there are about 3-5 hours of reading, video viewing, chant/audio listening and recitation assignments each month. Some people may choose to go over their assignments several times in the month while others may just review them once. That will be up to you and your daily schedule as well.
Q: I see there is a commitment to devote one ‘Day of Observance’ per week to the Eight Precepts and additional meditation. Does it matter what day of the week that is?
A: Whatever day in the week works for you, your family, and your lifestyle is perfectly fine. You may want to devote a different day each week, again depending on your life circumstances. The importance is in making the commitment although there may be times when it is not possible. Setting the intention is the most important thing.
Q: I’m involved in other Buddhist online discussion groups. Can we start one for this program?
A: Ajahn Sona has carefully curated and developed the contents of this program and it is not open to outside discussion. You are welcome to be part of other outside groups, but you do not have permission at any time to reference Birken and/or the Upāsikā program in your comments or discussions.
Q: I know other Birken Upāsikās. May I join them in their in-person and/or online groups?
A: Unfortunately no. Only graduates of our previous Upāsikā training programs may participate in the Birken Upāsikā groups. Upon proof of successful completion of the Birken Upāsikā Secluded Study Program you will then be invited to join our Upāsikā Graduate program and its Upāsikā groups.
Q: You mention proof of successful completion of the program? How will be prove that?
A: Proof of completion will be through quarterly online surveys emailed to all trainees by way of your assignment newsletter so that participants stay active and up-to-date in their studies. All four surveys for the year must be submitted by no later than December 15 for participants to be considered for the Graduate Upāsikā program.
Q: I have this great app that I’ve developed. May I share the information with Ajahn Sona for consideration to add it to the Birken Upāsikā Secluded Study Program?
A: Many times in the past Upāsikās have suggested or offered either their own or others apps, documents, and websites. Again this program is not open to other views and opinions; only those that have been carefully developed by Ajahn Sona over the past 7+ years of the Upāsikā Program. If you foresee this being a problem it may be best not to apply for the program at this time.
Q: You say that comments will not be open during the one year program. How can we ask Ajahn Sona a question?
A: There will be online etiquette guidelines posted on the program website which will delineate the parameters of the program as well as menu links to all resources and means of asking questions of Ajahn Sona. These will include an online Q&A directory, his extensive library of YouTube Dhamma talks, and the opportunity to submit questions during our YouTube Livestream Q&As. Please do not email or submit questions or comments to Ajahn Sona outside of these guidelines.
Q: I missed the deadline to apply. Can I still join the Secluded Study program?
A: Unfortunately, no. The program has been set up to run from January-December of each calendar year. Please watch for an announcement next summer regarding the upcoming Birken Upāsikā Secluded Study Program.