It's been a bit of whirlwind here lately, lots of stuff, all of it positive. The danger now is in becoming attached to good things and being set up for inevitable disappointment. Anyway, sukho puññassa uccayo and all that, so let us rejoice in our goodness, everyone, and throw out our badness!
First, though, the rejoicing :) On the Internet front, we have a new subdomain, study.sirimangalo.org; if you haven't seen it yet, take a peek. You'll need to request permission to join the group and be accepted (we don't turn people down, it's just the way Google Docs works). Basically, it is a weekly ongoing study group that will be using a given Buddhist text to learn about the Buddha's teaching. So, sign up, sign in, and join the goodness. Currently, the audio portion is one-way, just because my Internet is still poor - that and the difficulty in running group audio on a website. Even though you won't have audio, everyone can participate in text chat, ask questions and post comments. Our first session was a bit of a mixed experience due to technical difficulties, but I think it will be sorted out for the next session (2 PM UTC, Saturday).
Another Internet project that seems promising is our (still-experimental) Google+ meditation group. Using Google+ Hangouts, we've managed to get up to five people meditating together from around the world; some with web cam, some just present. It's a great way to bring structure to our practice, and to get encouragement and network with other meditators. The link that should work (no promises for the future, though) is this:
You need a Google+ account. Right now I'm there at 4 AM UTC and 2 PM UTC (except Saturdays and Sundays, when we have the study and radio broadcasts).
Speaking of radio, I think I didn't mention this on my blog yet either, that we have a radio page back up and are holding refuge and precept taking as well as holding a Q&A session and doing group meditation. The page is here:
and the platform is currently UStream, which is, unfortunately, ad supported, so in turn for using their live-streaming video service, we get to listen to their ads. Adblock Plus is one way of removing the ads, apparently.
As for real life, work continues on the kutis; yesterday we decided to put a concrete roof on the two new rooms, so we can use the space for meditation, drying clothes, etc. Maybe even build more rooms on top, but that does seem a bit excessive. Today they started pouring concrete for the corner posts; the foundation walls will be finished soon, and then we're only a few steps away from having two new rooms. Tomorrow the carpenter is supposed to come to build a roof over my head (above the rooms above my head, to be exact), and then we'll be close to having another two rooms. That will make six meditator rooms in total; still not enough! Two new novice monks ordaining, two Bhikkhunis coming, and meditators requesting space every day or so. We'll have to turn people away for now; we really are still in our "beta" stage, to borrow a computer term :)
Otherwise, the sparrows are still above my tent, the head monk left today after a six day visit, and we have two meditators working away in our two caves. Alms every morning, meditation (online at that!) and monastery building. All is well here.