Thursday, July 04, 2013

old news

Still waiting for some decisions here, but there seems to be some need to let the broader community of people who wonder what I'm up to know what I'm up to, so...

As mentioned, there are some issues with the property we've chosen; some fairly significant repairs/upgrades have to take place if we're going to stay here.  Good news is the projected size of the property is now 40 acres, instead of 15.

There are other issues, though, including mortgage approval, financing, and running a meditation centre outside of the city.  The mortgage issues are what we are waiting on now, but even if the mortage is approved, we still have to be sure we can run the place.  The main issue there, from my point of view, is lack of a registered charity, which means inability to accept donations for the centre.  This, along with a paucity of dedicated supporters of the project (understandable given the timeframe) has made it quite a burden on the few hardcore supporters we do have.

All of this has made me suggest that we might be better off moving back to Winnipeg for the time being; when we were there, we saw much more consistent support and enthusiasm, which, again, is to be expected.  Though 50 km is hardly remote by Canadian standards, providing food and maintanence has been challenging.  For a fledgeling organization, we may have bit off more than we can chew.  That's what we're discussing now.

Another issue (or maybe I'm just imagining it) is the perceived difference between a monastery and meditation centre. I'm not sure there is so much interest among our broad group of (Sri Lankan) supporters for an actual meditation centre; one of the issues being discussed is that people bringing me food on a daily basis (almost entirely Sri Lankans) are sometimes disinclined to bring food for meditators as well.  Some are disappointed that female meditators are even staying at the monastery, using the same bathroom as a monk, etc.  Perfectly understandable, but at this point maybe not the best place to look for support for an international meditation centre.

It's this last issue that has me wondering whether it might even be a better choice to return to Ontario.  When I came to Canada in February, I was really pretty desperate for a place, any place to stay.  Now that it's been some months, I've renewed some connections and made new ones as well, and am wondering whether there might be more support for and interest in a meditation centre in the area around Toronto than on the prairies.  Of course, Ontario would probably mean staying in Stoney Creek again - the abbot actually offered to give me the monastery to run - though I imagine he could have been joking.  Anyway, we're good friends and he is very open minded and forward thinking.  Probably one of my best friends, come to think of it.  But, well, it's hardly a proper meditation centre, and would only serve as a temporary place to stay the symbolic rains.  And it's not that Manitoba isn't nice; people want me to stay and there is interest in what we are doing.  The question is, will it be enough to support a Buddhist monastery and meditation centre?  Discussions are underway (and comments are open for registered blog followers).

here, there, everywhere
wandering on, straying far
always coming home


  1. Michael Roe7:44 AM

    Bhante, based on what other ethical sangha leaders have done, there seems to be a pattern of establishing the sangha membership in a more urban or populated center, and then once the sangha is of sufficient size and dedicated support, moving to the rural setting. Or, as, for example, Blue Lotus in Woodstock, Illinois did, occupied a free/rented space in someone else's building for a few years, built a sangha base, and then purchased a building, all within a reasonable population center.

    You have enormous talent and lot of teaching to teach, but unfortunately, IMO Buddhism does not have the "legs" at the moment to get hundreds of people to get off their duffs and drive to a rural setting and commit to dana and sangha support. The sanghas that seem to be successful place themselves within the pocket of a population center, and then draw from that. Build a 200-300 person sangha of support in a city, and then gravitate to the "forest" once you have 150 local and global supporters that will pay $30 per month to support the forest monastery. It could take a few years, but you're doing all the right things (use of technology, excellent teaching) to get there.

  2. Thanks, Michael, glad to have your input.

  3. Sophie Wood7:42 PM

    I wish there were more dharma or meditation centers in the cities especially in the States (perhaps in Canada as well) where I currently reside. It's just unrealistic for ordinary people like myself to travel far to buddhist temples especially abroad. How wonderful would it be to have a decent sangha nearby to be able to practice and to continue to grow faith for city dwellers. It doesn't have to be fancy... just a good teacher (like yourself) and those who want to participate... that would be so wonderful! Just sayin'!^^

    BTW, my sincere gratitude for your on-going dharma talks on youtube. I have just recently started tuning into your youtube sessions. They are like a good dose of mental & emotional cleansing medicine that makes the day go better. Those random Q&A's are quite helpful. Thank you for that as well as making them so accessible all over the world! ;-)

  4. Muninn12:32 PM

    On the other hand, don't meditators at forest monasteries usually get what's left-over from monks' alms anyway? If I was a layperson who often gave food, I would feel strangely about giving it directly to other lay-people, also. I'm sure you have plenty left over, but maybe not enough for all the meditators who stay there . . . it may be wise to limit the meditators who come until you have a solid group of monks staying there. Have it open primarily as a monastery for monks and monks-in-training, plus a few meditators if there's enough supply. Then, once you have a few consistent monks, their alms will be more than enough to cover them and the meditators should you build a meditation center from the monastery.

  5. Muninn12:33 PM

    That's if you're determined to keep Parideha.