I want to share this little report about a Dhamma place I like:
May I ask how the Meditation Center ended up at that location in Missouri? I'm asking because for me, that's the first thing I noticed. I don't live in Missouri now but I grew up there and spent many, many weekends at the nearby Johnson Shutins State Park. My interests now are more related to meditation but I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere and I am very curious.
Dhamma Greetings C.,
our teacher's, Bhante Vimalaramsi's, mother grew up in Missouri. He spent some of his time in his youth there. The family had roots way back here and Bhante wanted to be isolated. We are.
Also UIBDS, the corporate support organization, wanted to not be located on either coastal area where larger concerns were already developed using and training with commentarial based information. The project is small and very specialized in its approach to studying the Suttas and researching what happens when we use these as the primary basis for practice and understanding. This is now happening more broadly in Asian Universities, but then, it always has been there to some extent.
The land in Missouri was cheap and arrangements for purchase very easy to meet. The building codes make tremendous sense for this project and future development. There are very few restrictions in rural settings like this one.
You and I could hypothetically decide to build a copy of the Taj Mahal but using straw-bale-construction for our base and we could start almost immediately without blockage. That is a real gift at this time!
When we looked into what was happening in the country with other Buddhist concerns, who had tried to build within city limits, we found out that they have been known to struggle for as long as 8 years to get permits to get one building up! A pagoda that opened up in New Jersey 2 years ago, took over 11 years to get through zoning boards. A main temple building built in Seattle area for a Thai group only built after 8 years and thousands of dollars in legal fees each time they presented their case to zoning boards.It was atrocious and and obviously prejudicial.
In our situation now, we have fully paid for 103 acres of land for the entire project plans. Eventually we intend to have the Monastic area, the lay person areas, the study center, and part of the land will become a separate corporation to develop a village concept for people to live in lots building their own cabins and hopefully some small industry will arise to help support that. One day it is envisioned that monks and nuns in training will be able to walk pindapat (alms) amongst the homes of people in that village sometimes.
At this time, the mortgage is paid off. The two largest buildings, a dining hall/kitchen/Library/all purpose building, The New Meditation Hall, and several small cabins and bath house are paid for in full.
This year some foreign monastics will come in to help with the research and training classes we plan. The temporary ordination program is working well for men, and, is fully open for women too.
So in short, for the purpose of the entire religious project and study center, the land here is perfect. It is not a resort set-up. Not interested in that. It has everything you need to experience the first level of renunciation.
(You are giving up personal space, personal home-life, personal comforts to learn how craving works (likes and dislikes) and how one can re-train mind to achieve more balance, patience, and compassion)
So, that, in a nutshell, is the story. We are happy in the forest, even though it is hard at times and people come from all over the world each year to find this practice and study the texts. That is good. Also now, I go out and serve the community with counseling and meditation classes. Last year 22 people attended those classes. This year a medical facility is interested in my working with them to help with depression in our area. It's nice to be able to reach out now.
So, come and visit.
Metta and smiles,