Building a donation based community

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom
User avatar
phongdharma
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2013 8:45 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001

Building a donation based community

Postby phongdharma » Tue Oct 08, 2013 5:45 pm

Hello all,

Greeting from Southern California here. I'm a new member to this site and this is my 1st post and question. I hope that this is the correct forum for the thread since it's dealing with modern "wish".

After practicing at few monasteries and meditation centers, I have this idea to build a "reformed" monastery/center where there's no chanting but only meditation and short dharma reflections/talks. The schedule would be 3 formal group meditation sessions per day, 3 hours of work, 1 meal, donation based. Residents don't handle money.

We could buy a small forest land that would cost just below $30-$40K. Get an old trailer to use as a meditation hall, a kitchen and a toilet. Have an open space meditation platform like that at Wat Metta in Escondido area. Sangha's dwelling place would be the tents on wooden platforms. The tents could scattered around the forest. We could try to go alms rounds at the local market/plaza area, like twice a week as a way to get noticed by the neighbors. We would have live-in helper and manager to help with the kitchen and groceries.

The startup money is already in place. However, the fund to run the center could be an obstacle although we projected only around $500-800/month on food, utilities, property tax, land insurance. It would be nice if we have 5-10 supporter who could sponsor us in form of food or help paying the bills.

For the time being, overnight visitors would be encouraged, but not mandatory, to donate food or sponsor full/part of the utilities' bill. Guests could stay as long as they want, be that they must follow the center's guideline and observe the 8 disciplines/precepts. For permanent monastic residents, they would observe the 227 monastic disciplines as closely as possible, and to experiment with the disciplines so that they would be in line with the ancient time yet adaptive to the modern situation.

So the living style is comparable to that of the monastery minus the chantings and rituals. Instead of chanting, we could have reading time. This is to give those serious meditators a chance to live the monastic life without the forms and rituals of the monastery. Head of the sangha would be rotated based on votes or experience.

How does this sound? Would you like to join? Do you think this would be a good starting point for Western Monastic Life without the Asian's form?

This would be my one wish in this life time.

Please share your input.
:anjali:
Phong

User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
Posts: 8289
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Contact:

Re: Building a donation based community

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Oct 08, 2013 6:19 pm

Are the proposed members of this community going to be monastic or lay?

If monastic, they would need to be properly ordained. They can't (or shouldn't) just show up at the land you purchase and receive a robe without going through the proper channels and procedures of ordination.

Regarding alms rounds, you probably wouldn't want to just show up at some market in a predominantly Christian country. They are likely to get angry, call police, accuse you of trespassing or who knows what else. Most monasteries in the U.S. receive alms from local Buddhists in the area, typically Asian-immigrant communities.

Setting up something like an 8-precept lay community might be nice, but I doubt if you will get enough interest; sorry, just being realistic. But I wish that could work.

User avatar
phongdharma
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2013 8:45 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001

Re: Building a donation based community

Postby phongdharma » Fri Oct 18, 2013 4:58 pm

Thank you for your input David.
David N. Snyder wrote:Are the proposed members of this community going to be monastic or lay?

If monastic, they would need to be properly ordained. They can't (or shouldn't) just show up at the land you purchase and receive a robe without going through the proper channels and procedures of ordination.


It should be a lay community for now.
Regarding alms rounds, you probably wouldn't want to just show up at some market in a predominantly Christian country. They are likely to get angry, call police, accuse you of trespassing or who knows what else. Most monasteries in the U.S. receive alms from local Buddhists in the area, typically Asian-immigrant communities.



I would thought so too.

Setting up something like an 8-precept lay community might be nice, but I doubt if you will get enough interest; sorry, just being realistic. But I wish that could work.


I heard a few communities did this but not sure how they support their members in term of health benefits.

User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
Posts: 8289
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Contact:

Re: Building a donation based community

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Oct 18, 2013 7:37 pm

Maha Upasika Bongkot has a center like this in Shravasti, India. I visited it in 2006. It is a beautiful place with a huge meditation hall, that could hold about 1,000 people, residential quarters, kutis, large land and a 100 foot high brass Buddha (I believe the largest brass Buddha). They have about 150 men and women 8 precept practitioners (mostly female). I guess for the sake of egalitarianism, none of the members are fully ordained monks, none of the men or women. They all wear white and shaving the hair is optional.

It appears to be run by donations and from the large (life-savings?) donations of some of the members who joined for life. There were men and women from Asian countries as well as the 'Western' nations. Some were there for just a short time as sort of a retreat and I imagine they give donation if they are able.

They had an organic garden which they farmed and they are all vegetarian. I forgot to ask if the garden was just for their own diets or if they sold at the local markets for income, so not sure if they produced income or not. It was a great place to visit and I thought about that model for the U.S. too. But unfortunately, in the West, people tend to be so individualistic and not very communally minded. There have been a few attempts at Buddhist co-housing in the U.S. and I believe none ever got off the ground.

nem
Posts: 50
Joined: Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:26 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1006
Location: Samsāra

Re: Building a donation based community

Postby nem » Sun Nov 10, 2013 3:17 am

Since you asked if we would like to join...

When I began to attend various Sri Lankan communities of practice, I had such ideas. Wouldn't it be better if we dropped all the things like chanting and why do these people do prostrations to the monks and the Buddha rupa? I thought, it was corny. Now, after some time, it's more clear that these things have value and are not irrelevant. I had an aversion to these things, and came to see the aversion to them in my own mind. Then I was able to drop the aversion, mostly. Today, I enjoy the chanting as much as the meditation, and more than the dhamma talk. I also do prostrations toward the Buddha rupa as toward the triple gem. However I don't do prostrations to the monks, sakkaya-ditthi still prevents it.

What would be the point, of a community where people have aversion to continuing practices like they have in Asia? If you have a car, and decide that you don't like the wheels so you take them off, do you still arrive where you wanted to go, just because the engine sounds nice to you? :smile: So, no, I wouldn't want to join an organization like that. Such an organization, sounds like more of a 'feel-good' community, which misses the point and couldn't help one toward stream-entry, so I think I would stick with proven Asian practices.


Return to “Theravāda for the modern world”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests