Let's start a forest monastery

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.

Let's start a forest monastery

Postby JimR » Wed Jan 08, 2014 2:57 pm

I would like to get a group of monks and nuns together and purchase 40 or so acres deep in the woods (of Maine?) and create a forest sangha. Land can be real cheap (40 acres for $20k). We could build a copy of the Global Village Construction Set (google it!) to support ourselves. We could then strive for separation from this crazy world. We could grow all of our own hydroponic vegan food in greenhouses.

This would be a permanent meditation retreat with a libertarian mindset. This would be an Americanized and modernized version of Buddhism (growing own food instead of Alms rounds etc..)

Who's in?
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Re: Let's start a forest monastery

Postby Modus.Ponens » Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:08 pm

If it is the lay people who grow the food, I think that could work. Theravada monks can't do that, AFAIK. But the "americanized buddhism" part, doesn't sound like a good idea. Other buddhist traditions may be open to the idea, though.
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Re: Let's start a forest monastery

Postby Justsit » Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:11 pm

Do you have a funding source?
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Re: Let's start a forest monastery

Postby JimR » Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:14 pm

Justsit wrote:Do you have a funding source?


The cost would be split between 20 or so people who wish for a different way of life. Maybe $5k each.
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Re: Let's start a forest monastery

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Jan 08, 2014 4:19 pm

:thumbsup:

I like the idea and wish you luck. There have been some previous threads with people suggesting similar ideas and I think there have been some actual attempts at setting up something like this with either a monastic or semi-monastic or lay community. But for whatever reasons, none materialized.
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Re: Let's start a forest monastery

Postby Justsit » Wed Jan 08, 2014 4:54 pm

Yes, I've heard of GVCS. It's still in development; and I seriously doubt you can build housing, infrastructure, hydroponic set up, etc., for $100k. Unless you are willing to start out living in a very primitive manner, i.e., harvest own wood, carry water, like the hippies did in the '60's - a tough sell in Maine.

As David mentioned, this has come up for discussion before, and the costs/logistics (in the US, anyway) seem to be prohibitive. Once the thing is set up, it's more feasible to maintain, but the start up costs are very high. Not trying to discourage you, by any means, but the majority of this type of endeavor fail due to under-capitalization. Plan carefully, using real numbers on paper.

Best of luck!
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Re: Let's start a forest monastery

Postby Mkoll » Wed Jan 08, 2014 8:20 pm

As others have wisely advised, if you are serious about doing this you need to long-term plan very patiently and carefully if you want it to succeed.

Good luck!
Peace,
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Re: Let's start a forest monastery

Postby JimR » Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:33 pm

Thanks for the replies.

Housing would be very cheap. Compressed earth blocks are almost free once you have the press. Wood is almost free once you have the sawmill and cut down trees onsite.

Since there isn't much of a lay community we'd have to be self-reliant.

Even if it were $10k per member (paid in monthly installments).

The GVCS allows you to build a community without much money and should be released within 2 years.
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Re: Let's start a forest monastery

Postby Justsit » Thu Jan 09, 2014 12:00 am

Yeah, it's that "almost free" that'll get ya!

So let's talk $.

CEB machines run around $1700 for a manually operated model, $3000 for air operated, and $6000-8000 for a hydraulic diesel machine. Assuming you have a road already in place to move equipment in. Assuming there is diesel fuel within a reasonable distance. Assuming you have the special permits for a non-standard building technique.

OK, say you already have the sawmill (cost ??). Which trees do you cut? You don't want to try to burn gum or softwood. What do you cut them with? How do you move the logs? Gonna buy a tractor? $10k, minimum.

You still have no electricity or running water. Dig a well? About $3500 depending on how far down they have to drill, plus inspections. Got a septic system? Will your ground perk? Occupancy permits? Bring electric in from the road? Better put it underground so the lines don't come down when the wind chill is -10! Big $$. Snow plow? You'll need a 4WD vehicle for Maine's fifth season, which is "Mud."

Gonna build a big greenhouse? How are you getting water to the hydroponics?

Who is actually going to do all the manual labor?

Etc., etc., etc.

Buying the land is the easy part. Realistically, start up costs for what you are describing are crazy high, not to mention a whole load of work. If you've never done construction, the $ amounts can be a big shock, and physical labor is tough, especially if you're not used to it. You'd do better to buy an old camp that already has working systems in place.

Really, not trying to shoot you down, just want to make sure you know what you're getting into. It's OK to have your head in the clouds as long as your feet are on the ground.
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Re: Let's start a forest monastery

Postby JimR » Thu Jan 09, 2014 12:15 am

Thank you for the reality check.

I know it would be hard to pull off.

I would rather just join an existing monastery but there doesn't seem to be many around in the USA (Thai Forest Tradition).
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Re: Let's start a forest monastery

Postby James the Giant » Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:48 am

The biggest and most excellent monastery in Canada, Birken, started 30 years ago with two monks living in an abandoned and rotting shack in the forest, with no support.
Start small, and you'll make it eventually.
I'll come visit when you've got space for monks and a teacher.
Best of luck!
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
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Re: Let's start a forest monastery

Postby Jayantha-NJ » Thu Jan 09, 2014 3:51 am

JimR wrote:I would like to get a group of monks and nuns together and purchase 40 or so acres deep in the woods (of Maine?) and create a forest sangha. Land can be real cheap (40 acres for $20k). We could build a copy of the Global Village Construction Set (google it!) to support ourselves. We could then strive for separation from this crazy world. We could grow all of our own hydroponic vegan food in greenhouses.

This would be a permanent meditation retreat with a libertarian mindset. This would be an Americanized and modernized version of Buddhism (growing own food instead of Alms rounds etc..)

Who's in?


While I actually am a Libertarian, I too am not a huge fan of the "americanized/modernized version of Buddhism. You may be able to find some pragmatic buddhist monks who would do this.
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Re: Let's start a forest monastery

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Jan 09, 2014 4:06 am

JimR wrote:I would rather just join an existing monastery but there doesn't seem to be many around in the USA (Thai Forest Tradition).


Abhyagiri (Northern California)
Wat Metta (Southern California)

Justsit wrote:Buying the land is the easy part. Realistically, start up costs for what you are describing are crazy high, not to mention a whole load of work. If you've never done construction, the $ amounts can be a big shock, and physical labor is tough, especially if you're not used to it. You'd do better to buy an old camp that already has working systems in place.


JimR wrote:Thank you for the reality check.
I know it would be hard to pull off.


Buying an existing structure on a large amount of land is probably a little more feasible. Every once in a while there are 'retreat' type facilities that come for sale; some that are former Catholic monasteries, Protestant retreat centers, etc. They are usually in forested areas not too close to any city. By acquiring an existing facility, the utilities are usually already there, buildings are already there, sometimes even a large hall that can be made a meditation center, dorms, etc. If ten people each contributed $100,000 that would buy a $1 million place. Okay, maybe not too feasible either . . . but probably a better chance than starting completely from scratch. The problem is that people who have that kind of money are typically already entrenched in some area with a career, family, maybe a spouse attending university or something else holding them to a certain place, not able to make such a big move.
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Re: Let's start a forest monastery

Postby shaunc » Thu Jan 09, 2014 10:42 am

It's a very romantic & noble ideal. However even if you were given the land a lot of work must be done. Most sects of Buddhism don't allow monks to garden, so lay followers would be needed. Also monks can't keep animals, I assume that you'd want chickens at least & maybe goats and/or dairy cattle. Unfortunately 100% self-sustainability is virtually unachievable so lay followers would be needed to take any surplus produce to market.
The only way I could honestly see this working is as a complete Buddhist commune with some monks & nuns & at least 2-3 times that amount of lay Buddhist adults to create a complete community.
I have to admit though it's a beautiful dream & unfortunately doing the maths would most probably ruin it.
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Re: Let's start a forest monastery

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jan 09, 2014 4:02 pm

JimR wrote:This would be a permanent meditation retreat with a libertarian mindset. This would be an Americanized and modernized version of Buddhism (growing own food instead of Alms rounds etc..)


Maybe you could start small, and see what develops? Perhaps initially set up a small-holding on co-operative lines with some like-minded people?
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Re: Let's start a forest monastery

Postby Babadhari » Thu Jan 09, 2014 4:51 pm

beware the pot smoking pseudo-spiritual hippy types :tongue:
Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.
Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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Re: Let's start a forest monastery

Postby Eightfolder » Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:06 pm

There has probably never been a better time to begin talking about a collective or commune for people following and living by The Dhamma. I suspect America has leaner times ahead and with 10,000 people turning 65 everyday in the USA, the enormous cost of an aging population, and the absurdity of long term care facilities, I think alot of us baby-boomers have no intention of letting ourselves end up in a nursing home. I'm only 55 and have plenty of years left to work but I bet in about 10 years a whole lot of those old hippies will wish there were Buddhist communities all over the country! Lets get started!!

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Re: Let's start a forest monastery

Postby PimonratC » Tue Feb 11, 2014 9:06 pm

This sounds like The Plum Village.

So interesting. (^___^)

.
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Re: Let's start a forest monastery

Postby pilgrim » Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:24 am

Some other new monasteries
Forest Dhamma monastery ( Ajahn Dick Silaratano)
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set ... 060&type=1

Jeta Grove (Ajahn Jayanto)
http://forestmonastery.org/news/

Wat Pa Colorado Luangta Maha Boowa Yannasampanno
http://www.watpacolorado.com/watpaco/home_eng.html

Also see this thread
viewtopic.php?f=36&t=11157
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Re: Let's start a forest monastery

Postby Sokehi » Sun Feb 16, 2014 7:30 pm

what I have learned and heard is that the almsround in itself is an integral part of the monastic discipline. So the monks and nuns are not self sufficient, they have to go out into the world where they will be seen.
Get the wanting out of waiting

What does womanhood matter at all, when the mind is concentrated well, when knowledge flows on steadily as one sees correctly into Dhamma. One to whom it might occur, ‘I am a woman’ or ‘I am a man’ or ‘I’m anything at all’ is fit for Mara to address. – SN 5.2

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Otherwise there will be no end to the animosity. - Ajahn Fuang Jotiko

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