This post marks the initial bringing of our (Alicia’s and Mugo’s) shared proposal for a new temple of our Order into tangible form. Initially this is through a newsletter and this website and later, as sufficient financial support is gathered, the temple will become bricks and mortar. Or, in our case, wood and nails, grass and trees, pots and pans! Transforming ideas into physical form is essentially a creative act. An act we wish to encourage and nurture both in ourselves and in others.
What you are about to read:
In the true spirit of collaboration the following are words written by Rev. Alicia interspersed with words by Rev. Mugo in italics. Sometimes I (Mugo) am commenting on what Rev. Alicia has written and sometimes expanding on her words from my point of view. Next time Rev. Alicia can comment and expand on what I write!
Mugo, July, 2012
We, Alicia and Mugo, are British female Buddhist monastics of 20 and 30 years standing practicing within the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives—a Western-based Soto Zen organisation.
Mugo: For those who may not be aware of this, Buddhist monastic organisations are structured around a system of seniority based on date of ordination. What makes this system work, in human terms, is practicing mutual respect while recognizing that length of time put into training generally leads to valuable experience worthy of learning from. In monastic life, and all life really, qualities of respect/gratitude and humility are vital. As is also the retaining and exercising of a sense of humour!.
It is our intention, when we have gathered up sufficient financial support, to establish a place for Buddhist practice in a rural setting where we will offer individual hermitages for short or extended retreats with practical support and spiritual guidance.
Mugo: Every time I read a description of what we plan to do I realize that we are taking a huge leap of faith/trust to even contemplate such a venture. The reality of what we term field of merit is ticking away in the background and somehow makes anything possible.
It was only a few weeks ago, in mid June, that we got the go-ahead from the Order to launch this project and we are getting started on many things.
Mugo: Imagine? Both of us have full time monastic responsibilities and we then proposed to take on something new, and very time consuming! Further to that we only had a minimum number of conversations about what we were proposing! Basically we both, at more or less the same time, were inspired by the idea of offering individuals the opportunity to stay in hermitages in a rural setting. Our original proposal to the Order was that basic! At first we talked in terms of huts and then recently upgraded to hermitages! Thus our ideas are developing and changing as we go along.
The many things we are currently working on include creating this website, writing a constitution, getting a bank account and, most importantly, keeping you all up to date with developments – as they happen. Thank goodness there are two of us!
Mugo: And credit where credit is due. It’s Rev. Alicia who has the right kind of mind and necessary skills to make such things a reality.
Alicia: I admit I have the kind of logical mind that enjoys what I think of as step-by-step tasks such as researching and writing a constitution and getting a bank account organized. But Rev. Mugo is the one with the flair for communication – words and photos and media-type stuff.
We are writing content for Field of Merit and since we don’t have any funds yet to hire a professional to implement the site we need help with that. We are looking for a web developer familiar with WordPress to work with us pro bono to organize content and modify a standard template to our needs. We hope it will only be a short time until the site goes public.
Mugo: Having written a blog for many years, I thought I’d be able to get our site up and running but I’m not so familiar with WordPress and it will take more time than I have available to do a decent job.
The Trustees of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives Activities Trust (OBCAT) have offered us the facility to operate as a restricted fund within this existing charity until we have our own charity and bank account. We are very grateful to them as this means we are able to accept donations and have a means to pay expenses, such as the hosting of the website.
Mugo: Both of us loaned £200 of our own money to our fund in order to get started.
Moment by moment
A couple of weeks ago we had the opportunity to spend time together each morning. We got some practical work done on the website, but mostly we talked about what this project means to us both and how we see ourselves working together to bring it into being. It is no small thing to take on such a venture, and at the same time it is just following what is good to do, moment by moment.
Mugo: Yes, no small thing. The venture, for me, is putting into practice mutual bowing and the exercising of simple humility. And not forgetting the sense of humour of course! In the end the commitment we have is not so much to an end product, nor to each other, but to basic Buddhist principles lived out through our unfolding endeavour. Even if, in the end, our venture does not result in what we envision, I believe benefits flow, even as we write, from our efforts to achieve something in collaboration with fellow Buddhists. No small thing.
Thank you so much for reading thus far, please return for more. Your interest in what we propose is a support in itself and we are grateful for the expressions of support we have been receiving. Gradually the word is being spread; the field of merit is expanding.
By subscribing to the newsletter, reading our blog and contributing your own thoughts you will benefit beings in a real way. We invite you to join us as we talk together and unfurl our ideas and share them. We want to hear from you too so please leave a comment.