Today (Friday) is the last day of Jukai – the Ten Precepts Retreat – at Throssel, and we will have the Recognition Ceremony this evening, the final ceremony of the retreat.
I have been helping out in the kitchen for the first half of the morning each day this week. I have also been working on a business plan for Field of Merit, requested by the Charity Commission in order to process our application for registered charity status. The first section is a summary of the whole plan, and this is what I wrote:
Field of Merit plans to offer to practitioners of the Soto Zen school of Buddhism the opportunity to do solitary retreat in individual hermitages in a quiet rural location with the practical support and spiritual guidance of a small resident community.
This charity is being set up by Rev. Mugo White and Rev. Alicia Rowe, who are (female) monks of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives (OBC). The OBC is an international monastic order of men and women who, together with lay ministers of the Order and our congregations and affiliated meditation groups, are dedicated to practicing the Serene Reflection Meditation tradition of Buddhism, also called Soto Zen.
There is a need for practitioners of Soto Zen Buddhism to have a place in the UK where they can come to do solitary retreat for a few days, a few weeks or a few months. A solitary retreat is essentially an opportunity to experience oneself alone and away from contact with other people. Solitude has traditionally played an important role in the lives of Buddhists who, over the centuries, have used it to go deeper into meditation and reflection.
We hope to purchase a freehold property in open countryside, with around 5 acres of land, a 2- or 3-bedroom house and outbuildings that can be converted into hermitages, or the potential to site cabins or similar structures to serve as hermitages.
Our intention is that a person coming on retreat will be accommodated in a single-occupancy hermitage, which will consist of one room with bed, desk, and basic cooking facilities, and a separate toilet and shower. A cooked meal will be provided at midday, and provisions supplied for the retreatant to make their own breakfast and supper.
A place of retreat, such as we plan, provides the opportunity for people to take time out from often very busy lives, to be in a quiet and natural environment where one can meditate, contemplate and reflect and deepen one’s religious practice. This is of great value both to the person on retreat and to their families, friends and co-workers when they return to their usual daily life refreshed and renewed and more able to act skillfully in the world.
I think that about sums it up.