old news

Still waiting for some decisions here, but there seems to be some need to let the broader community of people who wonder what I’m up to know what I’m up to, so…

As mentioned, there are some issues with the property we’ve chosen; some fairly significant repairs/upgrades have to take place if we’re going to stay here.  Good news is the projected size of the property is now 40 acres, instead of 15.

There are other issues, though, including mortgage approval, financing, and running a meditation centre outside of the city.  The mortgage issues are what we are waiting on now, but even if the mortage is approved, we still have to be sure we can run the place.  The main issue there, from my point of view, is lack of a registered charity, which means inability to accept donations for the centre.  This, along with a paucity of dedicated supporters of the project (understandable given the timeframe) has made it quite a burden on the few hardcore supporters we do have.

All of this has made me suggest that we might be better off moving back to Winnipeg for the time being; when we were there, we saw much more consistent support and enthusiasm, which, again, is to be expected.  Though 50 km is hardly remote by Canadian standards, providing food and maintanence has been challenging.  For a fledgeling organization, we may have bit off more than we can chew.  That’s what we’re discussing now.
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FTW

And you thought Buddhist monks weren’t up on internet memes.

FTW – For The World. Okay, not really, but this is. Today we had a meeting of what will probably become the new board of Sirimangalo International in Canada. We agreed unanimously to go ahead with acquiring the land I posted about yesterday to set up a meditation centre in Manitoba.

So, that’s news – if nothing crazy bad happens, in a few months we should have five rooms for meditators of both genders and a large forested land for the cultivation of peace, happiness and freedom from suffering.

One thing we need is a steward; someone to arrange food, mainly. If anyone would like to take on this role for a time, please do let us know. You’d have to complete a month of meditation with us first, so it would have to be a multiple-month commitment. Sounds like we already have someone for June and maybe long-term, so there may be no need. The reason I’m putting it out is two-fold – first, always nice to have a backup, considering how important a role it is, and second, the more the merrier 🙂

If possible, we will try to focus more on long-term meditators than short-term courses, but all are welcome. I’m sure I’ll be teaching Pali to long-termers and training instructors in meditation, so lots to do.

Another thing we’ll have to look at is how much of a meditation centre we can support financially. I can’t get involved with finances, but I can say that without proper funding, we may have to keep the scale of the centre down. The group undertaking to purchase the land in question have been beyond generous, and it wouldn’t do to leave it up to them to cover maintenance costs as well. I’ll try to find some time to rejigger org.sirimangalo.org in the near future as well for the purpose of clarifying our budget.

That’s all; some good news for your rejoicing pleasure. I’ll put up an application form on the canada.sirimangalo.org page in the near future, so keep in touch and join our Canada mailing list if you’re interested in discussing our plans with us. For the world! (Yes, it really means “For The Win” – it’s an expression of exultation, which fits just as well here).

Peace 🙂

Out With The Old, In With… More Of The Old?

The more things change, the more they stay the same, so the saying goes.  Worth keeping in mind; in the world of sankhara, the new is ever as the old.  On the other hand, this is what Buddhism attempts to address, in a sense; we strive for the unattained, a goal of extreme profundity, given the incalculable span and diversity of our existence.

In this sense, true change is to be welcome; more of the same would be just more samsara.

Much is changing here in new ways.  But first, some sad news; Nagasena is no more.  Maybe one day he will rise from the ashes with a new name and new robes, but the fire there is out now. It was a long time coming, but he disrobed on Monday, with the idea of finding greener pastures elsewhere.  May he find contentment.

So much for the old.  New news, though, is in the many people who have come together from around the world to work together on our organization.  I just want to say thanks and let it be known the burden-sharing is much appreciated, and will allow me to dedicate more time to teaching and less to administrating. 

This feels like something truly new, a system in place that will run itself and support a global teaching platform with sirimangalo.org as its base.  The potential for goodness is immense; may it come to fruition!

More new, we will replace a disenfranchised male novice with a super gung-ho female novice – Sumedha will always stick in my mind as the only one brave enough to complete our meditation on the roof during a lightning storm.  Today finished her all-night meditation for a second night, and said she hasn’t showered in a week.  Hardcore.

It’s new enough to ordain a male novice, but a female one?  I can hear the criticism already; I’ve heard it many times before.  What started with accusations when the first woman yogi came here to meditate (it was said we were sleeping together in the caves – true enough, her in one, me in another) may easily escalate into a full-scale scandal.

Never being one for prudence, however, I’m focused on the greatness of ordaining people who are keen for it.  The trip with Nagasena, though, has made me pause a bit, and we’ve agreed to make things a little clearer with Sumedha, like if we ordain you and get you a long-term visa, we do expect you to stay ordained and, yes, practice according to our teachings.

The moment I arrived in Sri Lanka marked a new chapter in my life; it gave me the hope that maybe I could find a culture that would accept me and which I would find acceptable.  After all the trouble with the aristocratic Thai and American cowboy cultures, I was truly in doubt.  Now, with everything coming together and very little standing in the way (save the unknown future), it’s hard not to feel some encouragement that maybe, just maybe, something new will be born from this samsaric mass of all that is old and rehashed.

On that note, a double haiku (a haitwo) to make up for missing last week’s:

old, tired, broken
clinging in desperation
mind makes new the old
bright, shiny and new
out of the ordinary
mind that clings no more

March Update

So, things are coming together in keeping the organization running; there is some coordination going on between the non-profit and the monastery, which should see the monastery regain its ability to finance the meditation centre. A budget is now up at the Org.Sirimangalo site, for anyone who is interested, though it probably should be converted to USD, still.

There is some indication, though, that the non-profit in America will have to be either reorganized or abandoned, since the people looking after it have moved on and are no longer involved in our activities. If anyone in America is able to take up the task of running the non-profit (basically filing documents with the IRS once a year), it would make a huge difference in helping the organization receive and use donations for the centre here.

In other news, the entire Sirimangalo.Org website has now moved to the cloud. I’m still not sure exactly what that means, except that it’s much faster now. Much thanks go to Peter for his kindness in sponsoring the server and helping us through the harrowing experience of moving 10 years and 20+ GB worth of data through cyberspace.

The last of our funded construction projects is almost finished; a bathroom for the two rooms above where I am staying – one of the rooms is occupied by Nagasena, so he will be happy.

Sumedha (ex-Meredith) is doing a review course, trying to let go of the excitement of her impending novice ordination – quite a task 🙂 At the end of the month, we’ll try to get her a visa, otherwise she will have to go to Thailand. I might go to Thailand anyway, to teach and visit Ajaan Tong, and Nagasena would like to go as well, so there may be a trip brewing for May.

Other projects have been slowed by the organizational issues and a minor cold virus that probably has something to do with the workload. So, many things will have to wait. Still memorizing the Bhikkhuni patimokkha and a little bit of book editing. Hopefully those will pick up now as the organization gets organized, and I can get back to teaching.