A Community for Full-Time Practitioners with Families?

pema tsultrim
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A Community for Full-Time Practitioners with Families?

Postby pema tsultrim » Sat Aug 11, 2012 11:37 am

Dear All,

Below is a description of something I have been thinking hard deeply about for a long time, as a committed Vajrayana householder who has seen much financial struggle and little time for study/practice of late (and as former monastic who once had much opportunity to practice and little financial struggle). I also wonder if there is anything like this already and/or precedent for it in Tibet? My main practice lineage(s) are within the Nyingma so I am posting it here, but I welcome feedback from any Vajrayana practitioners. If it would fit better in a different forum, please move it.

What do you think of the near-mid-or-long term idea of gathering support from dharma patrons and lay practitioners (esp. those with children) to purchase land and establish a non-profit cooperative for the full-time study and practice of Dharma created, maintained and operated by the families who live, work and practice there. I underscore this last point because I know how some Dharma centers can be hierarchical, and have bureaucratic structures and often possessiveness of the lama and all that nasty stuff that can make committed practitioners with family responsibilities very uncomfortable and make the them feel they ought to be "committed" (pun intended) for having kids! In my vision, it would be the families themselves who would work together (under the guidance and authority of one or more qualified and uniquely understanding lamas) to maintain the life and land of the place. Less power stratification, more mutual support of dharma families like ours. Essentially the opposite of traditional Dharma centers in the West (or East for that matter) which subtly or overtly stigmatize parents and their children and places them on the outside, perhaps on the "Enlightenment Waiting List" (which is not where we decided to be when we made the decision to bring children into the world.) Here, Dharma families are the FOCUS and get the priority, cause after all, our kids will or should be the future translators and lineage holders in the West, and we parents deserve a fair shot at progress, too!

More specifically, I envision about 4-5 components to such a place.

1. Living units (ideally individual small residences for each family, maybe a small dorm for singles and childless couples, provided that all such residents must unequivocally appreciate, embrace, and adore kids and at least empathize with and respect parents and the daily sacrifices we make to raise our kids in accordance with Dharma). All day-to-day secular administrative decisions made by true participatory "dharmocracy." Everyone who lives here lives by the 5 Precepts while they are here and contributes something to the life and dharma practice of the community.

2. A schooling co-op for the kids who live there, secular and spiritual (perhaps a Dharma inspired summer camp for non-resident kids and resident kids, as a means of outreach and revenue). I could offer my services as a school teacher/education director.

3. A dharma translation project and translator training program for youth.

4. Common shrine hall for daily group practice and receiving teachings from our lamas. AND THIS IS THE SWEETEST PART: 1 or 2 retreat huts for individual retreats. First weekend, then over time 1-2 weeks individual retreats (and eventually longer as kids grow) for every single resident is BUILT IN to the annual calendar on a continual rotating basis, with resident sangha lovingly and willingly picking up the slack for the retreatant, incl. childcare and other work! Think about it: our individual solitary, distraction-free retreat time, knowing our kids are safe and cared for, COST FREE, could go from exactly ZERO days to 4 1/3 weeks per year (if 12 adult residents). If we doubled up retreatants (one parent from each of two different families), this becomes nearly 9 weeks per year possible. Over 10 years, that's 1 2/3 years of solitary retreat, FREE. With FREE BUDDHIST CHILDCARE! That's a lot better than one week every couple of years.

5. A means of income (I'm thinking a modest sustainable/organic fruit orchard/veg farm, and a kitchen for a seasonal indigenous food product line. I'm thinking seasonal pies and other baked goods. A resident with chef skills would be important here . A sustainable farming expert too. All revenue would go right back into maintaining, operating, and sustaining the facility, programs, and its residents' study and practice.

Major consideration is to work carefully to ensure reputation does not become that of an isolated "cult" brainwashing their children, and to ensure longtime harmony, non-violent conflict resolution, connection with greater sangha, welcoming, empathetic, non-hierarchical and non-elitist atmosphere, authenticity and sustainability in all forms. And always reliance on authentic blessings and guidance of the Guru.

Some possible Lamas that might support this kind of project either in word or deed, (in no particular order):
Bhakha Tulku Rinpoche
Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche
H.E. Dodrup Sungtrul Rinpoche
H.E. Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche (possible an endowment could come from Khyentse Foundation, because Rinpoche has said our generation's kids will be the future translators)
H.E. Lama Dagmola and H.H. Dagchen Sakya Rinpoches
H.H. the Dalai Lama (letter of support?)


I know this sounds dicey whether it could succeed, but I'm pretty much ready to roll the dice. Let me know if you have something to comment on about an idea like this.

Peace,

Pema Tsultrim

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kirtu
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Re: A Community for Full-Time Practitioners with Families?

Postby kirtu » Sat Aug 11, 2012 4:01 pm

Yes, I've been talking about this for several years back on esangha and here but with mixed reception.

Kirt


"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

pema tsultrim
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Re: A Community for Full-Time Practitioners with Families?

Postby pema tsultrim » Sat Aug 11, 2012 7:21 pm


ngodrup
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Re: A Community for Full-Time Practitioners with Families?

Postby ngodrup » Sat Aug 11, 2012 7:51 pm

You are describing a classical ngakpa dratsang- gompa.

Lama Tharchin's Rekong tradition worked this way.

Pema Osel Ling's Lama Sonam is very interested in Buddhist Retirement centers--
elder homes for retiring into retreat.

Multi-generational ngakpa community-- not a new idea.

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Re: A Community for Full-Time Practitioners with Families?

Postby Yudron » Sat Aug 11, 2012 8:45 pm

Author of Buddhist young adult fiction. Vlogger at Wisdom and Compassion: Grandma Yudron's Totally Chill Vlog on Meditation and Tibetan Wisdom Blogger at Very active on Twitter.

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kirtu
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Re: A Community for Full-Time Practitioners with Families?

Postby kirtu » Sat Aug 11, 2012 9:43 pm



"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

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Re: A Community for Full-Time Practitioners with Families?

Postby Yudron » Sat Aug 11, 2012 10:22 pm

There was a mother and (adult) son in my three year retreat--it was the second for both of them.
Author of Buddhist young adult fiction. Vlogger at Wisdom and Compassion: Grandma Yudron's Totally Chill Vlog on Meditation and Tibetan Wisdom Blogger at Very active on Twitter.

oldbob
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Re: A Community for Full-Time Practitioners with Families?

Postby oldbob » Mon Aug 20, 2012 3:00 am

http://dharmatavihara.org/about/

Maybe this might work for some.

Right now it is very uncertain - depending on raising some more $$$ by the end of this month.

Hope this helps!

oldbob

Josef
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Re: A Community for Full-Time Practitioners with Families?

Postby Josef » Mon Aug 20, 2012 3:29 am

A friend and I are actually trying to build a community on an organic farm. We have a ways to go but it's starting to look like we are going to pull it off.

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Re: A Community for Full-Time Practitioners with Families?

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Aug 20, 2012 3:45 am

It sounds like you are interested in something like a Buddhist commune or Buddhist co-housing? I was very interested in this idea for years, perhaps decades. I joined some co-housing online groups getting ideas, had a yahoo group on this subject and for the formation of one. But never could get enough interest and there was never enough consensus on even where it could be, which city or even state (in the U.S.) and what other forms it would take. Many have careers and kids in school and can't just get up and move to where the group decides. But I still like the idea.

Marpa House in Boulder I believe is set up that way: http://marpahouse.shambhala.org/

And there may be a few others. Long term residency can be done at some retreat centers, but only if you have truck loads of money to spare or can do a work study to off-set some of the cost.
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Re: A Community for Full-Time Practitioners with Families?

Postby username » Mon Aug 20, 2012 8:46 pm

There are a couple of sayings: everyone has got good ideas but it matters when someone does it & Build it (not the whole thing but a start) and they will come. Last Karmapa & a few other lamas who built stupas there predicted the power places in Colorado mountains will be opened up in future. There are other power places found by divination or a master. Or anywhere that is just appropriate & practical will also do. Thirdly there will be a need for a head master/mistress or preferably more from different denominations to offer a variety of teachings & oversee things as things get carried away sometimes plus supervising progress on the path. Finally if we can not live in such a community (face it: samsara sucks even there so no escapism) which is a good thing IMO if they are founded in future, then one can integrate daily life into mindful contemplation like an adventure as all Buddhists realized teachers teach us.
Dzogchen masters I know say: 1)Buddhist religion essence is Dzogchen 2)Religions are positive by intent/fruit 3)Any method's OK unless: breaking Dzogchen vows, mixed as syncretic (Milanese Soup) 4)Don't join mandalas of opponents of Dalai Lama/Padmasambhava: False Deity inventors by encouraging victims 5)Don't debate Ati with others 6)Don't discuss Ati practices online 7) A master told his old disciple: no one's to discuss his teaching with some others on a former forum nor mention him. Publicity's OK, questions are asked from masters/set teachers in person/email/non-public forums~Best wishes

pema tsultrim
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Re: A Community for Full-Time Practitioners with Families?

Postby pema tsultrim » Sat Sep 01, 2012 8:50 am


username
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Re: A Community for Full-Time Practitioners with Families?

Postby username » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:40 am

Dzogchen masters I know say: 1)Buddhist religion essence is Dzogchen 2)Religions are positive by intent/fruit 3)Any method's OK unless: breaking Dzogchen vows, mixed as syncretic (Milanese Soup) 4)Don't join mandalas of opponents of Dalai Lama/Padmasambhava: False Deity inventors by encouraging victims 5)Don't debate Ati with others 6)Don't discuss Ati practices online 7) A master told his old disciple: no one's to discuss his teaching with some others on a former forum nor mention him. Publicity's OK, questions are asked from masters/set teachers in person/email/non-public forums~Best wishes

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tomamundsen
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Re: A Community for Full-Time Practitioners with Families?

Postby tomamundsen » Wed Sep 26, 2012 3:32 am

I like the idea.


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