Modern Buddhist Utopias & Alternative Communities

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Re: Modern Buddhist Utopias & Alternative Communities

Postby justsit » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:35 pm

OK, Kirt, let's get busy. It doesn't even have to be a convent, just a big 'ole Victorian, with all systems up to date in mostly working order, a little land, ideally not too far from a lama (Frederick area??). It's out there; I'll start looking.
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Re: Modern Buddhist Utopias & Alternative Communities

Postby kirtu » Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:44 pm

justsit wrote:OK, Kirt, let's get busy. It doesn't even have to be a convent, just a big 'ole Victorian, with all systems up to date in mostly working order, a little land, ideally not too far from a lama (Frederick area??). It's out there; I'll start looking.


We need a place where 5-10 people can live together and pool their resources. So if a place costs $3000/month in rent or mortgage then this is manageable although cheaper is better of course. Best would be to reduce housing costs to $100/person/month. Can we find such a place?

In fact when you described the Victorian convent. etc. I immediately thought of the now defunct Catholic retreat place in Walden, NY which was a huge place on the ridge/hill overlooking downtown Walden.

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Re: Modern Buddhist Utopias & Alternative Communities

Postby Indrajala » Mon Dec 20, 2010 5:19 pm

justsit wrote:Buddhist community in progress here. Not utopian, though.

There has been some discussion in our study group about purchasing a defunct small Catholic convent for Buddhist community use. Would already have shrine room (chapel), large kitchen and living room, small single bedrooms (cells), and maybe a garage or outbuilding. Some of the larger properties even have "hermitages" or individual retreat cabins. As the economy worsens, communal living becomes more attractive, keeps costs down. Great for single celibates, and seniors, too.


I'd happily join a Buddhist commune.

We could have organic agriculture.

As long as the place has wireless and people are allowed their private space I don't think you'd have many problems at all.
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Re: Modern Buddhist Utopias & Alternative Communities

Postby Indrajala » Mon Dec 20, 2010 5:22 pm

kirtu wrote:In fact when you described the Victorian convent. etc. I immediately thought of the now defunct Catholic retreat place in Walden, NY which was a huge place on the ridge/hill overlooking downtown Walden.

Kirt


I worked at a youth hostel which was originally a nun's convent. It worked quite well. A lot of rooms, bit kitchen, dining hall and backyard.

For a Buddhist group converting such a facility would be easy. Just convert the shrine to Buddhas ( :buddha1: ) and throw some meditation cushions on the floor and you'd be set.
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Re: Modern Buddhist Utopias & Alternative Communities

Postby Chaz » Mon Dec 20, 2010 7:32 pm

Huseng wrote:I'd happily join a Buddhist commune.



I would too, but I've lived in a religious commune and it's not an easy thing.

An alternative would be a "Co-Housing" project. In our case the Co-Housing participants would all be Buddhists or of a particular Buddhist school (Kagyu, etc.). Each participant would have their own home and the homes would be built around a central location. The participants could form a homeowner's association to rise funds for common property such as a shrine building or a community center and so on.

It's kind of like communal living, but quite different.
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Re: Modern Buddhist Utopias & Alternative Communities

Postby Huifeng » Tue Dec 21, 2010 8:18 am

For any sort of community like this, the external hardware of buildings - shrines, rooms, kitchens, etc. - is the easiest part. The challenge comes with the meeting of a variety of living beings who are subject to craving, aversion and ignorance in varying degrees, and how they live together! It requires a high level of maturity on the part of most, if not all, to make it succeed.
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Re: Modern Buddhist Utopias & Alternative Communities

Postby Luke » Tue Dec 21, 2010 11:04 pm

Most people here seem to be talking about the usual idea of rural utopian Buddhist communities. However, I think that it's equally possible to create successful urban Buddhist communities.

The previous sangha I was involved with has a center in the city which is isolated from the main street because you have to go through a doorway and walk down a path through a narrow courtyard with apartment buildings on either side to get there. Anyway, I once a heard a member of this sangha say that they were planning to buy out the apartments surrounding the temple and rent them out to sangha members, which I think is an interesting idea.

This is one way to create an urban Buddhist community. There are probably others.
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Re: Modern Buddhist Utopias & Alternative Communities

Postby Jikan » Wed Dec 22, 2010 12:39 am

justsit wrote:Buddhist community in progress here. Not utopian, though.

There has been some discussion in our study group about purchasing a defunct small Catholic convent for Buddhist community use. Would already have shrine room (chapel), large kitchen and living room, small single bedrooms (cells), and maybe a garage or outbuilding. Some of the larger properties even have "hermitages" or individual retreat cabins. As the economy worsens, communal living becomes more attractive, keeps costs down. Great for single celibates, and seniors, too.


That's a brilliant idea.

Ven. Keisho Leary has a similar idea for his temple in Northern California, but with a stronger renunciate element. (see caltendai.org)
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Re: Modern Buddhist Utopias & Alternative Communities

Postby Aemilius » Wed Dec 22, 2010 1:31 pm

Maybe you should also investigate what kind of "utopias" are there in buddhism?
Historically as buddhist movements, as principles for the existence of spiritual communities, as principles for running the state, and so on... ?
King Ashoka did manage to make advanced humanistic principles concrete realities. Just as an example, free health care is an ashokan idea that he created and put into practice. Something similar has sometimes existed in China and other buddhist countries, usually for limited timeperiods.
On a theoretical level we have the Purelands, and we have the Golden Age at the beginning of the present kalpa. These can be seen as Utopias in the european sense of the word, although they are normally seen as concretely existing states or realms, far distant in time, or far distant in space and in conciousness.
What do you wish to say when you say "utopias"?
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Re: Modern Buddhist Utopias & Alternative Communities

Postby Zenda » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:04 pm

justsit wrote:There has been some discussion in our study group about purchasing a defunct small Catholic convent for Buddhist community use...


Wow! In Delaware? Fantastic... :D

I think that the european dharma gar overseen by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche is using a communal housing set up and I think it's near Berlin, so more urban than not? I'm not sure though...
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Re: Modern Buddhist Utopias & Alternative Communities

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:32 pm

kirtu wrote:I think we should actively create little Buddhist lands/places/communes where people can go and live and practice for life.

For example this seems beautiful.

Kirt


The price on this land is really good, but you would have to drag all your utilities and build a suitable place. But it looks beautiful, and look at that price!

This is a fascinating thread. I wonder if something concrete will arise, that would be marvelous :thumbsup:

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Re: Modern Buddhist Utopias & Alternative Communities

Postby kirtu » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:35 pm

Zenda wrote:I think that the european dharma gar overseen by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche is using a communal housing set up and I think it's near Berlin, so more urban than not? I'm not sure though...


That's good but it's comparing apples and oranges. Germany has an unbroken history of alternative communities before and after WWII. Most of my German friends as young adults were in such communities (often just student housing arrangements) . It's just easier to do their. There's (or was) a good deal of open space outside Berlin. German cities in general are surrounded by open spaces and villages instead of US style urban sprawl.

In the US property is expensive and problematic. And US citizens are deeply impoverished (because everything was done on debt prior to the 2008 Depression).

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Re: Modern Buddhist Utopias & Alternative Communities

Postby kirtu » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:40 pm

Ngawang Drolma wrote:
kirtu wrote:I think we should actively create little Buddhist lands/places/communes where people can go and live and practice for life.

For example this seems beautiful.


The price on this land is really good, but you would have to drag all your utilities and build a suitable place. But it looks beautiful, and look at that price!

This is a fascinating thread. I wonder if something concrete will arise, that would be marvelous :thumbsup:


But not everyone likes the desert (this looks like high desert so people might not like the cold either). If this land were secured then over time it would become a permanent retreat place.

I have planned for some time to basically buy a little piece of land and put a yurt on it for life. But really cheap land is in the desert or sometimes Maine out in the forest, or Michigan (same story) or a flood plain. But sometimes inexpensive land on the East Coast is possible too (one wonders if it was a former chemical dump though).

Basically a group of people have to get together and devote resources to such a project and then it will happen.

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Last edited by kirtu on Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Modern Buddhist Utopias & Alternative Communities

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:08 pm

Kirt, that is really neat :twothumbsup:

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Re: Modern Buddhist Utopias & Alternative Communities

Postby Indrajala » Thu Dec 23, 2010 4:11 am

I don't know about America, but in Canada as I understand it you can still homestead.

Basically, you find some crown land and petition the government to grant it to you on the condition you clear the land and build a home there.

I imagine it would be virgin soil and it'd be rough pioneer style. You'd be literally out beyond nowhere. Not a sign of civilization.

If you had a bunch of energetic people willing to build an oldschool lodge and clear land it wouldn't be difficult at all. It would probably be fun (except for the mosquitoes).

I imagine if one could actually organize this you'd get media attention and volunteers.
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Re: Modern Buddhist Utopias & Alternative Communities

Postby catmoon » Thu Dec 23, 2010 11:37 am

I don't know about the rest of the country, but they shut down the homesteading thing here a long time ago, maybe 25 years ago. So if you want to try in BC, sorry, no dice.
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Re: Modern Buddhist Utopias & Alternative Communities

Postby Indrajala » Thu Dec 23, 2010 2:24 pm

catmoon wrote:I don't know about the rest of the country, but they shut down the homesteading thing here a long time ago, maybe 25 years ago. So if you want to try in BC, sorry, no dice.


I searched around and it still seems to exist (at least in some provinces).

In any case just buying land in the middle of nowhere wouldn't cost that much. You might even get a free well and cabin (or farmhouse).
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Re: Modern Buddhist Utopias & Alternative Communities

Postby kirtu » Thu Dec 23, 2010 2:58 pm

Huseng wrote:
catmoon wrote:I don't know about the rest of the country, but they shut down the homesteading thing here a long time ago, maybe 25 years ago. So if you want to try in BC, sorry, no dice.


I searched around and it still seems to exist (at least in some provinces).

In any case just buying land in the middle of nowhere wouldn't cost that much. You might even get a free well and cabin (or farmhouse).


I hadn't really thought much about Alberta or the Yukon. Sometimes inexpensive land is available near New Brunswick.

Actually has Canada changed their laws on foreign citizens owning land? In the early 70's some US citizens had land repossessed by the Canadian government (I don't know if this was a provincial matter or what).

Personally if I could get an acre or two and be able to just put a teepee or a yurt on it that would be fine with me. That's why Texas land is so valuable in this respect - generally you can put anything on it. Having lived in both the green part of Texas (green but arid) and El Paso (a city in the desert) I'm fine with it. The Canadian prairie might take some getting used to ...

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Re: Modern Buddhist Utopias & Alternative Communities

Postby Indrajala » Thu Dec 23, 2010 5:22 pm

kirtu wrote:
I hadn't really thought much about Alberta or the Yukon. Sometimes inexpensive land is available near New Brunswick.

Actually has Canada changed their laws on foreign citizens owning land? In the early 70's some US citizens had land repossessed by the Canadian government (I don't know if this was a provincial matter or what).

Personally if I could get an acre or two and be able to just put a teepee or a yurt on it that would be fine with me. That's why Texas land is so valuable in this respect - generally you can put anything on it. Having lived in both the green part of Texas (green but arid) and El Paso (a city in the desert) I'm fine with it. The Canadian prairie might take some getting used to ...

Kirt


As far as I know yanks are allowed to own land in Canada.

Actually living in the prairies ain't so bad. I'm from Winnipeg originally. The water is brown (land of muddy waters) and there are tons of mosquitoes, but the cost of living is cheap. :smile:

The hardest part about living on rural prairie land would be the winters. They are cold, long and harsh. You have to make sufficient preparations every year. Particularly when it comes to preparing your lodging. You need sufficient firewood and food. Not at all unlike rural Mongolia. :yinyang:

If you lived out in the middle of nowhere (like on a lake or something), the good thing is that you can still make use of the surrounding land without actually owning it. As long as you don't build your house on it, provided nobody actually owns it you could plant crops, collect firewood, etc... I think in reality you'd only need to own a few acres.
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Re: Modern Buddhist Utopias & Alternative Communities

Postby kirtu » Thu Dec 23, 2010 5:38 pm

Huseng wrote:The hardest part about living on rural prairie land would be the winters. They are cold, long and harsh. You have to make sufficient preparations every year. Particularly when it comes to preparing your lodging. You need sufficient firewood and food. Not at all unlike rural Mongolia. :yinyang:

If you lived out in the middle of nowhere (like on a lake or something), the good thing is that you can still make use of the surrounding land without actually owning it. As long as you don't build your house on it, provided nobody actually owns it you could plant crops, collect firewood, etc... I think in reality you'd only need to own a few acres.


There is an online blog of a family that says that they need about 5 acres for their whole family which can't be right. My father's extended family had a horse farm and a small garden that feed numerous people (during the First Great Drepression it feed my father, his Grandmother, a Great Aunt and several other relatives) and I used to help in that garden as a boy. It was much, much less than an acre (1 acre is about a US football field without the endzones - this garden was about 4000 sq ft). With a greenhouse setup it could be cultivated year round.

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