Building a Shared Space for Buddhists

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Building a Shared Space for Buddhists

Postby Jikan » Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:20 pm

It ain't easy being a little Buddhist group in an expensive part of the USA. There are real challenges in finding a space to practice: the ones you can afford are not really suitable, and the suitable ones are either already claimed by someone's liposuction practice or the Odd Fellows lodge or whatever and you couldn't afford it anyway so don't think about it.

This means you have Buddhist competing with each other for resources, which is really counterproductive. Wouldn't it be better if we cooperated? I am proposing just that: several sanghas pool their resources behind one plan to buy a building and use it. This is risky of course but also potentially rewarding.

here's the longer version.

http://dctendai.blogspot.com/2012/01/no ... -work.html
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Re: Building a Shared Space for Buddhists

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Jan 18, 2012 1:14 am

it is a very good idea. There is a Vajrayana group in my city and for many years shared the facility with a Vietnamese Mahayana group. Of course, a lot of problems can come up...scheduling conflicts and so forth (although I can't recall that too many ever did). But each group should have one person whose job it is to work with representatives from each other group. The best part was inviting members of the other group to our events and being invited to theirs. The building, a former 'fraternal lodge' hall, was rented.

Update: Today the vajrayana group and the Vietnamese group are each much larger in size and each has its own facility.
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Re: Building a Shared Space for Buddhists

Postby Mr. G » Wed Jan 18, 2012 2:24 am

I think this would work well in less populated areas. Definitely a good idea.
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Re: Building a Shared Space for Buddhists

Postby Beatzen » Wed Jan 18, 2012 3:17 am

My teacher has converted a yurt into a small zendo in her back yard. We meet thrice per week there, and share space at a yoga center downtown on sunday mornings
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Re: Building a Shared Space for Buddhists

Postby maybay » Wed Jan 18, 2012 4:33 am

Communication between groups first. See that you can all sit in the same park or go on a hike together before getting married. Make it a fortnightly thing.
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Re: Building a Shared Space for Buddhists

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jan 18, 2012 5:53 am

maybay wrote:Communication between groups first.


This doesn't happen enough.
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Re: Building a Shared Space for Buddhists

Postby Jikan » Wed Jan 18, 2012 3:06 pm

Huseng wrote:
maybay wrote:Communication between groups first.


This doesn't happen enough.


I agree completely.

Part of the trouble in NoVA is spatial, and part of it is cultural. Spatial in that traffic here is a nightmare (worse than Los Angeles by some measures), so it makes sense for there to be sanghas scattered throughout the 'burbistan. It takes me 40 minutes to get from my home in 22030 to our practice space in 22204 by car (and I have to drive because I have to bring supplies for the portable shrine &c). So there is an incentive to decentralize just by virtue of what passes for urban planning here.

It's cultural in that people want to have a slice of their own particular version of the Dharma, their own brand preference if you like. Here are a few in the area, only looking at those with meetup pages and in the NoVA 'burbs and exurbs:

http://www.meetup.com/Fairfax-Zen-Buddh ... tup-Group/
http://www.meetup.com/Ekayana/
http://www.meetup.com/guhyasamaja-buddhist-center/
http://www.meetup.com/PCDDC-Meditation/
http://www.meetup.com/Chanting-and-Meditation-Group/
http://www.meetup.com/Byoma-Kusuma-Meditation/ (this is a particularly interesting one)

It's good to have such a diversity, but wouldn't it be great to have some cooperation or at least conversation too?
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Re: Building a Shared Space for Buddhists

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Jan 18, 2012 3:36 pm

One would hope so.
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Re: Building a Shared Space for Buddhists

Postby xylem » Wed Jan 18, 2012 4:01 pm

in my town there is an ecumenical buddhist commons. it's basically the dharma warehouse-- a space that all buddhist groups in the area can use for practice and teachings. it's populated by various zen, theravadan, vajrayana and "new" buddhist groups like the stephen batchelor types and buddhist peace fellowship. it works well except for the fact that different groups have different ideas of what "ecumenical" means. the "new" buddhist stephen batchelor types believe stripping buddhism of all asian cultural referents is ecumenism, while at the other pole the vajrayana practitioners see all of the other groups in the context of worldly and unworldly dharma and the nine yanas and that is their ecumenism.

on a pragmatic level it works well except for when it comes to notions of stability and growth. the group with the largest amount of members and the largest financial contribution to the support of the commons generally makes the rules. that's a problem in that the dominant group may not necessarily see the purpose of the commons as an incubator for smaller groups, but rather a venue for the players.
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Re: Building a Shared Space for Buddhists

Postby Jikan » Wed Jan 18, 2012 4:12 pm

xylem wrote:in my town there is an ecumenical buddhist commons. it's basically the dharma warehouse-- a space that all buddhist groups in the area can use for practice and teachings. it's populated by various zen, theravadan, vajrayana and "new" buddhist groups like the stephen batchelor types and buddhist peace fellowship. it works well except for the fact that different groups have different ideas of what "ecumenical" means. the "new" buddhist stephen batchelor types believe stripping buddhism of all asian cultural referents is ecumenism, while at the other pole the vajrayana practitioners see all of the other groups in the context of worldly and unworldly dharma and the nine yanas and that is their ecumenism.

on a pragmatic level it works well except for when it comes to notions of stability and growth. the group with the largest amount of members and the largest financial contribution to the support of the commons generally makes the rules. that's a problem in that the dominant group may not necessarily see the purpose of the commons as an incubator for smaller groups, but rather a venue for the players.


The idea of a commons is exactly what I would like to see emerge here.

Thanks for pointing out the pitfalls.

Can you say where this is located?
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Re: Building a Shared Space for Buddhists

Postby xylem » Wed Jan 18, 2012 6:44 pm

one other nuance. in a given tradition there is generally some formal aspect of practice that is unifying. that can be anything from daily opening/closing prayers. to how the shrine is constructed, to how one organizes the practice-- walking/sitting/walking etc. in an ecumenical setting it is harder to find common ground. some groups have elaborate sadhanas, some chant nothing, other do nothing but talk and discuss. it's important to find a common ground for the survival of the commons. this has to at least be an organizational common ground as it is very difficult to articulate the meaning of a commons and the responsibility of protecting the commons. it's important to try to articulate that to all of the members of the commons, but also other groups orbital to it. also, it is critical in my mind, and this is where we've failed here imho, to find a spiritual common ground. something that is practice other than cleaning and paying the bills that unites everyone in a meta community.
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Re: Building a Shared Space for Buddhists

Postby xylem » Wed Jan 18, 2012 9:02 pm

i'd rather not. i don't want to be banned.

Jikan wrote:
xylem wrote:Can you say where this is located?
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