For most of my monastic life, January has been a time of moving inward. Many monastic communities see this as the necessary time for deep retreat; with cold temperatures and long nights the conditions seem perfect for lots of formal practice.
So it’s been a pleasant break from the norm to see the birth of community and the movement towards growth amidst the long dark of winter’s midpoint. Little by little we’ve been adding something new, and people have been showing up. Out of a collection of separate practitioners, a community is arising.
At the beginning of the year Upavana began hosting Zoom meetings for meditation, personal interviews, dhamma ‘tea times’ and monastic discipline studies. While their time in NYC overlaps, Bhante Pamutto and Bhante Jayasāra have been combining their efforts to encourage practice. Together with the online MaggaSekha group, this makes for a pretty full week of dhamma options.
The foremost goal has been to support Buddhist practice, and in turn the shows of support keep coming back. The Indonesian Buddhist Family of New York have been fantastic hosts to Bhante Pamutto and Jayasāra, offering abundant food, shelter, and technical support – making it possible to be productive despite the pandemic and the inability to establish a physical location until conditions improve.
As for moving towards a center, Tahn Pamutto and Santi have their first offers for places to stay once they arrive in Massachusetts, probably sometime in May. The application for federal non-profit status has been submitted, and when word comes back it will be possible to take advantage of all the varieties of fundraising tools available to charity organizations. It won’t take that much capital to kick things off, though, and both monastics are happy to work with what they have when the time comes. There’s excitement at the prospect of starting something new.
February is sure to continue the interesting trends and bring fresh ideas and growth! Stay tuned!