Forest Practice Month
The senior monks at Abhayagiri were meeting recently, discussing several important jobs that need attention. One project is trail maintenance. The 2.5 mile long “Loop Trail” has been in existence for over 10 years and has had many repairs and improvements done to it, but in many places the trail surface is getting unevenly worn. Another important job is creating fire breaks / defensible space around all our buildings, structures, and roads.
An interesting proposal is to do something similar to what the community at Chithurst Buddhist Monastery does in England. They do a practice called Forest Work Month, where several people volunteer to take on a project for three or four weeks. These volunteers would work alongside several of the monastic community members. It could be set up so the entire crew would live (sleep, eat, work and practice meditation) in the forest, but this would depend on the individuals and the weather conditions. This practice would not require any great skills in forestry practice, but a willingness to work 6 – 7 hours a day, adhere to the eight precepts, have some familiarity with the monastic lifestyle and an on-going meditation practice are essential.
We are thinking of trying something like this starting in mid-April 2016. The current idea is to do two, ten day work periods. People could come for one or both periods. The first session we are planning to work along side the monks of Mt Tabor monastery (our Christian neighbors to the north). We share a dirt road along the ridge and the section of the road that is on Abhayagiri’s property is in much need of maintenance, mainly clearing dead brush and slightly widening the path. Father Damien the abbot at Mt Tabor, has several volunteers lined up to help (they are retired fire fighters from Sonoma County) and several of the monks from their community will join in the work too.
The second work period possibly will be working on the Loop Trail.
Part of this practice will focus of daily reflections, teachings, group sittings and time for solitude. One idea is to take a theme like the 10 perfections and use one of the perfections each day.
If this type of practice sounds interesting to you, please write to the for details using the contact form. Please mention the term “Forest Practice” in your message.