People who come to stay and meditate in the monastery need dwellings. The first couple of years guests stayed mainly in tents. The people were hardy and some stayed right through the winter. Three years ago we built a cedar garden shed as a monk’s hut and got a small caravan. Two years ago we built a small dining hall for the monks which doubles as a dwelling. This past year we built another simple hut, a small room and bought another caravan. Still, we find ourselves short of accommodation for the increasing number of people who wish to come and stay at the monastery, and during the summer we will have to again rely on tents.
Another aspect of the material development is the landscaping. This past year we planted approximately 1000 trees, bringing the total to 4,691. The people staying at Vimutti have done a fantastic job planting and caring for the trees, and there has been quick growth and a high survival rate. Another big improvement to the landscaping has been the creation of two beautiful ponds near the entrance of the monastery. These have turned a weed-ridden soggy depression into a tranquil refuge of contemplation and repose. They were soon adopted by two families of ducks with a bunch of fluffy ducklings playing throughout the day. The ponds also provide a habitat for walking meditators. These creatures are another rare and wild species that flourish if they have the proper environment. The Department of Conservation may be able to tag some of the wild walking meditators to see if their population increases over time.
Over the past two weeks another major development has taken place. We came to an agreement with our neighbor to buy 30 acres of land adjacent to the monastery. For forest monasteries it is important to maintain a sense of seclusion and quietude suitable for meditation and retreat. Although the monastery is in a pleasant location, there has been some concern about the effect that development on adjacent land might have on the atmosphere. It was with this in mind that we decided to purchase the land bordering the west side of Vimutti.
In addition to securing the future of the monastery, the new land provides a stunning setting for a meditation hall that overlooks a lovely valley. There is also a beautiful vista for a hill-top Stupa and a variety of locations for meditation huts. On part of the new property we hope to create an area specifically for women, so that they will have their own space for practice. Furthermore, the purchase of this property provides an opportunity for us to help protect and restore the native ecosystem of New Zealand.
The cost of the new property is $NZ 200,000. To help finance the purchase we have divided the land into small lots for individual donation. There are five options: there are nine plots of land in the area where the Stupa will be built for $2000 each. The area where the meditation hall will go has been divided into plots at $1500 each. The remaining area of the land has been divided into sections with sponsorship prices of $1000, $500 and $250.
Creating a monastery in New Zealand is a great opportunity. This is a unique time in the history of Buddhism. Very rarely has the Dhamma ever spread so quickly to non-Buddhist countries as it has been spreading in the West for the last 30 years. We have to think not merely in terms of our immediate needs, but also in terms of what will be necessary to transplant Buddhism to a new land for hundreds of years to come. If you would like to be part of this wonderful blossoming of the Dhamma, please contact us or see the details on the offerings page of our website.