Posted on Fri, 12 Oct 2012

Bolder moving operations at Harnham

The Buddha intentionally set the Sangha up to be dependent for its existence on the material support of lay people. The lay supporters in turn would be able to benefit from their contact and cooperation with the Sangha by receiving encouragement for their own practice. This idea is still a lived reality at Harnham. Aruna Ratanagiri is a place were people from many different walks of life come together to take some steps along their spiritual path. This might mean to practice alongside, to discuss the Dhamma and help each other with advice on meditation and other aspects of the Buddha’s Eightfold Path, as well as joining forces to maintain and further the physical and organisational structures that keep our place and community going as a spiritual sanctuary.

Our lakeside project is one such example. In the photo you can see some of us pulling together, trying to move a heavy, beautifully shaped rock. We have chosen this bolder to be a commemoration to our late friend and trustee Jody Higgs, who’s generous legacy was used for the purchase of the lake property. The rock didn’t yield as easily as might have been hoped, so in the end Stephen, the contractor currently building the boardwalk, came over, put a chain around the stone and dragged it into place with his tractor, where it is sitting now, nestled in an arrangement of smaller rocks.

Our community members and guests went on to help Stephen and his workers to move smaller rocks out of the way of the course of the boardwalk on the opposite side of the lake. The foundations for the first leg of the construction, perhaps a third of the entire length, have now been put into place. Within a short time, apart from finishing this first leg of the walk, Stephen will also erect platforms for the three kutis that are expected to arrive in a few weeks time as well as the structural part of a bridge over the weir at the east end of the lake. The board walk is planned to eventually go all the way around the lake. If you are interested in helping this project along by sponsoring a stretch of the walk, please visit the dana section on our website for more information.

The cooperation of lay people and monastics at Harnham has many faces. Next to Penny, our trusted book keeper for many years, we have now a second paid worker on the hill. Paul, our new maintenance man is working at the monastery for 12 hours every week. You can see his photo and some more information about him in the previous blog entry. When he is not busy swinging a hammer on a repair job at the main monastery site he often finds himself strapped to a strimmer cutting through the heavy mace of plant life around the lake these days.

Another set of ‘heavy duty workers’ are expected to arrive on the 27th of this month, for the next Harnham Buddhist Monastery Trust Meeting. Some of our trustees have served Aruna Ratanagiri for many years already – a tremendous commitment, which consists mainly of overseeing the financial and legal side of the running of the monastery.

Their generosity has always elicited particular admiration from the members of the monastic Sangha. Our trustees not only take on their responsibilities during the little free time their busy lives permit, but also without any remuneration. There are not many people who would willingly take on the discussion of spending plans, health & safety and legal issues as part of their ideal of spiritual practice. So we are looking forward to hosting our trustees for the weekend of the 27th.

Soon after that there will be another important weekend to prepare for: Our Kathina will take place on the 11th of November this year and will see a large gathering of monks and nuns, some of whom are intending to stay on for the Elders’ Council Meeting on the following Tuesday. We are looking forward to having various abbots and other senior members of the community here for these occasions.

But you won’t have to wait that long to come out to assist some interesting event. On Sunday, 28th October there will be another Study & Practice day at the monastery, this time on the theme of gratitude. It is expected to start at 9:30am and finish with a discussion at teatime around 5:30pm. No booking is necessary. Feel welcome to bring a contribution for the shared lunch.

And this Saturday 13th October at 5:30pm the Lay Discussion Group will meet in the Kusala House shrine room, followed in the evening most likely with a Dhamma talk by one of the senior monks.