By Sister Chan Khong
Dear friends, I am writing on behalf of Thay Nhat Hanh and the entire Sangha to ask for your help. In November 1997, Thay visited South Meadow Farm in Hartland, Vermont, and was very pleased with its serenity and seclusion. Located on a high plateau with long views to the east and south, the property has over 120 acres of roIling pasture, ponds, apple orchards, pine forests, and maple groves. Situated on the land are two well-maintained houses and four barns including one with over 10,000 square feet of space.
Thay suggested to the Sangha that South Meadow Farm would make an ideal North American Dharma Center and home for the Tiep Hien Order. After lengthy negotiations, a price reduction from $1,475,000 to $1,000,000 was realized. Members of the Sangha in Vermont were able to raise $500,000 and the Plum Village Sangha was able to borrow another $500,000 from friends to complete the purchase of the property in March of 1998. We have dreamed of such a center for many years and now the Green Mountain Dharma Center is a reality.
We now have in Vermont a solid core of monks, nuns, Dharma teachers, and lay practitioners ready to share and practice together 24 hours a day in a happy community of the four traditional Sanghas. A Sangha of monks, a Sangha of nuns, a Sangha of laywomen practitioners, and a Sangha of laymen practitioners. Thay has always made the establishment of a harmonious four-part Sangha the prerequisite condition for the creation of a Dharma center anywhere.
Combined with the establishment of the four-part Sangha, the gift ofland for a monastery in November 1997, the loan from friends of three houses for monks and nuns, and the rental of space for the Mindfulness Practice Center, we have made a good beginning. Even though we have much to do, we have enough happiness to share with everyone and for the first time in America we can offer a full program of engaged Buddhism as envisioned by Thay. The Vermont Mindfulness Practice Center has already begun training for those who are working with prisoners, those who are helping teenagers in distress, those who are caring for elderly people, and those who are assisting veterans in times of need. These social workers, teachers, therapists, corrections officers, and others have come to ask to be trained in the practice of mindfulness to enable them to engage in the difficult task of transforming our violent society . We believe that if we can transform and heal the war in the hearts of so many in this society we can have less war throughout the world.
We need your help. We must now raise over $1,000,000 to be able to repay our debt incurred in purchasing the Green Mountain Dharma Center and to be able to build the new Maple Forest Monastery. Since January we have received donations from over 1,000 friends totaling more than $48,000. We are very grateful for this generous support. We continue to look to you, our brothers and sisters, to help bring forth the blossoming lotus flower of Buddhism in America. Please, from your heart, contribute whatever you can for this wonderful undertaking.
Let me tell you a story from the life of the Buddha. One day, there was an order given by Queen Malika to buy 10,000 oil lamps on a special occasion to offer to the Noble Sangha of Gautama Buddha. Hearing this news, a very old, poor woman living nearby decided not to eat that day and to use the money saved to buy some oil for one of the lamps as an offering to the Buddha and the Sangha. At the end of the night, all 10,000 lamps of Queen Malika had consumed their oil and were extinguished but for one lamp, shining brightly in all directions. It was the lamp of the poorest woman in the city who had given so generously from her heart.
We treasure your contribution very much because we know that you have offered your very best for this wonderful work we do together. So that here in America there will be less violence, fewer prisons, less young people feeling lost, less war between father and son, mother and daughter, and husband and wife. All contributions to Maple Forest Monastery are tax-deductible. Please send to P.O. Box 60, Woodstock, VT 05091, telephone: (888) 559-9991. Thank you for joining us in this wonderful journey.