In early 2022, “Clear Mountain Monastery” and “Friends of Clear Mountain” incorporated as Washington non-profit organizations with the aim of serving as the monastery’s underlying governing structure. Pioneered by Abhayagiri Monastery in California and since used in monasteries throughout North America, the dual structure mimics the relationship between monastics and lay stewards, and helps the Sangha remain at an appropriate distance from financial concerns, as the Monastic Code requires.
Buddhist monastics are unable to touch, receive, or use money, relying on the lay community to provide their four requisites of food, clothing, shelter, and medicine. To facilitate this relationship, the Buddha created the role of a “lay steward” who may hold and distribute donors’ funds to purchase such requisities.
“Clear Mountain Monastery”, incorporated as a non-profit church, is composed entirely of monastics, may only hold property on behalf of the Sangha, but may not recieve liquid assets or money.
“Friends of Clear Mountain”, the steward organization, features a Board of Directors composed of laypeople elected by the monastics. “Friends” holds and distributes funds on behalf of donors to provide for the Sangha’s needs, and also serves to an extent as the voice of the lay community.
The dual-structure allows Clear Mountain’s monastics to maintain an appropriate distance from finances while still guiding the project as a whole. The hope is that the relationship, carefully articulated and molded, will set the project on solid ground for decades to come.
May all beings be at ease!