Last summer while on a call with my meditation mentor, checking in about my meditation practice, I kept coming up against a feeling that something was missing. I wanted real teachers and a group of spiritual friends to grow with and learn from. I had a deep longing for Sangha. My mentor said that she thought what I was looking for was a connection to the living Dhamma and suggested I look for a monastic to sit with. A quick internet search later and I came across the Clear Mountain Monastery Project. A few days afterwards, I showed up at Volunteer Park and I have been practicing happily with the Clear Mountain community since that day!
It is absolutely true that the monastic presence was a big piece of what I was longing for. There is a difficult to describe, but not so subtle quality when you are sitting with a guide whose entire life is dedicated to the Dhamma. I have come to understand that the community of support that enables that absorption into living the practice so fully is a crucial ingredient in what makes that living presence available.
I am happy to announce that a supporting organization, Friends of Clear Mountain, has been set up to preserve the monastic tradition of keeping the monks separate from and unburdened by the transactional world of finance and acquisition of necessary requisites. Our aim is to create the support needed to allow the monks to keep their minds, hearts, and time focused on deepening their practice and sharing its fruits with the ever-growing community. As an organization, Friends of Clear Mountain will steward donations made to the project. We hope to be both a support for the monastics as well as faithful caretakers of the community’s dāna.
I can see the transformational potential of dāna, or generosity, alive in this community. When people give from a heart aligned with the Dhamma, there is a quality about the gift—whether of finances or time; of food or a warm smile. There are countless ways to give. I have been inspired by the generosity of the community in big and small ways. As one of the gratitude stewards, I have enjoyed making calls of acknowledgement and celebration for the gifts that come in. I have loved hearing the ways the teachings and community have made an impact in the lives of so many and feeling the web of my sangha expand to other states, and countries even. It has brought me a feeling of connectedness that can be rare in this fragmented world.
I have also been transformed by the act of giving, I have made it a part of my practice to offer alms weekly. It has become deeply meaningful to me, sacred even. I feel I am honoring my practice, my path, the Dhamma, and even the Buddha when I prepare and offer the food. It feels like such a gift to give.
I have so much excitement about the future potential of this community. I am excited for the eventual procurement of land, more retreats and visiting monastics to learn from, the deepening of spiritual friendships and so much more. I am also deeply satisfied by the natural pace and grace of the project’s unfolding. This community has already added so much to my life and my practice. I am incredibly honored to serve as a member of the lay board and I look forward to each present moment and for all that is to come.
With much metta,
President, Friends of Clear Mountain
Meet the whole board here!