icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
The Long-term costs of all but one room (and the bathrooms) of the temple being shut

This time last year the temple had been dramatically closed by the temple. We were forced to hold events and retreats on the front lawn.

In a tent.

In the snow.

Sweltering practices were held in 94-degree weather on the front porch, with useless fans plugged in through the windows. )

Now, thanks especially to DoMore24 ONE ROOM, the prayer room, is reopened. The temple's allowed 104 people. (We've a regular membership of around 200-300, and host events of 500+.)

What's survived?

The prayer vigil continues, of course. )

What hasn't?

The food bank is closed. )

For us? The biggest impact has been the lack of space for the community. We don't have a place where we can just sit and talk anymore, and no place for our myriad of project meetings (we've had rent outside venues or meet at people's house). You can see the results in between prayer shifts. People chat, hungry for each other's company. Other than online, or working on temple grounds, we don't get to see each other very much any more.

For the non-Buddhists? The biggest loss has been the closing of The Mani Jewel. For the cyclists and birders it was the only pit stop for fifteen miles along River Road, and there are races along this route.

For the larger Buddhist community? The closure of The Mani Jewel is a biggie, it was a destination store. But the hardest hit are the pilgrims. They've come, and they've had to be turned away.

The big plus of the renovation that went beyond restoring what we had? The repaired floor of the prayer room, of course. The new fire doors, sure. But for me, it's the BATHROOMS. No more lines at that one little bathroom off the hall, thank god.

Bathrooms or not, we need our temple back. The whole temple, not just one room, even if it is an important room. We have permits we need through the hard work of Costly Lawyers.

Now it's time to begin.

And DoMore24 is here again.

The results: $11k closer, plus we "won" the religious organization category.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Mansplainer!guy sent me a leeeeennnnnnggggggthhhhhhyyyyy follow-up mansplaining in comments. I think he finds himself erudite.

I think he's missing the point of Buddhism. People I enjoy talking to about Buddhism stick to Buddhism, for starters. Second, they don't puff themselves up like this.

I have this image of a big puffer fish, full of hot air and nothing, trying to impress.

Read more... )

I got through about a paragraph of his dancing around, before I wrote back to the fellow: "tl;dr"

To my surprise, he wrote back to the effect that he didn't believe I didn't read it. Laughed that I was lying to him about not reading that page and a half of egotistical bullshit.

0.o

Oh my God, did he not see that his pontificating was just ... so dull? Is he so fascinated with his mental masturbation that he hasn't looked in a mirror to see that really, it's not all that interesting?

Wow.

I'd already unfriended him. Moved past that to blocking him.

Wow.

I'm both floored and annoyed. So the new word: flonnoyed.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Lucia sent out this message wishing everyone a happy Lha Bab Duchen (celebration of the day the Buddha taught and liberated his mother where she'd been born in the Tushita god realm):

"Remember ... the merit and virtue in the world is getting less & less. So let's create vast amounts of merit on this auspicious day & everyday to add to the collective pool of virtue in the world that so badly needs it. Sometime it helps to remember the bigger picture. So all of you beautiful Bodhisattvas out there with hearts filled with loving concern for the welfare of others, bring it on.......Have an awesome day!"
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I've decided to stop using "renovation" to describe my temple's circumstances.

That's like using the phrase "global warming" to describe gradual catastrophic climate change. "Renovations"? Why those are optional! And pleasant, you're delighted with the results as they improve the structure in small ways, perhaps even repairing a broken building. And you can renovate whenever, so long as the building's still standing.

The new term is "County Compliance."

How's that for an ass-kicking description of what the temple's up against?

The temple needs to raise money for "County Compliance."

Is it optional? Hell no.
Is it reasonable? It's the county government, what do you think?
Is it an improvement? Not necessarily, no.
Is there a time frame? Yup.
Is it expensive? You're damned right it is.

Wait till I tell you why the temple has to meet 2012 codes when most churches/temples/synagogues would have to meet lighter standards. (My dad's still laughing.)
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
For my Buddhist-curious friends, in the wake of the Haiyan Typhoon:

http://www.tibetanbuddhistaltar.org/how-to-pray-by-being/

A teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo given in the wake of the Tsunami in 2004:

In order to pray, first we have to understand that we are Uncontrived Primordial View – Suchness. The Uncontrived Primordial View is every potential in its essential uncontrived form. Our nature is that which is unborn, absolutely complete and perfect in every detail. It isn’t made, it isn’t grown, and it can’t become stronger or weaker. It is conditionless. So we practice VIEW to allow the “boxes” of our mind to fall away so we can recognize that conditionless state and awaken to it, at last. Our prayers have to be like this as well.

Read more... ) When you are aware that you are that, it is that that you send to others. Being confident, not prideful, confident in that blessing; and therefore you can pray. Now you have the Bodhicitta. Now you ARE the Bodhicitta. And that is the potency and power that you rely on.

It’s every minute. It’s a path. It’s a way of life. And it is the true method to achieve the precious awakening. When you know that other beings are suffering so terribly and we have found this “Jewel” and it is in our hands, and this nectar is given freely, then I ask you “Why not learn to pray?”
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
We've got to do these renovations.

Oh, hi! You probably know my temple was shut down by the county for mandatory renovations.

Last spring, my temple hosted Yangthang Tulku, who gave Buddhist teachings and empowerments. The County Executive, in honor of Yangthang Tulku's accomplishments, named that day "Yangthang Tulku Day" henceforth, presented him with a plaque.

But we had to host the entire event in a tent on the lawn.

He's in his 90s. Even though we heated the tent, it was still, as Yangthang Tulku put it, "difficult."

There's no way the temple can do that again. Visiting teachers attract 300+ people. And our prayer room only legally holds 103.

That situation, Yangthang Rinpoche knew he'd have to be out on the lawn. In fact, he offered to come after we were shut down. He did it out of solidarity. He's one of several important Lamas who's spoken in the past of how important this temple is, the impact it has.

This is a great place and should stay open.

The Interfaith Council in this area says that the temple 'is the best-kept secret in Montgomery County.' )

Then the spiritual activities. The teachings. The 24-hour prayer vigil that's been running for over twenty-five years. The Buddhist lending library that Ani Samla runs.

And little things that people miss. The Mani Jewel gift store was a destination shop for Buddhists all over the area and popular with the visitors. The community room and solarium welcomed people.

And heck, I'm still trying to figure out a place for my Tibetan class. I used to hold it in the Dharma Room. Now I don't know where I can teach Tibetan.

The temple needs to reopen.

The temple generated a huge amount of funds right away, largely from the teacher, Jetsunma, selling her furniture and jewelry and gifts she's received, all at fire sale prices. The first phase is done and that money's almost gone.



I sat here last week going, "We need to have more teachers visit or we're not really a Buddhist temple." Yet we can't.

Please help. I don't know what to do. I'm donating what I can and studying to get into work that will pay more. I'm making Things To Sell.

If you can donate even a little ... I'm feeling like, oh, God, what can I do?

http://www.razoo.com/story/Kpc-Renovation
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
When you already have fundraising to do for your temple, do you fundraise for others? Yes.

My friend Kristin's running the temple Holiday Bazaar.

Temple donations have fallen off because, well, most of the temple's closed. What's accessible is outdoors: the Peace Park, the stupas, the walking trails, the bird sanctuary.

Now that it's cold, and there's nowhere for people to go indoors except the prayer room. We don't have as many visitors.

So when someone suggested adding fundraising for the Philippines disaster to our Holiday Bazaar, I thought, "No, no, we can't, it would be great but we have so much fundraising we have to do for ourselves...."

Oh.

I should know better.

Of course we're doing something for the Philippines.

The Holiday Bazaar is a European style outdoor market with hot foods and drinks, fun crafts and vendors, a silent auction, in an environments surrounded by peaceful forest. Set the Saturday and Sunday after Black Friday, it's the perfect break from Black Friday's chaos.

If you're a local crafts person or know a crafts vendor who might be interested, you can let me know here, or send them the application.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
You may recall that my Buddhist temple was shut down for mandatory renovations last March. We were allowed to open just the prayer room come September.

I was thrilled.

The temple's struggling. Because we now have just one room (and the grounds) to show people, donations have fallen off. It isn't the same experience anymore.

It doesn't help that our gift store, which was a destination shop for the Buddhist community throughout the region, has been completely shut down. I miss it, really, the tinkling music or recorded Buddhist chants as you came in through the front door of the temple, the warm, welcoming atmosphere, and bright Tibetan colors. I want to buy my incense from them and can't.

I miss the library and solarium. People used to be able to come in and browse, hang out and read a book while friends prayed. That's where the non-Buddhists, dragged here by family, used to go and pass a peaceful hour. The solarium had comfortable couches and tea available, with friendly members hanging out, kids stretching over the coffee table to snack on the abundant food offerings. We always had food everywhere. It was active and lively, rather loud on Sundays, with a crowd shuffling through to the Sunday lunch.

Now a sign reminds us that the library's cordoned off, the solarium off-limits.

The Dharma room you can only peer at through windows. It was a peaceful oasis with it's altars, large brass statues, and an exotic mandala, where teachings were held Sundays and Fridays. That's where I had my Tibetan class. The french doors are closed now, and the room looks abandoned.

What is there for people to see?

Of course donations have fallen off. It's sad and dispiriting to see us shut down.

The community room that hosted lunch and activities throughout the week -- the bagged lunches for the homeless we give for Manna Foods to distribute, the Food Bank -- is now sealed off and used for storage. And the prayer room, our only open room, is crowded with all the business of the temple: the prayer chart, the food offerings that used to be out for the kids, the cushions piled up. Simple things like folding chairs, we have no place to put them. Or we did, but those parts are shut down. So they're all over the place.

I don't know what to do. I'm going forward, finishing my career change so I can take up more of the slack. I'm making toys to sell for the Holiday Bazaar.

They won't bring in much, but heck, most of the donations we received were small, too. I keep running into people who've been here, who feel a strong connection even though they aren't members. People like that.

We need donors. Even small ones: http://give2max.razoo.com/story/Kpc-Renovation

Other things:

If you have handmade items you'd be willing for me to sell in the Holiday Bazaar alongside my stuffed toys, that would be great.

Also, if you know any vendors, or are a vendor (specially of craft items) -- we need more for the Holiday Bazaar. Here's the vendor application.

Anyone who helps will be sent a nice thank you card and is very much appreciated.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Spiritual head-scratching

Apparently I'm good at "tasks" but not good at taking care of myself spiritually.

What does that mean?

Immediately I tried to set up a task list of things I needed to do to take care of myself spiritually. Which, I think, lol, was the point.

Okay, maybe I'm kinda task driven. I have to-do lists, plans for the future, daily little check-boxes of stuff I did and didn't do.

I beat myself up about the tasks when I don't do them -- or do them late, or sketchily -- and now I wonder, how productive was that mental tongue-lashing I gave myself for being lazy? How beneficial was it to check off the task ... and then consider my Buddhist responsibilities done for the morning, task accomplished?

When I consider the idea of spirituality, I think of it as Work. As opposed to Play. And it's a different type of Work than my Job. So when I think of watching my mind and Doing Buddhism 24/7, my first response is horror. One can't Work 24/7 without going insane!

I also consider Buddhism (Work) to be the opposite of fandom (Play) and feel faintly guilty when I skip a few Buddhist check-boxes to go write fanfic.

But this idea of "taking care of yourself spiritually" is different. It's a totally different way of looking at it, more like what I'm trying to do with my cleaning my apartment every week--developing healthy habits that keep me happy, that keep me from going "aaaaaargh!" with all my Buddhist checkboxes and responsibilities because I can't stand how far behind I get at home.

It's more like taking care of the planet by changing my shopping habits and driving habits and living in a walkable neighborhood so I can so I can take care of my body by walking more, driving less. It's more like my goal of living sustainably.

How does one create a sustainable Buddhism?

I'll have to create a list.

No. Wait....
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Now that the temple has one room open to the public, the county council apparently wanted to meet there.

Well, no. You can't have a business meeting there.

We explained that given all that's open is our prayer room, we have nowhere to meet with them on the property. A shrine room is sacred space. (Not to mention we have a 24-hour prayer vigil going.) We can do teachings there, and classes, but nothing else really.

And it sank in. My friend Claire (an earnest sweetie and currently acting as temple president) saw them get it.

We have the Use & Occupancy for our prayer room. We don't have a temple yet.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
I should've been an hour late to work yesterday.

I'm not admitting this to my boss.

I missed the bus. I, uh, miscalculated how long it would take to walk to the bus stop and I watched the bus leave from a half block away. I didn't even try to hoof it, just... no way.

You know how you rehearse excuses? When there's no excuse? Yeah. I also did mantras, praying that this would work out somehow.

Then N., a member of my temple, drove up!

Do you know how often I've seen temple members on this road at this time of day?

Never. This was a first.

"Do you need a ride?" N. called out.

"Uh. Yeah!"

She rearranged her entire schedule so she could take me to work. I got there ten minutes before my start time.

In gratitude I worked out my schedule so I could help her at the temple today. I cleaned crystals and put silk brocades on the Tara altar as Phase I of the renovation comes to a close.

All in all I feel pretty damned lucky. And I want to be as flexible and thoughtful as she was, and help people out. I mean, she said saw me standing there forlornly by the side of the road and thought, "Oh! I know her! I should help."
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Came home from two weeks of retreat to three things:

1 - My car wrecked. (An hour after I got back.)

2 - A summons to serve on a Grand jury.

3 - My acceptance letter to Loyola University's Master's in teaching program.

Only one of these I'm upset about, and that not very, since my mom had been driving my car (she's fine, went to the chiropractor on Friday) and I totaled her van about 18 years ago.

Besides, I just got back from retreat this week. Nothing can harsh my mellow.





And His Holiness Karma Kuchen is coming! Here! In Poolesville, MD! This weekend. This Sunday, in fact.

Guys, this is a big deal -- he is a big deal.



And he's wonderful. Subtle. Peaceful. Filled with smiles and laughter. He just seems so close to me.

He led the retreat I just returned from. Sometimes he'd make a little gesture, and I'd know, "Oh, I need to work harder." One time cats (lions actually) came up in a teaching and he just turned to me and beamed. How did he know how much I love cats? Or sometimes he'll give me this mischievous grin and it'll turn my whole day upside down.

He's giving the Amitabha and long life empowerment, something that's freely open to non-Buddhists. If you can come this weekend, it's well worth it.

Here's where to sign up.

The Promise (music)
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
I'm posting this today at Shelley's request.

She is absolutely overcome with the great outpouring of concern and loving responses from everyone. She would like to respond to each and every person to thank them but simply can not. But know how grateful she is. Right now she is wishing for prayers that she be able to get an appointment TODAY with her oncologist and that the tests may have the best possible outcome.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
I'm worried about Shelley.

I've known Shelley since the very earliest days at the temple.

She's an artist. One time Jetsunma (the teacher at the temple) told her: "Design something that represents Universal Spirit!" (or the mind of Enlightenment or words to that effect).

Shelley gets this bright smile that grows brighter when she's troubled or confused, and this was definitely a what-the-heck moment. But Shelley, being Shelley, always laughs nervously and says "Okay...." She came up with a very abstract, mobile sculpture that Jetsunma loved. To which Shelley said, "Okay...."

No doubt when Shelley got the word today that she has fourth stage melanoma in her toe, that ever present smile still wasn't far away.

Her smile, I think, is like a cat's purr. They also purr when they're afraid.

Jetsunma's told her not to keep this one to herself. Which is also a Shelley trait, to not tell people her troubles and keep her chin up.

I'm dedicating prayers, and I'm going to ask you guys to dedicate oh, a candle or anything you feel appropriate. At this point we don't know if her cancer has spread through her body, or if it's just in the toe. We're waiting for the tests to come back.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
The temple submitted the plan to separate the prayer room from the temple proper. That would give us a Use & Occupancy permit for up to 49 people.

(The prayer room, back when the temple was owned by a gay couple and their adopted son, was originally a workout room and spa with hot tub, is in an attached building. So it's fairly easy to make it a separate building.)

The county approved. The plan included separate men's and women's bathrooms and all the things they liked. But they wanted additional paths from the parking lot direct to the prayer room.

All right, all right, no problem.

When Ani Dawa re-submitted the plans -- this time with additional paths! -- the county also requested an extra door out of the prayer room.

The lawyer said, "Of course. This means naturally that the building space will then fall into category Z instead of category L."

"Yes, indeed, category Z," they agreed.

"Therefore the Use & Occupancy will be for 103 people. Not 49."

"Of course," they said.

Eeeeeeeeeeeee! Most of our regular events, the classes, meditations, practices, are around 100 people. The big events like Yangthang Tulku's visit are another matter, but for our regularly scheduled classes this would make the space workable.

Eeeeeiiiiiiiiiii! *squeals like a happy girly thing*

Remind me to never tell another lawyer joke.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
There's no official word. I'm not going to get excited until we have the official word from United Way.

But.

Looking at the Leaderboard under Religion, for most donors and most donations--

-- *jaw drop*

It looks like my temple ... it looks like we won.

I'm not going to get excited yet.

OMG OMG, I THINK, I THINK WE WON

OH MY GOD, IT'S OFFICIAL.

Most Donors by Category ($4,000 each)

Human Services: SOME, Inc.
Animal Welfare and Environment: Homeless Animal Rescue Team
Education: Literacy Council of Montgomery County, MD, Inc.
Arts and Culture: Corcoran Gallery of Art
Health: Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Care, Inc.
Workforce Readiness: Latin American Youth Center
Financial Stability: ProInspire
Religion: Kunzang Odsal Palyul Changchub Choling <-- the temple

Most Dollars Raised by Category ($2,000 each)

Human Services: Bread for the City
Animal Welfare and Environment: Homeward Trails Animal Rescue Inc.
Education: The SEED Public Charter School of Washington DC
Arts and Culture: Corcoran Gallery of Art
Health: Joseph’s House
Workforce Readiness: Latin American Youth Center
Financial Stability: Latino Economic Development Corporation
Religion: Kunzang Odsal Palyul Changchub Choling <-- the temple

We won both categories. Oh. That's $6,000 towards the renovations, plus the ... oh. Oh, wow. At 11pm it was only $2,600, but it's now $10,209.88. That's over $16,000 in one night.

Ohmigosh. Thank you, guys.


ETA: From Gonpo, one of the monks, "Thank you for helping us help others."
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
There's no official word. I'm not going to get excited until we have the official word from United Way.

But.

Looking at the Leaderboard under Religion, for most donors and most donations--

-- *jaw drop*

It looks like my temple ... it looks like we won.

I'm not going to get excited yet.

OMG OMG, I THINK, I THINK WE WON

OH MY GOD, IT'S OFFICIAL.

Most Donors by Category ($4,000 each)

Human Services: SOME, Inc.
Animal Welfare and Environment: Homeless Animal Rescue Team
Education: Literacy Council of Montgomery County, MD, Inc.
Arts and Culture: Corcoran Gallery of Art
Health: Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Care, Inc.
Workforce Readiness: Latin American Youth Center
Financial Stability: ProInspire
Religion: Kunzang Odsal Palyul Changchub Choling <-- the temple

Most Dollars Raised by Category ($2,000 each)

Human Services: Bread for the City
Animal Welfare and Environment: Homeward Trails Animal Rescue Inc.
Education: The SEED Public Charter School of Washington DC
Arts and Culture: Corcoran Gallery of Art
Health: Joseph’s House
Workforce Readiness: Latin American Youth Center
Financial Stability: Latino Economic Development Corporation
Religion: Kunzang Odsal Palyul Changchub Choling <-- the temple

We won both categories. Oh. That's $6,000 towards the renovations, plus the ... oh. Oh, wow. At 11pm it was only $2,600, but it's now $10,209.88. That's over $16,000 in one night.

Ohmigosh. Thank you, guys.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
We could actually win this.

In the next two and a half hours, whoever get the greatest number of donors wins $4,000 -- in our case, to go towards the mandatory renovations the county's required of the temple.

Just two and a half hours.

This is as bad as playing video games.



Ani Dawa (in front and to the far left), is in charge of construction. She's Swiss (the French side), a wonder of speed and efficiency, and she smiles under any amount of pressure. She also quotes the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy which she (correctly) feels is the greatest sci-fi novel of all time.

Most memorable moment: walking with her in the Peace Park at 10pm, she turned off the flashlight. "We can see better in the dark."

She was right.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Do you have twelve bucks?

It's all about sheer numbers of donors.

DoMore24 is 24 hours of fundraising (the clock runs till midnight tonight). The project with the most donors wins not just the donations, but an additional $4K towards, well, in our case--

-- the renovations that the county just approved yesterday. Phase one has begun!

And we're winning.

If the temple stays #1 by midnight tonight with the highest number of individual donors, it'll make a huge difference. I don't think I can sell $4,000 worth of toys. Not in a day anyway.

So do you have twelve bucks?**

You'd be supporting the 24-hour prayer vigil, daily prayer request practices (most monasteries expect a donation for each prayer request; we've always done them free), the Garuda Aviary wild bird rescue and sanctuary, nuns going out to run Buddhist meditation classes in prisons, the home of nuns like Ani Samla who cares for our feral cat colony (they've all be TNR'd), a 65-acre wildlife refuge, and a place the Montgomery County Interfaith committee called:

"...the best kept secret in Montgomery County." They said our place is amazing, yet no one knows we're here.*

Eeeeee!



* Actually, the birders know we're here. The Peace Park wildlife refuge is listed in the local birder's guide and is a regular stop for rare birds.

** We're winning!


ETA: There's also the food bank, animal rescue, my Tibetan classes--you get the idea. We do lots of Good Things.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
As I wrack my brains trying to come up with ways to raise money for our mandatory temple renovations, I've been writing fic. Is it worth making toys to sell on Etsy, or are the profit margins too low? Should I apply myself to writing

Little things. A scene here and there from Star Trek TOS.

[personal profile] enname is helping me fix the ending of a challenge fic that I tied off hastily in 2009. Star Drive will have the ending it deserves.

Mostly, what I have here are cookies. Like this one:


"Heck with being happy. Happiness, you can chase that will-o-the-wisp all over the place. I'll settle for just being content." Dr. McCoy took a sip of his drink, then gestured with his glass. "And then maybe I might be happy."

"Very astute," Spock said. "Surprisingly."

"Ah-ah-ah, not so fast," Jim chided from where he was slouched in the corner. "At the end there he still wants to be happy."

"Hey! There's a big difference between being happy by accident and chasing it."

"The doctor has a point." Spock turned to Jim.

"You? Agreeing with Bones? I think the world might end," Jim laughed.

"I'm certain it is only temporary."

"This again. I swear, I'm going to go drink with my men," Scotty complained.

"You know what they say about officers fraternizing with the crew," Jim pointed out, still smiling.

"Aye. But at least then I can have a normal conversation--about things ye can understand!"

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