I haven’t been submitting weekly Uposatha Day posts for some time. Realizing that I have quite a few subscribers undoubtedly waiting in suspense, I thought I would send out this morsel and perhaps set a precedent for myself.
The primary reason for suspending Uposatha Day posts is not that I have ceased writing, but that I am working more intensely on book projects, largely based on shorter or serialized writings posted here in the past:
1. I am on the verge of finishing for publication A Culture of Awakening: the Life and Times of the Buddha-Sasana. I only have to tinker with the subject index, then will make it available as a pdf and in hardcopy form probably at Lulu.com.
2. I am writing and researching for Rebirth: Reasonable Reflections for Reluctant Rationalists. I hope to substantially finish this by the end of the year.
3. I am making a revision of my perpetually in progress autobiographical Through the Looking Glass.
4. I am trying to gather materials for a biography in English of Sitagu Sayadaw. There are a lot of materials available, but they are all in Burmese. I am recruiting some Burmese to produce rough translations into English. I hope to have enough material to focus my own time on this during 2015.
In the meantime, construction has still not been completed here at the monastery where I live (the Sitagu Buddha Vihara, sitagu.org/austin/). Recall that we had scheduled our grand opening ceremony for November of 2012. Since then the City of Austin has made quite a few demands having to do with drainage and sprinkler systems, including an 18,000 gal. water tank to pressurize the sprinklers, for our many buildings. For this reason we have not been scheduling major events, like meditation retreats. All the underground work is now complete and it looks pretty certain we can have our grand opening sometime this year, though we have stopped counting on anything.
The additional I am teaching my weekly sutta class at the Austin Zen Center and we are supporting limited meditation, Dhamma instruction, pagoda tours and such on an individual basis at the monastery. We have four monks actually resident here (two of whom are at the moment in Myanmar), our kappiya Koyin (a young Karen) and at any one time generally at least someone making use of our many cabins. I invite any of my readers to come by and stay for a few days if you can get to Texas.
We still plan to invite Pa Auk Sayadaw to lead a one-month retreat after our grand opening. Many of you might know that Pa Auk Sayadaw spent the last rains (vassa) at his new center in Sonoma County, California. Our secretary helped him apply for an R1 (religious worker) visa so that he can continue to be active in the USA, and the easiest way to do that was to list him officially as a resident of our monastery. Though he has never been here, he will probably visit in a couple of months.
Our beautiful library is growing by leaps and bounds. As chief librarian I control new book purchases, and we receive substantial donations of used books. We’ve recently acquired quite a few books on early Buddhism, a number on Buddhist art, I.B. Horner’s translation of the Vinaya, and a few Buddhist movies (DVDs). I have a nice staff of volunteers, all bibliophiles, including my daughter Kymrie. I may start submitting some short book reviews to this blog. I am always reading about three or four books at any one time.