Forest Sangha Newsletter October 1994

Emptiness and Pure Awareness; Ajahn Amaro
Ajahn Gunhah: A Profile; Ven. Chandako
A Little Awakening in Italy; Aj. Chandapalo
Lay Practice in Essex; Pamutto
Love Unbounded; Srs. Candasiri & Medhanandi
Suffer the Little Children; Ven. Sobhano
Temple Project at Amaravati
Sutta Class: Authority of a Teacher; Aj. Sucitto


Temple Project at Amaravati

The plans, the action and the communion of paradoxes.

It has been a long time coming, but at last the detailed plans and a schedule of work for the new temple are being finalised. The architect, Tom Hancock, has spent much of the summer bringing together the two designs which were approved by the Planning Inspector in January of this year, and the further considerations of the community.

In the final design the structure will be supported by an interior framework of wooden beams, mounted on four stone pillars rising from the central area of the chamber. The temple will thus be a single open space, pyramidal in shape both internally and externally. It's floor will be oak and stone.

The memories of well-run, energetic, communal work-projects are often amongst the fondest .... all of these sit in the heart with a pleasant glow.

The structure has also been brought forward so that it will sit on the edge of the courtyard. This location has several advantages: first, it will be less far to walk between the Temple and the Sala; second, the abbot's kuti can be placed in a small garden (including the previously endangered oak tree) behind the temple rather than in front of it; third, its profile will be less visible against the skyline; fouth, the demolition of the old workshop is now not required prior to construction. The roof line has changed and has acquired the elegant sweep of a more 'stupa-like' profile.

All our advisors have encouraged us to try to complete the building in a single phase, reducing costs enormously, and lowering the amount of on-site time for builders and their equipment. It is estimated that, with the new, simplified design, the majority of construction work could be finished within six months of the starting date.

The design change also reduces the estimated cost. Unfortunately it is not yet possible to publish a figure for this but we will let everyone know the cost break-down as soon as possible. On this point, many people have expressed interest in helping to finance and contribute to the building of the Temple in some fashion. There are many ways that this can be done; one of the most obvious is for us to tabulate the costs of all the constituent parts and for individuals or groups of supporters to sponsor a portion of the whole, from the humblest roof tile to the central Buddha image.

There is, however, an opportunity for an even more hands-on way of participating in the project. With the need to take down two of the existing, largely unused, buildings, we will be having a grand spring 'Working Bee' from March 10th until May 7th. During this time we will not be holding any retreats, (the Retreat Centre will thus be available for accommodation), there will be numbers of monks and nuns from the other branch monasteries joining in to help, and everyone amongst the lay community who would like to participate is more than welcome to come along.

For those who have been with the Sangha for a number of years, the memories of well-run, energetic, communal work-projects are often amongst the fondest: the re-roofing of Chithurst; the building of the Stupa at Wat Pah Pong; the Dhamma Hall at Harnham and the Sala in New Zealand; even the insulating of the Retreat Centre at Amaravati - all of these sit in the heart with a pleasant glow.

If everything goes according to plan (which of course it should) the buildings should be dismantled, the re-usable timber de-nailed and stacked, and the ground cleared by May the 7th. We will then have a few days break and prepare things for Wesak Day, on May the 13th, when we aim to have the Ground-breaking Ceremony and also to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Amaravati's opening.

This is a major project, and one which has and will require careful contemplation at every stage, however, one of the great things about being involved in all this within a Buddhist context is that (at least metaphysically speaking) nothing can go wrong. However events flow our task is to adapt sensitively to changing conditions, and to learn from events and the good and bad results of action - the rest is not a problem. At every turn there are difficult choices to be made but the Middle Way is the communion of paradoxes - we shall see how it all works out.