Earlier this year I had the chance to go on not one, but two, extended solitary meditation retreats in our cabins here at the Monastic Academy. In the months since then, I have consistently been calmer, saner, and happier. As I wrote when I emerged from 100 days of solitary retreat:
It seems to me now that my job for the last three months was to be a sane person in the midst of confusion, to keep a torch of sanity burning.
To keep this torch burning was a struggle. I sweat and I cried and even bled and yes, I had my own struggles with confusion and insanity—the hindrances—but I learned to work with them and be saner.
I can confidently say that I am saner now than I was 100 days ago. My deep hope and prayer is that I will be able to share this sanity with you and the world.
I am exceedingly grateful for these gifts. I have also been blessed to have the opportunity to share this peace and clarity with others, by serving as a guest teacher at our California location, OAK, for two months.
I also saw similar transformations happen in four of my closest friends—Peter Xūramitra Park, Daniel Ryūshin Thorson, Jasna Seishin Todorovic, and Lauren Renshin Lee—all of whom also had a chance to do extended solitary retreats at the Monastic Academy this year. I see my friends demonstrating clarity, kindness, courage, and dedication at new depths.
Their example, as well as the significant progress I made for myself, inspired me to make a major donation to the Monastic Academy. Several years ago, I received an inheritance from my grandparents. They wanted their grandchildren to receive their money, trusting they would know best how to spend it. To honor that intention, I decided to give the remainder of my inheritance to the Monastic Academy.
This has been a challenging year for nonprofits. Election years are often difficult, as funds are diverted from regular giving to political campaigns, PACs, and causes like election reform. But the COVID pandemic, and resulting economic turbulence, has made this an unusually challenging year for nonprofits. Many nonprofits are expected to close this year; those that remain will frequently face gaps between their operating expenses and funds raised, and will be operating at a loss for the year.
At the Monastic Academy, we have been fortunate to receive many unexpected donations to support our programs this year. Prior donors have given more than their usual amount, rising to meet our needs. We’ve also had a number of new donors, like my dear friend Benjamin Pence, who was inspired to give multiple significant donations this year.
Despite this outpouring of support, we are still anticipating a gap of approximately $35,000 for our budget this year. We’re hoping to raise at least $10,000 in small donations to bridge this gap.
Last year, we asked you to give $41, $410, or $4,100 to help support our new meditation hall. We raised a total of $10,000. One person gave just under $4,000; seven people gave around $400; and over sixty others gave between $5 and $200. The success of that campaign enabled us to complete construction on the meditation hall, which our community has been able to use this whole year for training and events.
If everyone reading this post gave $33, we would be able to raise the $10,000 we need to close the gap on our operating budget for the year. If everyone gave $100, we would completely cover our budget for the year.
Whatever amount you can give would be appreciated, whether it’s $5 or $10, $33 or $100, or even $3,825, like someone gave last year.
A gift to support the Monastic Academy’s operating budget feeds us, helps us to maintain our buildings, and helps us to stay warm in the winter, whether we’re indoors or in one of our cabins. Your generosity enables us to continue to run transformative programs for residents, apprentices, and guests.
If you decide to give today, or simply resonate with our work, please share this post with others who care about our mission.
Our planet is in a dire situation, and we must act now. Together, we can create the wise, loving, and powerful leaders we need, and move towards a healthy, flourishing future for all life.
Thank you to Autumn Turley and Renshin for helping draft this post, and to Christopher Markham and Thomas Bonn for editing it.