Co-Authored With Jōshin (Founder and Head Teacher of OAK)
Seven years ago, some people started meditating in an apartment in Vermont. Shinzen Young went by one day, and he very sweetly said that the place had a “monastic vibe.”
Then, those people moved into a mansion with red slate walls and tried to make it look like a monastery. That place was constraining and challenging, and the group entered into a grow-or-die phase, struggling to find a way to exist.
Everything changed when we took a leap of faith. Supported by a loan from our close friends and family, we purchased the Lowell property, where MAPLE now resides. Since then, MAPLE has become an excellent place of training, changing hundreds of lives and inspiring countless people.
Two years ago, we started meditating in a townhouse in South San Francisco. It also had a “monastic vibe.” This year, we moved into our version of the red-slate mansion. We’ve been able to do excellent training with about 8 trainees. While more and more people are asking us to train them, our space constraints mean that we can’t help them. We have arrived at our own grow-or-die phase, and we need your help to take the next step.
In the Bay Area, there is an amazing capacity to collaborate and produce, but there is also a deep hunger for something meaningful to produce. Unfortunately, much of what is being created here is useless at best or evil at worst. The technologies being created in this area, in this era, could potentially destroy life on Earth. How we act now will change the course of history and life on Earth.
OAK is a moral and spiritual compass for Silicon Valley. We offer a real community of loving people, doing rigorous monastic training that results in real wisdom. This is the wisdom and compassion that Silicon Valley’s earnest efforts are sorely lacking.
OAK offers a way out, a way forward – a meaning that can be trusted, and a vision that leads out of insanity and towards a better future. We offer these gifts to our community, to the technology industry and the world at large.
Right now, OAK is offering residential training to eight people. We do one silent retreat each month, and often host guests who join us for these periods of deep practice. The core of OAK’s work at this time is intensive monastic training by people dedicated to deepening their meditation practice as well as their capacity to serve the world as leaders.
We also host a weekly event online, with a talk, guided meditation, and discussion period. When COVID began, we supplemented these events with weekly “Connection Calls,” giving community members a chance to check in, share about their lives, and support each other in facing challenges. We are grateful for these opportunities to serve our broader community.
Finally, OAK is currently supporting two researchers combining intensive monastic training with inquiries into Artificial Intelligence (Alex Kōshin Flint) and new forms of economics based in Buddhist and ecological ideals (Vienna Looi). This mirrors a similar trend at MAPLE, of an increasing number of individuals combining residential training with important work interfacing with the larger world.
We aim to raise $300,000 for our operating budget for 2021, covering rent, food, travel, utilities, and other basic expenses.
In order to do this training sustainably, we need to have room for at least 20 people. We plan to move out of our current location by 2021, and we need your help to pay rent for our new place.
While renting can work in the short term, we also know from experience that until we own our own property, we will continue to struggle with many issues regarding housing. That’s why we plan to purchase a property in the next 1-3 years, a final location for our Bay Area training center that could host 20-40 people for intensive monastic training.
The real estate market is chaotic right now, especially in the Bay Area. This uncertainty could be the perfect opportunity for us to find and acquire our permanent location, if we are able to move fast enough to do so. That’s why we aim to raise pledges totaling $2.5 – $10 million towards a strategic property acquisition fund that will allow us to respond to the right opportunity as soon as it arises, without having to wait for one to show up in order to start raising funds for it.
At this time, funding our budget is our biggest constraint. You can help OAK by donating directly to our operations budget for 2021. Note that you need to be logged in to PayPal before clicking this link in order to donate. This helps us classify your donation as being intended for OAK.
You can also mail a check to OAK, 13 Windcrest Lane, South San Francisco, CA 94080, or email us to discuss making an alternate form of donation (e.g. a pledge, or stock donation, or property).
Finally, if you know someone who would like to participate in or support our programs, please share this post with them and tell them about our mailing list.
This is a critical time on our planet. The coming century will determine the survival of our species as well as all life on the planet.
This is a time that desperately needs clarity, compassion, and love. We are dedicating our lives to addressing these great challenges through monastic training. Your donation today will ensure this continued success of our work.