in the West” was
first proposed at the annual meeting of the Board of Directors
of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (MID) in October 2003.
At that meeting the Board received an enthusiastic report
of its members who had participated in the first “Nuns
in the West” meeting
the previous May at the Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights,
California. After hearing how beneficial it was for Buddhist
nuns to reflect together on what it means to be a nun in
the United States today, the board appointed a committee
the possibility of sponsoring a similar meeting for monks.
It suggested that the topic for such a gathering be the meaning
and practice of celibacy in the monastic life.
committee began its work by seeking advice from the Board’s
advisors, one of whom suggested that it might be better to
initiate an interreligious
dialogue on monastic life with a somewhat “milder” topic: novice training,
committee then contacted the Buddhist monks who had participated
in the second Gethsemani
2002 to determine whether or not they or someone from their
respective sanghas would be interested in a meeting of this
kind. The response was very positive. One of the Buddhist monks,
the Rev. Heng Sure,
Ph.D. an American Chan (Chinese Zen) monk,
proposed that the meeting be held at his monastery, located
at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas near Ukiah, California.
He also offered to help plan for and organize the encounter.
agreed that this first meeting would take place October 13-14,
2004, immediately prior to
board meeting, which was to be held at the New Camaldoli Hermitage
in Big Sur, California. We also decided that the gathering
would be relatively small and that one of the items on the
agenda would be to determine whether or not to plan for a future,
larger gathering of Monks in the West. With the success of
the first gathering of Monks in the West in 2004 co-organizers Fr.
William Skudlarek, OSB and Rev. Heng Sure, Ph.D. started
ground work for Monks in the West II.
visit the site
map to find an overview of Monks in the West 2004,
Monks in the West II and other useful links.