It's easy to be overwhelmed when contemplating how we can get ourselves out of the environmental mess we've created. I've found clarity and comfort in focusing my efforts on material simplicity and on nurturing my family and local community. The food we eat, the way we spend our time and money, and how we contribute – that’s how we can make a difference.
My friendship with Buddhist monk Jason Chan has helped me relax into a more local and simpler approach to inspiring change.
Bhante Jason practises Plain Buddhism – a "deep integrated spiritual approach to simple living" that is based on the early teachings of the historical Buddha.
A Plain Buddhist Manifesto - public talks
Jason is delivering a series of eight public talks over the coming two months. The talks will be held from 6.30pm every Saturday from 4th April until 30th May (except 9th May) at Purple Pear Farm, Anambah. Admission is free and talks will be followed by meditation and chanting.
Glancing at the list of topics covered – food, clothing, shelter, medicine, family, community and education – it’s easy to not get a sense of the revolutionary change Jason is suggesting. But don’t let the everyday nature of these topics mislead you. It’s at the heart of our lives that Jason believes we should focus on.
"We cannot afford to plod on to the same old tune of life through debt, over-consumption, material things and sensual pleasures. We are destroying ourselves, corrupting our societies, trashing our environments and debasing our spiritual potentials. It is time to wake up. It is time to change," Jason Chan.
Plain Buddhist Tent Village.
For those of you wishing to delve deeper into Plain Buddhism, you can participate in a two-week Plain Buddhist Tent Village. The village will be "for those who wish to learn how to live in material simplicity and deep co-operative community through the teachings of the historical Buddha".
I'm expecting it to be somewhat like an extreme simple-living boot camp with a good dose of spirituality. I won't be attending the whole camp - but plan to pop in every now and then to help prepare food.
At the heart of the village will be a huge seven-metre high tepee, complete with a central open fire. Jason suggests the simple relocatable structure demonstrates perfectly that "just enough is more than plenty".
The first tent village will be at Purple Pear Farm from 4th July.
So far there’s about "30 people, both Buddhists and Buddhist sympathisers of all ages – ranging from a three-year-old toddler to a 78-year-old elder".
Participation in the tent village is free. There’s a handful of places left. To apply email buddhist.tent.village(at)gmail.com. No need to worry if you miss out this time – this tent village will be the first of many.
A crowd-funding campaign has been established to support the first tent village. To contribute – "and gain good kamma in return" – visit dana.io/plain-buddhist-tent-village.
Bhante Jason is currently walking from Sydney to Purple Pear Farm via Newcastle. If you notice him by the side of the road, stop and say hello. If he’s on his alms round (collecting food in his bowl) you have a perfect opportunity to practice generosity.
Hot tip: Jason values fresh food full of life energy: sprouts, leafy green vegetables, and freshly made vegie burgers. I know he’s not allowed to have a favourite food. But if he did – I’m quietly confident it would be home-made sourdough bread that was mindfully kneaded by hand.
Originally published in the Newcastle Herald Monday 23rd March 2015.