This project of building a monastery has been a dream for so many years, and now we are seeing the exciting process of it’s transition into reality!
On October 20, 2016 the sale contract for a piece of land in the quiet and forested area of the Ardennes in Belgium, close to the German and Luxembougian border, has been signed. So, the foundation for building a monastery for the nun’s Sangha is now there!
And in addition to that, there is also the Sangha there: Ayya Vimala (Bhikkhunī) and Ayya Kathrin Vimalañāṇī (Sāmaṇerī) will be the first nuns to live in the new monastery. And as one of the first Sangha decisions they have chosen a name for the monastery: Tilorien. This literally means “The Three crowned by laurels”. The “Three” (Pali: Ti) refers to the Triple Gem, Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, having been a refuge for many since 2600 years. And “crowned by laurels” (Wallon, old language of the region where the monastery will be established: Lorien) means that these are that which is most magnificent and awesome, most worthy of respect.
And those who know us a little bit better, would know that Lorien also stands for this magical, mystical spiritual journey. Lorien is a refuge on the Path.
Lorien is ruled by the white witch Galadriel, who, according to Bhante Sujato, is “An icon for bhikkhunīs everywhere”. Like Kwan Yin, she is the protector of what is right and just, the embodiment of compassion. She alone is able to fight Māra directly and come out victorious.
In this ever more divided world, let Tilorien be a refuge of compassion.
Our land is the plot D777a in Engreux, near the eastern border of Belgium. The plot is 1790 m2.
It is in a very quiet area. The large plot of land in the back is designated agricultural land that cannot be changed to building plots. The road is a cul-de-sac that ends in a bend of the Ourthe river. There is a small stream of water at the back of our property and the front is sheltered from the main road by an earth mount. The village itself is rather picturesque and there is no through-road through the village.
It is fairly close to the highway without noticing that from the land and around 20 minutes drive to Bastogne, the nearest big town, about an hour to Luxembourg city and an hour to Liège city.
All facilities are there already except sewage, but this is normal almost everywhere in the area. We would need to install a water purification system.
The new monastery will be fairly small and is envisioned to be—as Ajahn Brahm has put it—a community of hermits. The main focus of the monastery will be solitary retreat and meditation with nuns living under the guidance of the Vinaya, the rules of conduct as laid down by the Buddha, as explained by our teacher, Ajahn Brahm and our Spiritual Advisor, Bhante Sujato. It will be a place where nuns and lay guests can come to practise the Dhamma-Vinaya. In effect, the monastery is envisioned to be of a similar setup to Muttodaya monastery in Germany.
The first stage of development will be a 60m2 ecologically sustainable low energy house and several kutis for nuns. The house will have three bedrooms, shower, toilet, kitchen and dāna-sālā. Up to now enough funds have been donated in order to build the basic structure of this house, including a water purification system, and three kutis. For the interior of the house and everything that has to be done on the outside, we still have to wait for more donations. Also, when more funds become available in the future, a similar house can be built adjacent to the first with a meditation-hall and two more bedrooms or office (not in the drawing).
The architect has now finished the official drawings for the building. These need to be approved by the local and then by the regional council. We will have the building permission at earliest in May 2017.
The next step will then be to hire a building company to erect the outer structure of the house. At this stage the building will have a roof and walls and the foundation and groundworks will be done (like sewage system) and water and electricity will be inside the building. The costs for all this will presumably be covered by what our main sponsors (and those who have given us loans) have contributed. However, plumbing, wiring, kitchen, toilet, bathroom, painting, flooring, etc. still will need to be done by us and volunteers. Several people have already applied to help.
Next to this 2-3 kutis will be built. These are around 3000-4000 Euro each. They are small, simple, wooden buildings of around 10 m2 with sufficient insulation for the winter, electricity and possibly a small stove. The funds for them have already been donated.
The actual building of the first stage will be funded by the main sponsor from the sale of his house. He will stay in the new building during the building phase and manage the further building works under a so-called “building-rights” contract.
Of course this will also give the monastery the added advantage that there always is a lay person available for cooking and driving, which nuns are not allowed to do. This is especially important in the beginning stages.
Donations for this project are most welcome. These are needed for the next steps in the building process, mainly in order to buy the building materials for the interior. This will be used for:
- floors, inside walls and doors
- heating system including solar panels
- lights and electric wiring
- trees and hedges to plant outside the buildings (to give more seclusion to the monastery)
- a driveway
In addition to that we also would very much appreciate to have some expertise, like for instance for plumbing. And we would equally welcome more people to volunteer with “gifts of work” in order to finish the interior.
For monetary contributions please use the PayPal button here or find the bank account details on the right sidebar. Any amount, however small, is most welcome!
For any other kind of help you wish to give for this exciting project, please contact us for more information.