The Strategic Plan of the Great Western Vehicle
Where Your Donations Go in Support of Jhanananda (Jeffrey S. Brooks) and the Great Western Vehicle
By the contemplative recluse monk Sotapanna Jhanananda (Jeffrey S, Brooks)
In this culture begging is not at all considered a noble livelihood. When Sidharta Gotama articulated his Noble Eightfold Path he defined right livelihood as engaging in the spiritual endeavor full-time. Since religious institutions, where men and women could engage in the contemplative life, did not exist in his time, he came up with the idea of begging for alms to support his growing community of contemplatives. To this day the practice of begging for alms is still a central practice within Theravadan Buddhism.
In the West we have had a long tradition of supporting monastics in the Catholic Church. Unfortunately the Catholic Church has forgotten its contemplative tradition and tends to treat its monastics as though they are servants.
Buddhism has not forgotten its contemplative tradition, however it has clearly lost the purpose of the contemplative life if all three vehicles reject the ecstasies (jhanas), which are the very definition of the 8th fold of the Noble Eightfold Path (dhamma) (DN 22.21). Therefore there really is no place, other than the wilderness, where a contemplative at this time, who is intent upon enlightenment in this very lifetime, can engage in a contemplative life with the intent of cultivating the ecstasies (jhanas), which are THE path to enlightenment according to the Buddha (DN 22.21).
While I am endeavoring to forage for my subsistence, like all humans did prior to the invention of agriculture, but since foraging does not include fuel I am none-the-less reduced to begging for my subsistence, like the Buddha and his ancient followers. I have few material needs because I have been foraging for foods off and on since May, 2004. I also have had an interest in foraging most of my life, which was one of the reasons why I gained a degree in Southwestern Anthropology from the University of Arizona. I am thus well equipped to forage indefinitely. In fact foraged foods have been a staple of my diet for most of this three year retreat. I ate barrel cactus fruit, Texas Ebony nuts and Myrtle berries every day from Thanksgiving, 2004 until about February 1, 2005, and foraged edible mushrroms every day from 11 2005 to the present. I expect to be able to eat foraged foods throughout this retreat.
While I am not good at asking for donations, they are always accepted graciously, but never expected. I occasionally receive donations, however they do not support this body or the infrastructure of an institution, which I hope the GWV will become some day. Twenty dollars will allow me to buy a cup of herb tea and a day-old scone once a day for a week, which will allow me to have internet access through the free wireless internet services at local cafes.
Fifty dollars would allow me to file the papers for 501c3 so that the generous contributors to the Great Western Vehicle will be able to take their donations off of their taxes. I hope to file the papers before the end of 2006.
Improving the effectiveness of the services of the GWV
Cell phone with Blue Tooth technology
There has not been sufficient financial support to maintain the infrastructure of the GWV, however $39.95 each month will provide a cell phone which has a nationwide service plan as well as limited internet access. A cell phone with Blue Tooth technology works as a wireless modem allowing the laptop to link to it to gain access to the web, which will allow me to keep in touch with my students while traveling to promote the GWV and Ecstatic Buddhism.
A vehicle for the Great Western Vehicle
A diesel van or truck with camper could be outfitted to burn recycled oil, this would allow me to forage fuel as well as food. It would make it possible to live in the van or camper while traveling around the country to promote a western contemplative tradtion that is informed and inspried by the cultivation of meditative absorption. For more information on vegetable oil as a fuel source and for design strategies that work efficiently please see the GWV archive on Right Livelihood .
If the modest needs of this body, a cellphone with bluetooth and an economical diesel vehicle can be provided then the message of 4th Wheel Buddhism , as well as Ecstatic Buddhism, could be propelled around the country on a speaking tour. That project could be funded with as little as $5,000 a year.
The literature of Buddhism, as it has been translated, has presented Buddhism as a stoic, nihilistic atheism. This is however not what Buddhism is. If you are interested in seeing how Buddhist literature in the West has been undermined by the cultural bias of the translators, then please take a look at the following paper in the GWV archives, Translator Bias of the Pali Canon (updated 11-10-04)
Long range goals of the GWV
One of the longer range goals of the GWV is to provide scholars, who are accomplished contemplatives. Since Buddhism has been undermined by scholars who are not contemplatives, and finding contemplatives who have the financial resources to propel themselves through higher education is rather difficult, then it is one of the goals of the GWV to provide scholarships for accomplished contemplatives who can successfully negotiate the rigors of academic training.
The next stage in the building of an authentic Western Buddhist tradition is to build urban centers near universities, where the ordained teachers of the GWV who have successfully negotiated advanced degrees in Buddhist studies will be able to live and teach and provide local leadership.
Since there is no center teaching authentic jhana at present, then once the first urban center is built we would then be very interested in building a retreat center where people will be able to engage in intensive study and practice in the contemplative tradition of jhana.
Once we have built and established a successful urban practice center as well as a rural retreat center, then the goals of the GWV would be to build 5 more centers around the continental USA using the same basic concept of locating urban centers near major universities where Buddhism and Asian studies are pursued, and in companion with a rural retreat center.
There are no golden bathtubs, private palaces, stables of Rolls-Royces or harems of women planed for the GWV. We are simply interested in building a Western Vehicle of Buddhism and providing training and discourse in support of the ecstatic contemplative regardless of their religious or cultural background.
If you are inspired to make a contribution to further what is hoped will be a life-long contemplative life for Jhanananda, a Western vehicle of Buddhism, and a growing community of Western contemplatives intent upon enlightenment in this very life-time, then please consider supporting the Great Western Vehicle.
May you become enlightened in this very lifetime,
Jhanananda (Jeffrey S. Brooks)
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