An Invitation to Help Form a Wake Up Center At MorningSun
This is a happy moment! We are a group of Wake Uppers who are both current and future residents of MorningSun Community, under the guiding mentorship and support of Dharma Teachers and MorningSun founders, Fern Dorresteyn and Michael Ciborski. It has already been a great joy for us to begin exploring the exciting potential of a Wake–Up Center at MorningSun Community. Our intention is to create a physical space which supports and strengthens the spiritual growth of our younger generation, keeping this precious practice alive in those of us who will carry it into the future!
Thus, we are reaching out to you, our trusted friends, mentors, and spiritual family, for your guidance, insights, and support. We have brainstormed a possible vision for this center, but we would very much like this to be based on the collective insight and experience of the Maha Sangha (that means you!)
Those of us who are part of Wake Up understand that in order to truly thrive and develop into our full potential, we need the guiding wisdom, stability, skillfulness, and generosity of the greater Sangha, those who have been walking the path with us and before us, especially including the Order of Interbeing community. We sincerely ask for your support and insights as we envision this collaborative project together.
If you could kindly take the time to read through the proposal below, we would love to have a chance to discuss and reflect upon this proposal with you sometime soon.
With enthusiasm and gratitude,
David, Vanessa, Joaquin, Aurora, Michael and Fern
The Beginning Vision of a Wake Up Center:
This Wake Up Center will be a place where young people can develop a solid mindfulness and meditation practice with other young practitioners through a variety of programs (outlined below), supported and mentored by Dharma teachers, other seasoned practitioners, and the collective practice community at MorningSun.
The center will consist of a large house, located at MorningSun, where participants will be able to live for a period of time. They will have the opportunity to participate in Morning Sun’s daily practices, much like at the Plum Village monasteries. They will be supported by at least one seasoned practitioner who will live in the Wake Up Center along with them.
There will be a variety of programs offered for the Wake Up Community, from weekend retreats to one year internships (such as a gap year program), or living there as a long term resident. There will be potential opportunities for work-exchange with MorningSun, as well as possibilities for residents to work in town or study at one of the nearby colleges while deepening their practice at the Center.
Our intention is to create an international space so we can continue to support the beautiful continuation of the Dharma and Thay’s teachings, deepening our connection with the younger generation and watering the seeds of deeply rooted practitioners and dharma teachers for the future.
Inspiration and Support to Live Happily in Community
A culture of practice will be the cornerstone for the Center, and all of its activities. The Center will be a source of joy and connection, as well as a refuge, a place where participants can take a pause from the busyness of life. It will provide a space for young people to get to know themselves more deeply, the foundation for inner transformation and healing. They will be invited to explore what brings true happiness, and a sense of purpose and direction for their lives. Participants will be able to meet individually or in groups with a mentor in order to receive practice guidance and learn about harmonious community living.
In addition to the wealth of basic practices in our tradition, the center will focus on important issues that are relevant to young people, for example:
relationships / communication
community living / harmony
practice in workplace / right livelihood
social and climate change justice
healthy and joyful living / wholesome consumption
family life / parenting
Living Joyfully Together
The Wake Up Center house will offer the opportunity for young people to live together in community. The residents who are going to school, working in town, or doing long term work exchange internships will form a core community of stable practitioners who establish the atmosphere and programs of practice. Living in practice community will afford a wonderful opportunity for learning, applying, and facilitating practices together such as:
Beginning anew gatherings
Monthly happiness meetings
Sharing meals and mindful eating together
House meetings for business items(sharing household chores, etc.)
Practicing the 5 Mindfulness Trainings in Community (vegetarian diet, no alcohol or drugs on premises)
Compassionate listening and loving speech in daily living
Service and Sangha Building
While staying at the Wake–Up Center, residents and other participants will have an opportunity to be of service and work together to support the needs of the Sangha. Participants will be involved in supporting all the basic tasks needed to hold retreats and maintain MorningSun, while working in a spirit of harmony and care. They will learn practical skills such as collaboratively organizing events and retreats, cooking, gardening, maintenance and building projects at MorningSun.
Participants will also have the chance to learn important communication skills and how to facilitate different practices and Sangha activities. Those who are more experienced in the practice may be invited to visit colleges in the North East to help facilitate ongoing Wake–Up groups, supporting other young people with the challenges they face, building Sangha relationships in diverse areas, and further developing Sangha life for upcoming generations.
The Fertile Soil of MorningSun
We are lucky to have MorningSun Community’s supportive environment; a fertile Sangha soil where a Wake Up Center can be planted and thrive to great potential. MorningSun is located on 240 beautiful acres, 15 minutes from a cheerful college town, and two hours from Boston. It has already completed the permitting for its residential neighborhoods and retreat center. On site there is a straw bale meditation hall and 6 residential homes. Eventually the neighborhoods will hold 18 houses and a retreat center will have dorms, a dining hall, and classrooms for year round programing. The community of practice is strong, stable, and enthusiastic about supporting and integrating more young people into its loving embrace and aspirations.
We have had some preliminary discussions about options for financing the center, such as a combination of donations and investments. We have discussed possible income from the house to help pay for construction and maintenance, such as monthly rent from some of the residents who work or attend school, retreat revenue for those who sleep at the house, or other income generating programs by the Wake Up center residents. However, these are just preliminary ideas, and we are very open to others’ ideas and business savvy. Finance and fundraising is an area that we would appreciate people’s feedback and expertise.
Before we can get too far into finances, we also need to envision the center’s design and capacity. For example, how large do we wish for the center / house to be? How many bedrooms, bathrooms, dining room, breathing / tea room, etc.,? What is an ideal design for the center/ house, and what functions does it serve? These are all foundational questions which we are excited to discuss and brainstorm together, incorporating our collective experiences, skills, and wisdom.
Where We Are Now and Looking Forward
During this phase, we are reaching out to clarify, develop, and deepen this vision with friends like yourself. From that point, we want to solidify the core group of people who will carry the project forward, beginning to fundraise for construction of the center in 2017. We would love to actually build it in 2018 and welcome the first group of participants.
The Wake Up Center at MorningSun will create opportunities for us all to invest in the spiritual growth of younger generations. As a Mahasangha, we will provide a solid foundation of support so that young people’s development and contribution to our society springs from the love of life.
The Visioning and Planning Committee
Aurora Leon, MD. and Joaquin Carral, MD.: both are members of the Order of Interbeing(OI), co-founder wake–up NY, plant powered branch of Earth Holders, caretaker of Wake–Up, residents of MorningSun
David Viafora: OI; former monastic; former temple keeper at Mountain Lamp Community; Advisory Board member of the Mindfulness Bell; founder of Wake Up San Diego & Wake Up Bellingham, WA; prospective resident of MorningSun.
Vanessa: engaged in 8 month internship program at Deer Park Monastery; Member of the North American Wake Up Care-Taking Council; prospective resident of MorningSun
Michael Ciborski and Fern Dorresteyn: OI, Dharma Teachers, former monastics who lived in Plum Village for 9 years, MorningSun residents with their three children