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September 2nd, 2015

illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)


   One of the ethos for is tied to an observation. In the West, Buddhism is too easily tainted by an Abrahamic belief that "one has to pay for one's sins"  when it comes to spiritual work, a belief that suffering in and of itself has (cleansing) 'merit'. Admittedly, even in the East, some fallaciously consider karma  as a "just world" doctrine, a "retribution" law, which it isn't.
   While Buddhism certainly promotes effort ("right effort" is a spoke of the eightfold path… "perseverance" is a Perfect Quality…), it doesn't associate such an effort with "suffering": effort doesn't have to be seen as punishment or as a drag, a necessity one might wish to avoid… it might be a manifestation of enthusiasm!
   The "right effort" in Buddhism is joyful, similar to the pleasant, peaceful exertion of performing a nurturing activity (e.g. sport, art… or cooking a tasty healthy dinner to share with friends).

   It's interesting that many people can understand so intellectually,  but as soon as it gets to practicalities, old prejudices come back up in force! Intellectualisation is (relatively) easy, but embodiment is the heart of the practice ;-)

   A common reflex, of those who can guess the market value of, is to think of it as 'luxury'. What's most luxurious is the view though, the building itself has neither golden leaf, nor marble floor… it's mostly concrete, metal and glass, i.e. "normal" building materials.
   It's a "green" building; this is not cheap at first, but it's cheaper in the long run, and more supportive of the environment. Protecting the environment is a form of restraint from harming  all embodied sentient beings, far and wide. There's little "luxury" in doing what's wholesome! Clinging  to environmental views might be unhelpful (e.g. they might easily cause distress and overwhelm) but leveraging  available environmental opportunities  is wise.

   Another reflex for many is to assert that a place to learn about, or to practice, the Dharma doesn't "need" this-or-that… instead of appreciating  the opportunity offered by a great environment!
   The reflex is to revert to 'painful' asceticism, as the basis for spiritual practice. Healthy, supportive, good quality beds  might then be labeled "luxurious"… Healthy, supportive, good quality food  might be labeled "luxurious"… Relying on medicine to compensate a poor lifestyle is more costly ("luxurious") though than a healthy lifestyle in the first place!
   Any "good stuff" is seen as "extra"… then as "unnecessary" and even "bad": "unnecessary" is often biased by erroneous expectations though, and "bad" is a judgement totally spoiling appreciation, abandoning gratitude. It's like being unable to accept the generosity of others (by being paranoid about supposed "hidden intentions", and/or by being envious): critical thoughts arising from deluded views are not to be listened to as being 'right', they're in fact an opportunity to reflect —and maybe to be inspired into creating a more supportive environment for oneself and others. is aimed to be inspiring,  in order to illustrate the right view that "effort" might be a manifestation of enthusiasm and of the joy of sharing what's wholesome and supportive.
   It's also made to illustrate a life of abundance,  of responsible sharing, of wise generosity… a generosity out of dropping the views limiting one's life to craving, clinging and hoarding…
   Few people live a life they're inspired by; "ordinary life is unsatisfactory" states the first "noble truth"! If inspiration may be transmitted, then this may be seen as a generous 'gift'… and although it is a gift, for whoever wants to explore letting go of the stress and suffering of ordinary life, an inspirational experiment in alternative ways of living is a necessity  rather than a luxury.

   This might unsettle some expectations? Good!