As the Buddha, the World Honored One, was walking with the congregation, he pointed to the ground with his finger and said, “This is a good spot to build a sanctuary.” Indra, emperor of the gods, took a blade of grass, stuck it in the ground, and said, “The sanctuary is built.” The World Honored One smiled. (Book of Serenity Case 4)
Oh that it could be so easy to build a home for practice! But there are principles from the time of the Buddha that still hold true today: when there is a committed group of practitioners, a devotion to making a place of practice, and a good place at hand, a sanctuary can be built.
Stone Creek is now in its twentieth year, and in that time it has grown from a small, dedicated group in a backyard zendo to a thriving, community-based Zen center. Our most recent phase of growth has involved members at all levels of the community participating in and supporting a creative and successful leadership succession. Our founding teacher has been joined by two younger teachers who are now the head priests. This transition and expansion of leadership has been accompanied by growth in membership, attendance, and programs, while maintaining the strong core of Zen practice and spirit of the founding community.
From the beginning Stone Creek has had a dedicated space for practice, which has been enormously helpful for stabilizing and deepening practice. After outgrowing its original home, the sangha has rented commercial properties for the past eight years. The next step, as significant as a dedicated space, is one that belongs to the community, a permanent home for Stone Creek. A unique opportunity has presented itself: the possibility of purchasing the building we are now renting. We have already invested so much in this place: in time, energy, labor, materials, and most importantly in our practice there together. Having a permanent home for Stone Creek would allow us to:
- to have long term stability, both in place and financially
- to interface more and invest more deeply in the local neighborhood, the West County community, and throughout Sonoma county
- to develop the grounds and gardens to be a reflection of our practice, and as a resource for anyone seeking a place of quiet and peace
- to support and expand the programming we offer: meditation, talks, retreats, intensive training, yoga, programs for families and for people of service, community outreach
- to develop programs in new areas: for people in recovery, retreats for veterans, meditation instruction in Spanish, and trainings on grief and dying, among others
- to have the capacity to expand our building to accommodate more people using the center
- to define ourselves as a sangha more clearly, with a home base from which to reach out
We have begun a capital campaign, The Campaign for Creating a Sanctuary, with the intent to raise enough funds to make a down payment, and then to obtain a loan, to purchase and to make necessary adaptations to the building we now rent; or to purchase another similar building if owning this one is not feasible; and at the same time to keep our monthly expenses stabilized at a rate similar to what we pay now for rent. Owning a permanent home will allow us to push out our horizons as a group and expand our imagination in what we are and what we have to offer, and to invest even more fully in making Stone Creek a place that reflects our practice intention to offer a place of refuge for all beings.
In our twentieth year, we are ready to build on the nurturing roots we have laid, deepen them and continue our legacy of growth into the future. We hope you can be a part of helping us bring this vision into reality.