Buildings are acts of expression, constantly revealing the seed of intent that began them. Dreams of big money seem to produce one type of building and dreams of beauty another. Look for example at the main Monastery building itself. Brought into being by Father Joseph Scully in 1929, I am sure he never imagined the many changes of ownership and the different religious organizations that would call this place home and yet, despite all the shifts, this place continues expounding its original purpose. As I look everyday at the intricate stone building, I think of the strength of purpose that caused it to come into being. How remarkable!
Ideally, religious spaces put us in touch with the deepest aspects of our human experience. They are among the most evocative forms of architecture; places that connect us to the hidden and the intangible in everyday life, to a sense of mystery and potential. Cathedrals do this with grand, arching overtones and chapels with simple grace. Buddhist temples, with their simple, elegant lines and stone stupas, keep us close to the ground.
Our own monastery, solid and beautiful, seems to me to be a poem in stone, wood and iron, an ode to creative imagination. With each hand-hewn beam and lovingly crafted hinge and bolt, I see the power of vision and dedication, not just of one person, but of many people. That is the beauty of working on something as large as a building. It necessitates the merging and expansion of many visions into one. Perhaps that is also why we build. Perhaps deep within us there is a recognition that any idea, to fully live, must grow and change, and thus must be given away so that it no longer remains personal, but instead lives and interacts with other hearts and minds.
In one of his talks, Daido Roshi quotes the following phrase: “Dragon sons and daughters are born of dragon parents.” With the Dragon Hall, we have an opportunity to follow Father Scully’s lead and create a place that will inspire future generations to discover new ways to bring to life and make available the vibrant teachings of the buddhadharma in 21st century America.
Let us take up this challenge with spirit and imagination, yet grounded in the principle of true giving
Anne Walker has worked as an art installer for many years. She is currently in a year-long residency at the Monastery.
Architectural designs by Michelle Yoshin Laccadito, MRO.
Fundraising for the Dragon Hall will begin summer of 2006.