This project of building a monastery has been a dream for so many years, and now we are seeing the exciting process of it’s transition into reality!
On October 20, 2016 the sale contract for a piece of land in the quiet and forested area of the Ardennes in Belgium, close to the German and Luxembougian border, has been signed. So, the foundation for building a monastery for the nun’s Sangha is now there!
Our land is the plot D777a in Engreux, near the eastern border of Belgium. The plot is 1790 m2.
It is in a very quiet area. The large plot of land in the back is designated agricultural land that cannot be changed to building plots. The road is a cul-de-sac that ends in a bend of the Ourthe river. There is a small stream of water at the back of our property and the front is sheltered from the main road by an earth mount. The village itself is rather picturesque and there is no through-road through the village. It is fairly close to the highway without noticing that from the land and around 20 minutes drive to Bastogne, the nearest big town, about an hour to Luxembourg city and an hour to Liège city.
All facilities are there already except sewage, but this is normal almost everywhere in the area. We would need to install a water purification system.
The new monastery will be fairly small and is envisioned to be—as Ajahn Brahm has put it—a community of hermits. The main focus of the monastery will be solitary retreat and meditation with nuns living under the guidance of the Vinaya, the rules of conduct as laid down by the Buddha, as explained by our teacher, Ajahn Brahm and our Spiritual Advisor, Bhante Sujato. It will be a place where nuns and lay guests can come to practise the Dhamma-Vinaya. In effect, the monastery is envisioned to be of a similar setup to Muttodaya monastery in Germany.
The first stage of development will be a 72 m2 ecologically sustainable low energy house and several kutis for nuns. The house will have two bedrooms, an office, shower, toilet, kitchen, dāna-sālā, and a meditation hall upstairs. Up to now enough funds have been donated in order to build the basic structure of this house, including a water purification system, and some kutis. However we will not obtain permit for building single kutis as originally planned, and are now looking into double kutis instead, and this might well be more expensive. For the interior of the house and everything that has to be done on the outside, we still have to wait for more donations.
Building permission for the main building has been granted by the council in July 2017.
The next step is now that a building company is erecting the outer structure of the house; the actual works for this have started in November 2017. At this stage the building will have a roof and walls and the foundation and groundworks will be done (like sewage system) and water and electricity will be inside the building. The costs for all this will presumably be covered by what our main sponsors (and those who have given us loans) have contributed. However, plumbing, wiring, kitchen, toilet, bathroom, painting, flooring, etc. still will need to be done by us and volunteers, most likely from end of March 2018 on. Several people have already applied to help.
Next to this we hope to be able to start building double-kutis for the nuns soon. Contacts are made with the architect, the builder and the council in order to make the plans according to the local requirements and get a cost estimation. The funds that have already been kindly donated for the single kutis will probably not cover all the costs.
The actual building of the first stage will be funded by the main sponsor from the sale of his house. He will stay in the new building during the building phase and manage the further building works under a so-called “building-rights” contract. Of course this will also give the monastery the added advantage that there always is a lay person available for cooking and driving, which nuns are not allowed to do. This is especially important in the beginning stages.
Donations for this project are most welcome. These are needed for the next steps in the building process, mainly in order to buy the building materials for the interior, and to cover the additional costs for the double kutis.
For the interior money will be used for:
- floors, inside walls and doors
- heating system including solar panels
- lights and electric wiring
- trees and hedges to plant outside the buildings (to give more seclusion to the monastery)
- a driveway
In addition to that we also would very much appreciate to have some expertise, like for instance for plumbing. And we would equally welcome more people to volunteer with “gifts of work” in order to finish the interior.
For monetary contributions please use the PayPal button here or find the bank account details on the right sidebar. Any amount, however small, is most welcome!
For any other kind of help you wish to give for this exciting project, please contact us for more information.