Madre Grande Monastery
A Sacred site for healing, teaching, ceremony, and celebration
Side view sketch of Unit B. Materials and construction techniques have yet to be determined, but cost and sustainable methods will be important factors .
Location of Unit A room addition, indicated by poles and yellow tape. Unit A would also include utility room and hallway connecting it to the main house.
The Madre Grande Vision
There is something about the Madre Grande experience that many people find subtly powerful and attractive.
It is in the land, as you climb the last stretch of bumpy road and the valley ringed by boulder covered mountains comes into view. It is in the silent witness of the stones, ancient and wise, knowing so much and revealing secrets to those who have the patience of mind and openness of heart to listen. It is in the air, in the wind shifting and whispering through the grass and trees. It is in the Earth, with the beauty of a young maiden, the nurturing love of a good Mother, and the stern but kind teachings of an old crone. For many people, coming to Madre Grande feels like coming home to a place they have never been before.
There is also something about the human energy here, the loving kindness, openness, and honesty of the people—residents and visitors alike. It is not our task to hold judgement against others at Madre Grande, although our thoughts and actions do not always rise to the level of our intent. Our community is far from perfect, scarcely resembling a Monastery at times, but our commitment to healing ourselves, healing each other, and healing the Earth unites us in a common purpose. We are each on our own path to Spiritual Perfection—together—without dogmatic beliefs or moralistic behavioral codes. We focus on our own inner-work, do our own house cleaning and mirror polishing, and do not criticize the splinter in another's eye. We forgive each other’s trespass and offer loving kindness for their pain and suffering. We seek to recognize the Divine in each other and in ourselves, to encourage and nurture spiritual growth and evolution in all beings.
These goals are expressed in our five Vows or Principles, by which we sincerely endeavor to live:
NON-OWNERSHIP AND NON-ATTACHMENT
I recognize that I own nothing and that non-attachment to things and concepts of this material world is important to my spiritual unfoldment. I accept the responsibility of being a caretaker for the bounty of the universe.
Recognizing freedom for all beings, I will strive not to impose on anyone to do anything against his or her Highest Consciousness, nor will I allow anyone to impose on my Highest Consciousness.
I will endeavor to be obedient to my Highest Self, my Godself. (Monks only) I seek to recognize the group mind of the monks, the church, and the rule as an expression of the Highest.
I recognize that I am a channel for Infinite Abundance, and I accept the responsibility for meeting my material needs. (Monks only) I pledge all my energy to the work of the order.
OPENNESS AND HONESTY
I strive to be honest with myself and others and to encourage openness through positive and loving communication.
The Monks and Friars of Madre Grande Monastery are the care-takers of the land, providing a natural sanctuary for people to experience the Sacred, the Spiritual, the Healing, and the Joyful energies of life. We hold this space to share this space, to serve the Divine Spirit by serving our fellow human beings and our Mother Earth. Through all the transformations the community of Madre Grande Monastery has gone through over the years, for all the differing points of view and belief, the many inevitable clashes of ego and personality, the rising and crashing of emotions and fortunes, this has been one of our most powerful unifying goals. To serve, to heal, to grow, to love.
In order to continue to fulfill this task, we have some social and logistical problems to overcome. And to do that, we need a Plan.
Our purpose may be deeply spiritual, but we, like most Earthlings, are currently incarnated in a material form. Just as our bodies have physical needs and limitations, so does the Paracelsian Order. Madre Grande Monastery is the body of the Order, and if that body is to survive and grow it needs care and maintenance, attention and sustenance. Choices must be made, resources gathered and allocated, energy expended and action taken. To put it bluntly: we need stuff to do stuff. Our Vow of non-attachment to things of this material world seems at first glance to be in direct opposition to our physical needs.
Our Vows help inform our choices and attitudes in life, providing us with a kind of map to guide us through any situation. They are like the wise guru whispering in our minds and reminding us to follow our heart. But if we need a room addition built we don’t need a guru we need an architect and contractor. We need blueprints and skilled labor. The Vows help us navigate through life, they tell us how to steer the ship, but they don’t set the course, they can’t tell us where we want to go or what we want to do. As a Monastic community we recently concluded that we needed a more practical outline of what we are seeking to accomplish, a kind of to-do list to keep us focused and on course. We came up with a list of five practical goals:
Madre Grande Monastery Practical Goals
To live with mindfulness and loving-kindness in a cooperative physical and spiritual community.
To build and maintain a monastery facility as a residence for up to twelve monks, and to provide additional short term living space for guests and supporters.
Place of Retreat
To improve and expand the operation of Madre Grande Monastery and land as a permanent site for teaching, healing, ceremony, celebration, and spiritual unfoldment for residents and guests.
To create and maintain an organic garden and landscape in balance with the Earth, protecting native species and habitats and respecting all life.
To become a vital and cohesive organization, self-sufficient in finances, energy, and food.
After we finished, we realized that this was as much a wish-list as a to-do list, but we also discovered that we were already achieving parts of some of the goals and were making progress toward fulfilling some of the others. Many seem to require a substantial increase in human participation and financial resources, and to achieve this we needed to get down to the nuts and bolts of the problem. Where are these new people going to live, and how are we going to pay for building it?
In the past, when new members wished to join the community of Madre Grande Monastery, either as an initiated Monk or Friar or as a lay resident and supporter, all they had to do was park an RV or camper or throw up a tent or shack and settle into their own little piece of heaven. This option is no longer desired or even open to us. The County Health and Zoning boards have officially informed us that multiple dwellings scattered over the land is in clear violation of numerous codes and laws.
We have also discovered that having individual living spaces creates separation within the community, that physical isolation often leads to mental, emotional, and spiritual isolation. Tiny little fissures develop in the foundation of the community, and divisions and factions form. A Monastic community divided amongst itself cannot stand. Respecting the individuality of each member is crucial, and solitude can be necessary and beneficial, but to create the open, honest, and loving community we seek, and to keep it legal, we must find a different solution to housing. We came to the conclusion that we’re going to need a bigger Monk House.
The Madre Grande Monastery Addition Project
Our land is zoned Residential-Agricultural, and to add separate additional living spaces requires a long, complicated, and expensive permitting process. We can, however, add on to our existing house with a few simple to aquire building permits, and this also fits into our desire to create a central monastic living and guest facility. Our goal is to have room for up to twelve full time residents, as well as additional living space for guests and supporters. The plan is really quite simple, just add on ten more rooms to the existing structure, but actually implementing the plan is rather complicated and expensive.
The building codes are complex and restrictive. Water and septic systems must be expanded and approved, numerous retro-fitting of fire suppression systems and handicap accessibility changes must be made to the main house. Electric systems must be brought up to code. The kitchen needs to be expanded and a second bathroom made functional. The project is both extensive and exciting, but once completed we will have a solid foundation upon which to expand our monastic community, and a much greater capacity to serve others and fulfill our Purpose as a teaching and healing Order.
No project of this size and scope has ever been attempted at Madre Grande before, but the necessity is clear. The best way to support more residents and guests is to build a large addition to the Monk house. In order to grow and evolve we need to take the chance and make the leap, to commit our resources and efforts into expanding our infrastructure and opening our community to new members and ideas.
The first step is to bring an architect on board to create a set of schematic or conceptual drawings, and establish the basic type and cost of materials needed. After this, we can have a set of working plans drawn up and approved by the county. This process alone can cost $10,000 to $15,000. The entire project will most likely cost at least $250,000, and that is assuming donations of some materials and a lot of volunteer labor.
We are beginning to look at possible sources of revenue, from crowd sourcing to fund raising festivals to grants. We may consider partnering with other appropriate groups or organizations who share our goals and values and are interested in participating in the expansion of Madre Grande Monastery. We own the land outright, and can use the equity to complete the project if necessary. One way or another we will beg, borrow, and manifest the required funds. The room additions will be built, and the people will come.
We see an expanded Monastery within the next several years, with twelve full time residents engaged in personal and community spiritual teaching and healing practices and methods. The days are pleasantly busy with the daily chores of maintaining the facilities, grounds, and organic garden, as well as operating a productive sage farm and organizing and hosting a steady schedule of gatherings and events. Weekends are vibrant with a wide variety of retreats, classes, ceremonies, and celebrations offered by monks and guest teachers, connecting hundreds of people annually with the wisdom and healing power of the Great Mother. The land is open to those who seek, with much music, singing, dancing and laughing, and the Monks joyfully serve the community at large and fulfill our Purpose.
In this way we will continue the forty year Mission and story of Madre Grande Monastery, and turn the page to the beginning of a new chapter and reality.
This is our Vision.
Rough floor plan showing two new wings (outlined in yellow) added on to Monk house. Also outlined in yellow is kitchen expansion and remodeling.
Location of Unit B addition. After completion of both wings, the Monk house will have twelve full sized bedrooms for residents and four smaller bedrooms for guests.