Cohousing

On this page are a few ideas for a concept cohousing ‘temple’ conducive to people wanting to practice the Buddhist way & live in community. Here’s the overall floor plan.

Key aspects of this cohousing temple concept can be summarized as follows:

A gracious home and refuge for people eager to live a Buddhist lifestyle

Our temple(s) can be expected to provide a comfortable, sociable, peaceful environment conductive to a mindful yet joyous lifestyle. They should be located in safe low-crime regions with warm weather conducive to indoor/outdoor living, yet close enough to e.g. San Francisco and/or San Diego to provide easy access to a variety of local arts and culture. (Other possible locations include Hawaii or Florida.) They should feature beautiful architecture durable to earthquakes, hurricanes, and wildfires, and located well above any flood risk.

Unlike the spartan accommodations at many Buddhist centers, this temple is envisioned as fairly luxurious, including modern cozy individual mini-condos, plenty of guest suites, and living rooms of various sizes. And unlike monasteries, burdensome and arbitrary requirements such as poverty or chastity will not apply.

The sizes of the rooms are shown approximately to scale with the number and sizes of shared living rooms and guest rooms based on my assumption of how much entertaining and hosting people may be doing. Each guest suite includes its own bathroom.

In addition to the residents hosting friends and family, the guest suites would host people visiting for meditation retreats and arts & crafts workshops, or residents of affiliated communities with which there are reciprocal visiting privileges.

The temple should of course include an extensive common private library, which can also support the arts and crafts teaching mission. The library as diagrammed assumes a very generous 20 linear feet of books and media per person.

The cozy dining room is sized based on the dining room of the S.F. Zen Center, with an excellent professional banquet kitchen including a teppanyaki. It’s expected that gourmet dinners and other meals inviting all the residents and guests should occur several times per week. It would be great if the dining room had a continuous buffet, so people could show up and snack during the day.

The central area could be either a colonnaded courtyard, or for (quite a) few dollars more, roofed with a cross vault or dome as an indoor grand ballroom. This courtyard space would be good for movies, concerts, dancing parties, astronomy nights, etc.

A small gym provides space for yoga, martial arts, and general bodybuilding and physical conditioning.

A few bathrooms are scattered around for convenient access from the living rooms, dining room, etc.

Extensive gardens should be planted on the property, including a rose garden, many fair-scented flowers, a tree plantation for growing hardwoods, boxwood, frankincense, avocados, peaches, etc., and a vegetable garden.

Plenty of parking should be included for the community’s shared self-driving cars, as well as guest parking.

A retreat and meeting center available to various Buddhist organizations

It is envisioned that this temple’s common areas should be made available for use by a variety of Buddhist organizations of various styles (e.g. Theravada, Pure Land, Tibetan, Zen, etc.) for hosting meditation retreats, teaching sessions and lectures, movie nights, and other events at little or no cost — thus providing an alternative to for-profit office and meeting space for Buddhist groups.

There isn’t a separate meditation hall since the folks living in this temple are likely to be fairly quiet and mellow and guests can just meditate wherever, such as the roof garden, courtyard, gardens, shared living rooms that are not otherwise in use, etc.

A center for education in a wide variety of fine crafts and arts

To help preserve the precious intangible cultural heritage of humanity, the temple should also be a center for education in a wide variety of fine crafts and arts conducive to spiritual growth but rarely practiced in the modern world, and taught to guests by leading experts.

Some arts and crafts practiced and/or taught to guests could include magic, astronomy, throat singing, contact juggling, engraving, playing early instruments like the cornetto and natural horns, cookery, classical languages (Latin, Occitan, Pāli, etc.), printmaking including true woodcut and wood engraving, poetry, bowyery, knot tying and knot invention, woodworking, mace and baton spinning, gemstone faceting, telescope making, calligraphy, pipe making, guillochierei, sculpture, gardening, keyboarding, drink mixing, cardistry, reed making, and cheese making.

The art and craft studio is very large and assumes everyone wants a fair amount of studio space, space for roller presses, 3-D printers, beer making equipment, etc. A separate woodworking and gardening workshop is included. These spaces would also accommodate the guests and teachers visiting to present workshops.

A model community in our troubled age

As we look around near and far, we see examples, large and small, of people inflicting pain and suffering on one another, profoundly ignorant of the value and promise of the Dharma. Despite centuries of mind-boggling technological and scientific progress, and dramatic improvements of standards of living by which even working-class folk live better than the royalty of old, the same conflicts and cruelties seem to recur again and again.

This temple should serve as a noteworthy and conspicuous example to the world of how human beings can indeed live together in joy and bliss, continually improving and ennobling their minds and hearts according to the timeless and unsurpassable teachings of the Buddhas, in contrast to all the selfishness, hatred, violence, conflict, and petty nastiness of Samsara.

The diagram below focuses on the individual condos.

MiniCondo

This design assumes each person would have their own mini-condo. Access from the bedroom to the walk-in closet and bathroom is via pocket doors. The bedroom, closet, and bathroom would be accessible by conventional doors from the living room area. The bathroom would have the tub, sink, and toilet in a row. The kitchen area would not be separate room, but might include an island counter.

While various designs of each mini-condo may be desirable, experience in cohousing projects has shown that the more uniform the individual homes can be, the cheaper the overall project.

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