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Daily Zen

Kibo Farm, a spiritual eco-place: why now?

Kibo farm, cultivating Buddhist values

A few years ago, I discovered by chance the videos of Pablo Servigne, Jean-Marc Jancovici or Arthur Keller on the effects of climate change. On the basis of scientific studies such as those of the IPCC, they warn us of numerous collapses to come: standard of living, resource shortages, difficulties in accessing drinking water, regular internet and/or electricity cuts, etc. And, in this unprecedented future, the poorest countries will be the most affected. Some collapses, perhaps less visible, have already occurred, and are chilling: in the last forty years, 60% of wild mammal species have disappeared.

When I became aware of all this, I first lost courage and remained dazed for several months. I had had faith in progress, in technological evolution, and found myself at worst in Mad Max, at best in a future made of low tech, of working the earth and of animal traction. Then, in the middle of this despair (which has the sweet name of eco-anxiety) an idea appeared from limbo, like a mantra: “Do the best we can in the time we have left”.

I also realized how important it is to have a concrete Zazen practice as an anchor, going through a body of flesh and bone, and bringing us back tirelessly to the experience of the moment rather than to anxiety-provoking projections.

Armed with this invaluable tool, and the energetic support of my master, I decided to get to work. This is how we created the Kibo Monastic Farm in 2020, with a collective of people from different backgrounds: practitioners of Zen, Tibetan Buddhism and also non-Buddhists sensitive to the animal cause and spirituality.

This place is located 300 meters from Ryumonji. It welcomes retreatants throughout the year, who commit themselves to follow exactly the schedule of the monastery. Zazen, ceremonies and meals take place there, as well as sesshins. The people who stay at the Kibo Farm participate in its activities during samou: animal care, garden work, crafts, etc.

The place has the particularity of being also a shelter for old animals or rescued from slaughterhouses. There are currently 16 horses, 4 rabbits and 11 cats from various backgrounds. The “little” Kentho joined the farm in June 2021. He already weighs 900 kg and is a beautiful two year old Ardennes draught horse, which we are training, quietly, for work in the forest or in the meadows.

Last November, we planted a forest garden following the principles of permaculture: 300 trees and shrubs on 1/2 hectares. And our 2022 project is the construction of a Walipini greenhouse (semi-buried, autonomous) of 80 M2.

Kibo Farm has 14 hectares of farmland or forests and we have entered with determination into a process where the words autonomy, food resilience and sobriety are essential.

But this orientation could not be done in a peaceful way without the practice of zazen, which gives rhythm to our days, guides our choices and gives us the inner flexibility that the period requires.

Kibo means hope in Japanese, and we have this hopeful wish for the coming years: that human beings will find unity with the natural order of things through the practice of zazen.


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