Winter and summer come and go,
Flowering and death follow each other's footsteps
Where is the true garden?

Chapter One: The Founding

Dharma groups often used rural locations in our Ottawa Valley region for retreats, without establishing any consistent local practice space. Individual Dharma practitioners, affiliated with mostly Ottawa-based sanghas, have settled in eastern Ontario; but had no local practice centre.

In 2002, lay practitioner, Innen Ray Parchelo, unable to find a practice environment convenient to his Almonte home, began a weekly Dharma study group called The Turning Wheel Study Group.

Then, in 2004, wanting to extend study into practice, and recognizing the absence of any Sangha in local rural communities, he founded the Red Maple Sangha. RMS was the first permanent rural practice group to provide a Valley-based environment for the study and practice of Dharma.

By January 2005 our small sangha began weekly practice in Carleton Place in a borrowed space. Later that year, we established Danaloka, The Abode of Generosity, our own space. From there we began offering twice weekly practice periods and a regular series of retreats and trainings.

Chapter Two: Into Renfrew County

In 2006, with Innen's relocation to Renfrew, Red Maple decided to extend our commitment to practice into neighbouring Renfrew County. We offered workshops, retreats and, later, weekly practice sessions in Pembroke. Then we established a permanent learning and practice environment, at Akashaloka, the Realm of All Possibilities, in an old log house, just outside of the Town of Renfrew. In 2008 Danaloka closed, as we shifted our energies to the Renfrew County environs.

Chapter Three: Finding Tendai

That same year, Innen, struck by the similarity between the open style of RMS and the "ekayana" of Tendai, began to explore a connection with that tradition, centred in New York at the Tendai Buddhist Institute. He attended several trainings and retreats and became a student of Ven. Monshin Paul Naamon, the founder and head of TBI. In mid-2010, Innen completed training and was appointed as a Tendai priest (doshu). He continues to pursue further training under Monshin's direction.

In later 2010 and again in 2011, three regular participants, Kanzan P, Shinen I-R and Jisei D. received jukai , the traditional refuge-taking ceremony. Jisei was the first Tendai jukai held in Canada, and the first Buddhist jukai held in Renfrew County.

...and Chapter Four is now being written

In 2012, Innen was approached by Jichin George Doyle-Bedwell from Halifax, Nova Scotia. He subsequently visited what soon became the White Birch Tendai Practice Group, Canada's second province to host a Tendai group. Innen will continue to visit and support the growth of this an future groups.

In 2013 we established the Heart of Whitewater Practice Group in Pembroke, about an hour north-west of Red Maple. This group alternates programs with Red Maple on Saturdays. We also hosted our annual Founder's Day (August) Day-long Retreat. This introduced our newly completed ourdoor walking paths - a circular Jizo path and the world's first "manda-lab". We were pleased that our Dharma-brother, Matthew Johnson joined us from Fredericton, N.B.

 

Coming up in Novemebr, 2013, Innen will be addressing the international Tendai Symposium at Mt. Hiei in Japan.

 


~ om namu amida butsu
~