The New Eco-Monasteries

The three days in ‘short-term guest’ involvement at Findhorn (July14 – 16), on the Firth of Moray, in far north-eastern Scotland, gave me a good insight into Findhorn as a major eco-centre, with a strong base in eco-spirituality. In fact, along with my week in Schumacher College (Devon, UK) in late 2008, it seemed that such a place acts as a base for a sort of modern monastic movement.

The daily rhythms are monastic, with bells pealing to mark the passing time, contemplation (meditation) and group ritual (prayer, singing, chanting, dance, music) are built into the day, meals are in common, domestic tasks are undertaken by all members and guests, arts and crafts thrive, and decisions are made largely through consensus.

Findhorn has also become a hub for several entrepreneurial activities, residential projects, as well as community and social activism, all within eco-friendly ethical frameworks and policies. You pass the handsome stone ruins of the old abbey as you approach Findhorn, as if to point to the continuity. And the talk at the (magnificent vegetarian) meals is of spiritual journeys, personal conversions and great dreams (or what we used to call personal vocations).

Most guests are passing through, but there is no problem recruiting staff, who stay for varying lengths of time to serve the needs of guests, and of the place itself. Crops are grown, ideas are nourished, and the local wildlife flourishes. I guess such eco-monasteries arise, because the world needs them, now.

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