By Shyamal Sinha
The Great Wisdom Buddhist Institute is a monastery where nuns study and practice the teachings of Buddha. By striving for Buddha’s wisdom and compassion in all that we do, we hope to bring happiness to all beings. Together, we hope to help make our community and environment a better place.
The provincial government of Prince Edward Island (PEI) in Canada has approved plans for the construction of a 120-hectare monastery in PEI municapilty of Brudenell. The monastery complex, which will be able to house up to 1,400 nuns, is a project of the Great Wisdom Buddhist Institute (GWBI), led by Master Zhen-Ru and focused on nurturing the study and practice of Buddhist nuns.
Richard Brown, PEI minister for Communities, Land and Environment, approved the project on 3 July with a few terms and conditions, including approval from the Environment Department for water and wastewater systems and approvals from the Community of Brudenell and the fire marshal’s office.
A public meeting was held on 7 June for local residents to view the plans and offer feedback. The overall response was reportedly positive, with neighbours of the monastery complex expressing support for the nuns. Daniel Mitchell, one of the attendees of the meeting, noted: “I think it’s fantastic, it’s going to be wonderful for the island, for our community, and for the nuns. They’re a great addition to rural PEI and we need strengthening in rural PEI.” (CBC News)
Media reports indicate that the nuns are excited about the project and grateful for the support and the positive feedback from the local community. “This is our lifetime dream of living in a traditional monastery that we can study and practice about peace and about harmony, and we really feel grateful that the community gave us the chance,” said Venerable Yvonne. (CBS News)
The monastery complex will cover 120 hectares of land, with 200,000 square feet of buildings and multiple green spaces, including gardens, a green house, and walking trails—some of which will be open to the public. The campus will include a few clusters of buildings that will comprise residences, lectures halls, spaces of worship, and recreational facilities.
According to the project masterplan, the monastery also aims to contribute to local businesses, both during and after construction. GWBI stated that during construction, it will use island services and products as much as possible to help boost the local economy. After construction, GWBI intends to engage in many charitable initiatives involving the local community, including island clean-up days, working with seniors, and making bread for the underprivileged.
To support the monastery, several Buddhist families and members of GWBI have purchased homes in Brudenell and other areas of PEI. The complex will be designed to function as an educational, spiritual, tourism, and cultural center, with various spaces that will be open to the public. It is also hoped that the monastery will bring in tourists, which will also benefit local businesses and the regional and provincial economy.
“The friendliness of Islanders has warmed our hearts, and we are learning how to reach out to our local community, building friendships with Islanders,” the nuns of the Great Wisdom Buddhist Institute state on their website. “Master Zhen-Ru often speaks of the kindness and beauty of the Island, inspiring us to give back to the community. Thank you PEI, for giving us a place to stay and study. We hope you will be able to get to know our spiritual teacher, Master Zhen-Ru, and experience the beauty and warmth in her heart.”
The prayer hall is the most sacred place in our monastery. We gather here for morning and evening prayers, religious ceremonies as well as for certain large classes.