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7. Affordable and Clean Energy

Ryumonji Zen Monastery's effort to ensure access to affordable, reliable,
sustainable and modern energy.

Ryumonji Zen Monastery was founded with the vision of Katagiri, Dainin Roshi who wanted to establish a training monastery for American priests in the central part of the U.S. His vision was this:

“I wish to build a place and an environment to promote the quiet sangha life in unity … modern life is artificially protected … people, therefore, need to live in direct contact with nature and find a practice method in tune with nature’s rhythm. Old ways of life fit this purpose. Such a life will put the modern life in a different perspective and teach us how we should live.”

This was the foundation of Ryumonji Zen Monastery. We set out to establish such a place and environment to promote these values. We have always attempted to follow sustainable practices which align with welfare of all beings. From the beginning we made decisions to minimize our carbon footprint on the planet.

  1. With the establishment of the monastery buildings, the Buddha Hall (Hondo), Kuin, Sodo and Shuryo, all were energized with geothermal heating and cooling units, starting in 2007. These units have reduced the monastery’s carbon footprint by foregoing the use of propane gas for heating in the winters, and not relying on coal for generating electricity to run cooling systems in the summer.
  2. Starting in 2015 Ryumonji installed solar panels to supply its electricity needs. People responded enthusiastically to our request to become more self-sustaining. Donors felt good about contributing in a way that is supportive to mother earth. Ryumonji's solar energy supports not only our cooling/heating and lighting systems, but also our computers, refrigeration, cooking, and water supply.
  3. Ryumonji Zen Monastery helps ensure affordable, sustainable and reliable energy through its efforts to produce its own food. From the beginning we have planted a sustainable vegetable garden and fruit trees, which supply the bulk of our fresh and frozen foods throughout the year. By growing our own food, we reduce the carbon footprint that's involved in packaging and transportation of foods to market. We also have observed the practice of composting, which is a natural fertilizer; instead of depending on artificial fertilizers which require energy for production.
  4. Ryumonji Monastery has also avoided many energy costs through the extensive use of recycled materials, including building materials, kitchen equipment, garden tools and vehicles. It sets a different direction than the practice of a 'throw away culture'. We also used some of our own trees for the construction and altars throughout the monastery.

In conclusion, all of these SDG practices manifest Katagiri Roshi's vision for a monastery. And centuries earlier, Zen Master Dogen said, "The whole world is monastery". We should live with this awareness and these practices for a sustainable future.

Rev. Shoken Winecoff

Rev. Shoken Winecoff

Rev. Shoken Winecoff is founding teacher and abbot of Ryumonji Zen Monastery. He is a Dharma Heir of the late Dainin Katagiri Roshi, founder of the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center. Rev. Winecoff practiced with Katagiri Roshi in Minneapolis from 1976 until Katagiri Roshi’s death in 1990. Shoken also received formal training with Ikko Narasaki Roshi and Tsugen Narasaki Roshi at Zuioji Zen Monastery and Shogoji Zen Monastery in Japan for three years from 1989 to 1992. Since that time he has devoted himself to establishing a Soto Zen monastery in the Midwest.