Big plans for buddhist monastery

THE LONG-time dream of an Australian Buddhist monk to establish a meditation and retreat centre on the Northern Rivers is close to getting the go-ahead.

Venerable Pannyavaro, an Australian monk for more than 25 years, established Bodhi Tree Forest Monastery on almost 40ha at Tullera in 2005 after returning from practising in Burma and Sri Lanka.

With no such centres north of Sydney, Pannyavaro saw the need to develop "a meditation community to serve both lay and monastic practitioners" in Australia.

The development application for the $3 million monastery is on public exhibition at Lismore City Council until tomorrow.

The monastery already functions as a retreat and education centre and if approved will provide meditation retreats for Australians and overseas visitors.

The development includes a large meditation hall, Buddhist stupa and dining area that will allow practitioners and interested parties greater access to programs.

Retreats will range from a weekend to 10 days, with provision for longer teaching retreats for up to 40 people "to assist people to penetrate the heart of the Buddha's teaching".

The Bodhi Tree Forest Monastery is about 15 minutes north of Lismore and has become a local landmark and centre for Buddhist practice, particularly with its proximity to Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

The monks have also undertaken a large rainforest regeneration project by planting more than 4000 local rainforest trees and plants since 2006.

Pannyavaro has also established a Buddhist internet presence from the monastery as webmaster of since 1992, and more recently with a Buddhist eLibrary with plans to transfer print, audio and multimedia resources into digital formats.

The new development will also boast a multimedia centre.

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