The Collegeville Institute

Starting September 4, 2018 though April 30, 2019, I am planning to be a resident scholar at The Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research, in Collegeville, Minnesota. My good friend Father William Skudlarek heard that I was looking to be on retreat, with the intention of learning more about icons, and he suggested I apply to be a resident scholar at the Institute.

I was fortunate to not only get accepted, but was also awarded the Kilian McDonnell Fellowship in Faith and Culture.

Here is the precis that was submitted with the application:

Starting in July of 2018, I plan to spend a couple years in retreat focusing on writing Buddhist icons. At the outset of this endeavor I would like to deepen my understanding of the theological and artistic tradition of Eastern Orthodox Christian icons. Exploring this tradition in the company of a community of scholars doing research in the areas of religion and culture, and also being in close contact with a university and a Benedictine monastery would, I believe, be an ideal way to ground myself in this particular Christian tradition before exploring more deeply how I might proceed.

And here is a short excerpt from a question about the relevance of my proposal to the contemporary religious setting:

As people become more familiar with other religious traditions, they need to take care lest they uncritically borrow or co-opt of the practices of another religious tradition, without sufficient regard for their organic relation to the tradition as a whole.

Some years ago, I accompanied a group of guests at our monastery on a tour of the church of the Byzantine monastery near our property. I noticed that Father Damian Higgins made constant reference to the icons in the church when talking about his faith and religious practice. I discovered that these images “spoke” to me. This discovery inspired me to take the portrait painting I had been cultivating to a deeper level. At the same time, I realized I needed to do more than master an artistic technique; I needed to learn about the theological and spiritual tradition that gave birth to this art form and to determine in what ways it would be appropriate to make use of Eastern iconographic themes to communicate the teaching and values of my Buddhist tradition. It is my hope that a year of reading, reflection, and dialogue with scholars from different religious traditions will help me to understand, appreciate, and respect the rich artistic tradition of the Christian East when I write Buddhist icons and then make use of them to convey the teaching of the Buddha and Buddhist practices.

For more information about The Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research here is a link to there web site:

Father William Skudlarek and Jotipalo

100 mile pilgrimage on the Paul Bunyan Bike trail back in 2007.

Monastic Interreligious Dialogue Monks in the West III

City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, near Ukiah, California

Web site of The Monastic Interreligious Dialogue:

During my April 2018 visit to St John's. Meeting Father Kilian, who started the Collegeville Institute.

Father William and Ajahn Jotipalo at St John's. Painted and quilted by my mother!