Monday, December 3, 2012


WELCOME to the "Millennial Monk," a fictional story placed in
the Future.  It's about not only an experimental monastic group,
but also about a pioneering monk-architect dedicated towards
building and teaching in areas that support the sustainability of
burgeoning populations in the 21st century.

To follow the story, go to the very last post, which is the 
Introduction and work your way forward.

(2) Passing the Torch

In the meanwhile I continue to ponder, sitting comfortably
in the garden.  Like any elderly person, I suppose, I tend
to remember so many of friends and family--especially
those who have passed on.  In particular I oft dwell on the
memory of my good friend Brother Philip, who was so
instrumental in changing the course of my life.

Occasionally I do wonder whether I have been a successful
monk.  It somewhat bothers me, that maybe I haven't really
followed the monastic vocation more specifically.  Still long
ago the Millennial Monasteries started out as an 
experimental community that emphasized  that the 
"Lord's Service" was to serve in God's good world,
working for the benefit of God's good people,  

It's just that I chose a somewhat different route,  Whereas
most of our monks worked teaching theology and religion,
others in medical and some technical fields, I was nearly the 
lone wolf when it came to architecture.  Still I managed a 
focus that was true (in a sense) to the ideas behind 
Eco-Spirituality.  And there's no doubt that one of the
greatest challenges of this 21st century of the New 
Millennium has been that of Sustainability of our populations.  

Anyway, I believe that in some strange way I managed to
merge both my monastic and architectural vocations to
support this great effort to "sustain" and keep well our
people here in the San Diego area.  And from what i have
learned, many are continuing this effort throughout the
country.  For me, it has been a spiritual effort doing this.

Oh I must now be off.  Evening prayers are calling, then
a good night's sleep.  

(1) Passing the Torch

Now having retired from Southwestern some ten years ago, 
I am indulging looking back.  It's easy to consider my 
passing the torch--if you will--when it comes to those 
wonderful students I taught at Southwestern,  A goodly 
number of them went on to become successful architects, 
and some especially advanced Environmental Design 
when it came to the buildings and facilities they developed.

Sitting here on my bench in our lovely garden, I now 
ponder mostly about the Past,  Goodness, what else
should an 85 year old do!  It wasn't all about Southwestern,
however,  In the midst of my teaching duties I also still
did some  work on a few new monasteries that the
Millennial Monasteries contracted with my old 
architecture firm,

Fortunately I wasn't the lead architect, first tutoring than
assisting a young bright architect who the firm designated
to work on these new monasteries,  Specifically I assisted
him in designing a fascinating monastery in New Mexico,
near Santa Fe,  We chose a form of Pueblo architecture
for this particular monastery.  Later we worked together
up near Seattle, building a new monastery in the Pacific
Northwest,  We decided  on a Japanese motif when it
came to the buildings--and I thoroughly delighted 
creating some wonderful natural Japanese gardens 
that enhanced the property.

Of course, too, I continued teaching periodic retreats
when it came to Eco-Spirituality.  But I have fellow monks
much younger than me who have jumped into this full
force,  They are the future and have already added loads
of new material to this retreat,  

So it would seem that I have left my interests, my dedication
over the years in good hands, whether at Southwestern or
the building of new monasteries.  Have to smile because
my young protege at the firm has recently been asked to
design two new Millennial monasteries in Florida and
Louisiana.  It would seem our squatting monks are moving
into a whole new territory, expanding from the Western 
states to the South.

I had to laugh when my young protege suggested I might
fly out to Florida with him.  He wanted to take me on a
tour of the Everglades.  Sounds like an interesting 
proposal.  Though I have been walking with a cane for
awhile, I mused over the prospect  of using it to ward off
an attacking alligator.  What's stopping me?  Maybe I will
go visit the Everglades!

(3) Teaching Time

Also, since I was a teenager, California has been installing
desalination plants up its coastline from the San Diego region all
the way to the Monterey Bay area.  However I chose to visit two
of the oldest plants in our region, in nearby Rosarito, Mexico.

The Rosarito desalination  plants were sponsored initially not
only by Mexico but the local San Diego Water Authority.  Thus they
were included as part of the string of such facilities up the California
coastline.  And they were by far the largest of all these plants that
provide desalinated water from the Pacific Ocean.

The Mexican company was very hospitable and agreed that I could
periodically bring my Southwestern students down for tours, which
it would provide.  Without going into a lot of detail, a desalination
plant pipes in salt water from the ocean, where via reverse osmosis
the brine is separated from the water supply.  And eventually this
desalinated water is piped into the regional water supply.

Finally satisfied, I prepared my courses on Energy and Water
Resources and was ready to become a teacher.  And I happily
taught dedicated students for some 20 years, until I retired at the
tender age of 75.  Looking back I think I was even more satisfied
teaching the young than I was actually working as an architect
building facilities dedicated to the idea of Sustainability.  Perhaps
I felt by passing on my knowledge to the young would go a much
longer way than just designing a building here and there.

(2) Teaching Time

San Diego County has a number of water reclamation facilities,
but I chose to visit the one in South Bay, situated literally next
to the International Border between the United States and Mexico.
It was one of the oldest of such facilities, but it was also the closest
to the university.  The staff there were very gracious and really
provided me with an in-depth tour along with architectural designs,
operation manuals, etc.

I was really surprised how huge this facility was, in that it took a lot
of hiking around.  In more ways than one, it took my breath away.
Anyway, I came to learn that it was about purifying waste water,
so that it can be reclaimed.  The procedure was as follows: the waste
water would blow into what is called the Primary Sedimentation
Basins.  The solids would sink to the bottom of the tanks.  "Scum"
(grease and cooking oil)  would float to the surface.

The raw sludge is sent back to the sewer system, and after the
"scum" is skimmed, it, too, is returned to the sewer system.  After
these steps, the waste water mixes with bacteria that eat soluble
organic material; and, eventually, the waste water flows into what
is called Aeration Basins where diffused air is pumped into the
water.  At this point the bacteria start to ingest and digest the
organic solids.  There are continuous second stages to this process.
But, finally, the treated water can either be discharged into the ocean
or bay--or moved onto additional treatment for reclaimed
water applications.

After visiting the older water reclamation facility in the South Bay,
I arranged a tour at one of the newer Advanced Water Purification
Facilities that "met all applicable drinking water regulations."  The
oldest of these advanced water facilities was built back in 2011,
but several others followed since.  In a nutshell, as put: waste
water reuse has become a part of not only California's but the
nation's water supply portfolio.

There's very careful testing at these advanced facilities.  Such
testing included flushing out not only microbial contaminants 
and other pollutants, but also pharmaceuticals that aren't
regulated in drinking water.

Need I say that I was more than impressed by all the effort involved,
not only in the building of these special water reclamation facilities
but additionally the careful architectural design that supported the
process.  These water reclamation facilities proved to be an
"eye-opener" for me, so I fully expected they would impress my
students too!

(1) Teaching Time

Chapter 8.  Teaching Time

The Southwestern Vocational University is located not too far 
from the monastery, so the few days a week that I taught there
I could commute.  The arrangement made me happy in that 
finally I could live permanently at our monastic home up in
the San Ysidro Mountains.

As for the university itself, more than 30 years back it was only
a community college; however, the various community colleges
in California eventually evolved into vocational universities.
It was decided back then that the need for seriously academic
training, directed towards specific vocations, was needed to
meet the job standards of an ever growing high technology
economy.  The vocations were more diverse than expected, 
hence new schools within these vocational universities kept
emerging.  Hence Southwestern's Architecture School was a
recent addition.  Consequently there was a need for teachers,
thus I was hired and slid into a nice slot: Professor of
Environmental Design.

Before I even reached the point teaching students, I was given
time to develop my course that I would teach in-house, 
via video, and online--as well as arrange tours of facilities.
I focused on the subject of Sustainability for all my courses.
California was burgeoning with huge populations, and especially
its Energy and Water resources were the main issues when it
came to sustaining these populations.

It was easy aiming in on the Energy resources, because I had
worked for years in these areas--ranging from photovoltaic
roofs to designing new geo-thermal plants.  On the other hand
I couldn't claim a background when it came to the design of
the Water resources that were necessary for California and
its future.

So I had to arrange some serious time contacting special 
Water facilities in the area, talking to the designers, to the
people who worked there, taking tours myself, before I could
even begin to map out a course on this important and
necessary resource.

(3) Inner Work

To make a long story short, I eventually discovered what Jungians
call the Animus--the major masculine archetype--and the Anima, 
who represents the major feminine archetype that prevails in a 
person's mental landscape.  Beyond these major archetypes there
are secondary archetypal forces that prevail in this inner world of 
the psyche.  The focus of dream analysis is to understand how these
archetypes speak to us, how they determine who we are, who we

Much to my amazement, my personal Animus represented himself
as a monk--robed, but wearing a warrior's boots.  And my Anima
presented herself as a woman I knew who was a scientist and teacher.  
Philip oft asked me what these descriptives meant to me.  It took time 
to bring forth what they meant, but eventually I determined the
significance of such for me.

Yes, I was meant to be a monk--but one who lived and worked out
in the world.  As a monk-warrior I very much spiritually engaged the
issue of sustainability: i.e., as an architect engaged in Green 
Architecture, as one who focused on the major issues in my region
where the major requirements were about Energy and Water.
And much to my amazement even before I was *conscious* of
any of this, I was unconsciously, naturally, living out this archetypal

I found, too, that I had to attend more to my personal Anima.  She 
was represented by a woman who was a scientist and teacher.  
Philip got me thinking what this might mean for me.  I had taught
a retreat seminar about EcoSpirituality over the years at the
monastery, but I felt that now I had to extend more out into the
world in some significant way.

Perhaps blind luck, but at this point a friend at the nearby 
Southwestern Vocational University contacted me, informing me
that a teaching position at the Architectural School was open--and
would I be interested?  Indeed I was, and soon I found myself in a
new capacity: as a Professor of Architecture!