“Homage to glorious samantabhadra, the all-good to timeless Buddhahood,
basic total presence, to unchanging spontaneity, the spacious vajra-heart,
to the nature of mind – natural perfection, constantly, simply being,
we bow down. ” ― Longchenpa
It happened. Finally. Despite obstacles, despite delays, we closed escrow on what was formerly our center in Berkeley, California yesterday.
We had outgrown the center years ago. I had given too many teachings there with people sitting outside because there wasn’t room in the meditation hall. Sometimes I would teach in the front lawn so we could fit. As a result, we had rented retreat centers for years so our whole group of retreatants could fit in the room and still have room for yoga. I well know that when things change, if we don’t change with them, suffering and obstacles ensue… Yet, even though we clearly needed a bigger facility, it took a long time to get to the decision to sell and expand to a new location. This is partly because so much heart had gone into that place.
We had opened our center in the heart of Berkeley in 2005 and Gangteng Tulku Rinpoche’s teaching on the Laughter of the Dakinis was our first event. This was a residential center so we had lots of different residents over the years, I met some really special people there. One of my students with terminal cancer moved in there towards the end of her life. I remember meeting with her upstairs and talking while I listened to the residents chanting downstairs. I also met Gyaldak Rinpoche there for the first time and I have many memories of our sangha waiting on the sidewalk for his arrivals. My memories are also of that lovely back yard behind the gompa. I used to park my RV in the back when we had weekend programs there, squirrels would jump down from the trees above, one after another, sounding like boulders pelting the roof. Our group would chant Tibetan mantras in the morning and the next door neighbors, a frat house, would play music loud and party all night – somehow the arrangement worked perfectly, neither one of us complained about the noise of the other. There was that lovely time that Ngak’chang Rinpoche taught in the small living room where people gathered around to listen to readings from an Odd Boy, his life story. We all crammed in there, but despite the small room, it felt just right, made cozy and warm by Rinpoche’s charisma. One year for Losar, when we did the Vajrakilaya dances, we walked around the corner from the center to People’s Park and did the Vajra dances there – the park had been full of people meandering around. But then they stopped and watched the phurbas and flags waving. Time stood still. Except of course, when the one joker, (there is always one!) a random passerby tried to disturb it by running through in the middle of the performance. But the dancers keep their focus with such intensity, it only served to heighten the energy. I am grateful for this and so many wonderful memories there.
The community made that place – from plumbing to painting, power washing to setting up for programs, making the gate to building the shrine, accounting to peacekeeping, there was so much service and heart that went into the Berkeley center. I feel tremendously proud at the cooperation and collaboration that sustained this center – generosity fueled that place, nourished it and brought it to life. Thank you everyone, for your service, your kindness, and your practice. I say goodbye to that era with enormous gratitude and tenderness.
As it says in Samantabhadra’s Activity Prayer,
“I bow with as many bodies as there are atoms in the world…”
Now we have officially closed that Berkeley center and we turn our hearts towards our expansion. This was a crucial milestone towards expanding to our new location – 35 acres of forest, mountain, valley, meadow, and a pond… the long dreamed of Dakini Mountain. We are in the final push for fundraising to make our dream come true – a beautiful center in the Lake Tahoe National Forest, in Northern California. We have needed a bigger center for a long time, and now we will have it – at the most beautiful place I have ever been.
Even though the era of that Berkeley Center has passed, our Berkeley Community will continue at the MahaSiddha Center 2.0, a home center located in Richmond, California, a smaller place, no longer a residential program, but it will offer regular meditations led by a great practice leader and longtime leader of that community, Tsalgyur Dorje along with the help of my other senior students.
It is with sad-joy and much excitement that I say goodbye to that Berkeley Center. But I am not saying goodbye to our many friends and community. I will be coming back regularly, starting with my trip to Berkeley March 12th to teach at MahaSiddha Center 2.0.
I will be stopping there on my way to Dakini Mountain.
Our March schedule has programs in San Diego – March 10, Berkeley – March 12 and Nevada City – March 15-17. These programs will be an opportunity to go deep together in practice, prayer and study as we celebrate the beginning of a new era – the rise of Dakini Mountain.
Thank you to everyone who has donated to support Dakini Mountain and thank you for helping us get the word out about the fundraiser. We have raised $130,108 towards our $150,000 goal. Click this link to help us reach the goal and to learn more about Dakini Mountain. https://www.gofundme.com/dakini-mountain-fundraiser/
Check out our new website: www.DakiniMountain.org
Keep up with the latest news at: PemaKhandro.com