Letter on Reopening
Dear Dharma Friends,
We have been receiving questions of joyful anticipation for when Dakini Mountain can open again. Dakini Mountain is our retreat center in the making. It is dedicated to supporting the cultivation of rest, rejuvenation, wisdom and compassion amidst this vivid landscape of raw elemental beauty. It is 35 acres, completely off grid and a power spot of Vajrayogini.
Before addressing Dakini Mountain re-opening plans, it’s important to acknowledge that the pandemic is not over for everyone. Its effects continue for all those who lost family members, for those with long-haul COVID-19 symptoms, those with post-COVID complications, those who are immunocompromised for whom the vaccine does not mean safety and so forth. Now in California there are cases rising with new variants. Our love and prayers are with all our dharma friends who are effected by the pandemic. May all who passed find great peace. May all who remain ill, feel loved and supported. May they recover fully and swiftly.
The effect of the pandemic on Dakini Mountain is still in full swing as well. We lost a year and a half of events income. On top of that, we did not meet our winter fundraising goal. There weren’t many community members there to maintain the land, so just like in so many places around the world, while we were not active on the land, wildlife started encroaching. The meadow was taken over by gophers, then a community of rattlesnakes moved in and a bear lounged openly next to the pond, making himself at home in our absence. Brush and bush expanded and we went through several rounds of broken water pipes.
We are all looking forward to re-opening but to achieve this will require much work and help from the whole community.
We have planned a two-stage opening process which will depend on whether we meet our next round of fundraising goals.
Our goal is to fundraise $15,500 by our partial re-opening on August 15th and a remaining $34,500 this fall. This includes funding for fire clearance and critical immediate needs and maintenance to restore the land back to use level.
Partial Re-opening Plans
Since Dakini Mountain is perfect for outdoor events, with its stage, outdoor kitchen and scenic meadow, it is really a perfect site to have outdoor events. The partial re-opening will allow us to host other groups for day-long, non-residential events including a monthly Community Day at Dakini Mountain. This will offer a chance to practice meditation together and work on the land.
Upon partial re-opening on August 15th, we will open Dakini Mountain for:
Community Day once a month, outdoors and social distanced
Day-long Event rentals for groups, workshops [non-residential]
See DakiniMountain.org for the full details of our fundraising campaign.
The Full Re-Opening
Our full re-opening is scheduled for June 2-5th, 2022, for our annual spring Vajrayana retreat and anniversary of Dakini Mountain. We have postponed full re-opening until then since residential retreats include dining together, hanging out inside the lodge and working alongside one another, so we don’t feel we can guarantee guests safety for indoor residential retreats at this time. However, we are eagerly looking forward to preparing for our full-opening when we can spend time immersed in all the joy and wonder that Dakini Mountain has to offer. After losing water and power in previous residential events, we can see the importance of doing our necessary fundraising for upgrades before our next retreat and this full re-opening date will give us time for fundraising and working on the land.
Future Fundraising Plans
Our next phases of fundraising is for $636,000 + Guarantors
$336,000 for development, which will allow us to open fully and resume residential retreats and events. It includes imperative projects for group events like our solar power battery upgrade
$300,000 in donations towards the equity
An individual or group of guarantors backing $300,000 – to guarantee the loan by pledging their assets as collateral
Our 2023-2025 phases of fundraising will be to pay off the mortgage in full with the final total goal of raising $2.2 million.
Annual Dzogchen Retreat
As a result of these plans, this year’s Annual Dzogchen retreat has now been postponed to September 17-19, 2021 and will be online. We know that many people are spending time outdoors this summer after being in quarantine, and so we have moved the retreat to support that.
However, in August we will offer a shorter special event focusing a deep dive into the teachings, history and life of Longchenpa, great teacher of Dzogchen, Tibetan Buddhism’s system of natural awakening to intrinsic awareness. This will be from August 17-21st. I am overjoyed to be hosting Anne Klein (Lama Rigzin Drolma) and Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche for this event. See the details below.
Therefore, our upcoming program schedule includes the following programs listed below. I look forward to seeing you there.
Daily & Weekly Programs
Daily Meditation, Free Every Day at 12 PT / 3pm ET
Vajrayana Training, Ngakpa Training, Open Teaching, and Umdze Training (Except during retreats and training or other special events) will continue Wednesday nights 6pm PT / 9pm ET
Meditation Mondays 6pm PT / 9pm ET
July 19 – Aug 23rd – Ngondro Practice (except August 9th)
Aug 9th – BIPOC Meditation & Discussion with Pema Khandro
Nov 1st – Members night with Pema Khandro to launch the annual Season of Practice *discussion and social hosted by Pema Khandro. The Season of Practice is from November 1st to Losar, the lunar new year which is March 3rd, 2022.
July 20-22 Buddhism and Trauma Series
July 24 Medicine Buddha & Trauma
Aug 3rd Dakini Day Chod
Aug 17-21st Dzogchen Series: Longchenpa His Life & Teachings
***Limited to 100 participants.
Sept 1st Dakini Day Chod
Sept 17-19th Annual Dzogchen Retreat: Dzogchen Semdzin
Sept 28-30th Ngondro Module 4
How Online Programs Are Affected
Many have asked how the reopening of Dakini Mountain will affect our online programs. We plan to continue the online programs in full, along with our previous rhythm with three public in-person retreats per year and one-day events or weekend Vajra Sangha programs resuming our regular schedule again in Spring 2022. In between these events Dakini Mountain will be used by other groups of guests for non-residential events.
Our goal before the pandemic was to develop the Buddhist Studies Institute as an online school with a full spectrum of Buddhist philosophy and practice taught by Tibetan and Western scholars. This platform developed more quickly than we had planned due to the pandemic, and this will only continue to develop. This continues to be possible due to donations and due to our wonderful community of volunteers.
Speaking of volunteers, we have much more work to do to catch up with our growth and are in need of video editors and tech hosts for our programs. Email us if you’d like to join in and help at Volunteer@BuddhistStudiesInstitute.org
Changes to Ngakpa Training and Vajra Sangha
The board of directors has decided to change the requirements for Ngakpa Training in order to open it up as a resource for new members who have already been involved in intensive Buddhist study for an extended period. This course is our advanced study course for students who are doing longer term intensive study, practice and service. It has pre-requisites, which previously included Vajra Sangha membership. However, as our online programming has expanded we have opened Ngakpa Training to non-Vajra Sangha students. Other pre-requisites will still apply.
We are also in the process of revising our Vajra Sangha membership pre-requisites which will be completed by the end of the year. Vajra Sangha are my personal students. You can recognize them by the red and white Ngakpa shawls they wear at programs. Buddhist Studies Institute serves students from many other sanghas as well, everyone is welcome and appreciated. Diversity is beautiful.
Two New Sangha Leaders to be Trained. Because of our recent growth and the new awareness gained from the pandemic, we are also planning to develop two other leaders who can take on the same roles as Aruna and Satya, my trusted advisors and the leaders of all our other teams. The three of us have run our projects together over the last ten years, working together week by week to make the decisions by consensus that have guided all the events and projects. The pandemic made us aware how important it is to have doubles and a backup system, so we are now actively looking for two more people to join our directors team who can play a leadership role and step into Satya and Aruna’s roles as needed. This includes skills of Aruna, our CFO [Chief Financial Officer], such as overseeing legal and accounting for Ngakpa International and the skills of Satya, our COO [Chief Operations Officer], managing projects, overseeing events, outreach and leadership team. Please do email us if you have experience in these roles and would like to apply to join the directors team: Info@BuddhistStudiesInstitute.org.
Buddhism and Trauma
Finally, I want to personally invite you to our upcoming program on Buddhism and Trauma with events from July 20-24th. This series will examine the relationship between Trauma theory and Buddhist philosophy and practice. Trauma theory has evolved greatly since the time it was thought that PTSD was something only war veterans had. The growing knowledge about the effects of traumatic stress now extend to address how adverse events effect bodies and minds in any scenario. Unresolved past events are thought to drive our behaviors in the present time, whether we are aware of it or not. We may be more susceptible to traumatic stress for various reasons such as if we are ill, tired or have had previous adverse events. There are so many important aspects of trauma theory that overlap with the basic knowledge we need to have as human beings, how our minds, bodies, emotions work. How past events stick. How past stresses can be reprocessed and released. This sounds familiar to Buddhists, because these are the issues we think about as well, how to get free from the residue of past events, and how to get free from suffering. Furthermore, Buddhist based practices have been a major resource used for recovery and healing by trauma-informed therapists. I want to share this series with you because I believe this knowledge can be life-changing, and it is knowledge that we need in the Buddhist community. And also because there is a fascinating and exciting exchange happening between the two discourses of trauma theory and Buddhist theory and practice. If you would like to join us, Click Here to Register
I want to finish by expressing my gratitude to our community and friends for all the support that has sustained us thus far. It is beautiful to collaborate together in fostering a learning community, and a practice community, one that is so brilliant and kind. Thank you and I look forward to studying and practicing together.
My very best to you,
Dzogchen Series: Longchenpa, His Life & Teachings
with Anne Klein (Lama Rigzin Drolma),
Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche
One of the most celebrated scholars of Tibetan Buddhism was Longchenpa, a fourteenth century philosopher-yogi who wrote about Dzogchen.
Dzogchen is the esoteric tradition of Tibetan contemplation, regarded as the highest and most precious body of knowledge held by the Nyingma tradition. It emphasizes teachings on intrinsic buddha-nature as the ground of reality, as well as contemplative relationship with the elements and environment.
Longchenpa’s work on Dzogchen defined the tradition as it is practiced today. Longchenpa’s extensive collected works synthesized the Dzogchen teachings and their relationship to the exoteric Buddhist philosophical movements.
This series features even lectures, scholars and teachers of Tibetan Buddhism specializing in the works of Longchenpa and Dzogchen. These classes will focus on the life and teachings of Longchenpa, followed by a day-long meditation course, all online. Join us in celebrating the history of Dzogchen and reflecting on its developments, views and contributions in the life and works of Longchenpa.
To register email us at info@BuddhistStudiesInstitute.org to get the registration link. *This program has a limited enrollment of 100 participants.
Buddhism and Trauma Series
Hosted by Pema Khandro
July 20-24, 2021
6pm PT / 9pm ET
Tue July 20 – Mark Epstein
Wed July 21 – Sarah Lewis
Thu July 22 – Jim Hopper & Dr. Elizabeth Call
Sat July 24 – Medicine Buddha & Trauma w/ Pema Khandro
Both Buddhism and Trauma Studies have asked questions about human suffering. Both explore the profound journey of getting free from the bonds of negative experiences of the past.
This series will focus on the dialogue between Buddhism, trauma, and cross-cultural reflections on psychology. Join us for this week of online dialogues with scholars and teachers on the compelling topic of Buddhism and Trauma.
Medicine Buddha & Trauma
Orgyen Menla, the Medicine Buddha, is the expression of loving compassion and the capacity to heal. He is the form of the Buddha that relieves suffering and disease.
ONLINE OPEN TEACHINGS
Join our certified meditation instructors for a short free daily practice online. Each day meditation is followed by a brief discussion on Buddhist ethics.
A 30-minute online Buddhist Philosophy teaching with Pema Khandro.
Free and open to the public. Held on 4th Wednesdays of the month.