The Milarepa Center Project Journal
Through his long-term commitment to his spiritual path and relationship with Trungram Gyaltrul Rinpoche, the Spiritual Director of Dharmakaya, Stonemark’s president Bart Mendel has dedicated countless hours to championing the master planning process for the Milarepa Center. As Owner’s Representatives, Stonemark managed a large team of planners, architects, engineers, land-use attorneys & consultants through a complex, multi-year environmental impact review and entitlement process. Key to winning the confidence and approval of the community was incorporating environmental concerns into the planning stage of the project, including evaluation of geothermal, reduced energy usage, and use of renewable materials.
Formal application to the local jurisdictional authorities wasn’t the only approval required, however. Buddhist tradition requires that the earth itself be respectfully petitioned before any building occurs. On November 29, 2006, an auspicious day chosen by Rinpoche, a small group gathered at the top of the retreat center land for a “requesting the ground” ceremony. Buddhist logic is that numerous beings have inhabited the land for years; we should not be so anthropocentric to think that land is owned by people alone. Making peace with the energy of the place with intent to live harmoniously with the environment, including the other beings who live there, is therefore a crucial beginning to a construction project. The ceremony included recitation of prayers and the ritual burying of a ceremonial Tibetan prayer vase. The vase was filled with relics and precious substances and blessed by the daily meditation of Khenchen Rinpoche for months. Since construction on the site has now started, the vase has been removed, and will be reinserted in a permanent container below the foundations of the main meditation hall, directly beneath the main Buddha statue. In this way the original blessings and motivation to occupy the site harmoniously remain.
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