KPL News 2011
November 30, Construction Progress
We are picking up the pace on the construction site to get as much accomplished as possible before winter sets in. Because of the stage of these projects, multiple deliveries are happening in close proximity to one another and trained contractors are being hired for specialized aspects of the work. We are therefore paying multiple invoices now. Any help you might be able to offer to help us stay on schedule before the winter would be greatly appreciated.
Painted shrine room in the new building
- The main shrine room has been painted and LED energy-efficient lights have been installed. The flooring material has arrived and in about two weeks the floors will be in place.
- One of the stair-wells has been finished from the basement to the first floor: the stairs are in place, the walls have been painted, and a chandler has been installed.
- The sprinkler system will soon be operational: the fire pump is being connected, the control panels are in place, and we are waiting for an 8,000 gallon water tank to be delivered next week. The pit for this enormous tank (27 feet long) has been dug by Dan Curtis who had to struggle with breaking through the shale.
The most immediate expenses will include the sprinkler water tank, water treatment system, installation of the final sprinkler components and completing the fire alarm system.
November 18, Benefit with Lama Surya Das and Tulku Sherdor
On November 18, we had a great pleasure to host two well-known Western lamas for an evening of Dharma discussion on integrating spiritual practice with our daily lives. Lama Surya Das and Tulku Sherdor shared their vast experience and knowledge while lending support to KPL construction project as all proceeds from the event were directed toward the construction fund.
It was a fun evening. In his opening remarks, Lama Surya Das commented that we do not have to make a choice between the tradition and the modern. We can practice Dharma in modern ways and in modern times while having our feet firmly placed in the tradition.
The real deal, the actual way to integrate spiritual practice with every aspect of our lives, is remembering to remember. What is it that we need to remember? We need to remember to look at our mind, to always be aware of its inner workings, so we can act mindfully rather than react habitually. Lama Surya Das and Tulku Sherdor stressed that we can use whatever means at our disposal to help ourselves remember to remember, to remain mindful throughout the day's activities and not let our habits get the better of us: a posted note, an email alert, or ... an iPod Touch reminder. Anything that we use to help us remember the things we need to remember in our daily lives can also be used as a reminder to be mindful, to look at the mind.
The lamas, while speaking in a language accessible to all and addressing the subject of spirituality as part of our modern lives, referred back to concepts and methods known to all students of Buddhism: awareness, openness, kindness, devotion, gratitude, appreciation, letting go as tools that help us get closer to our true nature and thereby transform our lives so we can "live" the Dharma and "be" the buddha.
The evening went by quickly in the warm and cheerful atmosphere of a friendly discussion. We thank the United Methodist Church in Red Hook, and especially the chair of the board of trustees Mark Chenkus, for letting us use their facility for this event. We extend heartfelt thanks to Lama Surya Das and Tulku Sherdor for their time and generosity, and we hope to host them in the future… in our new facility.
Lama Surya Das and Tulku Sherdor are well-known and highly experienced American teachers of Tibetan Buddhism whose work focuses on bringing the authentic and profound view, meditation and conduct of the practice traditions, and Dzogchen in particular, into every aspect of life. They are also founding members of the Invitation Committee organizing the 2012 Rimay Monlam at Garrison Institute (www.rimaymonlam.org).
October 3, Bookstore at KPL is Completed
Completed bookstore in the new KPL building
Thanks to you, the bookstore at KPL is finished!
It took a sizable matching fund, a lot of dedicated students making donations, and hard-working volunteer crews to make it happen, but we have been able to finish another room on KPL’s first floor. As you can see from the photos, we have also brought in some cabinets and merchandise, but we are still a ways from having the bookstore in operation.
At the moment, we will need to raise more funds for finishing the main shrine and necessary building systems, which are already well underway. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved with finishing the main shrine room.
On July 29-31, we had a great good fortune to host H.E. Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche for a weekend teaching at KPL. Khandro Rinpoche travelled with an entourage of six nuns: Ani Karma Wozer, Ani Tsultrim Dechen, Ani Choenyid Chodron, Ani Kalden Chodron, Ani Drolma Chodron, and Ani Jigme Chodron.
Since the house we use for our center is too small for an event of this scope, and the new building is still under construction, we have once again relied on the hospitality of the Red Hook Firehouse that has rented a nice room to us for this occasion.
Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche
Photo by Robert Hansen-Sturm
Many Western Buddhists are familiar with Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche and have heard her teach more than once. And each time students are left with a feeling of awe, admiration, inspiration, and humility. Awe and admiration because of Khandro Rinpoche's profound wisdom, broad knowledge, and intimate understanding of the workings of "western mind." Inspiration and humility because in her presence all our mind's games are exposed and revealed to us, and because a sincere intention to work with ourselves is reborn and renewed. Like so many great masters that we have a good fortune to meet, Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche always inspires us to continue our endeavor to become better human beings.
There were many reminders during this weekend teaching: that we have an extraordinary opportunity for practice; that we have had the great good fortune to meet great masters such as Bardor Tulku Rinpoche and others who have come to our parts of the world and persisted in their work despite the initial lack of familiarity with the West and with our languages; that we allow ourselves to be distracted with external circumstances forgetting that the work to be done is of inner nature; that while making all effort to be "good Buddhists," we neglect to integrate our practice and study with our lives in a meaningful way; that we either get carried away with lofty philosophical ideas but do not know enough to bring about a true transformation of our being or, one the other hand, we deny the intellectual aspect of the Buddhist tradition, refuse to engage in deep intellectual exploration, get "starry eyes," and follow our own image of Buddhadharma rather than its actual spiritual tradition.
Trying to paraphrase or describe Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche's teaching in any more details would amount to running a risk of misrepresenting or misinterpreting her words. We therefore invite you to acquire the recording from the weekend that we make available as an MP3 download. Learn how you can gain access to the download.
On July 26th, KPL staff and some of the volunteers gathered at 6 AM to open the grounds for the attendees at 6:30 AM. The crowd arrived slowly in comfortable intervals and by 9 AM most invited guests and attendees found their seats in the shrine room, only to move outside and await His Holiness' arrival.
Bardor Tulku Rinpoche welcomes H.H. Karmapa at KPL. Photo by Robert Hansen-Sturm
The motorcade brought His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa to KPL around 9:30 AM. His Holiness was accompanied by a few persons of entourage: his sister Jetsünma, Lama Tsewang Rinpoche, Lama Tsultrim of KTC New Jersey, Khenpo Tengye who travels with His Holiness as a translator into Chinese, and Ngodrup Burkhar. Also present were two representatives of the Karmapa Foundation: its Executive Director Peter Voltz and Dekila Chungyalpa.
Among the invited and attending lamas were Lama Tenzin Dakpa of Karma Sonam Dargye Ling (Toronto), Lama Karma Chopal of Palpung Choekyi Gyaltsen Buddhist Center (VA), Lama Surya Das, Lama Tulku Sherdor, Lama Jim Dowiat, Lama Jim Kukula, Lama David Nilson, Lama Colleen Reed, Lama Attilio Marconi, Lama Elise Brauckmann, and Lama Mary Jane Bennett. Lama Yeshe Gyamtso served as the translator for the event.
Left to right: Lama Karma Chopal, Lama Tenzin Dakpa, Lama Tashi Topgyal. In the back Khenpo Tengye. Photo by Sarite Sanders
The town of Red Hook was represented by the town supervisor Sue Crane and the mayor of the village of Red Hook, Ed Blundell.
Many of the invited guests were KPL's long-time benefactors, volunteers, and students facilitating the activities of Bardor Tulku Rinpoche through regional Palchen Study Groups.
Upon his arrival, His Holiness was led to the library room where a tea and rice ceremony was offered to him and his entourage. Shortly after, His Holiness walked into the main shrine hall to prepare for the Chenrezik empowerment.
Before the actual program began, His Holiness was warmly welcomed by KPL vice-president Lama Jim Dowiat; by Sue Crane, the Red Hook town supervisor; and by Ed Blundell, the mayor of the village of Red Hook.
H.H. the 17th Karmapa teaching at KPL.
Photo by Robert Hansen-Sturm
His Holiness prefaced the short Chenrezik empowerment by a teaching on the qualities of love and compassion embodied in Chenrezik. He spoke of compassion as the lord (or king) of our heart (or mind) to whom we should surrender ourselves thereby allowing ourselves to listen to this leader's advice. At the same time, His Holiness said, we should exercise wisdom that, like a king's minister, helps implement the lord's intention or plan in a correct manner.
After the empowerment, His Holiness talked about his fondness for the Hudson Valley and the Hudson River of which he thought as a holy and healing places. He remarked that the Hudson River reminded him of childhood stories he had read and that coming to the region was accompanied by a sense familiarity.
His Holiness also expressed appreciation for having the opportunity to visit KPL and a wish to visit again repeatedly. He shared his fervent hope that Bardor Tulku Rinpoche continue to heal and that he be of continued vast benefit to beings and the teachings.
His Holiness did not offer a personal blessing to each attendee but he left a supply of protection cords in the care of Lama Tashi Topgyal saying that receiving the cord will establish a personal connection between each of the attendees and himself.
July, Preparing for H.H. the 17th Karmapa's Visit to KPL
On July 9th, word came that His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa would make a stop at KPL on July 25th, as a part of his 2011 US visit. We received the news with great excitement and tremendous joy and were ready to put forth our best effort to make His Holiness' visit a wonderful experience for everyone.
Two days later, Bardor Tulku Rinpoche, while attending the Kalachakra for World Peace in Washington D.C., had an audience with His Holiness the Karmapa. Rinpoche requested a short Chenrezik empowerment and His Holiness accepted the request. Around the same time we received information that the visit to KPL would occur a day later, on July 26th.
And so the announcement went out about His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa giving a Chenrezik empowerment at KPL on July 26th, 2011, 9-11 AM. What followed were two weeks in high gear, during which a group of KPL staff and volunteers worked long hours every day to plan for this long-awaited and extraordinary event.
As soon as we received confirmation of the program, we outlined the tasks at hand and divided the work between KPL staff and volunteers. We attribute it to the well-handled coordination of work on the part of KPL administrators and to skills, professionalism, and competence on the part of the KPL staff and volunteers that we were able to get organized on such a short notice and that within 24 hours we were all working full-speed, each on our area of responsibility. Some of the outlined areas of responsibility included: liaising with the town, event announcements, communication with KTD regarding any possible schedule changes, compiling the list of invited guests, registration, security, design of badges, design of signs, parking, cleaning, preparation of the construction site, getting supplies, planning for tea and rice ceremony, shrine setup, audio and video, photography, designing and preparing flower arrangements, preparing the grounds (cutting grass, clearing paths to remote parking areas etc.), and arranging for porta-potties.
Within the first three days of the preparation process, we compiled a list of invited guests, registered those invitees who confirmed attendance, and printed and mailed most of the staff and invitees badges. The registration for invited guests was followed by a careful calculation of the total number of attendees we could accept based on the maximum capacity of the venues under consideration dictated by the fire code and the available parking space.
On Friday, July 15, we opened online registration to the public. A 100 general admission tickets that we made available at that time were sold in less than 1.5 hours. Those who did not make it, and contacted us expressing interest in attending the program, were placed on the waiting list with the idea that if we could accept more attendees, the persons on the waiting list would be accommodated in the order in which we received their requests.
The planning and the registration process were complicated by the fact that it was not until the morning of July 18 that we acquired formal permission from the town to hold the event in the KPL new building, which is still under construction. The planning board of the town of Red Hook once again showed us great generosity in issuing an 8-hour temporary certificate of occupancy just for the program with His Holiness.
Now certain about the location of the event, we were able to make more tickets available and about 30 more people were registered within the general admission pool of tickets. The number of attendees, inluding His Holiness' entourage, invited lamas, invited guests, and the general public totaled at around 250 people.
Although registration for any large event is of primary interest for the attendees, for organizers of any event, it is one of the many aspects of the planning. And in fact registration cannot begin until many other decisions about the program are made.
Much careful thought went into the issue of security. Since the visit involved the Diplomatic Security Service, we were obligated to follow their instructions and abide by their regulations. We had to plan to have enough security personnel to insure that certain parts of the building were closed off and not accessible to the general public. Most of our security force was recruited from among volunteers but we also hired a few police officers as additional security.
Parking is usually a big planning item and a limiting factor for large events. It made us very happy to see that the attendees were willing to help us by car pooling. With the number of car pools that were arranged, parking was a relatively simple task in the end. The volunteers who planned and managed parking were very professional, effitient, and kind, and we felt very good about the way parking was handled.
Bardor Tulku Rinpoche leading shrine room preparations. Photo by Karen Michel
Some of the major aspects of the preparation process are always concerned with the venue itself. In our case, as the event was to be held at a construction site, in a room that had not yet been finished, we had to worry about making the shrine hall presentable and the entire area safe for the attendees. Huge amount of volunteer work went into making the shrine room look nice for the event. Volunteers who live locally and those who traveled long distance rolled up their sleeves in a joint effort to clean and prepare the room for the event.
Getting the shrine room ready for H.H. Karmapa's visit. Photo by Karen Michel
Then shortly before the event, lamas and volunteers, guided by Bardor Tulku Rinpoche, decorated the main shrine room with thangkas, and set up a small shrine and the throne for His Holiness. Another room was prepared for the tea and rice ceremony. A throne and table were prepared for His Holiness. Puja tables across the room were set with decorative plates and cups. Servings included kapsey (Tibetan cookies made by Bardor Rinpiche's wife, Sonam Chotso, and a group of volunteers), dry fruit, and candy.
On the day before the event, a group of staff and volunteers gathered to make final preparations and touches: set up the cushions and chairs, designate reserved seating areas, go over the security, parking, and check-in procedures, review the instructions for ushers, location of the registration table, the refreshments area, the brochure table, etc.
We were ready. And we were to meet on site at 6 AM the following morning to open the grounds at 6:30 AM before the event that had been scheduled to start at 9 AM.
July 2, Sneak Peek at KPL Construction
Solar panels at the new KPL building
Thanks to the solar panel system, our electric bill for the the last two billing periods was $32.03. This amount reflects a maintenance fee; we are not being charged for electricity since the solar panels generate enough power for our needs and more.
Our solar electrical system was developed in accordance with KPL's
commitment to low environmental impact and efficient utilization of donated
Thanks to participants in our $35,000 matching fund drive and considerable
volunteer efforts, we have made considerable progress towards completing the
northern side rooms. Using donations carefully has allowed us to even
complete some work on the main shrine hall.
Radiant heating system in the shrine room of the new KPL building
The second library and the adjacent room have been painted. Soon the work in those rooms will be completed and the focus will move to the main shrine hall where the tubes for the radiant heat have already been laid. As soon as the system is insulated, the floor will be laid in the main shrine hall.
It is Bardor Tulku Rinpoche's express wish to have all of the floors in
before winter so volunteers can begin construction on shrine cabinets during
May 7, 8th Anniversary of Kunzang Palchen Ling, Completion of Bardor Tulku Rinpoche's Retreat, and Rinpoche's Birthday
Bardor Tulku Rinpoche cutting the cake
It was a wonderful day, and so exciting to see Bardor Rinpoche after 1.5-month retreat!
As usual, there were more people in attendance than the shrine room could hold. Overflow crowd watched the puja and empowerment streamed to a TV downstairs. People traveled from further north in NY, from NJ, MI, FL, NC, MA, OH, Montreal and Ontario (sorry if we have omitted anyone!).
Bardor Tulku Rinpoche looked great and he is ready to get back to work. He's going to be involved in the construction hands-on from now on, he has declared.
Bardor Tulku Rinpoche offering a Hayagriva empowerment
We did body, speech, and mind offering before the empowerment. Rinpoche offered various blessing substances that had been consecrated during his retreat. He also offered protection cords blessed at the last Kagyu Monlam that he had requested from His Holiness the Karmapa. The cords arrived right on Saturday morning before the day's festivities began. It felt really good to be there together at the feet of our teacher.
We missed all of you who could not come in person but we hope to see you next year at the 9th anniversary. And hopefully in the new building by then!
March, Construction Update
Our deep appreciation goes to all who have offered us support in a variety of ways in building the new center for Kunzang Palchen Ling. Thank you so much!
Over the past year, the Town of Red Hook has been extremely kind and generous by allowing us to host occasional special events in the two completed first floor rooms, even before obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy. However, the complicated nature of the finishing phase of construction on the first floor will make it impossible to continue holding any events in the new building while the work progresses. Therefore, all upcoming events at KPL will be held at the house at 37 Pinewood Lane until the first floor of the new building is fully completedAs a matter of both comfort and safety, we must now finish the first floor before we can host more events in the new center.
Now is the time to act! Those of you who have experienced crowded programs held in the limited space of the house at 37 Pinewood will appreciate the urgency we feel to complete the first floor in the new building.
To complete the first floor, we need to raise $870,000.
Bardor Rinpoche’s heartfelt wish is to finish the work before the end of the year. You can help! Monetary donations have an immediate impact and keep construction efforts moving forward. Both one-time and recurring donations to the KPL Construction Fund can be made on-line (securely, by PayPal), by mail (check or credit card), or by contacting Tom Schmidt at email@example.com or 845-453-2159 (cell).
Detailed Update – Turning the Corner
The good news is that the work on completing first floor is turning a corner – figuratively and literally.
One library room and an office were completed last fall. In addition, we’ve now completed the torma room, so that tormas can be made on-site in the future. The temporary restroom we had been using will soon be converted back into a janitor closet as all three first floor restrooms will be finished in the near future – men’s, women’s, and handicapped-accessible. Our next big tasks are to finish additional library and office spaces on the other side of the main shrine area, as well as the hallway connecting both sides.
In addition, there are building-wide mechanical systems, such as sprinkler, water, and alarms that must be finished before the first floor can be certified for occupancy. Now and in the immediate future, we have a great need for skilled volunteer labor with experience in painting, carpentry, sheet rocking, taping and mechanical systems installation to help us finish these areas. As we move into finishing work, volunteers for both specialized and more general tasks will also be needed. Please contact John McIlravy at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to volunteer your time and skills.
Completing the necessary work to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy for the first floor will allow us to move ahead in finally opening the building for teaching, practice, and study on a permanent basis. At this time, KPL Construction Fund donations are essential, allowing us to target resources and complete work on vital areas and systems as efficiently as possible. We are also finalizing projected costs for finishing construction on the entire building, including the basement and second floor areas. This information will be available soon, allowing those interested in supporting work in particular rooms and other areas of the building to contribute directly to their completion.
You can help!
Please consider a contribution to support finishing the first floor, obtaining the Certificate of Occupancy, and opening the new KPL center!
As stated above, monetary donations have an immediate impact and keep construction efforts moving forward. Both one-time and recurring donations to the KPL Construction Fund can be made on-line (securely, by PayPal), by mail (check or credit card), or by contacting Tom Schmidt at email@example.com or 845-453-2159 (cell).