October 21, 2002

Dear People,



Most of us have traveled and lived in several places during our lives. Some of us have always wondered where is HOME?

A number of years ago Thrangu Rinpoche requested that we look for land on where a retreat center could be built. On summer vacations the Johnson family explored Northern New Mexico and several locations in Colorado and Arizona. We discovered beautiful landscapes, learned about different locations connected to the Native Americans. Our teenage children were always grateful for "signs of civilization, i.e. entertainment" on these trips.

Rinpoche in his infinite patience never showed signs of disappointment or judgment at our failure to come up with a location.

Gently he would suggest Crestone, Colorado. This place was were we had done several retreats and had visited many times but a retreat center? We even inquired from the Manitou Foundation. Our search intensified a couple of years ago but it took us further out from our original target.

In our discussions with Rinpoche he again suggested Crestone. Well, we finally heard CRESTONE and began trying harder to make the necessary connections. Through friends and actually meeting Hanne Strong we arranged for Rinpoche to visit Crestone in the summer of 2001.

Rinpoche's schedule was full and rigorous but three days in-between his teaching tour were worked in to visit Crestone. He was picked up in Colorado Springs and through various delays the drive took us six hours and four were after the sun had set. We drove through what seemed like mostly uninhabited canyons. With the monks in back asleep we tried hard to not get lost in this unfamiliar territory.

Rinpoche would ask an occasional question but mostly it was the night silence filled with the sound of Rinpoche's mantras. This must be what the sound of Dharmata is like. The experience was unlike any I had ever had. There was nothing but complete pure space in that vast darkness.

We arrived in Crestone at 11PM and a hand full of devoted students greeted us. We left Rinpoche at the project house to relax and get some much needed rest.

The next day we went for an early morning walk with Rinpoche. The sun was raising and the colors on the mountains were spectacular. We were HOME! There in front of us was the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and in back of us the plains. The sacredness that those previous times escaped us was made visible by Rinpoche's presence and blessing. We were home, the veils were lifted, and we could see for the first time why we had been guided to this place. Being home was no longer a question because we felt the pure space around us. There was no question Crestone, Colorado was to be the home of the Vajra Vidya Retreat Center.

Rinpoche's visit to Crestone continued to be magical and auspicious. His first visit to the stupa, his prayers there and the pre-vision of the actual location for the retreat center left no doubt that this retreat center was going to be rooted in this soil.

< Rinpoche's land on far right just below Shumai center



The consecration of the land on July 25, 2002 occurred during Rinpoche's first retreat program in Crestone. After the opening ceremonies both Thrangu Rinpoche and Khenpo Kartar Rinpoche were looking into the sky (they were under a canopy) and smiling and talking to each other. Shortly after everyone's attention focused on the rainbow in the cloudless sky without rain. This magic rainbow formed a half moon around the sun. The canopy obviously did not obstruct Thrangu Rinpoche or Khenpo Karthar's vision and perhaps they saw more than just the rainbow.

In his talk Thrangu Rinpoche mentioned that these auspicious meteoric signs were the approval of the Three Jewels for this retreat center. He used the metaphor of using a cloth to support something precious. If we all hold up our end then we will be able to support that that we don't want to lose. Historically we know that if something is to last it is because of its unbroken connection to truth and wisdom. That connection is so obvious in the Practice Lineage and its unsurpassed masters.


The five member Vajra Vidya Retreat Board has chosen Michael Bertin to be the architect for the project. He has made a preliminary design, which is shown below and will appear in much better detail on the website. The Vajra Vidya Retreat Board began working on the many details of how the center will be built.

At present the following is planned: The completed retreat center will have two wings of 10 retreat rooms each. These wings will also have quarters for a Khenpo on one side and nuns on the other. The nuns will have completed three-year retreat and will be giving the retreatants practice instructions. In the floor below these wings will be a kitchen, dining room, bathrooms, laundry, office, and conference room. Below the central shrine room will be the Library of Ancient Wisdom. Retreatants will be doing practices of varying lengths and types in their own rooms and will come together for morning and evening prayers and meals. Since most of the retreatants will be lay practitioners there will not be the rigid separation of sexes. Contact with families in emergencies will be possible through an office for this purpose.

To date we have raised over $141,000 combined in actual donations and in pledges and our goal is to raise another $250,000 so that we can start building in April of 2003. If this goal is reached the North wing consisting of 10 individual retreat rooms and all the support facilities will be built to have a retreat center functioning by the end of 2003. If our fund raising surpasses our expectations the center's meditation hall will be added to this first stage.

To date we have raised over $141,000 in actual donations and in pledges. We have people making monthly donations and several people who have made substantial matching pledges. As stated in the fund raising brochure, if 1000 people or dharma centers would donate $1000 then we would be able to build the whole retreat center that would accommodate 20 retreatants.


We would like to hear from people who are interested in showing the ten-minute video, passing out fundraising brochures and talking about the retreat center to their dharma friends, dharma centers, or to foundations. We would like to gather the names of people who want to support and help in seeing this extraordinary environment manifest. We also want the names of anyone who has experience and interest in coming here when the building begins to become part of the building crew and support staff.

We have already set up the infrastructure for Vajra Vidya Retreat Center building. We have a board, legal council, and a CFO that is under the auspicious of Thrangu Rinpoche's Non-Profit Namo Buddha Seminar. We have a gifted architect that is inspired by the project. A great deal of attention is being given to the whole process so that the retreat center is environmentally sound and as self-sustaining as possible. The materials, the methods, and the process itself will attempt to harmoniously develop a center, which will be as self-sustaining as possible and which will fit into the area ecologically and will help produce a whole generation of advanced meditators.

A second goal of the Vajra Vidya Retreat Center is to collect the ancient spiritual teachings and make them widely available. Collecting and purchasing these manuscripts in the traditional way is very expensive. Thus housing them in Crestone in digitized form will make the Library of Ancient Wisdom accessible to the world through the use of the Internet. This is being done in only a few places so it adds the extraordinary dimension of ancient teachings being available to the world. There will be a need for people with knowledge and experience in modern computer technology.

Any donation, however, small will be important as well as any physical help. This process is about the gathering of the support necessary to accomplish our intention to achieve the aspirations of our lineage teachers. It is hearing their words from far and near. It is our connection to the wisdom of their minds.

Please contact Clark or Pat Johnson through a call, e-mail, or letter and let them know how you can help. Consider being part of this process and help in the manifestation of The Vajra Vidya Retreat Center in Crestone, Colorado. We will send another email when the website is completed.

Many Blessings in the Dharma, Vajra Vidya Retreat Center
Clark or Pat Johnson
PO Box 1083
Crestone, CO Phone:
(719) 256-5237

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