Since assuming responsibility in September 2015, the current Board of Directors has been immersed in researching viable options for rendering Milarepa Center self-sustaining. This exercise has focused on exploring in detail the long term viability of developing self-contained year-round retreat cabins on the Milarepa property.
The hard fact is that, with today's limited facilities, Milarepa Center cannot continue to operate as in the past and be self-sustaining without a resident teacher on site, constant substantial fundraising campaigns, and significantly upgraded facilities.
Through investigation, we discovered the Center is permitted for only 16 overnight guests based on the present septic capacity. Additionally, we learned that our, "male dormitory" is not insurable. Therefore, to continue as before, it would be necessary to bring Milarepa Center into compliance, meaning serious upgrades additions, and an additional septic system. Needless to say, the projected costs are far beyond the Center's current financial ability.
The research exercise of these last few months has involved meetings and interactions with engineers, contractors, and Vermont State agencies.
Development in Vermont is a complex process. The Board has consulted with State officials regarding the multiple permits and environmental requirements, and has been working closely with a Land Engineer. The conclusion is that to bring Milarepa Center to a minimum self-sustaining level operating as in the past, would cost upwards of $200,000. We have established that further long term development of up to 20 self-contained year round retreat units is definitely possible but at a cost that from today's vantage point appears prohibitive against the Center's struggle to cover costs of even bare minimum staffing and their accommodation.
The Board of Directors recently presented their report, conclusions and possible options for going forward, to the Center's our affiliate FPMT Inc, and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, our Spiritual Director. The Board requested Lama Zopa Rinpoche's input and suggestions.
Rinpoche's advice is that the International Mahayana Institute (IMI) Sangha, specifically the IMI nuns, should consider operating Milarepa Retreat Center. This could have many advantages. One immediate such would be to eliminate the staffing overhead and related accommodations.
The viability of this exciting possibility is currently being explored by the IMI, FPMT Inc, and Milarepa Center's Board of Directors.
This could potentially be a great and unique opportunity for Milarepa Center and the IMI Sangha - particularly American based nuns, to finally have a base in the US while being able to serve the regional community.
As we have more news on Milarepa Center's next steps, we will share them with you.
Yours in Service, Milarepa Center Board of Directors
Felicity is a native Floridian and was raised Buddhist in the FPMT. Felicity graduated from Eckerd College in St Petersburg, FL in 2009 with a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Art with a focus on photography, creative writing, and sociology and a minor in leadership. She was active in the Women's Resource Center, the Coalition for Community Justice, Eckerd College Homeless Outreach, and lead several Alternative Spring Break Volunteer Trips.
Since graduating, Felicity has worked for AmeriCorps as a VISTA in the Office of Service Learning at Eckerd College, City Year Miami as a Senior Team Leader in an inner-city elementary school, and for the Constitutional Tax Collector's Office in Palm Beach County, Florida in their Communications and New Media Department.
Felicity wants to dedicate her life to the benefit of all sentient beings and particularly to her teacher, Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Felicity was very fortunate to attend the 2013 November Course at Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal and His Holiness the Dalai Lama's 2014 teachings at Sera Je Monastery in Bylakuppe, India. She is so happy to continue her Dharma education by serving Lama Zopa and the people of Vermont (and all who visit) at Milarepa Center!
Prior to venturing to Milarepa Center, Felicity was an active member and volunteer at Tubten Kunga Center in South Florida. Living in Vermont is a huge change for this Floridian, but Felicity is loving the new environment and looking forward to new friends and new hobbies.
Kiira first discovered Buddhism & the Four Noble Truths in a book called Dharma Rain - it was love at first read. She studied abroad in Tibet and Beijing in the summer of 2004. There she visited the sacred sites of Tibet, including many temples and monasteries, as well as the base camp of Mount Everest. At the University of Vermont, she was an art student of former Board Member and President, Shelley Hagan. During a semester in north India in 2006, she also gained experience living in a Sufi community in New Delhi, where she was practicing Urdu calligraphy. In 2008 while living in Boston, she had the good fortune to meet the late Geshe Tsulga at Kurukulla Center. Since 2012, she has been doing graphic design and writing for Twelve Gates Arts, a Philadelphia 501 (c)(3) showcasing art from diasporic communities. Kiira is an aspiring thangka artist and an Ashtanga yogi.
Peter graduated in mechanical engineering from Leeds University in England and began a career as a design engineer with Rolls Royce Aero Engines. Having travelled overland from London to Kathmandu in 1971, Peter attended the second Kopan Course, travelled as assistant to Lama Yeshe from 1976 to 1980, was a Founding Director of FPMT, a Founding Trustee of Manjushri Institute in UK, a Founder of the Mahayana Buddhist Association in Hong Kong, the Founder of the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive, and was instrumental in the acquisition of Land of Medicine Buddha in California. Between May 1997 and October 2012, Peter was Director of the Maitreya Project overseeing the legal, financial, architectural and engineering development of the Project; and devising and initiating the Maitreya Project Relic Tour.
Jacie served as private secretary to Lama Thuben Yeshe and Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche. During this time, Jacie had the opportunity to work directly with His Holiness the Dalai Lama including organizing a European teaching for His Holiness in 1982. In 1986 she returned to Boca Raton. Shortly thereafter, Jacie began teaching meditation, ultimately leading to the establishment of Tubten Kunga Center, an FPMT Center in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Jacie Keeley teaches meditation at Tubten Kunga Center and Namdrol-Ling Study Group. In September 2015, Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave the observation that Jacie would be a beneficial Board Member for Milarepa Center. Jacie Keeley joined the Milarepa Center Board June 29, 2016.
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