The Hermitage is intended as a safe haven (Tib: ba-yul, a spiritual sanctuary) centered on a monastic core, a spiritual place committed to peace and harmony, self-exploration, deep meditation and the practice of Dharma.
As stewards of the beautiful refuge entrusted to us, we are committed supporters of His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmaps's environmental vision. In this, we are indeed fortunate to find ourselves on Denman Island which, in 2011, officially became a Transition Island, joining the worldwide movement of communities working to reduce their carbon footprint and promote local sustainability. We seek to transform the Hermitage property into a model of "green" living—organic, off the grid, and in harmony with the natural world that surrounds us.
Denman Island is a small, rural island with gravelly beaches and magnificent mountain views across the water toward mainland Canada on one side, and the expansive wilderness of Vancouver Island, a ten-minute ferry ride away, on the other. The sixty-acre Hermitage property consists of four large, open, grassy meadows bounded by thick forest. Deer roam freely, side by side with meditators practicing in the fields, and various wild creatures, songbirds, ravens, owls, and high-flying eagles are frequently in attendance. Orcas and humpback whales can occasionally be seen from local beaches, a short walk from the Hermitage grounds.
Near the grand old barn at the front of the Hermitage property, you will find a heritage apple orchard, and a large fenced gardening area, some of it currently in use by Denman Islanders for community gardens and SPUDS. The rest is ready for development by Hermitage volunteers and resident monastics. There is enormous potential for the sustainable development of the Hermitage property and future plans include organic gardens and year-round greenhouses for the Hermitage kitchen.
Our lives in the West do not offer much support to those wishing to devote themselves to spiritual work. Over time, the Hermitage is building a small Ka'gyu Monastic community with lay support and involvement, that is working together to build a self-sustaining life at the Hermitage, and which hopes to take that vision into the future. Members help with facilitating the Centre’s seasonal retreats, while receiving the practical and spiritual support that is so important for those living a life of meditation practice.
Thanks to the generosity of Carsten Jensen, an architect specializing in environmentally responsible building techniques, we are currently in the early stages of envisioning a plan for upgrading and expanding our existing infrastructure to include wind and solar-powered quarters for our small year-round monastic community. A peek at one of the early drawings is shown below.