The seed that became the Hermitage Meditation Centre on Denman Island was planted in October of the year 2003, when Lama Rodney Purcell Devenish (aka Ven. Karma Kunzang Palden Rinpoche) and his wife, Lisa Mirski Devenish, moved to Denman Island, BC, on the western coast of Canada. As members of the Dharma Fellowship of His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa they had long dreamed of a meditation retreat centre for that organization that would be open to all, inspired by a deeply compassionate Buddhist heart, and founded on sound ecological and environmentalist principles.
On Denman Island they discovered a perfect spot: the 60-acre organic “Greenpeace Farm” (the long-time residence of Greenpeace founders Jim and Marie Bohlen) was for sale. With the dedicated help and support of many people, (of whom one in particular, the Venerable Buddhist monk Karma Tinley Govinda, needs special mention), funds were raised, and the property was purchased. Serving as Board President for the Hermitage’s crucial early years, long-time Denman resident Anne de Cossan led our fledgling sangha through the intricacies of rezoning the property with the Islands Trust and gaining charitable status. Since then, the hard work of generous volunteers and the financial support of many devoted followers has kept the Hermitage dream alive. We honor these many supporters on the Acknowledgments page of this website.
The Hermitage was consecrated and given the Tibetan name ‘Kunzang Samten Yangtse’ by the Venerable Bardok Chusang Rinpoche. "Kunzang Samten Yangtse" roughly translates to mean "The All-Good Pinnacle of Meditation," a reference to the central purpose of the Hermitage as an experience-based meditation practice center.
The Hermitage was envisioned as a small, intimate environment, and with only the occasional exception, retreat attendance numbers are kept small. Following the style of traditional “forest monasteries” in the East, accommodations consist of single-person retreat huts called Kutis, built in private spots among the trees. A number of kutis have been adapted with heat and electricity for the Canadian climate. Our guests are encouraged to take a meditation cushion and practice in nature, choosing a private outdoor spot that suits them. Meditators have described fawns approaching them in the fields, to nest a few feet away, unafraid.
For its first eight years the Hermitage operated entirely on a donation basis, but in 2014 it became necessary for the Centre to start, most reluctantly, to charge nominal fees for food and accommodation. See our comment concerning Dana. Expenses, including property maintenance during the winter months, repairs to infrastructure, year-round mortgage payments, and the cost of food and minimal staff for the retreat season are substantial. Donations, while most generous, have simply not been enough to cover our annual expenses, as too the many unexpected contingencies that inevitably occur. It is our great hope that with the security of a solid membership and regular donations, the Hermitage can one day return to our original by-donation-only model.
The Dharma Fellowship of HH Gyalwa Karmapa is a Public Charity. For donations within Canada: Registered Charity #861746584-RT-0001. For donations within the USA : Registered 501(c) #94-3368717