The Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center, the first dedicated center in the United States to combine Buddhism, nature, and ecological responsibility, has closed on a property in Colorado and is set to host a 10-day wilderness retreat in August.
The center, located about a 30-minute drive from Boulder, was recently purchased for $375,000. The 180-acre grounds are on environmentally protected land and include a guest lodge that can sleep up to 30 people.
“My sense of ecodharma is the intersection of what Buddhism traditionally offers and the kind of ecological situation we’re in today, which [includes but is not limited to] climate change,” said David Loy, a Buddhist teacher and co-director and vice-president of the organization.
Loy and co-director and president Johann Robbins are running a 10-day ecodharma retreat in August. The spirit of the first retreat, hosted by Robbins’ Impermanent Sangha, an Insight group that has had meditation retreats in nature since 2002, will give Buddhist practitioners and environmental activists the opportunity to experience the wilderness together, learn from each other, and find out what the Buddha’s teachings can offer in response to our current “ecocrisis.”
Part of the mission of Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center, which is a 501c3 tax-exempt charity, is to offer low-cost accommodations to participants who might not otherwise be able to afford a retreat. A stay at the center for a 10-day retreat is $650 (not including dana, or donations to the teacher), and a grant from the World Wildlife Fund allows the organization to offer full need-based scholarships for the August retreat. By comparison, retreats at Buddhist temples can be free of cost, or run up to nearly $2,000 for retreats of similar lengths.
Robbins said the center is planning to host a few other trial retreats this summer, and the organization will continue to fundraise to pay off a loan borrowed to purchase the property. The organization is also working to remodel the lodge, which was built in 1939, to make it more energy efficient. The rustic retreat center is expecting to be available to spiritually based groups for rental by spring 2018.