In 2001, KCC set out on a remarkable journey. Our meditation center in Portland was relatively small, with just a hundred members and one full-time employee. Yet a sizeable number of our sangha found that with the deepening of their practice, they wanted to embark on a long retreat. In our lineage, multi-year retreats are common; practitioners have been doing them in monasteries and remote caves for over a thousand years in Tibet.
Unfortunately, facilities for such retreats are extremely rare in the West. KCC was at a crossroads—we either had to find a cost-effective one-time solution for those practitioners, or build facilities ourselves that could house retreatants for decades to come. Inspired by the encouragement of Venerable Bokar Rinpoche, one of the Kagyu lineage’s most famous retreat masters, we decided on the almost unreasonable goal of building long retreat facilities.
Fast-forward to today. Our “unreasonable” plan is nearing completion. Thanks to an initial donation of nearly $500,000, we purchased a 240-acre parcel north of Goldendale, Washington, two hours from Portland up the Columbia River Gorge. Named Ser Chö Ösel Ling—“Land of the Clear Light Golden Dharma”—it is forested in pine and oak, interspersed with natural meadows and dramatic basalt outcroppings. Three streams on the land help support a variety of species of native plants and animals. On clear days, Oregon’s Mount Hood is visible in the distance.
Since construction began, we have built extensive infrastructure and very nearly completed a multi-use long-retreat cloister. The facilities are currently supporting Ser Chö Ösel Ling’s first One Year Retreat. To date we have raised over $2.7 million from 550 people, and hundreds of volunteers have contributed thousands of hours of labor.
We invite you to explore the website’s Retreat section to learn more about the project, along with the pages here:
- The practice and importance of long retreat
- Our financial management of the project
- The stories of donors who have felt inspired to support the project
- Photos, videos, and media
“Thus, I strongly encourage all of you to work together in creating ideal retreat facilities where short- and long-term retreats can take place. Please consider all the ways each and every one of you can support these noble causes.” - Bokar Rinpoche