A Project Close To My Heart. I am a Sakya monk living in Vancouver. During my last trip to India in 2018 where I visited my family in Bir, I personally saw the debilitating conditions of the retreat house at the Dirru monastery. Having done several meditational retreats and understanding the benefits and importance of retreat, I really wish to help the monastery rebuild the retreat house.
Background Located in the Bir Tibetan Refugee Settlement where my home is Dirru Monastery in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, started in 1966 by the late Gyalsay Tulku Rinpoche and senior monks who arrived from Tibet. Subsequently, the Dirru monastery was formally registered as The Bir Sakya Lamas Society in 1982 with the state government. This Dirru Monastery has its roots from the original monastery, the Dirru Monastery in Nangchen in Yushu, China. Photos showing the Dirru monastery in Bir and monks daily activities
Once the monastery was constructed, young boys from the local community were sent to the monastery to be ordained as monks, and hence the number grew over time. Presently, there are around 50 monks in the monastery and over 30 young monks in the monastic school build adjacent to the monastery.
Within the monastery compound is a retreat house, built in the late 1970s, to accommodate senior and junior monks who need to undergo retreat practices at different stages of their monastic training. Due to limited resources at that time, the retreat house was built cheaply with no proper foundation and structure. As a result, the retreat house is now in very poor condition, with severe leakages from the roof even after multiple attempts to repair, and dampness pervading within the rooms.
Photos showing damages inside and outside the retreat house range from cracked roof/ceiling structure, crumbling walls to water seepage.
The monastery was advised by engineers and building contractors that in addition to the water seepage issue, the foundation of the retreat house has weakened considerably over the years. The cement ground has shifted, it is only a matter of time that the building will collapse. Not only does the retreat house post health hazards to the monks staying there, it is also dangerous for anybody to live within the building.
Given no other alternatives, the monastery has to tear down the retreat house and rebuild it from scratch. Though the monastery started the process in earnest two years ago, the project has stopped due to lack of funds. It made me really sad. I discussed with the monastery's manager how I could help them, and he requested me to help fund raise for the project for the initial plans are all in place, except for the funding.
An urgent appeal on behalf of these young monks
To properly train the next generation of Buddhist teachers and monks, we need to have proper facilities. To have a functional retreat house in order to do proper retreat is integral to this process. The future of these monks you see above depends on their ability to gain proper education and training in Buddhism, and retreat practice is a crucial element.
Please spare whatever you can give to help rebuild the retreat house, every bit helps. 100% of the money collected will be remitted to The Bir Sakya Lamas Society. With your help, I hope the reconstruction can start so that the monks can continue to perform the traditional meditational retreats.
Architectural drawings have been done. If sufficient funds can be collected, the monastery would like to build a four-storey retreat house:
Ground level—1 storage room for groceries and reception room. First level—6 retreat rooms. Second level—Kitchen cum dining room, living room, 3 retreat rooms. Third level—3 retreat rooms.
Design of the proposed new retreat house
Breakdown of Cost Average cost per retreat room $10,000 x 13 $130,000 Shrine hall $16,000 Living room $13,000 Dining room and Kitchen $24,000 Storage $12,000 Reception $12,000 General area $26,000 Furnishings, including shrine hall set up, statues, etc. $67,000 TOTAL: $300,000
I will post updates here when I receive them.
If you wish to donate directly to the monastery, please contact me and I will forward you with their banking instructions as well as their FCRA registration number for remittance.
Thank you for reading this and may the blessings of the Triple Gem be with you.