Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Green Temple/ Eco Logic article in the Ashland Newspaper

By Hannah Guzik
Ashland Daily Tidings
June 24, 2010

I went to speak with the lamas at Ashland's new Tibetan Buddhist temple on Tuesday.

I wanted to ask them why they decided to build a green temple. I'm curious about the ways that spirituality and sustainability overlap for some people.

I don't think you have to be religious or spiritual to be eco-conscious. I'm all for atheists and agnostics — and everyone else — planting gardens. We need all the help we can get.

For some people, though, caring for the environment is a way of communing with something larger than themselves. For others, spirituality gives meaning to environmental work.

I caught Lama Pema Clark just as she was stepping out of the temple to take her Australian shepherd, Dancer, on a walk through the Railroad District.

Clark is one of two resident teachers at the Kagyu Sukha Choling.

She explained the Buddhist philosophy on the environment: "From the Buddhist perspective, we believe we're interdependent with all of life, and so, from that standpoint, we should do our best to be good stewards and be in good relationship with all beings and the environment.

"We want to honor that interdependent spirit."

The 6,000-square-foot temple at 109 Clear Creek Drive uses the same amount of energy as a traditional 1,500-square-foot house, Clark said.

It's built with local and sustainably harvested wood, it has low-flow water fixtures and it uses passive heating and cooling methods.

An environmental committee has been formed to determine which cleaning and paper products should be used in the temple. And there are plans to install solar panels, a rain garden and a contemplative garden.

Beginning in early July, in addition to the classes and teachings offered, the lamas plan to allow anyone to sit in the temple once or twice a week.

Clark thinks people can sense the difference between a building that's been sustainably constructed and one that's been built using traditional methods and materials.

"I think people definitely feel the elemental connection," she said. "People say they feel peaceful and happy when they walk in — constantly that's what they're saying."

Clark said more than 1,200 people came to the temple's open house on Saturday. That's a lot of peaceful and happy people.

James Olson, "the stone guy," was one of them. Olson, who operates Stoneworks by James, was arranging giant slabs of Rocky Mountain quartzite and Oregon's Iron Mountain shale on the temple's porch when I visited Tuesday.

The Native American Buddhist spoke about the environment using the language of his trade.

"I believe in respecting the environment and taking care of what's around us, so we don't go and destroy this rock we live on," he said. "Because then what will we do?"

Olson's ancestors, from the Shasta tribe, have lived in the Rogue Valley for more than 6,000 years, he said.

Sustainable building is about taking future generations into account, Clark said.

"We wanted to sustainably build for centuries, instead of decades," she said.

I hope by then we'll still be around. And I hope we'll be off oil, instead of covered in it — but that's a topic for another column.

Clark invited me to the temple's silent meditation, from 6 to 7 p.m. today. And I might just go. In the silence, I'll be listening to nature.

For more information on the center, call 541-552-1769 or visit

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-482-3456 ext. 226 or For past columns see

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

There was an Open House on June 19

Friday night there was a dinner for
250 Sangha donors and volunteers
and on Saturday about 1200 people
showed up to tour the center

Every few hours Lamas Pema and Yeshe
explained about the center to audiences.

Kathleen Meagher,
a ceaseless volunteer for KSC,
attended with her visiting family members.

Adrienne Fansler was one of many Sangha members who led tours.

Lama Yeshe visits with a guest.

Lama Yeshe smiles happily over flowers
donated from the local Tashi Choling Buddhist Center.

The Local Papers featured a Story about the new Temple.

Buddhist temple opens

The $1.5 million Kagyu Sukha Choling will host a welcome for the community Saturday

Handles on door of Kagyu Sukha Choling are made from cymbals. / Daily TidingsJim Craven

June 17, 2010

"She (Lama Pema) reminded us that this temple doesn't belong to KSC or to the religion but that it's for the community," she said. "Anyone can come. The purpose of this building is to support any person wanting to develop more peace of mind and warmth of heart. People who come here have affiliations with many faiths, and they all benefit from calming down, opening up and letting go."

The entire article follows from the Ashland Daily Tidings:

Decked out in a colorful array of spiritual artifacts, silk wall hangings and golden Buddhas, Ashland's Kagyu Sukha Choling has opened its doors for meditation and classes — and will hold a public grand opening on Saturday.

The $1.5 million temple was the dream of two Tibetan Buddhist lamas, Yeshe Parke and Pema Clark, who arrived in Ashland 10 years ago and began building a spiritual community filled with dedicated donors and volunteers eager to do much of the construction work.

Teachings began June 6 under the guidance of KSC's spiritual director, Lama Lodru Rinpoche of San Francisco.
If you go

What: Open house at the new Kagya Sukha Choling

When: 10 a.m. Saturday, June 19. Docent tours will begin at 10 a.m., noon and 1 and 2 p.m. The lamas and board of directors will be on hand

Where: 109 Clear Creek Drive, southeast of the intersection of Hersey and Oak streets, Ashland

For more information:

"Everyone was smiling and had tears of joy," Clark said. "I tried to introduce him, but I was so happy, I couldn't speak."

Entering the second-floor sanctuary the viewer takes in red accented altars, teaching thrones, candles, statues and painted silk wall hangings portraying the faith's divine beings, including Green Tara, White Tara and the Future Buddha, who regularly incarnates on earth, Clark said.

"So many people come just to look, and they say it makes them happy just to look at it," she said.

When he consecrated the new temple, Rinpoche said it was the first new Tibetan Buddhist temple built in an urban setting on this continent (most are retreats far from cities), and that "it was amazing it's in a small town like Ashland," Clark recalled.

"He reminded us that this temple doesn't belong to KSC or to the religion but that it's for the community," she said. "Anyone can come. The purpose of this building is to support any person wanting to develop more peace of mind and warmth of heart. People who come here have affiliations with many faiths, and they all benefit from calming down, opening up and letting go."

Rinpoche also said the Dalai Lama at some point would visit the temple.

Classes are Monday and Tuesday evenings, with meditation Wednesday and Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings. The schedule is at and includes special events such as "inner yoga" and a series exploring the meaning of ceremonial objects in the shrine room.

The room, also called the sanctuary, is unabashedly decked out in bright reds, golds and other beautiful colors, Clark noted, because "everything is sacred, so all this color expresses the purity and exceptional beauty of genuine reality — and if you're inspired and uplifted by it, that's very good."

Taking in the three-story, 6,000-square-foot temple, Parke said, "If I'm honest, it's a miracle. Hundreds of people contributed time, energy and skill. I'm overcome. I'm in tears twice a day."

Despite the current recession, contractor John Fields advised the temple be built if money and donated labor could be found, because prices would be more affordable. Just more than $1 million was raised from 500 people, with $600,000 in private loans and fundraising in an ongoing process, Clark said.

"But we're over the hump, now that we've created the building ... and a community has grown out of it," Fields said. "It's energy-efficient and sustainable. It uses less land and transportation than rural temples. It's adapted to the heart of the community and is totally accessible. You can walk to it. It's a 21st century building."

The building's consulting architect, Joyce Ward of Ashland, said the local Buddhist sangha (congregation) "came in early on and said they wanted it all non-toxic, sustainable and honoring of the earth. It was a great expression of how building needs to be now. I was amazed at the army of volunteers and how it's all gone so easily, without the power struggles you might expect ... all setbacks were met with optimism and equanimity. It's a wonderful expression of grounding, plenty and permanence in an impermanent world."

Much of the high-level craftsmanship was donated or given at cost, Clark said, naming many artisans who created the stunning double entry doors, the stained cement floor, the rock walkways, the chic kitchen and other features.

The purpose of the complex, she stresses, is the spiritual journey, which means "an awakening, an inherent quality of our heart and mind, which we describe as being very open with a quality of goodness. Every human being has this essence, which is uncovered and recognized through meditation and contemplation."

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


KSC has saved approximately $200,000 with donated labor and materials as well as through the work of many volunteers.
Stone mason Jim Olsen appeared just as we had decided not to have flagstone porches because we couldn't afford them. He is donating much of his labor to make these a reality. (see photo above)
The craftsman who worked on the inner shrine room doors, Dougal Haines, also donated his labor (which would have run about $10,000.)
Board member Clay Colley has been at the site every day for months, working on the building, as well as organizing and training volunteers.
Carpenter Jake Walsh, a member of the northern sangha, donated a week of his time to work on one of the entry porches.
Dozens of KSC volunteers hand-oiled and rubbed all moldings and doors, scrubbed floors, washed windows, swept, raked, baked cookies, recycled and did dump runs. People (not just Buddhists) just kept walking up to the building and asking, What can I do to help?"

Now Lama Pema says, "So many of you have given time, energy and money. Now, it's your building."

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Red Tiles Near the Top of the Building

Red symbolizes the skill full means of compassion
and the white symbolizes wisdom.

Tonglen Meditation and a Teaching Were Given for the First Time in the New Center

Lama Pema Teaching

During the break Lama Yeshe and Clay Colley
(our on site volunteer contractor)
share their joy over the progress of the building.

There is plenty of room for food preparation in the new kitchen.

The top drawers on this cupboard have tea bags in one and cups in another.

Lama Pema rings the gong for the end of the break.


At Last Lamas Pema and Yeshe have privacy for their living space. And fabulous views besides.


You can see the copper style roofing in the foreground.
Below is an unpaved path
that people are gradually lining with stones.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Lama Yeshe escorted him into the center.

Lama Pema initially choked up in trying to welcome Lama Lodru.

Lama Lodru spoke of the various lineages and stressed compassion.
Initially the room was hot, but after opening a few windows slightly
we had perfect temperatures, affirming the building design.


Nell LeFebvre with incense

Anne Herrick, Max Martini and Nance Louise were among many who lined up to greet him.

Conch Shells were blown as his car arrived.

His chair was ready.

Last Night's Magic

Members and guests arrived at the opening debut of our KSC Meditation Center through a pair of distinguished exterior doors (installed only hours before) into a large and welcoming foyer.

At the far end another pair of hand carved doors beckoned one into the Shrine Room filled with extraordinary beauty – altars, Tangkas, carpets, thrones and the fragrance of an abundance of springtime flowers.

The expansion of windows invited the evening stillness as wetland songbirds settled into their nests.

It was easy to fall into the sacredness of these amazing surroundings!

And then we heard the pair of conch shells announcing the arrival of our beloved Lama Lodru Rinpoche with Lamas Pema and Yeshe.

Their stepping through the front entrance marked the beginning of their long held dream for our Center.

It was clear each of them was deeply touched as they entered the reality of the Shrine Room totally filled with loving faces!

Lama Lodru commended our Sangha for creating a home for the future life of goodness and happiness!

He reminded us that it took many people – some sharing material support and others physical labor - to complete our shared dream!

Friday, June 4, 2010


Phyllis Norris, Board President

The doors were built by Larry Bishop of Perfwood.


The doors from inside the lobby

Lama Lodru Begins his Teachings in a Few Hours

Registration will be in the Lobby

The Meditation Room

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Cupboards for he kitchen near the meditation room are filled

Chris Wood has been training Max Martini in the technical details.

The tea and coffee area.

The Tangkas Were Hung at the End of the Ceremonial Arts class

The new meditation room is nearly 1500 square feet--
several times larger than in our former Granite Street home.

My favorite is the Green Tara. Tara, whose name means "star" or "she who ferries across," is a Bodhisattva of compassion who manifests in female form. In Tibetan, Tara is known as "Dölma" (Sgrol-ma), or "She Who Saves." In particular she represents compassion in action, since she’s in the process of stepping from her lotus throne in order to help sentient beings.