His Holiness Consecrates Forest Hermitage Land |
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His Holiness Consecrates Forest Hermitage Land

On the clear morning of February 2, 2024, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche came to consecrate the Drikung Kunzang Naktsel Gompa (DKNG) in Green Mountain, North Carolina, U.S.A. This project, under the leadership of Urban Dharma’s Spiritual Director Dorje Lopön Dr. Hun Lye, started in 2022 with the purchase of 89 acres of land in Mitchell County, Western North Carolina.

Dr. Lye’s vision for DKNG is to create a forest hermitage for monks and nuns in the Drikung Kagyu tradition who choose to live and practice in simplicity and tranquility, and for lay persons who want to experience this life of spiritual cultivation on a shorter-term basis.

About a hundred monastic and lay attendees from various parts of the United States, Mexico, and Guatemala were present for the consecration. His Holiness was welcomed with showers of flower petals.

His Holiness performed traditional rituals of bodhicitta, love, and compassion for the human and nonhuman beings at the site and all beings everywhere, and cleansed and blessed the land and its beings by offering aromatic smoke. 

His Holiness buried a treasure vase for abundance and auspiciousness and to repair any integrity of the land lost due to the construction. He also planted a Fraser fir (Abies fraseri), a special evergreen tree that is native and endemic to the local Southern Appalachian mountain region and is currently considered endangered due to its very limited range exacerbated by increasing pest and pollution pressures. This beautiful tree will stand at the corner of the DKNG’s first Dharma Hall. 

Members of Urban Dharma gave a land acknowledgment:

“We’d like to take a moment to honor the stewards of this land from time immemorial up to the present moment. We acknowledge them, both recognized and unrecognized, those with historical record and those without. 

Foremost, there are the pre-colonial stewards who took care of this land for thousands of years. As far back as human record goes, this area is known to have been inhabited by the Eastern Band of Cherokee, the Yuchi (YOU-CHEE) peoples and other migrating Native American communities. We recognize the deep connection these communities have with this land, its ecosystems, and the spiritual significance it holds for them. 

In recent history, the Griffith family is one of the recorded stewards of this land. There are in fact several Griffith family land owners buried in the graveyard here. 

As we are the next group of humans to steward once more, we aspire to work towards the well-being of all sentient beings, the preservation of this environment, and the beings who cohabitate with us.”

With the foundation dug for the first dharma hall, Dr. Lye was able to show His Holiness the intent for this first building. This initial hall will be a simple metal building, which was fundraised in a grass-roots way from various communities connected to Dr. Lye, including Sanghas in Mexico, Guatemala, Malaysia, Little Rock Arkansas, our community at Urban Dharma, as well as former students of Dr. Lye from Warren Wilson and Davidson College. In addition to that fundraising, Drikung Kagyu Foundation and Urban Dharma also gave some initial funding.

The raising of this building is only the first step—after that, the project will again count on volunteers and donors to give time and resources to outfit the inside of the first Dharma Hall. His Holiness rejoiced in the idea of having a more substantial, traditionally built “Dharma Hall 2.0,” and even suggested to Dr. Lye that there might be a third building in the future.

His Holiness led a hike of the entire loop trail that volunteers had laid the previous year and gave guidance for the continuing development of this project, pointing out which areas would be best for long-term retreat, and which sites to consider for the Dharma Hall 2.0.

The Drikung Kagyu Foundation, U.S.A., and Urban Dharma North Carolina, partners in establishing the DKNG, are fortunate and blessed that His Holiness came to consecrate this project, and grateful to all supporters and well-wishers.

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In addition to the support needed to finish Dharma Hall 1.0 after its initial structure is set, in the coming months volunteers will begin the work of constructing tent platforms and cabins to be used for short-term retreats on the property. If you would like to support, donate, or simply stay in the loop with what’s happening with the Drikung Forest Hermitage, please enter your email here: