South Hill Buddhist monastery work continues

By Krisy Gashler, The Ithaca Journal, August 26, 2010

Donations dwindle due to economic downturn

Ithaca, NY (USA) -- The economic downturn has slowed but not stopped progress on the new Tibetan Buddhist Namgyal Monastery on South Hill.

<< Architect Lane Chambliss, left, and Scott Smith of general contractor Latipak Builders of Ithaca check the plans Thursday for Du Khor Choe Ling, the new building for the Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies that is under construction on South Hill in the Town of Ithaca. Construction is proceeding slowly as funds are available. (SIMON WHEELER / Staff Photo)

Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies was established in Ithaca in 1992 as a branch of the Dalai Lama's main monastery in Dharamsala, India. Ithaca hosts the Dalai Lama's only personal monastery in North America.

The monastery is currently housed at 412 North Aurora St., but in 2004, with support from a private donor, the organization bought a 28-acre lot off Danby Road on South Hill and began work on an expanded facility, according to Namgyal Monastery's website and Sue Crowley, president of the monastery's Board of Directors.

"This facility is not only an expansion for the programs we offer already that are related to Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism, but His Holiness has specifically charged us with working for it to be a space for interfaith dialogue in the world today, which badly needs it, and also a space for dialogue not only among people of different faiths, but also between science and religion. Those are two issues that are high on our agenda for this new facility and I think they're both very important," Crowley said.

Complete project plans call for a 13,000-square-foot complex with five buildings around a central courtyard. The buildings will include housing for monks, students, and a private residence for the Dalai Lama, as well as a 120-seat Shrine Room, a dining room, library, classrooms, offices and conference rooms.

The Dalai Lama himself has named the new monastery "Dü Khor Choe Ling, The Land of Kalachakra Study and Practice."

Kalachakra means "Wheel of Time" and is a teaching relating to the external world, the human body, and Buddhist initiations and paths, according to the Dalai Lama's web site.

Project Architect Lane Chambliss said the original hope was to have the project on South Hill complete by next year, but "with the economy (down), donations have been coming in, but smaller and slower than we had hoped."

Two of the five buildings in the main complex -- the Shrine hall and the commons building -- have been constructed and enclosed, but none of the interior work has been completed, he said.

What we're continuing with right now is all the mechanical and electrical work which needs to be buried in the interior construction before we can start thinking about interior finishes," Chambliss said. "We're just going as far as we can with available funds."

Roughly $140,000 is available to continue work, but the total cost to complete both buildings will be more than $600,000, he said.

An early estimate on the cost for the full project was $2.57 million, but Chambliss said the estimate has not been updated recently.

"We haven't revisited the estimate because it seems like those are far enough out, and in these troubled times, it's hard to project that far out what things will actually cost three or four years from now," he said.

Crowley said that with the downturn in the economy, "donations are just drastically down."

"We are experiencing a real shortfall in maintaining the services we have now, housing, insurance and things for the monks," she said. "And of course we've been putting all our energy now for quite some time into fundraising for the new monastery. To some extent that's taken resources from the current facility so we're strapped at this point to continue services where we are while also trying to build the facility and expand services and expand our financial base."

The monastery remains hopeful, however, about being able to eventually complete the full project, Crowley said. Among the many motivators is that the Dalai Lama has promised to return to Ithaca and perform a Kalachakra initiation when the facility is finished, she said.

"This area of New York is really rife with people who are interested in many different forms of Buddhism and even different forms of meditation that may be for health or psychological reasons and we think that a larger facility would just create a lot more opportunities for study and practice and to build community," she said.

For more information and a virtual tour of the new monastery, go to:

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: