Dharma in the West
Since the formation of the non-profit Tibetan Nyingma Meditation Centers in 1969 Tarthang Rinpoche always had a vision of a country center as part of the mandala of organizations working to preserve and transmit the Dharma to the West.It took until 1974 to find the right property, which consists of about a thousand acres of ridges and meadows located 1,400 feet above the Pacific Ocean.
The groundbreaking and dedication ceremony took place on August 9, 1975.The land, which was overgrazed and scarred by logging in the past, has seen tremendous transformation and improvement in the last 42 years, as has the community itself. Odiyan’s population has expanded and contracted at different times and with different projects, but its spirit of open-mindedness, hard work, and serious self-inquiry has remained constant.
Odiyan has always been much more than a country center; it is the physical manifestation of the mandala. Drawn not with ink and paper but with concrete and copper, earth and water, it is a living, breathing, three-dimensional mandala of its own. Its heart is the Copper Mountain Temple, rising eighty-five feet tall on the highest point of the property. Construction was completed on the main temple in 1983, and daily life has been centered in its rim structure since the community’s beginning.
For its first residents, Odiyan was more wilderness outpost than spiritual center, and the heavy construction and hard labor required to lay the foundations created a “cowboy energy” in a crew that had been an inexperienced counter-culture crowd just a few years before. The completion of the central temple, however, began to transform Odiyan into a realm of the sacred.
Part of this transformation came about during the construction of the Enlightenment Stupa, built in an incredible three months in 1980 in the eastern part of the mandala. Vajra Temple, a monument to Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, occupies the western position in the Odiyan mandala; the first ceremony was held there on January 1, 1996. After several years of landscaping the greater mandala area, creating new gardens filled with plants from all parts of the world, major construction began again in 2000.
The resident volunteer population expanded with the new effort to construct Cintamani Temple, Odiyan’s most unusual architectural and engineering feat. Cintamani marks the final major temple constructed at Odiyan, and the beginning of an inward shift, away from heavy construction and toward community, sustainability, and spiritual practice.
In the years since Cintamani’s completion, Vairocana Garden has been built (2010), a haven of beauty with sacred spaces and ornamental gardens, as well as several monuments at key locations on the property. Resident volunteers have greatly expanded the vegetable gardens with an eye toward long-term sustainability, and engaged in many sacred art projects which support Odiyan’s sister Buddhist centers and Buddhist centers in Asia. Now in its 42nd year, Odiyan continues its original aim to strengthen Buddhist sacred cultures in Asia and to provide a home for the Dharma in the West.