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North Kohala Land

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In Hālawa in remote North Kohala, a peninsula on Hawai‘i Island blessed by trade winds and abundant rain, 254 acres of coastal lands hold the timeless wisdom of centuries past, the unlimited breath of the present shaping the future, quiet, serene, kind and wild at once. Here, a rocky stream bed opens to a narrow bay, home to monk seals, crashing waves and ancient sites. Rolling pastures, salty winds, and shoreline cliffs bear witness to the vastness of the Pacific and the spaciousness of nature. Seabirds soar and dragonflies glide.

IMG_4114In 1999, Vipassana Hawai‘i’s founding teachers, Michele McDonald and Steven Smith, began acquisition of these lands with the clear intention to preserve them for future generations while creating a small hermitage for practice. At Vipassana Hawai‘i, we trust that a safe home for practice amid nature is one of the most mindful ways to contribute at this time on this earth. So we envisioned a secluded monastic center harmonious in its environment, a perfect setting for the teachings of the Buddha, who, himself, taught outdoors, practiced outdoors, and encouraged his monks to practice outdoors.

Much had to fall in place for this to become a reality.  Permission to build the hermitage within a 15-acre secluded area was obtained early on. It was named Hawai‘i Insight Meditation Center, or HIMC. The vision remained strong throughout the years as Vipassana Hawai‘i next explored its most appropriate options to establish the center coupled to right land stewardship. It obtained Final Plan Approval to build in 2011. The 15-acre permission and plan approval were extended in 2013 and 2014 respectively.


But our financial position changed over the years and in 2014, Vipassana Hawai‘i sold much of the land to INHABIT LLC, a Durango-based organization which intends to build a retreat center in the same spirit as ours. It’s quite an enormous step and we are excited that INHABIT may be able to use our years of work to carry forth and achieve the vision we spent so much time trying to achieve. We feel good about everything that has been done by everyone involved.

We still own a good deal of land: a coastal portion we are currently trying to put into protective conservation with Hawai‘i County, and a 60 acre lot that we still hope may provide a simple home for our work here in Hawai‘i. If you have any interest in helping us explore what might be possible for us, please get in touch with us!

For all of us, may this be a time of joy and ease.