A Home on the Land
Since the early days of Vipassana Hawaiʻi, when we would gather for sittings in friends’ homes in Honolulu, our teachers have dreamed of a home for our work in the islands: a place that can offer sanctuary for yogis seeking solitude and support, where we can build a deepening relationship to the ʻaina (land) through conservation, cultural stewardship and agriculture, and where our connection to the human community around us is explored with vibrant engagement.
In Halelua, a remote sliver of North Kohala on Hawaiʻi Island blessed by trade winds and abundant rain, Vipassana Hawaiʻi owns 30 acres of rich lands that 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.
The land of Halelua offers all who visit a buoyancy of heart that balances the groundedness of the earth with the soaring sky and vibrant energy of the ocean. It is a confluence of many forces that we seek to contribute to in order to help create a place that is welcoming and warm but where the quiet of isolation and solitude are possible: A space that is relaxed and gentle and open but firm in its commitment to the Buddha’s liberation.
We want to create a place of refuge, of sanctuary, and solace where a spirit of generosity and beauty provides the conditions are supportive of safety and intensive quietude and reflection.
After many years of listening, tending, and sharing the land, we have nestled into a vision that is manageable in its scope, powerful in its potency, and already underway – and we would love for you to be a part of it!
Our inspirational horizons are broad. The Shwedagon Pagoda in the heart of Burma is a place where yogis, monks, nuns, families, wanderers, tourists a like can find their needs met. People come for meditation and prayer, for ritual and for offering, for reading the newspaper and talking about politics, for a picnic, for young aspiring lovers to take a stroll together in a safe and respectable way. It is a space and place that can hold much of life in the container of quietude, of spiritual integrity, of Dhamma—and this seems like an appropriate inspiration for our land.
And there are many other places—from the Philosopher’s Trail in Kyoto to the Foster Gardens in Honolulu—we have known and benefit from many protected places that honor the relationship of place to the commitment to inner work and community.
We want to be able to provide space for group and individual vipassana and brahma vihara practice, long-term and short-term. We want to provide food and nourishment of the body, places to gather, places to disperse, nooks and crannies where someone can practice waling meditation, bring a picnic, rest or set-up “for a days abiding.”
We want our fundraising strategy to mirror the Shwedagon’s, or any number of monasteries or meditation centers we know. People can donate to a particular bridge, a particular stupa or platform within the pagoda: a specific trail, a specific tree, a specific Buddha statue. This allows for small contributions to be meaningful and invites people to support in inspired and significant ways.
Here are some of the highlights of our vision:
We plan to cultivate Camellia Sinensis plants to produce organic small-batch drinking tea that we will sell locally and to Dharma centers across the country to help support our temple.
To begin this endeavor we need to raise $100,000 for:
~ land preparation
~ tea seeds
~ plant nursery
~ processing area
~ mulch / fertilizer
Nearly 15 acres of our land is in the magical womb of Halelua gulch—containing a peaceful stream of clear cool water and wonderful wild formations of rock and forest. Slowly, we have begun taking down invasive trees and plants and planting a wide and wild variety of fruit and food trees as well as native and Polynesian-introduced “canoe plants” that can be harvested for traditional materials. Beyond the needs of our center, we plan to eventually open a “Pick-Your-Own” CSA and farm-stand to help support the ongoing expenses of the center.
Within this edible forest we are also creating the Renunciate’s Path: a series of contemplative spaces—quiet and private areas for meditation, prayer, private reflection—as well as pleasant abiding of all kinds, connected by a gentle foot-path that also leads to our ocean access and through the entirety of Halelua gulch.
To continue this beautiful project we need $50,000 for:
~ fruit trees of all kinds
~ path and trail building
~ contemplative site leveling and cave-building
~ meditation platforms
~ cutting invasive forest
~ maintaining vine and weed-free space
Our primary area for walking meditation will be the palm grove: an area of several acres where a wide variety of palm trees will provide gentle companionship to yogis while overlooking the ocean and Dhamma hall.
For this project we will need $20,000 for
~ irrigation system
At the northeast corner of our land we have begun a bamboo grove to help provide privacy, wind-protection, working material, and walking meditation space for our guests.
We need $10,000 for:
~ more bamboo
~ weed control
Last year we received a $20,000 donation to build our first well. We have dug the well but now need to raise funds for a solar electrical system to run our pumps – something the whole project is dependent upon.
Currently we need to raise $70,000 for:
~ Solar panels for pump
~ Well house
~ Irrigation for meditation area and tea garden
~ meter, permits, and infrastructure for county water backup.
Our open space requires a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money to keep it clear and accessible. New road must be cut to connect the various parts of our land for fluid use and management. Mowing currently costs us $1000 month and we need $10,000 and continued support for:
~ a new road
~ parking area
~ entrance markers
Care-taking land to accommodate human use requires countless hours of mowing, dozing, fence-building, and fence-mending and we are in regular need of support just to maintain the integrity of the grounds!
~ PHASE 2 ~
“And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu abide contemplating the body as a body?
Here a bhikkhu, gone to the forest or to the root of a tree or to an empty hut, sits down.
Having folded his legs crosswise, set his body erect, and established mindfulness in front of him, ever mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out.”
~ Satipatthana Sutta
This central building will be the nucleus of our entire project—but because of the cost we consider the needs of site development are our priority right now and so are not including this in our current fundraising plan.
BUT if you are interested in helping us design or build our meditation center or have a meaningful lead, please get in touch with us by EMAIL. We would love to start planning for this aspect of our future!
We aspire to have space for long-term practice for dedicated yogis under our instruction made of cobb, of some other eco-friendly construction material.
Plans for this facility are not part of our current fundraising plan BUT if you are interested in helping us design or build our hermitage, please get in touch with us by EMAIL. We would love to start planning for this aspect of our future!
Our long-time dream has been to sell our oceanfront lot to the county for use as a public park, in conjunction with a broader land purchase long the Kohala coast. Until this dream comes to pass, we are the caretakers of an amazing ancient loʻi (taro terrace system) that would love to be brought back to life. With the right partners we aspire to make this powerful area a place of learning, cultural development, and agriculture for our community – especially our local youth!
This piece of land is nearly a mile of powerful Kohala coastline between Halelua and Halawa gulches. As long as it is in our care we hope to be stewards of its beauty and integrity as best we can. As a resources for local fisherman, habitat for nesting seabirds threatened by climate change, and with unique possibilities for the propagation of endangered native plant life, we hope to partner with any number of groups and agencies who are allied with our vision. So far we have completed a long process of creating a public access easement along the entire coastline so that its majesty and beauty can be appreciated by all in the community.
This step feels like the fruition of many years of work and relationships with people we have known for ages and many new friends excited about our work. We are thrilled to begin this next stage of the journey with you and to open the land of Halelua to the greater community! Thank you for joining us in bringing this vision to life!