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Short History of the Vajra Hall

  • Inspiration for the Vajra Hall came directly from Rinpoche. With Rinpoche’s strong encouragement, in 1989 Tsegyalgar East purchased 220 acres on Mary Lyon Mountain in Buckland, Massachusetts. The following summer Rinpoche returned for a personal retreat on this land that he felt was quite special, a power spot.

    Mary Lyon Mountain

  • Rinpoche choose to camp on the mountain in a certain setting by a large rock in a grove of birch trees. The view from there is quite beautiful, in a southerly direction from an altitude of about 1600 feet. During this time on the land, Rinpoche began receiving the Longsal Terma of Goma Devi and the Vajra Dance. Soon he asked for paint, and began to create a life-size design of the Earth Mandala on a platform by the pond. There Rinpoche began to teach the first positions and movements for the dance of the Song of the Vajra.

  • By the summer of 2005, the Tsegyalgar East community was working to construct and paint the very first Universal Mandala at the site where Rinpoche first camped. The Universal Mandala is quite large, with a diameter of 24 meters (79 feet) and a circumference of 75.5 meters (248 feet). The original open air version was made of composite plywood designed to last a long time. Later the same year in Margarita when Rinpoche was presented with a large photograph of the Universal Mandala, he replied emphatically and without hesitation, "NOW WE BUILD A VAJRA HALL." "Slowly," he added, for Rinpoche knew full well there would be challenges. The site is remote, without utilities, and approached only by a steep old logging road.

    Universal Mandala Dedication at Khandroling, May 10, 2005

  • Some founding members of Tsegyalgar East are builders by trade, and to begin this task they instructed their engineer to design a building that looked like the Universal Mandala itself. An actual building would violate the zoning code of this remote rural location, but a shelter for the mandala, a pavilion, was possible. You can see in the design that twelve main beams ride over the twelve gold lines of the Universal Mandala. They are supported by twelve steel columns aligned accordingly. Importantly, there is no center column to interfere with the mandala itself. Instead, the huge beams rise from the columns and lock into a circular steel compression ring. Skylights above the ring provide light, and indicate the transparency of a crystal temple. A surrounding promenade with a low roof completes the design. The promenade provides a ring of protection for the mandala, and a space for observers to watch the dance. The entire Vajra Hall is 35 meters (116 feet) in diameter; the circumference is 111meters (365 feet). Rinpoche prepared a vase of offerings, which was buried in the center of the mandala in 2008.

    Vajra Hall Model

  • Over the next five years, Tsegyalgar community members raised funds, oversaw the project, and did much of the work themselves. Design and construction materials were chosen with an eye to long life for the pavilion. A foundation excavated from mountain bedrock holds the structure. The slate roof has a lifespan of 50 – 100 years. Radiant tubing is embedded in the concrete floor, in case circumstances change with the development of Khandroling: with improved roads and the installation of utilities, there is a chance the pavilion may one day be enclosed as a building, to be enjoyed year round.

    Vajra Hall Construction Fall 2010

  • In July 2013, beneath a clear blue sky, community members watched the unforgettable spectacle of a large, three dimensional gilded Longsal gently lowered by crane and installed perfectly at the roof peak of the Vajra Hall.

  • In July 2014, dancers and community members from around the world gathered in joyous celebration, happy to be in attendance as Rinpoche led the formal Inauguration of the Vajra Hall.

    Derghe Dancers at the inauguration of the Vajra Hall on Saturday morning July 12, 2014