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Feb 28
Mandala Projects, Mountain States
Introducing Dorje Khyung Dzong Retreat Center
Dragon, the oldest retreat cabin and in use since the 1920s

Dragon, the oldest retreat cabin and in use since the 1920s

Dorje Khyung Dzong [Vajra Garuda Fortress] was named for the upper retreat place at Surmang Düdtsi-til, one of the main Surmang monasteries that are the seat of the Trungpa tulku lineage in eastern Tibet. Melissa and Bruce Robinson are the resident directors of Dorje Khyung Dzong in Colorado.

Dorje Khyung Dzong (DKD) is a center for solitary cabin retreats in a rural part of southern Colorado. We have eight – soon to be nine – cabins for solitary retreat.

DKD began in 1972 when Roger and Louise Randolph donated the land to Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. The Randolphs were looking to donate the land to a Tibetan with non-profit status. Since they didn’t know any Tibetans, they contacted Lama Govinda, a western scholar living in California, to see if he might be interested. Lama Govinda told them that they had a Tibetan practically in their backyard, in Boulder, Colorado.

Shrine of Jigme cabin, built in 1990

Shrine of Jigme cabin, built in 1990

Roger met with John Baker, then-director of Karma Dzong in Boulder and the transfer was completed. At the time there were two dwellings on the land, a small log cabin, now known as Dragon, which had been used by loggers in the early 1920’s, and a larger cabin that the Randolphs built to live in. The original transfer was two hundred and fifty acres; over the years another two hundred acres has been purchased.

Trungpa Rinpoche visited DKD on several occasions when Roger chartered a helicopter to bring Rinpoche down from Boulder. During the first few years notable visitors included H.H. the 16h Karmapa, H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche and Ganden Tri Rinpoche.

Garuda's shrine

Garuda cabin's shrine

The first cabin actually built on the land was a small stone cabin named Garuda. It’s cave-like qualities and remoteness inspired H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche to say that it “had claws.”  All the Tibetans love it.

During the 16th Karmapa’s first visit, he walked up to the door of Garuda cabin and knocked. The retreatant opened the door, thought he was seeing things and slammed the door shut. It was only after he heard the Karmapa and his entourage laughing that he realized it wasn’t an illusion.

During that visit, His Holiness Karmapa did some pujas to help pacify the land and was credited with releasing the spirits of Native American warriors, reportedly riding horses around Dragon cabin, who had been killed during a massacre on top of the mountain behind DKD, named for the native Southern Ute leader Greenhorn.

Coil of Joy's kitchen area

Coil of Joy's kitchen area

During the mid-1970’s, Tiger and Lion were built with donated and pilfered materials at a cost of about one thousand dollars each. (In contrast, Coil of Joy, the latest cabin to be built here, cost over forty thousand dollars in 2005.) In the late 1970’s, Windhorse and Ziji [shining, glittering, splendid dignity] were built, and then Jigme [Fearless] in 1990.

Click here for more on retreats and a tour of the various cabins.

Stay tuned to this space in the coming months for more on DKD history, our soon-to-be-completed dog-friendly cabin, and what it’s like to live here. Send us an e-mail at [email protected] and let us know what you would like to hear about!

The editors welcome comments and articles on your experience of retreats at Dorje Khyung Dzong, You may leave a comment below or contact us at [email protected]. Thank you.

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