Redeeming The Land

Sonam Gyatso

While I was teaching in Toronto, the Bhikkhu was still in Scotland. He had been pushing very hard for us to buy land for a meditation centre, so I went up to Kinmount with Ivo Bischof, (later the Chair of the Dharma Centre), and found a 400-acre property for sale at $4,500. I wrote a letter to the Bhikkhu and said we found a property for so much with so many acres and so on, then mentioned that it had "a beaver dam (= swamp)". I wasn’t too impressed with the beaver dam.

The next thing I knew, the Bhikkhu flew back early from Scotland and the first thing he said was, "I want to go up and see this property". So we drove up to Kinmount. We walked onto the property and went down the trail (past where the temple is now), crossed the little creek at the bottom of the hill, and as we were going up the hill to the open field, two deer leapt out of the bushes and ran across the open space. Returning to the main house (such as it was), the Bhikkhu said to me, "We're going to buy it". We immediately drove back with the realtor to Bobcaygeon, where the Bhikkhu sealed the deal, pulling $500 out of his pocket as a down payment.

We never did have a mortgage because we formed a Trust and individuals put up five hundred or a thousand dollars and made up the $4,500 immediately, and the property was bought in the name of the Dharma Centre. The Bhikkhu later said the reason that he bought the property was that Tony had said, "There's a beaver dam". Seeing the dam, he knew that was what he wanted.

The main house, "such as it was", was a totally derelict log house - no roof, no foundation, no doors or windows. No hydro, no running water, no well, no toilets! No nothing! But hey! the Bhikkhu just loved those old logs!

The property was an abandoned mink farm which had seen much slaughter of mink, and the buildings were derelict. There were no birds anywhere. The Bhikkhu said, "We are going to redeem this property. When the birds come back we will have redeemed it". And they did.

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