Dharma Realm Buddhist Association's new Environmental Impact Report on the proposed site of the International Institute for Philosophy and Ethics, which is slightly east of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, is now ready to present to the public and the Mendocino Planning Commission. The International Institute will be a continuation of Buddhism's three thousand year journey from India to China to the West.
The first Environmental Impact Report on the proposed site, prepared in 1991, was opposed by those with agricultural concerns and others in the neighborhood. The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors asked Dharma Realm Buddhist Association to work out a compromise. In the subsequent meetings held for that purpose, the Venerable Master worked with those neighbors and friends of agriculture to reach a consensus that included a significant reduction of the height and size of the buildings and a relocation of the proposed site further back from the eastern road.
Unfortunately, the Venerable Master fell ill soon after those compromises were agreed upon, and, with the Master's nirvana, further activity on the project was suspended during a period of traditional mourning that lasted three years. Now, after two years of preparation in conjunction with appropriate government departments, members of this association are happy to once again be actively involved in realizing the Master's vision for an International Institute of Philosophy and Ethics.
Hoping to gain approval within the next six months, Dharma Realm Buddhist Association has done extensive searching for an architectural firm to design the project, with emphasis on seeking someone who demonstrates not only skill and competence, but also who understands our goals and vision. With approval the project will enter its next phase of detailed planning and design.
The present proposal calls for a 330,000 square foot campus, which will include a Buddha Hall/Lecture Hall having a capacity of 10,000; smaller classrooms and lecture halls; administrative offices; a library; dining facilities; faculty and student housing; and living quarters for sangha, including the Abbot's residence.
Given the international scope of the Master's vision and the Association's membership, this institute could well become one of the most important Buddhist landmarks in the Western hemisphere, however, it will take the support and cooperation of us all to successfully complete the project.
Since the first phase of this project, that of site approval, is nearing completion, the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas hosted an initial neighborhood meeting (on Monday evening, January 22, at the Guest Building), which was attended by about fifty people. Using many visual aids, we gave an introductory presentation and addressed questions. We hope to have several more meetings and to work closely with our neighbors so that harmony will prevail as plans and development progress.