A Letter from Our Chairman of the Board
by George Galt
First published on: October 10, 2017
To my dear Vajrapani Sisters and Brothers,
As many of you know, Vajrapani Institute has a very special place in my heart, and has since its founding by Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche in 1975. Recently I’ve been reflecting on what makes Vajrapani Institute such a unique and special place, a beautiful star in the constellation of FPMT centers. There are many things that characterize this special quality, the profound influence of our Spiritual Director Lama Zopa, the blessings of many holy beings who have visited and taught here, the profusion of holy objects on the land, the love and good energy of the people who have built and run this center for the past forty years. Two of these qualities are salient for me, the deep mutual respect and heartfelt good feeling among the members of the Institute, and our commitment to providing a contemplative experience for our retreaters, the chance to take the teachings we receive to a deeper, more experiential, level. I thought to take this occasion of transition to reflect back a little on our recent history, catch us all up a little on where we are currently, and look forward to the next exciting phase of our “three hundred year” (as per Lama Yeshe) project of creating a Dharma oasis in California. We’re thirteen percent into that three hundred years, what wonders will the next years bring?
During the last thirteen years I have had the pleasure and honor of working with Fabienne Pradelle as she has served Rinpoche and Vajrapani Institute in many roles, including Office Manager and Center Manager, and currently as our Executive Director. Fabienne has had a profound effect on Vajrapani Institute. The last decade and a half have seen a vast change in the externals of our society, as all ages, economic groups, and social milieu have entered an age of personal digital interaction. When Fabienne arrived at Vajrapani Institute, most of our booking was done over the telephone, and most of our outreach was in the form of mailers. Fabienne has shepherded Vajrapani Institute into the twenty-first century, building a series of strong teams that have built a virtual Vajrapani Institute on line, modernized our booking so that most of it is now done electronically, and created an infrastructure that is capable of supporting such an endeavor while existing completely off the power grid. Fabienne’s gift for organization has led to an institutional structure that will be very stable going forward–job descriptions are well documented, as are the handbooks for employees and volunteers. And somehow, even though the organization has grown tremendously in personnel and in budget, it retains the “family feeling” and sense of harmony that it has had since its founding. This all owes a lot to Fabienne’s expertise, energy, and profound commitment to the Dharma.
Recently Vajrapani Institute embarked on an ambitious infrastructure project. Part of this endeavor was to underground our utilities. The Board of Directors and Fabienne worked closely together to hire consultants, plan the work, and schedule a time to do the work. The first phase of this project has been completed, with the second to follow next year. In addition, we are proceeding with Rinpoche’s directive to construct a magnificent prayer wheel containing five trillion Om Mani Padme Hung mantras. The design work for the wheel and its installation is done, and the County permits have been secured. And we are of course continuing to host an ambitious program of spiritual courses and retreats with a cast of internationally respected teachers and students from all over the world.
Vajrapani Institute has a unique place in the mandala of the FPMT–it is dedicated to the retreat experience, that ability of the teachings we receive to really make a difference in our lives and in our worlds when we let them marinate in our minds through contemplation. We at Vajrapani Institute are committed to continuing that focus on building, maintaining, and nurturing a sacred, quiet, contemplative place for beings to realize their true potential as quickly as possible. Fabienne and the Board are looking forward to a yearlong transition to new leadership. We are committed to remaining a supportive community of fellow spiritual seekers. And all of us are excited about continuing our work to be of benefit to the Dharma and sentient beings in the twenty-first century and beyond.
With much love, respect, rejoicing, and admiration,
(merely labelled) Chair, Vajrapani Institute Board of Directors
George Galt is one of the original founders of Varjapani Institute. Back in the 1970s, he was fortunate to meet Lama Yeshe and has since dedicated his entire adult life to the spreading of the Dharma. George is a quiet inspiration to many. Externally he is a devoted husband and father and dedicated small business owner. Inwardly he's steadfastly "doing the work". Officially, he's the Institute's beloved Chairman of the Board; unofficially, he's our Chief Bodhicitta Officer!