In 2011 Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche showed the aspect of a stroke. He expressed then, how important it is to have facilities to be able to live out the life in a Dharma environment. Rinpoche's comment sparked an interest in me for the project, but the time was not right. I was in long retreat and then in Mongolia. Some nuns at Atisha Centre made initial progress towards establishing a community, and Rinpoche gave the name Machig Labdron.
In 2016, I joined the Atisha Centre Board as Manager of the Machig Labdron building project. Rigsal and I moved to Atisha Centre in 2018. During Rinpoche's retreat at the Great Stupa, he confirmed the site for the nunnery to be between Atisha Centre and the Monastery. Plans, with a central courtyard, were submitted with the master plan for the whole site. Council approval was slow. They requested compliance with new strict regulations for environment and fire safety. We reduced our building footprint and considered a more cleared site with a shared boundary to the Great Stupa land. Rinpoche advised that neither site came out beneficial now, so look for another one. We settled on a new site near the proposed Lama Yeshe village and sketch plans were drawn.
Lekdron and Drime joined us, and last year the four of us relocated to temporary accommodation we had organised in order to live together as a community. With Australia's extreme fires and the global pandemic, doubts arose last year about the nunnery site. We discussed it between ourselves, then with Gyatso, Ian Green and the other directors, Yeshe and Dondrub. Rinpoche had said, if the three directors here all agree that a site we chose were viable, that was sufficient, and no need to check again. So all agreed and our current site is north of the Great Stupa.
Previous sketch plans have been adjusted to fit the new site, with a similar footprint and layout. Lekdron's link to the Sri Lankan Buddhist community helped us connect with Ashoka, an architect, who is happy to help us with CAD drawings and council negotiations. We look forward to moving ahead this year.
Project Manager, June 2021.