The need for more space was recognized as far back as 1985 during the first Board of Governors meeting. That is when the first blueprints for the Dragon Hall were drawn. For the next fifteen years, the plans became increasingly detailed, with the end result being a 9,000 square-foot building that will accommodate many of the Monastery’s activities and resources.

For the first time in the Monastery’s history, there will be dedicated areas for art and body practice as well as a large exhibition hall which will have the flexibility to be transformed according to need—from a conference center, to a performance space, to a gallery, to a place to hold our many retreats. The expansion of the library will consolidate and make available the Monastery’s extensive audiotape, CD, DVD, and book collections, facilitating academic study and providing a place for scholarly research. All of these activities will benefit not only the resident sangha and monastics—they will serve the broader community of practitioners as well.

A project this large in scale is not launched overnight, so for more than two decades, the building of the Dragon Hall had to be put aside until the time was right to allocate the necessary resources and attention to it. That time is now, and we stand on the threshold of seeing what has been a wish become real. Can we imagine how this building will change our future? What combination of people, creativity and energy will bring this structure to life? What new ideas and opportunities will suddenly seem possible once we have room for them?

Places come alive only when they support the vital, inspired activity of hearts and minds.

I think of the Dragon Hall and imagine, in the courtyard, an ad hoc band improvising on guitars and a shakuhachi. In the lounge area, three people writing poetry together. In the computer room, a resident composing a newsletter on environmental activism while, one floor below, the Zen teens put the finishing touches on a movie.

But perhaps the most important aspect of the Dragon Hall is how it connects with the existing Monastery. Literally within sight of each other, these two buildings will remind us of where we come from and the open potential of where we are going. How do we continue to walk in harmony with both the past and the future of this dynamic Buddhist practice?