RE­TREAT

The Denver Post - - FEATURES - Pro­vided by Kate Zari Roberts

is a new con­cept that’s still be­ing de­fined, ac­cord­ing to Loy, who is the au­thor of “A Bud­dhist Re­sponse to the Cli­mate Emer­gency” and nine other books, many of which ex­am­ine the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Bud­dhism and moder­nity. Ecod­harma in­volves three core el­e­ments: med­i­ta­tion in na­ture; re­flec­tion upon the eco­log­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions of tra­di­tional Bud­dhist teach­ings; and strate­giz­ing re­sponses to the eco­log­i­cal cri­sis of cli­mate change, he said.

Sur­rounded by pub­lic lands, the 180-acre cen­ter near Ward lends it­self to hik­ing, back­pack­ing and solo wilder­ness re­treats. But back­pack­ing isn’t for ev­ery­one, and the founders said they’ll open the doors to a wide range of peo­ple — and a range of be­liefs and ideas. It’s avail­able as a low-cost rental to any spir­i­tual group that aligns with the cen­ter’s val­ues.

“We don’t have any re­stric­tions on the kind of spir­i­tual prac­tice a group can do up there,” Rob­bins said. The prac­tices could be Chris­tian or Sufi, kir­tan or yoga, con­tem­pla­tive art, and so on — it’s up to the peo­ple who want to put on a pro­gram up there.

The his­toric prop­erty in­cludes a lodge from the orig­i­nal Rangeview Ranch, built in 1938 by bi­ol­o­gist, ed­u­ca­tor and lob­by­ist Hazel Sch­moll, who died in 1990. She was the first woman to grad­u­ate with a doc­tor­ate in Rocky Moun­tain Ecod­harma Re­treat Cen­ter. 8941 Over­land Road, Ward. rmerc.org or info@rmerc.org. from the Uni­ver­sity of Chicago. Sch­moll cre­ated a noted herbar­ium, con­ducted the first com­pre­hen­sive botan­i­cal study of south­west­ern Colorado and led na­ture tours into Rocky Moun“Ecod­harma” tain Na­tional Park, which bor­ders the ranch.

The prop­erty was pur­chased by the ecod­harma group on June 15 for $375,000 from the na­tional Chris­tian Sci­ence Church, which used it as a re­treat cen­ter and guest house. Sch­moll had stip­u­lated in her will that the cen­ter could only be sold to a non­profit, Rob­bins said. The pur­chase was funded by in­di­vid­ual do­na­tions and a low-cost loan from a pri­vate dob­otany nor.

“To me, these re­treats where you get to be out in na­ture, it brings it home to your heart,” said Irene Shonle of Rollinsville. Shonle went on a mul­ti­day con­tem­pla­tive back­pack­ing trip in the nearby Col­le­giate Peaks with Rob­bins a few years ago. “It brings it back to the roots of med­i­ta­tion, be­cause most of the orig­i­nal med­i­ta­tion masters, in­clud­ing the Bud­dha him­self, med­i­tated out­doors.”

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