Picking Out Furniture – Dharma Style!

It might seem strange for a Dharma Center that is still trying to raise enough money to raise its new walls, but the KTC is already picking out its furniture.

The arson fire that destroyed our meditation center in January 2016 also destroyed all of our thangka (scroll) paintings, all of our meditation cushions and all of our shrine and puja furniture.

Through a successful GoFundMe campaign in 2016, we raised $100,000 to pay for the unexpected $75,000 demolition costs associated with tearing down and removing what was left of our old center, and to buy new meditation cushions, prayer books, portable folding prayer text tables and other needed materials.

But when The Idea Foundry, a maker’s space in our Franklinton neighborhood, offered to help us out after the fire, the first thing we thought of was, “Hey, could they build us some furniture???”

Don’t get us wrong; we LOVE the portable prayer text tables we got from Costco; they’re made of high-impact plastic and steel and while they were originally intended to be portable picnic table benches, we found them perfect for holding our puja (prayer) texts. AND they fold up and have built-in carrying handles – perfect for those times when we, well, have to “go nomad” and take our programs outside our temporary home at Congregation Tifereth Israel.

But to be honest, we wanted wood. Lots of beautiful, polished, wonderful wood. Having new wooden puja tables was a psychological step toward re-establishing our sangha. It gave us a sense that, yes, there *would* be a new center someday, because, well, we were buying furniture for it.

So we asked The Idea Foundry to make us some puja tables. Using dimensions from the fire and smoke-damaged tables from the old KTC, we drew pictures, approved schematics, and so forth, and the woodworking elves at TIF delivered us six brand-new beautiful wood tables. Our new center, in our minds at least, was on its way.

After moving into Tifereth Israel, we got the furniture-building bug again. We needed temporary shrine shelves to display the statues rescued from the burned building.

Our teacher, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, had encouraged us to keep the fire and smoke-damaged statues as a reminder of what we lost and a continuity toward our future. And when KTC friend Don Fortner offered to make us shrine shelves – and later to work with Bill Miracle to create canvas-covered standing screen panels to evoke the lovely yellow walls of our former center – we felt we were getting closer to our future home.

New Furnishings from the Woodworker Lama, Tsultrim Yeshe

That was almost three years ago, and we think we’re ready to buy our next pieces of furniture now.

Specifically, we’re looking at a set of handmade walnut “teaching tables” made by our friend and benefactor, Lama Tsultrim Yeshe of Hay River KTC in Wisconsin.  Lama Yeshe is a retired prison chaplain, but before entering three-year-retreat Lama Yeshe also was a bit of a farmer and woodworker, and owned his own woodworking and upholstery business.

These tables are super-special – they are not just handmade; they are handmade from lumber cut from venerable walnut trees harvested from Lama Yeshe’s own farmland and milled in his own sawmill. It’s the furniture equivalent – quite literally – of the “farm-to-table” movement.

Lama Tsultrim had offered us two teaching tables as a fundraiser for the center, saying we could sell them and raise money for rebuilding. But … well, we fell in love with the tables, and our shrine-keeping staff just doesn’t want to part with them. It’s a dilemma, if you know what we mean.

So, could you folks help us buy our first pieces of fine wood furniture?

Lama Yeshe said we should ask $700 apiece for the tables. So we are hoping that over the next few weeks – from now through the January 31, 2019 anniversary of our fire – our dharma friends on GoFundMe could donate $1,400 to help us fund these tables.

This would honor Lama Tsultrim Yeshe’s donation by using the tables to raise money for our campaign, and allow our dharma friends to help us purchase the tables for our very own center, so the tables will get to remain with us.

That way, we would be “feeding two birds with one scone,” so to speak.

And if we raise more than $1,400 during that period, the excess funds will go toward our next big furniture purchase – a fine wood shrine table for the new shrine room.

But Wait! There’s More. How About a Drawing for a Blessed Mala?

To celebrate this “new furniture fundraising” period, everyone who donates any amount from today through 12 midnight EST on Jan. 31, 2019 will be entered in a drawing for a dark rosewood mala (made of 8 mm beads) blessed by our founder, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche himself.  All you have to do is donate through this GoFundMe page. You will be automatically entered in the drawing.

If your name is drawn on Jan. 31, we will notify you by email and obtain your postal address, so we can mail you your gift.

Thanks for joining us in our day-dream imagining – that buying new shrine room furniture will help us realize a new center sooner. May your gift bring you joy – and may all beings benefit!