Lama Foundation

Lama Foundation

The Lama Foundation is a community in the mountains of New Mexico, seventeen miles [O'Reilly, Sean, James O'Reilly, and Tim O'Reilly. "The Road Within: True Stories of Transformation and the Soul". Travelers' Tales, 2002, p.16. ISBN 1885211848.] north of Taos.

History

The Lama Foundation was founded in 1967Sutton, Robert P. "Modern American Communes: A Dictionary", Greenwood Press, 2005, p. 97. ISBN 0313321817] by Barbara Durkee and Stephen Durkee [Banner, pp. 173-4.] (now known as Asha Greer or Asha von Briesen and Nooruddeen Durkee). It began with the purchase of 100 acres of land adjacent to federal forested land, and continues today as a place for people to visit and live. "Construction of the first buildings began in 1968. The following year, the foundation was incorporated as an “educational, religious and scientific” organization.

It was one of almost thirty communes established in the region around that time, and one of the most well-known, along with Morningstar East, Reality Construction Company, the Hog Farm, New Buffalo, and The Family. By 1973, the vast majority of these communities had closed, but the Lama Foundation was able to continue because it had more structure and discipline than most others.Banner, Lois W. "Finding Fran: History and Memory in the Lives of Two Women", Columbia University Press, 1998, p. 173. ISBN 0231112165] Oliver, Anna Cypra. "Assembling My Father: A Daughter's Detective Story", Houghton Mifflin Books, 2004, p. 267. ISBN 0618341528] The community has gone through several stages, ranging from the search for spiritual enlightenment to a more modern focus on permaculture and natural building.

Ram Dass was a friend of the founders, and he stayed at the Lama Foundation as a guest when he returned to America from India. During his visit, he presented the Durkees with a manuscript he had written, entitled "From Bindu to Ojas". The community's residents edited, illustrated, and laid out the text, which ultimately became a huge commercial hit when published under the name "Be Here Now". [Banner, p. 176.] Dass also held seminars at the Foundation. [Banner, p. 177.] So did other spiritual leaders, such as Samuel L. Lewis, who was buried there after his death in 1971.

Proceeds from the sales of "Be Here Now" helped to fund the Lama Foundation in subsequent years, as did other publications, craftwork projects such as prayer flags, and a few government grants. [Banner, p. 177.]

Architecture

Most of the buildings are straw bale, adobe brick, and straw clay structures and were built by residents of Lama and/or participants in natural building workshops. Common structures were adobe with vigas and latillas, or a-frames - with names like "Muffin House", "Tower House", and "Orange Room". A massive forest fire in 1996 destroyed 24 of the community's buildings, though the central complex survived.

During its early days, the Lama Foundation was an early innovator within New Mexico in greenhouse design, constructing a so-called "pit greenhouse" with added heat storage to reflect biosphere principles. It permitted year-round cultivation of the community's crops. [Office of Technology Assessment, Government of the United States. "An Assessment of technology for local development", DIANE Publishing, 1981, p. 31. ISBN 1428924388]

Religious practices

The Lama Foundation is notable among communal religious movements in that it embraced an eclectic approach to spiritual discovery, rather than depending strictly on the teachings and authority of a single charismatic leader or discipline.Veysey, Laurence R. "The Communal Experience: Anarchist and Mystical Communities in Twentieth-century America", University of Chicago Press, 1978, p. 412. ISBN 0226854582] In this respect, it was similar to prior movements such as Gerald Heard's Trabuco College. This individual autonomy is also displayed by the relative lack of communality in its living arrangements, compared to other groups founded at the same time. [Veysey, pp. 14, 428.]

Current status

The meals at Lama are primarily, but not always, vegetarian. The electrical power comes entirely from solar panels.

References

External links

* [http://www.lamafoundation.org/ Official website]


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