DONORS: 273 / RAISED: $47,126 / NEEDED: $2,874

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Dear Friends,

Every Spring for my birthday it is an honor to humbly raise money for the Dharma Bum Temple. I remember the old downtown Dharma Bum Temple days when the greatest pressure was making sure we raised a few dollars to pay rent and the electric bill. Eighteen years into leading the Dharma Bum Temple and seven years into the new location, we have grown beyond what I could have ever imagined. However, the heart of the practice and this community has not changed.

I often think of special anniversaries and indelible moments throughout the history of the Dharma Bum Temple. Today March 11th marks the five-year anniversary of the day our Main Shrine statues arrived. This was a year-long process as we designed them specifically for our new home. We chose Guan Yin Bodhisattva as our main center statue because we believed the Dharma Bum Temple, this community, the country and the world needs more compassion. Guan Yin and her female energy embody endless compassion which we do our best to express every day. Guan Yin translates to “hearer of the world’s cries” and at the DBT we try every day to hear and feel the pain of the people who arrive and do our best to respond with classes and programs that help heal. The statue on the left (facing the shrine) is Samantabhadra Bodhisattva who represents great practice and diligence. The six tusks on the elephant represent the Six Paramitas of generosity, morality, patience, diligence, concentration and wisdom. Those of us who lead the DBT and the more than 100 volunteers must work diligently to continue to keep a safe and gentle community for all who come thru our doors. On the right is Manjusri Bodhisattva, who represents great wisdom. It is the practice of ultimate wisdom we hope to cultivate every day as together we care for and love the Dharma Bum Temple. To some, they are just statues, but to us they represent everything that makes the Dharma Bum Temple a reality.

The pressure to sustain the Dharma Bum Temple now is definitely different from the old days, but the number of lives we touch make it all worthwhile. The reality is we never could have grown into the organization we are today in the old location. However, this comes with major expenses that we did not need to address in the past.

We have completed many capital improvement projects since we arrived in 2017, thanks to so many amazing donors. We have a few more projects we are working on or will start soon, all of which will add tremendous safety and value to the community.

Currently, the downstairs meditation hall is simply too small. As our Recovery Dharma program expands and other recovery classes are added, we need more space. So, we will be renovating the meditation hall and moving the wall to make the meditation area larger, which will actually make Buddha for You smaller. We are excited to add more classes and more people to this Buddha for You meditation hall.

When we moved into our new home in 2017, we were merging together two communities. One was the downtown DBT and the other was Buddha for You in the SDSU college area. We had spent 10 years building the Dharma Bum Temple and 8 years building Buddha for You. Both communities were strong with people who loved to practice meditation and learn about Buddhism. While we have always put so much emphasis on the Temple, Buddha for You is often overlooked. However, truth is more than half of the people that made the new Dharma Bum Temple happen came from this Buddha for You Sangha. For so many people even today, Buddha for You is a gateway into learning about meditation and Buddhism. They show up looking for items to create a peaceful place and we gently guide them up to the meditation hall, give them a schedule and the rest is history. It is time we spend some resources taking care of the Buddha for You and redesigning the physical space, which has been neglected for too many years.

We have just started phase two of the window restoration project. While the main hall has been completed, there is the rest of the building that needs to be fixed. As in the main hall, many of the windows around the Temple either do not open or leak and for the longevity of the structure need to be replaced.

This year we also hope to finally have our Zen Garden & meditation area in the front of the Temple. This will include a complete remake of the front garden area which will also add an outdoor meditation space to be used during the day and for classes when the San Diego weather is nice and warm. Some of the design photos will be attached here soon in this campaign.

These are items we have identified that either need to be done or will be done in the near future. This does not account for any other items that arise simply due to the nature of a 97-year-old building. We also have the remaining $443,000 in debt that we owe on the mortgage, so we can be free and clear of this expense moving forward.

Our current Temple schedule of weekly classes has been amazing and busier than ever! Our morning and afternoon meditation Monday-Friday continues to start each day with a beautiful practice. Our weekly evening 7pm schedule remains full with our Zen Buddhism class on Monday, Intro to Buddhism on Tuesday, Four Foundations of Mindfulness and Awakening Joy on Wednesday, Dharma Bum Basics on Thursday and Recovery Dharma on Friday. The Recovery Sangha for those battling addiction has stayed strong with meetings on Saturday and Sunday mornings as well as Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday evenings. We also continue to provide recovery meetings inside mental health facilities on a weekly basis. The Homeless Hats Project: Knit and Sit is a special group of volunteers meeting weekly and has made over 1,500 warm hats for people who live on the streets. Delta Beta Tau was our college outreach program and they are thriving gathering multiple times a week at SDSU for meditation, community service, guest speakers and retreats. They have also now incorporated into their own 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The Family Sangha gathers once a month, a time for parents, kids, toddlers and teens. Our monthly Day of Silence Retreats continues to be beautiful with new weekend retreats coming soon. The Food Redistribution Program is thriving with a solid group of committed volunteers. Our Prison Outreach Program is steady providing meditation and discussion in the adult and juvenile prison system. Our Special Guest Program has been great with guests like Buddhist Scholar Scott A. Mitchell, Geshe Lobsang Tseten, Buddhist Nun Venerable Miao Zang, Korean Zen Master Venerable Pomnyun Sunim, Sensei Sozui Schubert as well as our Women’s Buddhist Leadership Program just welcomed Karma Lekshe Tsomo, Dr. Peggy Rowe Ward a Senior Teacher ordained by Thich Nhat Hanh and will soon host Liz Lewinson, CEO of the Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism and Venerable Robina Cortin. Our Engaged Buddhist Training Program was incredibly special and had three cohorts in 2023 and we look forward to more of those coming soon. Our Volunteer Garden Crew has created such a beautiful outdoor space bringing peace to all who walk the neighborhood and enter the Temple. The Social Sangha has been busy with visits to Buddhist Temple of San Diego, Deer Park Monastery, Japanese Friendship Garden, Drikung Kyobpa Choling Tibetan Meditation Center and the Self-Realization Meditation Gardens. The Women’s Buddhist Leadership Program just started with 10 people in the first cohort and this will be offered 2-3 more times this year. In addition to all of this, we continue to offer most of our classes virtually as well, for those who are unable to attend or simply do not live in San Diego. Our reach is literally now global and this is a tremendous honor. As you can see, we have been incredibly busy and touching thousands of lives.

We say everything we do at the Dharma Bum Temple is free and that is the truth, we do not charge for any of our classes or programs. We do however have monthly expenses, major capital improvements in addition to remaining building debt. I hope you will consider making a donation of any amount to help us cover some of these costs. The Dharma Bum Temple is a 501(c)(3) NPO and all donations are 100% tax-deductible.

I want to send a special thank you to all of our existing monthly donors, without you none of this is possible! We are truly touched by your support and hope you will consider a one-time donation for this fundraising campaign.

As Co-Founder and CEO, it is an honor to be of service to this community. Thank you for all the love and support you have shown us Dharma Bums over the years. Our intention has always been to build a safe place to study and practice Buddhism while coming together as a community. I continue to be incredibly proud of everyone who works so hard to make this little Temple such a special place. Your continuous support is beautiful, deeply appreciated and I thank you!

Yours in the Dharma, 
Jeffrey Zlotnik 
Co-Founder & CEO 
Dharma Bum Temple


Mail a check made out to the Dharma Bum Temple to 4144 Campus Ave. San Diego, CA 92103

Drop a check in the donation box at the Dharma Bum Temple