Natural Dharma Fellowship is an organization of Buddhist practitioners dedicated to bringing the practices of Tibetan Buddhism into the contemporary world in accessible, relevant, and
Our teachings and practices emphasize the innate wisdom and compassion of one’s inherent being, as taught and transmitted via the Tibetan traditions of Mahamudra and Dzogchen. Within this context, our areas of focus include transmitting lineage teachings; developing practices in and with the natural world; exploring the power of the divine feminine; and connecting with the innate wakefulness of the body as our vehicle to liberation.
As a Dharma vessel, we support individual and group practice and we host retreats both online and onsite at our meditation retreat center, Wonderwell Mountain Refuge, in Springfield, New Hampshire.
A 501(c)(3) nonprofit religious organization, Natural Dharma’s infrastructure includes a Board of Directors, a Teachers Council, Managers, Staff and lay members, all of whom inform and shape the organization collaboratively. Our deep aspiration is to co-create a holistic and sustainable model of spiritual community.
Our Dharma Vessel
With the blessing of Lama Willa and Lama Liz, the NDF Teachers Council is tasked with creating the scaffolding of our organization’s spiritual programming infrastructure based on Lama Willa’s vision as written in her Lion’s Roar article entitled “Building Blocks of Belonging”.
Much work has gone into building our organization around the values Lama Willa expresses in the article. Our current organizational chart gives a look at that vision.
NDF Annual Report
(click year to download)
Lama Willa and Lama Liz Monson met during their doctoral studies in Buddhism at Harvard University. In addition to their shared academic interests, they quickly discovered that both their dharma journeys were inspired and formed through decades of practice in the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. As their deep spiritual connection emerged and their friendship grew, their shared vision of embodying and bringing forth the expression of divine feminine energy for a better world began to take shape.
Upon completion of her degree, Liz accepted Willa’s invitation to partner with her in teaching and developing NDF’s spiritual programming, a move enthusiastically approved and endorsed by the Board of Directors and the community. Lama Liz also took on the role of Managing Teacher at Wonderwell. As Spiritual Co-Directors of NDF, these two women, both Harvard PhDs and long-time practitioners, have manifested a curriculum and teaching style that emphasizes the inherent worth of all beings, the interconnectedness of all life, and the wisdom and compassion that are the essence of who we are.
A group of Dharma practitioners in the Boston area began to gather around Lama Willa Miller, and in 2008 they made a formal request for her to take up spiritual leadership of the community, and to pass along the teachings and practices from her monastic training and broader experience. Together they established Natural Dharma Fellowship as a nonprofit organization. By careful intention, power was distributed rather than concentrated at the top, with a Board of Directors, teachers, and members all playing important roles.
Framed by this intentional structure and supported by NDF Sangha, Lama Willa’s teaching flourished. In addition to sharing teachings and practices from the Mahayana and Vajrayana lineages, Lama Willa crafted the Margha Program which promotes in-depth study and experience of key Buddhist principles. The Mitra component of the Margha Program also established the basis for spiritual mentorship and instruction within NDF.
Initially, retreats were held semi-annually in rented spaces, but a strong aspiration arose to find a dedicated retreat center. In 2011 a charming but derelict mansion ripe with deferred maintenance was discovered for sale in rural New Hampshire.
Thanks to the enormous generosity of the NDF Sangha and particular benefactors, this property was acquired, and Wonderwell Mountain Refuge came into being. The tranquility and beauty of this place merged with the dharma energy of teachers and community, manifesting as a center for deep meditation, learning, and retreat.
Loving care, substantial resources, and dedicated effort have been applied to the restoration, renovation, and stewardship of this historic property, transforming it into a home for the Dharma. As more retreats and programs were held, more people came to experience and appreciate the benefits of being at Wonderwell and participating in the Natural Dharma Fellowship community.