about us

Our Mission

CMS was established to promote the development of the wholesome, clear, interested mind through study, meditation and compassionate work. Our home is a modest, forest-based retreat centre located on Galiano Island, British Columbia.

The Society

Incorporated in 1976, Crystal Mountain Society is a non-denominational charity based in British Columbia, Canada.  It was founded by students of Venerable Namgyal Rinpoche — a Westerner trained in the Theravada and Vajrayana Buddhist traditions.

The objects of the Society are to support the awakening and liberation of individuals through study, reflection,compassion and meditation retreats based on the principles set forth by all three cycles of the teachings of Buddha Dharma and by the study and practice of natural history and science. Membership is open to anyone in sympathy with these objectives.

Crystal Mountain Society offers programs to everyone and seeks to keep fees as low and as flexible as possible.  Generous donations have allowed us to purchase and maintain our home on Galiano Island. 
The Society is governed by a Board of Directors and many other volunteers contribute to its ongoing operation.  The Retreat Centre on Galiano Island is also maintained and operated entirely by volunteers.

We strive for sustainability in many ways, starting with the health of the forested landscape and its importance to all life forms, to the nurturing of beings through support of body, mind and spirit.

The Centre

The Spiritual Education Forest Retreat Centre has been a part of the Galiano Island community since 1980.  It is a rural, forest-style retreat facility with simple facilities, located at the north end of the Island, in a secluded area, a beautiful setting with varying terrains of hills, valley and ocean views which is ideal for contemplative pursuits.

The Centre provides space for students to learn from teachers and it hosts an annual summer camping style retreat. 

CMS is currently proposing land use for the establishment of an all-season Forest Retreat Meditation Centre.

Currently the Centre is undergoing a rezoning process.  For more information please see the rezoning page.

The History

In 1978, a group living on the West Coast incorporated Crystal Mountain as a registered educational, charitable society.  The stated objectives were of, “ performing charitable works and promoting the study of religion and philosophy through the teaching and practice of meditation.”  In November 1980,  the members of the Society decided to buy some land for a Retreat Centre and purchased two 10-acre lots at the end of Devina Drive on Galiano Island.

The first summer kitchen, with its’ hyperbolic paraboloid roof, must have left more than a few observers scratching their heads in bewildered amusement. Gradually, however, enough was accomplished to make the centre capable of handling modest summer retreats.  


The Pagoda

The Crystal Mountain Society Pagoda was constructed under the direction of the famous Burmese meditation teacher and architect U Thila Wunta Sayadaw (1912-2011) who built pagodas in Burma and in many places throughout the world. Sayadaw has a deep connection as a teacher to some members of Crystal Mountain Society (CMS) and their meditation teachers. He was invited by the Board of CMS to build a pagoda in 1982 on the ridge of lot 9. Many CMS members and visitors assisted in it’s construction. It is called, A World Peace Pagoda. Please see the informative PDF that is attached here>>

In 2021 a campaign was initiated to replace the old benches around the Pagoda and to replace the weathered ‘umbrella’ adorning the top of this monument to world peace. This initiated a two year journey for the hand crafting and installation of a beautiful new brass top to the Pagoda. Many beings in Canada, Burma and Thailand were an integral part of this process.

On a clear bright day, September 9th, 2023 an Installation Ceremony was organized by the Burmese Buddhist Society of BC and members of CMS. The event was well attended by many students and devotees of Sayadaw U Thila Wunta and his lineage. Including Theravaden monks who traveled from Toronto, Calgary and Richmond. Sayadaw was a beloved root Teacher of HE Namgyal Rinpoche, who was then known as Ananda Bhodi. Many of Namgyal Rinpoche’s students and Lama Choki Gyaltsen (Lama Mark Webber) along with his students were blessed to be in attendance for this auspicious occasion of heartfelt prayers for all beings.

"Every year I look forward to my time in meditation and being on the land to recharge my body and spirit.  The peace and quiet, the fresh air, the beautiful trees, the wildlife and the sounds of the birds as well as the support from Lama Mark and my fellow students makes retreats at Crystal Mountain very wonderful."
- John Lerner