The Shumei International Institute
In keeping with Shinji Shumeikai’s* philosophy, the Shumei International Institute, Inc. is a non-profit organization, created to provide an environment for spiritual growth through interfaith activities, the practice of Natural Agriculture, and art and cultural events.
The Shumei Crestone Center, in Saguache County, Colorado is the Institute’s headquarters.
The Shumei International Institute is a non-denominational spiritual fellowship and is part of a worldwide organization founded in Japan called Shinji Shumeikai, commonly referred to simply as “Shumei”. Shumei’s philosophy revolves around three principal tenets: A spiritual healing practice known as “Jyorei”, fostering an appreciation for art and beauty and the practice of “Natural Agriculture”.
Shumei’s Crestone Center is recognized as a sacred pilgrimage site by its many friends worldwide. Built on the slope of the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains, with a breathtaking view overlooking the largest high alpine valley in the world, the Crestone Center fittingly represents the “Earth element”.
The Crestone Center’s campus of buildings including it’s oval shaped strawbale sanctuary were built on the reclaimed former site of the Independence goldmine. The architecturally designed and landscaped facilities are intended as an example of art and beauty and were built with an eye toward balancing aesthetics and sustainable construction. The campus includes a fountain and waterfall that runs from early Spring through Autumn as well as an outdoor amphitheater.
Shumei hosts a wide variety of public programs including concerts, taiko drumming, movie nights, Natural Agriculture tours and programs and a year round art symposia series featuring local, regional and occasionally international artists. The small round art gallery is always free and open to the public, as are almost all other public programs.
Daily prayer services are held every day including holidays at 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM and all are always open to the public. These ceremonies known in Japanese as “Sampai” (translates as “going to a higher place”, “gathering prayers” or simply as “service”) include chanting an ancient Shinto prayer and sharing Jyorei with people who wish to receive it.
The specific mission of the Shumei International Institute within the worldwide Shumei family is to help people realize “…we are all world citizens able to act together for the common good.” This mission is carried out by sharing in the three principal tenets of the Shumei philosophy as well as hosting other seminars and events and sharing in the larger unique interfaith community of the Crestone area.
Crestone is located in the vast 5,000 square mile San Luis Valley of Colorado and sits on one of the largest freshwater aquifers on earth. At over 7,500 feet above sea level and ringed on three sides by snow-peaked mountains, some looming over 14,000 feet above, the Valley is the highest Alpine region in the world.The air is pure. The terrain is a fusion of Alpine and high desert, and the surrounding mountains insulate its unique climate. The soil is a mixture of sand, clay, cobble and rock. There are pristine streams, with greenbelts of aspen, cottonwoods, and ponderosas. Aspen is thick on the mountains, while pine and junipers sparsely stud the foothills and valley floor below.
At such a height above sea level, the weather can be harsh and dramatic, with extreme temperatures, intense sunlight, heavy snows, heavy wind, dust storms, hard rains, lightening strikes, and wildfires. Yet, the Valley averages about 330 days of sunshine a year. In much of the Crestone area, annual rainfall averages 7 inches. In the foothills, precipitation is nearly double that of the valleys and temperatures are warmer. Subzero Fahrenheit temperatures can occur at night during the winter months. The coldest month is January, averaging highs of 34.7 degrees Fahrenheit with lows of 8.2 degrees. The hottest month is July with average highs of 83 degrees and lows of 50.8.
Although many homes and building sites have been constructed in the Valley during the last few years, the area is still a wilderness, the breeding, birthing, and feeding grounds of elk, deer, mountain lion, bobcat, black bear, coyote, and a variety of smaller animals and fish. The Valley is a global flyway for waterfowl, songbirds, as well as eagles, hawks, and owls. Through spring and midsummer, biting insects are abundant. Because of the bear and mountain lions, which are no longer hunted, a certain standard of precaution is advised for those who live and visit the area. Feeding wildlife is prohibited. Conservation of the natural habitats of native species is very important, as some of the Valley’s wildlife is rare and endangered.
Throughout its history, people have been spellbound by the beauty of the San Luis Valley’s mountains and their high, wild places. Today, in the Crestone area, there are a number of ashrams and spiritual communities and the Valley is thought by many to be one of the most powerful centers of spiritual energy on earth. Yet, being in this environment presents those who settle here with the serious challenge of protecting wildlife and its home grounds from the harmful effects that we humans too often bring to wilderness areas. Generally, those who live in the Crestone area are keen to preserve the natural habitat that surrounds them and actively promote the conservation of natural resources and the advancement of environmentally sound design. Conservation and reverence for nature being an integral part of Shumei’s philosophy, Shumei strongly desires to play an active part in the preservation of the area in which it is creating the Shumei Crestone Center.
A Place of the Heart
The Shumei International Institute (SII) was invited to join this extraordinary interspiritual community by Hanne and Maurice Strong through the New York Interfaith Center. In the year’s since SII is deeply grateful for the warm welcome and support of the other spiritual centers, artists and all of our neighbors in this remarkable community. The video A Place of the Heart below was produced by Douglas Beechwood and Mark Elliot for the Crestone Creative District is a beautiful example and short explanation of some of the artistic and spiritual aspects of the greater Crestone community. If your considering a visit to Crestone, we highly recommend watching this 9 minute video.