Dharmadhatu Foundation (DF) is a nonsectarian, notforprofit, nongovernmental organization that was founded in 2003 by indigenous people (IPs) of Nepal. DF began its journey in 2003, when the founding two members rescued 15 children
from two districts of Sindhupalchok and Dhading, both bordering the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China. The children were on the verge of dropping out of school due to the ongoing conflict between the Nepali government and Maoists rebels. They were immediately brought to Boudha, Kathmandu where they received shelter, access to school, food, guidance, and vocational training. Since then, the foundation has grown to include employees and leaders made up of new and former students, professionals of traditional arts, social workers, sociologists, development workers, Buddhist Studies graduates and civically engaged youth all dedicated to philanthropy and community development. The organization is a pioneer of Culturally Appropriate CommunityBased Development (CACD)
in Nepal. The Foundation's principle purpose is to preserve and promote traditional knowledge of spiritual, cultural and biological diversity in human and social development programs.
ORIGIN OF NAME AND PHILOSOPHY:
The name dharmadhatu means "the expanse of truth." Etymologically, it is comprised of two terms: dharma and dhatu. Here, dharma refers to "truth" and dhatu refers to "the expanse". According to Buddhist philosophy, the expanse of all phenomena is "emptiness" or Sunyata in Sanskrit. Thus, emptiness as the ultimate reality signifies "peace" which is in accord with the true and undifferentiated nature of the phenomenal world, sentient beings and the Buddha. The opposite of dharmadhatu is lokadhatu or "the expanse of the manifested world." The manifested world has the nature of "suffering," arising through causal conditioning but it is never separated from its essential nature: "peace". In a contemporary development context, borrowing from the Buddhist MiddleWay philosophy
, the Dharmadhatu Foundation posits that both the "developed world" and the "underdeveloped world experience "suffering" and as such their "suffering" is much the same. Although these "worlds" may often seem in every way different, they are in fact interdependant and have therefore never been separate entities. It is our position that they must learn from each other; that in the face of development interventions and globalized efforts often brought from the "developed" to the "underdeveloped," indigenous knowledge systems must be integral to the process in order to reach peace.