Dharma HavenTibetan Pages
A little over 2500 years ago, Shakyamuni Buddha began teaching a new way of developing sanity, wisdom, compassion and joy. Many people treasured these methods, and they were practiced and refined in India, and carried to lands thousands of miles away, all the way to Southeast Asia, China and Japan. By the time a Moslem invasion destroyed Buddhism in India, about a thousand years ago, the teachings were safe on the other side of the Himalayas, in Tibet.
Now another invasion, this time from the East, has destroyed Buddhism in Tibet. However, many of the most respected meditation masters (lamas) escaped over the mountains, and managed to preserve many precious sacred texts, relics and portable works of art. There was no way to save the paintings that covered the interior walls of the thousands of monasteries that were destroyed, but many of the master painters escaped along with the lamas.
Now the painters, or their students, are working on the walls of new monasteries and training centers, not just in India and Nepal and Bhutan, but in Europe and the Americas and in countries all over the world. The lamas or their students are teaching Buddha Dharma, the Buddhas teachings, to Western students -- and you can buy Tibetan scroll paintings and excellent translations of Dharma texts over the Internet.
This Web page on centers for training and practice has two main sections, one for traditional Tibetan Buddhist centers in the West and one for Western-oriented centers -- centers that offer introductory practices specifically designed to prepare Western students for the more advanced traditional Tibetan Buddhist practices.
The Western-oriented centers discussed here -- Diamond Way Centers and Shambhala Centers -- have gone beyond translating practices and teachings from Tibetan into Western languages. They've made a whole-hearted effort to accommodate the curiosity, energy and neurosis of Western students, and their hundreds of centers and thousands of members attest to the wisdom of that approach.
On the other hand, some Western students prefer to begin right away with meditation practices like visualizing Chenrezig, Green Tara and other enlightened beings -- in a shrine room that looks, as much as possible, like it was brought here directly from Tibet. Many highly respected lamas and their students study and practice in the many traditional Tibetan Buddhist centers springing up around the world.
Whether you prefer to shop around, or jump right in to the nearest center, this page is intended to help you find a group that suits your needs and interests. If you'd prefer to learn more about Tibetan Buddhism before getting together with other like-minded people, look at some of our other pages:
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Diamond Way CentersShambhala Centers
Although they differ in important ways, there are strong
similarities: Both groups were founded by highly respected lamas in the
Kagyu branch of Tibetan Buddhism -- sometimes called "The "Practice Lineage"
because of its emphasis on meditation practice. They both offer to Western
students ways of connecting to the Buddhist teachings and meditation practices
which were developed in collaborations between the lamas and their students.
Both groups began teaching immediately in Western languages, and offer
practice liturgies that are read mainly in Western languages -- and both
have been highly successful.
The revered Tibetan Buddhist meditation master, His Holiness The Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa, was known as a living embodiment of boundless compassion. After he left Tibet, he created several simple but powerful meditation practices intended to give students a direct connection to his enlightened awareness.
Diamond Way Centers, under the guidance of Ole Nydahl and Hannah Nydahl, have a distinctly cosmopolitan, pan-European flavor, with many centers in central and eastern Europe and others all over the world. Beginners can find instructions for the introductory practice, The Guru Yoga of the 16th Karmapa, on the Internet in nearly 20 languages.
The Venerable Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, was one of the first fully qualified Buddhist meditation masters, of any tradition, to begin offering teachings in directly in English, without a translator. His insight into the psychology of Western students was remarkable.
In Shambhala Centers the introductory practice given to beginners is the mindfulness/awareness meditation. Only after a thorough grounding in basic sitting practice, and extensive study of Buddhist teachings, are students introduced to the visualization and mantra practices that other Tibetan Buddhist centers start with.
Trungpa Rinpoche, together with his students, also developed the Shambhala teachings -- a non-religious presentation of the mindfulness/awareness practice in the context of the ancient ideal of the sacred warrior, learning to master the challenges of life both on and off the battlefield. To learn more about that approach, look at this page:
Shambhala international, with nearly 150 centers world wide, is now operating under the guidance of Trungpa Rinpoche's son, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, working with accomplished teachers like Pema Chödrön.
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Related Pages from Dharma Haven
Karmapa's Gift: Meditations for Western Students
Buddhist Centers Organized Geographically
Americas -- Asia -- Australia -- New Zealand
Africa and Middle East -- Europe
Tibetan Buddhist Centers Listed by Lineage
Churchward -- Fynn -- Quiet Mountain
Shambhala International Centers
Shambhala International -- Centers Worldwide
Gampo Abbey (Nove Scotia) -- Dechen Chöling (France)
Karmê Chöling (Vermont) -- Rocky Mountain Shambhala Center
Diamond Way Centers
Diamond Way Buddhism -- Centers Worldwide
Books on Buddhist Meditation Centers
A Handbook of Tibetan Culture: A Guide to Tibetan Centres and
Resources throughout the World
Compiled by the Orient Foundation and edited by Graham Coleman
Shambhala Press; Boston
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Your Comments and Suggestions
Revised on April 21, 2003
Copyright © 2003 Dharma Haven
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