In 2006 I was applying the finishing touches to a project that was dear to me. What it was originally intended to be and what it became are two different animals, but all part of the same story.
The original vision for the project, which stood as a beacon in my mind in those early days of research, was a map of the U.S.A. which illustrated the growing network of Tibetan Buddhist dharma centers, temples and monasteries spread through the country. Perhaps over time I would be able to visit many of these, I thought, time and finances providing.
I quickly realized the massive scope of such an endeavor. My thoughts then shifted to focusing on centers that had, on their grounds, a structure evocative of Tibetan Buddhist architecture, if not completely inspired in layout, by a building constructed in Tibet.
At the end of the decision day with the aforementioned project, I thought it frugal and wise to limit my scope of research greatly. In addition to tracing the route of Tibetan Buddhism's arrival and growth in the United States, I decided to use as case studies the plans and history of three centers in the state I was living in at the time. New York.
I did not know much about Tibet at the time, nor much about Tibetan Buddhism. I began digging through the library and online articles. I was completely immersed, tracing Tibetan Buddhism's essential links with the various Khans of Mongolia, the development and geographic route of Vajrayana and, of course, the storied background of Tibetan Buddhism's growth in the United States.
My final product was something I was glad for, in large part because pressures beyond wanting this project to be what I had envisioned started to weigh in. I wanted to graduate. I was ready to leave. I was done with references and guidelines. I was done with academia. Unfortunately, these pressures did lead to a point where I finished for the sake of finishing....
And as it is with many projects that have a sense of passion, curiosity and heart at the root, after several years of not actively working with any of this, I now return. The issues of Tibetan Buddhism- the practice, the history, the philosophy, the presence- intrigue me endlessly and hone my awareness to issues not even apparently relevant to Tibet nor to Buddhism.
Vajrayana Forms in Upstate New York was published through the Cornell digital library in 2008 and was the culmination of my time spent in the Historic Preservation Planning program at Cornell University. Tidbits of what I learned, and will continue to learn, will surface in this blog. In the meantime, I plan to travel the country (and possibly beyond) through these pages, visiting the numerous centers dedicated to the practicing and teachings of the Vajrayana.