Thursday, May 13, 2010

Vajrayana in Salt Lake City

Stairs at Urgyen Samten Ling Gonpa during Lotus Festival, 2006
Source: flickr, Sarah Ause, Deseret Morning News

Urgyen Samten Ling, following the Nyingma school, was established in 1994 in Salt Lake City, Utah. As with many other centers nationwide and globally, the efforts to establish Urgyen Samten Ling were spearheaded by local practitioners.

As with stories of other dharma centers, tucked into the story and home of Urgyen Samten Ling are tales of earlier American history, in this case, including stories of other religious traditions. The building became a National Historic Register listing in December of 1978 and is also on the state's historic registry. Listed as "5th Ward Meeting House" the building was built in 1910 and originally served as a meetinghouse for the Latter Day Saints. The article A spiritual refuge: Tibetan Buddhist temple will be haven for worshippers provides a great historical summary, highlighting the irony in that the building first served a group that had originally come to this state to escape religious persecution (and now is practically synonymous with the name Utah!) and also notes that prior to Urgyen Samten Ling taking over the building, it served as, among other things, a Gothic dance club. The many dimensions to the space of one single building...

Source: flickr, albill

Urgyen Samten Ling's website references the reoccurring and vital theme of practice that is relevant to the current day. As the center's website explains, their namesake translates to "Guru Rinpoche's Place of Meditation." Guru Rinpoche is also known as Padmasambhava, whose prophecies included that the Vajrayana path, the most direct, "would be uniquely appropriate for this modern era."

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