Tibetan monk to bless local Buddhist center

By WAVENEY ANN MOORE, St. Petersburg Times, December 4, 2005

GULFPORT, FL (USA) -- A Tibetan monk is coming to the area this week to officially open a Gulfport Buddhist center.

The Venerable Lama Lhanang Rinpoche, who teaches in California, will also make appearances in St. Petersburg. The monk will bless the Pema Choling Center established by Gulfport resident Greg Powers, a longtime convert to Buddhism and an ordained Buddhist teacher.

Lhanang had "a visionary dream" about the center when he visited the area earlier this year, Powers said. It's the first in Florida to offer meditation practices from the Longchen tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, he said.

Powers met Lhanang when he first arrived in the United States several years ago. The monk, now an American citizen, was imprisoned and tortured by the Chinese government, he said. Lhanang is what Powers describes as a meditation master of the Longchen lineage or school of Tibetan Buddhism. He also is an artist and practices Tibetan medicine.

Westerners find Tibetan Buddhism attractive because "its visionary form of Buddhism attains rapid results in calming the mind from the pressures and stresses of everyday life," Powers said. "Also, it provides a holistic framework for modern life, with an emphasis on compassion and tolerance as emulated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and others."