India wanderer shares insights in Lake County

by Lauren Ritchie, Orlando Sentinel, June 13, 2007

Orlando, FL (USA) -- When last we checked in with Mark Winwood, the Yalaha resident had just returned from a month of wandering in India, ending at Dharamsala, home of the Tibetan Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama.

His journey in May 2006 was one of self-discovery, and on his return, he began looking for like-minded souls with whom to discuss life changes. Lake County wasn't exactly overflowing with experts in philosophical Eastern thought. So he started a study group to cultivate an interest in Dharma, the practice and traditions of Buddhist life.

But Winwood's trip to Dharamsala, which also is the site of the Tibetan government-in-exile, raised as many questions as it answered for him, and almost before his plane landed back in the U.S., he was longing to return. (The Chinese occupation of Tibet began in 1949, and since then, teachers and religious leaders have kept their traditions, culture and spiritualism alive by living elsewhere.)

Winwood's biggest question: Can I live as a Buddhist in a Western culture that offers no support for Eastern ways of life?

To find the answer, Winwood went back to India in November and December. After those two months, including six weeks spent with Buddhist monks, Winwood found the answer: yes, and he decided he can help other people do it, too.

And so, the Chenrezig Project was born. Chenrezig, Winwood said, is the Buddhist representation of compassion.

The project includes a weekly study group, teaching meditation techniques and speaking to a variety of organizations about infusing life with compassion (more information:

Now, Winwood is sponsoring the appearance of Ani "Sister" Amy Miller, an American-born Buddhist nun, who will present a seminar on "The Joy of Dharma" from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Leesburg Cultural Arts Center. The subtitle is "Cultivating Wisdom, Compassion and Happiness in Your Life."

The city facility will be transformed into a gompa, a Buddhist meditation center, with flowers, candles, incense, Tibetan art and photographs of the Dalai Lama, Winwood said.

Miller is sought after, he said, because she understands both cultures and can make Westerners truly comprehend and appreciate the different thought process that goes into how Buddhists live.

For example, he said, one of the things the nun teaches is that if you have a curiosity or an inkling that there is a more beneficial way to live, you don't wait.

"You seize that opportunity. You act upon that gift of insight you've just received," he said.

"This isn't designed to turn people into Buddhists. This is to give people the idea that they can make a difference in themselves. It's learning the practices and bringing them back into their own faith or religion or way of living," Winwood said.

One of the first steps, he said, is to teach people how to uncover gut-level feelings and listen to them.

"It's remarkable stuff," he said.

So far, about 50 people have signed up. Anyone who wants to attend the seminar may contact Winwood at 352-324-3419 or e-mail him at The $18 cost includes a vegetarian lunch.

"I think people are coming because they are curious, but the idea that there is a way to cultivate -- not learn -- wisdom and compassion and happiness is something that everybody, whether they admit it or not, is looking to do.

"Everyone needs help doing that. These are trying times we live in."
We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: