Join our Mailing List

"For a happier, more stable and civilized future, each of us must develop a sincere, warm-hearted feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood."

The Karmapa of Tibet builds in Earleton

June 7, 2008

James Williams, Monitor Editor
Bradford County Telegraph (USA)
June 5, 2008

The buildings at the Buddhist center will not be especially large or
elaborate, said Lama David Bole. Instead the retreat and community
center will showcase the area's natural environment, like this
enormous oak tree, now featured on the center's Web site.

David Bole is the lama, or priest, in residence at the Gainesville
Buddhist Center at Northwest 10th Avenue, off of 13th Street. Like
minded people join him there for study and meditation, and the group
has weekly meetings on Sunday.

Last year, the Buddhist center bought a piece of property that sits
on the shores of Lake Santa Fe, near Earleton. The group hopes to
raise as much as $2- to $3 million to build a retreat and sanctuary
for meditation in its rural, Lake Region spot.

"Costs keep going up every day for materials," Bole said last week.

Bole became a lama by virtue of three years of study. After he was
ordained-if that's the right word-he was asked to return to
Gainesville and help promote the Kagyu Buddhist tradition.

Bole and others at the center are followers of the teachings of the
Sakyamuni Buddha, though their branch of that religion is known as
Tantric or Tibetan Buddhism.

"These times we live in are dark," Bole said. "People have lost their
sense of compassion. We are about the cultivation of loving kindness
for all things that inhabit this planet. Our goal is to avoid
suffering and promote peace, loving kindness and compassion."

Tibetan Buddhism isn't the only such branch of the religion. The
Chinese had, and still have, their version, as do the Japanese who
call it Zen Buddhism. Other Tibetan traditions include Gelug as
practiced by the Dalai Lama, Sakya and Nyingma, which Bole said was
the oldest of the Tibetan traditions.

However, Bole and others who worship at his Gainesville sanctuary are
followers of the Karmapa of Tibet, who adheres to the Kagyu tradition.

The Karmapa is also a lama and a sort of high priest of that
tradition. The current Karmapa's name is Orgyn Thrinley Dorje, and he
will be 23 years old on June 25.

Dorje is not the first Karmapa. In fact, he is the 16th Holiness in a
tradition goes back to at least the twelfth century.

Like his predecessors, when the time comes the current Karmapa will
one day leave a letter to his senior student, indicating who and
where the mother and father of the 17th Karmapa will be located.

Dorje was located as a child in an eastern area of Tibet and brought
over that country's high, dry, rocky terrain above the cloud lines to
Lhasa. There, he grew up and was trained by monks or lamas in Tibetan

The communist Chinese had already invaded Tibet in the early 1950s,
decades before the current Karmapa was born. In 2000, Dorje slipped
away from a rural retreat, surreptitiously leaving the country via an
elaborate itinerary that included walking over mountains, or riding
in automobiles, helicopters and jet planes.

Eventually, he made his way to Dharamsula, India, where he was
embraced by the 14th Dalai Lama, also living in exile.

It isn't peculiar that the Karmapa has followers in North Central
Florida. There are other centers of Kagyu Buddhism all over the U.S.,
including Seattle.

In fact, the North American seat of the sect where Bole studied,
Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, is in Woodstock N.Y.-yes, that
Woodstock-where the center was founded by His Holiness's predecessor,
the 15th Karmapa.

"Right now, we're clearing a small amount of land (at the Santa Fe
site) to make some room for the center and retreat," Bole said.

He said he wasn't as certain about what will happen to the remnants
of a blueberry farm on the property.

"Those blueberry bushes are really old," he said, "and they take up
quite a bit of the property. It would take a lot to bring them up to
speed again."

Bole said he would have to seek advice on the blueberry bushes but
thought at least a portion of the blueberry farm could become a
u-pick-em cottage industry for the Buddhist center.

But mainly, Bole said, "We want to make (the Santa Fe site) a place
of meditation and contemplation."

Plans for the facility rest largely with Bole and the Gainesville
Center. They are not planning a retreat for His Holiness the Karmapa
so much as they see it as a winter residence and a community center.

"We have a vision of the possibility that a person can spend a week
in solitary retreat," Bole said, though he doesn't see the Santa Fe
site as an enclave of hermits. Rather, he envisions a smallish shrine
for worship and meditation with other spaces to feature the cultural
aspects of Tibet.

"I see it as a community resource to preserve the Tibetan culture
including medicine, dance, and poetry," the lama said.

"Within parameters, we will welcome the community. It will be a place
for people to come, to walk in our gardens and meditate. Idle
curiosity," Bole said, "is just fine."

Fund-raising is up to the Gainesville center. The Karmapa, a lama who
theoretically owns nothing, will provide no funds. Still, the center
has consulted Dorge and the project received his blessing.

Bole reported last week that during a recent New York visit as the
Karmapa was making his first trip to the U.S., he told the
Gainesville group, "You build it and I will come."

For further information on the Gainesville Buddhist Center or the
Santa Fe retreat, e-mail
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank