Buddhist leader inspires local audiences (Courier - Post)

Carol Comegno, CherryHill    12:16 a.m. EDT April 11, 2015

SHAMONG – Devoted followers listened intently to a religious instructor who came from afar to teach them about the art of Buddhist meditation last week.

During his ongoing, two-month U.S. tour, Ogyen Trinley Dorje stayed at his home in Shamong for five days and taught a group of devoted students before leaving Monday for Yale University. Dorje is considered by some Tibetan Buddhists to be the 17th reincarnation of the Karmapa — one of four lineages in Buddhism that also includes the Dalai Lama

His home is a sprawling 150-acre estate secluded in woods on Atsion Road in rural Shamong.

Called Karma Thegsum Choling-NJ (KTC-NJ), the estate is home to two Tibetan lamas the Karmapa appointed to provide teaching and guidance to students of Buddhism in the region.

At the estate, he conducted instructional sessions and meditated before leaving to continue his U.S. tour, speaking at top universities about the environment, gender equality and compassion for same-sex couples.

As head of one of the major lineages of Tibetan Buddhism, the Karmapa is a guide to millions of Buddhists worldwide. When he was 14 he made a dramatic escape from Chinese-controlled Tibet to India to be near the Dalai Lama and his own lamas (teachers) who already had escaped.

An environmentalist, the Karmapa has created an eco-monastic movement with more than 55 monasteries and nunneries serving as centers of green activism.

Recently he announced plans to establish full ordination for women, a step that will change the face of Tibetan Buddhism.

“We were most fortunate to have the Karmapa, the embodiment of compassion, here in our backyard,” said Lori Volpe of Voorhees, spokeswoman for KTC-NJ.

Buddhism centers around spiritual development and meditation to achieve enlightenmentand escape the worldly cycle of death, rebirth, and suffering.

At Princeton, the Karmapa said gender equality for women needs to be more than just external.

Despite efforts to combat it, , he said, women still suffer inequality.

“So I think the solution lies beyond mere legislation and social pressure. We must try to truly develop love, understanding and an authentic concern for one another,” said the 29-year-old spiritual leader.

He also took questions, one about life as the Karmapa.

“It may be difficult for normal people to imagine the challenges that someone like me has to face,” he said. “I suppose some people imagine that, being a spiritual leader, one leads a life of comfort, luxury and ease, but let me assure you that is not the case. It is filled with challenges and difficulties of all kinds.”

Yet, he said, those very difficulties enhanced his empathy.

“This is actually what has made me sensitive to and concerned with issues such as gender inequality,” he said.

He later spoke at the Westin Hotel in Mount Laurel to 700 followers who traveled from as far as Taiwan, Canada and England, and led a morning meditation and an afternoon ceremony focusing on special Buddhist meditation practices.

Carol Liao, who came to the event from California, said she felt “very touched” by the whole experience.

“Just being in the presence of His Holiness the Karmapa made me feel wonderful,” she added.

Volpe said his style is down-to-earth, compassionate and right on point.

“It was heartwarming to see so many people benefiting from his teaching,” she said.



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