Tara Drupchen: dispelling obstacles and fears

tara statues

Tara statues line the alter in the shrine room at Nalanda West in Seattle.

In the midst of a turbulent time in our country, Nalanda West and Nalandabodhi Seattle held their first Tara Drupchen, a three-day practice intensive.

In all wisdom traditions, loving-kindness is often cited as an antidote to fear. In Vajrayana Buddhism, Tara symbolizes loving-kindness and compassion and is said to have promised to dispel the fears of all beings. The Tara Drupchen, held at Nalanda West on October 28 – 30, 2016, was a special Tara practice intensive, a supplication to the beloved Buddhist deity to clear aways obstacles, illnesses and fears, and to generate blessings.

Prayers and aspiration requests

For two months leading up to the drupchen, prayers and aspiration requests were sent into Nalanda West from across the globe. During the three-day Tara Drupchen, the prayers and aspirations were posted on boards outside the shrine room for those attending to read and hold in their hearts, as they practiced along with other Nalandabodhi members in 17 countries and 107 cities.

Teachers and teachings

The four daily sessions began at dawn, with the first held in Tibetan followed by three English sessions. Nalandabodhi lamas and acharyas gave short teachings about Tara before each practice session.

On the first afternoon, Nalandabodhi founder and guiding teacher Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche gave a teaching on the importance of Tara practice. He likened Tara to a great charitable foundation dedicated to doing good works for the community and for those who ask for help. Yet, like a foundation that does not walk door to door asking whether someone needs help, Tara will not know who needs help without our requests.

Gratitude

Nalanda West and Nalandabodhi Seattle are grateful to the over 250 sponsors who helped make the drupchen possible, to the Nalandabodhi lamas and acharyas and to Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche. As the blessings generated from this first Tara Drupchen continue to unfold throughout the world, plans for the next drupchen are in the works.

Enjoy the following slideshow with highlights of the drupchen. Photos by Nirzhar Pradhan

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Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche at Google

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“First Google your mind,” Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche told Google staff in a talk on “Searching for the Searcher” that he gave at the company’s global headquarters on August 26, 2016. The celebrated Buddhist teacher and author of “Emotional Rescue” was invited to spend the day on the Googleplex campus in Mountain View, California.

Googleplex tour

Chade-Meng Tan, Google’s champion of personal growth and author of the book “Search Inside Yourself,” welcomed Rinpoche before they toured the company’s sprawling grounds. First stop: a facility featuring a wrap-around, multi-screen display of Google Earth, where Chade-Meng took Rinpoche on a virtual tour of sacred places and monasteries in India and Tibet. Next up: lunch with key Google staff who shared the many initiatives seen throughout the Googleplex facilities — the yoga halls, fitness centers and meditation rooms, which employees are welcome to use at any time. This year Google topped Facebook on Business Insider’s list of the 50 best companies to work for in America, encouraging mindfulness practice as well as technology education among its employees, free healthy meals, fitness facilities, generous paid parental leave and onsite childcare. Rinpoche was intrigued and delighted to learn about the company’s commitment to promote wellbeing among its staff.

After lunch, Rinpoche gave his talk on “Searching for the Searcher,” which was streamed live to Google offices around the world. In his opening comments, senior program manager Tom Van Waardhuizen welcomed the webcast audience and introduced Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, asking him to teach the staff how to Google the Googler.

Mind as our most precious resource

Rinpoche explained that the key to achieving happiness, to being kind and generous, focused, creative and productive depends upon the state of our mind. We need a healthy mind, he said, yet we don’t take care of it. We don’t investigate or understand our mind’s patterns, which keep us stuck in negative thinking. So how do we work with our mind? With a laugh, Rinpoche answered, “First, Google your mind.”

Rinpoche suggested that if we could chart our browsing history over time, organizing it by categories and trends, we would have a good idea of who we are. He explained that meditation is a process by which one becomes familiar with one’s mind — like Googling the mind. But, he added, “Once we have a good idea what that mind is, it is very helpful to look directly at the one who is looking, to ‘Google the Googler.’” At the end of his talk, after taking a few questions from the audience, Rinpoche signed copies of his new book, Emotional Rescue.

The full recording of Rinpoche’s talk is now available at Talks at Google on YouTube and via links posted through Google’s many social media outlets.

dpr-omega_fb16-rinpoche_mh_dkRinpoche will be giving a workshop on “Compassion, Forgiveness & Resilience” with David Kaczynski and Michaela Haas at Omega Institute on the weekend of October 21-23.

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche is a widely celebrated Buddhist teacher known for his warmth and wit. A lover of music, art and urban culture, Rinpoche is a poet, photographer, accomplished calligrapher and visual artist, as well as a prolific author. His recent books include “Emotional Rescue” and “Rebel Buddha.” Rinpoche is founder and president of Nalandabodhi, an international network of Buddhist centers.

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Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche: meditation and the key to happiness

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

Author and celebrated teacher Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

The Huffington Post recently published a post by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche on meditation and the key to happiness. In “What Does Meditation Have To Do With Happiness?Rinpoche explains that while everyone seeks happiness, rarely do we succeed in achieving that goal.  From an early age, we are taught different methods to become successful, which implies we will be happy. Why then, Rinpoche asks, do we feel bad so often — like something is missing? Why doesn’t our success satisfy us? After we’ve achieved our goals — the loving spouse, the peaceful home, the resources to travel or make art, our dream job — we keep looking for the next thing that will make us happy.

Why nothing is ever good enough

What it comes down to, he says, is that we’re not happy with who we are, and so we’re not happy with where we are or the things we have. But once we notice and acknowledge that, then we can work on relaxing our mind and stop focusing on outside circumstances. “If we don’t have some kind of influence over our mind, some control or mastery over our thoughts,” he said, “then it’s the same story everywhere we go, whether it’s New York City or the Himalaya mountains.”

Making friends with your mind: meditation

Happiness relies on changing things inside ourselves, Rinpoche says, not relying on external circumstances for our contentment. “It turns out that a shift in perspective can transform a moment of suffering into one of happiness no matter what is going on around you, no matter what your situation,” he said. “And the best way to change your perspective is to first make friends with your mind by getting to know it really well. That is basically the practice of meditation—and it’s also a result of meditation.”

Read the entire blog post, which includes a link for a brief instruction on how to meditate, HERE.

Watch Rinpoche’s teaching on happiness below.

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche is a widely celebrated Buddhist teacher known for his warmth and wit. A lover of music, art and urban culture, Rinpoche is a poet, photographer, accomplished calligrapher and visual artist, as well as a prolific author. His recent books include “Emotional Rescue” and “Rebel Buddha.” Rinpoche is founder and president of Nalandabodhi, an international network of Buddhist centers.

 

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Emotional Rescue Tour concludes at Nalanda West

Dzogchen Ponlop signs books and enjoys a laugh with Friday night's audience.

Dzogchen Ponlop signs books and enjoys a laugh with Friday night’s audience.

The North American Tour for the launch of Dzogchen Ponlop’s new book, “Emotional Rescue: How to Work with Your Emotions to Transform Hurt and Confusion into Energy that Empowers You,” rolled to a close May 20-23, at Nalanda West in Seattle. About 300 people attended the warmly received Friday night program and book signing, with tickets donated to the public by Compassionate Action Network. More than 170 people participated in the weekend workshop.

Nalanda West General Manager Damayonti Sengupta welcomed the eager crowd on Friday and introduced Tyler Dewar, Dean of Nalandabodhi, who led the group in a short guided contemplation. Dewar then introduced Daniel Kranzler, founder and head of the Kirlin Family Foundation that donated the tickets for Friday evening through Compassionate Action Network (CAN), an offshoot of the Kirlin Family Foundation. CAN presented the Seeds of Compassion program in 2008, which brought together His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other compassionate leaders for a landmark conference in Seattle.

Kranzler cited a recent trip to India during which he met with the Dalai Lama and learned that His Holiness initiated a program to bring together researchers studying the brain and emotions. He added that though extensive research has been shedding a great deal of new light on how our emotions work, he often thinks, ‘Okay, but what do we do about them?’ He said Dzogchen Ponlop’s book, “Emotional Rescue: How to Work with Your Emotions to Transform Hurt and Confusion into Energy that Empowers You,” answers that very question. He then introduced the widely celebrated Buddhist teacher and author. With his trademark warmth and wit, Dzochen Ponlop Rinpoche opened the evening talk by introducing his 3-Step Emotional Rescue Plan. He then gave a teaching on Step 1 of the Emotional Rescue (ER) Plan.

Mindful Gap – emotional awareness

“What would life be like without emotions? Kind of boring?” Rinpoche asked the audience. “Emotions are like the fizz of our life … Nobody wants to drink a flat soda.” Gesturing to a Power Point slide that showed a big glass of fizzy cola Rinpoche joked, “No brand name here.”

The Emotional Rescue Plan, Rinpoche explained, begins with Step 1, Mindful Gap. To practice Mindful Gap, when an emotion comes up, first FEEL: Let yourself feel the emotion;  then HOLD: Don’t suppress or try to block the emotion, simply stop for a moment without reacting; and finally LOOK: Look directly at the energy of the emotion. Said Dzogchen Ponlop, “Mindful Gap — when you Feel, Hold, and Look – can show you an exit from even your most painful emotions, when you need a quick way out.”

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After Friday’s talk, there was a brief Q&A / interview of Dzogchen Ponlop by Brad Lichtenstein, ND, BCB of Bastyr University and founder of thebreathspace.com. Dzogchen Ponlop signed books in the hall while a reception, with food donated by Compassionate Action Network, began downstairs.

Emotional Rescue weekend workshop

Dzogchen Ponlop teaching Step 2 of the ER Plan.

Dzogchen Ponlop teaching Step 2 of the ER Plan.

SATURDAY  Tyler Dewar opened Saturday’s workshop and invited participants to rest their mind naturally by focusing on the breath.

Dzogchen Ponlop’s Saturday morning talk covered Step 2 of the ER Plan, Clear Seeing, which is about getting a sense of the larger landscape of your emotions. The questions to ask yourself include: What is your dominant emotion? When does it usually come up? Where are you when it comes up? among others.

After lunch, Dewar played pieces of recorded music with different qualities. As participants listened, they were asked to follow the Mindful Gap practice: Feel, Hold, and Look — staying with the feeling and observing — getting curious — about what happened internally rather than letting thoughts take over. Afterward, individuals shared their experiences: Some liked the music selections while others didn’t, but each had an interesting observation about what the music evoked. They noticed the way they typically think about a piece of music and how many labels and thoughts come up in response to it — 0bservations they may not have otherwise made without the practice.

A brief snack break followed the afternoon session, with KIND bars donated by Kind, Co. and handed out to program participants, who enjoyed them throughout the weekend.

The day concluded in a Q&A session with Dzogchen Ponlop about practicing Emotional Rescue Steps 1 and 2: Mindful Gap and Clear Seeing.

Step 3: Letting Go

SUNDAY  Tyler Dewar again welcomed program participants, opening the workshop with quiet reflection. Rinpoche’s talk covered Step 3 of the ER Plan — Letting Go. There is not much to do with this step, Dzogchen Ponlop said. “Let it come, and let it go. You have to let it come to let it go.”

DPR_ER_QUOTE_to-let-go

 

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche is a widely celebrated Buddhist teacher known for his warmth and wit. A lover of music, art and urban culture, Rinpoche is a poet, photographer, accomplished calligrapher and visual artist, as well as a prolific author. Rinpoche is founder and president of Nalandabodhi, an international network of Buddhist centers.

 

 

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Congratulations to the Winners of Emotional Rescue Scholarships

SEATTLE_ER Event_NW Blog FEATURED IMAGECongratulations to the winners of two scholarships who will receive this weekend’s Emotional Rescue training with Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche at Nalanda West.

Nalanda West is pleased to have been able to donate these two Emotional Rescue scholarships through Compassionate Action Network (CAN), who selected Clara Koch and Lara Gandara-Flynn to receive the program scholarships.

As part of the selection process, applicants shared what they planned to do with information learned in the Emotional Rescue training.

A Teacher Faces Difficult Emotions

One of the scholarship recipients is Lara Gandara-Flynn, a 25-year veteran teacher in the Everett community. Ms. Gandara-Flynn recently lost a young student in a gang-related incident. She said that she often struggles to remain compassionate with students when their anger at extreme poverty and gang violence spills into their lives at school and sometimes even ends up aimed at her. She looks forward to learning the Emotional Rescue 3-step Plan to help herself and her students navigate this challenging emotional landscape.

We have appreciated working together with Compassionate Action Network to help offer a positive way forward for the two deserving recipients of these Emotional Rescue scholarships. A few tickets are still available for this weekend’s program with Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche. Register here.

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Emotions: What makes them workable?

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche talks about the power of emotions.

On April 30, OmTimes Magazine posted an interview with Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, renowned Buddhist teacher and author of “Emotional Rescue: How to Work with Your Emotions to Transform Hurt and Confusion into Energy that Empowers You.” 

The interviewer asked Dzogchen Ponlop, “What is it about our emotions that makes them workable? They seem to be at the very center of our suffering. How can the energy of emotions empower you?

Rinpoche responded with a concise and clear explanation of emotions. He began by saying, “At heart, your emotional energies are a limitless source of creative power and intelligence that’s “on” all the time—like the electrical current we put to so many uses.” Enjoy the complete interview here.

Book Tour: Emotional Rescue with Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

The 2016 North American Tour for the book launch of “Emotional Rescue: How to Work with Your Emotions to Transform Hurt and Confusion into Energy that Empowers You” will conclude in Seattle, where Dzogchen Ponlop will give a talk and weekend workshop based on the book at Nalanda West on May 20 – 23. To register, click here.

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche is a widely celebrated Buddhist teacher known for his warmth and wit. A lover of music, art and urban culture, Rinpoche is a poet, photographer, accomplished calligrapher and visual artist, as well as a prolific author. Rinpoche is founder and president of Nalandabodhi, an international network of Buddhist centers.

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Emotions: do we need to be rescued from them?

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche speaking on his “Emotional Rescue” book launch tour

On April 27, Conscious Talk Radio interviewed author and celebrated Buddhist teacher Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche about his recently released book, “Emotional Rescue: How to Work with Your Emotions to Transform Hurt and Confusion into Energy that Empowers You.”  Program hosts Brenda Michaels and Rob Spears asked Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche why do we need rescuing from our emotions?

“We are usually overwhelmed and overpowered by our emotions when we are not paying attention,” Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche said. “The idea of rescue here is  connecting with our emotions to get to a safer zone.” He went on to say that emotions are widely misunderstood, even the positive ones. “So we get into painful situations in our life, but the basic nature (of emotions) is positive energy. There is so much creative energy there, and that basic energy can liberate us.”

Listen to the full interview with Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche here.

Book Tour: Emotional Rescue with Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

As part of the 2016 North American Tour for the book launch of “Emotional Rescue: How to Work with Your Emotions to Transform Hurt and Confusion into Energy that Empowers You,” Dzogchen Ponlop will give a talk and weekend workshop based on the book in New York City this weekend. Nalandabodhi New York and co-presenter The Interdependence Project will host the special program.

On Friday evening, May 6, Rinpoche will give a keynote talk. Ethan Nichtern, a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition, will then interview Rinpoche, followed by a book signing. On Saturday and Sunday, Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche will teach on the 3-step Emotional Rescue Plan for working with disturbing emotions. With his usual warmth and humor, he will  share the methods presented in his new book. Teachers from both The Interdependence Project and Nalandabodhi will lead experiential exercises throughout the workshop.

The event will be held at the Baryshnikov Performing Arts Center in New York City. Click here to register. On Monday May 9th, positive psychiatrist Dr. Samantha Boardman joins Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche for a conversation at The Rubin Museum of Art on managing negative emotions as part of the Rubin’s “Brainwave” Series.  Click here to register.

Next stop on the tour: Nalanda West in Seattle on May 20 – 22. Click here to register.

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche is a renowned Buddhist teacher known for his warmth and wit. A lover of music, art and urban culture, Rinpoche is a poet, photographer, accomplished calligrapher and visual artist, as well as a prolific author. Rinpoche is founder and president of Nalandabodhi, an international network of Buddhist centers.

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Emotional Rescue Tour: Next stop New York City

Join Dzogchen Ponlop for a talk and workshop based on his new book, Emotional Rescue

Join Dzogchen Ponlop for a talk and workshop based on his new book, Emotional Rescue: How to Work with Your Emotions to Transform Hurt and Confusion into Energy that Empowers You.

On Friday, April 4, before a lively crowd at Temple University in Philadelphia, Dzogchen Ponlop kicked off the 2016 Emotional Rescue North American Tour for his newly released book, Emotional Rescue: How to Work with Your Emotions to Transform Hurt and Confusion into Energy that Empowers You.

The widely celebrated teacher and author of Rebel Buddha: A Guide to a Revolution of Mind recounted a personal story about the early, untimely death of his father and how it set off his own quest as a teenager to find a way to relieve the powerful feelings of grief and discontent. With the help of his teacher, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, Dzogchen Ponlop learned how to work with racing emotions and thoughts. When he saw the “big role the emotions played in the drama of this life,” he began to delve deeper into his mind to understand all that he could about the energy of emotions.

Methods that make a difference

“I realized that whatever approach I took to deal with my emotions,” he writes in Emotional Rescue, “I needed ways that would work with my whole life – methods that would actually make a difference. I needed to be able to see myself clearly and to feel the emotions that touched me and colored my world every day.”

Rooted in his experience of the Buddhist path, which teaches that the key to understanding your emotions is to get to know your mind, Dzogchen Ponlop created the 3 Step Emotional Rescue Plan to help familiarize us with the inner workings of our emotions. Using the steps Mindful Gap, Clear Seeing, and Letting Go, we move from being victims to partners to creative collaborators with these profound energies. “When we bring awareness to our emotions, something truly amazing happens,” he writes. “They lose their power to make us miserable.”

ER_DPR_Halifax_intro Fri_True KindnessFollowing the inaugural Emotional Rescue Tour presentation in Philadelphia, Dzogchen Ponlop gave a talk and two-day workshop on how to use the three steps of Emotional Rescue delineated in his book in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and in Washington D.C. One workshop participant likened the event to the experience of eating a Snickers Bar. “You get a taste of realization at the talk, like the taste of a Snickers Bar,” she said. “And like a Snickers Bar, you’ll want more, which is what you get in the workshop.”

Next stop on the Emotional Rescue book tour is New York City on May 6 – 8.

Nalanda West is already buzzing as we prepare to welcome Rinpoche’s Emotional Rescue tour to Seattle May 20-22.

Register for the Nalanda West talk and the weekend workshop in Seattle here.

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche is a renowned Buddhist teacher known for his warmth and wit. A lover of music, art and urban culture, Rinpoche is a poet, photographer, accomplished calligrapher and visual artist, as well as a prolific author. Rinpoche is founder and president of Nalandabodhi, an international network of Buddhist centers.

 

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Stepping into Awareness

Awareness Enabled Life Positioning

The inaugural Awareness Enabled Life Positioning workshop auspiciously debuted on the weekend of the Vernal Equinox at Nalanda West. Alongside approximately thirty participants, I spent Saturday and Sunday exploring my life, values, strengths and aspirations. Led by Mark Power, we examined our situations, reflected on our gifts and our talents, determined strengths that would support our dreams, and took steps to manifest these changes.

“What is it that I really want from my life?”

The question feels almost too big to even ask. Many in the workshop shared that they were on the verge of big changes in their lives or had already begun a process of evolution. We approached the question by means of a series of written exercises interspersed with moments of pause and reflection. Sometimes a poem was read aloud, sometimes Mark guided us in a short meditation. This particular reading moved me deeply:

To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world
is to live in your true inheritance.

David Whyte (The House of Belonging)
excerpt from “What to Remember When Waking”

In one of the first activities, we reviewed our lives and made note of formative experiences, both good and bad. An outcome of this exercise for me was the realization that although some of the high point were notable achievements, they were not, in and of themselves, fulcrums. Rather, the inflection points for fundamental changes in my life happened often at times of great suffering, in the lowest of low times. We chose a few instances from our own timelines to share with the larger group and created a collective lifeline which highlighted a sense of resiliency and commonality.

Community LifeLine

Community LifeLine

Later, we examined the characteristics that give our lives value and the character traits that define us as human beings. Quantifying where we stand today in terms of these values, we then contrasted that with where we would like to be in relationship to our core values. The discrepancies found here gave us a peek into what areas of our lives might need attention and where we might consider making a change in order to achieve fuller congruency in our lives.

I am an artist and creativity is something that I highly value, something that defines me as a person. I have been concerned that where I am creatively is not where I would like to be and over the weekend was able to identify three strengths I could focus on to help re-align my life with my creative ideal. It was with great pleasure that I spent time elucidating these strengths, Commitment, Structure and Play, in collage form. Creating postures evincing those same strengths was a challenge, but learning to embody the strengths makes a lot of sense. I want these strengths to become part of my skeleton, to incorporate them so that I stand with them on a cellular level.

Commitment, Structure, Play

Commitment, Structure, Play

Many thanks to Mark Power for facilitating a potent weekend of reflection and change. I am grateful that I was able to step into spring with increased awareness and focus because of the Awareness Enabled Life Positioning workshop.

It’s time. It’s almost too late.

Did you see the magnolia light its pink fires?
You could be your own, unknown self.
No one is keeping it from you.

Elizabeth Austen
excerpt from This Morning

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Three key points of Buddhist path

Acharya Lhakpa Tshering and several participants enjoy lunch together at Nalanda West.

Acharya Lhakpa Tshering and several participants share a meal during a weekend teaching at Nalanda West.

Acharya Lhakpa Tshering will return to Nalanda West on March 11 and 12 to discuss three key points of the Buddhist path. Over the weekend, Acharya will teach from the great Tibetan master Tsongkhapa’s work, “Three Principal Aspects of the Path.” These essential points condense the entire range of the Buddhist teachings, making an easy-to-remember template for practitioners of any level.

On February 19 and 20, at Nalanda West, Archarya taught on the Progressive Stages of Meditation from the text of the Indian master Kamalashila. Using accessible metaphors, Acharya helped participants understand the classic teachings. For example: Imagine your ego as a king or queen, he said, surrounded by an entourage of all your disturbing emotions. One by one, each negative emotion is defeated, which leaves the ego without its guardians. Unprotected, the ego is then easy to defeat.

Acharya is known for his calm demeanor and warm humor. Please join us for a delightful and illuminating weekend on March 11 and 12. Click here to register

Acharya Lhakpa Tshering is a resident teacher at Nalanda West and a visiting teacher of Nalandabodhi centers in the northeastern United States and Mexico City. Originally from Bhutan, Acharya moved to Seattle in 2006.

 

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