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Palm Beach Dharma Center
A HISTORY OF PADMASAMBHAVA BUDDHIST CENTER AT PALM BEACH DHARMA CENTER
It is Saturday morning and the Padmasambhava Buddhist Center is holding weekly open house. Music is playing softly in the bookstore, inviting people to browse. The lamps are lit in the library where texts on ancient and contemporary Buddhism are available. Glancing down the hall, French doors open to a traditional Nyingma shrine, in the oldest lineage in Tibetan Buddhism. It is a refuge vibrant with energy and beauty. All are welcome here. Students are delighted at their good fortune to have a Dharma center in Lake Worth. And looking back, the history of how our little jewel of a center came into being is quite a story. As all good stories do, it contains elements of suspense, adventure, triumph, and tragedy.
Many of you already know that it is now more than five decades since the invasion of Tibet by the Chinese. Thousands of people sought refuge in along with the Dalai Lama, whose seat as Head of State is now in Dharamsala. Among those who thought it wise to leave was an amazing and formidable family from Kham, the eastern region of Tibet. They were led from the village of Dashul under the watchful eyes of their mother and father, both lifelong and devoted practitioners. The year was 1959. Gathering their four children (two sisters and two brothers), they left before dawnâ€™s first light in the middle of winter. Imagine their father planning and packing the family yak. A small, compact man, his body was powerful and his mind clear and quick. It was through his prophecy that they chose to leave the only life that their families had known for centuries. They took what provisions they could manage as well as ancient, precious Dharma items.
Their journey was infused with an uncertainty that we can only imagine: a small band traveling by night and hiding by day. Hunger and biting cold pursued them for months, especially in the mountain passes. Many people are not aware that the Tibetans had to flee through some of the highest mountains in the world. The trip took an unexpected year and a half, and hardships exacted their inexorable toll. Shortly after arriving in, their youngest sister died quite suddenly along the path. And within the first year in a refuge camp located in Eastern, their mother and older sister also passed away.