Padmasambhava Buddhist Center

This profile was last updated in 2003

History

Janie Floren established Central Florida’s first Nyingma Tibetan Buddhist Center in Longwood, Florida in February of 1989 assisted by theTibetan lamas.

The initial years of the Center brought forth challenges for the new Buddhist group in the area such as finding appropriate places to hold their meditation meetings and finding students who wanted to participate or become actively involved with the group. At the time, there were many different people drifting into the newly founded Center to experiment with the Tibetan Buddhism that had become so popularized in American culture. Unfortunately, most of those “seekers” drifted out just as quickly, and assembling a core group of dedicated members presented some difficulty. The first five members met in a variety of locations from rented meeting halls to individual homes.

The Religious Leaders

Today, the Padmasambhava Buddhist Center’s religious leaders and teachers are lovingly referred to as the “Khenpos” (abbots) by the members and their official titles are: the Venerable Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche and the Venerable Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche. They play a pivotal role in the development and growth of the Center by visiting the area often to teach and hold retreats in Longwood as well as the Padmasambhava Buddhist Center in West Palm Beach. A visitor can sense the reverence and love the members hold for the Khenpos when they listen to them tell of the Khenpos’ kind natures and great sense of humors. The Khenpos’ pictures are also framed on the altar in the worship room and their bright smiles in these photographs seem to confirm the member’s words about their personalities.

Description

When a visitor attends a meditation meeting at the Padmasambhava Center in Janie’s home in Longwood, they are warmly welcomed upon entering. An immediate sense of peace can be felt in the surroundings. The home resides lakefront, and one can see the stretch of lawn and foliage just beyond a beautiful decked porch. A white statue of Buddha is present on the lawn and images of serene oriental gardens come to mind. The walls are decorated with numerous pictures of Buddhist retreats, gatherings, family, friends and of course, the Khenpos.

A specific worship room has been established and appropriately adorned. Beautiful hanging Thankas depicting White Tara, Buddha Shakyamuni, and Guru Padmasambhava are lined along the facing wall. Ornate, circular pillows of deep purple are placed beside each member for the purpose of holding worship books open. Greetings are kind and lighthearted before entering the worship room, but as the members filter in, a serious mood is felt as the members pay proper homage to the altar and prepare for the session in a devoted manner. Special comfort preparations are made for the visitor along the rear wall on soft futons to ease the burden of the lotus position for the unaccustomed.

The Session

The session takes the standard Nyingma Tibetan format, and the group’s harmonious, melodic chanting (in Tibetan), fills the room revealing their seasoned dedication. The session is inspiring as a result of the intimate surroundings of the worship room with its soft lights and handful of participants. The quiet meditation portion of the session takes place in candle lit darkness and one feels a connection to all who are present. To summerize the feeling of this particular meditation session from a visitor’s perspective, reference to Janie’s words regarding why she chose this form of Buddhism seem to be ideal as she shared, “It seemed to be the kindest,” and this is truly how it felt. It is, simply put, very kind.

When the session is complete, the group leaves the worship room to reconvene in the dining and kitchen area where administrative business is attended to and refreshments are served. The visitor is engaged in lively conversation and is immediately made to feel “a part of” the group.

The Community and Activities

The members ethnic composition is predominately American, age thirty and up, well-educated, and well-versed in the history and roots of the Nyingma Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Presently, they have no affiliation with other communities or organizations. Being a small group, there are no organized programs for children either. The meditation sessions are held every Wednesday at 7:30 P.M. The group has other gatherings for special occasions where children and extended family and friends join them such as a “tsok” where they offer food to Buddha and the Dharma protectors. They also celebrate the New Year and Buddha’s birthday. In addition, they have a monthly newsletter and a mailing list.

Regarding the Padmasambhava Center in Longwood and it’s members, Janie relates, “After being the coordinator and founding member of this Dharma Center my realizations are: the quality of students far more outweighs the quantity of students, and as with anything valuable in this precious life one must have a sincere motivation, a genuine sense of gratitude and appreciation, and a heartfelt devotion in order to accomplish peace and equanimity on this extraordinary spiritual path.”

Central Belief

Adhering strongly to the fundamental practices of NyingmaTibetan Buddhism, this Padmasambhava Center stands firm as devoted representation of their beliefs in world peace, and the supreme good fortune and well being of all.