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Buddhist lama from Bhutan to visit Ashland

Karma Rinpoche, a prominent Buddhist lama from Bhutan, will visit Ashland for a week starting July 30 to perform ceremonies, blessings and storytelling at the invitation of the Rev. Norma Nakai Burton of Unity in Ashland.

Rinpoche visited Ashland last year and is searching for “like-minded communities” that share the values of Bhutan. Ashland is considered one of them, said Burton.

He will bless and consecrate several sites here, including the Circle of Trust (formerly Circle of Teran) on July 31. Burton hopes to run a drug and alcohol recovery center at the site independent of Unity. Neighbors have appealed county approval of the recovery center and a decision is due out on July 27.

“It will be a 15-bed residential healing center, not just a recovery center, offering a deep level of healing spiritually, psychologically and biologically,” Burton said.

Rinpoche is slated for a Full Moon Fire Ceremony and potluck at Jackson Wellsprings Kasbah earlier on July 31.

The fire ceremony, said organizer Beka Chandler of Ashland, includes food and herbal offerings to the fire while Rinpoche chants special prayers “to purify obstacles and negativities . . . for world peace and the spiritual benefits of all beings.”

Rinpoche grew up in the Paro Monastery in Bhutan, became a dance master and earned his Buddhist Philosophy degree, then founded and became spiritual director of the Drukpa Mila Center in Salem and Longmont, Colo.

He will bless a piece of land purchased by Karen Logan, a follower in Ashland, for use as a Sky Temple for him and other visiting teachers.

He also will bless the vision of a proposed Earth Temple for indigenous, interfaith religions of all types, Burton said. This arises from the Unity Church in Ashland and embraces a range of spiritual groups here that are based in honoring the Earth.

“He is very enthusiastic about my concept of the omni-faith Earth Temple,” said Burton. “It’s birthing through Unity and we’re looking for land for it. It will be Unity rebranded and will include other spiritual groups in town. He will bless the people involved and the potential for the temple.”

Unity now meets Sunday mornings at Havurah Shir Hadash, 185 N. Mountain Ave.

“The money will come from donors to the Earth Temple and from fundraisers," Burton said. "We hope to purchase the land next year. ... Omni-faith means all mystical, earth-based, creation-centered (faiths) that are about the healing of the Earth and the growth of consciousness and humans being vessels of the divine, with social justice. It’s bringing healing to the planet and person at the same time.”

Rinpoche will give a short talk on “Gross National Happiness” at the Unity service at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 2, followed by a Water Blessing Ceremony at Jackson Wellsprings at 4 p.m. for those experiencing emotional, mental, physical or spiritual challenges. 

Rinpoche will present Buddha’s teachings at a Buddha Sutra at 7 p.m. Aug. 4 at The Haven, 1970 Ashland St.

The visit, said Chandler, is “an amazing convergence in Ashland, to bring more spiritual teachings to a place where he might bless the land and teach. We are welcoming the Bhutan culture. … So many people feel their lives stuck and welcome hearing his teachings to move forward in life. I have been to Bhutan … and feel such gratitude because he is so dedicated and is working so hard to make changes in the world.”

Event details are at eventbrite.com (search for Ashland).

Reach freelance writer John Darling at jdarling@jeffnet.org.