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Pema Karpo Meditation Center's Beginning

On July 6, 2004, Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche and Candia Ludy were introduced at his birthday bar-b-q, hosted by his dear friend and one of her Buddhist teachers, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, at Shambhala Mountain Center in Colorado. Later Candia was requested by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, to become Khenpo's Shambhala Secretary, a post she continues to hold.

In early May 2005 Candia agreed to purchase seven acres of land and a small house next to the Vietnamese Buddhist Temple, Chua Pho Da, for $90,000 with the intent to build a Tibetan Buddhist meditation center and the first land center for English speakers in Memphis. Since 2003, when she coordinated the building of a graceful fifteen foot Stupa of Enlightenment on the east side of Chua Pho Da, Candia had been looking at the house thinking it would make a good beginning center with enough space to grow very large.

Early in July 2005, while again coordinating programs at Shambhala Mountain Center, she heard that the Sakyong was looking for a good situation for Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche. Seizing this golden opportunity to try to secure a great teacher for the Mid-South area, she wrote to Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche on July 25, 2005 offering the new place as a center, with support and English lessons, for Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche. This led to everyone meeting in Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche's home and a recommendation that the Khenpo consider Memphis.

October 2005 the house and land were purchased. With the help of the Vietnamese sangha and a few local western Buddhist students, the front section of the house was changed into a simple shrine room. Even before the remodeling was completed, the center hosted for three weeks, two Venerable Tibetan lamas from India, Khensur Lobsang Rinpoche and Geshe Jamyang, who’s tour of Vietnamese temples was disrupted by Hurricane Katrina. At that time Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche was attending English language school in Boulder, CO and assisted with the visit by telephone.

In January 2006, Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche made his first visit of six weeks to Memphis to see the place and meet the Western and Vietnamese sanghas. At that time he felt it would make a good dharma place, walked the land carefully and drew plans for a new meditation center on the back of an envelope.

Following that visit Rinpoche came to Memphis several times teaching and working with the local students. After finishing his previous commitments, and with the agreement of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, in July 2007 he made the decision to stay in America and shortly after moved to Memphis. Because there were Western students sincerely interested in studying Tibetan Buddhism but no center and no dharma teacher, Rinpoche felt he would be the most beneficial in the Tri-State area.

On November 23, 2008, Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche formally announced his acceptance of the center as his seat of dharma activities and gave it the name Pema Karpo Meditation Center. Rinpoche had chosen the name Pema Karpo, which means White Lotus, on his first visit in January 2006.

Photos left to right: Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche drawing the meditation center plan, Khensur Lobsang Rinpoche and Geshe Jamyang, Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche's first Refuge Ceremony in the West, Kuan Yin statue in front of Chua Pho Da, advertisement for the first retreat, the Stupa of Enightenment, Candia Ludy

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