Hi guest, Register | Login | Contact Us
Welcome to Phayul.com - Our News Your Views
Sun 18, Nov 2018 02:50 AM (IST)
Search:     powered by Google
 MENU
Home
News
Photo News
Opinions
Statements &
Press Releases

Book Reviews
Movie Reviews
Interviews
Travels
Health
Obituaries
News Discussions
News Archives
Download photos from Tibet
 Latest Stories
Dalai lama urges scientists to research on 'inner science'
LODI GYARI - A LEGENDARY DIPLOMAT - OBITUARY
Kasur Gyari Rinpoche to be cremated in Dehradun on Sunday
Four key agendas on current US visit, says President Sangay
Former political prisoner Palden Gyatso in frail health
Govt. of India’s post of advisor for Tibet likely to remain vacant until Xi's 2019 visit
Twitter CEO meets Dalai Lama, calls him “an amazing teacher”
Dalai Lama to speak at IIT Bombay's Techfest lecture series
Kashag’s written statement in Case no. 20 due within a week
‘My reincarnation issue not urgent’ says Dalai Lama in Japan
 Latest Photo News
Winner of the Miss Himalaya Pageant 2018 Ritika Sharma, First Runner-up Palak Sharma and Second-Runner-up Ashima Sharma wave to the audience during the Miss Himalaya Pageant 2018 in McLeod Ganj, India, on 6 October 2018, Photo: L. Wangyal
His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrives to begin his four day teaching on the request of a Taiwanese group, Tsuglakhang courtyard, Theckchen Choeling, McLeod Ganj, October . 3, 2018. OHHDL Photo/Ven. Tenzin Jamphel
Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama addresses the gathering during the 50th year celebration of Tibet Insitute Rikon. The event was attended by around 4000 people from all parts of Europe. Around 4000 people have come to attend the function organised by Tibet Institute Rikon with support of Tibetan Community in Switzerland and Liechtensein. Winterthur, September 22, 2018. Phayul photo/Norbu Wangyal
more photos »
Advertisement
Buddhist retreat plans stir a community
timesunion.com[Monday, December 29, 2003 07:18]
Berne - Pastor's letter warning of a battle for souls provokes discussion in town of faith, tolerance

By KATE GURNETT

A proposed Buddhist retreat has prompted a religious query previously unexplored in town planning: What would Jesus do?
The question arose after an international Tibetan group chose 350 acres here as a place to teach meditation and caregiving for the terminally ill. The beauty of Berne, a remote Hilltown of 2,846 residents with no industry, drew Rigpa, which has centers in 11 countries, project manager Judith Brown said. The group hopes to complete approvals in April and begin revamping the former New School University's camp on Game Farm Road. Rigpa looked at 40 sites throughout New England and the Catskills.

"Everyone has just been so gracious and welcoming and kind, it sort of seems like it's really meant to be here," Brown said.

Town leaders agreed. "We are very lucky to have been chosen," said Supervisor Kevin Crosier, who thinks the center will stimulate the local economy.

Then came the letters.

"The foundation of our heritage in the Hilltowns is based on Christian beliefs and values," Pastor Jay T. Francis of the Rock Road Chapel in Berne wrote in The Altamont Enterprise, a local weekly, on Nov. 6. "The spiritual environment of our area and more importantly the destiny of our souls is at stake."

The special-use permit didn't cover souls.

Residents shot back, penning four letters backing Buddha that ran in the next week's Enterprise.

"Would Pastor Francis have all of us who currently live in the Hilltowns who don't accept Jesus as our savior leave?" wrote Collie Goldstein of nearby Knox. "I would like to remind Pastor Francis that our country was founded upon the principle of religious freedom."

The hallmark of a well-adjusted community is a tolerance for other beliefs, Berne Planning Board member Gerry Chartier noted in his letter.

By Nov. 20, the Rev. C.W. Davis of Altamont had written a three-column editorial in which he blamed Eastern religions for leading him deeper into drug abuse in the 1960s. "I have seen our God heal cancers, broken bones, all sorts of illnesses and mental afflictions. I don't recall Buddha claiming that ability."

People who prefer traditional Christian churches to Buddhist centers have a right to speak out, said Jonathan Francis, the pastor's son and a failed Knox town justice candidate who also wrote to the editor. The comments aren't meant to be intolerant, he said.

But they were, said Richard Ronconi, a retired guidance counselor who wound up writing his own letter. "It was a totally un-Christian thing to do," he said last week.

Pastor Francis said he's glad he provoked the conversation. "I feel God himself is bringing the Hilltowns to a decision-time: Is Jesus the way or is he not?"

He would greet anyone as a neighbor, even if he disagrees with their theology, said Francis, who began his 100-member congregation as a Bible study group in the 1960s. A fifth-generation Berne farmer, Francis, 58, also runs an international missionary group and a prayer center/health clinic on upper Clinton Avenue in Albany.

Buddhists, on the other hand, don't proselytize, Brown said. Rigpa doesn't plan on being a "big, splashy organization and attract a lot of attention to ourselves."

The proposed Center of Wisdom and Compassion, off County Route 1, would feature small signs and ground lights that meet the International Dark-Sky Association anti-light-pollution standards, Brown said. It would contain its own waste-water treatment plant, a refurbished residence and dining hall, a small monastery and temple and 40 tent sites.

A Planning Board hearing is scheduled for Jan. 8 at Town Hall.

Rigpa founder Sogyal Rinpoche was born in Tibet and wrote the "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying," which has been printed in 27 languages and is used by health care professionals. Rinpoche gave the name "Rigpa" (the innermost essence of the mind) to his international network, which reaches from Australia to Canada.

Buddha (a Sanskrit word meaning "the awakened one") was born Siddhartha Gautama around 560 B.C. in Nepal and was raised a prince before leaving his kingdom to attain enlightenment. Buddhism, which uses meditation and mindfulness to reach inner purity, flourished throughout Asia and has gained millions of followers in the West in the past century.

"No matter what you do, you're not going to have everybody in agreement," Supervisor Crosier said. "Residents (here) have a strong sense of community. That's why we were chosen. We hold the same values as (Rigpa). We're open. Neighbors are free to share their views."

Berne was settled by people from many different walks of life, Crosier added. "Today that ancestry still carries on."

Joanna Bull of Rensselaerville, who is a student of Rinpoche and helped locate the Berne site for Rigpa, says Buddhism and Christianity have many common beliefs.

"I think once (opponents) get to know the community of people who are coming, they'll be really delighted to have us and will see us as people who will only improve the land ... and enrich the community.

Rigpa plans to "buy locally" when it needs furniture, cushions, food and other goods. Like its predecessor, the New School, Rigpa is a not-for-profit organization and as such will not pay property taxes.

Rigpa will open its meditation and training classes to the public, Brown said.

Whether Jesus would attend remains open to discussion.
Print Send Bookmark and Share
  Readers' Comments »
Comments (emilymulder)
Spiritual turf war in Switzerland? (T.C.Tethong)
Proposed Buddhist site (Richard Thompson)
Kalachakra vendor booth (Gyalbu Lama)
A proposed Buddhist retreat plans stir a community (Tsewong Chonzom Chazotsang)
Your Comments

 Other Stories
China must recognise Tibet as an autonomous State: Ripoche
Move to shift Xuanzang relics to Nalanda
Advertisement
Advertisement
Photo Galleries
Advertisement
Phayul.com does not endorse the advertisements placed on the site. It does not have any control over the google ads. Please send the URL of the ads if found objectionable to editor@phayul.com
Copyright © 2004-2018 Phayul.com   feedback | advertise | contact us
Powered by Lateng Online
Advertisement