Many people drive past it on their commute to work or school, some even live next door to it, but many residents don’t realize that Redding is home to the Do Ngak Kunphen Ling, Tibetan Buddhist Center of Universal Peace.
Located on Putnam Park Road, between Putnam Park and Route 107, the Buddhist Center is a nonprofit organization open to people of every faith, race, gender, and age. The center, open seven days a week, was started in 2007.
According to its mission statement, under the guidance of Gyumed Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Jampa, DNKL draws on the spiritual tradition of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the humanitarian visions of Maurice Pate to achieve the following six goals:
• Conduct classes on Buddhist philosophy and meditation on a regular basis.
• Offer systematic and graduated levels of training in Buddhist moral discipline, meditative concentration, and transformative wisdom so that participants can incorporate such thought and practice in their daily lives.
• Conduct short- and long-term retreats and facilitate solitary retreats.
• Host public talks, spiritual festivals, and other community events where families may participate.
• Engage in humanitarian activities such as helping Tibetan monks and children with basic education and health needs.
• Eventually become established as a Buddhist university for American students.
The fourth goal — host public talks, spiritual festivals, and other community events where families may participate — is an effort the center has been engaged in more recently.
In May, the center hosted a children’s day when children learned songs, played games, created art, and watched a short movie. Children were also taught some age-appropriate lessons and guided meditation on mindfulness.
On Saturday, June 7, at 12:30, with a rain date on Saturday, June 21, DNKL is hosting an animal blessing.
People may bring their well-behaved animal on a leash or even bring a photo of the animal or its favorite toy to be blessed.
At 12:30, visitors may mingle with animal professionals and animal lovers. Kids’ activities, crafts and games will be offered. Visitors are also invited to walk the expansive grounds of the center.
At 1:30, there will be a silent auction, and a guest speaker from Guiding Eyes for the Blind will speak at 2:15.
The dedication to participants will begin at 3.
A portion of the proceeds raised from the silent auction will be used to purchase pet oxygen masks for local fire and rescue units.
Geshe Lobsang Dhargey, the resident teacher and scholar at DNKL, said the center is a judgment-free facility. The main goal of teaching dharma classes is to reduce anger and frustration and to promote a more harmonious and happy life, he said.
Geshe Dhargey said a goal of the center is not to “convert” people to Buddhism but rather to help them transform anger into love and to live a happy, healthy life.
Sutra classes are offered for free at the center with a suggested donation in order to help the center function from day to day. Classes are offered to people who are just beginning to practice Buddhism and those already practicing.
“The foundational teachings of Buddhism are found in a collectvion of texts knows as Sutras, spoken by the Buddha himself and subsequently passed on orally through a succession of disciples on down to modern masters,” according to the center’s website.
All are invited to attend any sutra class open to all levels. Old sutra recordings are also available online in the archive.
April McKale, board member of DNKL, said classes have been known to help reduce stress, depression and anxiety. After meditation there is often time for questions and answers, she said.
Geshe Dhargey said he has gotten questions about problems with families and spouses and when they come back after some classes and meditation, he said, problems have been resolved.
“I’m happy to hear and see results,” he said.
He said many of the teachers use their own experiences and technique on how to deal with an issue and reach a harmonious and happy life.
Ms. McKale practices at the temple herself.
“It’s amazing what I’ve learned from them,” she said. “I wish other people knew.”
“Coming to class is different than practicing at home,” said Ms. McKale. For those in the early stages of practicing, she said, being present makes a big difference.
“It’s really amazing,” she said.