Gyatrul Rinpoche To Teach At KPC in Sedona, Arizona

The following article is from the Summer, 2001 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.


Gyatrul Rinpoche, Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo, and H.H. Penor Rinpoche

In the late nineties, news reached me that my teacher, Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo was planning to move to Sedona, Arizona along with many of her ordained sangha (including my son). This American-born lama was enthroned at Kunzang Palyul Choling in Maryland by H.H. Penor Rinpoche.

A large temple complex is to be built at the foot of the spectacular red-rock mountains. In addition, a house will be built for Gyatrul Rinpoche on the lot next to Jetsunma's. Delighted with the news and curious to see what was happening, I flew to Arizona in April, 2001 and requested an interview with Jetsunma.

ELEANOR ROWE: "Please tell me about the new 36-foot stupa you plan to build in Sedona, recalling the challenges of constructing the Migyur Dorje Stupa at KPC in Maryland. The tallest of more than thirty stupas, it had been built at the suggestion of H.H. Penor Rinpoche to house relics of Terton Migyur Dorje and Kunzang Sherab."


...a medicine man related this ancient prophecy: In the land of the red rocks, the East will meet the West, and there the flower will bloom and the healing of mankind will begin.

The area of Sedona where the new KPC center will be built

JETSUNMA: "One of the motivations for building the Migyur Dorje stupa and other excellent stupas is that Americans don't have many places of pilgrimage, places that inspire faith. I have tried to empower each of the stupas with health-giving and life- extending qualities, so that those who are ill or dying have a place to go that is beyond the scope of the ordinary—something that can provide people with the faith to keep going. There have been some healings at these stupas.

Already we have built a small stupa on the Sedona temple land dedicated to the long life of Gyatrul Rinpoche. I want to dedicate the new one to his long life as well."

ER: "Is it really true that Gyatrul Rinpoche will be moving here?

J: "Oh yes, he is planning to come and live with us. He still travels, but this will be his main home."

Stupa at Sedona dedicated to the long life of Gyatrul Rinpoche

Gyatrul Rinpoche has always offered Jetsunma advice and support. When she told him about the challenges of maintaining the Maryland temple while sustaining new growth in Sedona, he said, "I will come to live with you, and you can take care of me—if I can come and take care of you." The plan, she explained, is for him to teach there too.

Jetsunma enthusiastically concluded: "I think Sedona needs that kind of pure Bodhisattva activity and needs the pure Dharma. Sedona is a spiritual supermarket—everything you could possibly imagine, and the shelves are stocked. People come to Sedona not only for its beauty but to have a spiritual experience. It is a powerful place with sacred energies. Legend has it that red rocks are Dakini rocks."

At the foot of these towering, magnificent rocks, land is being cleared for the future temple. It will accommodate major Dharma events. A community center is planned for less traditionally Buddhist activities, such as generic meditation.

For hundreds of years, native peoples have considered Sedona a powerful spiritual place. In a recent TV program about Sedona, a medicine man related this ancient prophecy: "In the land of the red rocks, the East will meet the West, and there the flower will bloom and the healing of mankind will begin."

images Gyatrul Rinpoche

I asked some of Jetsunma's sangha in Sedona, both ordained and lay, to comment about what is happening there. Ani Alyce Louise, a business executive, considers the planned temple a unique opportunity to bring together Buddhist, Native American, and other spiritual traditions "which wish to protect this earth." The new temple, she said, will help spiritual seekers to differentiate between "spiritual mush" and authentic spiritual wisdom.

Ani Lucia, an X-ray technician, observed that from an external perspective, the mission of KPC is to build "precious structures that will support the propagation of the Dharma." The underlying mission is always "to cultivate and develop the great Bodhicitta without which nothing would matter."

With all this building, is there time for compassionate activity in the world? The monk Palzang, with some lay volunteers, founded the Bodhi Seed Prison Project, now registered with the Arizona Dept. of Corrections. Ani Anastasis, a former drug addict, is an effective AA leader, and she now works with the developmentally handicapped. Ani Palmo has organized "The Generation of Hope," a group of teenagers dedicated to compassionate projects in Sedona and around the world, including an AIDS orphanage in Africa. Several of Jetsunma's students are hospice volunteers. Still others, such as my son, care for rescued birds in her Garuda bird sanctuary.

KPC Sangha

When H.H. Penor Rinpoche enthroned Jetsunma in 1988, he recognized her as the incarnation of Ahkon Lhamo, who, in the sixteenth century, had helped her brother Kunzang Sherab found the Palyul lineage. Gyatrul Rinpoche is recognized as the present incarnation of Kunzang Sherab. It is with joyful anticipation that Jetsunma's students prepare for Rinpoche's arrival and for the dynamic combining of their Dharma activities.

For more information about KPC activities in Sedona, please contact Wib Middleton 520-203-0255, or

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