I had a rare opportunity yesterday to observe and participate in the consecration ceremony for the meditation and study center of the Albany Karma Thegsum Choling Buddhist community. The ceremony was presided over by Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, Abbot of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra in Woodstock, New York, one of the world’s most venerable Buddhist spiritual leaders. The ceremony was simple, elegant and touching–the new center marks the first public gathering space for a community that’s existed in the Albany area for some 20 years. The service was conducted in Tibetan, in the same “throat singing” style that’s made Tuva famous–so that three singers sounded like an army of twelve with the undertones and overtones and harmonics working their magic together. At the end of the service, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche blessed white prayer scarves and presented them to each of the Center’s guests. Which was surprisingly powerful, since this peaceful, quiet man exudes so much more “gravitas” than any number of politicians I’ve heard invoking that property through the current campaign season. Good thing the Buddhists aren’t interested in running the world–because if their leadership are all as impressive as Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, they’d have no problem doing it.

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