Don’t Let This Miracle Slip Away

Time has run out.

We have reached the moment when we either need to secure the Amitabha Sacred Land in Sedona, Arizona or it will be lost if one of or a combination of the things listed below do not happen immediately. Procedures to redraw the boundaries on the land will commence Monday, July 9th and access to the Stupa will become very limited for everyone. The majority of the land will go back to the lender and be open for development.

The Situation

We have, since December, raised $100,000 toward securing this land through generous donations and compassionate activity.  The outpouring has been extraordinary. What we need right now

1)     A friendly loan for $600,000, which – through the great generosity of our donors – we can document that we can pay through our monthly Friends of Amitabha Stupa Campaign and daily donations from thousands of visitors to the Stupa.

2)     A solid sale of the 4.6 acres which would substantially reduce the amount of the friendly loan needed.

3)     Cash donations to reduce the amount of the friendly loan needed

Webathon – On Thursday July 5th, starting at 7P.M., we will be talking about the tremendous blessings available because of this most extraordinary Stupa and how you can keep it from being lost! Please tune in here…

This situation requires spiritual heros – people who have a sense of their own destiny and see that there is an extraordinary moment of decision at hand. History can be made in support of preserving the sacred, on behalf of the hopeless, for those in need of healing, for the millions who will visit this place in the decades and centuries to come; long after today’s institutions and enterprises have gone.  Once secured, the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park, this place of peace, will endure. It will continue to pour out blessings and virtue all day and all night, bringing countless blessings to the world.

So the question is who will see this and in one moment of open-hearted compassion and courage, act unselfishly for the greater good and the benefit of all sentient beings. If you are that hero please come forth now. You can make a donation online here... If you would like to speak with someone about your charitable contribution, please contact us as and we will gladly schedule a call with you.

Recent Activity and Efforts to secure the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park


Friends of Amitabha Stupa campaign: debited monthly donations

  • The purpose to ensure that strong cash flow exists in order to service a new ­“friendly loan,” at a lower interest rate, if needed.
  • Started in February with 12 Friends at about $200 per month
  • Current number of Friends: 95 donating $2,250 per month and increasing steadily
  • Goal is 108 friends bringing in $3,000

Path to Peace Brick Campaign: sponsoring bricks with messages at the Amitabha Stupa ($500, $250 or $100)

  • Since April, 2012: 33 new brick sponsors bringing in just under $5,000 in donations

Offerings at the Stupa

  • Fluctuates seasonally. Averaging $2,000 plus per month and increasing.


Visitors to the Stupa

  • Estimated at 20,000 plus visitors annually and increasing

Local Business Support through Sponsored Events: (headlines from news articles in bold)

December 2, 2011

AZADI Fine Rugs Event Help Secure Sacred Land: The Amitabha Stupa, Jewel of Sedona Azadi Rugs held 2 fundraising events: wine reception, music and a % of sales going to the Amitabha Stupa and a $1,000 gift certificate donated to the Heartline Restaurant fundraising event in February.

December 31, 2011

Celebrate the New Year with Prayerful Intentions!

Over 500 people attended and many offered flowers wrote their intensions for the New Year on blank colored prayer flags. Heart of Sedona, Heartline, Mountain High Flowers all came through with in-kind donations. Intended as a celebration it brought in $2,800

February 11, 2012

The HeartLine Café Hosts a Benefit for the Amitabha Stupa Fabulous Buffet, Music and Silent Auction!

  • Over 175 in attendance
  • Owner Phyllis Cline sponsored everything: the space, delicious buffet, beverages
  • Over 150 silent auction items were donated
  • $9,000 raised

June 10 2012

Celebrating the Amitabha Stupa & Peace Park with Fine Art, Music, and Food June 10

  • Deborah Leatherwood, owner of Rene Restaurant sponsored event
  • Light fare, wine and refreshments, music
  • Over 65 artists, many well known and collected internationally as well as local emerging artists participated.
  • Ballroom space was donated by Wendy Lippman, General Manager of Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village.
  • Over $9,000 raised.

Online Webathon from the main temple in Poolesville Maryland, June 12, 2012

  • Two hour streamed, live webathon brought in $18,000

Pet Blessing at the Amitabha Stupa June 17, 2012

Dozens of people and their pets came for a blessing from the Heart Shrine Relic Tour that took place at 7 Centers Yoga. Pets were blessed with actual relics from the Buddha, similar to the Buddha relics contained within the Amitabha Stupa.

Upcoming Fundraising events:

Stand For Peace: July 8, 2012 four hour, multi-band concert and compilation CD release by well- known local musicians. All musicians are donating their time with 60% of gate and the majority of CD sales going to support the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park.

Land Sale:

Current status: negotiating an offer

  • 4.6 acres has been for sale for two plus years.

Focus Now:

  • “Friendly Angel Loan,” to relieve the current private note holder and to have more time to completely secure the land through donor development/fundraising and continuing events.

Tune in to the Webathon on Thursday, July 5 at 7p.m to support the Amitabha Stupa and Sacred Land. Together we can secure this treasure!  As Jetsunma said, “Don’t let this miracle slip away.”

Migyur Dorje

A main focal point of Kunzang Palyul Choling’s Stupa and Peace Park is the 35 foot tall, golden Migyur Dorje Stupa specially dedicated by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo, Spiritual Director of KPC, to physical and spiritual well-being.  It is a place of pilgrimage and spiritual refuge for those with physical and mental afflictions. The Stupa contains relics of Migyur Dorje, 17th c. teacher of the founders of the Palyul Lineage.

Who is Migyur Dorje?

Migyur Dorje (Tibetan: gNam-chos Mi-‘gyur rdo-rje) (1645–1667) is the Terton who recognized Kunzang Sherab as the Lineage Holder of Nam Cho (Tib. gnam-chos) terma (Sky Teaching Treasure) in the Palyul Lineage. Born in the Ngom To Rola region of Tibet. He was a treasure revealer (terton) as Guru Padmasambhava had prophesied and foreseen in Ratna Lingpa’s, Dudul Dorje’s, and others’ termas. (

After extensive spiritual guidance, and practical education with Guru Loden Chegse (one of Guru Rinpoche‘s eight emanations), and his root lama Karma Chagme (Karma chags-med), a renowned Buddhist scholar, Migyur Dorje revealed the Nam Cho treasures by age thirteen with Karma Chagme’s help.  At a very young age, Migyur Dorje had visions which helped him learn to read and write, and Dakini visions which helped him focus on reliance upon the lama (A dakini is a tantric deity described as a female embodiment of enlightened energy. In the Tibetan language, dakini is rendered khandroma which means ‘she who traverses the sky’ or ‘she who moves in space’. Sometimes the term is translated poetically as ‘sky dancer’ or ‘sky walker’). Karma Chagme recognized Migyur Dorje as a Guru Rinpoche manifestation, Senge Dradog (one of the eight manifestations of Padmasambhava). At age 23, he showed signs of illness which progressed to his mind stream dissolving in to the great sphere of empty truth with full eight Heruka vision and mandalas.

Vidyadhara Rigdzin Kunzang Sherab (1636-1699), was a student of Migyur Dorje, and considered him his root guru. In 1665, Migyur Dorje instructed him: “According to Padmasambhava’s prophecy, the time has now ripened for you to work for the welfare of sentient beings. You must go to take charge of this monastery and it will become an exhaustless source of dharma, propagating the Nyingmapa Doctrine.”  This was the beginning of the Palyul Lineage, and at the age of 30, he arrived at the newly built Palyul Monastery to assume his position as the first throne holder of The Palyul Lineage.  Jetsunma is the reincarnation of Genyenma Ahkon Lhamo, the sister of Kunzang Sherab.  You can learn more about Jetsunma, and her profound relationship with the Palyul lineage at .

From Kunzang Sherab to the present time, the succession of throne holders of the Palyul tradition, as well as the great sangha community, have maintained the lineage of Non-dual Great Seal Mahamudra-Great Perfection Ati Yoga as a principal practice.  After perfect understanding and meditative realization of these practices, superior practitioners actualize the signs of accomplishment on the path.  Due to the strong emphasis on practice, the Palyul tradition became known as the lineage of practice.  (A Garland of Immortal Wish-fulfilling Trees, 1988, Snow Lion publications).

One can now understand the importance and emphasis that Jetsunma has given by building this miraculous Stupa at KPC.   During Migyur Dorje’s short life, twice he gave the entire Nam Cho transmissions, which included present day practices, Buddha in the Palm of the Hand, and continue to be the most essential practices performed in the Palyul tradition.  Jetsunma encourages all of her students to study and deepen in their spiritual practices, and has built the Migyur Dorje stupa, as well as more than 30 stupas total to assist buddhist practitioners with pursuing the Path of Enlightenment.

KPC receives visitors from around the world who are on pilgrimage or seeking a place of spiritual refuge.  The Migyur Dorje stupa, a beacon of healing and well-being, is also home to an immense wildlife habitat.

Recently, while visiting the Migyur Dorje Stupa herself, Jetsunma noticed considerable damage to the Stupa and grew concerned that it was in desperate need of repair, in particular the gau seemed to be separating from the bumpa.  The gau is considered the door to the vase, and the bumpa is considered the vase.  Inside the bumpa rests many mantras, offerings, and relics.  One of Migyur Dorje’s finger bones sits at the heart of KPC’s Migyur Dorje Stupa.  Upon learning of this needed repair, students of Jetsunma’s went to work quickly on assessing the situation, and starting its repair.

Stupa Project 2012 continues, and we will be working on the Migyur Dorje stupa as well as many others in the park for the remainder of the summer.  If you want to donate to this dharma activity, and support sacred monuments, please visit us at .  If you would like to come out and help in the activity, don’t hesitate!  You can reach us at to fill out a form and get you connected to the right person at KPC.  All are welcome, whether it be for a place to rest and enjoy the abundant wildlife, or help with our sacred monuments.

People Supporting the Amitabha Stupa & Sacred Land

Wow! What a night!! We had our art auction fundraiser and it was a smashing success. On many levels. We raised $8846. In 3 hours!

People coming forth

Last night was perfectly exemplified up by a woman we had never met before. She showed up in the morning to help hang the art. She was part of a team of four people who came to help. In a record-breaking 2 hours these pros hung 60 plus pieces of art—beautifully. The space looked stunning!

Then this gal comes back to the art auction, stays to the end, buys some art and says: “Thank you for taking such good care of our Stupa.” Turns out she visits the Stupa frequently and depends on it as a spiritual resource. This has become typical… people owning the Stupa!

We have shifted the conversation here from a financial problem the Buddhists are having to the Amitabha Stupa as a Sedona treasure that must be saved and we all want it to stay intact and available.

So here is how the evening came together and who made it happen:


The owner of Rene Restaurant in Tlaquepaque, Deborah Leatherwood, sponsored all the delicious food and wine, stayed through the event and loved it. Thank you Sam for introducing us to her 3 months ago!

Owner of Tlaquepaque gave us the ballroom free. Thank you Wendy Lippman!

65 artists, many well-known and many emerging artists donated every piece. And happily. Some even called up when they heard about the event and asked if they could still donate!

Linen company donated. There was a lot of linen! Wine distributers donated all the wine. Tara sang on the adjacent terrace and wowed people.

We had close to 100 people show up on a Sunday night, paying $30 and having a great time bidding on the art. It was a terrific community gathering.

Mayor Rob Adams and his wife were there. His wife Christie said that they don’t go out all that much unless it’s an event related to city business… but they wanted to support us and the Stupa.

Please, please get inspired to help make the webathon a huge success. Many of you have been to the Amitabha Stupa! You know how magnificent and powerful it is.

Jetsunma is extraordinary how she has so skillfully given us these hugely merit-generating projects. Last night every person who came made a connection to the Dharma. Their karmic fabric changed forever, their trajectory towards awakening now lined up.

That’s what’s going on and that’s the news for Sedona! 

Let’s rock the webathon!! E Ma Ho and may all beings make a connection to the Amitabha Stupa.

The Sedona Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park caretakers


Stupa Project 2012 is Under Way!

At KPC, we have the good fortune to have many opportunities to engage in meritorious activity, and as Buddhists, generate merit to help us stabilize our minds in the pursuit of realization, spiritual accomplishment and enlightenment.   In the 1990’s, KPC members worked very hard at establishing gardens on 65 acres of land that sits across the street from the Temple under the direction of our Spiritual Teacher, Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  In addition, many Stupas were built to bring harmony to our Mother Earth, offering the opportunity for people to come and circumambulate these sacred and holy monuments which we view as the mind and body of the Buddha.

As you can imagine, over time the elements wear hard on the stupas and the grounds, with immense erosion and overgrowth.  This summer, and for the remainder of the year, KPC is reclaiming many of the beautiful trails that connect the five color gardens to re-establish the five directions and purification of the five poisons (desire, jealousy, anger, pride and ignorance).   The trails connecting the Red and Green garden, Green and Blue garden, and Blue and Yellow gardens are all heavily overgrown with several bridges out of place due to massive flooding.  Flower beds have disappeared, and all the shelters that cover the prayer wheels and stupas in each garden are in need of sanding and re-painting.

As you can see, the land itself represents the shape of a diamond.  Vajrayana Buddhism is also referred to as the Diamond Method and/or Diamond Path.  Our spiritual director, Jetsunma purposely designed this land placing the stupas, prayer wheels, gardens herself to bring maximum benefit to beings and our Earth.  The Diamond Path is seen as the ultimate technology for achieving enlightenment in one lifetime.  Jetsunma offers a teaching on her blog that you may find helpful at : .

In the center of the Peace Park sits the Migyur Dorje Stupa.  You can learn more about this stupa, its meaning and purpose in the world at and at .  People from all over the world come to the stupa to make prayers and wishes for the benefit of beings.  While there, it’s good to make offerings such as fruit, incense, candles, and water to the stupa.  Many leave jewelry; money and other items that they would like to have less attachment to and to practice the virtue of generosity.  At present moment, the Migyur Dorje Stupa is under significant repair as the gau is in the process of separating from the bumpa (the round part of the stupa).   Concrete, welder, and general contracting professionals are currently working out a plan to reattach the gau, but more importantly to make a more long term fix so this never happens again.  Once the major repair has been completed, we will need to clean and re-paint the stupa.

Between the Red garden and the Green garden, sits Jetsunma’s Long Life stupa, surrounded by stupas of the Eight Great Deeds.   Jetsunma’s Long Life Stupa is in need of some repair, cleaning, and re-painting.  The gau could use some tender loving care and new brocade.  Several of the small stupas are in need of significant repair.  It is a priority to get all the stupas repaired swiftly.

Between the grounds work and the stupa work, the project is large as one can imagine, however the merit generated from such virtuous dharma activity is immeasurable, and can lead a student to enlightenment if proper view is cultivated.  In addition, preserving these sacred monuments can extend the life of the Lama, and thus bring more teachings into the world during such degenerating times.   Jetsunma speaks to the countless blessings of upholding the stupas on her personal blog: .

Lots of help and of course donations are needed for this immense, but profoundly rewarding project.  If you would like to help with sweat equity you can contact Ani Dolma via or by filling out the Volunteer form here…

If you would like to make a donation towards the repair and painting of the stupas you can do so at, “Ways to Give.”  The drop down menu will give you options on a one-time donation, or monthly.  At some point in the donation process, a comments box will appear and you can indicate that your donation is for Stupas or Stupa Repair.  If you want to be very specific, you can say Stupa paint or Peace Park grounds.

We appreciate your contributions and participation.  If you want to stay tuned to the progress, follow our blog here and be on the lookout for great pictures and updates!

A Sacred Place of Pilgrimage

It was 8:30 in the morning Memorial Day and a half a dozen cars were already parked along Pueblo Drive at the base of the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park in Sedona, Arizona. Most of the license plates were from neighboring states. After heading up a short trail and coming upon the Stupa shimmering golden-red against a brilliant azure sky, at least 25 people had made this stop an important start to their day. A special place of peace and a time to remember the sacrifices others had made.

And so it is day after day. People come from far away and just down the road. But on that Memorial Day it seemed especially inconceivable that this place of peace might be somehow lost to those whose destiny it is to visit. That’s why it must be secured now, and time is running out to satisfy a large balloon payment that is due on June 15th of this year.

The stunning 36-foot Amitabha Stupa is situated in the heart of Sedona and cradled by dramatic red rock formations. The Stupa was envisioned by Tibetan Buddhist master, Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo, the head of Kunzang Palyul Chöling and a lineage master in the Palyul tradition. It was her intention to create a spiritual sanctuary… a place of peace, meditation and prayer, a place to be still, to find answers, to focus on helping others, a place to heal. That intention has been realized! What remains is securing the land financially.

Please help by visiting and becoming a Friend of the Amitabha Stupa with a monthly donation or consider a one-time contribution.

The design of stupas arose from the enlightened mind of the Buddha. Their purpose is to function as powerful generators of peace and virtue 24/7. Their blessings never stop. Pray at a stupa, ask for help, make intentions and wishes at a stupa, and it is understood that those prayers and intentions are made even more powerful.

Since the Amitabha Stupa was finished in 2004 an estimated 100,000 visits have occurred. Every day dozens, sometimes hundreds, spend time in this magnificent place. By 2050 close to 1,000,000 people will have visited the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park and received its vast blessings and benefit. That future can be a certainty if we secure the land now.

You can be a part of this extraordinary effort and partake of the blessings and merit that will come to anyone who donates, builds, repairs, maintains and ensures a stupa’s longevity in the world. This assurance from the Buddha himself!

Won’t you kindly consider becoming a Friend of the Amitabha Stupa, a powerful way to help ensure its future now and for generations to come?  To learn more about the Amitabha Sacred Land Campaign and to discover all the ways you might be able to help, visit here…

Thank you for your kind consideration and may you and all beings be benefitted by your participation!

The Magnetic Temple

The following is a post by a new student, sharing her personal journey of discovery on the Buddhist path. 

by Kristin Laing

I don’t get to Kunzang Palyul Choling as often as I would like. I live in Fairfax and work in Chantilly. On Friday nights during rush hour, Poolesville, MD – home to KPC – might as well be on the moon for what it takes to get there. Even on Sundays, getting out to the country isn’t easy. The effort, however, is SO WORTH IT. There is something so transformative, so rejuvenating, so uplifting about wading through the tidal wave of traffic to spend some time at KPC.

First, there’s the drive. I’ve taken to saying the Seven Line Prayer to keep me calm on the Beltway till I reach River Road. Once on it, you drive through Potomac, passing churches, neighborhoods, BIG mansions. There are almost always cyclists on Sundays – bright and colorful, like a live action modern painting, struggling up and coasting down the hills as suburb gives way to forest. Right now, the canopy is bright green with the bloom of Spring; the air is fresher, smelling sweet and damp from the river nearby and its streams occasionally running under the road. You reach a point where it seems like the road is ending, but you’ve just made it to another, lesser traveled portion of River Road – you are in the country now. You pass beautiful gardens surrounding farm houses and wide open fields, a historic schoolhouse. By the time you reach the driveway of KPC, the stresses of samsara (the state of suffering all sentient beings are in) have faded. You feel like you’re home.

Inside KPC on a Sunday, the building is buzzing like a beehive.  Maroon and yellow fill the hallways as ordained flutter through their preparations for teachings, tsog, a crystal tour or a talk about Jetsunma’s early years. The bookstore is full of students and visitors. The prayer vigil continues in the prayer room, while Dharma is being taught in the other meeting room. DELICIOUS smells waft from the kitchen/diningroom where Noreen prepares the lunch that will nourish body so that mind can open for teaching. Noreen is funny and direct, or is that direct and funny about it. She is also humble and loving. It makes her food taste better!

The Dharma teaching is from the archives again, a disappointment for me. Jetsunma came home when I prayed for her to, because I needed help praying for all of the sentient beings in my life. Maybe I’m kidding myself that she came back to Maryland after being gone so long, but it makes me smile to think that maybe she heard or sensed my call. So, I have to laugh when I arrive at the temple with our possible physical introduction visualized, to find that it ain’t happenin’ today either. I KNOW she is making me let it go before she appears to me. And I know that when we do finally meet, it will be as void of fanfare as any 2 people meeting for the first time, so I also need to let go of the maternal/fellow NYer hug that is part of that visualization. The day I arrive at the temple visualizing only my practice, there she will be… I’m working on it, Jetsunma!

It’s 3pm. I have been at the temple since 11am and it’s like no time has passed at all. I have absorbed Dharma, giggled along with the women who are now ordained, who tell the stories of the early days before and just after Jetsunma became Jetsunma, about her amazing presence and the work of their own paths. I am sitting in a lazy boy chair now, feigning an attempt to write my next blog entry, but the temple is still buzzing with laughter and conversation. It’s like Thanksgiving, without the fighting or football. Noreen appears from the lunchroom and asks who will make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Occupy DC – it’s just the thing to refocus my energy! Somewhere around the middle of the 2nd loaf of spreading peanut butter on bread, I realize how good I feel. I am a part of a family that I am helping to be nourished, and they nourish me – mentally, physically, spiritually – right back.

Holly sits down nearby and becomes the unwitting co-victim to my onslaught of questions. She and Noreen patiently answer every question – just the question I ask and no more. Because of this exchange, days later I would realize the difference between someone who practices Buddhism and someone who possesses knowledge of Buddhism. Someone who practices Buddhism answers only the question that is asked, as if there is an understanding that your path has taken you to the question you are asking at that moment, and the path is YOURS to discover at your pace. The practicing Buddhist only shares as much as you ask. The person who possesses knowledge, however, doesn’t wait for a question. He or she hears something familiar sounding and shares his or her interpretation of that knowledge without hearing that a question hasn’t been asked. This difference makes me appreciate Holly and Noreen, and all of the patient members of my sangha (spiritual group) all the more.

The sun is shining brightly outside, the air is cool but the promise of warmer days is on its breath as I make my way to the Enlightenment Stupa in what has now become my parting ritual with the temple. The stupa BEAMS white light in the sunshine, the prayer flags framing it in color, the burning incense is pleasant to smell, the soft ground supports each step as I pray for my loved ones and friends, and for all sentient beings.

I am walking down the driveway to my car parked along the roadside. It is after 4pm and it is time to re-enter civilization. My head says I must, but my heart wants to stay. I don’t want to go back ‘there’ where nobody understands me or my new enthusiasm for Buddhism. The people who are selflessly loving and caring are so rare amid the self-serving who are lost in the Matrix of samsara. I want to stay where I am welcomed and loved unconditionally. It is an attachment I am sure I have to work on.

So is the attachment of excitement over finding my path. I doubt I will achieve Enlightenment within this precious life because I doubt I will ever let go of the attachment of excitement. I’m okay with that. I have found Dharma, I have found the path. For THIS soul – that is a huge leap forward. Maybe I will earn enough merit this time around to come back as something fun like a Border Collie in the next life!

It was a hot fall day at the Amitabha Stupa

Amitabha StupaIt was a hot fall day at the Amitabha Stupa. The sun glinted off the tigle (teardrop) at the top. Golden wildflowers garlanded the clearing, and chirping birds filled the air, adding their own praises. One Colorado blue bird regularly nose dives for one of the water offering bowls to get a quick drink and then resumes his antics in a nearby pinion pine.

Nearly a dozen KPC members from Sedona gathered to practice the “Shower of Blessings,” a moving, devotional ceremony which, each Saturday afternoon (currently at 4 p.m.) and on ritual holy days, includes a food feast or tsog offering. Often visitors join the practice or share in the food feast at the end. Everyone is welcome.

During the middle of the ceremony, a Sri Lankan family came to the stupa to say some traditional prayers. They had made the trip from California especially for this purpose. After a few moments of silent prayer, the three visitors walked around with candles. They were unlit because of fire restrictions. Although initially disappointed, the family was reassured that imagining them ablaze is considered to be equally effective.  In the Buddhist tradition, visualizing an offering is as potent as making one.

Shower of Blessings TsogDuring the “Shower of Blessings,” visitors kept coming. Some hesitated to walk around the stupa at first, but were warmly greeted and told it is always appropriate to circumambulate a stupa, even if there is a ceremony in progress.

As the sun went behind the red rocks, more people came to meditate and pray. The cooler evenings always bring locals who come to the site to worship. By 6:30 the sun was gone, and the stupa park closed.

October 25 2011 at the Amitabha Stupa

It is always surprising how much there is to experience in this absolutely still place.  Although the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park is in the heart of West Sedona and readily accessible, it seems very much removed from daily life. The 14-acre parcel of land is studded with arroyos, pinions, junipers, brush and cacti, as well as abundant wild life that either live on the land or pass through—from quails and ravens to the occasional meandering coyote.  In the center of this bounty, stands the stupa.


With so much to see, it’s no wonder that hikers come through the land as well (one day last week there were two groups of 25 people in addition to many individual hikers), and tour guides often bring visitors to experience the extraordinary beauty and calm energy. The stupa has even been dubbed “an unofficial vortex” by Sedonans.

As spectacular as the scenery is, it is secondary to the spiritual refuge that this sacred land provides. People come from all over the world to connect with the power and goodness of the stupa, often leaving offerings of personal meaning in addition to contributions to the upkeep of the land in designated offering boxes. One day it might be conch shells, a rose quartz, a red toad with a quarter in its mouth, a friendship ring and an American Indian sage bundle. At another time it might be silk flowers, cylindrical metal chimes, a clear jar of blood-red heart stones, a ceramic egg, a wooden cross, a black and yellow toy car and a Buzz Lightyear figurine.

A few years ago someone left a song of peace, which ended with “Feel the wind of love increase, as we move this world to peace. Come love the world with me.” A few months ago, a grieving son and daughter left a carved bird for a father who just passed away (he had spent many hours on the land bird-watching); and the other day, a Japanese visitor left a letter to her half brother, whom she had never met. She assured him that “nothing is your fault. … You are an heir of love, remember that. … My prayers are with you.”

People of all spiritual traditions are drawn to the stupa. It is a place where one can feel safely at peace and where the mind can experience stillness, hope, inspiration and love. It is a place to keep one’s spirits up during difficult times and a place to pray for those who are suffering. During times of world crisis, many people are drawn to the stupa to pray. This movement of consciousness from the particular to the general comes naturally at the stupa where the mind seems to expand easily and embrace all of life.


The lowing of the conch shell sounded from various points the temple grounds like a soft foghorn. It overlaid the patter of hammers as stupa construction continued. Sometimes the sound wavered and spluttered out, and Jetsunma would laugh, lowering the conch. She was practicing for the enthronement ceremony the following day and had been told at the last minute that she would have to blow the conch. She never had before, at least not in this lifetime. She wiped her mouth and joked to her students, “I’m never going to get this down.”

She gamely tried again, continuing her gradual circumambulation of the temple. The sound came out clear and strong and hung in the air. After a moment of stillness, the students cheered.

On September 24, 1988, the temple filled with cameras and mics angled in every direction. Jetsunma sat quietly humble on the throne, and straightened the brocades draped over her shoulders, blinking at the lights. The temple had never been so brightly lit. To the blare of Tibetan horns and ringing bells, NBC filmed while His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, Throne Holder to the Palyul Lineage of the Nyingma School of Vajrayana Buddhism, formally enthroned Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo as a tulku, or reincarnate teacher.

According to tradition, ceremonial items were carried from H.H. Penor Rinpoche to Jetsunma, empowering her to teach and formally represent the Palyul Lineage. When the time came for her to blow the conch on camera, the sound came clear and then wavered. Not as good as the night before. She shared a wry smile with her students, tipping her head, Oh, well. Then one of the monks had to blow the conch. His Holiness chuckled and Gyaltrul Rinpoche translated his comment, “They should have had Jetsunma do it.”

The news spread via Associated Press, and world newspapers printed photos of the spectacle of a western woman with long dark hair on a Tibetan throne. Her enthronement came at a time when Vajrayana Buddhism was relatively unknown in the US. The year before, an obscure Tibetan monk, H.H. the Dalai Lama, spoke at the National Cathedral to a scattered audience of about a hundred. At Buddhist temples in the late 1980s, teachers were universally Asian.

It was openly questioned whether Westerners could accomplish this Eastern religion.

H.H. Penor Rinpoche, who never shirked what was needed, answered with a resounding “Yes.” As he enthroned her, he said, “People have asked me why there are no American tulkus. And people have asked me why there are no female Lamas. Now you have both. So you should be very happy.”

“This is for you,” Jetsunma said later to her students. “It’s for all of us really. This is your own enthronement, your own future accomplishment that you’re seeing.” She explained that the enthronement meant that not only can Dharma be accomplished, it can be accomplished by Westerners, even in this day and age. “Yes, even you.” And she wrinkled her nose impishly at her students, and laughed.

Walk for Those Who Can’t

Stupa Walk Art2-webKPC is in a thank you mode! In a posture of giving back to the community, we will hold a “Walk for Those Who Can’t” on Saturday, June 12, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Members (and friends) of the KPC community will spend four hours in continuous relays of prayer around the Enlightenment Stupa (the one closest to the temple). The idea is to walk for those who can’t circumambulate–either because of distance, health, or ignorance of the opportunity.

We will do a continuous reading of the names given us to pray for, including those already in our prayer book, and each one of the donors who gave in our recent appeal to save the tempe. We invite you to submit names as well (no intentions, please, as they can increase the length of an already lengthy process). You can submit names by writing to

Lunch will be available for a nominal fee at the end of the event, courtesy of the Burmese American Collective. The Burmese-American community will be featured this year in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and members are raising money to support the performers. KPC is delighted to support this community, who have supported us in many ways, especially during our recent emergency appeal!