Santa Fe’s Project Tibet began in 1980 with the leadership of Paljor Thondup. He came to Santa Fe to attend the College of Santa Fe. Thondup started an importing company selling Tibetan weavings and rugs. His business venture helped support fellow refugees. While promoting Tibetan culture, Thondup preserved Mahayana Buddhism. The Tibetan Association of Santa Fe came to fruition with a new wave of Tibetans. Their community quickly grew and their language, culture, and religion flourished. His Holiness the Dalai Lama came to Santa Fe in 2002 for the opening of the Phende Rigzod Khan Center on Hickox Street. The Center serves Santa Fe’s Tibetan community and is the basis for the growth of the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism.
Four Lineages of Buddhism in Santa Fe
Santa Fe is home to four lineages of Buddhism. Nyingma is located on Alta Vista Street, Kagyu on Airport Road, Sakya on Upper Canyon Road, and Gelug on Rabbit Road. The Kagyu Shenpen Kunchab Center was founded under the auspices of His Eminence Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche in 1975. By 1982 construction of the Bodhi Stupa on Airport Road began. It’s one of the largest stupas in the United States. The structure has been blessed by masters from all four of the major monastic traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Upaya Zen Center
In addition to Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Buddhism is an important part of Santa Fe. In 1990, Roshi Joan Halifax founded the Upaya Zen Center on Cerro Gordo. By 2001 the Circle of the Way Temple became a part of the center. Upaya offers daily Zen meditation, weekly dharma talks, personal retreats, a residency program, and special events year-round. The Pema Khandro Ling Center on Luisa Street offers Nyingma, in the tradition of the oldest school of Tibetan Buddhism. Gochen Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche is the founder and spiritual leader. He was born into one of the oldest families in Tibet.