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Through the eyes of a modern Buddhist monk

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The Grieboski Report

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This afternoon we will be looking at the peculiar nature of living a religious life in the 21st century through the eyes of an American Buddhist monk. Tibetan Buddhism blasted onto the world stage after the 1959 uprising against the Chinese occupation. Ever since this mystical tradition has been capturing the hearts and minds of millions of westerners. Joining us today is Palzang. He was born in Rockford, Illinois, and later attended Rockford College where he received a BA in Zoology and later an MS in Cell Biology from the University of Chicago. In the time between the two degrees he spent 4 years in the Air Force as a Russian linguist, during his tours of duty he was stationed in Japan, which is where he first became interested in Buddhism. His pursued his interest more deeply when he returned to the US and eventually began following the teachings of His Holiness Khenpo Jigme Puntsok Rinpoche in July 1993 and took full ordination as a gelong (bhikkshu) monk in 1995 from His Holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche, thus, making him a monk for nearly 16 years. The center at which Palzang practices, Kunzang Palyul Choling, or KPC, is located in Poolesville, Maryland and was started by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo, the first western woman to ever be recognized as a tulku, or reincarnated lama. She started KPC in 1985 as a World Prayer Center, and it has been involved in a continuous 24 hour prayer cycle ever since. KPC has a strong ordained presence with about 40 monks and nuns in Maryland, Arizona, Australia, and Mongolia. KPC is a Tibetan Buddhist (or Vajrayana) temple in the Palyul lineage of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism founded by Padmasambhava, or Guru Rinpoche, in about the 7th century C.E. It should be noted that Jetsunma is an American woman, and that she never received any instruction in Buddhism. She simply teaches from her mind.

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