On the night of October 19, I pulled into the dark drive of the Pema Karpo Meditation Center. With me was Miko McDowell, who is also a part of the religion class with me. After we knocked on the door, we waited with anticipation to start the evening. This is, however, something totally new to us. We never imagined that we would be attending a Buddhism service.
The meditation center is hidden by many trees. It was very dark, but I was still able to see. There were not any decorations or statues that embellished the center. The most accurate description to fit the center would be that it looked like a house. The door opened and in front of us is stood a tall woman whose corners of her mouth stretched from ear to ear, You must be the students from Memphis. My name is Candia. Candia Ludy would be our guide for tonight. The first step I took into the Pema Karpo Meditation Center I noticed the smell. It was not a horrid smell, but it was the smell of incense that wafted through the air. Boxes and boxes of incense decorated the bookshelf, along with fifty or so books on Buddhism. I noticed there were pictures of ancient Tibetan writings decorating the walls. However, I forgot what Candia mentioned they mean.
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A few members of Pema Karpo had just gotten back from India, and they were discussing of their time in the meditation room. Therefore, Candia suggested that we just talk and start the questions while we wait for them to finish. As we learned in class, there are three teachings of Buddhism: Mahayana, Vajrayana, Theravada. Mahayana Buddhism became the largest tradition of Buddhism. This tradition goes deeper into Buddha’s teachings than Vajrayana and Theravada. Mahayana Buddhism teaches that everyone can achieve nirvana. Attaining enlightenment is not the highest goal; however, compassion for others and helping them bring about their liberation is ultimately a higher goal than enlightenment. Vajrayana Buddhism originated in India around the sixth to seventh century. Although it originated in India, it is the most prominent form of Buddhism in Tibet, Nepal, and other countries. Buddhists in the Vajrayana tradition believe their teaching can be traced directly to Buddha. Theravada Buddhists believe they represent the original teaching of Buddha. They believe nirvana should be sought out through the individual’s own efforts. The primary key in pursuing nirvana, according to the Theravada’s, is through meditation. Unlike Mahayana, Theravada believes only monks and nuns can attain nirvana. (Brodd, et al, 2016).
The members of Pema Karpo Mediation center describe their tradition as Mahayana Vajrayana, taking teachings from both sectors of Buddhism. The Pema Karpo Meditation Center is new. Candia Ludy, the director of the center, was the one who got it up and running.
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