T-YOU; THE FAITH LEADER Gentle Path Led to Faith

Article excerpt

Michael Turnquist

Title, congregation, city: Director, Karma Thegsum Choling Jacksonville

Age: 51

Education: Bachelor's degree in comparative religion, University of Florida. Graduated with honors in 1977. Specialized training as a meditation instructor in the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.

Tell us about your family.

Father: Douglas C. Turnquist, 79. Mother: Doris J. Turnquist, 74. My father is retired. He worked as a professional musician in the 1940s and later followed a career in administrative transportation. My mother is a homemaker. My parents moved from the Midwest to Florida in 1951. I am an only child. I myself am single.

When and why did you become a Buddhist?

I first encountered Buddhism academically in the early 1970s. I became Buddhist as a result of my interaction with its contemplative practices, receiving formal Refuge (the ceremony by which one becomes Buddhist) in 1981. I practiced silent sitting meditation for eight years before entering the faith. My meditation practice, combined with Tibetan Buddhism's emphasis on the development of an engaged, compassionate lifestyle, led to my decision to formally enter the tradition.

Did you ever consider or pursue another line of work?

I was appointed to the position of center director in 1986 by my teachers, the Venerable Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche and the Venerable Bardor Tulku Rinpoche. I have worked in the fields of event coordinating and music in the past.

When was the center established and what kind of Buddhism is practiced there?

Karma Thegsum Choling Jacksonville was established in 1986. The name means "the place where the teachings of Buddhism are shared." We practice Tibetan Buddhism at the center according to the Karma Kagyu tradition, one of four great lineages which emerged from Tibet in the late 1950s. …