INDIANA TO MONGOLIA Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Culture Center Brings Buddhism to Bloomington
Tucked neatly among the suburban homes on the southeast side of Bloomington, Ind., sits a holy place. The Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Culture Center, directed by Arjia Rinpoche, connects this small Midwest college town with people around the world.
The center offers Buddhism classes, retreats, a gift shop and yoga classes. It uses donations from visitors to finance charitable projects both in Bloomington and on the other side of the world.
A standard yellow church sign on Snoddy Road sits across the street from an elaborate gate that serves as an entryway.
"Through this little window they can see Tibet here," said Rinpoche.
Colorful prayer flags, strung across trees, blow in the wind. White temples adorned with gold and contrasted by maroon stripes and intricate artwork, called Stupas, sit atop small hills. A long building painted in yellows and reds with a small green awning is lined at the front with 11 cylindrical prayer wheels - a single large prayer wheel in the center that appears to be 5 feet tall with five smaller ones on either side of it. They look as if hammered copper and gold symbols in high relief are wrapped around them, the edges rubbed smooth by hands of those who have spun them. Atop the building, behind plexiglass, a single ornate wheel is slowly spun with an audible squeak. "It's solar power," said Rinpoche.
A gift shop and the Temple are the only two buildings that remind you that you are in Indiana, not India, Tibet or Mongolia.
Decorated with gold statues and painted in vibrant colors with calligraphy-like symbols, they are rectangular brick buildings.
Inside, a foyer with benches and shoe shelves serves the tradition of removing your shoes before entering the Temple.
Literature and goods cover tables on either side and under the receptionist's window. Rinpoche's memoirs, in the form of the book "Surviving the Dragon," takes up the largest portion of the table.
At any given time you might see Geshe Kunga teaching Buddhist lessons behind the glass wall and double doors. Or Rinpoche leading a prayer with monks on either side of him and a table adorned with fruit, candles, flowers and colorful decorations in the center of the room.
Hand-cut decorations and intricate Buddhist statues of varying sizes cover the far wall. Visitors and students, sitting on mats, fill the rest of the room. …