As Dalai Lama Visits Boulder, A Snapshot Of Buddhism In Colorado

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Photo: CU students meet Dalai Lama
In February 2014, representatives from CU Student Government and the Tibetan Association of Colorado traveled to California to meet with the Dalai Lama.

The 14th Dalai Lama arrives in Boulder this week. University of Colorado Boulder and the Tibetan Association of Colorado are hosting the visit. On Thursday, His Holiness will lead teaching sessions focused on integrating ethics and empathy into daily life.

Members of CU Boulder's student government traveled to California in 2014 to meet with the Dalai Lama and invite him to return their campus.

Because Boulder has gained recognition for being a Buddhist hub, Daily Camera features reporter and columnist Aimee Heckel posed the question: "how Buddhist is Boulder?" In a recent article, she found the reputation is warranted in some ways, but less in others.

She spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.


A Denver Buddhist temple turns 100

Boulder is only a slice of the picture. Denver is home to Buddhist temples with Chinese and Japanese lineages. One with particularly deep roots is the Tri-State/Denver Buddhist Temple. It's a century old this year.

Richard Yoshida is a longtime leader and member at the temple. He also sits on the 100th Anniversary Committee. Yoshida spoke with Warner about the temple's history and the kind of Buddhism practiced there.

Photo: Tri-State Denver Buddhist Temple
Tri-State/Denver Buddhist Temple

Buddhism in Colorado beyond the Front Range

In southwest Colorado, there are a number of Buddhist monasteries and retreats -- such as the Crestone Mountain Zen Center, founded in 1988, and Tara Mandala in Pagosa Springs, a 700-acre retreat center bordered by the San Juan National Forest and Southern Ute Tribal Land that practices Tibetan Buddhism.

About 60 miles west of there is the Durango Dharma Center, which got its own space in January. The group began 15 years ago, practicing in people's living rooms. Larry Clark has a similar story. He and a friend formed a meditation group in his home in the early 70s. He was inspired to start the practice after a retreat at St. Benedict's Monastery in Snowmass, where he met a Zen master.

"It was the sheer presence of the Zen master that completely swayed my decision to do that as the primary thing that I wanted to do in life," Clark says.

He now leads a small Sangha in Grand Junction called Dharma Mountain Zen Center.