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Buddhism and Barbecue 

A Guide to Buddhist "lemples in North Carolina 

Tnomas A. Iweed 


Tne Suaanism in North Carolina Project 

The Buddhism in North Carohna Project 

The University of North Carolina, CB #3225, Chapel Hill, NC 

© 2001 by Thomas Tweed and the Buddhism in North Carolina Project. All rights reserved. 



INTRODUCTION by Thomas A. Tweed 


Brooks Branch Zendo 

Buddha's Light International Association 

Cambodian Buddhist Society 

Cambodian Cultural Center 

Cape Fear Tibetan Buddhist Study Group 

Chapel Hill Zen Center 

Charlotte Community of Mindfulness 

Charlotte Zen Meditation Society 

Chua Lien Hoa 

Chua Quan Am 

Chua Van Hanh 

Cloud Cottage Sangha 

Community of Mindful Living — Durham 

Community of Mindful Living — UUFR 

Durham Karma Thegsum Choling 

Durham Meditation Center 

Eno River Buddhist Community 33 

Greensboro Buddhist Center 35 

Greenville Karma Thegsum Choling 37 

Healing Springs Community of Mindful Living 39 

Kadampa Center 40 

Piedmont Zen Group 41 

Sandhills Zen Group 42 

Seidoan Soto Zen Temple 43 

Shambhala Meditation Center 45 

Soka Gakkai International — USA 47 

Southern Dharma Retreat Center 48 

Valley of the Moon Sitting Group 49 

Wat Carolina Buddhajakra Vanaram 50 

Wat Mungme Srisuk 52 

Zen Center of Asheville 54 


Appendix A: Temples Listed by Founding Date 57 

Appendix B: Temples Listed by Geographical Location 59 

Appendix C: Temples Listed by Type and Tradition 61 

Appendix D: On Estimating the Number of Buddhists 63 

Others helped us too. Richard Jaffe of North Carolina State University and 
Randolph E. Clayton, founder of the Cape Fear Tibetan Buddhist Study Group, 
both provided very useful leads about North Carolina temples. Cedric Chatterly 
provided a wonderful photograph of a ritual at the Greensboro Buddhist Center 
(page 35), and Barbara Lau gave us invaluable information about that temple. 
Hope Toscher, the exceptionally able administrative assistant in the Depart- 
ment of Religious Studies, offered assistance and encouragement in countless 

Finally, we dedicate the volume to the many women and men we met at the 
Buddhist temples across the state. They were much kinder than they had to be. 
This volume is our partial — though still inadequate — attempt to express our 



Thomas A. Tweed 
University of North CaroHna at Chapel Hill 

What comes to mind when you think about the state of North Carolina? It 
might be basketball or barbecue. Maybe dogwoods. It could be NASCAR or 
kudzu. But I'll bet it isn't Buddhism. If you think of religion at all, it's probably 
Methodists or Baptists. And if an image of a religious leader comes to mind it 
might be the state's famous Baptist preacher, Billy Graham, and not Phramaha 
Somsak Sambimb, the Thai Buddhist monk who serves as spiritual advisor to 
the hundreds of Cambodian Khmer refugees at the Greensboro Buddhist Cen- 
ter (Figure 1). It's not likely that Somsak, or any other Buddhist leader in the 
Tar Heel State, will soon rival Graham's visibility or clout. But the religious 
landscape of the state has been changing during the past quarter century, and 
Buddhism now has an increasing presence. As twenty students at the Univer- 
sity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill discovered when they criss-crossed the 
state doing research for this collaborative project, by 2001 the Tar Heel State 

In 1994, Phramaha Somsak Sambimb consecrates the Buddhist 
altar at an exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History. Photo by Robert 

Miller Cnurtf.^y Thp Npws: nnH (Ih^Prvpr 

boasted at least thirty-three Buddhist temples and centers.' The Buddha has 
come to the land of barbecue, Baptists, and basketball. 

Buddhism in North Carolina's History 

Historically, North Carolina has been one of the most ethnically and reli- 
giously homogenous states in the nation. The Tar Heel State included European 
Americans, African Americans, and American Indians, but witnessed little of 
the European and Asian immigration that affected other states between 1 840 
and 1920. Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Jews were few, and adherents of 
other faiths were even less numerous. The overwhelming majority of North 
Carolinians — Black, Indian, and White — affiliated with one or another form of 
Protestantism. In 1960, observers could find diverse Protestant denominations — 
from the predominant Baptists and Methodists to Presbyterians, Episcopalians, 
Quakers, Pentecostals, and Moravians. But diversity didn't extend much fiar- 

Before the 1960s, North Carolina's cradle and convert Buddhists were few, 
and those who tried to practice the faith didn't have temples where they might 
congregate with others. In the middle of the twentieth century some European- 
American and African- American Buddhist sympathizers and converts pondered 
newly translated sacred texts from Asia, and some even tried practicing medita- 
tion without the aid of Buddhist teachers or institutions. The Beat writer and 
Buddhist sympathizer Jack Kerouac, who penned part of his famous novel 
nhanna Bums in North Carolina, described his informal meditation practice 
during one of his many trips to the state, where he visited his mother in a small 
frame house five miles south of Rocky Mount. "There are piney woods across 
the cotton field," Kerouac wrote in a 1956 letter, "where I went every day this 
spring and sometimes in the middle of the night, without lamp, to meditate on a 
bed of grass . . ."- We don't have any surviving evidence that Asian- American 
Buddhists during the period — and in 1960 that meant a proportion of the 2,863 
foreign-bom Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese — meditated beneath Carolina pines 
on a bed of grass, but we can only assume that some who had been raised as 
Buddhists chanted alone or with their families at bedroom shrines or living 
room altars.^ 

Starting in 1965, however, a number of cultural factors — including the rise 

' We have reliable infonnation on thirty-three temples and centers, and we were able to 
profile thirty-one of those in this volume. The list of all thirty-three can be found in Appendix B. 

- Quoted in Alex Albright, "Satori in Rocky Mount: Kerouac in North Carolina," in Leslie 
H. Gamer, Jr. and Arthur Mann Kaye, eds., The roastal Plains- Writings on the rnltures of 
Faste m No rth C arol ina (Rocky Mount: North Carolina Wesleyan College Press, 1989), 89. 

^ U. S. Bureau of the Census, TI SI Census of Pnpniatinn- I960- Cienera] Chararteristirs 
(Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govemment Printing Office, 1960). 

in interregional and transnational migration, the relative decline of the liberal 
mainline Protestant denominations, and the counter-culture's surging interest 
in Asian religions — began to transform North Carolina's religious landscape. 
That transformation accelerated by the late 1970s, when the state's first convert 
Buddhist centers opened. Between 1977 and 1983 six organizations that at- 
tracted small numbers of European- American and African- American converts 
were founded (see Appendix A). 

Asian- American Buddhists also grew more numerous and more visible. The 
1965 Immigration Act, which did away with the unfair national quota system 
and permitted more Asians to enter the country, allowed some voluntary mi- 
grants to find their way to North Carolina, including immigrants from South 
and East Asian nations with a Buddhist presence — Thailand, China, Korea, and 
Japan. And refugees, especially those who were forced to flee from Southeast 
Asian nations, began to arrive in the state after the fall of Saigon in 1975. Those 
Vietnamese refugees were joined in the 1980s and 1990s by other displaced 
peoples from Laos and Cambodia. For example, many of the Khmer-speaking 
Cambodian refugees that Somsak nurtures now in Greensboro were among the 
440 who arrived in 1983 and 1984, when the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettle- 
ment chose that city and Charlotte as sites to establish new Cambodian commu- 
nities.'* Migration from Asia continued in the 1990s, as North Carolina's Asian 
population rose 73 percent between 1990 and 1997, when the U.S. Census esti- 
mated that there were 92,036 Americans of Asian descent in the state.^ As those 
Cambodian refugees in Greensboro did, many of the new Asian- American com- 
munifies decided to build Buddhist temples, which have functioned as both 
spiritual and cultural centers for the migrants and their children. Between 1984 
and 1990 seven Asian American Buddhist organizations formed, and each group 
either constructed a new place for worship or renovated an existing building. 

Buddhism and North Carolina's Geography 

Those new temples, as well as the centers that converts have founded, dot 
the landscape all across the state, although the students who researched North 
Carolina's thirty-three Buddhist communities found that there were some dis- 
cernible — and somewhat expected — spatial patterns. Geographers divide the 
state into four regions: the Mountains, the Piedmont, the Inner Coastal Plain, 

"* Barbara Lau, "The Temple Provides the Way: Cambodian Identity and Festival in 
Greensboro, North Carolina," M.A. Thesis, Curriculum in Folklore, University of North 
Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2000, 3. 

- Sallie M. Ives and Alfred W. Stuart, "Population," in Douglas M. Orr, Jr. and Alfred 
W. Stuart, eds.. The North Carolina Atlas- Portrait for a New Century (Chapel Hill: University 
of North Carolina Press, 2000), 80. On the number of Buddhists in the state and the nation see 
Appendix D. 

and the Tidewater. Population growth over the past six decades has been great- 
est in the Piedmont, the central region that includes three major urban areas. ^ 
So it's not surprising that the Piedmont is home to twenty-four of the state's 
thirty-three Buddhist communities (see Appendix B). It's also not surprising 
that the three metropolitan areas with 

the largest populations each have several Buddhist temples: The Triad (Greens- 
boro/Winston-Salem/High Point), Metropolitan Charlotte (Charlotte/Gastonia/ 
Rock), and the Triangle (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill).^ The latter, which fea- 
tures three research universities and Research Triangle Park, includes thirteen 
centers, more than one third of the state's total. 

But the geographical distribution of state's Buddhist temples and centers is 
more complicated than that. They are not all confined to the Piedmont. There is 
now a Tibetan Buddhist convert center, Greenville Karma Thegsum Choling, a 
short drive southeast of the "piney woods" where Kerouac meditated in the 
Coastal Plain. The Tidewater region claims two Buddhist communities, and six 
more groups take advantage of the wooded splendor of the state's western moun- 
tains. Nor are Buddhist temples all in urban areas. Half of North Carolina's 
population is rural. In fact, only five states have smaller urban populations.^ 
It's not surprising, then, that some of the state's Buddhists established places of 
worship outside cities — in rural areas, suburban centers, and small towns. So 
you can find temples and centers not only in metropolitan areas with more than 
a million residents (such as Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro), but also in 
towns with only a few hundred. In Cameron, a small community northwest of 
Fayetteville in the rolling hills of the Carolina and Georgia Sand Hills, Thai 
Buddhist immigrants have established a temporary temple, Wat Mungme Srisuk. 
That Buddhist community, which congregates on Sundays in a trailer that rests 
at the end of a winding country road, expects to construct a permanent building 
soon. And as that newest Buddhist worship site is in a small town, so was the 
state's first Asian- American temple, Wat Carolina Buddhajakra Vanaram, which 
rests on twenty-three acres in Bolivia, North Carolina. That Tidewater town, 
which was named for the South American nation, is less exotic than its name 
suggests. Most of the several hundred residents are European American or Af- 
rican American Protestants, many of whom gather for worship at Antioch Bap- 
tist Church, which is adjacent to Wat Carolina. And even if Buddhists don't 

*' Ives and Stuart, eds., No rth C arolin a A tlas, 86. 

'"'Metropolitan Area Population Estimates for July 1, 1998 and July 1, 1999," 
Population Estimates Program, Population Division, U.S. Bureau of the Census, Internet 
Release Date: October 20, 2000, 
ma99-02. The population estimates for those regions were as follows: the Triad (1,179,384), 
Metropolitan Charlotte ( 1 ,4 1 7,2 1 7), the Triangle (1,1 05,535). 

4ves and Stuart, eds., North Carolina Atlas 83. 

predominate in that small Southern town, or in suburbs such as Gary and cities 
like Charlotte, Buddhism has found its place in North Carolina's landscape. 

Buddhist Traditions in North Carolina 

The Thai temples in Bolivia and Cameron are both Theravada Buddhist 
communities, but many other traditional expressions of Asian Buddhism have 
made their way into the state (see Appendix C). 

Buddhism was founded in India by Siddhartha Gautama (563-483 BCE), 
and all Buddhists since then have looked to his life and teachings to guide what 
they think and how they act. Whatever their differences, most Buddhists agree 
to trust — or "take refuge in" — the "Three Jewels": (1) the founder, whom fol- 
lowers revere as "the Awakened One" {Buddha); (2) his exemplary teachings 
and experience (dharma); and (3) the religious community he founded (sangha). 
According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha presented some of his most im- 
portant teachings in his first sermon at Deer Park in Samath, India. He taught 
that all humans suffer, and they do so because they desire. They desire, in turn, 
because they fail to understand the nature of things (all things, including our- 
selves, are without enduring or substantial reality). But there is a way out, a 
path to nirvana, the elimination of suffering and release from the endless cycles 
of rebirth (samsara). Buddhists can follow the "noble eightfold path." In sim- 
plest tenns, that path to liberation involves morality, wisdom, and concentra- 

Buddhists agree to revere the Three Jewels and follow the spiritual path the 
Buddha cleared, but they also have disagreed among themselves in important 
ways. Divisions among Buddhists began as early as one hundred years after the 
Buddha's death. And Buddhists today identify at least three major forms of the 
religion, or three "vehicles" that can carry followers across to the shore of lib- 
eration: Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. 

Theravada Buddhists 

Theravada Buddhism (literally "Teachings of the Elders") describes a gradual 
path of individual religious striving. The original Buddhist community was 
made up of monks who renounced the world, while lay supporters offered con- 
tributions to the monasteries. Following that early model, lay Theravada Bud- 
dhists — or those who are not monks — have followed the same moral and reli- 
gious teachings of the Buddha, but they have not engaged in the monastic re- 
nunciations that lead more directly to nirvana, although they do gain spiritual 
"merit" by supporting monks and nuns (for example, by providing them food 
and clothing). And that, they believe, might help them achieve a better rebirth 
in the next life. This form of Buddhism has had great influence in Southeast 


Asian countries such as Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), Myanmar (formerly 
Burma), Kampuchea (formerly Cambodia), Thailand, and Laos. 

In North Carolina, Theravada Buddhists are found at Asian-American 
temples where Thai, Cambodian, and Laotian migrants congregate: Wat Caro- 
lina in Bolivia, Greensboro Buddhist Center, the Cambodian Cultural Center in 
Lexington, Wat Mungme Srisuk in Cameron, and the Cambodian Cultural So- 
ciety in Charlotte. Some converts also follow traditions inspired by Theravada, 
including those few European Americans who attend Wat Carolina and other 
Asian- American temples as well as the converts who practice Insight Medita- 
tion at one of the state's two Vipassana centers. 

Mahayana Buddhists 

A second major form of Buddhism, Mahayana (literally "Great Vehicle"), dis- 
misses their opponents, the Theravadins, as the "lesser vehicle." Their "great 
vehicle" emphasized the active virtue of compassion as well as the reflective 
virtue of wisdom, which was so highly valued by the Theravadins. The ideal for 
Theravada Buddhists was the arhat, one who is free from all impurities through 
the realization of nirvana and, so, free from all subsequent rebirth. Mahayana 
Buddhists, even lay followers, aimed higher. They sought to become a Buddha, 
one who achieves full enlightenment for the sake of all beings, human and non- 
human, and embodies compassion as well as wisdom. This emphasis on the 
path of the bodhisattva (future Buddha) — and not the path of the shravaka (fu- 
ture arhat) — has distinguished the Mahayana sects that have predominated in 
East Asian nations such as China, Korea, and Japan. 

Some forms of East Asian Mahayana Buddhism have made their way to 
North Carolina. The state does not have a large Japanese American community, 
and no temples associated with Japanese Pure Land Buddhism {Jodo Shinshu) 
were established, as they were in Hawaii and along the Pacific Coast during the 
late-nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth century. But the 
state is home to a few thousand Chinese immigrants, and about one hundred of 
those attend Chapel Hill and Gary's Buddha Light International Association, 
which is formally affiliated with Taiwan's Fo Guang Shan (Buddha's Light 
Mountain) and California's Hsi Lai Temple, the largest Buddhist building in the 
United States. Vietnamese refugees also practice Mahayana Buddhism at three 
urban temples in the Tar Heel State: Raleigh's Chua Van Hanh, Greensboro's 
Chua Quan An, and Charlotte's Chua Lien Hoa. And fourteen convert centers 
are associated with one or another form of Mahayana Buddhism. Followers 
practice seated meditation (zazen) and walking meditation {kinhin) at eight Zen 
temples and at five small groups affiliated with the Vietnamese monk Thich 
Nhat Hanh's Community of Mindful Living. And an estimated eight hundred 

converts to Soka Gakkai International — U.S. A, a movement that attracts the 
most ethnically diverse community of Buddhist converts, meet to chant hom- 
age to a sacred text, the Lotus Sutra, in private residences in Raleigh and across 
the state. 

Vajrayana Buddhists 

A third major division within Asian Buddhism, Vajrayana ("Diamond Vehicle"), 
emphasizes that the religious path could be briefer, even in this lifetime. It sug- 
gests that this world of rebirth and suffering (samsara) is ultimately identical to 
the final state of liberation and bliss {nirvana), at least for those few spiritually 
advanced persons who see reality as it is. Vajrayanists reconceived of the reli- 
gious goal in texts called tantras, and in their practices followers used sacred 
syllables {mantras) and cosmic paintings {mandalas). As with the other two 
forms of Buddhism, this Vajrayana or Tantric tradition has Indian roots, but it 
has predominated in Tibet and Mongolia. 

There were less than two thousand Tibetan migrants living in the United 
States in 1995, and they don't make up a significant community in the state 
today. So although the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, appears 
regularly on television and in newspapers in North Carolina, institutional forms 
of Vajrayana can be found only at the five convert centers devoted to Tibetan 
Buddhism, including two in Durham — Karma Thegsum Choling and the 
Shambhala Center. 

The presence of these two spiritual centers, and the thirty-one others, might 
not prompt North Carolinians to think first of Buddhism when they think of the 
state. But, as the brief profiles of temples and centers included in this volume 
show, the spiritual landscape has been changing during the past three decades. 
And we hope that this project provides an angle of vision on that changing 
terrain for students and teachers, legislators and policy makers, ministers and 
caseworkers, and for all citizens who want to know more about their new neigh- 
bors. Yet because the spiritual landscape is changing so quickly, some of the 
information we have gathered soon will be outdated as new Buddhist commu- 
nities form and existing communities shift locations, fade away, or change names. 
We can only hope that this snapshot of North Carolina's Buddhist communities 
in 2001 will be helpful to those who pick up where we have left off, those who 
take up the challenge of mapping the state's increasing religious diversity. 

The Temples 

Brooks Branch Zendo 

Address: 283 Quartz Hill Road, Pittsboro, NC 273 12-6592 

Phone and Email: (919) 542-7411; 

Contact: Gentei Sandy Stewart 

Lineage: Rinzai Zen 


Newsletter: Kaihan. Circulation: 300. 


*- I 

n T - ■' I r iTrniwimiii ini iJigMgaiiiH 

Pittsboro's Brooks Branch Zendo is tucked away in a forest, a serene setting 
for the meditation led by the center's Zen priest, Gentei Sandy Stewart. Stewart, 
who studied with Japanese Zen teacher Roshi Sasuki, has been practicing Bud- 
dhism for more than three decades. Along with his wife, Susanna, and his assis- 
tant. Woody, Sandy leads services Sunday mornings as well as Tuesday and Thurs- 
day evenings. Seated meditation (zazen), chanting, and walking meditation 
(kinhin) are all important parts of the practice there. So is dokusan, or the tradi- 
tional private encounter between Zen student and teacher, which at Brooks Branch 
is now held in a cozy tent on the grounds. There are approximately ten core 
members — all of European- American descent — but some services attract as many 
as twenty-five sympathizers and converts. During the regular weekly sessions, 
incense bums in front of an elegant, but simple carving of the Buddha. Hard- 

^> ^f*^^ Xlt* 

wood floors, wild flowers on the altar, and a wood stove burning in the zendo all 
add to the rustic atmosphere. With fifteen acres of forested land, Brooks Branch 
Zendo also provides an ideal setting for sesshin or retreats, which last up to one 

The temple was originally established in 1977 by the efforts of Sandy's wife, 
Susanna Holzman. It has moved from Holzman's backyard to a wooded area do- 
nated by one of the members. The first Zen center in North Carolina, Brooks Branch's 
expanding membership has caused the community to seek a larger building and a 
new location. Once construction is completed on the new temple, which will in- 
clude a kitchen and living area, the group will sponsor longer retreats, and monks 
might be invited to stay. 


Buddha's Light International Association 

Address: P.O. Box 1632, Cary, NC 27512. Meetings are held in members' homes and 

various rented facilities in Cary and Chapel Hill. 

Contact: Shu-Ching Cheng (919) 929-3261; Diann Liu (919) 851-9375 

Spiritual Leader: The Venerable Jue Chuan 

Lineage: A combination of Mahayana schools, particularly Pure Land and Ch'an 

Affiliation: Fo Guang Shan (Buddha's Light Mountain), headquartered in Kao hsiung, 

Taiwan; U.S. headquarters at the Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, Califomia. 


Newsletter: BT JANC Newsletter (monthly, printed in Chinese). Circulation: 100. 

In a spacious ranch-style home nestled in a quiet, wooded Chapel Hill neighbor- 
hood, fifteen to twenty BLIANC members gather to chant sutras, discuss Buddhist 
teachings, and enjoy a vegetarian lunch. A day later, another fifteen or so members 
assemble in a home in Cary for a similar morning of devotion. Meeting every other 
weekend (Chapel Hill on Saturdays and Cary on Sundays), the BLIANC consists al- 
most entirely of first generation ethnic Chinese immigrants and graduate students. Most 
hail from Mainland China or Taiwan, and a few are from Southeast Asia. Contrary to 
the presupposition that all Asian American followers are cradle Buddhists, many mem- 
bers at BLIANC are adult converts, with some taking refiage in the Three Jewels only 
after arriving in the U.S. 

Founded in 1 992 by a small group of lay people, the BLIANC now counts over one 
hundred members on its roll. An elected president and board of directors form the 
official leadership of the group. As an affiliate of the internationally active Fo Guang 
Shan Buddhist Order, the BLIANC is able to draw upon many resources. The Vener- 
able Jue Chuan, the nun assigned to the BLIANC by Fo Guang Shan, serves as the 
spiritual advisor who oversees all regular services and special rituals, such as those 
commemorating the Buddha's birthday. The BLIANC also sponsors periodic lectures 
by visiting lay or clerical speakers and organizes social events to celebrate important 
days on the Chinese lunar calendar. These special activities, like the regular services, 
are conducted in Mandarin Chinese, with English translation on rare occasions. With 
the membership growing, the BLIANC is planning to construct a full-scale temple in 
the town of Apex. 



Cambodian Buddhist Society 

Address: 219 Owen Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28213 

Phone: (704) 596-6628 

Contacts: Bun Lengh,Thy-Lort, and Penny Lang (English) 

Lineage: Theravada 

Newsletter: rflmhoHian RnHdhi'st Soripty 

Located in a quiet residential neighborhood, the Cambodian Buddhist Soci- 
ety provides both a worship site and community center for Charlotte's Cambo- 
dian population. In 1984, three private investors purchased the two acres of 
land and the ranch house where the temple is now located. The temple is now 
in the process of expanding its worship facilities and — to attract families — 
adding playground equipment and a child care program. Even without attract- 
ing anyone else, the temple already has approximately eighty member families. 
Most of those members are Cambodian reftigees, although other ethnic groups 
are represented in small numbers. As at other Asian American temples in the 
state and the nation, a small group of devotees attend the weekly services, while 
holiday celebrations can draw up to two hundred participants. 


On the weekends, the Cambodian Buddhist Society comes alive with reli- 
gious and social gatherings. Members meet in the house to talk together, pre- 
pare meals, and worship. Pillows and blankets on the floor provide a place to 
sleep for those who want to stay over on weekends. Throughout the week, 
members prepare meals for the two resident monks, who (like most of the 
temple's members) speak little English. The monks lead services at the Cambo- 
dian Buddhist Society and occasionally travel to other Theravada temples in 
the region to do the same. They also preside over weddings and funerals. But 
the temple's New Year's celebration in April remains a highlight of the ritual 
calendar and always attracts a large crowd. 



Cambodian Cultural Center 

(Cambodian Buddhist Society of Lexington) 

Address: 185 Pine Lodge Road, Lexington, NC 27292 

Phone: (336) 357-5769 

Contact: Saroeung Vay . 

Lineage: Theravada 

Affiliation: Greensboro Buddhist Center. (Also with support from Americorp.) 

A large stone archway decorated with Buddhist images greets visitors at the 
entrance to the Cambodian Cultural Center, which dates from 1990, when the 
businessman Saroeung Vay founded the organization to provide a common 
ground on which Cambodians and other Buddhists would be able to gather. 
Functioning as both a religious and community center, the Cambodian Cultural 
Center is now a place where Cambodian and Laotian refugees interact with one 
another, share their culture, and express their faith. 

Recently, the organization acquired a plot of roughly ten acres that contains 
a two-story, sprawling structure reserved for religious purposes. That space 
includes an old bam converted to a dance or reception hall, a volleyball court, 
and a basketball court. It also includes a few other smaller structures, such as a 


small, brightly painted shrine. The grounds are home to six resident monks, 
only one of whom speaks English. With about 150 member families, the Center 
is a mix of generations and traditions. A small group of those members attend 
weekly services, and hundreds from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Geor- 
gia travel to the temple four or five times each year for holiday celebrations, 
which involve chanting and bowing and are performed in the members' native 
tongue. In one of those communal rituals, which is traditional in Theravadin 
countries, devotees present the monks with gifts, such as new robes, sandals, 
toiletries, food, and other necessities. While it is primarily adults who attend 
the religious services, members of the younger generation come to the center 
for social interaction. Even if the generations don't always concur on other 
issues, the refugees and their children agree that the Center is a gathering place 
that has kept alive the cultural traditions of their homeland. 

EA and MZ 


Cape Fear Tibetan Buddhist Study Group 

Address: 310 N. Front Street Suite 4, #179 Wilmington NC, 28401 
Phone and Email: (910)-792-5958; rf t hs g @pc h e aling a r ts co m 
Contact: Randolph E. Clayton (Orgyen Sherab), Resident Director 
Lineage: Tibetan, especially Nyingma and Kagyu 

Website: htrpV/T-n embers; tripod comZ-cfthsg 

The Cape Fear Tibetan Buddhist Study Group (CFTBSG) was recently es- 
tablished to create a forum for the practice and study of Tibetan Buddhism. 
Services are held on Sunday mornings and evenings and again on Wednesday 
nights at 7 p.m. At each service they do prostrations and meditation, and they 
participate in a discussion. CFTBSG is also in the process of building a library 
of Dharma books, some of which are very rare. Orgyen, the leader of the cen- 
ter, attempts to organize a trip each month to temples across the state and the 
region, so he and the other members can become more familiar with varied 
forms of Buddhist teachings and traditions. For instance, the group has trav- 
eled to the Triangle area (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill) to study preliminary 
teachings, and to Florida to study Medicine Buddha teachings and empower- 


Chapel Hill Zen Center 

(Red Cedar Mountain Temple) 

Address: P.O. Box 16302, Chapel Hill, NC 27514 
Phone and Email: (919) 967-0861; T Cah a rg n @i ntr ex n et 
jSpiritual Leader: Taitaku Patricia Phelan, abbess 
Lineage: Soto Zen 
Affiliation: San Francisco Zen Center 
.Website: htt p://w w w i n trp :x not / chzg / 
ewsletter: Ch apel H ill Zen Center News. Circulation: 450. 

Past a small goldfish pond and hidden among wooded grounds lays the 
iThapel Hill Zen Center. Members come to practice in a building that was once 
the home of a Unity Church. The group officially formed in 1980, when mem- 
bers of the San Francisco Zen Center moved to North Carolina and began to 
tneditate together in private residences. 

Twenty years later, Taitaku Patricia Phelan had been installed as abbess, 
ind the Chapel Hill Zen Center stood out as one of the most stable and promi- 
nent convert centers in North Carolina and the South. Phelan and her family 
moved from California to lead the growing Chapel Hill Zen Center in 1991. 
^he received her training at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center and the San Fran- 


Cisco Zen Center under Zentatsu Richard Baker and Sojun Mel Weitsman. 

The center holds six services throughout the week, and those include zazen, 
kinhin, chanting, and prostrations. Chapel Hill Zen Center also holds all-day 
sittings and sesshins. Those are led by Phelan as well as guest teachers from 
the San Francisco Zen Center and other Soto temples. There are many more 
general and participating members, but approximately thirty fill the small zendo 
for most Sunday services. Members are primarily European- American and 
African-American, ranging in age from 10 to 75. 

LA, CW, and KM 

Charlotte Community of Mindfulness 

Address: c/o Dr. Bill Chu, Kennedy 220, 9201 University City Boule- 
vard, Charlotte, NC 28223-0001 

Contact: Dr. Bill Chu: (704) 547-4568; 
Lineage: Mahayana 

Affiliation: Thich Nhat Hanh's Community of Mindful Living 
Spiritual Leader: Dr. Bill Chu 
Website: htt p://w w w coe u ncc edii M iillrhu/snngha/ 
Newsletter: rh^Hntte rommnnity of MinHfiilne<;«^ (online) 

The sound of Protestant hymns drifts down through the ceiling as a dozen 
Women and men sit cross-legged to meditate. This is a typical service at the 
Charlotte Community of Mindfulness, a group of European- American Bud- 
dhist sympathizers that gathers on Sunday mornings from 8:30 to 10:45 in Myers 
Park Baptist Church's basement. That room is filled with Buddhist posters and 
statues — in contrast to the cross that adorns the altar in the church above. But 
the connection between the basement Buddhist meditators and the Baptist hymn 
singers in the pews above is closer than it might first appear. In 1994, four 
members of this liberal mainline Protestant congregation founded the Buddhist 
group. The co-founders, and the others who have joined them, came to believe 
that there was no conflict between Buddhism and Christianity. In fact, most of 


the members of the Charlotte's Community of Mindfulness report that they 
practice meditation and mindfulness to enrich their Christian faith. 

Thich Nhat Hanh, the popular Vietnamese Mahayana teacher who inspires 
the group, teaches that "every act is a rite" and mindfulness, or offering one's 
full attention to each action, is a central spiritual practice for the basement Bud- 
dhists. Dr. Bill Chu, the Chinese-American Buddhist convert who leads the 
Charlotte group, turned to Buddhism after hearing Nhat Hanh speak in Wash- 
ington, D.C. And Dr. Chu has encouraged the others who meet in that church 
basement to incorporate mindfulness practice into their lives. And the group 
emphasizes that practice, as well as seated meditation, during their weekly ses- 
sions and on their monthly Day of Mindfulness. 



Charlotte Zen Meditation Society 

Address: Harmony House 726 East Boulevard, 3"* floor Charlotte, NC 

28210 (For the Sunday meetings only) 

Mailing Address: Charlotte Zen Meditation Society PMB 169, 4736 

Sharon Rd., Suite Charlotte, NC 28210 

IPhone and Email: (704) 846-0676; C7MS486?48@ an1 mm 

Spiritual Leader: No resident leader. Most members look for guidance to 

^he Reverend Teijo Munnich of the Zen Center of Asheville. 

Lineage: Soto and Rinzai Zen 

Affiliation: Zen Center of Asheville and Sanshin Zen Community 

Website: httpV/memhers an\ rom/_ht_pi/c7Tns;4R6?48/myhninepagP:/ 

Each Sunday night a small group of European- American Zen practitioners 
sits cross-legged in a large open space beneath a cathedral ceiling in the heart of 
North Carolina's largest city. These weekly meetings of the Charlotte Zen Me- 
tiiation Society (CZMS), which congregates on the third floor of a large white 
house used by the Therapuetic Massage Institute, include two thirty-minute 
periods of zazen and ten minutes of kinhin. The evening ends with reading and 
discussion. No permanent spiritual leader presides over the weekly sessions, 
but most members look for guidance to the Reverend Teijo Munnich, who trav- 
els from the Zen Center of Asheville every ninety days to offer instruction. 
Some members in the Charlotte group, which was founded in 1990, look to 
Dther Soto and Rinzai teachers around the state and the nation — including John 
Daido Loori of Zen Mountain Monastery in Mt. Tremper, New York; Gentei 
Sandy Stewart of Pittsboro's Brooks Branch Zendo; and Shohaku Okumura of 
^anshin Zen Community, who has co-taught with Teijo Munnich at the South- 
i^m Dharma Retreat Center. Although attendance at CZMS's weekly sessions 
"arely is more than fifteen, it can rise to more than one hundred when Munnich 
jr some other teacher visits the group. 



Chua Lien Hoa 

Address: 6505 Lake Dr. Charlotte, NC 28215 


Contact: Ms. Van Tran, Temple Secretary 

Spiritual Leader: Dai Due Thich Chan Hy 

Lineage: Vietnamese Mahay ana 

A large image of the Buddha greets visitors to Chua Lien Hoa, a temple 
founded in 1987 to nurture the growing number of Vietnamese refugees who 
had been relocating to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region. The temple has a 
large worship space and a separate building that contains a kitchen, dining hall, 
and childcare center that serve the two hundred members. The group also tries 
to provide transportation, food, and clothing to the thousands of Vietnamese 
migrants in the area, although members acknowledge that they struggle to keep 
up with the internal and external demands on the popular temple. One sign of 
the popularity of the temple and the relative paucity of its resources can be 
found in the parking lot, which cannot accommodate the swelling numbers of I 
weekly visitors. Many have to park at remote lots and hike back to the modest j 
temple grounds. 

The temple's spiritual leader is the monk, Thich Chan Hy, who received his 
formal training in Vietnam. The temple is also home to several other Vietnam- 
ese Mahayana monks. And, as at the three other Vietnamese temples in North 
Carolina, the services those monks preside over are conducted in Vietnamese, 
and they consist primarily of chanting and meditation, although the monks also 
spend some time during those communal rituals discussing Buddhist history. 
On Sundays at noon, while the adults are in the main worship space, children! 
and youth congregate in another building, where lay volunteers introduce the 
refugees' children to Buddhism. Following the adult service and the children's i 
lessons, a meal is served in the dining hall. That provides a time for the congre- 
gation to socialize, and, as at most other Asian- American Buddhist temples, 
Chua Lien Hoa is as much as cultural center as a worship site. 



Chua Quan Am 

Address: 1410 Glendale Dr., Greensboro, NC 27406 
Phone: (336) 854-5238 

Spiritual Leader: Dai Due Thich Thien Quang 
Lineage: Vietnamese Mahayana 

'% far? ^1-^' 

j A statue of Amida Buddha stands in front of Chua Quan Am, a meeting place for 
several hundred Vietnamese refugees and a small number of American converts. 
Vietnamese refugees founded the group in 1989, and six years later members dedi- 
:ated the temple, which is now a cultural bedrock for the local Vietnamese commu- 
nity. There are approximately three hundred members, of whom about 90 percent are 
first or second generation Americans of Asian descent. On most Sundays about fifty 
members attend the regular worship seiTice. That service is led by the recently in- 
istalled monk, and it includes chanting Buddhist sutras in Vietnamese. Adults and 
bhildren homage the Buddha in separate services, both of which are conducted in 
Vietnamese. Following the children's' service, a Vietnamese "Youth Group" gath- 
ers. There adult members educate the children in Vietnamese Buddhist culture. The 
^emple features Buddhist theater productions, which are performed by the children 
md highlight the Buddha's life and teachings. Children also benefit from weekly 
y/ietnamese music and language instruction at the temple. In these and other ways, 
hua Quan Am tries to pass on Vietnamese traditions in the new cultural context. 




Chua Van Hanh 

lAddress: 4229 Forestville Road, Raleigh, NC 27604 

Mailing Address: North Carolina Buddhist Association RO. Box 4030, 

Raleigh, NC 27604 


Spiritual Leader: Thuong Toa Thich Thien Tarn 

Lineage: Vietnamese Mahayana 

When the resident monk, the Most Venerable Thich Thien Tam, arrived in 1 995 
o nurture Vietnamese refugees at Chua Vanh Hanh the local devotees met for their 
Weekly communal ritual in a modest red brick house on a quiet street in northem 
Raleigh. The community has since built a small red and yellow temple and acquired 
[line acres of surrounding land. The temple's membership and attendance also has 
Expanded. Chua Van Hanh (Temple of a Thousand Steps) now has a membership of 
150 Vietnamese Americans, from acculturated children who attend local public 
kchools to elderly grandparents who speak little English and long for the homeland 
hey fled during the 1970s. Between seventy- five and one hundred devotees attend 
:he weekly rituals at 1 1 :30 on Sunday momings, and several hundred gather for 
Buddhist holidays such as the Buddha's birthday. Those services, and all others, are 
conducted in Vietnamese and the chantings of sacred texts is the central practice, 
iowever, members sometimes gather to meditate too, as more than thirty did after 


the Buddha's Birthday celebration in 1 999. 

In many ways, Chua Van Hanh is a typical Vietnamese American Buddhist 
temple, and the contours of its history are mirrored in countless communities across 
the state and the nation. It began in November 1986, when the North Carolina! 
Buddhist Association officially incorporated. The core members, who were all 
Vietnamese refugees, then arranged to convert a modest home into a temple. They 
vigorously sought a resident monk, and after Thich Thien Tam arrived the commu- 
nity began to gain members and visibility. 

But if the story of its growth is familiar, Chua Van Hanh is distinctive in 
another way. At the urging of the resident monk, who served two temples in 
Vietnam before coming to Raleigh, the community has been at work on a long- 
term project they started in 1998. They are building a sculpture garden depicting 
the life of the Buddha. When it is finished in several years, it will include five 
main statues, and several others, including one image that already has been put 
in place — a twelve-foot concrete Buddha seated on a white lotus petal. That 
sculptural garden already has attracted local notice, including a story in the 
Raleigh newspaper, and the temple might be even more visible in the years 
ahead if the community follows through on its plan to construct a larger temple 
on the grounds. 



loud Cottage Sangha 

\ddress: The Black Mountain Wellness Center 1243 Montreat Road, Black 

Mountain, NC 

failing Address: 623 Old Toll Circle Black Mountain, NC 2871 1 

Phone and Email: (828) 669-0920; pjt oy@j iinn com 

Contact: Judith Toy and Philip Toy 

Lineage: Mahayana 

Affiliation: Thich Nhat Hanh's Community of Mindful Living 

In the heart of western North Carolina's Appalachian mountains a group of 
ifteen European Americans meets five times a week at the Black Mountain 
A^ellness Center to practice Buddhism in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh's 
Drder of Interbeing {Tiep Hien). This group offers beginner's meditation in- 
truction each Wednesday at 5:45pm, and the rest of the community gathers 
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, when there is an 
nformal tea after the service. Those regular sessions include a variety of prac- 
ices — seated meditation, walking meditation, chanting, prostrations, and dharma 

j Cloud Cottage Sangha, which formed in 1 998, is guided by Judith Toy, who 
ieceived the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings from Nhat Hanh, and her hus- 
)and, Philip Toy, who received the Five Mindfulness Trainings from Lyn Fine, 
I teacher from the Order of Interbeing. 



Community of Mindful Living — Durham 

Address: Eno River Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship 4907 Garret Road, 

Durham, NC 27707 

Phone and Email: (9 1 9) 956-9700 

Contact: Jolene Barber 

Lineage: Mahayana 

Affiliation: Thich Nhat Hanh's Order of Interbeing and Community of 

Mindful Living 

In the local Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship's non-sectarian worship space, 
a modem high-ceilinged structure that is decorated in muted gray and mauve 
and without any Christian symbols above the altar, ten members of Durham's 
Community of Mindful Living sit on chairs or cushions with their eyes closed 
in seated meditation. At this and other Thursday evening sessions, these Euro-i 
pean- American Buddhist sympathizers and converts also will do walking medi- 
tation and chant in English, and end the evening at 9:00 with informal conver- 
sation. As at other groups inspired by the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh's 
Order of Interbeing, on the Thursday nearest the full moon they also recite the 
Five Mindfulness Trainings. 

This group, which was organized in 1999, shares the space not only with 
the liberal Unitarian-Universalist congregation, which meets on Sunday morn- 
ings and is led by a minister who has practiced Buddhist meditation for years, 
but a non-sectarian Buddhist group, the Eno River Buddhist Community, also 
gathers in a back room every Monday night. So in Durham — as in Raleigh and 
elsewhere in the United States — Unitarian-Universalist churches provide meet- 
ing space for Buddhist groups, especially those affiliated with Thich Nhat Hanh's 
Community of Mindful Living. 



Community of Mindful Living-UUFR 

;f^ddress: 3313 Wade Avenue 

Raleigh, NC 27607 
hone and Email: (919) 833-4027; r T ail_ Oh rien @ n cs ii edii 
Contact: Gail O'Brien 
Lineage: Mahayana 

\ffiliation: Thich Nhat Hanh's Community of Mindful Living 
^ebsite: httpV/roml-nufr 8m com/ 

Former Unitarian-Universalist Interim Minister, and follower of Thich Nhat 
lanh, Marcia Curtis, inspired Raleigh's Community of Mindful Living. This 
jroup, which consists of approximately twenty-five Euro- American Buddhist 
converts and sympathizers, began when Curtis gave a sermon on Buddhism 
md Mindfulness in May 1996. She followed that with a six-week course that 
ntroduced members of the liberal congregation to seated meditation, walking 
neditation, and mindfulness practice. The following fall, a small group linked 
vith the Unitarian-Univeralist Fellowship fomied, and it has continued to meet 
;ach Monday night for practice and gather once a month to share a potluck 

A typical Monday night session begins with the members sitting in a circle 
iround a statue of the bodhisattva of compassion Avalokiteshvara, a photo- 
graph of the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, and a stick of burning in- 
tense. The leader, who comes from among the group's members and changes 
rom week to week, invites a bell to sound the commencement of the medita- 
jion period. Some sessions focus on silent or guided meditation. Others high- 
ight a previously selected reading or topic, such as relaxation techniques. On 
jhe third Monday of each month the group gathers for a ceremony in which 
i)articipants rededicate themselves to the mindfulness trainings as outlined by 
!|4hat Hanh, and they return on the first Monday of the month for a Dharma 
[liscussion, when the group reads and talks about the writings of the popular 
Vietnamese teacher who has inspired this group and two others in the state. 



Durham Karma Thegsum Choling 

Address: 5061 Hwy. 70 West, Durham, NC 27705 

Phone and Email: (919) 383-0410; 

Contact: Lily Gage 

Lineage: Tibetan, especially Karma Kagyu 

Affiliation: Karma Triyana Dharmachakra in Woodstock, NY 


In a cozy house on the outskirts of Durham, Karma Thegsum Choling 
(DKTC), a Tibetan Buddhist community founded in 1981, "provides a place 
for the hearing, contemplation, and practice of the teachings of Buddhism." 
Although the seventeenth Karmapa, His Holiness Ugyen Trinley Dorje, is the 
head of the Kagyu lineage, Lily Gage and Christine Lowry serve as co-direc- 
tors of the local KTC. The group, which currently has ten dues-paying mem- 
bers, meets Wednesday nights from 7:30 to 8:45 pm in the residence of co- 
director Gage. She has transformed one room within her home, filled with vivid 
images of colorful gods and goddesses, into a comfortable meeting place for 
the European- American Buddhist converts who gather there. The weekly meet- 
ings open with a brief discussion of group business and continue with a thirty to 
forty-five minute session of chanting. Devotees engage in traditional Tibetari 


Buddhist chants to the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Chenrezig. They beheve 
:hat this practice, which include directions and dedications, malces one kind- 
learted and aware. 

KTC sponsors two guest lamas per year. Although the group does not pro- 

luce a formal newsletter, they do have a mailing list they use to notify follow- 
brs when a lama is visiting. There are currently 250 names on their mailing list, 
ivhich allows the small number of core members to reach out toward others in 
he Triangle and the region who have some sympathy or interest in Tibetan 


SS and RB 



Durham Meditation Center 

Address: 1214 Broad St. #2, Durham, NC 27705 
Phone and Email: (919) 286-4754; 
Contact: John On- 
Spiritual Leader: John Orr 

Lineage: Theravada, especially Vipassana meditation 
Affiliation: Insight Meditation Society, Barre, Massachusetts; and the Seven 
Dharma Retreat Center 
Newsletter: leap of Faith (published three times a year). Circulation: 400. 

The Durham Meditation Center's Broad Street office in Durham acts as the 
organizational base for director John Orr and his three fellow teachers of in- 
sight meditation. Ordained in Thailand as a Theravada monk in 1978, Orr spent 
eight years studying in Asia, then received his teacher training at the Barre 
Meditation Society in Massachusetts before moving to North Carolina 17 years 
ago. Since then, he has worked to spread Vipassana practice throughout the 

The Durham Meditation Center (DMC), which was founded in 1993 and 
now has 400 names on its mailing list, offers insight meditation classes and 
sittings led by trained teachers. A typical sitting attracts approximately thirty 
European Americans interested in Vipassana practice, and it includes a forty- 
five-minute meditation, followed by a Dharma talk and discussion. The medi- 
tation classes begin with chanting, continue with silent meditation, and con- 
clude with guided meditation. Each year the DMC also sponsors many retreats — 
at Seven Dharma Retreat Center, Windsong Retreat Center, and other sites in 
the North Carohna mountains. Orr and his fellow teachers also offer continuing 
education courses at local universities in Buddhism, yoga, and meditation. 
Through these classes, sittings, and retreats, the leaders at the Durham Medita- 
tion Center aim to help North Carolinians relieve suffering and experience joy. 



Eno River Buddhist Community 

Address: Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 4907 Garret Road, 

Durham, NC 27707 


Contact: Steve Seiberling 

Lineage: Ecumenical 


In a unadorned room in the back of the Eno River Unitarian-Universalist 
Fellowship, a small group of adults sit in various positions with their eyes closed 
in meditation. Those meditators attend the Eno River Buddhist Community, 
^vhich was founded in 1992. They gather every Monday night at 7:30 to prac- 
tice meditation and listen to a Dharma talk given by another member. Prefer- 
ring member-led discussions to a spiritual leader's guidance, those European- 
American sympathizers and converts learn from one another as they congre- 
gate for meditation and mindfulness practice. 

A typical meeting includes long and short periods of sitting meditation, 
ivalking meditation, and a discussion of Buddhist literature. Sometimes they 
also chant. The first and second Mondays of each month includes a sharing of 
Buddhist teachings, as well as meditation and discussion. The third Mondays 
ieature meditation instruction sessions that run concurrently with the regular 

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meetings. On the fourth Monday of the month practioners recite the Fourteen 
Mindfulness Trainings of Thich Nhat Hanh's Order of Interbeing, while the 
occasional fifth Monday consists of Metta, or loving-kindness meditation. 
Strongly influenced by the teachings of the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, 
but also drawing from other traditions — Insight Meditation, Japanese Zen, and 
Tibetan Buddhism — the group considers itself ecumenical. Average attendance 
is about twenty each week, but all of the estimated fifty members are invited to 
attend special half-day mindfulness retreats that take place once each month. 
This amiable group, which is connected with a non-sectarian UU congrega- 
tion, provides a cozy atmosphere for casual study and meditation. 



Greensboro Buddhist Center 

Wat Greensboro) 

kddress: 2715 Liberty Road, Greensboro, NC 27406 
Fax: 272-2074 

iSpiritual Leader: Phramaha Somsak Sambimb 
Lineage: Theravada 
ffiliation: Mahanikayah 

j The rural setting of the Greensboro Buddhist Center enhances its serene 
atmosphere despite its location in one of North Carolina's largest metropolises. 
Drganized in 1 985 by the Khmer Aid Group of the Triad with help from Lutheran 
Family Services and a grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, the center 
is located on ten acres that includes two houses. The temple functions as a 
religious, cultural, and educational center for over 500 families from North 
Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The congregation is made up primarily 
of Lao and Cambodian refugees and their families. 

j An annual calendar of Buddhist ceremonies are held at the Greensboro Cen- 
:er, including celebrations of Buddha's Birthday, Southeast Asian New Years, 
ind Kathin, when the monks are offered new robes. Each week the Greensboro 
Buddhist Center holds a service beginning at nine o'clock. Up to two hundred 


regular members attend and stay for lunch, dharma lessons, and recreation. The 
temple holds larger monthly services in Thai, Lao, or Cambodian traditions that 
attract four or five hundred devotees. Led by the three resident monks, the ser- 
vices include chanting of the sutras and offerings of food to the monks. Al- 
though the monks (including the temple's Thai-bom spiritual leader Phramaha 
Somsak Sambimb) speak English, the services are held in Lao or Khmer. Trans- 
lators are available for these languages and the center also offers language classes. 
During the week, Somsak and the other monks offer classes in Buddhism and 
lecture at local schools. The temple also sponsors two dance groups as well as a 
summer camp for children. Members of all ages enjoy the lake, volleyball court, 
and gardens located behind the worship site. In these and other ways, the Greens- 
boro temple provides a religious, social, and cultural center for refugee and 
immigrant families in the surrounding area. 



jGreenville Karma Thegsum Choling 

Address: P.O. Box 4243, Greenville NC, 27836 


Contact: Bonnie Snyder 

Lineage: Tibetan, especially Karma Kagyu 

Affiliations: Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, Woodstock, New York; Durham 

Karma Thegsum Choling 

IWebsite: htt pV/www , k agyu o rg 


In front of a beautiful altar, which a Tibetan artist painted, members of the 
Greenville Karma Thegsum Choling (GKTC) practice meditation and prayer. 
Devotees meet twice a week at the local Unitarian-Universalist Church, as well 
as at a member's home. The GKTC was founded in 1983, and includes about 
twelve convert members. They also send mailings about their activities to ap- 
proximately one hundred and fifty people. A majority of those affiliated with 
this Buddhist group, the only one located in Carolina's Inner Coastal Plain, are 
European- Americans from either Jewish or Christian backgrounds. Participants 
range in age from seventeen to seventy-six, and an equal proportion of men and 
women attend. Approximately ten devotees come to the Unitarian Church on 
Wednesday nights, and eight to twelve participate weekly in the Sunday prac- 
tices held at a member's private residence. At the Wednesday sessions, the group 


practices shinay, or silent meditation. They offer devotions to Chenrezig.i 
Amitabha, and Medicine Buddha on Sundays. Greenville KTC organizes othei 
activities as well. They sponsor visits by guest lamas and plan First Light services 
on New Years Day. The First Light service includes readings, light offerings foi' 
hope, and prayers for world peace. 


Healing Springs Community of Mindful Living 


lAddress: 222 E. Fifth Avenue, Red Springs, NC 28377 

Phone and Email: (QIO) M^-?471- jnhnhnwman^thnnipfaj^n] com 

Contact: John Bowman 

Lineage: Mahayana 

Affiliation: Thich Nhat Hanh's Community of Mindful Living 

In a rural region of southeastern North Carolina, about thirty-five miles 
west of Fayetteville, followers of Thich Nhat Hanh's Community of Mindful 
Living meet weekly in members' homes for seated meditation, walking medita- 
tion, chanting, singing, and dharma discussion. To enrich their Buddhist prac- 
tice the members of the Healing Springs sangha also travel to attend retreats 
several times a year in North Carolina and around the United States. 

John Bowman and Emily Whittle founded this small group in 1999, and 
Whittle is now training with Anh Huong, Thich Nhat Hanh's niece, as she pre- 
pares to join the Vietnamese monk's Order of Interbeing. 



Kadampa Center 

Address: 7404-G Chapel Hill Road, Raleigh, NC 27607 

Phone and Email: (919) 859-3433; 

Contact: Robbie Watkins, Center Director 

Spiritual Leader: Geshe Gelek Chodak 

Lineage: Tibetan, in the Gelugpa tradition 

Affiliation: The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, 

Taos, New Mexico 

Website: htt pV/www k adnmpa- cen t er org 

Newsletter: Prayer Flag (quarterly). Circulation: 800. 

Founded in 1 992 by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, Kadampa Center, a Tibetan 
temple in the Gelugpa tradition, seeks to cultivate wisdom and compassion in the 
group's eighty-five European- American member families. On Sunday momings at 
9:45, some of those devotees gather for meditation and instructional sessions, which 
are led by the resident teacher, Geshe Gelek Chodak. A monk since the age of seven,; 
Geshe Gelek studied at the Sera Je monastery in India and was ordained by Geshe 
Larumpa. About forty devotees usually attend the Sunday services that Geshe Gelek 
leads, with somewhat fewer coming to the weekday meetings. Both services usuallyj 
involve meditation and chanting; and, as the center's name signals, there is a focus 
on applying Buddhist teachings. As the center's website reminds visitors, kadampa 
refers to "those who are able to see the word of the Buddha as personal instruction 
that applies immediately to their own practice." The members of this center dedi- 
cated to integrating instruction and practice meet now in a leased office space they 
have remodeled; however, they are searching for a more permanent space. 



Piedmont Zen Group 

\ddress: Raleigh, North CaroHna. (Further information about the location is 
ivailable by calling the contact number or visiting the center's website.) 
Contact: Bob Shuman 
Lineage: Soto and Rinzai Zen 

Website: http7/www ntomir npt/~ghl 

Three days a week North Carolinians gather to take part in formal Zen 
practice at the Piedmont Zen Group. The group, which is composed primarily 
bf European- American converts and includes about eight to ten core members, 
Was founded in 1985. Members meet in a private residence for formal practice, 
which consists of several sessions of zazen, kinhin, and chanting on Tuesday, 
Thursday and Sunday mornings. The group does not have a fomial leader, al- 
though some members have received fornial Soto and Rinzai Zen training in 
traditional monastic centers. The Piedmont Zen Group offers an intimate set- 
ting for Rinzai and Soto converts to practice in one of North Carolina's largest 



Sandhills Zen Group 

Address: 150 Merry Mock Hill Road, Southern Pines, NC 28388 

Phone and Email: (910) 695-7851; 76460 300 0@ r,o iTipn s t -rvt- mm 

Contact: Barbara Muso Perm 

Lineage: Zen 

Affiliation: No official affiliation, but they incorporate the practices of 

Ordinary Mind Zen School of Charlotte Joko Beck, spiritual leader of the 

Zen Center of San Diego 

Website: htt pV/l it er aryorg/sandhillszen/ 

Candles flicker in a darkened room, where a small group sits in silent medi- 
tation. This is the Sandhills Zen Group (SZG), which was founded in 1998 by 
its current leader, Barbara Muso Perm. The community she leads is predomi-. 
nantly European- American, and many affiliate with religions other than Bud-j 
dhism. Although there are no official ties, SZG draws on the practices devel- 
oped by the Ordinary Mind Zen School, which is inspired by Charlotte Joko 
Beck, leader of the San Diego Zen Center. Perm, who has been sitting regularly, 
for twenty years, studied with Beck in San Diego. 

SZG moved to its current location in the southern piedmont in 1999, and it 
sponsors meditation sessions on Sundays from 5:00 to 7:00pm, Tuesdays from 
7:00 to 9:00pm, and Wednesday mornings from 6:45-7:45. Each session con- 
sists of two periods of zazen (seated meditation) and kinhin (walking medita- 
tion). That is followed by a taped Dharma talk by Beck and a discussion by' 
SZG members. Every third Sunday of the month the SZG holds half-day or 
full-day sittings, and followers do a more strenuous two-day sitting every few 



iSeidoan Soto Zen Temple 

'Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1447, Blowing RockN.C. 28605 

Address: 418 Curwood Lane, Boone N.C. 28607 

Plione and Email: (828) 295-0916; 

Spiritual Leader: Tozan (Tom) Hardison, a Soto Zen priest 

Lineage: Soto Zen 

[Website: httpV/n^er'; hnnne ne.t/^p\dn^nh^rd\<inn 


Tucked away in a valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains is Tozan (Tom) 
Hardison's quaint home, which doubles as the Seidoan Temple. Its serene loca- 
tion provides an excellent setting for the practice of Soto Zen, which includes 
both zazen (sitting meditation) and kinhin (walking meditation). 

Tozan Hardison, the temple's spiritual leader, studied Zen for years in sev- 
eral Buddhist temples in the United States and Japan. He spent time at Squirrel 
Mountain Zendo in North Carolina and practiced under both Dainin Katagiri 
Roshi at Minnesota Zen Meditation Center and Tenshin Reb Anderson at San 
Francisco Zen Center. He then practiced for years in Japan, where he was or- 
dained as Seiun Tozan at Daimanji Temple and later received dharma transmis- 
sion from Kosen Nishiyama, who formally acknowledged his spiritual insight 
and readiness to teach. Hardison then returned to the United States and eventu- 


,^'-' ^ r ' \''~' ' 111 

ally settled in the North Carolina mountains, where he opened his home to 
other followers of the faith. Seidoan Temple was officially established on May 
17, 1998. 

The core congregation consists of about five or six middle-aged European 
American converts. Occasionally, on days of celebration or sesshins, more visi- 
tors attend. Zazen is held daily at 7 a.m., as well as on Sundays mornings and 
Thursday evenings. Those regular practice sessions are complemented by all- 
day sittings the last Saturday of each month. 



Shambhala Meditation Center 

Address: 733 Rutherford Street, Durham, NC 27705 

Phone and Email: (919)286-5508; 

Contacts: Susan Gaylord, Center Director: (919) 286-1487; Wendy Farrell, 

Center Coordinator: (919) 382-2811; Lee Bowers, Practice Coordinator: 


Lineage: Tibetan, Kagyu and Nyingma lineages 

l4ffiliation: Shambhala International, Halifax, Nova Scotia 

Website: htt pV/www shambhala org /c en te rs /durham 

Newsletter: The Durham Shambhala Center News (quarterly). 

In a one-story wooden house set in a spacious yard, Shambhala Meditation 
Center members, most of them European- American converts, gather for reli- 
gious practice. Although there are currently about twenty-five members, an 
average of twelve attend the service. 

The Shambhala Meditation Center is part of a network of centers through- 
put the U.S. and the world affiliated with Shambhala International, headquar- 
tered in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Shambhala International, originally known as 
Vajradhatu International, was founded and directed by the Vidyadhara Chogyam 
Trungpa Rinpoche, a Tibetan meditation master and holder of the Kagyu, 


Nyingma, and Shambhalian lineages. After the death of the Venerable Trungpa 
Rinpoche in 1987, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche became the spiritual director. 
He changed the name of the parent organization to Shambhala International. 

Founded in 1978, the Durham center continues to thrive under the leader- 
ship of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, who trained in India and in the United 
States under the direction of senior teachers of the Kagyu and Nyingma lin- 
eages. Services typically include opening chants followed by sessions of sitting 
meditation alternating with briefer periods of walking meditation. After the ses- 
sions close with another chant, the devotees drive off to their homes in Durham 
and other cities and towns in the Piedmont region. 



Soka Gakkai International — USA 

Address: 6307-A Chapel Hill Road, Raleigh, NC 27607 

Phone and Email: (919) 859-0112; S GlNrTFR^ a ol mm 

Contact: Walter T. Woodall 

Lineage: Mahayana: Nichiren Buddhism 

Affiliations: Soka Gakkai International — USA, Santa Monica, California; 

and Soka Gakkai, Tokyo, Japan 

Website: htt p://wwwsgi -i is a org / 

This Raleigh-based group is a part of a larger organization, Soka Gakkai 
International (SGI). SGI, a form of Nichiren Buddhism, claims approximately 
13 million members worldwide and boasts more than sixty centers in the United 

In North Carolina, where a group formed in 1960 as part of the Washington, 
D.C. chapter, there are an estimated 800 followers of Soka Gakkai (literally 
"Society for the Creation of Value"). Most of those are converts, although some 
are cradle Buddhists of Asian descent. SGI, the most ethnically and economi- 
cally diverse U.S. Buddhist convert group, also includes many European- Ameri- 
cans and African-Americans, and some Hispanic members as well. 

Those diverse members engage in a variety of rituals. At home, most mem- 
bers regularly chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the title of the Lotus Sutra, the 
most sacred text for all who revere the teachings of Nichiren (1222-82), the 
Japanese religious founder. When devotees gather together in private residences 
each week they not only chant but also hold discussions. And there are activi- 
ties for the younger members too, including a youth group that meets once a 
week. The North Carolina SGI, like the national organization, has been active 
in working for peace, and in a larger and more formal gathering followers come 
together on the first Sunday of each month to participate in the World Peace 
Gongyo, when the members chant the first two chapters of the Lotus Sutra. 



Southern Dharma Retreat Center 

Address: 1661 West Road, Hot Springs, NC 28743 

Phone and Email: (828) 622-71 12; s(ihanTiri@niain nc us 

Contact: Ron Dogyo Feamow, co-manager 

Lineage: Ecumenical 

Website: w ww m ain nr us/SDRT 

Located in the North Carolina mountains, an hour's drive from Asheville, the 
Southem Dharma Retreat Center (SDRC) is a nonprofit educational facility that 
organizes regular meditation retreats. Spiritual teachers from a variety of religions 
lead those multi-day sessions — including Christians, Hindus, Sufis, and Jews — ^but 
the majority are Buddhists from Zen, Vipassana, or Tibetan traditions. Among those 
Buddhist retreat leaders have been prominent teachers from the state, including Teijo 
Munnich from the Ashville Zen Center and Sandy Gentei Stewart from Pittsboro's 
Brooks Branch Zendo. 

The retreats began in 1978, when Melinda Guyol and Elizabeth Kent founded 
the center. And the facilities now include a meditation hall, dormitory, forest hermit-| 
age, as well as primitive creek-side campsites. Individual visits are arranged foi 
private meditation when the facilities are not being used, but thematically focused 
collective retreats are held throughout the year, with the topics changing regularly. II 
the topics and teachers for the communal sessions vary widely, all use some form ol 
silent seated meditation as a central practice. By offering a secluded center for medi- 
tation, the SDRC aims to provide a comfortable gathering place, removed from ev- 
eryday distractions, where Buddhists and those who affiliate with other traditions,., 
can find spiritual quiet. 



Valley of the Moon Sitting Group 

Address: 3013 White Oak Creek Road, Bumsville, NC 28714 
Phone and Email: (828) 675-5440; cziet]ow@yanc(^y main nc ns 
Contact: Janey Zietlow 
Lineage: Theravada 

Affiliation: Loosely affiliated with the Insight Meditation Society, Massa- 
chusetts; Spirit Rock Meditation Center, California 

On Monday evenings meditators sit in a circle in the living room of a simple 
Japanese-style home that overlooks a pond and the Black Mountains that rise in the 
distance above it. The group, which includes fifteen core members and more who 
attend occasionally, meets Monday nights from 7:00 to 9:00, and the first Monday 
of the month they gather earlier and conclude with a potluck dinner. Those weekly 
sessions include an hour and fifteen minutes of seated and walking meditation, and 
the members then either listen to tapes of dharma talks by teachers from other 
centers or engage in a discussion of Buddhist doctrine and practice. For beginners, 
the group also offers introduction to meditation, and the sangha has extended its 
reach into the wider community with public dharma talks on Sunday afternoons. 

Four members take turns offering reflections at those dharma talks, since there 
is no resident spiritual leader for Valley of the Moon Sitting Group, which is loosely 
affiliated with the Insight Meditation Society. Some members practice Vipassana 
meditation in Bumsville and travel to the Insight Meditation Community in Wash- 
ington, D.C. to study with Tara Brach, that center's founder and senior teacher. But, 
as with other small Buddhist groups in rural areas, not all the core members follow 
exactly the same spiritual path. Several look to the Vajrayana tradition for guidance 
and also visit Tibetan temples in nearby states. A few others find inspiration in 
Thich Nhat Hanh's Community of Mindftil Living. Yet, bound by their common 
commitment to the teaching of the Buddha and the practice of meditation, this 
diverse group has continued to meet since 1994. 



Wat Carolina Buddhajakra Vanaram 

Address: 1610 Midway Rd. Bolivia, NC 28422 

Phone and Email: (910) 253-4526; 


Contact: Debrah Welch (910-791-5238) 

Spiritual Leader: The Venerable Phrakru Buddhamonpricha, abbot 

Lineage: Theravada 

Affiliation: Dhammayut Nikaya 

Website: htt pV/w w^ ww i seco m c om /wat 

Nestled comfortably in the small Tidewater town of Bolivia, Wat Carolina offers 
a taste of Thai religion and culture. The impressive red-roofed building, standing on 
its twenty-three-acre plot, makes the monastery a prominent fixture in the small town, 
The Venerable Phrakru Buddamonpricha, a monk ordained in the Dhammayut Order 
of Thai Theravada Buddhism, is the temple's spiritual leader. In Thailand, he received' 
his B.S. at Bangkok University and later studied Buddhism under H.H. Somdet Phra 
Nyanasamvara. And it was Plirakru Buddhamonpricha, the temple's abbot, whoi 
selected Wat Carolina's location. It opened its doors in 1988 as North Carolina's first 
Theravada community, and the temple has grown to be one of the major Theravada 
Buddliist centers in the Soutlieast. Average weekly services draw from fifty to a hundred 
devotees, with holidays attracting almost a thousand faithfial. 


The congregation is predominately Thai. However, there are a significant num- 
ber of European- American converts. The temple leaders work hard to welcome 
iand integrate those converts into the congregation: monks give sermons in both 
English and Thai, and the monastery holds instructional seminars after the Sunday 
services on the basics of Buddhism and meditation. The regular worship services 
! consist of Thai chanting and seated meditation, which is followed by a dharma talk. 
' Holiday services are elaborate celebrations that draw the largest crowds, with devo- 
tees traveling from as far away as New York. The center also takes part in numer- 
lous charitable efforts, which has helped it find its place in the wider community. 

Currently, the monastery serves as a teaching facility for Asian monks who live 
at the temple for roughly a year as they study Buddhism and English. Future plans 
for the temple include fiarther expansion of its sprawling structure to accommodate 
larger training centers and living areas for monks from Thailand and around the 

CL, DP, and CG 


Wat Mungme Srisuk 

Address: 1919 NC 24, Cameron, NC 28326 



Lineage: Theravada 

Newsletter: Way of Happiness. Circulation: 700. 

Down a winding country road in the small town of Cameron sits Wat Mungme 
Srisuk. Wilert Pavattasiri founded this traditional Thai temple in 1997, and 
Ampom Campala took over as spiritual leader two years later. In 2000, Wat 
Mungme Srisuk moved from nearby Spring Lake to its present location in 
Cameron, where devotees congregate in a trailer. But construction of a perma- 
nent temple is expected to be complete by the end of 200 1 . | 

Sunday services are attended by a predominately Thai congregation of fifty 
members, while religious holidays draw larger crowds of nearly five hundred 
Buddhists from all over the state. The temple houses Thai monks who travel to 
the United States to study both Buddhism and English. The monks hold to tra- 
ditional practices as much as possible, such as receiving food donations from 
the local lay Buddhist community. However, they find that some monastic rules, 







such as the traditional prohibition against touching money, must be broken to 
complete daily chores. Although it was only recently established, the temple 
already is important for the local Thai community. And when the new building 
is complete, Wat Mungme Srisuk will serve as one of the two major Thai 
Theravadin centers in North Carolina. 


Zen Center of Asheville 


Address: 295 Hazel Mill Road, Asheville, NC 28816 

Phone and Email: (828) 253-2314; 7r:a@niain nci is 

Contact: The Reverend Teijo Munnich 

Lineage: Soto Zen 

Affiliation: Minnesota Zen Meditation Center (Ganshoji) 

Website: htt pV/www m ai n nci i s /z c a/ 

Newsletter: Zen Center of Asheville Rnllt^tin. Circulation: 400. 

At six o'clock on Saturday morning the world outside is quiet. Most 
Asheville residents are in their beds, recovering from a long week of work. But 
in a modest house on the city's west side members of the Zen Center of Asheville 
are already awake and sitting zazen. The center was founded in 1995 and moved 
to its current location the same year. (During the preceding two years members 
had met in private residences.) The current congregation consists of both Bud- 
dhist converts as well as sympathizers who also practice Christianity or Juda- 
ism. Members range from young adults to senior citizens, and they are from! 
several different ethnic groups — European-American, African- American, Ko- 
rean, and Japanese. The average attendance at a zazen session ranges from five 


to ten people; however, all-day sittings often attract more. 

The Center offers both morning and evening practice five days a week. 
Special services and lectures are also offered regularly. A typical meditation 
session consists of one 10-minute session of kinhin in between two forty-minute 
periods of zazen. After sitting and walking meditation, participants chant the 
Heart and Robe Sutras and perform a series of prostrations. 

The Reverend Teijo Munnich is the guiding light of the Zen Center of 
Asheville. She was introduced to Zen practice at the San Francisco Zen Center 
in the early 1970s. There she met Katagiri Roshi, whom she followed to his 
center in Minnesota in 1 975. She received formal training under Katagiri Roshi, 
who died in 1990, and also studied in Obama, Japan, and at Tassajara Zen Moun- 
tain Center in California. At the Zen center that Teijo Munnich leads in Asheville 
residents of North Carolina's mountain region gather — sometimes before most 
of the city has stirred — to incorporate an ancient practice into their daily lives. 




Appendix A 


Temples and Centers Listed by Founding Date 

Buddhist Organization Year 

I Founded 

Soka Gakka International 1960 

Brooks Branch Zendo 1977 

Shambhala Meditation Center 1 978 

Southern Dharma Retreat Center 1 978 

Chapel Hill Zen Center 1 980 

Durham Karma Thegsum Choling 1 98 1 

Greenville Karma Thegsum ChoHng 1 983 

Cambodian Buddhist Society (Charlotte) 1984 

Greensboro Buddhist Center (Wat Greensboro) 1985 

Piedmont Zen Group 1985 

ChuaVanHanh 1986 

ChuaLienHoa 1987 

WatCaroHna 1988 

ChuaQuanAn 1989 

Cambodian Cultural Center (Lexington) 1990 

Charlotte Zen Meditation Society 1990 

Kadampa Center 1 992 

Eno River Buddhist Community 1 992 


Buddhist Organization 

Mountain Zen Group 

Durham Meditation Center 

Charlotte Community of Mindfulness 

Valley of the Moon Sitting Group 

Zen Center of Ashville 

Community of Mindful Living (UUFR) 

Wat Mungme Srisuk 

Sandhills Zen Group 

Seidoan Soto Zen Temple 

Cloud Cottage Sangha 

Community of Mindful Living — Durham 

Healing Springs Community of Mindful Living 

Cape Fear Tibetan Buddhist Study Group 



Appendix B 

Temples and Centers Listed by Geographical Location 

The Piedmont 
The Triangle (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill) 

Buddha Light International Association (Chapel Hill and Cary) 

Chua Van Hanh (Raleigh) 

Durham Insight Meditation Center (Durham) 
f Shambhala Meditation Center (Durham) 

[' Piedmont Zen Group (Raleigh) 

' Chapel Hill Zen Center (Chapel Hill) 

! Brooks Branch Zendo (Pittsboro) 

Soka Gakkai International-USA (Raleigh) 
' Durham Karma Thegsum Choling (Durham) 

! Eno River Buddhist Community (Durham) 

; Kadampa Center (Raleigh) 

: Community of Mindful Living — UUFR (Raleigh) 

Community of Mindful Living — Durham 
The Triad (Greensboro/High Point/Winston-Salem) 

Greensboro Buddhist Center (Greensboro) 

Cambodian Cultural Center (Lexington) 

Chua Quan An (Greensboro) 

Salisbury Community of Mindfulness (Salisbury) 


Charlotte and Vicinity 

Cambodian Buddhist Society (Charlotte) 

Chua Lien Hoa (Charlotte) 

Charlotte Community of Mindfulness (Charlotte) 

Charlotte Zen Meditation Society (Charlotte) 

The Southern Piedmont 

Wat Mungme Srisuk (Cameron) 

Sandhills Zen Group (Southern Pines) 

Healing Springs Community of Mindful Living (Red Springs) 

The Inner Coastal Plain 

Greenville Karma Thegsum Choling (Greenville) 

The Tidewater (Or Outer Coastal Plain) 

Wat Carolina (Bolivia) 

Cape Fear Tibetan Buddhist Study Group (Wilmington) 

The Mountain Region 

Zen Center of Asheville (Asheville) 
Mountain Zen Group (Asheville) 
Seidoan Soto Zen Temple (Boone) 
Southern Dharma Retreat Center (Hot Springs) 
Valley of the Moon Sitting Group (Bumsville) 
Cloud Cottage Sangha (Black Mountain) 


Appendix C 

Temples Listed by Type and Tradition 

Asian-American Immigrant and Refugee Temples 


Cambodian Buddhist Society 
Cambodian Cultural Center 
Greensboro Buddhist Center 
Wat Carolina Buddhajakra Vanaram 
Wat Mungme Srisuk 


Buddha Light International Association of North Carolina 
Chua Lien Hoa 
Chua Quan An 
Chua Van Hanh 

European-American and African-American 
Convert Centers 


Durham Meditation Center 
Valley of the Moon Sitting Group 




Charlotte Community of Mindfulness 

Cloud Cottage Sangha 

Community of Mindful Living — UUFR 

Community of Mindful Living — Durham. 

Healing Springs Community of Mindful Living 

Salisbury Community of Mindfulness 


Brooks Branch Zendo 


Chapel Hill Zen Center 
Charlotte Zen Meditation Society 
Mountain Zen Group 
Piedmont Zen Group 
Sandhills Zen Group 
Seidoan Soto Zen Temple 
Zen Center of Ashville 


Soka Gakkai International — USA 


Cape Fear Tibetan Buddhist Study Group 
Durham Karma Thegsum Choling 
Greenville Karma Thegsum Choling 
Kadampa Center 
Shambhala Meditation Center 

Eno River Buddhist Community 
Southem Dharma Retreat Center 


Appendix D 

Estimating the Number of Buddhists 

i No one knows for sure how many Buddhists live in the United States, or in 
North CaroHna, since the U.S. Census does not ask questions about religious 
affiliation. One scholar has estimated that there are four million U.S. Buddhists, 
and about 800,000 of those are European American or African American con- 
verts. For North Carolina, we can make informed guesses based on several fac- 
tors, including the U.S. Census statistics on ethnicity and foreign-born resi- 
dents, as we also refine that by appealing to estimates of the national Buddhist 

There are as few as 5,000 and as many as 20,000 Buddhists in North Caro- 
lina. If we take the most conservative route to estimating the total, we could use 
the self-reported information we have gathered about membership in the Bud- 
dhist temples and centers. That yields an estimate of about 5,000. Some of those 
persons who are claimed in that figure are nominal or luke-warm Buddhists, but 
there are still many more who remain uncounted in that lower figure. But how 

To find out we can turn to the U.S. Census data for some help. First, Asian 
Americans in North Carolina who were bom in four predominantly Buddhist 
Qations — Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand — constituted 13.7 percent 
of the state's 1990 Asian American population (69,020), and if we adjust that 
figure downward to 10 percent (to allow for Christians in those migrant popula- 
tions) we can begin to arrive at more reliable, though still uncertain, estimates. 
If we then conservatively estimate that one third of the 21,146 Chinese, Japa- 
nese, and Koreans in North Carolina in 1990 were Buddhists in some sense 
(they hailed from Buddhist families or engaged in some Buddhist practices), we 
arrive at the informed speculation that about 20 percent of the 1990 population 
of Asian Americans in North Carolina were Buddhists (13,804 residents). Fur- 
ther, if the estimated increases in the Asian American population between 1990 
and 1997 yielded the same ethnic and national group proportions, that would 
mean the Tar Heel State was home to 18,407 Asian- American Buddhists in 

But we can refine that figure still more. If we assume that the same propor- 
tion of convert to cradle Buddhists holds in the state as it does in the nation 
(approximately 4 to 1), and then adjust the figure to include the total number of 
convert members we were able to identify in our collaborative project (1,400), 
then the total number of North Carolina Buddhists, cradle and convert, is ap- 
proximately 20,000. 

But even this higher figure, if it is accurate, does not fully represent the 


presence of Buddhism in the state. Some North CaroHnians sign up to receive 
temple newsletters, occasionally listen to lectures or dharma talks, attend one 
or more centers irregularly, and read Buddhist books they stack on their 
nightstand at home. If we considered these night-stand Buddhists, or sympa- 
thizers, those with interest in the tradition but who have not formally joined an 
organization, the number of the state's Buddhists would be even higher. But 
even if we omit them because they are too difficult to identify and count, it 
seems that Buddhism now has a significant presence in the state. 


Resources for Further Study 


Fenton, John Y., et al, Religion'^ of A«;ia 3'^^ ed. New York: St. Martin's, 1993. 

Seager, Richard. Rnddhism in AmmcR. New York: Columbia University 
Press, 1999. 

Takaki, Ronald. Sltranger*; from n Different Shore- A Hi<;tnry of A<;irin Ameri- 
cans. Updated and revised edition. Boston: Little, Brown, 1998. 

Tweed, Thomas A., The Ammcan Fn count er w ith R nddhis m, 1844-1917 . 
Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000. 

Tweed, Thomas A. and Stephen Prothero, eds., A<;i?in Religions; in AmeHra- 
A Documentary History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. 

Reference Works 

Hill, Samuel and Charles Lippy, eds., FneyrlopeHia of Religion in the South 

2"^* ed. Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, forthcoming 2002. 

Levinson, David and Melvin Ember, eds., AmeHran Tmmigrant rnltnre*; 2 
vols. New York: Macmillan, 1997. 

Morreale, Don, ed. The Complete Guide to Buddhist America. Boston: 
Shambhala, 1998. 

Roof, Wade Clark, ed. Co nt em pora ry A m er ican Rel igion. 2 vols. New 
Macmillan, 2000. 

Smith, Jonathan Z. The HarperCollins Dictionary o f R eligion. San Francisco: 
HarperSanFrancisco, 1995. 

Videos and CD-ROMS 

"Becoming the Buddha in LA." Video. WGBH Boston Video (1993). 

"Blue Collar and Buddha." Video. Taggart Siegal Productions. (1988). 


"Buddhism: The Middle Way of Compassion." Delphi Productions. (1993). 

Diana Eck, On ro mmon Ground" World Religions in Ammra. CD-Rom. 
New York: Columbia University Press, 1997. 

Web Pages 

The Buddhism in North Carolina Project: htt pV/w ww u nc ed u/ nchu ddhi s m 

Buddhist Worlds in the USA: htt p:// academir ; s h amilton ed u/r p1 i gi ou s_s nidi e s/ 
rse ag er/h uddh ist w or lds 

Dharma Net Intemational: htt p'//\v w w d haminn et org 

The Pluralism Project: htt pV/www p lurali s m org 

Tricycle' The Buddhist Rev iew: htt p://w w w , t ricycl e .com 



Amitabha (Sanskrit): Amida (Japanese). In Mahayana Buddhism, a 
Buddha or enlightened being who presides over a "Pure Land" or paradise in 
the western part of the universe. 

Avalokiteshvara (Sanskrit): Also Kuan-yin (Chinese), Kaimon 
(Japanese), and Chenrezig (Tibetan). The bodhisattva of compassion. An 
important object of devotion in Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhsim. 

bodhisattva: A living being who has made a commitment to follow 
the path leading to full enlightenment. A future Buddha who embodies wis- 
dom and compassion and is devoted to liberating all beings. 

buddha: The "awakened one." A fully enlightened being. A title 
given to those who have attained the goal of Buddhism. 

(Chenrezig: See Avalokiteshvara. 
chua: Vietnamese term for "temple." 

dharma: Sanskrit term with many meanings — truth, law, doctrine. 
Most fiindamentally, it refers to the teachings of the Buddha. 
[ dharma transmission: The passing of spiritual insight from teacher 

to student, who as the "dharma heir" now has the authority to teach. 

dokusan (Japanese): The traditional private meeting or interview 
between a Zen teacher and student. 

ecumenical: Non-sectarian. Not affiliated with any particular group or 

Kathin: A major festival in Theravada Buddhism when the lay 
followers offer new robes and other supplies to the monks. 

kinhin (Japanese): Walking meditation. 
! lama: In Tibetan Buddhism, a teacher, or anyone regarded as a 

teacher because of spiritual attainment. Usually but not always a monk or 
nun, although not all ordained men and women are lamas. 

Lotus Sutra: A Mahayana Buddhist sacred text dating from the first 
century of the common era. 

Mahayana: "The Great Vehicle." A name applied to one the three 
major traditions or branches of Buddhism in Asia — especially prominent in 
China, Korea, Vietnam, and Japan. 

metta: "Loving kindness" meditation. The first of the four sublime 
moods or states of mind {brahma-viharas), in which active good will is 
extended to all beings. 

mindfulness: The practice of attending fully to each moment. 

Nichiren (1222-82): Japanese Buddhist leader who founded the sect 
that bears his name. 


prostration: Ritualized bowing. 

Rinzai: A Japanese Zen tradition based on the Chinese Lin-chi school 
of Ch'an Buddhism. Eisai (1141-1215) is usually regarded as the school's 
Japanese founder. This form of Zen relies not only on zazen but also koan 
(Japanese; or kung-an in Chinese), stories of question-answer sessions be- 
tween masters and their disciples that pose paradoxical questions. 

rinpoche: Literally "precious jewel." An honorific title in Tibetan 
Buddhism given to those who have been judged to be a tiilku, or reincarna- 
tion of a deceased enlightened teacher. 

roshi: The Japanese term literally means "old teacher" and is a 
respectful way to refer to an established teacher or senior monk in a monas- 
tery or temple. 

sangha: Sanskrit term referring to the Buddhist monastic order or, 
more broadly, the community of all Buddhists. 

sesshin: In Zen Buddhism, a period of intense meditation that lasts up 
to seven days. 

Soto: A Japanese tradition of Zen based on Ts'ao-tung Ch'an Bud- 
dhism. It was brought to Japan by Dogen (1200-53). The school emphasizes 
the use of zazen or seated meditation. 

sutra: A sacred Buddhist text that followers take as the teachings of 
the Buddha. 

sympathizer: One who does not formally join or affiliate with a 
religion but expresses some interest in it. 

Theravada: Pali term for "Way of the Elders." One of the three main 
surviving traditions or branches of Buddhism. The self-chosen name for the 
diverse Buddhist traditions found in Southeast Asia: Sri Lanka (formerly 
Ceylon), Myanmar (formerly Burma), Kampuchea (formerly Cambodia), 
Thailand, and Laos. They were dismissed by Mahayana followers, who used 
the pejorative term Hinayana, or "the small vehicle," to describe them. 

Thich: An abbreviation of "Thich-ca," Vietnamese for Shakya, which 
is the name of the Shakyamuni Buddha's clan. So a title taken by Vietnamese 
monks to denote kinship in the spiritual family of the Buddha. 

"Tiiree Jewels": In a formal ceremony most Buddhists "take refuge 
in" these three foundations of the faith: 1) Buddha, the founder; 2) Dharma, 
his teachings; and 3) Sangha, the community of Buddhists. 

Unitarian-Universalism: A liberal American denomination whose 
1984 statement of principles acknowledges "wisdom from the world's reli- 
gions" as one of the sources of their faith. There is no official affiliation with 
Buddhism, but the denomination sponsors the Unitarian-Universalist Bud- 
dhist Fellowship, and (as in North Carolina) often provides the space where 


some smaller Buddhist groups meet. 

Vajrayana: Sanskrit term meaning "The Diamond Vehicle." Tantric 
Buddhism. One of the three main traditions or branches of Buddhism. Tradi- 
tionally, it has predominated in Mongolia and Tibet, but all of Tibet's four 
main schools of Buddhism — Gelugpa, Kagyu, Nyingma, and Sakya — have 
found their way to the West, and to North Carolina. 

zazen: Japanese term for seated meditation. 

vipassana: A type of "insight" meditation practiced in Theravada 

wat: Thai term for "temple." 

Zen (Japanese): Ch 'an (Chinese), Son (Korean), and Thien (Viet- 
namese). Mahayana sect of Buddhism that originated in China and spread 
throughout East Asia. In the United States, the sect is best known by the 
Japanese term. 

zendo: Meditation hall. Japanese term for the place in a Zen temple or 
monastery where meditation is practiced. 


Buddhist Temples in Nortti Carolina 


^J Mountains 


:\ 7 -^ -^ 

Greensboro / 

. ■*" Rale-iih 

Piedmont r-^ 

charlotte / ^- 

r Inner Coastal Plain ^^'Z-^ 



IldeS'ater ^^ 





05/15/02 33357 ^ 

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