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He developed ashrams in Bloomington, Indiana, Ann Arbor, Michigan and Cambridge, Massachusetts, finally settling in Portland, Oregon, where he has a thriving ashram and community. Even my phone, struggling toward two bars, conspired against modernity.But that's what you pay for at the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center and its 108 wooded acres just south of this state's flagship university.


You get a kitchenette, twin futons raised a couple of inches off the floor, a skylight and a small deck facing the woods. And, oh yes, inner peace.I arrived for a weekend stay one Saturday afternoon, pulling into a parking lot long on cars with battered bumper stickers extolling President Barack Obama and freedom for Tibet. The office where I was directed is inside the temple, a connection I didn't immediately make, which means I almost committed the no-no of walking in with my shoes on.But I caught myself, which made it the first time I had checked in to an accommodation in my socks. It slows you to the point that when finding a daddy long legs scurrying away for dear life on your yurt's lime-green wall, you shrug and go about your business.
The only sound was the faint hum of tires just off the property.After a semi-restless night on one of those futons, I awoke to the bony trees quivering in the skylight. I knew nothing about them, but the regulars didn't mind, welcoming me into their sanctuary of maroon pillows on a carpeted floor with a photo of the Dalai Lama at the front of the room.


Eyes closed and legs folded, I tried centering myself in their moment amid their gentle, rhythmic tones.The monks, unfortunately, were away for the Mongolian New Year, so a Bloomington rabbi stood in as guest speaker. When finished, several Buddhists noted that the religions share some identical concepts.Then came the weekly vegetarian lunch, which happens every Sunday after prayers and lecture. As we helped ourselves to spinach pie, a rice casserole and fruit, I noticed ants scurrying around the table and across a sign that said, "We have ants.




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