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25th Anniversary ~ A night to Remember

The 25th Anniversary Gala was truly a night to remember. We all enjoyed an evening of meeting new friends and reacquainting ourselves with friends from the past. We enjoyed the sounds of three musicians: A cellist in the lobby, saxophonist at the entry and a jazz guitarist in the back garden. The food was delicious with an array of catered delights plus the Tibetan fare prepared by Tenzin Lama, the brother of our own Geshe Sangpo. Soon we will post photos for all to enjoy.

Thank you to the amazing group of volunteers that made our night so special! 

If you didn't get a chance to attend, please enjoy the speech below, given by Director Robbie Watkins.


25th Anniversary Speech


June 10, 2017 • 8:00 pm

“Welcome, welcome to everyone gathered here today! We are so happy you came out tonight to celebrate this auspicious occasion with our Kadampa family. A family that has been growing strong for 25 years from a handful of earnest spiritual seekers to a vibrant, diverse community of children and adults, to our Center, gompa, beautiful stupa, and everything you see here tonight.


As always, we are most grateful to our resident Teacher, Geshe Gelek for attending this evening and for being our spiritual leader for the last 18 years


We send warm wishes to our other resident teacher, Geshe Sangpo, who wholeheartedly wanted to be here this evening, yet is working hard in Nepal for the welfare of several families there.

We are equally grateful for our Sangha member attending this evening, Venerable Khando. Our nuns are vital to our Center in ways that are very visible, and in many ways that are largely unseen. We honor them this evening for taking ordination and holding their vows in ways that continually benefit our Center.


We also thank Gen Norbu and Venerable Khandro for coming out tonight and joining our celebration.


We extend a special welcome to Morrisville Mayor Stohlman for kindly joining us and our Outreach guests Triangle Interfaith Alliance President, Madhu Sharma and Professor Margarita Suarez of Meredith College in the Religious and Ethical Studies Program. Also we thank Alice Glover, the immigration attorney, for coming. Alice kindly donated her services helping our geshes with all of their green card to citizenship path. I’m told Senator Jay Chaudhuri promises to stop by later.


As I look over this crowd of new and familiar faces I see happiness. Not only happiness… I see JOY! The teachings tell us “JOY means the pleasure that comes from delighting in other people's well being." and that is what I see on your faces tonight. It took many the untold efforts of many people to get Kadampa Center to where it is today. So tonight ...

We reflect and celebrate our past,
We enjoy this moment’s happiness and
We dream of the future that is to come.


Everyday we wish for many things from getting the perfect job to the good health of our children. We crave tasty food, good friends, nice vacations and simple pleasures. Some wishes create momentary happiness for ourselves and while that is perfectly fine, other wishes create a lasting impact that has no end in sight for ourselves and untold others.


More than 25 years ago, our founder Don Brown had a wish. He wanted to learn the Dharma (which is Buddha’s teachings that lead us toward happiness and away from suffering). Where did this wish come from? In 1978, while Don was doing medical work around the world, he went to Kathmandu Nepal as a tourist. He met a traveler from Kabul who was going to a Buddhist monastery called Kopan to take pictures and to speak with a teacher named Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Don wanted to be able to say he’d been to a Buddhist monastery so he and went along with his new friend. Don then met two former medical students, Nick Ribush and Adrienne Feldman, and became familiar with the phrase “Trying to meditate without understanding is like a rock climber without arms.”

Don decided to attend the course at Kopan and remembers writing in his diary “I am not going to become a Buddhist, I am not going to become a Buddhist.” But before long, he thought, “I am a Buddhist!” This time at Kopan was a catalyst and the source for his inspiration. Later, when times were tough, he would think about his teachers and guru devotion. Their dream, was for the world to be transformed and Dharma was the method. Today Don says “You can say I’m the founder, but whose shoulders are we really standing on? Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe.” Don felt like his wish was merely an extension of their wishes. Thank you Don.


Look around you and see that wish has come to fruition in ways we will never even know. People have traveled far and wide to visit our Center, circumambulate our amazing stupa, attend the teachings, go to retreats with teachers like Lama Zopa Rinpoche, practice, pray and study the Dharma. We have shared the Dharma, free of charge, relying solely on donations, and intend to do so long into the future so that countless beings may study, practice and pray at our doors.


As our Center becomes blessed by those who have visited, we delight in the prospect not only of Lama Zopa Rinpoche at our Center in August for a one day teaching but also His Holiness the Dalai Lama will (barring any last minute changes to his schedule) come to Raleigh in October. Many have worked countless hours behind the scenes for more than 20 years to make this visit a reality. We share tonight in the JOY of both of these events over the next few months!


Tonight, we mark the JOY of our 25 years of sharing the Dharma. While this gala is about celebrating the past, when we leave tonight it will be just that - the past. It is now time we begin to look to our future. Even when we think of the future, all we truly have is the present moment. In this moment let’s make ourselves READY.

Ready our hearts

Ready our minds

Ready our commitment.

The work that Don Brown started so many years ago is now OUR responsibility. As Rinpoche says, “Everything begins on the Tip of a Wish.” I ask you to reaffirm what is of utmost importance for our Center in your heart and mind. As we make a strong wish for the Center we all love so dearly, be realistic and be clear. What does the future of our Center look like to you? What experiences do you wish for?  What kind of Center do you want for your children? Let’s take a moment to contemplate in silence, and to make our wish…
Thank you. Now with these strong wishes in our hearts and minds, let’s send them off to the winds by speaking them out loud and together while throwing our rose petals on the count of three,


Everyone have their petals? Ready? 1 - 2 - 3!!


Wonderful! Thank you. May everyone of your wishes come true.


And now, I stand in front of our new logo that will mark the beginning of our future as a maturing Center. From time to time a logo needs to be refreshed to represent the energy of change. A company rarely makes a stark move in a new direction, rather more of a subtle morphing of style. Here is the history of the logos we’ve used from 1992-today.

  • First we see the logo created back in 1992 that we used up to 2016
    This reflects the strong emblem of the stupa, the symbol of the enlightened mind,  set against the bodhi leaf, the symbol of being awake and supreme knowledge.


  • Next, we see our logo with a new font for Kadampa Center as we became more ‘professional.’

  • Then, in 2016, as we began a year of preparation, for our 25th anniversary, we made a shift to a year-long logo to be used to reflect our celebration.

  • Now, as we think about our new logo, we decided the symbols of the stupa and the Bodhi leaf were still a reflection of our Center and all we represent. The stupa used in our new logo is the actual drawing by Jampel, the stupa artist. It’s wonderful to know the aspiration of the stupa in our logo created 25 years ago is reflected in the reality of our amazing stupa that now graces our Center!

  • We decided it was also time to change the font to mirror the characteristics of the Bodhi leaf, giving a fresh look to our overall logo.

  • The aqua color used in our new logo mirrors the color now used on our altar.

  • This logo, with its new golden Bodhi leaf, is lovely displayed against aqua, and is perfect to coordinate beautifully with an entire array of colors, which can be used to represent the many faces of Kadampa Center.

  • This is a simple representation of an idea of a prospective color palette. In the months to come, we will create a plan for each color use, working together with a representative from each team at our Center.

  • There you have it! We are well on our way to a fresh new look for the future of our Center’s activities.


Thank you for your time and attention and now I would like to invite our precious resident teacher, Geshe Gelek, to address us all.

And now it is time we come back to temporal happiness and enjoy this lovely party! Thank you to all those who have worked so hard to make this evening truly a night to remember, and to the hundreds and hundreds of volunteers who have worked tirelessly through the years. Again thank you for coming. Please enjoy yourselves!"