Calendar Weekly

CALENDAR monthly





Recommended books

Contact US


Songtsen Gampo Buddhist Center of Cleveland was established under our Spiritual Director Tulku Pema Wangyal Rinpoche as a nonprofit organization in November, 2008. We are currently looking to buy some property for use as our Center.

Buddhist nun Ani Palmo, our resident teacher and director, is a native Clevelander who has been studying Buddhism since 1988. She has been teaching courses in Buddhism and Meditation in the Greater Cleveland area since 2003.

Our aims for the new Center are many. We will provide instruction in Buddhist meditation and philosophy in a way that is applicable to both non-Buddhists and Buddhists alike. The Center will also serve as the focal point for forming a true spiritual community where we can support one another in our practice and benefit the larger community as well.

Look forward with us to making full use of Songtsen Gampo Buddhist Center of Cleveland.

(We'll soon have a new website that reflects our new Center)

Donate or Pledge Online! (Just click on the balloons)

We are now able to accept Donations and Pledges online. Your support is greatly appreciated. Please click here (or on the balloons) to learn about our proposed programs and how to make a donation.


***If you would like to receive our monthly newsletters, simply send me an email.



Garchen Rinpoche

April 7, 2014

Dear Friend,

Spring has finally sprung! I hope you are enjoying it, as only a Clevelander can. We've some cool events coming up this month and also
in June. Check it out!


Please join us for Tsok or Feast Offering
on two Wednesdays this month.

This Wednesday, April 9 (Guru Rinpoche Day) and also Wednesday April 23 (Dakini Day) at River's Edge. Tsok is a very precious and powerful practice.

  • Please bring a beautiful offering to present at the tsok. The very best you can manage. It should mostly be food (vegan only), but you can also bring drink (no alcohol), candles (unscented), or flowers.

    • This is a feast offering, so do bring enough food for several people. 
    • Some examples of what you might bring are beautiful fruit, veggies, bread, vegan cupcakes, vegan cookies, nuts, etc.

  • If you want to buy a prayer book, please bring cash or a check made out to "Catherine Rybicki" for the sum of $23.00.
  • We'll begin at 7pm.

Garchen Rinpoche will be giving teachings in Dayton Apr 17-27.

I will be there for the second weekend, but you can attend at any time. I highly recommend going to see this remarkable Lama! Don't miss your chance.

Taklung Matul Rinpoche 

We have some details for Taklung Matul Rinpoche's visit this June! Stay tuned for full details and registration.

    Saturday June 21: Public Talk at First UU in Shaker Hts.

    Sun June 22 - Thurs June 26: Retreat at Our Lady of the Pines



Our regular weekly meditation gatherings continue
every Wednesday this month through early June.

See below for full details. All are welcome!


There are still spaces for our pilgrimage to France in July.
Why don't you come?
 Scroll down for full details.

If you are interested in moving to a vegetarian or vegan diet, check out this link for good info on substitutions.

Looking forward to seeing you soon!


Ani Palmo

Ani Palmo Rybicki
Director, Songtsen Gampo Buddhist Center of Cleveland


                                   Like us on Facebook!

Follow us on Twitter @SongtsenGampo

For further information please call (216) 320-9589 or email Ani Palmo here.




Join our sangha (spiritual community) for weekly practice. We will be doing some basic meditation common to all schools of Buddhism, as well as three practices unique to Tibetan Buddhism.

There is no charge and no registration, but donations are very gratefully accepted, as we do need to give something to the venue for generously allowing us to use their space.    

Venue: River's Edge: A Place for Reflection and Action 
             3430 Rocky River Drive | Cleveland, OH 44111

Dates: Wednesdays  | Jan 8 - Mar 12, 2014

Time: 7:00pm - 8:00pm

                              PILGRIMAGE TO FRANCE

                                                                HH Sakya Trizin Rinpoche

                      Come to France with us next year, ma cherie!

A group of us will be traveling to France in July 2014 to receive teachings and empowerments from His Holiness Sakya Trizin Rinpoche.

This is an amazing opportunity to not only meet His Holiness, but also to meet Tulku Pema Wangyal Rinpoche and Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche. There is a very powerful stupa in the area, as well as the residence of Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche and a giant, very sacred statue of Guru Rinpoche.

So many great masters have taught there, including the Dalai Lama, Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche, Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche, the Karmapa and many others. As such, it is a sacred place and the merit of making a pilgrimage like this is incalculable.

We expect the cost of the entire to be around $3,000/person including plane ticket, teachings, and accommodation. If you are unable to afford that, you can apply for a grant through the Khyentse Foundation. Deadline for grant submission is January 15, 2014. So, get crackin', baby! (They respond after 4 months, so it is a bit of a gamble.)

We may also be asking our community for donations.

Tentative Dates of Travel: July 10-29, 2014

Dates of Teachings: July 18-28, 2014


We need to hear from you as soon as possible! If you are even 60-70% sure that you would go, please email Sharon here. We want to get a full count by January 15, so we can start looking for accommodations.

Please include:

  • The dates you are able to travel. (You can go for a shorter period, if need be. But try to make as much of the teachings as possible.)

  • If you need financial aid and how much you need.


This is a new series introducing you to the Masters of our lineage. At least once a month we will post a photo, a brief bio, and links to more information about the Masters, so we can all become familiar with our extraordinary lineage.

Please click here for definitions of some of the terms below.


  • Tulku Pema Wangyal Rinpoche


We begin with our precious Teacher, Tulku Pema Wangyal Rinpoche.

Tulku Pema Wangyal Rinpoche was born in Tibet, and currently lives in France where he has been teaching for over thirty years. He heads the Association d'Etudes de Chanteloube (ACEC) which runs courses, seminars, short retreats and the traditional Three-Year Retreat. He is also the director of the Padmakara Translation Group.

Rinpoche is the son of Kyabje Kangyur Rinpoche and a close disciple of Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche and Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. He is recognized as a highly accomplished master, speaks excellent English, and teaches the Dharma in a style which is traditional, yet always relevant to the modern world.

Some of Tulku Rinpoche's teachings can be found here.

Rinpoche is an authentic master of the highest order. Every attribute you can find in descriptions of what it means to be a qualified teacher is found in him. Being in his presence is like simultaneously basking in the warmth of the sun and shining in the cool, clear light of the moon. It is our great good fortune that we are on this earth at the same time as someone like him.  Merely to gaze upon his face is a blessing.


Please make many, strong aspiration prayers that he will come to Cleveland to teach us soon!


                                                                                                  (c) C. Rybicki                                  

 Can you help us find just the right place?

Once we have found our home, Songtsen Gampo Buddhist Center will offer the following services:

  • Continuing Classes in Buddhism and Meditation
  • Regular Group Meditation Sessions
  • Children's' Programs:
    • Mindful Breathing for Children
    • Classes for Young Adults: Using the teachings to foster compassion and deal with the anger, stress and pain that is so common for teenagers
  • Lending Library
  • Retreats
  • Social Events
  • Lama Visits

If you know of anything that might work, please call (216) 320-9589 or email me here.  Thank you for your help.


(All photos below copyright Ani Palmo [Catherine] Rybicki)

Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche making offerings 

Tulku Pema Wangyal Rinpoche and Richard Gere


                             Why do we request vegan-only food at our events?

One of our friends is concerned that we might be turning people away from the Dharma by requesting vegan food at all our gatherings and is unclear as to why we do so.

This is a valid and understandable question, particularly if one has no knowledge of the immense suffering involved in the meat and dairy industry and/or if one is not well-versed in the teachings of the Buddha on this subject.

First, we are not demanding that everyone go vegan. We are simply requesting vegan-only food at our gatherings, out of respect for the animals--who are among the beings we claim we want to liberate from suffering--and for our Teacher, Tulku Pema Wangyal Rinpoche who has made this request of us.

Second, if one investigates the Buddha's teachings on this subject and looks into the naked reality of what it means to produce meat and dairy in our day, it becomes clear why a vegan diet is most in harmony with walking a path of compassion.

 Tulku Pema Wangyal Rinpoche

Please, if you are interested in this topic or concerned regarding our requests, look into these following resources

If, after investigating in this way, you choose to continue eating meat and dairy, at least you will be aware of the repercussions your choice has on the animals, the environment, and your own health.

  • An excellent place to start is Shabkar.org where you can find a plethora of books, free downloads, teachings, and more.

  • You can get a free download of a book called Cherish All Life, which is a slim, but powerful text on Buddhists teachings regarding meat, as well as on the environmental and other impacts of meat-eating. Reading this book is what inspired me to go vegetarian.

  • There is a movie called "Earthings" which Tulku Rinpoche has asked all of us to view. It is a difficult thing to watch, I myself have not yet made it all the way through. If just watching this suffering is hard, imagine how hard it is to endure it! If we cannot face what happens as the result of our actions, how can we continue to do them blindly?

  • Another eye-opening film is called "Farm to Fridge," which can be viewed here.

  • These days bacon is all the rage, this video shows what happens to create it.

Yes, bacon is delicious and so are cheese, and milk, and meat. But, is that what the path is about? Putting the entertainment of our taste buds over the inconceivable suffering, the very lives of nonhuman animals?

We make a lot of so-called sacrifices to walk this path, to do anything really. Wouldn't you rather stay in bed than go to work in the morning? You sacrifice your own comfort to support yourself and your loved ones. How many sacrifices have you made for your education, your family, your own health even?

We are not spoiled children who need every whim satisfied. We are adults, many of whom have taken Refuge and Bodhicitta vows. Choosing to avoid meat and dairy is the very least we can do to avoid harming others.

Being vegetarian is super easy these days. I went veg over 25 years ago and I can tell you, it is a lot easier now than it was then. And I only went vegan a year or two ago.

Why didn't I do it earlier? Because, like some of you I suppose, I just didn't want to know. I didn't want yet another thing to worry about, another restriction in my life, and...cheese! But, a good friend of mine kept posting things on Facebook until I just had to take my hands from my ears, stop yelling LALALALA to drown out the sound, and look at what I was doing.

Being vegan is slightly more challenging than being vegetarian, but it's still pretty easy. You just need some basic knowledge and to spend a bit of time reading labels, and that's it! In a matter of weeks you will be so comfortable you'll wonder why you waited this long.

But, but....cheese!! I know, baby. I felt the same for years, until I read an article called "I Couldn't Give Up Cheese, So I Gave Up Animal Cruelty Instead." reposted by my annoyingly vegan friend on Facebook. Once I read that, and once I took a breath and started looking for what vegan-cheese options are available, it became very easy.

There are two companies (so far) that make really good vegan cheeses--Daiya and Teese. These cheeses hold up in a sammich, in tacos, on pizza, lasagna, etc etc. They melt! They are yumalicious!

There's a LOT of info online about vegan options, health, recipes, etc.
Here are some good places to start:

  • One Green Planet: Every aspect of the vegan world from the environment, to videos, to education, to recipes...really freakin' good recipes!

  • Think being vegan means spending all your time in the kitchen? Think again, Bob! Check out this site: The Laziest Vegans.

  • Here's a hub for all blogs vegan.

  • And here's another great site to learn and get helpful tips!

Often when I bring this up in my classes, my Dharma friends talk about how they feel guilty for not being perfect. PLEASE don't feel guilty! We are all on a spectrum with differing needs and abilities.

Absolutely anything you do in the direction of avoiding harm is fantastic. Start with Meatless Mondays. Even reducing your meat consumption by 30% is really beneficial for your health, for the planet, and for our fellow beings.

We are not interested in policing your food choices. But, we are interested in you being well-informed about your choices and in understanding why we request vegan-only food at our events.

I hope that this note helped with both of those things and that you investigate all of this with an open mind and, more importantly, with an open heart.

Thank you! 



palmo@anipalmo.org ...... (216) 320-9589