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Please visit www.sgbcc.org for all the latest news and events.

Thank you,

Ani Palmo

Ani Palmo Rybicki
Director, Songtsen Gampo Buddhist Center of Cleveland

3546 W. 98th Street
Cleveland, OH  44102

(216) 320-9589




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!


(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