Longtime clinical psychologist opens Buddhist center in Chattanooga, Tennessee

- through Henry Oudin

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From timesfreepress.com

Dr. Les Kertay (also known as Lobsang Tharchin), a clinical psychologist based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, has launched a new Gelug Tibetan Buddhist Center. Named Paramita Center Southeast, the nonprofit will offer teachings and retreats on Tibetan Buddhism, welcoming people from all backgrounds to explore meditation and Buddhist practices.

Last week's launch event featured Lama Lobsang Samten, a monk of Tibetan descent currently residing in Toronto, who will lead classes on managing calm and anxiety.

Dr. Kertay's journey to creating this center began decades ago. His interest in Buddhism was sparked by a memorable meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. During the event, an audience member asked the Dalai Lama what the most important thing to do in life was.

“It felt like an eternity. It was probably a 10 second pause. And then he just laughed. He laughed and said, “I don’t know; do something,” Kertay recalls. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

This simple yet profound response left a lasting impression on Dr. Kertay.

The new Paramita Center Southeast is part of a broader trend in the United States, where practices rooted in Eastern spiritual traditions, such as yoga and meditation, have become increasingly common. Dr. Kertay aims to contribute to this movement by providing a dedicated space for meditation and Buddhist studies in Chattanooga.

Two launch events have already taken place for the Paramita Center Southeast. The first offered a basic meditation course, while the second was titled “Overcoming Stress and Anxiety: Managing Emotions Through Meditation.” In a radio interview, Dr. Kertay announced that this summer, regular classes would be listed on the center's website.

Dr. Kertay's personal journey in Buddhism and meditation is deeply rooted in his life experiences. Growing up during the Vietnam War, he was initially attracted to nonviolence and gradually became disillusioned with the Catholic Church's stance on various issues. Seeking a more robust spiritual and political philosophy, he found solace in Buddhism and appreciated its multifaceted teachings and emphasis on meditation.

Despite his early interest, Dr. Kertay's engagement in Buddhist practices was sporadic and often left him unsatisfied. His career in clinical psychology and the demands of his job take precedence. A pivotal moment occurred when a child died shortly after birth, prompting Dr. Kertay to re-evaluate his priorities. He decided to take a part-time job reviewing disability cases, which allowed him to spend more time with his family and pursue his spiritual interests.

From wutc.com

During the pandemic, Dr. Kertay sought to deepen his understanding of Buddhism and meditation. He discovered the Paramita Center in Toronto, directed by Lama Lobsang Samten. The teachings he encountered there resonated deeply with him. Contrary to common perceptions that meditation is just a relaxation technique, Lama Samten emphasized its deeper purpose by saying, "The goal is to learn how to sharpen your mind so that you can truly investigate how about the way things are, about the way I am, about the way that I are, such as the world is. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Dr. Kertay described his experience with Lama Samten as reminiscent of meeting the Dalai Lama, feeling a true connection and authenticity in the teachings. Inspired by Lama Samten, Dr. Kertay requested permission to establish a branch of the Paramita Center in Chattanooga, which would make it the first of its kind in the United States.

The Paramita Center Southeast will complement existing meditation options in Chattanooga, such as Center Space and the Chattanooga Insight Meditation Community. These local groups regularly offer guided meditations and spiritual talks aimed at those seeking mindfulness and mental clarity.

Dr. Kertay emphasized that you don't have to be Buddhist to benefit from meditation. “You can practice this method of meditating without believing anything,” he said. (Chattanooga Times Free Press) He recognizes, however, that this practice is rooted in a rich tradition that he feels obliged to share.

As Dr. Kertay prepares to lead Paramita Center Southeast, he shared his vision for a place where individuals can explore meditation, deepen their spiritual practice, and find a supportive community. The center aims to provide practical ways to apply Buddhist ethics in daily life, adhering to the principle that "one must live to do the most for the greatest number." (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

In launching this center, Dr. Kertay said he hoped to provide a space for mindfulness and meditation in Chattanooga, fostering a sense of peace and community among its participants.

See more

After decades of thinking about Buddhism, a Chattanooga psychologist launches a meditation center (Chattanooga Times Free Press)
Paramita Central South-East
Chattanooga psychologist launches meditation center after years of adopting Buddhism (here Chattanooga)
Forging a New Path for Studying Buddhism in the Southeast (WUTC)

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The article Longtime Clinical Psychologist Opens Buddhist Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee appeared first on Buddhadoor Global.

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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