About that time, the international Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (Tibetan Buddhism is a strand within Mahayana teaching) was looking for new headquarters.
Yangsi Rinpoche was a resident teacher at Deer Park Buddhist Center near Madison, Wis., when James Blumenthal was a student, working on his doctoral degree.
Blumenthal finished his doctorate in Asian studies in 1999 and joined the philosophy faculty at Oregon State University.
He invited Yangsi Rinpoche to come to Portland and establish a Tibetan Buddhist center.
The younger man struggles to explain the Tibetan divination ritual used in selecting a site for the school his teacher had suggested.
Names of cities were written on slips of papers and put into a box and "churned," or shaken, he says, until one slip of paper emerged. The Maitripa Institute (as it was called then) was named for an 11th-century Buddhist scholar.
Red and yellow silk flags fly from the roof of Maitripa College. Otherwise, from the outside, it looks like any other office building or warehouse along Southeast 11th Avenue.