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Born the son of a practising Buddhist in Ratay in East Tibet, Dusum Khyenpa (1110-1193) received his first dharma teachings from his father, and continued his education with other Buddhist teachers of the region until his twentieth year. Then he moved to Central Tibet where he spent the next twelve years in meditation and in study with famous scholars, among them Kyabpa Chokyi Senge, and Patsab Lotsawa Nyima Trag. At the age of thirty he was given Kagyu teachings by Gampopa; he was farther connected with the lineage by teachings he received from Rechungpa and from other students of Milarepa. The depth of his practice was such that he developed siddhis (powers) that enabled him to visit the sacred sites of the Diamond Way in India. At one of these, Udhiyana, dakinis shared their wisdom teachings with him.
In 1899, the first Jodo Shinshu Ministers arrived in the United States to minister to the emigrant Japanese community. They established the first mission in San Francisco, California. From these early beginnings, the Buddhist Churches of America (BCA) was formed and has developed into an independent organization religiously affiliated with the Jodo Shinshu Hongwaji-Ha in Kyoto, Japan.