Ven. Tenzin Yignyen was ordained as a monk by His
Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, and entered Namgyal
Monastery in Dharmsala, India in 1969. He completed
studies of the monastery, including the monastic rituals
and philosophical studies.
In 1985 he received the monastery's highest degree,
"Master of Sutra and Tantra" with highest
honor. The 16 years of studies are conducted in a
highly structured, rigorous, academic environment.
In 1989-1990, he assisted in the research and translation
for the book "The Wheel of Time Sand Mandala",
in conjunction with the Samaya Foundation in New York
He has constructed the Sand Mandala in many different
venues, including colleges and schools, art museums,
Time Square in New York City , and the Smithsonian
Folk Life Festival in Washington , D.C. He has also
constructed mandalas in Moscow and St. Petersburg
in Russia . In 1993, he was invited to Gaden Thekcheling
Monastery in Ulanbaator , Mongolia where he instructed
in tantric ritual and mandala construction .
In 1995, Tenzin was selected to teach at Namgyal
Monastery's North American Seat in Ithaca , N.Y. for
three years. (Namgyal monastery is the personal monastery
of His Holiness The Dalai Lama.) After that assignment,
he has remained in the United States , and has been
giving instruction on tantric ritual, Buddhist philosophy,
and Tibetan Buddhist artforms.
Teaching has been conducted in both academic environments
and traditional methods, handed down from the times
of the Buddha nearly 2,500 years ago, in an unbroken
lineage from teacher to student. Tenzin is currently
a visiting professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges
, serving as a Professor of Tibetan Buddhist studies
since 1998. He also acts as a spiritual counsel to
groups and individuals, a traditional role of the
lama in Buddhist practice .
Tenzin has taught and constructed mandalas in many
places in the United States, including Natural History
Museum in Los Angeles, Windstar Foundation in Aspen,
Colo., The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Memorial Art
Gallery in Rochester, N.Y., The asia Society in Manhattan,
New Dorp High School on Staten Island, Poly Prep School
in Brooklyn, N.Y., Sanches Elementary School in Hartford,
Conn., Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., St. Lawrence
College, Cornell University, Horacemann School, Riverdale
School and Dalton School. More about Mandalas
Venerable Tenzin Yignyen was born in Phari , Tibet
in 1953. In 1961, two years after Communist China
invaded Tibet, Tenzin and his parents escaped into
India, first to Baksa and then to Dharamsala. He enrolled
in The Tibetan Children's Village School and then
the Tibetan School in Mussoorie.
Tenzin entered Namgyal Monastery at the age of 15
and began his monastic studies in Buddhist philosophies,
rituals, meditation practice and arts. Tenzin has
received a unique training within his own culture.
Namgyal Monastery is the personal monastery of the
Dalai Lama of Tibet, the winner of the 1988 Nobel
Peace Prize. The Dalai Lama is Tenzin's root spiritual
As well, he benefited from the teachings of great
masters who also went into exile when the Dalai Lama
left Tibet and reformed his government and Namgyal
Monastery in Dharamsala , India . The program of study
Tenzin underwent was personally designed by the Dalai
In 1976, when he was 23, Tenzin received the vows
of a fully ordained monk from His Holiness the Dalai
Lama. He continued his studies for an additional nine
years and in March 1985, Tenzin received the monastery's
highest degree, "The Master of Sutra and Tantra,"
with highest honor. He has since been engaged as a
teacher of Buddhist philosophies, Mandala construction,
ritual arts, dance and other ritual ceremonies.
Highlights of Tenzin's work include translation of
the book "Wheel of Time Sand Mandala" for
the Samaya Foundation, New York City, the construction
of a Kalachakra sand mandala at the Natural History
Museum of Los Angeles and the Fire Puja mandala at
the Windstar Foundation in Aspen, Colo.
Tenzin traveled to Russia, where he participated
in the construction of various Kalachakra mandalas
in Moscow and St. Petersburg. He was then invited
by Gandan Theckcheling Monastery in Mongolia to spend
18 months as teacher of Kalachakra rituals and sand
Upon his return from Mongolia , Tenzin was selected
to be in residence at Namgyal Monastery's North American
Seat in Ithaca , N.Y. , where he taught classes of
advanced studies in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and
practice. He has been invited to make sand paintings
and give lectures at many organizations and museums
including The Cleveland Museum of Art, Asia Society
in New York City , Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester
, NY and the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in Washington
, D.C. He also taught a Mandala painting class at
Trinity College of Hartford, Conn.
At present, Tenzin teaches at Hobart and William
Smith Colleges , in Geneva , N.Y. , as a visiting
professor of Tibetan Buddhism. He travels throughout
the United States and Canada by invitation to construct
sand mandalas and to speak on the topic of Tibetan
Buddhist arts and philosophy.
Particularly, by invitation from different organizations,
such as schools, colleges, museums, yoga centers,
art galleries, and spiritual centers, Tenzin gives
lectures on the importance of developing love, kindness,
and compassion in every human being in our society
in order to create a happy, healthy and peaceful world.
Tenzin believes that these spiritual practices of
love, kindness and compassion are the main message
of all major religions of the world and the source
of all happiness and the best method to bring peace
and harmony on this planet.