Venerable Tenzin Yignyen

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 City .

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 teacher.

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 Lama.

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 painting.

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.


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