Venerable Tenzin Yignyen


tenzin.jpgVenerable 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.

In 1969, Tenzin entered Namgyal Monastery at the age of 16 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. Tenzin received the teachings from many of the 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 22, 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, which is equivalent to a Ph.D. degree. The 16 years of study are conducted in a highly structured, rigorous, academic environment. He has since been engaged as a teacher of Buddhist philosophies, Mandala construction, ritual arts and other ritual ceremonies.

Highlights of Tenzin's work include translation of the book "Wheel of Time Sand Mandala"in 1989 for the Samaya Foundation, New York City; the construction of a Kalachakra sand mandala at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, colleges, art galleries, and several other venues; 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. In 1993, he was then invited by Gandan Thekcheling 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. (Namgyal Monastery is the personal monastery of His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama.) He has been invited to make sand paintings and give lectures at many organizations and museums including The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Cleveland Institute of Arts, Asia Society in New York City, Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY, the Yoga Ashram in Bahamas, and the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in Washington, D.C. He also taught a Mandala painting class at Trinity College of Hartford, Conn. Teaching has been conducted in  both an academic environment as well as the traditional methods, handed down by the Buddha 2500 years ago in an  unbroken kineage of teacher and student.

Tenzin has led several pilgrimages to Mongolia and India over the past few years. He was appointed as a program director for fall 2005 India study called NYSICCSI for 20 college students from six colleges in upstate New York. Tenzin also led five HWS college students to Dharmsala, India, to do research on Traditional Tibetan Arts in the summer of 2010. The trip was funded by the Asianetwork Foundation.

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.

Tenzin can be reached at:

Venerable Tenzin Yignyen 
121 Hamilton Street 
Apt. 1 
Geneva, NY  14456 
Phone 315 781 3707 office 
315 781 3058 home