UC Berkeley News
Web Feature

UC Berkeley Web Feature

Khyentse Foundation's $1 million gift paves the way for distinguished professorship in Tibetan Buddhism at UC Berkeley

– The University of California, Berkeley will establish a distinguished professorship in Tibetan Buddhism, thanks to a $1 million endowment from Khyentse Foundation.

Khyentse Rinpoche with Buddhist Studies materials
Khyentse Rinpoche examines Tibetan texts in the East Asian Library last week during a visit to the Berkeley campus. (Peg Skorpinski photo)

The position will be jointly held by the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies. A search will begin in fall 2007, and the newly appointed professor is expected to begin teaching in fall 2008.

The addition of a faculty member specializing in Tibetan Buddhism is not only important for the newly reconstituted Buddhist Studies program at UC Berkeley, but it will also strengthen Asian Studies on campus more generally, and enrich such related disciplines on campus as religious studies, art history and linguistics.

Officials with UC Berkeley's Center for Buddhist Studies said the addition of a faculty member specializing in Tibetan Buddhism will add to the campus's ability to promote teaching, research and better understanding of the significance of Tibet in the history of Asia, and of Tibetan Buddhism in the history of Buddhism, generally.

"Universities are known for rigorous objective study," said Khyentse Rinpoche.  "If Buddhism undergoes such a thorough examination, it can benefit not only the students, but Buddhism itself. From what I see, Berkeley has the strongest history of Buddhist study in Western Academia.  It is incredible."

The Buddhist Studies program at UC Berkeley has rapidly expanded in recent years, with three new tenured faculty hires since 2003. The new professors have joined a distinguished group of Buddhist Studies scholars in various departments across the campus. With the addition of the new professorship in Tibetan Buddhism, UC Berkeley will have one of the strongest faculties in Buddhist Studies outside of Asia.

Khyentse Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche in 2001 to establish a system of patronage that supports institutions and individuals engaged in the study and practice of the Buddha's vision of wisdom and compassion.

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche was born in Bhutan in 1961, and was recognized as the main incarnation of the Khyentse lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. He has studied with some of the greatest contemporary masters, particularly H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

From a young age he has been active in the preservation of Buddhist teaching, establishing centers of learning, supporting practitioners, publishing books and teaching all over the world. Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche supervises his traditional seat of Dzongsar Monastery and its retreat centers in Eastern Tibet, as well as his new colleges in India and Bhutan. He has also has established centers in Australia, North America and the Far East. These are gathered under his other nonprofit organization, Siddhartha's Intent.

Rinpoche served as an advisor to filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci on "Little Buddha" and directed the films "The Cup" and "Travelers & Magicians." He also is the author of a new book, "What Makes You Not a Buddhist." He visited the campus Aug. 9 to meet with faculty and students.

"I feel with this one contribution we've started the equivalent of 100 monasteries," he said.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]