History & Mission

Khyongla Rato Rinpoche with His Holiness the Dalai Lama

“Within human beings there are so many different mental dispositions that one religion or one philosophy simply cannot, I believe, be sufficient to satisfy the whole world such a large number of human beings. I think it’s clear that a variety of philosophies and traditions is much more useful to a variety of human beings.” 

Teachers at The Tibet Center have not been limited to masters from the Land of Snows. Other Buddhist teachers have come from the Chan, Theravadan, and Zen traditions and non-Buddhist teachers have included Jain, Hindu, and Christian practitioners as well as scientists and philosophers.

In the ensuing quarter century The Tibet Center has hosted the most important Tibetan masters of our time including Venerable Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, the Senior Tutor of His Holiness the Dalai Lama,Venerable Tsenshab Serkong Rinpoche, who served as the official debating partner of H. H. the Dalai Lama, Sakya Trizin Rinpoche, the hereditary head of the Sakya order of Tibetan Buddhism, Venerable Trulshik Rinpoche of the Nyingma tradition, and Venerable Tenga Rinpoche of the Kagyu tradition.

A History of our New York teachings

In 1991, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was presented with an invitation by Richard Gere and The Tibet Center's Khyongla Rato Rinpoche to bestow the Kalachakra initiation in New York City. Following an eight-day preparation period during which a magnificent Kalachakra sand mandala was created, His Holiness conferred the Kalachakra initiation upon more than four thousand people in Madison Square Garden's Paramont Theater. He returned to New York in 1999 to deliver teachings on Kamalashila's Middle Length Stages of Meditation and Togmay's Sangpo's Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas. During this visit, His Holiness addressed an extraordinary public gathering in Central Park attended by over 200,000 people.

In 2003, at the request of The Tibet Center and Healing the Divide, His Holiness returned to New York City. This visit's ambitious four-day teaching on Root Verses on Indian Philosophies by the 17th-century Tibetan scholar Jamyang Shepa and The Seven-Point Mind Training by the 12th-century Geshe Chekawa, also included a public talk in Central Park on The Bodhisattva's Jewel Garland by Atisha, attended by over 200,000 people.

Once again, in October of 2007 The Tibet Center and Healing the Divide hosted His Holiness as he bestowed teachings on the Diamond Cutter Sutra, by Shakyamuni Buddha and Seventy Verses on Emptiness, by Nagarjuna, and gave a public talk on Peace and Prosperity to an audience of 6,000 people at Radio City Music Hall.

In partnership for the fifth time, The Tibet Center and Healing the Divide were privileged to host His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New York City in May of 2010. This visit took place over four days, from May 20 to 23, 2010. On May 20, 21, and 22 His Holiness gave teachings on Commentary on Bodhicitta, by Nagarjuna and A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life, by Shantideva. These teachings were followed by a public talk entitled Awakening the Heart of Selflessness on the afternoon of May 23rd, 2010.

This October 2013, The Gere Foundation and Kunkhyab Thardo Ling The Tibet Center are happy again to announce that His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama will give teachings at the Beacon Theatre New York City, NY. His Holiness will teach The Heart Sutra, The Sutra of the Recollection of the Three Jewels, and the ninth chapter of The Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life, by Shantideva. His Holiness will bestow an initiation into The Buddha Establishing the Three Pledges. There will also be a public talk on the Virtue of Nonviolence.  

The Reverend Khyongla Rato Rinpoche has begun to implement plans for the establishment of The Buddhist Temple of New York. This initiative, commemorating the Dalai Lama’s Kalachakra teaching in 1991, is a multi-year project including a capital campaign to build a temple dedicated to world peace and understanding among peoples: fundamental qualities of Buddhism. The Temple will lend an international focus to the growing interest in the study and practice of Buddhism and other religions. To launch the project a fund raising dinner was held at the National Arts Club in late 1997 and a life-size statue of the Kalachakra deity was commissioned by The Tibet Center from the Master Sculptor of H. H. the Dalai Lama in India.

Currently at The Tibet Center, the Reverend Khyongla Rato Rinpoche and Rato Khen Rinpoche Nicholas Vreeland offer weekly classes in Buddhist practice and theory. Ancient Indian and Tibetan texts are taught alongside methods of integrating them into daily meditation and practice. Visiting masters regularly offer Buddhist teachings. The Tibet Center also hosts weekend seminars and retreats.