Khyongla Rato


Khyongla Rato is a reincarnate lama and scholar of the Gelugpa order of Tibetan Buddhism. He was born in 1923 in the southeastern Tibet in the region called Kham. In 1928, senior Gelugpa monks divined that a five-year old boy living in this remote part of Tibet was the reincarnation of the ninth Khyongla of Tibet.

On his sixth birthday, monks on horseback took him from his parents’ home to a monastery some distance away where he was installed as its spiritual head. For over three decades he lived the sober life of a monk, studying at the most famous monasteries in Tibet and earning the Lharampa Geshe degree. In 1959, along with thousands of monks, as well as the Dalai Lama, he fled on foot over the Himalayas to safety and to a radically different life in India, and eventually the United States.

In 1975, he founded The Tibet Center, the oldest Tibetan Buddhist Center in New York City. The Center offers classes in Buddhist practice and theory on a weekly schedule. Ancient Indian and Tibetan texts are taught together with methods for integrating them into daily meditation and practice.

Khen Rinpoche Nicholas Vreeland


The Venerable Nicholas Vreeland is the Director of The Tibet Center. He holds a Ser Tri Geshe Degree from Rato Dratsang, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Karnataka, India, where he studied for 15 years. In 1998, he returned to New York City to assume administrative and teaching responsibilities. He is the editor of the books, An Open Heart, a New York Times best seller, and the recently released, A Profound Mind, both authored by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Khen Rinpoche has been a photographer since he was 13 years old, and assisted Irving Penn and Richard Avedon. The recent exhibition of his work, entitled Photos for Rato, toured major cities around the world and raised most of the funds needed for the construction of Rato Monastery’s new campus and temple, which was inaugurated by the Dalai Lama on January 31, 2011.

View his photos recently exhibited at the Leica Gallery NYC, NY... 

Return to the Roof of the World

On April 20, 2012 His Holiness the Dalai Lama appointed Geshe Vreeland, as the new Abbot of Rato Monastery. This was an historic moment; the first time that a Westerner had been appointed as abbot of an important Tibetan Buddhist monastery. On making the appointment, The Dalai Lama stated, “Your special duty (is) to bridge Tibetan tradition and Western world.”