The Tibetan Aid Project (TAP) is an operation of the Tibetan Nyingma Relief Foundation.TAP was founded in 1969 by Tarthang Tulku—a leading Tibetan master and teacher—to support the efforts of Tibetans to survive in exile and re-establish their cultural heritage. It is a 501 c (3) non-profit organization that primarily focuses on raising funds for the production, shipment and distribution of sacred texts, art and prayer wheels for the World Peace Ceremony in Bodh Gaya, India.
During the Chinese invasion of 1959, more than 1 million Tibetans were killed and 6,237 monasteries were destroyed along with their libraries.Over the years, TAP has filled hundreds of libraries with Tibetan books, stimulated education in the Himalayan region, fostered literacy across Tibetan society, improved the economy of Bodh Gaya, India, and enabled nuns—who were traditionally limited to non-scholastic activities—to study texts and earn advanced degrees.
The monastic tradition was and still is uniquely strong for Tibetans. In 1951, monasteries had access to and occupied between 37 and 50 percent of the best, most fertile land in Tibet. In addition, the government strongly supported the monasteries, providing money for prayer ceremonies and other religious activities. In the three largest monasteries around Lhasa, there alone were twenty thousand monks. Before the Chinese takeover, between 10 and 20 percent of males in Tibet were monks. This is a much higher percentage compared to other Buddhist countries. In Thailand, for example, only 1-2 percent of its males were monks in the mid-1900s. According to Melvyn C. Goldstein, the large number of monasteries was a result from the Tibetans' belief that "Tibet's greatness lay in its development of a system wherein tens of thousands of young boys were constantly being taken away from the mundane world of inevitable suffering and thrust into a purer alternative culture—the organized community of celibate monks."
When China invaded Tibet in 1959, thousands of these monasteries were destroyed along with their libraries, marking the beginning of a precarious time for Tibetans and their culture.
In 1959, with around 100,000 of his followers, the Dalai Lama fled from Chinese persecution. Prior to that Tarthang (Tar-tung) Tulku, a Tibetan lama, had traveled to study in Sikkim, India with his primary teacher, Khentse Rinpoche.
Later settling in India on a scholastic fellowship, Tarthang Rinpoche spent six years teaching Buddhist philosophy at Sanskrit University in Benares, India. He also began a small Tibetan-language publishing company. After years of witnessing the decline of his culture and the living conditions of his fellow refugees, Tarthang traveled to California in 1968. In Berkeley—where there was already a flourishing array of East-meets-West, his desire to help the Tibetans and all humanity had a place to grow. Later, he would establish Dharma Publishing and the Tibetan Aid Project.
When Buddhism came to Tibet from India in the 7th century, the religion thrived and a steady flow of the Buddha's teachings were translated from Sanskrit to Tibetan. These texts were canonized as the Kanjur and the Tanjur. The Kanjur is the sacred teachings of the Buddha and the Tanjur, a large collection of commentary on the teachings.
With the desire to publish these Tibetan texts, Tarthang searched everywhere for the Kanjur and the Tanjur. However, there were very few copies to be found. Empty-handed, Tarthang spread the word to the Tibetan refugees, some of whom had carried books instead of food with them during the mass exodus of 1959.Many Tibetan refugees responded to Tarthang's search, and as a result, in 1982 Dharma Publishing was able to put together a complete canonical collection of the texts based on the Derge Edition and other editions, including nine texts from the Chinese Canon. Containing 5,109 texts and totaling 65,160 pages, the Canon also includes traditional Tibetan art and is the most complete collection of the Kanjur and Tanjur ever assembled.
Besides the Kanjur and the Tanjur, Tarthang oversaw the production of other sacred Tibetan texts written by numerous great teachers and philosophers, such as Dudjom Rinpoche, Jigme Lingpa and Patrul Rinpoche, to name a few.
In 1989, Tarthang organized an annual ceremony in order to pray for world peace at Bodh Gaya in Bihar, India—the site of Buddha's enlightenment. The Ceremony takes place in January and lasts for 10 days.During the World Peace Ceremony, the Tibetan Aid Project distributes thousands of books to Tibetans. Over the span of 22 years, TAP has helped give away more than three million books and sacred art prints and over 140,000 prayer wheels, preserving the Tibetan teachings of wisdom and compassion for generations to come.
In 2001, Chef Laurent Manrique proposed to the Tibetan Aid Project of doing a charity dinner to which he would invite some of his other chef friends to join in. Over the years, it has grown into the main fundraiser for the Tibetan Aid Project. During the event, more than 20 of the Bay Area's best chefs work in pairs to prepare exquisite meals for 220 guests at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco.
In addition to the Tibetan Aid Project, Tarthang established several other organizations.
Chöje Akong Tulku Rinpoche was a tulku in the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and co-founder of the Samye Ling Monastery in Scotland, Tara Rokpa Therapy & ROKPA International Charity.
Nyingma, often referred to as Ngangyur, is the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The Nyingma school is founded on the first lineages and translations of Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Tibetan in the eighth century, during the reign of King Trisong Detsen.
The sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje was the spiritual leader of the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Followers believed him to be part of the oldest line of reincarnate lamas in Vajrayana Buddhism, known as the Karmapas, whose coming was predicted by the Buddha in the Samadhiraja Sutra. The 16th Karmapa was considered to be a "living Buddha" and was deeply involved in the transmission of the Vajrayana Buddhism to Europe and North America following the Chinese invasion of Tibet. He had many monikers, including "King of the Yogis", and is the subject of numerous books and films.
Kyabje Khenchen Jigme Phuntsok,, was a Nyingma lama and Terton from Sertha Region. His family were Tibetan nomads. At the age of five he was recognized "as a reincarnation of Lerab Lingpa. Known also as Nyala Sogyel and Terton Sogyel, Lerab Lingpa was an eclectic and highly influential tantric visionary from the eastern Tibetan area of Nyarong ." He studied Dzogchen at Nubzor Monastery, received novice ordination at 14, and full ordination at 22. In 1980, he founded Larung Gar, the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastic academy.
Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö was a Tibetan lama, a master of many lineages, and a teacher of many of the major figures in 20th-century Tibetan Buddhism. Though he died in 1959 in Sikkim, and is not so well known in the West; he was a major proponent of the Rimé movement within Tibetan Buddhism, and had a profound influence on many of the Tibetan lamas teaching today.
Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche is a Tibetan Vajrayana teacher and lama who introduced the Nyingma school tradition of Tibetan Buddhism to the United States. Tarthang Tulku works to preserve the buddhadharma, the art and the culture of Tibet. He oversees various projects including Dharma Publishing, Yeshe-De, Tibetan Aid Project, the annual Nyingma school Monlam Chenmo World Peace Ceremony in Bodhgaya, and the construction of the Odiyan Copper Mountain Mandala. Tarthang Tulku also introduced Kum Nye to the West.
Chagdud Tulku was a Tibetan teacher of the Nyingma school of Vajrayana Tibetan Buddhism. He was known and respected in the West for his teachings, his melodic chanting voice, his artistry as a sculptor and painter, and his skill as a physician. He acted as a spiritual guide for thousands of students worldwide. He was the sixteenth tülku of the Chagdud line.
Mindrolling Monastery, is one of the "Six Mother Monasteries" of the Nyingma school in Tibet. It was founded by Rigzin Terdak Lingpa in 1676. Tendrak Lingpa's lineage is known as the Nyo lineage. The name in Tibetan means "Place of Perfect Emancipation". It is located in Zhanang County, Shannan Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, China, known as U-Tsang. Mindrolling Monastery is approximately 43 kilometers east of the Lhasa airport, on the south side of the Tsangpo river.
Kyabje Dudjom Jigdral Yeshe Dorje was known as Terchen Drodül Lingpa and as Dudjom Rinpoche. He is considered by many Tibetan Buddhists to be from a line of important Tulku lineage, and a renowned Tertön. Per lineage, he was a direct incarnation of both Padmasambhava and Dudjom Lingpa (1835–1904). He was a Nyingma householder, yogi, and a Vajrayana and Dzogchen master. According to his disciple Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal, he was revered as "His Holiness" and as a "Master of Masters".
Kyabjé Drubwang Padma Norbu Rinpoche, 1932 – 27 March 2009, was the 11th throneholder of the Palyul Lineage of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, and said to be an incarnation of Vimalamitra. He was widely renowned in the Tibetan Buddhist world as a master of Dzogchen. He was one of a very few teachers left from his generation who received all his training in Tibet under the guidance of what Tibetan Buddhists consider to be fully enlightened teachers.
Namgyal Rinpoche, Karma Tenzin Dorje (1931–2003), born Leslie George Dawson in Toronto, Canada, was a Tibetan Buddhist lama in the Karma Kagyu tradition.
The Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastery or Thegchog Namdrol Shedrub Dargye Ling(བོད་ཡིག ཐེག་མཆོག་རྣམ་གྲོལ་བཤད་སྒྲུབ་དར་རྒྱས་གླིང་།), or ನಮ್ಡ್ರೋಲಿಂಗ್ ವಿಹಾರ is the largest teaching center of the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism in the world. Located in Bylakuppe, part of the Mysuru district of the state of Karnataka, the monastery is home to a sangha community of over five thousand lamas, a junior high school named Yeshe Wodsal Sherab Raldri Ling, a religious college and hospital.
Gangteng Monastery, also known as Gangtey Gonpa or Gangtey Monastery, is a monastery of Nyingmapa school of Tibetan Buddhism, the main seat of the Pema Lingpa tradition, located in the Wangdue Phodrang District in central Bhutan. The monastery, also known by the Gangten village that surrounds it, is in the Phobjikha Valley where winter visitors – the black-necked cranes – visit central Bhutan to roost, circling the monastery three times on arrival and repeating this circling when returning to Tibet. The monastery's history traces to the early 17th century and back to the prophecies made by the terton Pema Lingpa in the late 15th century.
Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche, also known as "Khen Rinpoche," was a teacher, a scholar, a lama, and a Dzogchen master in the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. He was considered by Penor Rinpoche to be one of the most learned living Nyingma scholars. Palden Sherab founded the Orgyen Samye Chokhor Ling Nunnery, the first nunnery in Deer Park (Sarnath).
The Second Beru Khyentse, born Thupten Sherap is a lineage holder of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and the third reincarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820–1892).
According to Tibetan Buddhism the IXth Minling Khenchen Rinpoche is the successive reincarnation of the Minling Kenrab lineage, co-administrator of Mindrolling Monastery and Head Abbot In-Charge of Ngagyur Nyingma College in India, Vajrayana master, scholar, and teacher.
Keith Dowman is an English Dzogchen teacher and translator of Tibetan Buddhist texts.
Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche was a teacher, writer, religious ritual master, and meditation master of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism.
Tulku Dakpa Rinpocheསྤྲུལ་སྐུ་གྲགས་པ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ is a lama in the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism,. He was recognized by His Holiness Mindrolling Trichen Rinpoche as a reincarnation of Drupwang Rogza Sonam Palge, a hidden yogi of eastern Tibet. He has graduated from the Mindrolling Monastery’s University of Tibetan Buddhism as a certified lineage holder of both sutra and tantra.
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