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.
Longchen Rabjampa, Drimé Özer, commonly abbreviated to Longchenpa (1308–1364), known of as the " all-knowing", was perhaps the most famous of the realized scholars in the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. Along with Sakya Pandita and Je Tsongkhapa, he is commonly recognized as one of the three main manifestations of Manjushri to have taught in Central Tibet. His monumental work of Tibetan literature is the Seven Treasuries, while his more than 250 treatises encapsulate the core of the previous 600 years of monastic Nyingma doctrine and Buddhist thought in Tibet. Longchenpa was a critical link in the exoteric and esoteric transmission of the Dzogchen teachings. He was abbot of Samye, one of Tibet's most important monasteries and the first Buddhist monastery established in the Himalaya, but spent most of his life travelling or in retreat.
Dhardo Rinpoche (1917-1990), born Thubten Lhundup Legsang, was the 12th in a line of tulkus from Dhartsendo on the eastern border of Tibet who hailed from the Nyingma Gompa in Dhartsendo called Dorje Drak. The 11th tulku rose to the Abbot of Drepung and during the 1912 invasion of Tibet by China was the most senior of the retired abbots in the National Assembly. He died in 1916 and the 12th Tulku was born in 1917.
The Nyingma tradition is the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The other three are the Kagyu school, the Sakya school, and the Gelug school. "Nyingma" literally means "ancient," and is often referred to as Ngangyur, "school of the ancient translations" or "old school". Nyingma is founded on the first translations of Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Old Tibetan in the eighth century, during the reign of King Trisong Detsen. The Tibetan alphabet and grammar was created for this endeavour.
Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thayé, also known as Jamgön Kongtrül the Great, was a Tibetan Buddhist scholar, poet, artist, physician, tertön and polymath. He was one of the most prominent Tibetan Buddhists of the 19th century and he is credited as one of the founders of the Rimé movement (non-sectarian), compiling what is known as the "Five Great Treasuries". He achieved great renown as a scholar and writer, especially among the Nyingma and Kagyu lineages and composed over 90 volumes of Buddhist writing, including his magnum opus, The Treasury of Knowledge.
The term Shambhala Buddhism was introduced by Sakyong Mipham in the year 2000 to describe his presentation of the Shambhala teachings originally conceived by Chögyam Trungpa as secular practices for achieving an enlightened society, in concert with the Kagyu and Nyingma schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The Shambhala Buddhist sangha considers Sakyong Mipham to be its head, and the second in a lineage of Sakyongs; with his father, Chögyam Trungpa, being the first.
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 is a Tibetan teacher (lama) who introduced the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism into the United States, where he works to preserve the art and culture of Tibet. He oversees various projects including Dharma Publishing, Yeshe-De, Tibetan Aid Project, and the construction of the Odiyan Copper Mountain Mandala. Tarthang Tulku also introduced Kum Nye into 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 major 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, approximately 43 kilometers east of the Lhasa airport, on the south side of the Tsangpo river.
Dudjom Jigdral Yeshe Dorje, was the second Dudjom Rinpoche. He was recognized as a direct rebirth of Dudjom Lingpa (1835–1904) and was also later appointed the first supreme head of the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism by the fourteenth Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration.
Khentrul Lodrö Thayé Rinpoche is the abbot of Mardo Tashi Choling in Eastern Tibet. He established a retreat center there. He created the shedra, a formal Buddhist monastic teaching, under the direct guidance of his teacher Khenpo Jigmed Phuntsok Rinpoche. He directs the education and spiritual practice of three hundred monks, seventy advanced-degree candidates, sixty children, and twenty full-time retreatants.
Kyabjé Drubwang Padma Norbu Rinpoche, 1932 – March 27, 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.
The eleventh Mindrolling Trichen, Trichen Jurme Kunzang Wangyal Standard Tibetan: འགྱུར་མེད་ཀུན་བཟང་དབང་རྒྱལ་ was a lama of the Nyingma-school, the oldest school of Tibetan Buddhism and had been responsible for the administrative affairs for the school in exile as the ceremonial head of the lineage. He is generally regarded as one of the greatest Tibetan masters.
The Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastery (བོད་ཡིག ཐེག་མཆོག་རྣམ་གྲོལ་བཤད་སྒྲུབ་དར་རྒྱས་གླིང་།) 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.
The Second Beru Khyentse (1947–), 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.
Tsoknyi Rinpoche or Ngawang Tsoknyi Gyatso is a Nepalese Tibetan Buddhist teacher and author, and the founder of the Pundarika Foundation. He is the third Tsoknyi Rinpoche, having been recognized by the 16th Karmapa as the reincarnation of Drubwang Tsoknyi Rinpoche. He is a tulku of the Drukpa Kagyü and Nyingma traditions and the holder of the Ratna Lingpa and Tsoknyi lineages.
Ayang Tulku Rinpoche is a Tibetan Buddhist lama.
Keith Dowman is an English Dzogchen teacher and translator of Tibetan Buddhist texts.
Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche is a teacher, writer, religious ritual master, and meditation master of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism.