Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies in Ithaca, New York, is the North American Seat of the Personal Monastery of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The founding of Namgyal-Ithaca in 1992 marked an important new phase in the history of Buddhism and Tibetan culture in America. Launched with the inspiration of the late Venerable Pema Losang Chogyen, a Namgyal monk, and several of his American friends, Namgyal-Ithaca was established as a branch of the main Namgyal Monastery located in Dharamsala, India. The primary mission of the newly established Ithaca branch was to offer Western students the opportunity to study authentic Tibetan Buddhism in a monastic setting.
In keeping with the tradition of the original Namgyal Monastery in Tibet, Namgyal-Ithaca is a non-sectarian institution and thus offers students the opportunity to study aspects of all the sects in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Classes at the monastery are taught by our faculty of Namgyal monks and visiting teachers. Students are part-time and full-time and range in age, background, interest and profession.
Since its founding, the monastery has developed a regular student base and has expanded its teaching and events programming to fit the growing needs of the students. Programs include a three year core curriculum, weekend teachings, summer retreats, daily meditation, conferences, guided pilgrimages, and the celebration of Tibetan holidays. Namgyal’s visiting faculty includes prominent western scholars, clergy, and teachers from all traditions of Buddhism.
The core study program at Namgyal is the three-year curriculum which emphasizes the systematic combination of Tibetan language, philosophy and practice of both sutra and tantra. Classes are taught by monks visiting on residential exchange from the parent monastery in Dharamsala, India. The Namgyal program provides an authentic Tibetan Buddhist learning environment supplemented by continual contact with the resident monks and visiting lamas . The monks’ ritual practices, which Western students are welcome to attend. This may help people to become more deeply attuned to the Tibetan Buddhist way of Life. In addition to the unique three-year program, the Institute offers short courses, workshops, retreats and public programs.
Namgyal draws on the expertise of both its native Tibetan faculty and the preeminent list of adjunct faculty comprised mostly of Western scholars of Tibetan Buddhism. The Institute acts as a hub in the academic world of Buddhist Studies, connecting scholars and institutions throughout North America and the world.
Namgyal-Ithaca also serves as a cultural center for the Tibetan refugee community living in Ithaca. The local Tibetans work closely with the Namgyal, helping one another in times of need. Traditional Tibetan celebrations, rituals, and prayers are hosted at Namgyal and attract Tibetans from well beyond the local area. In addition, the monks teach classes to local Tibetan children about their cultural heritage and the Tibetan language as a means to ensure the preservation of that heritage.