Buddhist monks, alongside local officials and supporters of Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies, broke ground on 29 April on the new Dalai Lama Library and Learning Center in Ithaca, New York. The center will house the complete written works of the current Dalai Lama, as well as works from all previous Dalai Lamas. According to local media, the new library and learning center will enhance the monastery’s status as a destination for the global Buddhist community.
The Dalai Lama chose the site during a visit in 2016. Namgyal Monastery is His Holiness’ North America seat. The project has attracted some US$5 million in funding from supporters around the world after launching an appeal last June.*
Along with the library, the center will host a museum dedicated primarily to the life and activities of the current Dalai Lama. Artifacts depicting the history of Buddhism in India and Tibet will also be exhibited.
“The library and learning center will preserve the teachings of His Holiness and continue his work,” said Venerable Tenzin Choesang, president of Namgyal Monastery. He added that when complete the center will total more than 836 square meters of space. “It will hold the complete collection of the works of Indian and Tibetan Buddhist masters, as well as copies of all 127 books written by His Holiness.” (WENY News)
The library will hold an audio archive of some 40,000 hours of the Dalai Lama’s teachings as well. Both the library and museum materials will be actively discussed and used in conferences and seminars conducted at Namgyal. According to the center’s website, the vision for the library and museum is to offer a “transformational hub of compassionate and humane education to help unify our increasingly divided world.” (Dalai Lama Learning Center)
The center will also house an academic wing where people will be able to study Tibetan cultural and religious history, including performing arts, artwork, philosophy, and literature. “Most importantly, there will be places where large and small groups of people will discuss and learn from each other,” said Choesang. “As well as places where individuals can study or reflect in silence.” (WENY News)
The ceremony on 29 April featured golden shovels arranged before the backdrop of an already-leveled construction site. Display boards on the grounds showed artistic renderings of the buildings to come. Members of the monastery performed a Tibetan cultural program, featuring singing, dancing, and hot tea and sweet rice. The program highlighted the center’s role in preserving Tibetan culture along with its resources on Tibetan Buddhism.
Sonam Wangchuk, a monk at the monastery, said he felt “blessed and lucky” to be in attendance on the special day. Wangchuk added that the library would preserve His Holiness’ teachings of “inner values,” such as compassion, love, forgiveness, tolerance, and self-discipline. (The Ithaca Voice)
* Dalai Lama Library and Learning Center to Be Built in New York (BDG)
His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama Library & Learning Center
Ground broken for new Dalai Lama Library and Learning Center (Ithaca Voice)
Dalai Lama Library and Learning Center Underway in Ithaca (WENY News)
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