Khyentse Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 2001 by the Bhutanese lama, filmmaker, and author Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, has awarded the University of Sydney, Australia, US$3.5 million to ensure the future of Tibetan Buddhist studies. The funding will cover a range of expenses associated with scholarship in Tibetan Buddhist studies for 20 years.
“This far-sighted and deeply generous gift allows the university to firmly establish Tibetan Buddhist studies in Australia through specialist teaching, postgraduate research, language training, and community outreach,” said Dr. Jim Rheingans, Khyentse Macready Senior Lecturer in Tibetan Buddhism in the School of Languages and Cultures. (University of Sydney)
Dr. Rheingans is a specialist on Tibetan literature, Buddhism, and history, and is the author of The Eighth Karmapa’s Life and his Interpretation of the Great Seal: A Religious Life and Instructional Texts in Historical and Doctrinal Contexts (Numata Center of Buddhist Studies, 2017).
“Tibetan Studies is a vast field of research and learning, where many textual sources, artifacts, and traditions remain unexplored. Understanding them is key to our knowledge of Buddhism and Asian and Himalayan histories. Language skills in Tibetan and in Sanskrit are a vital element, especially since many texts on late Indian Buddhism are only available in Classical Tibetan translation,” Dr. Rheingans added. (University of Sydney)
“Academic study of Tibetan Buddhism worldwide is not in its infancy anymore, but pioneering work still awaits the researcher, compared to other fields. Around 80 per cent of available textual sources in Tibetan languages have not yet been translated or studied, while an increasing amount is available digitally or in libraries,” said Dr. Rheingans. “Also, the Tibetan traditions are very much alive today. This trove of material could reconfigure our understanding of Buddhism and rewrite the history of central Asia. We could also accelerate our understanding of the sophisticated richness of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, literature, meditation, and medicine, as just a few examples.” (University of Sydney)
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche visited the University of Sydney in August 2017 for the inauguration of the lectureship bearing his name and that of Lynne Macready. Macready was an Australian and a longtime student of Khyentse who passed away in 2015. In her will, she left a large portion of her estate to Khyentse Foundation, which then created the Lynne Macready Education Fund to support Buddhist education in Australia.
Dr. Rheingans, who began work at the University of Sydney in 2017, became the first to hold the position of Khyentse Macready Senior Lecturer in Tibetan Buddhism, which was established with additional funding from the University Buddhist Education Foundation and the Aberbaldie Foundation.
Cangioli Che, executive director of Khyentse Foundation, noted: “Khyentse Foundation has invested heavily in endowing Buddhist chairs and professorships over the last 15 years in universities, including the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Michigan, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. And now the Khyentse Macready Initiative at the University of Sydney expands this investment in universities to the Southern Hemisphere.” (University of Sydney)
Che continued: “With these permanent faculty positions, KF hopes to strengthen the long-term position of Buddhist studies in academia by building a long-lasting global infrastructure in these outstanding institutions. I am especially happy that we offered our Lynne Macready Education Fund to support this position in Lynne’s homeland. I think Lynne would be happy with the investment.” (University of Sydney)
Dr. Mark Allon, chair and senior lecturer in South Asian Buddhist studies, described how the grant would give needed breadth to the university’s Buddhist studies offerings.
Dr. Allon stated: “Buddhist studies, especially of Indian Buddhism, which is my own expertise, already has a long and respected tradition at the university, while expertise in East Asian Buddhism, particularly Chinese Buddhism, is provided by our colleague Dr. Chiew Hui Ho. Tibetan Buddhist studies is crucial to building on that strength. This significant gift follows more than a decade of engagement, relationship building, and philanthropy from Khyentse Foundation, allowing us to become the most successful Buddhist studies program in the Southern Hemisphere.” (University of Sydney)
The grant will also benefit language studies at the university, noted Prof. Yixu Lu, head of the School of Languages and Cultures.
According to Prof. Lu: “Our school has a proud history of advancing the study of languages, literatures, and cultures. Thanks to Khyentse Foundation, we are now able to continue offering Tibetan language and culture, first introduced in 2017, to students at the University of Sydney for decades to come. I am confident that we will continue advancing the teaching and research in Asian Buddhism and its impact on societies, cultures, and philosophy.” (University of Sydney)
$3.5m donation ensures the future of Tibetan Buddhist studies in Australia (University of Sydney)
University of Sydney Partnership: Preserving Authentic Dharma (Khyentse Foundation)
Related news reports from BDG
Khyentse Foundation Marks 20 Years in the Service of the Buddhadharma
Khyenste Foundation Presents 2022 KF Award for Outstanding PhD Dissertation in Buddhist Studies
Khyentse Foundation’s Kumarajiva Project Shifts Focus to Training Translators
Khyentse Foundation Plans Ambitious Undertaking to Translate Tibetan Buddhist Canon into Chinese
Khyentse Foundation Funds Tibetan Buddhist Studies Chair at University of Michigan
Khyentse Foundation Announces Two New Buddhist Education Initiatives