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Khyentse Foundation Funds Tibetan Buddhist Studies Chair in Munich

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche. From
Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche. From

Khyentse Foundation, founded by the revered Bhutanese lama, teacher, filmmaker, and author Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, has endowed a tenured professorship in Tibetan and Buddhist studies at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU Munich), one of the oldest universities in Europe. 

This endowment, made together with the German Tara Foundation, is the third such chair that the foundation has funded and the first in Europe, following professorships at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Michigan.

“Since its inception, Khyentse Foundation has supported the academic study of Buddhism. In particular, support for academic institutions has always been one of the pillars of our work. Given the importance of institutionalized professorships as a driver for research and teaching, especially for a rather marginalized academic field, one of our aims is to sponsor endowed chairs of Buddhist studies,” said Anja Hartmann, a member of the Khyentse Foundation board of directors and chair of the Academic Development Committee. “The first was the Khyentse chair at the University of California, Berkeley in 2006, followed by the Khyentse Gendun Chopel Professorship of Tibetan Buddhist Studies at the University of Michigan in 2018. . . .  We are delighted to announce another lifetime professorship in Buddhist studies at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany, one of the oldest universities in Europe.” (Khyentse Foundation)

LMU Munich, a public research university, is Germany’s sixth-oldest university in continuous operation, originally founded in 1472. Associated with 42 Nobel laureates, the university is the second-largest university in Germany in terms of student population, offering more than 200 subjects, from arts and humanities to natural sciences and social sciences

“LMU Munich approached Khyentse Foundation when renowned Tibetologist Prof. Franz-Karl Ehrhard, holding the chair of Tibetan and Buddhist Studies at LMU, retired in March 2019, after serving in this position for 16 years,” Khyentse Foundation said in an announcement. “Tara Foundation’s long-time support had helped to establish this position, but a partner was needed to make it a tenured post. LMU Munich faced the possibly of losing the professorship as well as the threat of closing a whole section of its Buddhist studies doctoral program. The leadership of LMU Munich, recognizing the outstanding achievements of Prof. Ehrhard in the field of Tibetan Buddhist studies, wanted to strongly support the position and the programs attached to it, and they were prepared to contribute substantially from their limited discretionary funds.” (Khyentse Foundation)

Founded in 2001, Khyentse Foundation is a nonprofit organization established by Dzomgsar Khyentse Rinpoche with the aim of promoting the Buddha’s teaching and supporting all traditions of Buddhist study and practice. The foundation’s activities include major text preservation and translation projects, support for monastic colleges in Asia, a worldwide scholarship and awards program, development of Buddhist studies at major universities, training and development for Buddhist teachers, and and developing new modes of Dharma-inspired education for children.

“There can be no doubt that this new appointment will continue this national and international cooperation, and further strengthen . . . Munich’s status as one of the foremost centers for the study of Tibet and Buddhism,” said LMU Munich vice president and professor of Chinese studies Hans van Ess, himself a member of the Buddhist studies program. (Khyentse Foundation)

LMU Munich became a hub for Tibetan Buddhist studies in Europe during the tenure of Prof. Ehrhard, drawing scholars from Asia, Europe, and the United States. The university collaborated closely with other seats of learning working in the field of Tibetan Buddhism  around the world, including Oxford University, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Tokyo, Peking University, and Fudan University.

The main building at LMU Munich. From
The main building at LMU Munich. From

Born in Bhutan in 1961, and now based primarily in Himachal Pradesh, India, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche is the son of Thinley Norbu Rinpoche and was a close student of the Nyingma master Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910–91). He is recognized as the third incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820–92), founder of the Khyentse lineage, and the immediate incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö (1893–1959). In addition to Khyentse Foundation, his projects include 84000, a non-profit global initiative to translate the words of the Buddha into modern languages and make them available to all; Siddhartha’s Intent, which organizes, distributes, and archives his teachings; Lotus Outreach, which directs a wide range of projects to help refugees; and The Lhomon Society, which promotes sustainable development in Bhutan through education.

See more

Khyentse Foundation
Buddhist Professorship Endowed in Munich at One of Europe’s Oldest Universities (Khyentse Foundation)
Cross-Fertilization of Academia and Buddha’s wisdom (Khyentse Foundation)

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