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Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center to Preserve Texts From All Buddhist Traditions

By Craig Lewis
Buddhistdoor Global | 2015-09-10 |
The TBRC's digital collection includes Tibetan literature dating from the 8th century. From harvardmagazine.comThe TBRC's digital collection includes Tibetan literature dating from the 8th century. From harvardmagazine.com

Having achieved its original goal of preserving an enormous body of the most important textual sources of Tibetan Buddhism, the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (TBRC) is now looking to expand the scope of its work to ensure that Buddhist texts from all traditions are digitally secure, searchable, and accessible.

The TBRC was founded in 1999 by E. Gene Smith (1936–2010), a student of Tibetan Buddhism, literature, and history, of whom the renowned Bhutanese lama, writer, and film-maker Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche said, “This man is a true Bodhisattva. He has been such a valuable advisor, friend, and inspiration.” (Khyentse Foundation)

Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the initiative was established with the objective of preserving, organizing, digitizing, and disseminating Tibetan literature. The project has resulted in an invaluable collection of digital texts that span more than 1,300 years and includes philosophical and religious treatises, biographies, and works on alchemy, art, astrology, astronomy, folk culture, geography, grammar, history, poetry, and traditional medicine.

Over its 16-year history, the TBRC has stood as an inspiring example of positive achievement through determination and vision, having built an online library that today ranks as the most extensive single collection of Tibetan literature in the world. The TBRC’s unique goal of digitally preserving the literature of the Tibetan people has had a profound impact on the future of Buddhism that far exceeds the scope of the project’s founding.

Much of the TBRC’s work has been carried out with the help and support of the Khyentse Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche in 2001 to promote and provide financial and structural support for the study, practice, and scholarship of all Buddhist traditions throughout the world.

E. Gene Smith. From tbrc.orgE. Gene Smith. From tbrc.org
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. From vajratool.wordpress.comDzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. From vajratool.wordpress.com

In 2002, Rinpoche met about 20 people San Francisco to discuss strategies for preserving the Dharma to ensure that the Buddha’s wisdom remains accessible for future generations. Also present at that meeting was Gene Smith, who had flown in from New York, where he was nurturing the TBRC project. Rinpoche quickly recognized the potential of the TBRC, and over the next decade the Khyentse Foundation committed to two five-year plans to support it, with total funding in excess of US$2 million.

Between 1999 and 2014, the TBRC scanned more than 18,000 volumes into digital formats totaling 9.5 million pages available online and offline. In the process, it developed a cataloging model adaptable for use with any language or topic. In August 2015, the TBRC passed the 10 million-page milestone of texts scanned.

The TBRC’s new objective will focus on textual sources of Chinese, Pali, Sanskrit, and other languages from Central, East, and Southeast Asia, which are particularly at risk of being lost in this era of socio-economic, political, and environmental instability. In order for this to be achieved, the support of visionary patrons as well as the Buddhist community worldwide will be necessary.

“We think Gene would be very happy,” said the TBRC’s executive director, Jeff Wallman. (Khyentse Foundation)

See more

Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center
Khyentse Foundation
TBRC Brings Tibetan Manuscripts onto the Google Cultural Institute Platform (Buddhistdoor Global)
Khyentse Foundation Announces Buddhist Translation Scholarships (Buddhistdoor Global)
Khyentse Foundation to Sponsor Buddhist Professorship at Savitribai Phule Pune University, India (Buddhistdoor Global)
Modern Education and the Future of Buddhism: An Interview with Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche (Buddhistdoor Global)

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