The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi Rinpoche is the Founder and Director of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a non-partisan collaborative think tank focused on interdisciplinary research and programs related to the development of human and global ethics. He also serves as the Buddhist Chaplain to the Institute.
Venerable Tenzin was born into a Hindu Brahmin family in Vaishali, India. At the age of ten, under his own volition, he entered a Buddhist monastery in Rajgir, near the ancient Nalanda University. He studied traditional Indo-Tibetan and Japanese Buddhism and was ordained by His Holiness The Dalai Lama who is his spiritual mentor. His unique background included simultaneously receiving traditional Buddhist training and a secular education. He studied under the guidance of several great teachers including: H.H. Sakya Trizin, H.H. Drikung Chhetsang, H.E. Kushok Bakula Rinpoche and H. E. Samdhong Rinpoche and received meditation training from H.E. Drubwang Rinpoche. Venerable Tenzin is known for his love of Sanskrit Buddhist literature.
During his early training he was introduced to Mother Theresa in Calcutta and learned about human nature and compassion by observing her work with the poor. He took a keen interest in inter-religious conversations and represented the Buddhist tradition in a meeting with Pope John Paul II in 1997 during the Christian persecution in India. Since then he has engaged in dialogues with Archibishop Desmond Tutu, Pope Benedict, HH Gyalwang Karmapa, and other religious leaders.
He received his bachelor’s degree as an Integral Honors Scholar in Philosophy, Physics, and Religious Studies with minors in International Relations and Japanese. He completed his graduate studies in Comparative Philosophy of Religion at Harvard University in 2003.
Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi is also the Founding Director and President of the Prajnopaya Institute and Foundation, a worldwide humanitarian organization which provides care for all regardless of ethnicity, religion or gender, by developing innovative health, education and social welfare programs. His endeavors include developing projects that promote humanitarian aid and cultural understanding in countries such as India, Nepal, Japan, USA, and Sri Lanka to benefit their disadvantaged populations.
Venerable Tenzin is a Founding Member of the Vishwa Shanti Stupa (World Peace Pagoda) in New Delhi, India, and also serves on the Board of several academic, humanitarian, and religious organizations. He lectures internationally on subjects ranging from philosophy, science, ethics and religion to socio-political thought. He also teaches traditional Buddhist philosophy and practice through the Prajnopaya Institute.
In his spare time (which he seldom has) Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi delights in photography, calligraphy, flower arrangement, and Tea Ceremony.
Prayer of Aspiration
May I be a protector for those without protection,
A guide for travelers- a boat, a bridge, and a ship for those who wish to cross over!
May I be a lamp for those who seek light, a bed for those who seek rest,
May I be a servant for all beings who desire a servant.
To all sentient beings may I be a wish-fulfilling gem, a vase of good fortune,
an efficacious mantra, a great medication, a wish-fulfilling tree, and a wish-granting cow.
Just as earth and other elements are useful in zvarious ways to innumerable sentient
beings dwelling throughout infinite space,
So may I be in various ways a source of life for the sentient beings present throughout
space until they are liberated.
- Shantideva, 7th Century Indian Buddhist Pandita