Hobart and William Smith instructor Tenzin Yignyen works to revitalize Buddhism in Mongolia
(Dec. 21, 2004) GENEVA, N.Y.– In 1937, Shankh, the oldest monastery in Mongolia, was closed while the country was under communist rule. Its temples were burned and most of its monks arrested and executed or sent to labor camps in Siberia.
Nearly 60 years later, in 1993, the Dalai Lama sent three Tibetan monks from Namgyal Monastery in India to help foster a renaissance of Buddhism in Mongolia through the Shankh Monastery. One of those monks was The Ven. Tenzin Yignyen, who taught at Ganden Monastery in Ulaan Baatar and now teaches Buddhist philosophy and arts at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
Tenzin has continued his support of Shankh Monastery, the object of his quest. Through these efforts a small monastic community once again practices at Shankh. They have completed the restoration of the main temple and work to continue to rebuild and restore.
This year, with the generous help of a few individuals, Tenzin was able to make a $1,000 donation in support of the monastery. He believes, however, that the perpetuation of Shankh goes beyond a monetary influx for a simple rebuild and restore mission. Much more is needed to reestablish this monastic community and allow it to respond to the “thirst for spiritual knowledge of the people of Western Mongolia.”
“I am working to see that everything needed is acquired to ensure the monastery's further development,” he says. That includes teachers, writing materials and the means to house and feed students studying at the monastery, who continue to live with their families and depend on them to meet their basic needs.
In addition to teaching at HWS, Tenzin travels throughout the United States and Canada by invitation to construct sand mandalas and to speak on the topic of Tibetan Buddhist arts and philosophy. Tenzin believes that the spiritual practices of love, kindness and compassion are the main messages of all major religions of the world and the source of all happiness and the best method to bring peace and harmony to this planet.