The Origins of Khyentse Foundation
In 2001, Rinpoche led a small group of his students on a pilgrimage to Dzongsar Monastery in Derge. During this journey, the group discussed with Rinpoche his immense responsibility to the monastery and how the flow of funds could be better managed by setting up an endowment. Rinpoche liked the idea, but he wanted to extend that flow to not just his own monasteries but to Dharma activities around the world. That was the origin of Khyentse Foundation, conceived as a collaborative effort of Khyentse Rinpoche’s students and friends to support the study and practice of Buddhism. The foundation was incorporated in late 2001. Rinpoche appointed Cangioli Che as executive director, a position she has held for more than 15 years as a full-time volunteer. The KF board of directors meets with Rinpoche every year to discuss his vision and how KF can increase its impact. These meetings are intense, exciting, eye-opening, and often surprising. Rinpoche’s grand view of how the Dharma can flourish is inspiring, and every year KF has managed to fulfill all of its goals and expectations, despite a very low-key approach to fundraising. Over the years, KF has attracted a hard-working team of volunteers from around the world, who continue to keep operating expenses well below the accepted standard for nonprofit organizations. There is no physical office. The foundation does not spend funds on infrastructure or buildings. After 15 years, it became necessary to fund several key positions to meet the growth of the foundation, but it remains primarily a volunteer organization. KF is a truly global effort that comes straight from the heart and attempts to go straight to the root of suffering.
Rinpoche on Khyentse Foundation
We had that conversation in Dzongsar more than 15 years ago. And now we are supporting the study and practice of Buddhism in more than 30 countries. Because of the way these friends have pooled the resources and managed the funds, we have been able to offer millions of dollars. Someone calculated that the lives of more than 10,000 people have been directly affected, and my hope is that through their study and practice, Buddha’s teachings are spreading.
We have tried to identify people and projects that are dedicated to the study and practical use of the authentic Buddhadharma, and who can make a positive difference in the world. The first step was to establish a monastic endowment to support more than 2,000 monks and nuns in India, China, and Bhutan. I didn’t even know what an endowment was before, but now I see that this system of using the economy really works. So we started with the monks because it’s so important to maintain excellence in traditional Buddhist colleges. This is where the future teachers will emerge.
Once this was taken care of we could focus outward, to think creatively, to figure out how we can help as many people as possible. Some really good people can’t go on retreat for financial reasons, for example, so our scholarship program now supports students and practitioners around the world. And we support the preservation, digitization, and dissemination of Buddhist texts through organizations such as the Tibetan Buddhist Resources Center and Fragile Palm Leaves Foundation.We have learned a lot.
With this experience, Khyentse Foundation is in a position to meet even bigger goals, to have even bigger aspirations. How can we promote the teachings of the Buddha for the benefit of all beings? As our activities expand and the services we provide extend to reach more areas and more people, I hope that people will see that supporting this effort is a rare opportunity to make a large-scale historical impact. All over the world interest in Buddhism is growing – and Khyentse Foundation is ready to meet that demand in new, forward-thinking ways.