In the year 2000, I visited Dzongsar Monastery – the seat of the formidable, great Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and of his immediate incarnation Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö – in eastern Sichuan. There, amidst the aura and ambience of the monastery in which some of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö’s living students still practised, and under the beautiful blue daytime sky and the clear, starry night sky, an overwhelming appreciation and veneration towards Shakyamuni Buddha and his priceless teachings arose like a flame.
With that came a powerful heartfelt determination to serve the Buddha by doing everything possible to propagate and preserve the Buddhadharma he taught and bequeathed to us. At the same moment came the realization that, while the study and practice of the dharma are paramount, that activity inevitably requires support. And so, arose a deep appreciation of the incredible past patrons of the dharma – kings like Ashoka and Kanishka in India, Trisong Deutsen in Tibet, Anawrahta in Burma – through whose amazing support the Buddhadharma flourished in centuries past.
And then came the sober realization that it’s not like that today. In this present era, the Buddhadharma is generally marginalized, especially by the so-called ‘modern’ world. While support for the dharma is more needed than ever, we had to acknowledge that it was largely absent. And so ensued hours and hours of discussions on how to handle that enormous challenge. And that’s how, at Dzongsar Monastery in 2000, we ended up planting the seeds of what became Khyentse Foundation.
At the risk of sounding boastful, I do think it’s worth celebrating Khyentse Foundation’s considerable achievements of the past 23 years. At the same time, we know that even if we covered every inch of the earth with offerings to Shakyamuni Buddha, we would never be able to repay his kindness and guidance. Still, we have managed to offer some services not only to monasteries and traditional communities but also to newer Buddhist initiatives in academia, research, text preservation, and more, and we have even birthed worthwhile projects like 84000 and Kumarajiva.
Though I have a role as supposed founder and head of this organization, the reality is that the real contributions are due to our incredibly generous and devoted donors and to the tireless dedication of our Khyentse Foundation team. Led by Cangioli Che, that entire team has selflessly and continuously given its time and energy, sacrificing leisure, family gatherings and even sleep – offering their whole lives in service to the dharma.
At the same time, in order to strengthen Khyentse Foundation and to ensure its service well into the future, it is necessary, as with all organizations, to introduce new blood and new human resources. And so, after so many years of unstinting service, Cangioli and some of the team will now step down from their positions, and I have asked Lynn Hoberg and some new folk to take their posts.
That said, I know full well that those stepping aside are not really doing so. I deeply appreciate that their entire lives are dedicated to the Buddhadharma, so their precious advice and input will certainly still be there.
If the longevity of the Buddhadharma is extended by even one generation, if it has reached more people in both traditional societies and nations historically unfamiliar with it, and if even a few of those people finally find a path to liberation after so many lifetimes of bewildered wandering, then I will know full well that Cangioli and her team have played a crucial role in making that happen. And for that I not only extend my deep appreciation and gratitude to them but take my rejoicing at their activity as my practice.
My heartfelt wish is that the injection of new blood and energy will enable Khyentse Foundation to continue serving the Buddhadharma, and I ask all our friends, patrons, and supporters to join me in this sincere aspiration.
Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse
4 December, 2023
Photo above: Rinpoche and Cangioli in Bodhgaya, 2018.