The roots of the Nyingma Mandala in the West trace back to 1969, when Tarthang Tulku, a highly-trained lama in the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, arrived in Berkeley, California and established the Tibetan Nyingma Meditation Center. TNMC is the spiritual center of all the activity that has followed.
Within a few years of his arrival in America, Tarthang Tulku (who is usually referred to as Rinpoche, a title of respect) founded several organizations that would provide the basic structure of his activities in the United States. We refer to this structure as the Nyingma Mandala. A mandala is a sacred symbol or diagram that depicts individual aspects or qualities surrounding a unifying center. The mandala structure embodies unity, balance, and wholeness, and can accommodate all of experience. Similarly, the Nyingma Mandala of organizations support and balance each other, and are unified by the central vision and teachings of the Head Lama of TNMC.
Rinpoche came to the United States because he saw it as a land of opportunity, where he could preserve and transmit the teachings that his teachers had passed on to him. He has focused on preserving sacred texts and creating communities built around Buddhist principles. Now, his students are working to pass his vision on to others and create a home for the Dharma in the West.
The four main organizations that form the basic structure of the Nyingma Mandala are Dharma Publishing, Tibetan Aid Project, Odiyan Country Center, and the Nyingma Institute. In the east, Dharma Publishing have made the teachings available through English-language publications and art reproductions. In the south, the Tibetan Aid Project has supported the preservation of the Tibetan tradition, the Buddhist heritage, and the Nyingma school. In the west, Odiyan Country Center and a growing range of art projects have manifested the beauty of the Dharma as a living force for transformation. In the north, the Nyingma Institute has made the teachings more widely available through classes and retreats.
The vision for the mandala has expanded over the years, and now includes the following organizations and projects in Berkeley:
Mangalam Research Center for Buddhist Languages
Prayer Flag Project
Prayer Wheel Project
Tibetan Aid Project
If you enter the MTP, you will work for one or more of these centers. You will be assigned a position based on the needs of the organization, your skills, and your own preferences.
The Nyingma Mandala includes many more projects and organizations, located in rural northern California, in Asia, in South America, and in Europe.