|The following article is from the Winter, 1997 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.|
A Brief Biography of Ven. Pema Losang Chogyen
One of Namgyal Monastery's precious monks, Ven. Pema Losang Chogyen passed away on November 27,1996 at New York Hospital in New York City.
The Director of Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies, Ven. Pema-la was a tremendous source of inspiration to all who knew him. A brilliant scholar and exceptionally gifted artist, Pema-la's ready smile, warm heart and inquisitive and insightful mind made him a memorable friend to all who knew him. He had the rare ability to teach Tibetan Buddhist studies in a contemporary western style and his clear vision for the future of Tibetan Buddhist Studies guided the development of Namgyal Monastery.
Born in Nyenkar, Tibet in 1957, he entered Namgyal Monastery in 1970 where he began his studies in Buddhist philosophy, practice and the arts. In 1986, Ven. Chogyen received the monastery's highest degree, the Master of Sutra and Tantra, in the first division (equivalent of highest honors). Thereafter he served as a teacher of mandala and ritual arts at the monastery, he was known as the Monastery's leading artist Ven. Pema Losang Chogyen accompanied His Holiness the Dalai Lama on many foreign travels.
In 1988, he was brought to the United States to begin work on illustration material for publications related to the Vajrabhairava Tantric Cycle. From 1989-91, he worked to create a three-dimensional Vajrabhairava mandala in the virtual space of a main-frame computer, using experimental software at the Cornell University Program for Computer Graphics in Ithaca, New York. A spin-off of that project was the video Exploring the Mandala.
In 1989, he and several friends in Ithaca conceived the idea of Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies which he presented to His Holiness the Dalai Lama later that summer in Dharamsala, India.
In 1991, Pema-la entered the doctoral program in Religious Studies at Columbia University. Since then he had been pursuing his studies and at the same time serving as Director of Namgyal Institute in Ithaca. Many students had the opportunity to come into contact with Ven. Pema-la both at Columbia and the Namgyal summer retreats where he was a regular participant.
In the months'before his passing he participated in the 1996 Get Acquainted with Namgyal Retreat and after that he was commissioned to contribute to a forthcoming English edition of a book on Kalachakra which was published originally in Italy. He will be greatly missed by all of his friends and colleagues.
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