ITHACA, N.Y.—The ground has been broken at the Namgyal Monastery for the Dalai Lama Library and Learning Center, which will continue to make Ithaca a destination for the global Buddhist community.

On Friday, April 29, golden shovels were sunk into the earth by local officials, Buddhist leaders, and close friends of the monastery on a crisp bluebird-sky day to signify the beginning of construction. The ground has already been leveled in preparation for building.

The library will house all the written works of the 14th Dalai Lama as well as all previous Dalai Lamas, and more than 4,000 books, including translations of ancient texts and artifacts of historical and religious significance to Buddhism in India and Tibet. The building was designed by Holt Architects and its construction has been funded through a $5 million fundraising campaign.

The Dalai Lama Library and Learning Center will be built on the Grounds of Namgyal Monastery in Ithaca, New York.

Friday’s event drew a who’s-who type of crowd to the monastery, including local officials, the Ithaca area’s Tibetan community and Tibetan Buddhists from far reaches. The members of the monastery and the Tibetan community put on a cultural event for everyone who stayed after the official groundbreaking, featuring singing, dancing and the hospitality of hot tea and sweet rice.

The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, chose to build the library at Ithaca’s Namgyal Monastery in 2016 over dozens of other possible locations across the globe. Ithaca is His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s North American seat. 

Sonam Wangchuk, a monk at the Ithaca Monastery, said he felt “blessed and lucky” to be there on the day that the ground was broken.

Wangchuk said the library will preserve His Holiness’ teachings of “inner values,” like compassion, love, forgiveness, tolerance and self-discipline. Tibetan Buddhist teachings instruct that exercising these values is how people find an inner peace that can spread peace through the world.

Jimmy Jordan

Jimmy Jordan is a general assignment reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact him at jjordan@ithacavoice.com Connect with him on Twitter @jmmy_jrdn