Tibetan Buddhism Pathfinder

This pathfinder is designed to help anyone interested in Tibetan Buddhism to navigate the multitude of websites on the subject. It is an entrance point rather than a comprehensive survey. The target audience includes people who know nothing about Buddhism or Tibet, as well as scholarly researchers and people looking for spiritual teachers and opportunities to practice.


The sites in this section provide a basic introduction to Tibetan Buddhism.

The Shambhala Center introduces Buddhism from a Tibetan perspective.

The Columbia Encyclopedia provides a more academic introduction.

Nalanda Bodhi summarizes the history of Buddhism in Tibet including the four major schools.

The Sakya Monastery in Seattle provides another introduction.

This introduction to Buddhist practice was created by Rudy Harderwijk, a member of the international network of people who have received the Dalai Lama’s Kalachakra initiation.

Background: Tibetan Culture, History, and Political Situation

The study of Tibetan Buddhism requires an understanding of Tibetan culture and history, including China’s invasion of Tibet.

The Tibetan Government in Exile site provides information on Tibetan Buddhism as well as Tibet’s history and present situation.

The Central Tibetan Administration was relocated to India after China invaded Tibet.

The Office of Tibet, New York is the American headquarters of the Tibetan Government in Exile.

The Trace foundation promotes the cultural continuity and sustainable development of Tibetan communities within China. Downloadable Tibetan fonts and software.

The Latse Contemporary Tibetan Cultural Library, a project of the Trace Foundation, contains information about present day Tibetans with a focus on China.

The Dalai Lama

Many teachers of Tibetan Buddhism outside Tibet left their country as refugees, including His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, who continues to work both for Tibetan liberation and to teach people everywhere about Buddhism.

The Dalai Lama is the highest religious leader for Tibetan Buddhists around the world and an international spokesperson for peace.

The Dharma Drum website, dedicated to the work of Chinese Buddhist Master Shang Yen, includes the Dalai Lama’s introduction to Tibetan Buddhism as part of a dialog between the Dalai Lama and Shang Yen.

The Dalai Lama works with the Mind and Life Institute to study Buddhist meditation from a scientific point of view.

Research Resources: General

When Tibetans adopted Buddhism, scholars such as Marpa Chokyi Lodro translated religious texts from Sanskrit and other languages into Tibetan and wrote commentaries and treatises of their own, creating a vast body of literature on Buddhism in Tibetan.

Because the written Tibetan language uses Tibetan rather than Latin characters, online research databases with Tibetan materials must use Tibetan software and fonts or rely on Latin script transliterations of Tibetan words as search terms. Many of the sites in this pathfinder provide free downloads for Tibetan language software and fonts, as noted in the site descriptions.

The Tibetan & Himalayan Digital Library at the University of Virginia, includes valuable databases of bibliographies, texts, audio-visual resources, and other materials on the Himalayan region, including places inside and outside Tibet where Tibetan Buddhism is practiced. You can search across all databases at once using Google. Downloadable Tibetan fonts and software as well as an explanation of Wylie transliteration, a method used by the Library of Congress and others for writing Tibetan using Latin characters.

The website of TDHL’s partner, Digital Himalaya, provides a simpler gateway into some materials on Tibet and the Himalayas organized by collection as well as additional information.

The Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center includes a bibliographic database for scholars as well as a browseable collection of materials about persons and places geared toward the novice.

The Tibetan Studies WWW Virtual Library, part of the Asian Studies World-Wide Web Virtual Library maintained by Matthew Ciolek at the Australian National University, is a comprehensive pathfinder on Tibetan studies. Although some links are out of date, it is still a useful tool.

Research Resources: Library Catalogs

The catalogs of libraries that have major collections on Tibet are valuable research tools. To use them effectively it helps to learn the Wylie transliteration system for writing Tibetan names in Latin script, described above under general research resources.

Library of Congress

University of Wisconsin at Madison

Columbia University

New York Public Library

Harvard University

University of Virginia

Research Resources: Texts

Nithartha is a project to preserve and digitize Tibetan texts, including the traditional Tibetan books known as pechas. Their website has a list of texts as well as an online English-Tibetan dictionary, a Tibetan calendar, and Tibetan word processing software. Downloadable Tibetan fonts and software.

The Asian Classics Input Project (ACIP) has free downloads of texts in Tibetan and English. Downloadable Tibetan fonts and software.

Lotsawa House has full texts of translations of Tibetan texts and downloadable PDFs of the Tibetan versions.

Research Resources: Art

In Tibet and the Himalayan region the arts have been used for hundreds of years to instruct and inspire Buddhist practitioners.

Himalayan Art Resources is a database of art from Tibet and other Himalayan countries including textiles, sculpture and paintings, most of which have Buddhist themes.

Asian Arts has a database of articles, including many on Tibetan Buddhist art, and lists of galleries, associations, and exhibitions.

Online Exhibits

Thangkas are paintings created to support Buddhist practice.

Brown University hosts this exhibit of Tibetan Buddhist Temple Art in Mustang, Nepal.

Traditionally Tibetan Buddhist practitioners can levitate and fly.

Commentaries by Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, explain how the Oxherding Pictures use the taming of an ox to illustrate how meditation tames the mind.

The University of Virginia put on this exhibit about The Tibetan Book of the Dead.

Mirrors of the Heart-Mind, an exhibit of the Rezk Collection of Tibetan Art, includes essays that explain the religious and cultural aspects of each piece.


This page from the Digital Himalaya site is a convenient interface for back issues of older scholarly journals.

Buddhadharma has the full text of articles from back issues and an index to the current issue.

The Journal of Buddhist Ethics is a peer reviewed online journal with many articles by Tibetan Buddhist scholars.

The Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies is another peer reviewed journal that is part of the THDL.

The Shambhala Sun website has the full text of articles from back issues and an index to the current issue.

Audiovisual Materials

The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition has live radio broadcasts as well as recordings of talks by the Dalai Lama and others to download.

Tibetan Buddhist Internet Radio has recordings of talks, prayers, and chants.

Practice and Study

The sites in this section provide resources for people interested in learning to practice Tibetan Buddhism and meditation.

The Shambhala Center, founded by Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, has branches around the world, including several in Colorado.

BuddhaNet.net has a directory of Buddhist practice centers of all traditions around the world, as well as a webzine, audio recordings, a thangka gallery, and other resources.

The website of the His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa, the head of the Kagyu school, lists centers and provides other resources.

Nalandabodhi’s website lists practice centers and teachers in addition to articles, cartoons, Tibetan Buddhist e-cards, and more.

The Nyingma.com website includes a history of the Nyingma tradition as well as texts of teachings and a list of centers.

The sites in BuddhaNet’s pathfinder on women in Buddhism shows how women have moved into prominent positions in 21st century Buddhist studies and practice.