TIBET HOUSE US: a resource for secular Buddhists

July 5, 2023

Universal responsibility is the real key to human survival. It is the best foundation for world peace, the equitable use of natural resources, and the proper care of the environment……

This urgent need for cooperation can only strengthen mankind, because it helps us recognize that the most secure foundation for the new world order is not simply broader political and economic alliances, but each individual's genuine practice of love and compassion. These qualities are the ultimate source of human happiness, and our need for them lies at the very core of our being.

- H.H. Dalai Lama (Washington, D.C., April 1993, ‘Buddhism and Democracy’ - https://www.dalailama.com/messages/buddhism/buddhism-and-democracy

Since 1987, Tibet House US, a non-profit cultural center founded at the request of H.H. the Dalai Lama, has been quietly promoting a broad vision of Buddhism through various events and publications. Located on 15th Street in New York City, USA,  Tibet House US,  fondly known as ‘THUS’, is also a thriving center, inviting secular and traditional Buddhist practitioners, as well as interested visitors, to learn about  its repository of amazing and rare Tibetan Buddhist artifacts.

HH Dalai Lama at the opening ceremony of Tibet House US in New York, 1987 with the co-founders: Robert A.F. Thurman (standing behind the Dalai Lama), Philip Glass (holding Dalai Lama's hand), and Richard Gere.

In the 1980s and 1990s, THUS’s specific mandate was the political one of creating awareness about the plight of Tibetans and the Tibet issue to engage public understanding and policy changes. Over the decades, THUS has evolved to include greater social engagement. Today, one of THUS’ prime achievements is the nurturing of contemporary American Buddhist teachers, meditators, arts and culture by talented secular practitioners while it continues to support the sutra-based teachings of dharma by recognized sanghas.

If you visit the center’s website, you will see the great variety of offerings offered by the center.

Images show a THUS ‘Love Tibet’ publication: ‘Man of Peace - The Illustrated Life Story of the Dalai Lama of Tibet - Available on Amazon, support our books to preserve Tibet's unique culture.

Offerings from Tibet House US

Here are some of the  ways Tibet House US has contributed to promoting a broad and non-sectarian approach to Buddhism:

Education and Workshops:  The center offers programs on meditation, mindfulness, compassion, and ethics. These programs provide practical tools and teachings that can be applied in secular contexts, such as healthcare, education, and personal development.

Guest Lectures and Teachings: Tibet House US invites renowned Buddhist teachers, scholars, and practitioners to give lectures and teachings on secular applications of Buddhism. These experts offer insights into Buddhist philosophy, psychology, and meditation techniques, providing valuable guidance for individuals seeking to incorporate these practices into their secular lives.

Mindfulness-Based Programs: These programs explore the value of mindfulness in diverse areas, including healthcare, psychology, and corporate settings. Tibet House US staff collaborate with professionals in these fields to develop and implement mindfulness-based programs, such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which are secular adaptations of traditional Buddhist practices.

Research and Publications: The center supports research initiatives that explore the intersection of Buddhism, science, and secularism. Tibet House US publishes books, articles, and other resources that bridge the gap between traditional Buddhist teachings and contemporary secular contexts, making this wisdom more accessible to a wider audience.

Community Building: Tibet House US fosters a supportive community for secular and traditional Buddhists through gatherings, study groups, and online forums. These platforms facilitate dialogue, the sharing of experiences, and the cultivation of a Buddhist community where individuals can find support and inspiration on their spiritual journeys.

Preservation of Tibetan Buddhist Culture: While focusing on the application of Buddhism in secular contexts, Tibet House US continues the crucial role of preserving and promoting Tibetan Buddhist culture and enriching the understanding of Buddhist heritage among North American audiences.

Through these initiatives, Tibet House US has contributed to the growth of Buddhism in North America, offering a valuable bridge between traditional Buddhist teachings and the modern secular world.

We hope you will find something valuable on thus.org.  Also, please consider checking out the ‘Love Tibet Readers Collection’ on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LoveTibetClub.

Cedar Thokme is a Digital Specialist at Tibet House US



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5 Replies to “TIBET HOUSE US: a resource for secular Buddhists”


Thank you Cedar for your very interesting and informative article. Though I had heard of THUS, I certainly was not aware of the many and varied programs, teachings and publications it offers, especially in intersection with the broader secular Buddhist world. What a joy to find that, in addition to its original mandate, it also reaches far and wide to support the efforts of all dharma practitioners! Tashi Delek!

Hey Colette, how are you?
Apologies for this delayed response as this August so much good and not-so-good stuff have been keeping life busy. I am happy to share about Tibet House US (NYC). A tight-knit community mainly in NY and environs so there is not a whole lot of publicity, but they do have some unique online offerings and I am always wishing there is more demand since the topics they treat are often quite refreshing. I think I appreciate THUS for the harmonious Secular-Sangha range of activities for then the authenticity of what the Buddha’s message is to mankind is less likely to get diluted 🙂 Although, of course, when it will anyways one day gets diluted…the next Buddha, Maitreya, will come… just make sure not reborn in between (2 buddhas) those very dark ages. See more https://thus.org/

David Dane

I am interested in Indo Tibetan Buddhism and many of the practices. I believe the word lama is a Tibetan word for guru which can be taken to mean teacher or spiritual guide. Obviously what I am going to say does not apply to the majority of lamas. The Dalai Lama is a very good example in compassionate concern. Unfortunately there have been examples of lamas that have abused and exploited their followers and dragged their practice in to the mire. The late Sogyal Rinpoche is a terrible example with his entourage of young women who he exploited by claiming if a women had sex with him she would receive very good karma. There have been others for example the late Chögyam Trungpa had a dharma heir who contracted AIDS and did not tell people about it and died after infecting people.

In the West there seems to be something that favours this abuse of power. I think Buddhism needs to air its dirty laundry and think of more ways to prevent these abuses.Best wishes David Dane


Thank you, David, and this is a very real abuse in many religious traditions which is why we all need to be careful of human frailties on the path. I did hear about the sad case of Sogyal Rinpoche (and there was also Michael Roach translator of the first ‘Diamond Sutra’ from Tibetan to English). It is unfortunate with human frailties. I was just talking about charlatans etc. with a friend yesterday that teachers (gurus) too need to be conscientiously assessing their state of mind pertaining to religious vows, and if they felt that they had to disrobe then they must. I think it becomes greyer with secular teachers as you mentioned Chogyam Trungpa’s dharma heir, as they are not accountable to strict Buddhist vows — best to avoid leading a dharma ctr if one chooses to have a colorful life. It might be more prevalent in the West since in the East most of the believers will not gather around secular teachers, they need only be very careful about robed gurus. In places like Singapore for example, lamas and gurus are normally so screened by the security (well, everyone is over there) that charlatans cannot grow but they may operate in small family-oriented groups in people’s homes (this exists). In the west, people are freer and make their own choices. So be careful.

David Dane

Thanks Cedar I agree with your contribution.Care is definitely needed.
Best wishes David Dane

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