American Buddhist charged with bridging religious tradition and the Western world

Recommended by Alicia Purdy

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, June 29 2012 7:00 a.m. MDT

Our take: Nicholas Vreeland, director of The Tibet Center in New York, has been tasked with the job of bridging the gap between east and west in his new position as abbot of India's Rato Monastery, one of the most religiously significant monasteries in Tibetan Buddhism. As the first Westerner to hold the position, Vreeland has been asked by the Dalai Lama to help bring some Western contemporary ideas into the Eastern tradition, without diluting the Buddhist tradition.

The Dalai Lama has given Nicholas Vreeland, director of The Tibet Center in New York, a daunting new assignment. On July 6, Vreeland will be enthroned as the new abbot of Rato Monastery in southern India, one of the most important monasteries in Tibetan Buddhism. He will be the first Westerner to hold such a position.

In making the appointment, the Dalai Lama told Vreeland, "Your special duty (is) to bridge Tibetan tradition and (the) Western world."

"His Holiness wishes to bring Western ideas into the Tibetan Buddhist monastic system, and that comes from his recognition that it is essential ... that there be new air brought into these institutions," Vreeland told the PBS program "Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly."

Read more about Nicholas Vreeland on Huffington Post.

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