Tsadra Foundation History
At the start of the new millennium, Eric Colombel—a serious student and practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism for many years—established Tsadra Foundation with the support of his wife Andrea, founder of Trace Foundation, with the intention to facilitate access to the wisdom of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The strategic approach was to use a Western philanthropic model to encourage the advanced study and practice of this tradition as a way of promoting the development of wisdom and compassion in Western culture.
With the help of Anthony Chapman (Lama Drupgyu), Tsadra Foundation took form slowly and cautiously guided by principles of non-sectarian benefit and non-interference in existing Buddhist groups’ spheres of activity. Since Eric Colombel was French and living in the US, he determined to develop the Foundation’s activity both in English-speaking North America and in France. Soon after its inception, Christiane Buchet joined the Tsadra team. Over the years this administrative core was enriched by the addition of the highly skilled individuals Rafael Ortet, Marcus Perman and the full team of today’s staff.
The Foundation launched its initial grant-giving activities by establishing four “program” areas: Translation, Contemplation, Higher Education, and Publication. It prioritized strategic investestment in the potential of Western individuals who had already spent many years of deep study and practice as a way to assure the transmission of the depth of this tradition to the West. At the same time, this translation and subsequent publication of Tibetan works have provided a library of resources for serious students.
Initially fellowships and grants were accorded to selected translators, most of whom integrated many years of both study and retreat practice (Translation Program), and to accomplished meditators who wished to deepen their realization through pursuing extended long term retreat (Contemplative Program).
The Foundation assumed the responsibility for the publication of translations as they were completed. A significant working relationship for the publishing of English titles was established with Snow Lion Publications, producing the “Tsadra Series”. This was the imprint for texts the translation and publication of which had been sponsored by the Foundation. Other works appeared independently with either Snow Lion Publications, Shambhala Publications, or Wisdom Publications. In France a working relationship was established initially with Editions Claire Lumière, and then later with Editions Padmakara who now manage the French “Collection Tsadra” (Publication Program).
The Foundation also engaged in different projects to encourage Western models for both practice and study. This activity came to focus on two different attempts to develop a Western equivalent to the traditional Tibetan shedra (monastic college) training curriculums. The Foundation gave significant support to both Nitartha Institute and Rangjung Yeshe Institute.
During the first decade of its activity the Foundation sought out candidates for its grant-giving. The Foundation began with a modest budget which grew incrementally. By 2010 the Foundation looked for ways to expand accessibility to its grant-giving activities and transformed the Contemplative Program into the Advanced Contemplative Scholarship Initiative and the Higher Education Program into the Advanced Buddhist Study Scholarship Initiative. These scholarship initiatives have proven extremely popular and successful in advancing the Foundation’s aims.
If you wish to review some of the details and accomplishments of the original Contemplative Program and Higher Education Program, you can consult the history of this grant-giving activity below.