Treasury of Lives

17 West 17th Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10011

Description of Organization

The Treasury of Lives is an online encyclopedia of historical knowledge of Tibet, Inner Asia, and the Himalayan Region. The core of the site is comprised of biographies of Buddhist masters from the 7th through 20th centuries. The digital-only resource is supported by an active community of scholars, students, and practitioners of Buddhism. By commissioning, editing, writing and publishing biographies of significant figures from the Tibetan plateau, The Treasury of Lives preserves historical knowledge and contributes to contemporary knowledge of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhist masters. The site is designed for and used by scholars, researchers, students, and Buddhist practitioners interested in furthering their knowledge or practice. There is no comparable website for any other region or religious tradition in the world.

Grant(s) Awarded

In 2024, a Women in Buddhism grant in the amount of $3,000 was awarded to assist The Treasury of Lives in publishing biographies and etensive associated content about women. Funds are being used for editors and authors for salary and honoraria. This work is based on an assessment conducted in the Fall of 2022. At that time, The Treasury of Lives reviewed site content and determined that of the 1,315 biographies published, only 49 were of women or 3.73%. In March, 2023, the Women Initiative was formally launched to expand the number of women biographies to at least 100 over three years. In less than one year, 28 new biographies of women were added to the site with many more in process. In addition, this initiative has encouraged new authors to contribute life stories of Buddhist women.

In 2022, a grant in the amount of $7,500 was awarded to create new online content and site features to improve knowledge and understanding of the origins of Tibetan Buddhism in America. TOL will prominently add a new landing page to its open-access digital resource (ISSN 2332-077X). We will create a new page titled “Origins of Tibetan Buddhism in America” located under the “Resources” tab on our homepage with all features automatically updated each time new relevant information is added to the TOL database. TOL currently includes a general dynamic timeline that is available on pages relating to traditions and monasteries. The proposed timeline will include extensive narrative content that is linked to other site features and external resources.

In 2021, a  special COVID-19 Operational Grant of $3,000 was awarded in order to assist with operating costs and the following activities, to remain online and serve its readers. 

  •  Technical costs of securing, maintaining and improving the online resources,
  •  Peer-review process for submissions,
  •  Online outreach to the community of institutional subscribers, readers and contributors and the continuous development of biographical and geographic content,
  • Development of new content around biographies of Tibetan Buddhists and their students in America.

The COVID-19 Impact:  The pandemic resulted in a reduction in individual donations and a slowing of the expansion of the institutional subscription program, thus limiting sources of revenue. Just six months prior to the start of the global pandemic, the Treasury of Lives implemented a subscription program for academic libraries as a means of providing increased services to the academic community while also partially sustaining the resource financially. Despite the receipt of some confirmed subscriptions, the planned expansion of the program was halted by the pandemic.

In 2019, A grant was awarded for $1,500 to help Treasury of Lives maintain the site and ensure technical upgrades while also supporting staff salaries for 2019-2020.