Sangpu Institute
An Aspirational Vision for a Buddhist Learning Center 


In 2023, Rinpoche proposed a vision of a modern Buddhist Shedra as an online center of learning that offers a comprehensive study of Buddhist philosophy, meditation, and advanced studies on the nature of mind, tantra, Mahamudra, and Dzogchen. His vision was inspired by Sangpu Néütok, one of the greatest centers of learning in Tibet during the time of Longchenpa.


At YDL, we are committed to bringing this vision to life, using the wisdom of the past to guide our path forward.


History of Sangpu Néütok


Sangpu Néütok is an important monastery in central Tibet that was a beacon of knowledge and spiritual development for centuries. The monastery was founded in 1072 by Ngok Lekpé Shérab, a disciple of Atiśa and further developed by his nephew, the great translator Ngok Lotsāwa Loden Sherab. Initially a Kadam monastery with two colleges, it evolved into a monastery that includes both Sakya and Geluk traditions.


Ngok Lekpe Sherab was a renowned translator and scholar who played a significant role in the transmission of Buddhist texts from India to Tibet. He worked on translating and elucidating various essential Buddhist texts, particularly in the area of Buddhist logic and epistemology (Pramana). His contributions have had a lasting impact on Tibetan Buddhist scholasticism and the development of the Kadampa tradition.


Sangpu Néütok monastery became known for its study of the philosophical systems and its dedication to the Mahayana teachings. It’s often referred to as a locus for the beginning of Tibetan scholasticism and debate. Because of the weakening of the previously dominant Kadampa monastery Reting, Sangpu Néütok assumed primary importance among the Kadampa monasteries in the early twelfth century. At first there were two Kadampa schools at this monastery, one called Longto and the other Lingme. Eventually, these colleges morphed into a collection of seven Sakya schools and four Gelupkpa schools.


A monk known for his unorthodox views and willingness to challenge accepted precepts lived at Sangpu Néütok in the mid-eleventh century. Chökyi Sengé’s (1109-69) attempts at doctrinal innovation were definitively snuffed out, which was typical of the period’s deep skepticism of ideas that were exclusively Tibetan. One of the late twelfth monastic century stars of the Khön, Sönam Tsémo, studied with Chapa at Sangpu Néütok. Sönam Tsémo was very dedicated to Chapa and yet and he and his relatives played a fundamental role in the burgeoning Sakya sect.


The fact that Sönam Tsémo studied with a Kadampa master yet he was also instrumental in the Sakya sect’s beginnings shows the fluidity of sectarian affiliations at this point in Tibetan history. It wasn’t until a few centuries later that the lines were clearly drawn between what we now know as the major sects of Tibetan Buddhism.


Throughout the 11th to 14th centuries, the monastery thrived as a hub of monastic education and the study of Buddhist philosophy. During this time, eleven separate colleges were established within the monastery, fostering intellectual exchange and attracting some of the most influential philosophers and thinkers of the era. Esteemed masters such as Ngok Loden Sherab, Chapa Chökyi Senge, Yaktön Sangye Pal, and Rongtön Sheja Kunrig taught at the monastery, further enhancing its reputation as a preeminent center for learning. One of the most notable students who studied at Sangpu Neutok during this period was Longchen Rabjam, a luminary of the Nyingma tradition. 


In 1327, Longchenpa moved to Sangpu Neutok, where he stayed for six years. During his time at the monastery, he mastered the entire scholastic curriculum, which included logic, epistemology, yogacara, madhyamaka, and poetics. Longchenpa also received teachings and transmissions from different Tibetan Buddhist traditions, including Kadam, Sakya, Kagyu, and Nyingma. 


Sangpu Néütok remained an active monastery through at least the fifteenth century, after which Sangpu Néütok was absorbed into the Gelukpa sect. Sangpu Néütok’s history after the fifteenth century is not easily researched. By the end of the 18th century, the once vibrant monastic community had all but disappeared and the monastery itself fell into decline. When Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo visited the site in the mid-19th century, he noted that it had become an ordinary village of laypeople.


A Modern Buddhist Learning Center

Today, as we strive to connect with our awakened nature in an increasingly complex world, the rich legacy of Sangpu Neutok presents an opportunity for a new beginning. We envision a modern Buddhist center of learning bearing the name of this ancient monastery – a center that honors the past while embracing the future.


At the heart of this vision lies a commitment to the preservation and transmission of ancient wisdom in the modern world. 


Sangpu Institute is envisioned as a modern day, online center of learning that offers a comprehensive study of Buddhist philosophy and practice. The programs would be designed to accommodate the needs of individuals at different stages of their spiritual journeys, ensuring that every practitioner connects to a path tailored to their unique circumstances. The center aims to provide a nurturing environment for individuals to embark on the path of liberation, exploring the depths of Buddhist philosophy, and cultivating the wisdom and compassion needed to navigate the complexities of modern life.

Sangpu Institute will be a hub for Buddhist dialogue and collaboration, promoting understanding and harmony among the various Buddhist practice traditions. Moreover, the center will be a hub for interfaith dialogue and collaboration, promoting understanding and harmony among diverse spiritual traditions. By fostering a spirit of inquiry, Sangpu Institute will contribute to the creation of a more compassionate and inclusive world. 


The Institute will foster a vibrant community of lay practitioners, fostering intellectual exchange and spiritual development. The center will collaborate with scholars, researchers, and spiritual teachers to ensure that the teachings of the great masters are not only preserved but made accessible to all who yearn for guidance in a rapidly changing world.


The ultimate mission of Sangpu Institute is to honor the rich legacy of the Buddha’s teachings while forging a path for spiritual growth and understanding in the 21st century. The Institute aims to be a sanctuary where the wisdom of the past illuminates the way forward, guiding a new generation of practitioners on the path of awakening.