The Treasury of Lives - Biographies of Himalayan Buddhist Masters

About the Rubin
Treasury of Lives

About Us

The Treasury of Lives is a biographical encyclopedia of all known past masters of Himalayan religion, both Buddhist and Bon. As of March 2012 newly added biographies will be peer reviewed by scholars of Himalayan Religion. Along with the biographies, Treasury of Lives site makes available the most extensive bibliographies presently available.

The Treasury of Lives is a growing site that depends on contributions of biographies from scholars and practitioners. Presently, over 40 scholars and practitioners have contributed to the project, providing biographies and lineage information. Individuals are welcome to submit biographies, and can do so through the Submissions tab found under About Us. All content submitted to the Treasury of Lives goes through a peer review process supervised by an Editorial Committee. For more information about The Treasury of Lives peer review process, please see the Submissions page.

The Treasury of Lives Project is supported by an Advisory Committee made up of leading scholars in the field of Tibetan studies. The Treasury of Lives has institutional connections with the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (TBRC.org), an online library of Tibetan literature, and Himalayan Art Resources (Himalayanart.org), a virtual museum of Himalayan art. Treasury of Lives is a project of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation.

The Treasury of Lives uses a phonetic system developed in partnership with TBRC and the Rubin Museum of Art. The goal of the system is to render Tibetan words in a manner that can be pronounced easily by international readers of English. It is not a scientific system such as that developed by THL, but rather one that follows certain principles. The full description of the principles can be read here. The Extended Wylie transliteration system is used, in parenthesis, after the first instance of each Tibetan word. Mongolian words are represented with the Atwood system, which can be viewed here.


The Treasury of Lives began in 2006 under the leadership of Vivian Kurz of the Dilgo Khyentse Fellowship / Shechen, and Moke Mokotoff. Vivian served as general editor and created a prototype Nyingma website, with content created by Matthieu Ricard and others. Moke hired Dan Martin, Cyrus Stearns, and Miranda Adams to write material for the Kagyu, Jonang, and Gelug traditions.

In 2008 Alex Gardner took on the task of expanding the website to incorporate all traditions of Tibetan religion. Since this shift, all traditions are presented on the site, with dynamic search and browse capability to allow users to access the biographies using a variety of categories.

TBRC, under the leadership of Gene Smith, and Jeff Wallman, was instrumental in preserving the momentum of the project. TBRC provided the initial population of the database using biographical information from the TBRC Library. Jeff Wallman assembled the excellent technical team the Foundation employed to create the new site: Theresa Reed as the information architect, Sean O’Dwyer as the designer and usability expert, and Trevor Conn as the principal software developer. The creative teams at TBRC and the Treasury now regularly consult with each other on ongoing improvements and enhancements and the ways that the two sites can be linked together. Jeff Watt, director of Himalayan Art Resources, has also assisted significantly in the redevelopment and the extension of links between the Treasury and HAR.

In 2012 Weston Happ and Asa Hardcastle took the programming and technical leads for the website.