The Berzin Archives

The Buddhist Archives of Dr. Alexander Berzin

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Short Biography of Alexander Berzin

Photo of Alexander BerzinAlexander Berzin, born in 1944 in Paterson, New Jersey, received his B.A. degree in 1965 from the Department of Oriental Studies, Rutgers University in conjunction with Princeton University; and his M.A. in 1967 and Ph.D. in 1972 from the Departments of Far Eastern Languages (Chinese) and Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard University. From 1969 to 1998, he resided primarily in Dharamsala, India, initially as a Fulbright Scholar, studying and practicing with masters from all four Tibetan Buddhist traditions. His main teacher was Tsenzhab Serkong Rinpoche, the late Master Debate Partner and Assistant Tutor of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He served as his interpreter and secretary for nine years, accompanying him on several world tours. He has also served as occasional Dharma interpreter for His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

A founding member of the Translation Bureau of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, Berzin has developed a new terminology for translating, into English, Tibetan technical terms that have often been misunderstood. Working with translators in many other languages, he has helped them to revise and develop their terminology according to the same principles.

Since 1983, Berzin has been traveling around the world, teaching various aspects of Buddhist practice and philosophy, as well as Tibetan-Mongolian history and astro-medical theory, at Dharma centers and universities in more than seventy countries. His travels have focused primarily on the former and present communist world, Latin America, Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East. In addition to his numerous published writings and translations, many of his lectures have been published in the languages of these areas.

Berzin has served as unofficial liaison for several international projects of Tibetan-Mongolian culture, such as a Tibetan medical aid program for Chernobyl victims with the Russian Ministry of Health and a project in Mongolia for the Gere Foundation to produce books on Buddhism in the colloquial language to help revive the traditional culture. He has also been instrumental in establishing and furthering a Buddhist-Islamic dialogue.

In 1998, Berzin moved back to the West to have conditions more conducive for writing. Traveling occasionally, he teaches at several Dharma centers, but devotes most of his time to preparing his unpublished materials for the Berzin Archives website. He currently lives in Berlin, Germany.