The Great Perfection of Kham: Dzokchen Monastery and the Assembling of
Buddhist Tradition in Seventeenth-Century Tibet


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies


Asian Languages and Cultures


My dissertation examines the seventeenth-century founding of Dzokchen Monastery in eastern Tibet, a Nyingma institution established at the confluence of the Tibetan and Chinese empires and at the intersection of all four branches of Tibetan Buddhism. I analyze the network of actors involved in Dzokchen’s formation to reveal the contending agendas that constructed authority there and to demonstrate that these political, religious, and personal relationships compel us to reconsider “sect” as an analytic term. Dzokchen’s emergence as specifically Nyingma was not preordained, and this project interrogates how competing notions of geographic and religious centrality shaped the invention of Nyingma identity. I show that rupture and multiplicity are endemic to Buddhist tradition making in Tibet.