Tribute to E. Gene Smith

Gene was a seminal and influential Buddhist scholar, as well as a dedicated practitioner, and a devoted student of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

Excerpted From the Widsom Publications site:

For three decades, Gene Smith ran the Library of Congress’s Tibetan Text Publication Project–an effort to salvage and reprint Tibetan literature. Gene wrote prefaces to these reprinted books to help clarify and contextualize the particular Tibetan texts: the prefaces served as rough orientations to a poorly understood body of foreign literature. Originally produced in print quantities of 20, these prefaces quickly became legendary, and soon photocopied collections were handed from scholar to scholar, achieving an almost cult status. These essays are collected in Among Tibetan Texts from Wisdom Pubs.

Gene Smith died in New York on Thursday December 16, 2010. He had not been well since returning from India two days earlier. The cause of death is not known.

Gene was a seminal and influential Buddhist scholar, as well as a dedicated practitioner, and a devoted student of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. He is best known for his work in preserving Tibetan literature. In the words of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, “It is not an exaggeration at all to say it is because of Gene’s hard work and efforts that we have access to many of the precious texts we are using today … With Gene’s digital library, no future disaster will destroy these precious Buddhist texts again.”

A Documentary film on Gene’s Work

From the Digital Dharma site – Digital Dharma is the chronicle of a cultural rescue. This feature-length HD documentary brings to light the magnitude of one man’s 50-year inspirational journey to save the literary history of a disappearing culture and to preserve early lessons of mankind’s consciousness.

The life of E. Gene Smith is an epic story of destiny and compassion that leads a pacifist on a mission of survival. During an era of espionage and mistrust, Gene’s mission becomes the catalyst for an international movement to save ancient writing and art from crumbling, literally, to dust… and then deliver them to the entire world.

This powerfully moving account crosses multiple borders… geographically, politically and philosophically… Because the humanitarian and academic efforts to protect the Tibetan culture by finding and preserving thousand-year-old documents, is not only a contribution to the Tibetan people… it is a contribution to all of humanity, saving 1500 years of invaluable teachings: from the medical to the mystical, a chronicle of the advancements of mankind. These documents include the Tibetans’ original contributions as well as the traditional works of the great Indian scholars and masters, which were systematically documented and preserved in Tibet. As our world’s political and cultural borders shift, protecting all knowledge and its far-reaching contributions becomes critical.