Sangye Khandro has translated and mastered some of the most profound Buddhist teachings. Born as a Mormon in Oregon as Nanci Gay Gustafson, she became one of the earliest Americans to explore the community of Tibetan refugees in North India in the early seventies. Many times I have heard her translate some of the most complex topics from the Tibetan language with a seemingly effortless grace. Her well-known translator colleague B. Alan Wallace remarked that she might be the Western woman who has received more Tibetan Buddhist teachings and transmissions than anybody else.
Sangye Khandro in Tashi Chöling, Oregon. Photo Copyright David Gordon
Now in her late fifties, she is strikingly beautiful by any definition, but you will likely first notice her vibrant, spacious blue eyes. She lives on the beautiful 100 acres of Tashi Chöling, a retreat and teaching center in the mountains near Ashland that she founded together with her husband and teacher, Gyatrul Rinpoche. She has translated for the finest Tibetan teachers, including Dudjom Rinpoche, Thinley Norbu Rinpoche, Penor Rinpoche, and Khenpo Namdrol Rinpoche. Despite receiving many invitations, she rarely agrees to teach, preferring a reclusive lifestyle focusing on translations and retreats. Together with her partner, Lama Chönam, she has founded the renowned translation committee Light of Berotsana. Among her many published translations is the biography of Mandarava, the Indian consort of Padmasambhava who is credited with establishing Vajrayana Buddhism in Tibet. In my new book Dakini Power, she speaks candidly about her personal path, her relationships with her teacher, and "the mistaken notion that Vajrayana is male-oriented."
In this beautiful video by Vimala Video she shares her insight into what it takes to translate the Buddhist teachings authentically, quoting the Dalai Lama`s recent remarks that "this century should be the century of love and compassion."