Courtnay Robbins

Preserving Tradition
Location: Los Angeles
Nationality: USA/Italia
Biography: Courtnay Robbins is documentary photographer based in Los Angeles. She received her BFA in Photography and Media from the California Institute of the Arts. Courtnay’s work has been featured in TEMA, Tricycle, OURS Magazine, Viewfind, The... MORE
Public Story
Preserving Tradition
Copyright Courtnay Robbins 2022
Date of Work Apr 2017 - Apr 2017
Updated Oct 2017
Topics Buddhism, Documentary, Editorial, Photography, Religion

The Tibetan diaspora and modern technology are changing Tibetan Buddhism.

Thupten Rinpoche, a high-level lama in the Gelug lineage, spent the last ten years building the Thupsung Dhargyeling Monastery in Dirang, India at the request of the Dalai Lama.  This monastery is intended to be a center of Buddhist study and practice for laypeople, to re-connect them with their culture and spiritual traditions.

As a student of Buddhism, I have spent a great deal of time at Thupten Rinpoche's temple in Los Angeles.  I traveled to Dirang to participate in the consecration ceremony at Thupsung Dhargyeling and immersed myself in the daily life of the monastery "“ sleeping there, eating and praying with the monks and local practitioners. 

I am fascinated with the Tibetan Buddhists' steadfast preservation of their culture and traditions and how that intersects with influences from western cultures, as well as their infatuation with modern technology.  Maintaining religious authenticity is a priority for the preservation of Tibetan culture, but the idea of impermanence is the foundation of Buddhist teachings "“ they believe that our fears and attachments cause suffering in this always-changing world.  This body of work explores the juxtaposition of tradition and modernity as the monastery prepares for a visit from their most sacred religious leader, the Dalai Lama.


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