Alex Berzin

Alex Berzin

American Buddhist scholar, Tibetologist, historian and dharma teacher
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Alexander Berzin
  2. Early Life and Studies
  3. Contributions
  4. International Projects
  5. Later Life

Biography of Alexander Berzin

Alexander Berzin is an American Buddhologist, Tibetologist, historian, and Dharma teacher. He was born in 1944 in Paterson, New Jersey. Berzin obtained his Bachelor's degree in Oriental Studies from Rutgers University in collaboration with Princeton University in 1965. He then earned his Master's degree in 1967 and his Ph.D. in 1972 from Harvard University, specializing in Far Eastern Languages (Chinese), Sanskrit, and Indology.

Alex Berzin

Early Life and Studies

After completing his education, Berzin lived predominantly in Dharamsala, India, from 1969 to 1998. He initially went there as a Fulbright scholar to study and practice Dharma with teachers from all four Tibetan Buddhist traditions. His primary teacher was Censhap Serkong Rinpoche, a late master who was a debate partner and additional tutor to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Berzin served as Rinpoche's translator and secretary for nine years, accompanying him on various travels around the world. He also occasionally served as a translator for His Holiness the Dalai Lama during Buddhist events.


Berzin co-founded the Translation Bureau at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives and developed a new terminology for translating Tibetan technical terms into English, which were often misunderstood previously. He also assisted translators of various other languages in revising and developing their own terminology based on the same principles. From 1983 onwards, Berzin traveled extensively, teaching various aspects of Buddhist practice, philosophy, Tibetan-Mongolian history, and astrology and medicine theory at Dharma centers and universities in over 70 countries. His itineraries often took him through the former and current communist world, Latin America, Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East. Many of his lectures have been published in the languages of these countries.

International Projects

In addition to his published works and translations, Berzin served as an unofficial envoy in several international projects related to Tibetan and Mongolian culture. These projects included the Tibetan Medical Aid Program for Chernobyl victims, developed jointly with the Russian Ministry of Health, as well as the Richard Gere Foundation's project to revive Mongolia's national culture through the publication of books on Buddhism in contemporary colloquial language. He also contributed to the establishment and deepening of Buddhist-Muslim dialogue.

Later Life

In 1998, Berzin returned to the West, where more favorable conditions for his writing activities existed. While occasionally traveling and teaching at various Dharma centers, he primarily dedicates his time to preparing his unpublished materials for the "Berzin Library." Currently, he resides in Berlin, Germany.