I first met Geshe Nicky Vreeland at the Bylakuppe Monastery outside of Mysore, in 1994. He was traveling with his teacher, as he still does today, and was staying in a small room next to the canteen. We got to talking, and it turned out that we were pretty much neighbors in NYC, and had a lot of friends in common. Over the years we would run into each other in airports in India and occasionally on Crosby St. Though a monk (he took his vows in 1985 and earned his Doctorate of Divinity in 1998), Nicky quite often has a camera with him; before taking his vows, he was a photographer, working for Irving Penn and Richard Avedon. It is through the Avedon’s that he was introduced to the Tibet Center and ended up meetingt His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This past April, His Holiness appointed Geshe Vreeland as the new Abbot of Rato Monastery. This was an historic moment; the first time that a Westerner had been appointed abbot of an important Tibetan Buddhist monastery. On making the appointment, The Dalai Lama stated, “Your special duty (is) to bridge Tibetan tradition and Western world.”
The monastery that he is Abbot of came under serious disrepair around 2008, and Nicky began organizing exhibits and selling his photos to help raise money for reconstruction. He recently put up a website of his photos, which can be seen here, and on his bio page there is a list of his articles and interviews, that can be seen here.