Padmasambhava Project

We're filming our artist journey through the story of Padmasambhava, the man who transformed a people and landscape.
Marc Wennberg
Email Verified
Burlington, Vermont
United States
5 Team Members
Triptych Journey is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of Triptych Journey must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Tashi Delek!

On September 7th, our team of artists, including filmmaker, photographer, choreographer, dancer, poetic writer and researcher, will begin a journey across four nations, following in the living footsteps of Padmasambhava, the Guru Rinpoche. We want you to join us on this remarkable journey by following our travels on our website (, spreading the word about our unique project, and if you can, making a donation.

What you are Supporting-

There are two phases to our project.

First, our artist journey will be shared in real-time on our map-embeded website. As we travel, we will be continuously uploading film, photographs, video diaries, poetry, dance, interviews and stories. In short, you can journey with us, following our progress through powerful landscapes and places.

Upon return we will weave together the many threads of our journey into multiple interactive story-telling experiences, including documentary film, publications, installations and live performances. With these products, we will create many different portals to enter the unfolding story of Padmasambhava- the man who transformed the spiritual face of the Himalayan people and landscape.

Who is Padmasambhava?

Padmasambhava appeared as an 8 year-old boy on a lotus in the middle of a Pakistani lake- happy, smiling and naked to the world. That's how the story begins, more than 1200 years ago.

In this story Padmasambhava grows to international renown, traveling across India and Nepal and into the Himalaya. His journey is nothing less than a series of spiritual accomplishments and conquests. Demons and spirits, evil ministers and jealous kings- none can resist his Tantric Buddhist powers. Slowly, surely, Padmasambhava cleared the way, pacifying the land and people and planting the seeds of Buddhism.

That's how the story goes, at least on paper. Guru Rinpoche's story, however, cannot be contained by linear narrative. Look beneath the surface, and the story deepens, merging myth with history, fact with legend, past and present with future. It includes spiritual teachings, or 'terma' ('treasures'), buried by Padmasambhava and his tantric consorts, which continue to be discovered to this day. It includes unbroken chains of reincarnated souls, rediscovering their place in the Padmasambhava story, adding new chapters of magic and revelation. It includes centuries of profound spiritual texts, dances, and poetry, which revitalize a people's connection to both Buddhism and Padmasambhava.

This story is alive, as alive as a soft, beating heart.

What we will do on our journey-

For seven weeks, we will travel across the breadth of the Himalaya, visiting sacred sites of the Guru Rinpoche. Along the way, each artist will document the journey in their own unique language, using dance, word, image and sound to share their experiences.

Throughout the journey, the team will also meet with local artists, historians, pilgrims, monks and lay people, as we explore together the central themes of the Padmasambhava story: landscape, transformation, mystery, power, and rebirth.

The itinerary, themes and artist exchanges will inform the multiple story-lines of the Padmasambhava Project. These story-lines begin with Guru Rinpoche; the places that he transformed, the reincarnates who claim his legacy, and the continuous unfolding of his teachings. They include the story of the Himalayan people who the Guru touched and touches, and their embodiment of Himalayan Buddhism's fragile ecosystem. There is also the story of the artists' internal and external journey as they travel through landscapes of power and devotion. And finally, there is the story of artists' creative products, reaching into the unknown and using the language of the arts to share a story of mystery and magic.

What we need-

Help us share this story, both on the journey and upon return. We still need a little over $47,000 for the travel phase of the project. Your donation will help pay for travel, film equipment and artist encounters (among a host of other things)! We've already secured nearly $100,000 and this final amount will put us over the top.

If we raise more than $47,000, the remaining amount will go towards the second phase of our project- the editing and creation of the film and the production of the multimedia installations, publications and performances.

Besides the good karma of making a donation, we have a number of perks to sweeten the deal. We're flexible- If you would like to make a special request, let us know. We're making a journey together...

 Who we are-


Ronen Schechner is the Cinematographer of the project, based in Burlington, Vermont

I am bringing my film experience to the project combined with my spiritual path and knowledge. Spirituality and art are my main interests in life- searching for the basic questions: is there any purpose in life and what is our potential as humans on this planet? We are going on a journey where our subject is an enlightened spiritual teacher who taught how to unify the dualistic mind. Traveling into unique powerful landscapes and meeting people is an amazing opportunity to create and express art. The interaction of two cultures and minds, creates the drama I am looking for. How we as westerners see feel and understand the Buddhist spiritual path, how they see us and where we can meet and learn from each other to develop as compassionate and loving human beings. My goal is to create a documentary film which will express this amazing journey into the heart of what Padmasambhava left the world, how to reach a higher level of existence in our complex life

Tamin Totzke is the Choreographer of the project, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I’m a choreographer, performer and dance educator. I bring to the project my experience as a dance artist with my interest in exploring the nature of consciousness and the power of collective intelligence. This project weaves together two important aspects of my life: my dance practice and my spiritual practice. Never are these practices separate, but rarely are they so obviously intertwined. I will use the elements of dance improvisation, listening and responding, as a basis for engaging with communities, artists and the landscapes along the journey. When working with other artists, improvisation will offer a meeting ground for us to converse about our cultural differences and human similarities. I have always had the strong desire to explore the greater purpose of life and the relationship between human beings and their natural environment. I’m grateful and excited to dive into these ideas with other artists who are asking similar questions.


Sarah Brutzman is a movement artist of the project, based in South Burlington, Vermont

I am a movement artist. In my youth I studied classical, modern and then post modern dance. Contact improvisation, Vipassana meditation and Shambhala Buddhist teachings are strong influences on my world view and creative choices. Magnetic- the "Padmasambhava Project" is a magnetic pull forward and backward for me. Forward to the Himalaya, rooftop to the world. Backward toward the traces of the saint Padmasambhava. I am eager to move between the space created by the story and land, and by what we find. So Grateful.

Clemma Dawsen is the poet and writer of the project, based in Sandgate, Vermont

I bring my love for writing and the skill and confidence I have in my craft to the project. I believe in the ancient connection between east and west as expressed in the intrinsic values, artistic expressions and cultural similarities increasingly recognized and shared by the two. As I support my fellow travelers in creating a film that aspires to convey the esence of Padmasambhava, it's my hope that my words benefit all sentient beings. As a student of Buddhism, I'm honored to travel to the sacred land of Guru Rinpoche to map this journey as revealed to us day by day, verse by verse, dream by dream.

Jonathan Schechner is the photographer and camera assistant of the project, based in Poultney, Vermont

This collaborative artistic project is an amazing opportunity to explore the relationship between mind, body and spirit; the people and the land. I'm interested in how we see our place in the world and the affects of these views on our mental, physical and spiritual well-being. What can we learn from Padmasambhava's teachings about life and death? Compassion and loving-kindness? Leading a fulfilling life? I'm hoping to express my discoveries in this ongoing journey through the photographic lens.

Magdalena Naylor is the health researcher of the project, based in Burlington, Vermont

As I am aware of the serious limitations of current Western clinical approaches to treatment of medical conditions and that some Asian spiritual and healing traditions have the potential to contribute to medical care, I hope that this trip will allow me to explore traditional Tibetan healing modalities and later intergrate them into my practice. As a survivor of a stage 4 endometrial cancer I deeply believe that my positive treatment outcomes are related not only to the intensive chemotherapy but also to my daily meditation practice and mindful/joyful living. As a physician psychiatrist I am very excited to participate in this trip for personal and professional reasons. I hope that this experience will deepen my understanding of the meaning of life, and guide me to become better healer, teacher, and scientist.

Glenn Mullin is Project Advisor to the Padmasambhava Project, based in Ulaanbaatur, Mongolia

My Buddhist name is Maitri Zopa. As the author of 25 or 30 books on Tibetan Buddhism, and the facilitator of a half dozen Buddhist films, as well as someone who speaks colloquial Tibetan quite well, my role is to bridge the gap between the ancient world of Tibetan Buddhism and the minds of modern Western artists on an exploratory pilgrimage. I have also curated a dozen or more Buddhist art exhibitions over the years, and this should serve as an asset to the undertaking.Padma Sambhava makes for a fascinating subject. Our visit to many of the principal sites associated with his life and legend will provide a most fertile field for artistic endeavor. I am confident that the results will be fabulous.

Marc Wennberg is the Director of the project, based in Burlington, Vermont.

I have been working on the Padmasambhava project since 2008 and it is a tale of dreams, challenges and false starts. Somehow and someway, however, the Padmasambhava story captured my imagination and never let go. In the end, I learned that the only way to make a journey is by putting one foot in front of the other.  I am grateful for the opportunity to enter and share this story through so many different artistic languages, creating opportunities for audiences with different minds and appreciations to experience the magical life of Padmasambhava. May we create something beautiful, enduring and worthy of the subject!

 Some special Thanks-

We would like to thank the photographers at Dharmaeye, Michael Ash, James Gritz and Olivier Adam, for their generous offering of photos for the promotional film. Their amazing work is on display in the Gallery and can also be found at

And we want to thank you for taking the time to learn about the project, spreading the word and making a donation.

Best Wishes,

The Triptych Journey Team

Find This Campaign On
raised in 1 month
10% funded
No time left
Verified Nonprofit
$47,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on September 9, 2013
In partnership with
Select a Perk
  • $25USD
    Padma Sambhava Bumper Sticker!

    Imagine driving around town with our one and only Padma Sambhava bumper sticker, or putting it on your laptop case, or on your notebook, or on your... The 3"x6" Eurostyle sticker is yellow, orange and red all over!

    3 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $50USD
    By Snail, Email and Air...

    We will thank you in more ways than one. First, we'll send you a Bumper Sticker by snail mail. Second, we'll send you a choice of images to from our journey by email- you can select one as a screen saver. Third, we'll send you a post card by airmail from the place and artist of your choosing. Just tell us where... (amount over $1 is tax-deductible)

    2 out of 250 claimed
  • $100USD
    2014 Calendar

    When we return, we will be putting together a 2014 calendar with original color photos from our journey. That way you can spend the next 365 days wandering in the Himalayas. We'll also send you one of our bumper stickers because we have a lot of them. (amount over $10 is tax-deductible)

    2 out of 100 claimed
    Estimated delivery: January 2014
  • $250USD
    Personalized 2014 Calendar

    At this level, you get to choose what photos you want on your calendar. Upon return, we will send you a link to our best images- you select which ones you want on your wall. We'll take it from there.... And we'll send you a bumper sticker just because. (amount over $20 is tax-deductible)

    1 out of 50 claimed
    Estimated delivery: January 2014
  • $500USD
    Prayer Flags in High Places

    It's a Himalayan tradition to hang prayer flags with personal messages in auspicious locations. You send us your message and we'll write it on a string of prayer flags. Then, we'll look for the right place at the right moment to hang them on your behalf. When we're done, we'll send you a film of the event. And of course, the bumper sticker... (amount over $25 is tax-deductible)

    0 out of 25 claimed
  • $750USD
    Autographed Original Writings

    We will send you an autographed copy of original writings from the journey by Clemma Dawsen, Tripthych Journey author, and a 2014 calendar with images of your choice. It's hard to imagine, but If you don't want the bumper sticker, we wont send it to you... (amount over $50 is tax-deductible)

    0 out of 20 claimed
    Estimated delivery: January 2014
  • $1,000USD
    Associate Film Producer

    We'll send you a copy of the final film with you listed as an Associate Producer in the credits. We'll also send you Clemma Dawsen's original writing as well as a calendar of your choosing. Unless you specifically ask, we wont send you a bumper sticker. But if you want ten stickers... we can do that too! (amount over $75 is tax-deductible)

    0 out of 15 claimed
  • $2,000USD
    Producer Level

    We will list you as a Producer and send you a copy of our film. We also will send you an autographed copy of Clemma's writings as well as a calendar of your choice. Finally, we will bring you back a beautiful Thangka (spiritual painting) of Padmasambhava from Nepal and send it to you with a bumper sticker on the packaging! (amount over $275 is tax-deductible)

    1 out of 10 claimed
  • $5,000USD
    Executive Producer

    We will list you as an Executive Producer and send you a copy of our film. We also will send you an autographed copy of Clemma's writings as well as a calendar of your choice. Finally, we will fly you to the premiere of our film or performance...where we will present you with as many bumper stickers as you like. You decide! (amount over $500 is tax-deductible)

    0 out of 5 claimed
  • $10,000USD
    Super Executive Producer

    Yes, we're reaching a bit with this title... Bottom line, you tell us what you would like as a 'perk' and we'll do our best, bumper stickers included! (amount over $500 is tax-deductible)

    0 out of 3 claimed
Do you think this campaign contains prohibited content? Let us know.