Teacher, Ven. Geshe Ngawang Dakpa
Like the Dalai Lama, Venerable Geshe Ngawang Dakpa, resident teacher at Tse Chen Ling, answers questions about his life and his achievements with "I'm just a simple Buddhist monk." Yet Geshe-la (the la- added to indicate respect and admiration) is an extraordinary human being with an astounding life story. The title "Geshe" itself indicates as much. The degree is given within the monastic universities after many years, in his case 25 years, of studying Buddhism.
Born in Nagchu, Central Tibet, a village at an altitude of 14,000
feet with year round ice and snow, he lived with his nomadic family.
At the age of ten he entered Orbak Monastery, where he learned
to read and write. He was ordained as a novice monk at 13 and
memorized sutras (Buddhist teachings) ritual prayers and pujas
(rituals), and learned how to build mandalas (graphic symbols
of the universe) and play ritual instruments. He studied Tibetan
grammar, poetry and astrology. In 1953, he traveled to the capital
of Lhasa and entered Sera, one of the three great monastic universities
in Tibet, and home to 7,200 monks. It was the Junior Tutor of
the Dalai Lama who fully ordained him as a monk. His contemporaries
at Sera were Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa, founders of Tse Chen Ling.
In 1959, during the Cultural Revolution, Chinese troops shelled
Sera. Geshe La's life hung on a thread for days. When he learned
that the Dalai Lama had fled, he decided to follow and escaped
to India. He continued his studies at the Sanskrit University
in Benares (Varanasi), where he earned an M.A. with honors. Invited
by the Queen of Sikkim to teach Tibetan at the University of Sikkim,
he ended up staying for 20 years before returning to Sera Je monastery
in South India to gain his Geshe degree. At the top of his class,
he became an expert in Dharma (Buddha's teachings), astrology,
Tibetan education, grammar and poetry, as well as in philosophy.
Before coming to San Francisco he was resident teacher at the
FPMT Center in Taipei, Taiwan.
Well renown for his brilliant scholarly achievements, we are
continually inspired by his breadth of knowledge and willingness
to open his heart and mind in sharing the treasures of Buddha's