The Dalai Lama once said, “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” While such a deliberate happiness may often seem elusive in a society that moves at breakneck speed, it remains. To this, the Tibetan Monk Geshe-la Thupten Dorjee, PH.D., will speak in his presentation, “Happiness and Compassion in a Competitive World,” on Tuesday, September 18 at 6 p.m. in SUU’s Sterling Church Auditorium.
Certainly a far-reaching topic, this presentation is quite possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many students and community members, as Dorjee is one of just a handful of English-speaking Tibetan Buddhist scholar-monks teaching in the United States.
Born Sonam Palden in Tibet during the Chinese Communist invasion of 1959, the young Sonam and his family fled Tibet, over the Himalayan Mountains to Bhutan when he was just three years old. Later in his life, after enduring poverty and homelessness, he devoted his life to Buddhism and education. His title, “Geshe-la” means spiritual teacher, though his impact reaches far beyond any one set of religious tenets.
Though he initially visited the University of Arkansas as a Fulbright Scholar on a one-semester appointment after 25 years of intensive study at the Drepung Loseling Monastery University in South India, Dorjee made such an impression on both his colleagues and students that he was asked to stay. Less than two years later, he was granted the University’s top teaching award, generally reserved for faculty members who have been teaching for more than 10 years. Above all, Dorjee aims to champion education and cultural awareness, and his is truly a unique and insightful perspective that resonates across cultures and generations.
Dorjee’s public lecture, open to the campus and local communities, comes half way through a week of guest lectures to various classes within SUU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Most recently, Dorjee received the 2011 Omni Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology Faculty Award, which recognizes exceptional research, teaching, and service by faculty who promote a culture of peace and the study of nonviolence.
Other principal projects of Geshe-La include Tutors for Tibetans, a growing program which provides tutors and basic school supplies to the Tibetan children who currently live in the nine refugee camps around Drepung Loseling Monastery, as well as a summer institute in development with the Tibetan Alliance of Chicago for the education of Tibetan children in their cultural heritage. Geshe-La continues in his leadership and sponsorship of the Minyak Khangtsen at Drepung Loseling Monastery. He also maintains full Buddhist Chaplaincy duties and teaches bi-weekly dharma classes in Fayetteville.