Venerable Geshe Sopa Rinpoche
Geshe Lhundub Sopa, was born in 1923 in the Shang principality of Tsang in the western part of Central Tibet. He was ordained a novice monk at the age of nine and entered the famed Gaden Chokor Monastery. In 1941, at the age of eighteen he traveled to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, and was admitted to the Tsangpa House of Sery Jey Monastery.
Geshe Sopa began teaching in Tibet at a very early age. Even before completing his own examinations for the degree of geshe, he was chosen by his Monastery as one of the Dalai Lama's debate examiners during the annual Prayer Festival in 1959.
In 1959, Geshe Sopa sought political asylum in India. In 1962 he sat for the annual geshe examinations in Buxador, India and was awarded the degree of geshe with highest distinction (Lharampa). In that same year, H. H. the Dalai Lama appointed him tutor to three young recognized incarnate monks. The four of them moved to the Lamaist Buddhist Monastery in Freewood Acres, New Jersey. Geshe Sopa stayed here for the next five years.
In 1967, Professor Richard Robinson invited Geshe Sopa to join the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1973 he became Assistant Professor of Buddhist Studies, in 1976 he was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor, and in 1985 to Professor. He has taught Tibetan language, general courses in Buddhist philosophy and specialized doctoral colloquia on a variety of topics in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist thought. He is well-known for his insight into the Mahayana philosophy of emptiness. Geshe Sopa recently retired from his professorship at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
During this time at the university, many students began requesting private instruction outside of a formal academic setting – to meet this need, he founded the Deer Park Buddhist Center in Wisconsin in 1979. He is the center's spiritual head and director. In 1981 Deer Park hosted the first Kalacakra initiation to be offered in the West by His Holiness the Dalai Lama; since then, His Holiness has made five visits to Deer Park to offer scriptural commentary and initiations.