Buddhist Teacher Looking to Make Telluride Home

by Martinique Davis, Telluride Watch, Jul 10, 2008

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." – His Holiness the Dalai Lama

TELLURIDE, CO (USA) -- He is a pioneer in initiating a “quantum shift” toward worldwide peace and our sustainability as a species. And he lives right in our midst.

Tibetan monk and Buddhist teacher Geshe Ngawang Phuntsok, who studied for over 20 years in India and holds a doctorate in Buddhist Philosophy, has come to Telluride to present a partial solution to the challenges we currently face through the teachings of Asanga (which means “without attachment”).

Geshe will be at Siam Restaurant in Telluride on Saturday, July 12 at 2 p.m.; the event is an opportunity for the community to get to know Geshe, as well as an occasion to devise a means for Geshe to become a more permanent member of the Telluride community.

Ridgway’s Bob Daley, a member of the Montrose-based Asanga Institute and organizer of Saturday’s lunch, explains that Geshe would like to find residence in Telluride in order to expand his teachings within the community.

“Geshe views Telluride as a world leader in demonstrating the consciousness of peace and sustainability, which is crucial in creating and sustaining the quantum shift we must go through as a species to survive and transform,” Daley says, adding that the goal of Saturday’s lunch is to explore housing options. Geshe pans to continue his teaching at the Telluride Yoga Center and resume interfacing with different organizations, which in the past have included Mountainfilm, the Telluride Academy, Telluride Institute, and the Ah Haa School.

Geshe was born in 1965, in Arunachal Pradesh in Eastern India, and attended school there until 1982, when he joined the Tibetan Drepung Loseling Monastery in South India. He received his doctorate in Buddhist Philosophy in 2001, after which he came to the United States and taught for three years with the South Carolina Dharma Group in Columbia. In 2006, Geshe was invited to Montrose to establish a Dharma Center.

During the past two years, Geshe has frequently visited Telluride, teaching Buddhist mindfulness and compassion periodically at the Telluride Yoga Center. He also spoke with the children of the Telluride Academy before their trip to India, helped the Telluride Institute by translating for the Tibetan grandmother at the Indigenous Grandmother’s Event in the fall of 2007, helped create the sand mandala at Ah Ha School during Mountainfilm, and participated in the 2006 Peace March.

Geshe is one of only 10 such scholars in the world who speak English. “It’s quite an opportunity for the town of Telluride to have a Geshe in its midst,” says Daley, who works closely with Geshe to offer the Buddhist teachings of peace and compassion in the region.

“We ask that those of you who can find it in your heart to share your energy, finances or maybe even housing to join Geshe for lunch and to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s birthday,” Daley says. (The Dalia Lama’s birthday is actually July 6, but will be celebrated in Telluride at the lunch this Saturday, July 12.)

Daley can also be reached at 626-3256, and Geshe at 718/685-8717.