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Like a Waking Dream: The Autobiography of Geshe Lhundub Sopaby Geshe Lhundup Sopa
Synopses & Reviews
Among the generation of elder Tibetan lamas who brought Tibetan Buddhism west in the latter half of the twentieth century, perhaps none has had a greater impact on the academic study of Buddhism than Geshe Lhundub Sopa. He has striven to preserve Tibetan religious culture through tireless work as a professor and religious figure, establishing a functioning Buddhist monastery in the West, organizing the Dalai Lama's visits to the U.S., and offering countless teachings across the country. But prior to his thirty-year career in the first ever academic Buddhist studies program in the United States - a position in which he oversaw the training of many among the seminal generation of American Buddhist studies scholars - Geshe Sopa was the son of peasant farmers, a novice monk in a rural monastery, a virtuoso scholar-monk at one of the prestigious central monasteries in Lhasa, and a survivor of the Tibetan uprising and perilous flight into exile in 1959.
In Like a Waking Dream, Geshe Sopa frankly and observantly reflects on how his life in Tibet - a monastic life of yogic simplicity - shaped and prepared him for the unexpected. His is a tale of an exemplary life dedicated to learning, spiritual cultivation, and the service of others from one of the greatest living masters of Tibetan Buddhism.
From the time he was a child, Geshe Sopa knew he would be a Buddhist lama. He was not picked like other lamas to inherit the estate of a deceased master as a reincarnate tulku. Born the only child of older farmers, he was allowed to become a monk only through personal persistence. He diligently worked his way up through the ranks of his provincial monastery and eventually become one of the most accomplished scholars of the central monastery in the capital, Lhasa, where he even served as the debate partner of the present Dalai Lama. He witnessed firsthand the turbulent political changes in his homeland during the 1950s, and upon the takeover of Tibet by Chinese Communist forces in 1959, he fled over the Himalayas and went into exile in India. The Dalai Lama chose him in the early 1960s to be part of a delegation sent to the United States under a Rockefeller grant, living first in New Jersey and in 1967 going to Madison, Wisconsin, where he has since lived. There, he began as a lecturer and eventually became a full professor at the University of Wisconsin, training some of todays most well-regarded scholars of Tibetan Buddhism in the U.S. He also founded Deer Park Buddhist Center in Oregon, Wisconsin, which has played host on numerous occasions to large events with the Dalai Lama, including the first Kalachakra initiation given in the West in 1981. Now retired and nearly ninety years old, Geshe Sopa continues to teach and to publish. This account of his years in Tibet preserves valuable insight and details about a now-vanished world.
Prior to his thirty-year career in the first-ever academic Buddhist studies program in the United States, Geshé Sopa was the son of peasant farmers, a novice monk in a rural monastery, a virtuoso scholar monk at one of the prestigious central monasteries in Lhasa, and a survivor of the Tibetan uprising and perilous flight into exile in 1959. In Like a Waking Dream, Geshé Sopa frankly and observantly reflects on how his life in Tibet, a monastic life of yogic simplicity, shaped and prepared him for the unexpected. The account of his years in Tibet preserves, as well, valuable insight and details about a now-vanished era of Tibetan religious culture. His is a tale of an exemplary life dedicated to learning, spiritual cultivation, and the service of others from one of the greatest living masters of Tibetan Buddhism.
About the Author
Born in the Tsang region of Tibet in 1923, Geshe Lhundub Sopa is both a spiritual master and a respected academic. He rose from a humble background to complete his geshe studies at Sera Je Monastic University in Lhasa with highest honors and was privileged to serve as a debate opponent for the Dalai Lama's own geshe examination in 1959. He moved to New Jersey in the United States in 1963 and in 1967 began teaching in the Buddhist Studies Program at University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is now professor emeritus. In 1975, he founded the Deer Park Buddhist Center in Oregon, Wisconsin, site of the Dalai Lama's first Kalachakra initiation granted in the West. He is the author of several books in English, including the five-volume comprehensive teaching, Steps on the Path to Englightenment.
In 1989, Paul Donnelly entered the PhD program in Buddhist Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He earned his doctorate in 1997 and is now an associate professor and director of the Religious Studies program at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.
Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. He frequently describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk. Born in northeastern Tibet in 1935, he was as a toddler recognized as the incarnation of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and brought to Tibet's capital, Lhasa. In 1950, Mao Zedong's Communist forces made their first incursions into eastern Tibet, shortly after which the young Dalai Lama assumed the political leadership of his country. He passed his scholastic examinations with honors at the Great Prayer Festival in Lhasa in 1959, the same year Chinese forces occupied the city, forcing His Holiness to escape to India. There he set up the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, working to secure the welfare of the more than 100,000 Tibetan exiles and prevent the destruction of Tibetan culture. In his capacity as a spiritual and political leader, he has traveled to more than sixty-two countries on six continents and met with presidents, popes, and leading scientists to foster dialogue and create a better world. In recognition of his tireless work for the nonviolent liberation of Tibet, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. In 2012, he relinquished political authority in his exile government and turned it over to democratically elected representatives.
His Holiness frequently states that his life is guided by three major commitments: the promotion of basic human values or secular ethics in the interest of human happiness, the fostering of interreligious harmony, and securing the welfare of the Tibetan people, focusing on the survival of their identity, culture, and religion. As a superior scholar trained in the classical texts of the Nalanda tradition of Indian Buddhism, he is able to distill the central tenets of Buddhist philosophy in clear and inspiring language, his gift for pedagogy imbued with his infectious joy. Connecting scientists with Buddhist scholars, he helps unite contemplative and modern modes of investigation, bringing ancient tools and insights to bear on the acute problems facing the contemporary world. His efforts to foster dialogue among leaders of the world's faiths envision a future where people of different beliefs can share the planet in harmony. Wisdom Publications is proud to be the premier publisher of the Dalai Lama's more serious and in-depth works.
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