Like a Waking Dream: The Autobiography of Geshe Lhundub Sopaby Lhundub Sopa
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.
“Like a Waking Dream is a fascinating memoir of a well-lived life, the story of a poor Tibetan boy who grew up to become one of the most eminent Buddhist scholars of his time, and in exile, a major influence on the study of Tibetan Buddhism in America.The bulk of the book is devoted to Geshé Sopa’s experiences as a young scholar-monk in Tibet, and as such is an invaluable historical record of the everyday details of a way of life now vanished. Geshé-la recounts his story, sensitively edited by Paul Donnelly, with the simplicity, insight, and sympathy for human foibles that characterize this great teacher. Anyone with an interest in Tibetan culture and religion will relish this wonderful account.”Michael Sweet and Leonard Zwilling, authors of Mission to Tibet
“Geshé Sopa is one of the greatest living Buddhist masters of his generation. A consummate scholar and respected university professor, his impact on the establishment of Buddhism (and Buddhist Studies) in the United States cannot be overestimated. This marvelous life story, rich in detail and told in his own words, will captivate the hearts and minds of anyone who reads it.”José Ignacio Cabezón, Dalai Lama Professor and Chair of the Religious Studies Department, UC Santa Barbara
“Spanning from the Tibetan Himalayas to the rolling hills of Wisconsin, the story of how Geshé Sopa, a Buddhist monk revered and respected worldwide for his insightful scholarship and tireless teaching, came to be who he is today is filled with warmth, compassion, and joy. When I first met Geshé Sopa as a nineteen-year-old college student in the 1960s, little did I know that I was in the presence of a great Tibetan Buddhist master. His magnificent charm and insightfulness have profoundly affected my life and will surely affect yours too. For anyone interested in how such a master is made and how to live an exemplary life with grace and wisdom, this book is a must read.”Zorba Paster, host of PRI's On Your Health and author of The Longevity Code: Your Prescription for a Longer, Sweeter Life
“Geshé Sopa’s life story is central to the story of Tibetan Buddhism in the West. In shaping generations of leading American scholars of Tibet, he became renowned not just for teaching Buddhist ideas and ideals, but for making them real by personally embodying them.”John Makransky, Associate Professor of Buddhism, Boston College and author of Awakening through Love
- Wisdom Publications MA
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Meet 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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