Fri. Tsering Phuntsok visits Murray State University in Kentucky

- through Henry Oudin

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The Venerable Tsering Phuntsok, Indian Buddhist monk, is hosted by Murray State University from February 21 to 23. Fri. Tsering has lived as a monk since the age of 16, when he began his studies at the Nyingmapa school of Tibetan Buddhism.

Fri. Tsering came to the United States to gain support for Tibetans living in exile, many of whom were forced to settle in Dharamsala after China's annexation of Tibet in the 1950s.

For over a decade, Ven. Tsering has worked with non-profit agencies such as Lha Charitable Trust to provide assistance to Tibetan refugees as well as the local population of Dharamsala. He has also worked to raise awareness of the refugee crisis by speaking at American universities, while serving as a guide and liaison for American university students wishing to volunteer with local non-governmental organizations in Dharamsala.

Fri. Tsering, originally from Nepal, spends part of each year in his home country, where he runs a retreat center from his home and cares for his nieces and nephews. At the retreat center, he trains young monks in the Nyingma tradition and communicates regularly with universities in Kentucky and Louisiana regarding cultural exchange programs with Tibet.

Additionally, he works on community projects, such as rebuilding a monastic school for boys in Nepal that was destroyed in the 2015 earthquakes. The school was one of 8 schools damaged or destroyed in of the earthquake.


Jeffrey Wylie, professor of social work at Murray State, had this to say about his relationship with Ven. Tsering: “In the 14 years that I have known Tsering, he has become my colleague, traveling companion, teacher, student and friend. Tsering truly has the heart of a social worker and is one of the most spiritual people I know. (Murray Ledger)

Alongside Buddhist texts, tantric initiations are included in the esoteric practices of the Nyingma school, and Ven. Tsering received empowerments from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other eminent teachers. Additionally, he received training in ritual dance, music, meditation and Buddhist philosophy.

The Nyingma school is the oldest school of Tibetan Buddhism, founded in the 8th century by Padmasambhava, a Buddhist monk and ritual scholar who converted Tibet's local deities into protectors of the Dharma through the power of ritual. The main focus of the Nyingma tradition is a system of tantric practice known as Dzogchen, which was taught by Padmasambhava and other Indian masters, such as Vimalamitra and Vairocana.

Padmasambhava worked closely with 108 translators and 25 of his closest disciples around 760 CE, to translate the Buddhist canon into Tibetan. This massive undertaking was spearheaded by King Trison Detsen, who sponsored the project in the hopes that he could help introduce Buddhism to his countrymen.

This current lecture series marks the ninth time that Ven. Tsering visited the university. As part of his visit, Professor Wylie creates a lecture forum to make the Buddhist monk more accessible to the public. To arrange a private meeting or ask Ven. Tsering will be speaking at an event, coordinate with Professor Wylie at (protected email)

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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