MSU to host Buddhist monk the Venerable Tsering Phuntsok Feb. 21-23
By Claire Layne | Feb 9, 2024
MURRAY, Ky. – Murray State University will host the Venerable Tsering Phuntsok from Feb. 21-23. Tsering is a practicing Buddhist monk who entered the monastery in Bir, India, in 1987 at the age of 16.
He studied and practiced the Nyingmapa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, receiving training in meditation, Buddhist scripture/philosophy, tantric ritual, lama dancing and music. The Nyingmapa, a Red Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism, incorporates local religious practices and local deities and elements of shamanism, which is shared with Bon. The group particularly believes in hidden terma treasures. Tsering has received many tantric empowerments and sutra teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and many other High Lamas, including the late H.H. Penor Rinpoche.
For several years, Tsering trained young monks in ritual and academic subjects in Dharamshala, India, the exiled home of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Tsering instructed at the monastery where he trained and worked on projects addressing the needs of Tibetan refugees and Indian people in Dharamshala. For the last 15 years, he has served as a guide and liaison for students volunteering with local non-governmental agencies such as Lha Charitable Trust, the largest volunteer host and coordination organization in the Tibetan refugee community of Dharamsala. His work with the monastery and the Tibetan people brought him to the United States to partner with American universities for study abroad opportunities and to raise awareness and support for the Tibetan people in exile in Dharamshala.
He continued to work on health-related projects for his monastery, raising funds to rebuild a monastic school for boys that was destroyed in an earthquake years ago. He leads retreats in his home country of Nepal – where he also oversees his nieces and nephews – and serves as a liaison to universities in the U.S. Tsering runs a retreat center for young monks out of his house in Kathmandu, Nepal, dividing his time among his family, his monastery outside of Dharmsala, his liaison work with universities in Louisiana and Kentucky and leading personal retreats with Buddhists around the United States.
Jeffrey Wylie, a social work professor at Murray State, described how he met Tsering in 2010 through a graduate school friend, Dr. Ken Casey, at Hopkinsville Community College. Tsering first came to Murray in February 2011, making this his ninth visit to Murray State.
“In the 14 years I have known Tsering,” said Wylie, “he has become my colleague, fellow traveler, teacher, student and friend. Tsering truly has a social worker’s heart and is one of the most spiritual people I know.”
During those years, Tsering has spoken in many classes, made friends in the area, met with Buddhist students on Murray State’s campus and introduced many students and people in the Murray community to Buddhism and principles of love and compassion.
Wylie is preparing Tsering’s lecture forum for the University community and Murray residents. To request Tsering to speak to a class, set up a private meeting or attend an event during his visit, contact Wylie at firstname.lastname@example.org.