Geshe Sopa's Deer Park

The following article is from the Spring, 1988 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

Deer Park is dedicated to preserving, transmitting, and putting into practice the teaching of Buddhism. To this end, teachers living at Evam Monastery at Deer Park, home of a Madison-based monastic community, and guest teachers offer regular classes on Buddhist philosophical topics, doctrine and specific practices, as well as Tibetan language. Deer Park sponsors intensive programs several times each year, inviting some of the most well-respected Tibetan masters to teach on various Buddhist texts and practices. Deer Park also sponsors numerous group retreats of varying length and has published several books and audio tapes on Buddhism.

The Deer Park monastic community is composed of both Tibetan and Western monks following the traditional moral discipline set out in Buddhist scripture. Geshe Lhundup Sopa is abbott and main teacher at Deer Park. Geshe Sopa was born in 1923 in Tsang province in Western Tibet. He began his monastic training at the age of nine at a small local monastery. At eighteen, he went to Lhasa, where he joined Sera, with which Drepung and Ganden, was one of three great monastic universities near the capital. He not only was an outstanding student, but soon became sought after as a teacher himself. When the young XTVth Dalai Lama took his Geshe exams in 1959, Geshe Sopa was among those chosen to examine him. Like the Dalai Lama and so many other Tibetans, he fled to India in 1959. In 1961 he completed his studies, attaining highest honors in the highest Geshe rank.

In 1963 Geshe Sopa was asked by the Dalai Lama to accompany three young lamas to America. He lived with them at the Lamaist Buddhist Monastery of America in New Jersey, eventually becoming its president. In 1967 he was invited by Professor Richard Robinson, founder of the Buddhist Studies Program of the University of Wisconsin, to come to the Madison campus to teach. He is currently a fiill professor in the South Asian Studies department. In 1978 and again in 1987 he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study in India and Tibet. He has several books and articles in print including The Wheel of Time and The Theory and Practice of Tibetan Buddhism.

At present there are three other resident monks at Deer Park in addition to Geshe Sopa. Also, one of its directors, Gyume Khen Rinpoche, currently Abbott of the Lower Tantric College in Mysore, India, will come to the U.S. in the near future and reside at the monastery.

Deer Park is located amidst the rolling hills and fields of Oregon, Wisconsin, just south of Madison. This site was acquired in anticipation of H.H. the Dalai Lama's arrival for the Kalachakra Initiation in 1981. Teachings and retreats are held in the pavillion built for the Kalachakra. A large house serves as the monastery and includes an office, a library, and a large multipurpose room.

Deer Park offers a number of regular classes on Buddhist doctrine and practice and canonical languages. Weekend teachings are held periodically to accomodate students who must commute from Chicago and other surrounding areas. Pujas and retreats are held throughout the year and, in the summer, Deer Park sponsors an intensive program of classes and retreats.

For further information, please contact Skip Kindy or Elvin Jones, Deer Park, 4548 Scneider Drive, Oregon, WI 53575, 608-835-5572 or 255-5019.

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