What Does a Geshe Do for a Center?
Among the 144 centers and study groups that FPMT has established around the world, only 36 are fortunate enough to retain a resident teacher. The rest have the opportunity to invite touring teachers to visit, and as they develop further through the use of FPMT programs and materials they aim to reach a stage where they feel ready to grow further by requesting Rinpoche to appoint a resident teacher for their center.
Among those centers that are blessed with a resident teacher are 30 that benefit from that teacher being a qualified Tibetan geshe. A degree hard-won in the Tibetan monastic universities by scholar-monks, the title represents not only more than twenty years of rigorous study, but just as many years spent debating philosophical material in monastery courtyards, pushed to deeply examine the truths set forth by the great Buddhist masters.
An FPMT geshe is a qualified geshe requested by Lama Zopa Rinpoche to serve in one of his centers, when that center has a stable, committed community that can support a residence and salary for the geshe, and that is ready to go deeper into Buddhist philosophy and practice. The geshe’s responsibilities at the center are far-ranging. He is there to teach, to provide spiritual guidance, to inspire each student on their path to enlightenment, and is an object of merit as he is ordained. He may be faced with a student who walks through the door unaware of even the basics of Buddhism, as well as the veteran student who has been practicing for thirty years and seeks in-depth study and initiation. He becomes the heart of a center on Rinpoche’s behalf, an invaluable illustration of the need for Tibetan Buddhist students to study and practice in depth in order to develop into qualified teachers for the future.