This fall, students in Eastern Washington University’s Department of Psychology will spend Thursday afternoons learning principles of compassion and practice from a world-renowned scholar and teacher - Venerable Geshe Thupten Phelgye (Geh-shay Toop-ten Pel-gay).
A Tibetan monk, Phelgye is founder of the Universal Compassion Movement (UMC) and a member of the Dalai Lama’s Parliament-in-Exile. While serving as a Scholar in Residence at EWU, he will offer a seminar on Buddhist psychology. The discussion-focused course will introduce students to the Buddhist world and provide opportunity for experiential learning and focused study.
Additionally, during winter quarter 2013, Phelgye will teach a two-credit course for the College of Arts, Letters and Education. During spring quarter 2013, he will teach a two-credit seminar for international affairs within the departments of government and honors called, Peace and Conflict. While on the Eastern campus, he will have an office in Martin Hall and plans to make time to meet with students.
“We are honored to have the Venerable Phelgye teaching at EWU. This is an amazing and unique opportunity for students,” Jonathan Anderson, chair of the psychology department, said.
In 1973, at the age of 17, Geshe Phelgye became a monk while studying at Seraje Monastic University, and finished his Geshe (a Buddhist academic degree) in 1991. In 1993, he embarked on a five-year meditation retreat in the mountains of Dharamsala under the guidance of the Dalai Lama.
In 1998, with blessing at a private audience with the Dalai Lama, Phelgye founded the Universal Compassion Movement and openly campaigned for vegetarianism around the world.
In 1999, he was elected as the first president of the International Gelug Society, which represents the major monastic tradition in Tibet. Soon after, he was able to pass a resolution that all residents of Gelug monasteries and nunneries become vegetarian.
Apart from his parliamentary works, he has been tirelessly giving talks and teachings around the world advocating compassionate living through vegetarianism, ethical economy for environment protection and world peace through interfaith dialogues.
He has been traveling to many countries including Thailand, Japan, Switzerland, France, Taiwan, Israel, Canada and the United States. In the states, he has visited and spoken at many universities, including Harvard, Wheaton College, Amherst University, University of San Francisco and the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Phelgye previously visited Eastern Washington University in the spring of 2010, meeting with students and administrators. His visit also marked the dedication of a peace pole on the southern end of the campus mall. The hand-crafted pole contains the message “May peace prevail on Earth,” inscribed in four languages.