Our mission began from a desire to learn. You are probably familiar with a desire to study Buddhism, but feeling overwhelmed by the amount of concepts, texts, and practices.
There is so much information and it is hard to see where to begin. For this exact reason, Tibetan monastic universities have successfully used a step-by-step system for over a thousand years in training notable scholars and monastics.
It is the same system that Scholastic Institute Chokyi Gyaltsen uses to teach. We follow the same curriculum offered at Sera Jey Monastic University, one of the three largest Geluk monasteries.
This means that our University is the first in Western history to offer the same level of teaching that Buddhist monks and nuns receive in monasteries at Tibet, Nepal, and India. Studies at SICGU go way beyond the elementary courses on Buddhist teachings that are commonly offered both online and offline.
Our teachers include both Western and Tibetan Geshes, award-winning graduates from Sera Jey Monastic University. In addition, our teaching staff includes respected professors holding a PhD in the Tibetan Language.
The teachers at SICGU have decades of training in Buddhist philosophy and the Tibetan language. Our students can be certain that the teaching they receive at SICGU comes from an authentic Buddhist lineage, both online and offline.
You can find out more about our teachers here.
We have all seen some impressive resumés in our lives. But it is hard to find a match for Lobsang Chökyi Gyaltsen.
Born in 1570, Chökyi Gyaltsen studied Buddhist philosophy and scriptures at Tashilhunpo Monastery, becoming abbot after graduating . It was then that he met the fourth Dalai Lama, Yönten Gyatso, who he began teaching according to the Gelukpa lineage.
Gyatso turned out to be a fast learner, and Chokyi Gyaltsen gave him full monastic ordination after his graduation. While teaching the fourth Dalai Lama, Chokyi Gyaltsen worked hard on writing commentaries for various Buddhist texts, as well as biographies of famous Buddhist masters. He was a true scholar in every sense of the word.
Then something unexpected happened. The fourth Dalai Lama died only ten years after assuming power, and the Gelukpa school was left without a leader. There was also a growing conflict between the Geluk and Karma Kagyu schools, which was threatening to plunge Tibet into chaos.
Wasting no time, Chökyi Gyaltsen began searches for the next Dalai Lama, and personally acted as a mediator between the two schools engaged in bloody political rivalry. In addition to being a great scholar, Chökyi Gyaltsen was also a practical man of action.
He eventually succeeded in both of his tasks, bringing peace to Tibet and recognising Lobzang Gyatso as the fifth Dalai Lama. He began training this promising young man, educating him just like the fourth Dalai Lama many years before.
For the rest of his life, Chökyi Gyaltsen acted as a close ally to Lobzang Gyatso, while producing many great classical Buddhist texts and commentaries.
He was regarded as an equal to Je Tsongkhapa himself in the Geluk school – the founder of the entire tradition. Chokyi Gyaltsen had become the celebrity of his day, and no doubt would have been a frequent quest in late night talk shows if those existed back then.
For his great service to Tibet and for his achievements as a scholar, the fifth Dalai Lama gave Chökyi Gyaltsen the title Panchen Lama – meaning “Great Scholar”. This lineage of Panchen Lamas continues even today, and they are the most respected teachers of the entire Geluk school.
Chökyi Gyaltsen’s story is a great source of inspiration for us at SICGU, and our Buddhist University carries the name of this great Gelukpa scholar.
Chökyi Gyaltsen never sought fame or power for himself, instead devoting his life on upholding the lineage and teaching the Dharma to those willing to learn. This attitude is at the heart of Scholastic Institute Chokyi Gyaltsen, and guides all our actions.
The Sera Jey Monastic University was established in 1419. Since then, it has earned renown for its great scholars and skilled debaters, even in the modern era.
Our resident teachers have received their Buddhist education in Sera Jey monastery, and have completed their advanced Geshe degrees there.
In addition, SICGU frequently receives guest teachers from Sera Jey, and maintains close ties to the monastery.