With the 18 courses of the Asian Classics Institute, Geshe Michael revolutionized the formal study of Buddhism by members of the general public. This had previously been the nearly exclusive realm of Buddhist monks–a realm which virtually excluded women: less than five of the 4,567 scriptures of the traditional Tibetan Buddhist canon, for example, were written by women, and the Geshe course has never been available to them. ACI has changed all this, and produced hundreds of qualified western Buddhist teachers, both male and female, throughout the world.
In 2003, Geshe Michael and Lama Christie McNally, with a group of close friends and students, founded Diamond Mountain University, near Tucson, Arizona. The primary course of study at DMU is advanced Buddhist philosophy–what has been for centuries referred to as the Vajrayana, or “Diamond Way.” For this, Geshe Michael designed a second series of 18 courses of over 4,000 pages of original translation; the first transmission of this series was completed in 2010, and 130 teacher trainees graduated from the first 6-year program, which was offered to every student without any charge or tuition. Again, this is the first time in history that these advanced Buddhist teachings have been passed on to a group of laypeople in an organized course composed exclusively of the complete original texts.
Geshe Michael´s philosophy as an educator is expressed in the concept of Worldview. The first step here is to locate the original ancient texts, and preserve them digitally for future generations. Next these texts are translated into English and other modern languages in an accurate and readable form. These translations are taught to ordinary members of society–from cab drivers to oil tycoons–in a graduated series of courses (such as the 18 Foundational Courses and the 18 Advanced Courses), without charge but with a demanding homework and examination process. These students are then encouraged to become teachers for the next generation.
An emphasis is placed upon information from the ancient translations that can be used in modern times, in real life. Since even a well-translated ancient text can be difficult to incorporate into ones daily life, the helpful essence of these texts is then presented in a user-friendly book or novel for the general public. These in turn are followed up with public talks, seminars, and trainings that help real people with every part of their life: their job, their partner, their family, their health, and their inner spiritual life.
Worldview means a new view of the world which makes one successful in every aspect of life. Its basic tenet is that our reality is shaped by how well we take care of others. Acts of kindness towards others create seeds in the mind that determine everything about the people and the world around us, as reflected in everything from our finances, health, and partner, on up to happiness, peace of mind, and enlightenment itself. This “Diamond Cutter” philosophy has been summed up nicely in a recent interview on National Public Radio. It is thought in many circles globally to have potential application for the recovery of the world economy.
In recent years, Geshe Michael has helped found the Yoga Studies Institute, which provides training in the traditional yoga of Tibet, as well as a series of courses based on Indian classics of yoga such as the Yoga Sutra; the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (Light on the Yoga of Sun and Moon), and the Bhagavad Gita. The idea here is to get the millions of people doing yoga to appreciate and benefit from the deeper meaning of the practice.
Geshe Michael has also helped found Star in the East, an organization which provides Christian churches and individuals with talks and seminars about how to apply Tibetan wisdom and contemplative techniques in their daily practice to come to a more personal communion with Jesus. He has received the National Endowment for the Humanities youth grant of the year award for his work using Tibetan educational methods with minority children, resulting in the publication The Logic and Debate Tradition of India, Tibet, and Mongolia, authored with members of the Kalmyk Mongolian Youth Study Group. In 1978 he helped found the Mahayana Sutra and Tantra Press, for publishing translations of Tibetan works, and in 1995 helped found the Three Jewels family of community outreach centers.