In 1993, near the end of his Geshe studies, Geshe Michael determined that he would try to make the entire Geshe program available to westerners in their own language. In that year he worked with Lama Thupten Pelma, a Tibetan Buddhist nun from the Caribbean, to open the Asian Classics Institute in New York. ACI´s first classroom was around the table in a tiny, inexpensive room in the Hell´s Kitchen area of Manhattan, a dangerous section of the inner city. Within a few years this had expanded to an East Village brownstone, with about 100 students attending the Institute´s courses.

Geshe Michael divided the Geshe program into 18 courses and gave the first transmission of these in New York during the 6-year period from 1993-1999, all without any charge to the students. Each course is accompanied by an original translation of about 250 pages of the ancient Tibetan source material, along with homework assignments, quizzes, and a final examination. A high emphasis is placed upon authenticity of the sources: of the many thousands of pages of course materials, there is not a single page which does not include the original Tibetan or Sanskrit text along with its translation.

This Foundation Series of courses is now taught around the world, and is available online for free download at The Knowledge Base. More than 300,000 people download the materials for these courses annually, and they have been translated into many languages.