Born in Haiti, Thupten Phuntsok (Irnst Norgaisse) came to New York with his two sisters when he was nine years old and was ordained as a novice monk by Sermey Khensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche in 1993. He received his Full Ordination (Gelong) the following year. Phuntsok has been a formal student of Buddhism for over 30 years. He started his formal Buddhist education under the guidance of Kyongla Rato Rinpoche, the tenth reincarnation of the Kyongla line and eight years later he met his main teacher, the late Sermey Kensur Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Tharchin. He studied all the stages of the path under the direct guidance of Sermey Kensur Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Tharchin until his passing in 2004. He has been teaching Buddhist philosophy and meditation for over 20 years.