Sidney Burris grew up in Virginia and received his B.A. degree in Classical Studies from Duke University. After graduating, he studied in Europe at the University of Vienna (German language and literature), and returned to Duke where he completed a year of German and Greek. At the University of Virginia, he did graduate work in Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit, while eventually taking his Ph.D. in English. He has published two volumes of original verse, a book of literary criticism, and many essays, both critical and personal. He is currently a Professor of English at the University of Arkansas as well as the Director of both The Fulbright College Honors Program and The Religious Studies Program.

A long-time student of Buddhism and Eastern philosophy, Professor Burris met Geshe Dorjee at the Kalachakra Initiation in Toronto in May of 2004. As a result of that meeting, Geshe la completed a week-long residency and teaching at Arkansas in Fall 2004, returned for another week in 2005, and as of 2006 has been in residence full-time at the University of Arkansas where, along with Professor Burris, he is teaching courses in Buddhist philosophy and culture as well as a course in the history and practice of non-violence. Together, Geshe la and Professor Burris founded the Tibetan Cultural Institute of Arkansas and are currently developing a study-abroad program in India, designed to allow Arkansas students to assist in compiling oral histories of the older Tibetans who are currently living in exile.