Lecturer: Dr. Tom Yarnall
Saturday, August 9th
Time: 1:00– 5:00 pm (with tea break)
Location: Shrine Hall
In this extended double-length session (with tea break!) Tom will cover the full range of topics pertaining to Buddhist theory and practice, traditionally organized into the three inter-related areas of wisdom/philosophy, ethics, and meditation. This year, in particular, Tom will address these topics in the context of leading guided meditation sessions (with detailed commentary), using texts regularly recited at Sakya Monastery, including the Chenrezi Meditation and the Prayer of Samantabhadra. Moreover, Tom will emphasize how such practices can be brought out of the formal meditation context (“off the cushion”) and incorporated into daily life (24/7) to profoundly accelerate a practitioner’s spiritual-psycho-physical development as a human being and an aspiring bodhisattva.
While these sessions will be grounded in scholarly and historical material, Tom’s primary approach and emphasis will be to reveal and discuss on a more personal level how spiritual practitioners can deeply understand, connect to, and organically incorporate these Buddhist perspectives and practices into their lives, moment by moment, day by day, for an entire lifetime (and beyond!). The double-length session format will allow ample time and opportunity for questions and discussion, encouraging full, detailed, personal engagement with the topics covered, at beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels.
The three areas and their sub-topics include the following:
— Buddhist Transcendent Wisdom Teachings. Topics will focus on the wisdom traditions as refined by Centrist (Mādhyamika) philosophers in India and Tibet, and will involve discussions aimed at developing the analytical insights and tools needed to cut through or “deconstruct” misconceptions and misperceptions about the nature of reality and the self, clearing the ground for a “middle,” conventionally viable space in which inter-dependent, relative selves can interact optimally in a field of infinite potential.
— Buddhist Ethics. Topics will include the ethical practices and commitments of each of the Three Vehicles (the Individual, Universal, and Tantric Vehicles), and will involve discussions aimed at developing deeper, more nuanced and practical understandings of “renunciation,” love and compassion, the spirit of awakening (bodhicitta), and buddha-identity and pure perception.
— Buddhist Meditation and Tantric Yoga. Topics will include the contemplative practices of mental focus and quiescence meditation; insight meditation; mind training (lo jong); mindfulness meditation; and Tantric visualization, mantra, and deity yoga practices (the subject of Tom’s recently published book).
Dr. Tom Yarnall is an Associate Research Scholar and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Religion at Columbia University in New York, specializing in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies. He is also the executive editor for the “Treasury of the Buddhist Sciences” series of translations of works from the Tibetan Tengyur (and associated literature), being co-published by the American Institute of Buddhist Studies (AIBS, founded in 1972 at the suggestion of H.H. the Dalai Lama and at the behest of the late Ven. Geshe Wangyal), the Columbia Center for Buddhist Studies, and Tibet House US, and being distributed by Columbia University Press.