Lecturer: Dr. Tom Yarnall
Sunday, June 17, 2018
Time: 1 pm – 5 pm
Location: Shrine Room
Suggested contribution: $20 Non-Members, $15 Members
In this extended session (with tea breaks!) Tom will cover the full range of topics pertaining to the theory and practice of Buddhist “higher education” (adhiśikā), traditionally organized into the three inter-related areas of wisdom (prajñā), ethics (śīla), and meditation (samādhi). While these presentations 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!
Tom will address these topics in the context of leading guided meditation sessions (with detailed commentary), using texts regularly recited at Sakya Monastery, including An Ocean of Compassion and the Aspiration of Samantabhadra.
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 (śamatha), insight meditation, (vipaśyanā), mindfulness meditation, mind training (lo jong) and Tantric visualization, mantra, and deity yoga practices.
Dr. Tom Yarnall has been a Buddhist practitioner and a student of lamas from all four orders of Tibetan Buddhism for almost four decades. He has been a student of H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche’s and a member at Sakya Monastery since 1979. He also has been a very popular summer teacher at Sakya Monastery for many years, teaching a wide range of subjects. This will be a rare opportunity to benefit from his highly accessible Dharma presentations and to engage with him in an extended dialogue.
Dr. Yarnall earned his Ph.D. in Religion (Buddhist Studies) at Columbia University in New York, where he has remained for the last twenty-five years, and where he currently is an Associate Research Scholar and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion. He specializes in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies, teaching courses in Buddhist history, philosophy, ethics, and contemplative sciences. 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) and Wisdom Publications, in collaboration with the Columbia Center for Buddhist Studies and Tibet House US, and being distributed by Wisdom Publications.
Dr. Yarnall’s own scholarly work has focused on Mādhyamika philosophy, Buddhist ethics, and especially on Indian and Tibetan Tantric materials of the Unexcelled Yoga class, as interpreted by the Tibetan Gelug and Sakya traditions. His study and translation of the creation stage chapters of Tsong Khapa’s Great Treatise on the Stages of Mantra (sngags rim chen mo) was published by AIBS in June 2013.