Buddhist “higher education” (adhiśikṣā) traditionally is divided into the interconnected disciplines of ethics (śīla), wisdom/philosophy (prajñā), and meditation or experiential cultivation (samādhi / bhāvanā). In this introductory series Dr. Tom Yarnall will focus on the theory and practice of ethics (with reference to the other inextricably interrelated higher educations) within the Indian and Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Topics will include the ethical practices and commitments progressively developed within each of the three Buddhist Vehicles (the Individual, Universal, and Tantric Vehicles).

While these sessions will be grounded in scholarly and historical material, Tom’s presentations also will explore how on a personal level interested or committed spiritual practitioners can deeply understand, connect with, and organically incorporate these Buddhist perspectives and practices into their own lives, moment by moment, day by day, for an entire lifetime (and beyond!). The two-hour format will allow ample time and opportunity in each session for questions and discussion, encouraging full, detailed, personal engagement with the topics covered.

DR. TOM YARNALL is an Associate Research Scholar and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion at Columbia University in New York. As a teacher, he specializes in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies, teaching courses in Buddhist history, philosophy, ethics, and contemplative sciences, and in Tibetan and Sanskrit languages. He is also a popular teacher at many Dharma centers and cultural centers on the East and West coasts of the U.S.

As a researcher Dr. Yarnall works with the Columbia Center for Buddhist Studies (CCBS) and the Columbia-affiliated American Institute of Buddhist Studies (AIBS), serving as 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 AIBS, CCBS, and Tibet House US, and distributed by Columbia University Press. He also serves as the Publications Director at Tibet House US.

Dr. Yarnall began his engagement with Buddhism almost 40 years ago (in the late 70s), studying intensively with Tibetan Lamas from all four orders (including H.H. the Dalai Lama, H.H. Sakya Dagchen Rinpoche, Ven. Dezhung Rinpoche, and many others), while earning a B.A. in Religion (Buddhist Studies) at Amherst College in 1983. He later enrolled in the graduate program in Religion (Buddhist Studies) at Columbia University, earning an M.A., an M.Phil., and a Ph.D. (with honors) in 2003.

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. 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 in the “Treasury of the Buddhist Sciences” series in 2013. His forthcoming book, entitled The Emptiness that is Form: The Nonconceptual Embodiment of Buddhahood, contains a detailed analysis and study of the relationship between the view of emptiness and practice of deity yoga in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Tantra.


These Sessions took place at Tibet House US and Jewel Heart New York

An introduction to and overview of the ethics of each of the three Vehicles. In addition to covering key specifics of each, we will explore how the Vehicles form a coherent, systematic progression, enabling practitioners to build on and expand their ethical understandings and commitments as they mature through the Vehicles.

Session 2: 2:13:01

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