with Gareth Sparham
Sunday, November 28, 2010
2:00pm - 4:00pm
Join us for this special talk in which Dr. Gareth Sparham will give an explanation of guru devotion according to his experiences, based on the passage in the Lam rim that says there are two basic approaches: taking each teacher as a guru, or restricting the number of gurus to just a few, depending on personality type.
He will discuss the problem of cultism in Western Buddhism and where he thinks it comes from and how to deal with it. He will then describe the importance of female gurus (dakinis) in our world informed by feminist insights.
He will also discuss the importance of devotional worship in the successful religious life and practical ways to integrate this practice into family and daily life by learning how to see the good in people without losing track of what is right and what is wrong.
Gareth Sparham is a translator. He was born in England and grew up in Canada. He received a BA honors degree in English from McGill University in Montreal in 1970, and after a short spell as a teacher, in 1972 went to India and Nepal to study Buddhism. In 1974, with other early students of Lama Zopa and Lama Yeshe, he traveled to Bodh Gaya to meet the Dalai Lama and ordained as a monk. He then lived for most of the next twenty-five years in Dharamsala, India, studying and practicing Buddhism at the Buddhist Dialectic Institute. During the 1980s he spent his winters at the University of British Columbia studying Sanskrit, where he completed his PhD in Asian Studies in 1989. After returning to live full time in India in 1992, he built a small retreat house in the mountains above Dharamsala, remaining there until he returned to North America in 1998 to teach Tibetan and Sanskrit at the University of Michigan. He turned back from the homeless life in 2003 and married Janet Seding, a friend from the 1960s, with whom he now lives in Toronto and Walnut Creek.
Since taking retirement from the University of Michigan in 2009, he has devoted himself to translation. His many published translations from Tibetan and Sanskrit include the first three of four volumes of Tsongkhapa’s long commentary on the Perfection of Wisdom, shorter works by Tsongkhapa on Buddhist tantric morality and guru-devotion, and the opening section on the six perfections from Tsongkhapa’s Long Treatise on the Stages of the Path. He has also published translations of a treasure text on the practice of Vajrasattva, Khunnu Lama’s famous work on bodhicitta, and translations of a number of more recent works in Tibetan, amongst them Memoirs of a Tibetan Lama, the autobiography of Losang Gyatso.