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Tibetan Buddhist scholar and translator will discuss sacred text

The man who made the Dalai Lama’s upcoming 2008 visit to Lehigh possible—scholar and translator Joshua W. C. Cutler—will speak at Lehigh at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13, in room 200 of Linderman Library.

Cutler will discuss the work that he has spent the past 12 years editing, a translation of an important, early 15th-century work by Tsong-kha-pa, The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, the piece that the Dalai Lama will teach around during his Lehigh visit.

“Joshua and his wife Diana, the co-directors of the Tibetan Buddhist Learning Center in Washington, N.J., have a personal relationship with the Dalai Lama, and he is sometimes a guest of the center, which is dedicated to the promotion of Tibetan Buddhist teaching and religious practice,” says Lloyd Steffen, professor of religion studies and university chaplain. “This talk may be the one in our series that answers most directly questions people may have about the occasion for the Dalai Lama’s visit and how Lehigh University has become involved in it.”

In addition to answering questions from people at Lehigh and the broader community about the visit of His Holiness next summer, Cutler will speak about the sacred text and its significance for Tibetan Buddhism and his work on the 12-year translation project.

“In appreciation for this difficult and labor-intensive project, the Dalai Lama communicated to Joshua that when the work was done, he would come to do a teaching around the text,” Steffen explains. “About two years ago, Joshua began looking for a site where such a teaching could be held, and Lehigh’s many friends urged him to contact the university to see if we could help.”

A conversation was opened by Lehigh officials, and the university is lucky enough that the visit indeed came together.

Cutler’s interest in Tibetan Buddhism started in the late 1960s when he was at Harvard University, where he studied with Dr. M. Nagatomi and then-graduate student Dr. Robert Thurman, now of Columbia University.

Two weeks after graduating in 1970 with a B.A. in English, he moved to New Jersey to live at TBLC and study with its founder, Geshe Ngawang Wangyal. After the founder's death in 1983, Cutler has continued to study, teach, and translate Tibetan Buddhist scriptures with the many Tibetan monk-scholars and American Buddhist scholars who have resided at TBLC over the years.

Steffen says he is grateful to the Friends of the Library who have invited Cutler to come to Lehigh as it will be a most enjoyable and informative talk.

“We are very pleased that Joshua has agreed to give a talk on The Great Treatise, and that he will be available to talk about the collaboration of the Tibetan Buddhist Learning Center with Lehigh University,” Steffen says.

--Elizabeth Shimer Bowers

Posted on Saturday, November 10, 2007

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