Phillip Stanley | 303-245-4728

Professor, Religious Studies
Core Faculty


BA in Religious Studies
Contemplative Religions
Indo-Tibetan Buddhism
Master of Divinity


PhD, University of Virginia
MBA, University of Michigan
MA, University of Virginia
BA, University of North Carolina-At-Chapel-Hill

From the heart

In contemplative education, a very different approach is modeled for a new student by the teachers and other students, in which one takes an attitude of delight and inquisitiveness in one's studies; one discovers a natural sense of confidence and exertion, a sense that one has the innate capacity to master the material at hand, whatever it is. In this way, study becomes an expression, a celebration even, of one's innate abilities. This is directly opposite to the anxiety-producing materialistic approach to education, in which one tries to motivate oneself with self-deprecation and doubt-plagued hope and fear. And not only do students discover personal enjoyment in the contemplative approach to study, they also discover that they can do well in their courses as a natural result of trusting their intrinsic abilities.


Select honors and awards:

International Association of Buddhist Universities grant, 2015-2017, as Co-Convener of the Union Catalog of Buddhist Texts (UCBT), to launch Phase I of the UCBT, a modern website catalog for the Theravada Pali canon, including searchable text files for each text and image files for all 17,000+ pages in the 45 volumes of the Mahachulalongkornrajavidyala University edition of the Pali canon and of its Thai translation of the entire Pali canon, with other editions to be added later.

President's Faculty Award, Naropa University, 2009 Graduation Ceremony

National Endowment for the Humanities grant, June 2006 to May 2009, as Co-Principal Investigator, The Tibetan Buddhist Canonical Collections Cataloging Project, a joint project of Naropa University and the University of Virginia, with additional support from The Library of Congress and the British Library. See website catalog of 5,250+ texts and 230,000 folio sides at

Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Research Abroad Program (India, 11 months), 96/97.

Recent publications/exhibits/performances

Member, Compiling Committee, Common Buddhist Text. Bangkok, Thailand: International Council of the Day of Vesak (ICDV), forthcoming c. 2015. A non-sectarian collaboration of the range of Buddhist traditions to create a comprehensive selection of primary texts representing their traditions, funded by the Royal Thai Government through the International Council of the Day of Vesak. Served as representative of the Tibetan Vajrayāna tradition.

Juried Chapter: "The Tibetan Buddhist Canon." In Poceski, Mario, ed. The Wiley Blackwell Companion to East and Inner Asian Buddhism. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2014 (in press).

Book: Primer of Classical Literary Tibetan, with materials from John Rockwell's A Primer for Classical Literary Tibetan, with his permission. Used in language courses at Naropa University for since 2000. 12th edition, 2012. 266 pages.

Member, Editorial Committee, Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Universities, Vol. III, 2012.

Co-Translator with Dr. Karl Brunnhölzl of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche's The Gateway that Reveals the Philosophical Systems to Fresh Minds. Halifax: Nitartha Institute, 2010.

* Translated the major additions for the 2nd and 3rd revised editions (2008, 2010)

Co-Author with Jirka Hladis: Developing Debate Skills–A Nitartha Institute Teacher's Manual. Halifax, NS, Canada: Nitartha Institute, 2009

Article: "The Ethics of Interpreting Buddhism in a Pluralistic Context." In The IABU Conference on Buddhism and Ethics Symposium Volume from the 2008 First International Conference of the International Association of Buddhist Universities. Wang Noi, Thailand, September 13-15, 2008, pp. 331-342.

Research/scholarship/creative activity summary

  • Dr. Stanley serves as the Dean of Academic Affairs for Nitartha Institute ( that is dedicated to translating and teaching an entire nine-year Tibetan monastic university curriculum in English. In the third year of a four-year project, Dr. Stanley is translating the VIIIth Karmapa's three volume Tibetan commentary on the Indian text, Treasury of Higher Knowledge (Abhidharmakosha), which is being taught for a month each by a traditional scholar of the Tibetan tradition, Acharya Kelzang Wangdi. Dr. Stanley is currently translating chapter 6 for the teaching this May-June 2016. Dr. Stanley is being trained to teach the Indian root text with Tibetan commentary in English as part of the Advanced Curriculum of Nitartha Institute.
  • Dr. Stanley is Vice Chair of the Executive Committee of the International Association of Buddhist Universities (IABU,, which holds academic conferences and publishes the Journal of the IABU to further scholarship on Buddhism and promote understanding between Buddhist traditions. The IABU Executive Committee also meets jointly with the International Council of the Day of Vesak to plan for the United Nations Day of Vesak commemoration that brings leaders of the range of Buddhist teachers together each year.
  • Dr. Stanley is Co-Convener of the Union Catalog of Buddhist Texts project (UCBT). The overall goal of the UCBT project is to link the online catalogs and electronic texts for all the canons of Buddhism—including Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese, Tibetan, and Mongolian—into a single unified catalog. The UCBT will correlate all the texts of these canons and provide easy access to all the resources of these online catalogs. This is a project of the IABU that is supported by Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University (MCU) in Thailand, with funding from the Royal Thai Government. (See Honors/Awards above for description of Phase 1, the launch of a website catalog for the Theravada Pali canon.)

Courses taught

  • REL274/503 Tibetan 1
  • REL284/533 Tibetan 2
  • REL375/553 Tibetan 3
  • REL603 Tibetan 5 
  • REL240 Foundations of Buddhism
  • REL624 Mind and Its World 2
  • REL620 Meditation Practicum 2: Self and No-Self
  • REL701 The Middle Way School
  • REL705 The Mind Only School
  • REL720 Buddha Nature
  • REL751 Buddhism in Tibet

Describe a moment when you helped a student reach an “ah ha” or transformational moment.

When discussing in a class on Buddhist psychology how painful emotions come about, the issue arises of how much responsibility do we have for their own emotions. One might feel that emotions are like weather patterns that one has no control over; they are natural occurrences given the current state of affairs, like the emotions one has in dealing with a difficult arrogant person. One might blame such a person as provoking one's emotions that one feels are merely natural reactions given the circumstances. However, if you are asked to consider how different people have very different emotions towards similar situations, e.g., with regard to this same difficult person, how can that person be the same cause for all the different emotional responses? One does not necessarily have to react to them with anger, indignation, resentment, and what have you. Instead, you could feel compassion for them, a longing to be of help to them. During such discussions students often have an epiphany about how they are active agents in how they react emotionally to their life situations; their emotions are not simply due to others or the external situation. Understanding this, they realize they could actively change their emotions, even their habitual emotions.