John Whitney Pettit

Philologist & Catalogue Curator/Translator
John has been a student of Buddhism, and of Tibetan and Sanskrit languages since the early 1980s, studying with many great teachers from various traditions, most notably H. H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. John is currently mapping a catalogue of our source material for the project and leading edition control. He brings to his role a strong affinity for the sungbum genre and for the rigours of intertextuality and philology. 

John holds advanced degrees in Religion and Buddhist Studies from Harvard, and a PhD from Columbia University. He spent many years researching the writings of Mipham Rinpoche and eventually published his dissertation as Mipham’s Beacon of Certainty (Wisdom, 1999). Since 2005, he has translated Tibetan commentaries and carried out extensive research on the topic of buddhanature (bde gshegs snying po), which is the subject of a forthcoming volume to be published by the Institute of Tibetan Classics. In addition to translating many unpublished liturgies and commentaries related to practice, he has logged countless hours browsing prophetic manuals in the treasure (gter ma) literature, and browsed avidly the fine print of various sadhanas, rituals and mchan-’grel commentaries amongst the collected works (gsungs-’bum) of Tibetan authors. 

Among his favorite leisure activities are making smoke offerings in the mountains, collecting rocks, splitting firewood, observing weather phenomena, crow augury and the night sky, and scouting Catskill lithic constructions, fault lines, grottos and archeological sites.