How Compassion Balances the Nihilism in the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras
with Gareth Sparham

The Perfection of Wisdom scriptures are the most important Mahāyāna Buddhist scriptures. They teach that all things are ultimately empty.  The Perfection of Wisdom scriptures teach that even what is most sacred to Buddhists––Buddhism and the Perfection of Wisdom scriptures themselves––are empty. They say that even what the Perfection of Wisdom scriptures teach is not ultimately true. Balancing this nihilistic teaching is an explanation of a special compassion that is the origin of sacred scripture. This special compassion, united with the ultimate emptiness of things, is the perfection of wisdom. 

Short Video

Additional Materials

Bibliography for Prajñāpāramitā (PDF)


About the Teacher

Gareth Sparham was born in Britain and grew up in Canada. He lived for more than twenty-five years as a monk among Tibetan refugees in India. Gareth received a BA in English (Hons) from McGill University and PhD in Asian Studies from the University of British Columbia. He studied formally at the Rigs lam slob grwa (“Buddhist Dialectic Institute”) in Dharamshala India from 1974 until 1982 and remained closely associated with the Institute until 1998. He then taught Tibetan Language and Sanskrit at the University of Michigan and University of California (Berkeley) for twelve years, leaving to focus on translating Indian and Tibetan Perfection of Wisdom sūtras and commentaries from Tibetan and Sanskrit into English.