Cliff Spencer


Cliff hails from Birmingham, Alabama. Raised in the Presbyterian Church, he followed in his father’s footsteps as an usher, taking collections from parishioners at the age of 5. By his early 20s, he was still searching to define himself spiritually, while working as an actor in New York City. One eventful day he discovered the Three Jewels dharma center and began his studies with the Asian Classics Institute (ACI) and Venerable Ani Thupten Pelma.

In 1997, he took what he learned to LA, where he wrestled with his practice for four years yet continued to investigate the teachings. In 2001, he found the missing ingredient, his heart Teacher, Venerable Sumati Marut, and began learning from him. While studying under Venerable Marut, he also took classes with Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen at Thubten Dhargye Ling dharma center, named by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Inspired by the dharma, Cliff took Refuge and Lifetime Layperson vows from Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen in 2002. Encouraged by how the vows were improving his life, he went on to take Bodhisattva vows in 2003 from Venerable Marut.

Becoming well versed in the path, Cliff graduated from the 18 ACI foundational courses in 2004 and began teaching the ACI curriculum. Venerable Marut soon appointed Cliff the position of Giku (Debate Master) to preside over students learning together the principles of Buddhism through the art form of debate.

In 2005, Cliff became the first President of Mahasukha Center before transitioning into Treasurer after his son was born. He attended terms at Diamond Mountain in Arizona from 2008-2009 and received advanced teachings from Geshe Michael Roach, Lama Christie McNally and Venerable Thupten Pelma. At Lama Marut’s request, he became the Green Tara lineage holder for the Mahasukha community through his studies with Lama Pelma. In 2010, Cliff graduated from the 18 advanced ACI courses and accepted the role of the first Resident Teacher & Spiritual Advisor of Mahasukha Center.

Over the years, Cliff has guided several group retreats and developed a retreat-like lifestyle. This lifestyle consists of raising his son and daughter, running a family business with his wife, keeping up his nearly 20 years of yoga practice, maintaining a daily, deep meditation routine and serving the Mahasukha community. He has been a guest speaker at venues around Los Angeles and taught dharma classes across North America.