DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

I started out in my PhD intending to learn more about early Indian (Pali) Buddhism, which I'd learned about in Thailand. Like most, I was having a hard time pinning down a specific dissertation topic. I wanted a text that would speak about the ethical questions that most interested me, with connections to the related topics of emotions, consciousness and metaphysics, and I'd had a hard time finding a good one.

 

Then, I was teaching a small seminar to students where I had them read a work by Śāntideva, in the different, later Mahāyāna tradition. I had previously been somewhat unsympathetic to Śāntideva; in a paper I presented at a University of Toronto graduate student conference, I interpreted him through a semi-Freudian lens as a moral masochist. But in the seminar I wound up energetically defending Śāntideva's ideas on anger and patient endurance to skeptical students. As I chatted with one student after class, he told me "I get the impression you really like this text" - and I realized he was right. My student had figured out something about me that I hadn't figured out myself. After that, everything fell into place.

 

You can read my final dissertation online. It explores Śāntideva's ethical reasoning, especially on questions of emotional attachment and patient endurance. After finishing it, I wrote a broader encyclopedia article on Śāntideva, which you can view for free  via the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

 

I've also written and presented about several themes of interest that didn't quite fit in the dissertation. I published an article about Śāntideva's ethics of gift-giving in 2013, and another article about the connection between his metaphysics and his ethics in 2015, both at the open-access Journal of Buddhist EthicsI also presented about the literary form of Śāntideva's major work at the seventh Graduate Student Buddhist Studies Conference, at Princeton.

 

While studying Buddhist ideas, I became concerned that scholars of Buddhism were too reluctant to consider constructive philosophical questions arising from Buddhist tradition. I wrote a methodological paper arguing for "constructive Buddhist studies", which I presented in 2004 to both the Dharma Association of North America (DANAM) and to the sixth Graduate Student Buddhist Studies Conference; DANAM published it as a book chapter through Deepak Heritage Books. I'm happy to say that since then the idea of constructive Buddhist studies has become more mainstream, with a group specifically devoted to "Buddhist critical-constructive reflection" now established in the American Academy of Religion

 

I've also engaged actively with others' work in Buddhist thought, conducting online podcast interviews with recent authors at New Books in Buddhist StudiesI've also anonymously reviewed articles and books in the field (so I won't tell you which ones!) - for both the Journal of Buddhist Ethics and Wisdom Publications

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.