Buddhist Scholar, Teacher and Writer
Mind & Life Institute
Senior Scholar (2013-14)
Montserrat College of Art
Assistant Professor, Philosophy and Liberal Arts (1987-1990)
Barre Center for Buddhist Studies
Core Faculty (1990-2015)
Senior Scholar (2006-2014)
Executive Director (1994-2012)
Special Student. University of Sri Lanka (Peredeniya) 1980
Pali, Buddhist Studies (Mentor: Lilly de Silva)
Special Student. Harvard University 1980-85
Sanskrit, Pali, and Buddhist Studies (Mentor: Masatoshi Nagatomi)
M.A. Lancaster University (UK) 1979
Buddhism, Hinduism and Sanskrit
Thesis: The Doctrine of No-Mind and the Problem of Insentience in Zen Buddhism and Taoism
B.A. University of Colorado 1977
Philosophy and Religious Studies (double major)
Religious Studies (Mentor: Ninian Smart)
Thesis: Interdependent Origination and Cessation: the paticcasamuppadaas a model of early Buddhist liberation
My studies started in philosophy because it promised to ask the largest questions (though I found the field narrowing as it progressed through the ages). Exposure to Chinese philosophy widened that scope considerably, and the study of Sanskrit and Pali gave me access to the rich Indian traditions where philosophy plays a supporting role in a much larger investigation of meaning. I gravitated, quite naturally it seems, to the teachings of the historical Buddha because of their remarkably clarity, profundity, accessibility, and universality.
I started meditating very early in this exploration, as practice seemed to be such an obvious and necessary tool for engaging with Buddhist studies. The Buddha's teaching is all about examining and understanding the field of lived experience, and it became central to my approach that the study of Buddhist texts and the practice of insight meditation be thoroughly integrated--as I think they were always meant to be.
After beginning a conventional academic career, I left college teaching to become the first executive director of the Insight Meditation Society, and helped to establish and develop the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. These are institutions that are trying to live these experiential teachings in a contemporary context, and I am proud of the contributions I have made there to the larger project of rolling the wheel of Dhamma a bit further down the road. Over two and a half decades in Barre, I saw the once fringe phenomenon of meditation become mainstream, the once obscure teachings of the Buddha become popular, and helped to connect the classical teachings of the Buddha to many modern movements, including health (via MBSR), psychology (via the Institute of Meditation and Psychotherapy), and the scientific understanding of consciousness (via the Mind & Life Institute).
Currently I am pursuing these interests as an independent scholar, teacher, and writer, and have started the Integrated Dharma Institute as a vehicle for continuing work in the this field. The Institute provides quality materials and ongoing support to student who want to investigate as directly as possible the original teachings of the Buddha, both as they are found in the earliest Pali texts and as they are encountered in one's own lived experience.
Insight Meditation Society
Executive Director (1990-1996)
Untangling Self: A Buddhist investigation of who we really are.
Wisdom Publications (2016)
Unlimiting Mind: The radically experiential psychology of Buddhism.
Wisdom Publications (2010)
On the Ganges, 2007
Integrated Dharma Institute
Senior Scholar (2015-present)
Amherst College (S 2017; S 2013)
Smith College (S 2014; F 2010)
Hampshire College (F 2013)
Harvard Divinity School (F 2012; F 2011; F 1998; F 1997)
Lesley University (S 2012)
Brandeis University (S 2006; F 2006)
Harvard University (F 1996)
Connecticut College (S 1989; S 1990)
Bryant University (F 1988)