I am an almost-life-long Montanan; a baptized Catholic; an ardent Atheist; a practicing Buddhist; a lover of Wisdom. I find solitude to be as essential as air, though I am at times gregarious, and very often joyful, alone and with others. I laugh at my own jokes, love learning, and love those who truly love… anything. I have certainty in little, and little time for those who are certain of much, though admire those whose certainty leads to service of humankind.
I have a BA and almost an MA in (Western) Philosophy from the University of Montana-Missoula. Also an MA in Buddhist Studies from Bristol University, UK. And I am currently working on a Ph.D. in Buddhist Ethics at Goldsmiths-University of London. Over the course of my Ph.D. studies I have lived in London, Washington D.C., Montana, India, and now, Bristol, UK.
I have also had the good fortune to spend time traveling/studying in China, Taiwan, and Burma (and a little bit in Korea).
My main academic foci are early Buddhist ethics and Kant (an odd combination, I know). I also study Western ethics more broadly, Tibetan Buddhism, Theravada, Buddhism as a whole, Western Buddhism, Comparative philosophy and religion, and Environmental ethics. I have taught university courses in Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Buddhist Philosophy, and World Religions and TAed a number of philosophy courses.
My earliest meditation experiences were as a young child, when my mother taught me visualizations to help me fall asleep. My Buddhist practice began in 2001 as part of a university course on Buddhism, under the guidance of Bodhipaksa (FWBO, now Triratna Buddhist Order). Since then I have practiced with the TBO off and on in Montana and Bristol and was even once invited to give a talk in Spain. Around 2003/4 I began sitting with a Vipassana group and attended my first silent 10-day retreat. I also sat once with the local Soka Gakai International group – “nam myoho renge kyo.” In 2004-05 I studied and practiced in the Tibetan (Geluk) tradition, culminating with a private (though not one-on-one) teaching from H.H. the Dalia Lama. In 2006 I practiced with and did a short retreat/sesshin with a Soto Zen community, the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives. I also attended about a dozen short retreats from 2001-7 with various TBO and Vipassana teachers. I also attended, somewhat by accident, a Pure Land Buddhist service in Calgary, AB.
Since 2007 I have focused my practice on Vipassana, continuing my short retreats (two scheduled long ones have been canceled at the last minute – so I guess I’m well overdue for one of those), as well as retreats with other communities, including two by teachers in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing. I participated in a Catholic ‘Spiritual Exercises’ retreat in 2008. In 2010 I traveled to Taiwan for a 3-week program in Lin-chi Ch’an (Rinzai Zen) philosophy and practice with the Woodenfish program. Since returning to Bristol I have practiced with a community focusing on Samatha (calming) practices.
In terms of all of these practices, I have seen evidence that all ‘work’ to some extent in the lives of most practitioners. None is a magic bullet and none is intrinsically superior to any of the others. In any person there should be a mix of ‘finding what works for you’ and allowing yourself to be changed by the practice. But none will work if isolated from developing a good moral life, good friends to help along the way, and an abiding curiosity about and understanding of the world as a whole.
My artistic outlet is photography. I love to run, drink red wine, and eat peanut butter (often in that order).