I am an almost-life-long Montanan; a baptized Catholic; an ardent agnostic; practicing Buddhist things; 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 almost as much as my father, 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.
You can contact me at Buddhistethics AT gmail DOT com.
I have a B.A. and almost an M.A. in (Western) Philosophy from the University of Montana-Missoula. I have an M.A. in Buddhist Studies from Bristol University, UK, where I focused on Tibetan Buddhism and Buddhist Ethics. 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, Bodh Gaya, India, and Bristol, UK.
I have also had the good fortune to spend time traveling/studying in China, Taiwan, Burma , and Thailand (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 Comparative 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).