•  1
    Equanimity in Relationship: Responding to Moral Ugliness
    In A Mirror is For Reflection: Contemporary Perspectives of Buddhist Ethics, . 2017.
    In the Buddhist ethical traditions, equanimity along with love, compassion, and sympathetic joy form what are called the four boundless qualities, which are affective states one cultivates for moral and spiritual development. But there is a sense in which equanimity seems very unlike the three others: love, compassion, and sympathetic joy all imply an emotional investment in others, whereas equanimity seems to imply an absence of such investment. This observation has provoked debate as to how to…Read more
  • Buddhist Therapies of Emotion and the Psychology of Moral Improvement
    History of Philosophy Quarterly 3 (32). 2015.
    Buddhist philosophical traditions share the Hellenistic orientation toward therapy, particularly with regard to therapeutic interventions in our emotional life. As Pierre Hadot and Martha Nussbaum have ably argued, for the Hellenistic philosophers, philosophy itself is a therapy of the emotions. In this paper, I shift the focus of the contemporary philosophical literature on therapies of the emotions, which investigates almost exclusively the Hellenistic philosophers, and instead draw on the the…Read more
  •  2
    Both Stoic and Buddhist ethics are deeply concerned with the ethical dangers of attachments. Three dangers stand out: (1) the destructive consequences of overwhelming emotionality, brought on by attachment, both for oneself and others, (2) the dangers to one's agency posed by strongly held, but ultimately unstable, attachments, and (3) the threat to virtuous emotional engagement with others caused by one's own attachment to them. The first two kinds of moral dangers have informed Stoic models of…Read more
  • In Nancy Sherman's discussion of the history of empathy, she notes that it was the English translation of the German Einfühlung - originally a term in aesthetics - which translates literally as "feeling one's way into another." According to Sherman's analysis, the main idea in these early usages of empathy in Western psychological contexts "is that of resonating' with another, where this often involves role taking, inner imitation, and a projection of the self into the objects of perception" (Sh…Read more
  •  1
    In this chapter I analyse two Buddhist moral psychological categories: the brahmavihāras (the four Boundless Qualities), which are the main moral affective states in Buddhist ethics, and the kleśas, or the afflictive mental states. Based on this analysis, I argue for two general claims about moral psychology in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist ethics. First, I argue that Buddhist moral psychology is centrally interested in the psychology of moral improvement: how do I become the kind of person who can resp…Read more
  •  1
    In Buddhist contexts, avidyā refers not only to a lack of knowledge but also (and primarily) to an active misapprehension of reality, a warped projection onto reality that reinforces our own dysfunction and vice. Ignorance is rarely innocent; it is not an isolated phenomenon of just-not-happening-to-know-something. It is maintained and reinforced through personal and social habits, including practices of personal and collective false projection, strategic ignoring, and convenient “forgetting.” T…Read more
  • The Essential Jewel of Holy Practice
    Wisdom Publications. 2017.
    The Essential Jewel of Holy Practice is a vibrant philosophical and ethical poem by one of Tibet’s great spiritual masters. Patrul Rinpoche presents a complete view of the path of liberation from the perspectives of the Madhyamaka understanding of emptiness and the Mahāyāna ideal of compassionate care refracted through the Dzogchen perspective on experience. This yields a sophisticated philosophical approach to practice focusing on the cultivation of clear, open, luminous, empty awareness and of…Read more
  •  5
    In response to Amy Olberding's fascinating and thoughtful book—a book that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone—I will explore a specific kind of problem regarding manners and morality. It is a question that arises at the intersection of good manners, moral self-cultivation, and oppressive social systems: how do we practice good manners in non-ideal, unjust contexts as members of socially disadvantaged groups? Before I begin to address this question, I want to note that I am convinced by Amy's a…Read more
  •  1
    Buddhism and Whiteness: Critical Reflections (edited book)
    with George Yancy
    Lexington Books. 2019.
    In this unprecedented book, contributors use Buddhist philosophical and contemplative traditions, both ancient and modern, and deploy critical philosophy of race, and critical whiteness studies, to address the proverbial elephant in the room – whiteness.
  •  75
    The cultivation of moral feelings and mengzi's method of extension
    Philosophy East and West 61 (4): 587-608. 2011.
    Offered here is an interpretation of the ancient Confucian philosopher Mengzi's (372–289 B.C.E.) method of cultivating moral feelings, which he calls "extension." It is argued that this method is both psychologically plausible and an important, but often overlooked, part of moral life. In this interpretation, extending our moral feelings is not a project in logical consistency, analogical reasoning, or emotional intuition. Rather, Mengzi's method of extension is a project in realigning the human…Read more
  •  40
    A passionate buddhist life
    Journal of Religious Ethics 40 (1): 99-121. 2012.
    This paper addresses the ways that we can understand and transform our strong emotions and how this project contributes to moral and spiritual development. To this end, I choose to think with two Tibetan Buddhist thinkers, both of whom take up the question of how passionate emotions can fit into spiritual and moral life: the famous, playful yogin Shabkar Tsodruk Rangdrol (1781–1851) and the wandering, charismatic master Patrul Rinpoche (1808–1887). Shabkar's The Autobiography of Shabkar provides…Read more
  •  70
    Equanimity and the Moral Virtue of Open-mindedness
    American Philosophical Quarterly 53 (1): 97-108. 2016.
    The author argues for the following as constituents of the moral virtue of open-mindedness: a second-order awareness that is not reducible to first-order doubt; strong moral concern for members of the moral community; and some freedom from reactive habit patterns, particularly with regard to one's self-narratives, or equanimity. Drawing on Buddhist philosophical accounts of equanimity, the author focuses on the third constituent, equanimity, and argues that it is a central, but often ignored, co…Read more
  •  51
    In their excellent new volume, Asian and Feminist Philosophies in Dialogue: Liberating Traditions, editors Jennifer McWeeny and Ashby Butnor offer a vision for philosophy that begins with the insight that philosophy is an activity: it is something that we do rather than simply learn about. As an activity—or even, at times, a performance—philosophy both shapes and is shaped by the social world, a world of power hierarchies, economic realities, and political strategies. Conceiving of philosophy as…Read more
  •  54
    In this article I criticize some traditional impartiality practices in Western philosophical ethics and argue in favor of Marilyn Friedman’s dialogical practice of eliminating bias. But, I argue, the dialogical approach depends on a more fundamental practice of equanimity. Drawing on the works of Tibetan Buddhist thinkers Patrul Rinpoche and Khenpo Ngawang Pelzang, I develop a Buddhist-feminist concept of equanimity and argue that, despite some differences with the Western impartiality practices…Read more