I study the earliest centuries of Buddhism in China, driven by the conviction that it is in this period (up to the ṣixth century CE) that there take form the fundamental features of this sub-tradition of Buddhism, as distinct from the South Asian and the Tibetan sub-traditions. I read history in order to more critically understand the present, and in order to retrieve from the past resources for the constructive engagement with problems of contemporary relevance.
In my dissertation, “Anxiety of Emptiness: Sengrui, Self, and Scripture in Early Medieval Sinitic Buddhism,” I explore how, in the early fifth century, competing conceptions of selfhood inform rivaling views of scriptural authority. My main contribution is a new perspective on the historical roots of the "original awakening" ideal, the metaphysical or soteriological view according to which all beings are already Buddhas, they just need to rediscover this fact, a view that will later become central to the Chan/Zen tradition, and that through it will contribute substantially to the making of modernist Buddhism.
Cuisine of choice to subsist off of for the rest of his life: Italian