With deep sadness, we announce the loss of our dear friend and spiritual brother, Professor James Blumenthal (“Jim”), who passed away in the early hours of October 8, 2014. Maitripa College has created a memorial at http://maitripa.org/resources-jim/

Office: 541-737-8597

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Affiliated with: 
Philosophy Department
Research/Career Interests: 


Indian and Tibetan Intellectual History, Mahayana Buddhist Philosophy, Contemporary Buddhist Thought, Justice


Speakers (L to R) Dr. James Blumenthal, Khenpo Jampa Tenphel Rinpoche, and Karl Brunnhölzl discuss a question from the audience at Maitripa College.Jim Blumenthal has been on the faculty at Oregon State University since completing his Ph.D. in 1999 and is also currently on the faculty at Maitripa College in Portland. His research is in the history of Indian and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. Blumenthal's primary areas of interest are in Indian and Tibetan intellectual history, Buddhist hermeneutics, Mahayana Buddhist philosophy, theories of non-violence, and religious based social justice movements.

His first book, The Ornament of the Middle Way: A Study of the Madhyamaka Thought of Śāntarakṣita (2004) investigates the eighth century Indian Buddhist philosopher's thought along with Tibetan interpretations of the same. Included in the study are translations of Śāntarakṣita's seminal text, The Ornament of the Middle Way, along with important philosophical materials from the Tibetan which have never before been available in Western languages including rGyal-tshab's dbU ma rgyan gyi brjed byang (Remembering 'The Ornament of the Middle Way').

Blumenthal also edited an anthology entitled Incompatible Visions: South Asian Religion in History and Culture (2006) which includes essays from a number of leading scholars in the field addressing some of the ironies and inconsistencies found in and at the crossroads of South Asian Religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Islam. His own contribution is an article entitled, "Ambedkar's Buddhism,The Four Noble Truths, and Social Justice: A Doctrinal Appraisal."

jim_on_jokangpotalaHe is the co-author and editor (with Geshe Lhundup Sopa) of Steps on the Path: A Commentary on the "Shamatha" Chapter of Tsongkhapa's Lamrim Chenmo (2012) in addition to more than 40 articles in academic journals, books, and popular periodicals on various aspects of Buddhist thought and practice.

In 2004, Blumenthal had the honor of translating Nagarjuna's Sixty Stanzas of Reasoning for His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the occasion of His teaching on the text in Los Angeles.

Jim has spent nearly three years in Asia, primarily living in Tibetan refugee communities in India and Nepal.
After his B.A. and before returning to grad school, Blumenthal worked for the international environmental group, Greenpeace, for four years and was active with several other organizations working for peace and social justice. This work led to several arrests for participation in non-violent acts of civil disobedience. He remains committed to issues of peace and justice.


Select Publications

 Steps on the Path:
A Commentary on the "Shamatha"
Chapter of Tsongkhapa's
Lamrim Chenmo

co-author and editor
with Geshe Lhundup Sopa

 The Ornament of the Middle Way

Incompatible Visions:
South Asian Religion in History and Culture;

(Center for South Asia,
University of Wisconsin--Madison, 2006)

The Ornament of the Middle Way:
A Study of the Madhyamaka
Thought of Śāntarakṣita

(Snow Lion Publications, 2004)

The Ornament of the Middle Way

Articles and Chapters

  • 2012    "Some Observations Regarding Śāntarakṣita's Yogācāra-Madhyamaka Syncretism" in
    Yogācāra and Madhyamaka: Complementary or Conflicting Systems? Jay Garfield and Jan
    Westerhoff (Eds.) New York: Oxford University Press (forthcoming).
  • 2012    "Indian Mahāyāna" in A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy. Steven Emmanuel (Ed.) San
    Francisco: Wiley-Blackwell (At press.).
  • 2012    “Remarks on the dGe-lugs-pa Analysis of Śāntarakṣita’s Views on the Two Truths ” in
    Contributions To The Study of the Thought of Śāntarakṣita. ed. by Marie Friquegnon and Noe
    Dinnerstein. Binghampton, New York: Global Scholarly Publications
    Press,  SUNY  Binghamption. (At press).
  • 2011    "Considering Justice in Contemporary Buddhist Thought" in Buddhist Virtues in Social and
    Economic Development. Dion Peoples (Ed.). (Thai and Chinese translations available) Bangkok,
    Thailand: International Association of Buddhist Universities and Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya
  • 2011    "Some Considerations  for the Standardization of Buddhist Technical Terminology in English"
    Proceedings from the Tengyur Translation Conference. American Institute of Buddhist Studies,
    Columbia University. http://www.aibs.columbia.edu/tengyur2011/?q=node/132
  • 2010    "The Ever-Changing Forms of Buddhism" in Mandala: A Tibetan Buddhist Journal.
    July-August, 2010.
    Re-published online on the website Tibetan Buddhism Goes West...
    http://info-buddhism.com/index.html  September, 2010.
  • 2009    "Dynamic Aspects of Śāntarakṣita's Presentation of the Two Truths" Journal of Asian
    .  Volume 19.1.
  • 2009    “Śāntarakṣita’s “Neither-One-Nor-Many” Argument from The Ornament of the Middle Way
    : A Classical Buddhist Argument on the Ontological Status of Phenomena” Buddhist
    Philosophy: Essential Readings
    . Jay Garfield and William Edelglass (Eds).  New York: Oxford
    University Press.
  • 2002    “Remarks  on the  dGe-lugs-pa  Analysis  of  Śāntarakṣita’s  Views  on  the  Status  of
    Hinayana Arhats” in The International Indian Journal of Buddhist Studies. no. 3: 33-5,
    2002. Varanassi, India.