I am currently developing a number of research projects. Some are more developed than others, and not all are directly related to each other. The following topics provide a spectrum of interests that I hope to follow in the coming years.
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The Evolution of 'Mindfulness' in Theravāda
I am examining the relations between canonical and commentarial literature. In particular, it intend to study how mindfulness was understood in the proto-commentarial Paṭisambhidāmagga, the commentarial Visuddhimagga, the Saddhammappakāsinī (which has never been translated into English) and relevant passages from the aṭṭhakathā and ṭīkā, especially the Papañcasūdanī and the Līlīnatthappakāsinī-ṭīkā by Dhammapāla. Eventually I am interested to study the changes in the image(s) of 'mindfulness' as it transfers to the West and ultimately to certain clinical contexts.
Buddhism and psychology
I am interested in the appropriation of Buddhism in Western psychological culture. As I seek further funding, I have proposed to address this issue within the History of Medicine, and in the History of Religion. Buddhism has become ever more central in psychology. I propose to study how Buddhist discourses and practices transfer to medical and therapeutic contexts, and to examine the narratives that accompany these transfers. This is connected, in my view, to two rather independent processes. The first is the globalization and secularization of meditation. The other is the growing emphasis in psychology on cost-effective technology and more specifically on cognitive therapy.
Nyanaponika Thera and David Ben-Gurion
In the past months I have worked on a series of unpublished correspondence between the Buddhist monk Nyanaponika Thera and the Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion. As it happens, Ben-Gurion was interested in Buddhism above and beyond what is usually acknowledged in Israel historiography. He traveled to Burma in the 1960 to learn meditation and actively sought to bring Nyanponika to Israel. These letters and other archival material shed light on his complex relations with Judaism, Asia and religion in general.
I am currently preparing the final draft of a Hebrew translation of the dhammapada. I will be published by Pardes with many notes, explanations and an introduction. While working on this translation I developed a taste for literary study and I am now interested the typology of metaphors in Buddhist texts and how they are used.
Buddhism and cognitive science
Following from my PhD thesis, I am working on an article on the relations between Buddhism and cognitive science. I adopt a critical view about the validity of these relations, and suggest that to some extent the similarities that some like to see between the two systems are accidental and stem from very different background assumptions.