Jim Blumenthal (1967-2014)
Professor Jim Blumenthal, a wonderful example of a kind human being who skillfully blended practice and scholarship of Tibetan Buddhism, passed away last week. Sadly, Jim was to be present at the recent Translation & Transmission Conference, but was unable to make it due to his declining health. There is a memorial website you can contribute to here: MuchLoved
Maitripa College, which he helped to create, also has a page in honor of Jim: http://maitripa.org/resources-jim/
Bodhisattva’s Breakfast Corner: Remembering Jim Blumenthal
Maitripa College will be hosting A Celebration of Life for Jim on October 26th at 1:30 pm at the World Forestry Center in Portland. Open to all.
It is with a heavy heart that I write to inform you that our friend and colleague James Blumenthal passed away in the early hours of Wednesday, October 8th, 2014, after a courageous battle with cancer over the course of the past year.
Jim was known by his students and his colleagues as a generous, kind, and gentle person. Students at Oregon State University flocked to his courses on the history and philosophy of Buddhism, often forming relationships with him that would last well beyond their academic career at the University. He was a key figure in the development of both Asian Studies and Religious Studies at Oregon State, the latter of which has re-emerged as an academic major program in the School of History, Philosophy, and Religion. He was also a founding faculty member and prized teacher at Maitripa College, a Buddhist College in Portland, Oregon, which is dedicated to transforming higher education through following the model of Indian and Tibetan monastic Universities.
Jim’s academic career in the study of religion began at the University of San Diego, where he received an Honors B.A. in Religious Studies. His graduate training was at the University of Wisconsin, where he studied with Geshe Lhundup Sopa, earning both an M.A. and a Ph.D. while focusing on the work of the Indian teacher Śāntarakṣita. He later published analytical and translation works on Indian Mahāyāna based upon and extending this research, including The Ornament of The Middle Way: A Study of the Madhyamaka Thought of Śāntarakṣita (2004) and Sixty Stanzas of Reasoning (2004). He had recently completed, with Geshe Lhundup Sopa, a translation of the Lamrim Chenmo, Chapter 4, and was pursuing the publication of a translation of Śāntarakṣita’s Madhyamakālaṃkāravṛtti. In addition to his work on Indian and Tibetan Madhyamaka philosophy, he also published and taught extensively on Engaged Buddhism in Theravāda and Tibetan Buddhist contexts. Jim greatly enjoyed philosophical debate and was able to subtly engage and often disarm his opponents while still finding a way to make sure everyone had a good laugh in the process.
Jim will be especially missed for the quiet, calm, and joyful presence that he brought to our academic community.
Stuart Ray Sarbacker
Oregon State University
See more from OSU here: Buddhist Scholar James Blumenthal Dies at 47
Jim’s Madhyamākalaṃkāra (དབུ་མ་རྒྱན་), or The Ornament of the Middle Way.