My name is Amod Lele. (Pronunciation: “uh-MODE” or “ah-MODE,” like a mode of transportation; “LAY-lay.”) I grew up in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. When it comes to “religious” background I’m something of a mutt: my mother was raised a Christian and became a Buddhist, while my father was raised a Hindu and became a Marxist. For most of my life I’ve moved around various points in the middle between these; but what’s allowed me to draw connections between them is philosophy, rational thought about the big questions. More recently – in 2014-15, well after starting the blog – I have come to call myself a Buddhist, though I remain heavily influenced by the other traditions and more besides.
I began reading Western philosophy in high school, but my real philosophical awakening came on a trip to Thailand in 1997, coming to learn more and more about Buddhism. I found myself wishing for many things, getting them in turn, and still not being happy. I eventually realized it was all about the Second Noble Truth: suffering comes from craving. The problem wasn’t with whether or not I got what I wanted. The problem was with me. Philosophy was no longer just about abstractions or even social issues; it spoke directly to me. If you’re interested in more details of this story, I’ve discussed them in two posts on the blog.
In the following decade I did a PhD from the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard University, studying cross-cultural philosophy with a focus on the Buddhist thinker Śāntideva. I started the blog in 2009 while working as a visiting assistant professor at Stonehill College, looking to blogs as a new kind of venue for exploring philosophical questions. Since then I have left the faculty job market for a variety of reasons, some of which I have discussed or alluded to in these posts, and have never regretted the decision. I have found blogging a far more congenial environment for the kinds of questions that inspire me.
I am now a visiting researcher at the Boston University Center for the Study of Asia, and occasionally a lecturer in the Philosophy Department. Those are my official academic positions, but they’re not what pays the bills. For a living, in late 2011 I began a full-time job as an educational technologist at Boston University. This blog is not part of any of these jobs – I do it for free and I expect I always will – but the two are closely related. I view the blog, along with my publications in academic journals, as my avocation; it allows me to express and share the scholarly ideas that are my life’s passion, in a way that emerging information technologies make far more effective. And my job involves helping others to do the same – to teach them new technologies that express the learning they are passionate about.
You can also contact me by email; I welcome it. My email address is my name (Amod Lele) with a dot between the first and last name, at gmail dot com – spelled out this way to avoid automated spam.