©2003 The Teaching Company Limited Partnershipi
Malcolm David Eckel, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Religion, Boston UniversityMalcolm David Eckel received a B.A. in English from Harvard College in 1968.After a year at Episcopal Divinity in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he enteredOxford University to study Theology. He received his B.A. in Theology in 1971,with the M.A. to follow in 1975.While he was in Oxford studying the classical sources of the Christian tradition,Professor Eckel took a long journey through the major pilgrimage sites of Turkey and Iran. Out of this experience grew a fascination with the religioustraditions of the Middle East and the rest of Asia.After studying Sanskrit at Oxford, Professor Eckel returned to Harvard for aPh.D. in Comparative Religion with special emphasis on the Buddhist traditionsof India, Tibet, and Southeast Asia. As part of this program, he spent a year of research at the Institute for Advanced Study of Sanskrit in Poona, a traditionalcenter of Sanskrit learning near Bombay. During this year, he also came to knowthe scholars in the Tibetan refugee community in India. He completed his Ph.D.in 1980 with a dissertation on the Madhyamaka School of Indian Buddhist philosophy.After teaching at Ohio Wesleyan University and at Middlebury College inVermont, Professor Eckel returned to Harvard as an assistant professor. AtHarvard, he taught courses on Buddhism and Comparative Religion and wasinvolved in the programs of Harvard Divinity School. He served as lecturer onseveral Harvard alumni tours of South and Southeast Asia and as ActingDirector of the Center for the Study of World Religions.Professor Eckel tells his colleagues and friends that in 1990, at the end of hisyears at Harvard, he walked down to the Charles River, raised his staff, watchedthe waters part, and walked dryshod across the river to Boston University. Thedetails of this story are clearly apocryphal, but the story expresses hissatisfaction with the intellectual community he has found on the southern bank of the Charles River.For the last decade at Boston University, Professor Eckel has taught courses onBuddhism, Comparative Religion, and the Religions of Asia. He has also participated in the university’s core curriculum program. In 1998, Professor Eckel received the Metcalf Award for Teaching Excellence, the university’shighest award for teaching. In 2002, he was appointed the National Endowmentfor the Humanities Distinguished Teaching Professor of the Humanities.In addition to many articles, Professor Eckel has published two books onBuddhist philosophy, including
To See the Buddha: A Philosopher’s Quest for the Meaning of Emptiness
. He has traveled widely through the Buddhistcountries of South, Southeast, and East Asia and is currently working on a book called
Metaphors Buddhist Live By
. This project explores the metaphorical