Daniel McNamara

Assistant Research Professor

Email: daniel.mcnamara@ryi.org


Daniel Patrick McNamara joined RYI as a researcher in 2018, but first connected with the school and its founder—Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche—in 2001. Daniel earned an MA from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a PhD in West and South Asian Religions from Emory University. His doctoral dissertation—Nihilists and Noble Ones: Ratnākaraśānti’s Engagement with Nāgārjuna, Mādhyamikas, and the Mahāyāna in the Madhyamakālaṃkāravṛtti—examines the philosophy of the Indian Buddhist scholar-saint Ratnākaraśānti (c. 970-1040), particularly his critiques of Madhyamaka philosophy and his presentation of a single Mahāyāna view. Daniel’s research at RYI concerns the influence of Ratnākaraśānti’s philosophy in Tibet and the development of “other-emptiness” (gzhan stong) doctrines. 

Daniel has taught MA-level classes at the Candler School of Theology and BA classes Emory University; he has also taught on the Carleton-Antioch Buddhist Studies in Bodh Gaya Program. Subjects taught include: translation methodology, methodology of Buddhist Studies, Pramāṇa Theory, Madhyamaka Philosophy, Sanskrit, and classical Tibetan. 

Select Publications

Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. Rainfall of Blessing Amṛta: An Homage to the Life and Liberation of Jetsun Dorje Pagmo Combined with an Aspiration for the Stages of the Path. rje btsun rdo rje phag mo’i rnam thar gsol ’debs lam rim gyi smon lam dang bcas pa byin rlabs bdud rtsi’i char ’bebs. ed. Ryan Jones. Khyentse Vision Project, 2023. 

The King of Tantras, the Glorious Khasama. dpal nam mkha’ dang mnyam pa’i rgyud kyi  rgyal po, *Śrīkhasamatantrarāja. Ed. Andreas Doctor. Toh. 386. http://84000.co. 2022. 

Khenpo Appey Rinpoche. “The Passing of Enlightened Beings” and “The Seven-Branch Prayer.”  Words of a Gentle Sage, vol. 1. Kathmandu: Vajra Books, 2018. 

McNamara, Daniel. “When Madhyamaka is not the Middle Path: Ratnākaraśānti on Yogācāra, Nāgārjuna, and the Madhyamapratipad.” Journal for the International Association of Buddhist Studies 40, pp. 117-135, 2017. 

Select Conference Papers and Public Lectures: 

“How Deep Does the Rabbit Hole Go? Perspectives from Yogācāra and the Kālacakratantra on the Creation of Human Worlds.” Buddhism, Creativity, and Art: An International Conference. Rangjung Yeshe Institute, Kathmandu, Nepal. 28-30 April, 2023. 

“The Two Truths are Not Enough: Ratnākaraśānti’s Critique of Mādhyamikas.”  

“Yogācāra Themes in Tantric Literature: Hevajratantra ad 1.8.24-56.” American Academy of Religion (AAR) Annual Meeting, San Antonio, TX,  20-23 November, 2021. 

“The Influence of the Laṅkāvatārasūtra on the Sākāra-Nirākāra Debate.” AAR Annual Meeting, Denver, CO, 17-20 November 2018. 

“Tukdam, an Anthropological Perspective: an Interview with Dr. Dylan Lott.” Public Lecture at the Rangung Yeshe Institute, May 2021 

“Buddhism and Philosophy, Buddhism as Philosophy: an Interview with Professor Jay Garfield.” Public Lecture at the Rangung Yeshe Institute, March 2021 

“Exploring a 17th-century thangka of Cakrasaṃvara.” Public Lecture at the Carlos Art Museum at Emory University. April 2016. 

“An Inverted Apocalypse: Buddhist and Shi’a Narratives of a Righteous, World-Ending War.”  University of Wisconsin-Madison Annual Conference on South Asia, October 2012.  

“Phenomenology, Reductionism, and the Academic Study of Buddhism.” Public Lecture at Mahidol University, Bangkok, March 2012. 

“On the Status of the Trisvabhāvanirdeśa in Contemporary Conceptions of Yogācāra Thought.”  AAR Annual Meeting.  Atlanta, GA. 30 October-1 November, 2010. 


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