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Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences

John Makransky

theology department


John Makransky

Associate Professor

Stokes N419
Boston College
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

Phone: 617-552-4603
Fax: 617-552-0794


Office Hours

Curriculum Vitae


Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison
BA, Yale University

Dissertation topic: "Alternative constructions of buddhahood in Buddhist wisdom literature of India and Tibet"


Makransky received his Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies and South Asian Languages and Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with Fulbright-sponsored research in India, Nepal, and Tibet. He did postdoctoral research at the University of Iowa, then taught at Middlebury College before joining the Theology Department at Boston College.

Having studied for 25 years with Lamas of four Tibetan Buddhist lineages, Makransky was installed as a Lama in the Nyingma order of Nyoshul Khenpo in August 2000. He has conducted workshops and meditation retreats throughout the United States, both for practicing Buddhists and for Christians, Jews, and others interested in comparative and dialogical encounter with Buddhist traditions.


Makransky researches Indian Buddhist texts to see how doctrines of enlightenment (buddhahood) have developed in connection with diverse forms of Buddhist meditation, philosophical analysis, and ritual practice.

Other research has focused on theoretical and practical connections between transcendental insight, compassion, and devotion in Tibetan and Indian Buddhist traditions. He has also compared specific aspects of Buddhist and Christian anthropology and soteriology.


The Religious Quest I and II (Introduction to Comparative Theology)
Meditation, Service and Social Action
Buddhist Philosophy and Spirituality
Buddhist Ethics
Buddhist Sacred Texts
Tibetan Buddhism


Makransky is Senior Faculty Advisor and visiting lecturer for Kathmandu University's Centre for Buddhist Studies in Nepal. In the American Academy of Religion, he is co-chair of the Buddhist Critical-Constructive Reflection Group and an instructor for the Luce Seminar Fellows in Comparative Theology and Theologies of Religious Pluralism.

He is the guiding teacher and co-founder of the Foundation for Active Compassion, an organization that brings contemplative trainings adapted from Buddhism to people of all faiths and backgrounds who work in social justice and social service.


His books include Awakening through Love: Unveiling Your Deepest Goodness (2007), Buddhahood Embodied: Sources of Controversy in India and Tibet (1997), and Buddhist Theology: Critical Reflections by Contemporary Buddhist Scholars (co-edited with Roger Jackson 2000).



Call to Care: Educators' Professional Development Guide, Version 2.0, co-authored with Brooke Dodson-Lavelle, Pamela Siegle, Kathryn Byrnes.  Amherst, MA:Mind and Life Institute, January 2015.

Awakening Through Love: A Buddhist Guide for Unveiling Deepest Goodness. Boston: Wisdom Publications, July 2007.

Articles and Book Chapters

“A Buddhist Critique of, and Learning from, Christian Liberation Theology,” Theological Studies, September 2014.

"How Buddhist Practice Grounds Social Action in a Secular World, Dharma World: Living Buddhism and Interfaith Dialogue, Apr-June 2012, Vol. 39.

“Compassion in Buddhist Psychology.” Chapter 4 in Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapyedited by Christopher K. Germer and Ronald D. Siegel. NY, NY: Guilford Press, February 2012.

“Compassion Beyond Fatigue: Contemplative Training for Educators, Activists and other Helping Professionals,” in Teaching from Within: Contemplative Pedagogy for Religious Studies, eds. Fran Grace and Judith Simmer-Brown. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2010.

“Buddhist Reflections on Theological Learning and Spiritual Discipline,” in Spotlight on Theological Education, March 2010; Religious Studies News, online journal published by the American Academy of Religion.

“The Emergence of Buddhist Critical-Constructive Reflection in the Academy as a Resource for Buddhist Communities and for the Contemporary World,” Journal of Global Buddhism, vol. 9, 2008, pp. 113-154.

“Pure Perception and Deep Equanimity,” Journal of Religion and the Arts, ed. Richard Kearney, Fall 2008.

”Buddhist Inclusivism: Reflections Toward a Contemporary Buddhisst Theology of Religions,” in Buddhist Attitudes to Other Religions, ed. Perry Schmidt-Leukel, EOS 2008.

“Buddha and Christ as Mediations of Ultimate Reality: A Mahayana Buddhist Perspective,” in Buddhism and Christianity in Dialogue, ed. Perry Schmidt-Leukel. London: SCM Press, 2005.

“Tathagata,” in Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd edition, ed. Lindsay Jones. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005.

“No Real Protection without Love and Compassion,” Journal of Buddhist Ethics, vol. 12 (2005), 25-36.

“Buddhist Analogues of Sin and Grace: A Dialogue with Augustine,” Studies in Interreligious Dialogue (2005), 5-15.

“A Buddhist Response to Richard Kearney on Religious Good and Evil,” Journal of Interdisciplinary Crossroads (2005).

“Buddhahood and Buddha Bodies,” in Encyclopedia of Buddhism, ed. Robert Buswell. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2004.

“Buddhist Perspectives on Truth in Other Religions: Past and Present,” Theological Studies Journal, vol. 64 no.2 (2003), 334-361.


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