Welcome to thelostyak.com, the online home of Geoffrey Barstow. Most of my adult life has been focused on the study of Tibetan religion and history, and most of what you find here will reflect that.
I’m an assistant professor in the School of History, Philosophy, and Religion at Oregon State University. I lead both introductory and advanced courses on Buddhism, including (mostly) straight philosophy, courses on the history of Buddhism, and others on Buddhism and social justice.
For most of the last decade, my scholarship has focussed on the history and practice of vegetarianism in Tibet, an issue that proved to be far more complex than I had initially suspected. I published my first book on this topic—Food of Sinful Demons: Meat, Vegetarianism and the Limits of Buddhism in Tibet—in 2018 with Columbia University Press. My second book—The Faults of Meat: Tibetan Buddhist Writings on Vegetarianism—is now available from Wisdom Publications! I’ve also written a collection of academic and popular articles, most of which can be downloaded here.
The publication of The Faults of Meat marks something of a shift in my research focus. While I will always be interested in vegetarianism and animal ethics, I’m also beginning a new project focussed on the practice of guru devotion in Tibetan Buddhism. The exact contours of this project are still in flux, but much of my interest lies in contrasting normative expectations of devotion with the ways in which disciples related to their masters in lived practice.