Open Buddha

Open Source Buddhism, Technology, and Geekery
Bay Area, California

Thesis nearly there?

After all the hubbub about my thesis, I think I’m getting a lot closer.

We have a new web interface to the UMI records for theses at my program. This allowed me to look through a sampling of theses in philosophy focusing on religion topics in the last few years as well as taking a look at a selection of all of the theses in my program during this last year. This helped me get a better sense of what people in the program have done. This is what I did at 2:00 AM last night when I should have been sleeping.

My gut reaction is that people don’t write very long theses a lot of the time. Now, my thesis needs to be, as it turns out, at least 50 pages long. The average thesis in the program is between 45 and 60 pages in the ones that I looked at last night. If you move the page count out to 80 or so, you get almost everyone. The ones that are left vary widely from 85 to 125 pages with a few crazy ones that are more.

Looking at the content, I’m surprised how little some of the theses go into great detail. There are a lot of five chapter, ten pages a chapter, theses out there. That is hardly space to really get into anything, which makes them seem pretty superficial to me. As was pointed out to me on Friday though, the point of the MA thesis, in many ways, is simply to prove that you can do decent basic research and write something longer that hangs together. It is not a dissertation.

My thesis, as of this evening, is at about 77 pages. I spent almost all of today working on my chapter on the Cabalistic parts of the soul and the Sphere of Sensation in the Golden Dawn, which came to a 16 or 17 page chapter. I have a chapter on the nature and work of adepthood (as it relates to the soul on the Tree of Life and the general process of moving up the Tree) and a conclusion chapter and that’s it. I scoped down the work I was doing and removed one chapter and condensed another two into the chapter I just wrote. Given the nature of the program and the advise of my thesis mentor, there is no reason to turn in a thesis that is over 120 pages long.

If I had another day or two like today, I might have it done though the chapter I wrote today is likely to be easier than the one on adepthood.

Once I get the draft done, I will be pinging a couple of my earlier readers and a few people that I did not subject to the first half before and seeing if I can get a few people to read through the whole thing. This is mainly to get another set of eyeballs on it to see if it holds together in a general sense, catch the gratuitous typos and the occasional possibility of repeating something for the first time twice…

Interested parties with a decent academic background and/or a decent Golden Dawn background who are interested should contact me, especially if I already know you. I’m less likely to run the whole thing by complete strangers as I do need to turn this in for my degree and don’t really want to spread it far and wide first.

Then question after this is whether I want to either try for GTU’s doctoral program, which would be fulltime, in a year or maybe, instead, do the Master of Arts in Buddhist Studies that the Institute of Buddhist Studies offers. I know that I don’t really need a second master’s degree but the program at IBS is largely the program that ministers for the Buddhist Church of America (a Shin Buddhist church) go through. Since I am working towards ordination and a longterm Buddhist path, the material covered, especially the liturgical studies in Japanese, would be useful to my growth in this direction. Additionally, Dr. Payne, who runs IBS, was ordained in earlier years as a Shingon priest and has written the one book on the key rituals used in mikkyo that is out there. A chance to study with him and focus on tantricism in Japan would be excellent. The PhD program is much more intense but the MA program allows for people to go part-time, which may allow me to continue to work at Mozilla.

We’ll see how things go once I get my thesis turned in and have some time to breathe and think without it lurking in the background like the rising of Cthulhu.