Elaine Lai is currently a PhD candidate in Religious Studies at Stanford University specializing in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, and in particular, the transmission of tantra from India to Tibet. Before Stanford, she spent ten years studying and living in China, Taiwan, India, Hong Kong and Nepal where she had laid out her foundation in Buddhist studies under the guidance of Buddhist teachers affiliated with Chinese Mahayana traditions as well Tibetan ones. She is currently researching the history (lo rgyus) of the Great Perfection system through the corpus known as Seminal Heart in Four Parts (snyingthig yabzhi) and is further exploring the relationship between Great Perfection contemplative practices and embodiment. In the world beyond academia, she serves as the co-president of the Buddhist Community at Stanford (BCAS) where she facilitates inter-faith dialogues on the intersection of compassion, identity and justice. She is also one of the founding members of the Oral History of Tibetan Studies in America, which records and collects oral histories of those who have contributed to the establishment of Tibetan and Himalayan Studies as a recognized independent academic discipline (https://www.neverendingnow.de).
Elaine Lai's response to our roundtable on Interdisciplinary Approaches to Buddhist Ritual highlights the advantages of working across disciplines. In sum, Lai argues, this roundtable and all such interdisciplinary collaborations remind us of how embedded and contingent our terms can be. Those differences matter, especially as we work to decolonize the academy and democratize access to its efforts, for we must "remember that we are all first and foremost human... and it's time to show up for one another with care," she concludes.