All events are free and open to the public

Spring Term 2017

Friday–Sunday, February 17–19, 2017
Bodhisattva Precepts in East Asian Perspective and Beyond
Friday (4–6:30 pm): 180 Doe Memorial Library
Saturday (9:30 am–6 pm) – Sunday (9 am–12:00 pm): Alumni House
UC Berkeley


Panel 1 (Friday, February 17, 4–6:30pm): China I
Chair: Peiying Lin (UC Berkeley)

T. H. Barrett (SOAS, University of London) — How did Chinese Lay People Perceive the Bodhisattva Precepts?

Liying Kuo (Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient) — Visions and the Reception of Bodhisattva Precepts in the Fifth and Sixth Centuries

Charles Muller (Tokyo University) — The Silla Monk Daehyeon and his Commentary on the Sutra of Brahmā's Net

Panel 2 (Saturday, February 18, 9:30am–noon): China II
Chair: Raoul Birnbaum (UC Santa Cruz)

Sangyop Lee (Stanford University) — The Youposai wujie weiyi jing Bodhisattva Pratimokṣa: Its Nature and Historical Significance

Ann Heirman (University of Gent) — Body Movement and Sport Activities in Bodhisattva Precepts: A Normative Perspective from India to China

Ester Bianchi (Università degli Studi di Perugia) — Bodhisattva Precepts in Modern China. An Overview and Evaluation

Panel 3 (Saturday, February 18, 2–3:45pm) China and Japan
Chair: Robert Sharf (UC Berkeley)

Peiying Lin (UC Berkeley/ Fu Jen Catholic University) — Bodhidharma Lineages and Bodhisattva Precepts in the Ninth Century

Paul Groner (University of Virginia) — Annen’s 安然 Comprehensive Commentary on the Universal Bodhisattva Ordination (Futsū jubosatsukai kōshaku 普通授菩薩戒広釈): Its Background and Later Influence

Panel 4 (Saturday, February 18, 4:15–7pm) Japan
Chair: Mark Blum (UC Berkeley)

Dermott Joseph Walsh (UCLA) — Eisai and the Bodhisattva Precepts

Richard Jaffe (Duke University) — Kawaguchi Ekai’s View of the Precepts for Buddhism in the Twentieth-Century

William Bodiford (UCLA) — Anraku Ritsu in Tokugawa Japan: The Reconfiguration of the Bodhisattva Precepts within Japanese Tendai Buddhism

Panel 5 (Sunday, February 19, 9am–noon) India and Tibet
Chair: Jake Dalton (UC Berkeley)

Jan-Ulrich Sobisch (Independent scholar) — “Compassionate Killing” Revisited

Alex von Rospatt (UC Berkeley) — The Adikarma literature. The vows and daily practices of lay bodhisattvas in late Indian Buddhism

Hiromi Habata (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität) — Did the Bodhisattva-vinaya Exist? The Situation of the Bodhisattva Precepts in India before the Systematization

Click here to view the abstracts.


Thursday, February 23, 2017, 5 pm
The Wheel of Time: Tibetan Thoughts on the Buddha’s Anno Nirvanae
2017 Khyentse Lecture

Leonard van der Kuijp, Harvard University
Toll Room, Alumni House
UC Berkeley

Image for The Wheel of Time: Tibetan Thoughts on the Buddha’s Anno Nirvanae

Although fairly long in coming, the Christian calendar began with the year in which Jesus was allegedly born. And Dionysius Exiguus (6thc.) was the first to introduce the notion of A[nno]D[omini], the birth year of the Christ. Famously, the British monk Bede (672‑735) went so far as to deduce in his De temporum ratione of 725, an elaboration of his earlier Liber de temporibus of 703, that 3,952 years had passed from creation to Jesus' birth. For good measure he also recalculated the date of Easter. Perhaps more notoriously, in 1650, Archbishop James Ussher (1581‑1656) calculated that the world had come into being on October 23, 4004 BCE! The great Jewish intellectual Moses Maimonides (1135‑1204) worked with the year of the creation of the world, the Aera Mundi, as his starting point. In his opinion, the world's creation fell on the first of the seventh lunar month [September 7], 3760 BCE, and he used this calculation to date his 1166‑78 treatise, the Sanctification of the New Moon.

The Buddhists were not so much concerned with the creation of the world — for them it was not — as they generally were with the year in which the Buddha entered nirvana, the year in which he passed away. As yet unpublished and titled Elimination of Errors in Computation 1442 or 1443, Gö Lotsawa Zhönupel's (1392‑1481) polemical work on chronology and computation is a crucially important source for our understanding of the different ways in which the calendars and the various calculations of the passage of time in general developed in Tibet. It is also especially significant for the insights it provides into the numerous attempts that had been made in Tibetan intellectual circles to calculate the chronology of the life of the Buddha and the year of his passing. My talk will focus on this aspect of Gö Lotsawa's work and its place in Tibetan intellectual history

Leonard van der Kuijp is professor of Tibetan and Himalayan Studies and chairs the Committee on Inner Asian and Altaic Studies. Best known for his studies of Buddhist epistemology, he is the author of numerous works on Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism. Recent publications include An Early Tibetan Survey of Buddhist Literature (Vol. 64, Harvard Oriental Series, 2008), coauthored with Kurtis R. Schaeffer, and In Search of Dharma: Indian and Ceylonese Travelers in Fifteenth Century Tibet (Wisdom, 2009). Van der Kuijp’s research focuses primarily on the Indo-Tibetan Buddhist thought, Tibetan Buddhist intellectual history, Tibetan Buddhism, and premodern Sino-Tibetan and Tibeto-Mongol political and religious relations


Thursday, March 2, 2017, 5 pm
Buddhist Studies/Art History Lecture
Buddhist Maṇḍalas and Narratives of Enlightenment

Michelle C. Wang, Georgetown University
308A Doe Memorial Library

Image for Buddhist Maṇḍalas and Narratives of Enlightenment

Five Buddhas crown, MG. 17781,
Guiyijun Period (848-1036), second
half of tenth century, ink and color
on paper, 28.7 x 54 cm., originally
from Dunhuang, now in the
Musée Guimet

Throughout the twentieth century, scholarly and popular interpretations of Buddhist maṇḍalas emphasized their status as expressions of the human psyche. By virtue of their circular form, they were considered to represent the wholeness of the self. Shifting the discourse from one focused upon the human subject to one that instead places the Buddha’s experience at the forefront, this talk analyzes eighth to tenth century Buddhist maṇḍalas from Dunhuang (Gansu Province, China) as embodiments of the Buddha’s own awakening, in particular narratives of enlightenment that emerged within the context of esoteric Buddhism. Furthermore, the mapping of Buddhist maṇḍalas onto the architectural space of cave shrines at Dunhuang underscores the subjective nature of vision that was key not only to the performative restaging of the Buddha’s awakening, but also of the transformation from bodhisattva to Buddhahood.

Michelle C. Wang is Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Georgetown University. She is a specialist in the Buddhist visual culture of medieval China, in particular, mural and portable paintings from Silk Road sites. She has authored articles on changing conceptions of maṇḍalas in Tang China and paired images in Buddhist art, and recently completed a book manuscript titled Maṇḍalas in the Making: The Visual Culture of Esoteric Buddhism at Dunhuang. Her research has been supported by grants from the Asian Cultural Council, Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, and the Association for Asian Studies.


Friday, March 3, 2017, 7:30-9:00 pm
Why does the Dalai Lama say he is "Son of Nālandā": Prof. Robert Thurman delivers the inaugural ISAS-VSB Lecture on Religion in the Modern World
Robert Thurman, Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies, Department of Religion, Columbia University; President, Tibet House U.S., President of the American Institute of Buddhist Studies
Moderator: Jake Dalton, Khyentse Professor and Chair, Dept. of South and Southeast Asian Studies, UC Berkeley
Sibley Auditorium, Bechtel Engineering Center
Sponsors: Institute for South Asia Studies, Vedanta Society Berkeley, Center for Buddhist Studies, Sarah Kailath Chair of India Studies, Department of South & Southeast Asian Studies, Himalayan Studies Program

Robert Thurman

For more information, please visit the following website: http://events.berkeley.edu/index.php/calendar/sn/csas.html?event_ID=106141&date=2017-03-03&filter=Target/Open%20To%20Audiences&filtersel=.


Thursday, March 23, 2017, 5 pm
Buddhist Studies/Art History Lecture
Female Bodily Sacrifice and the Absence of Men: Filial Figuration in Song, Jin, and Liao Tombs

Winston Kyan, University of Utah
308A Doe Memorial Library

Image for Female Bodily Sacrifice and the Absence of Men: Filial Figuration in Song, Jin, and Liao Tombs

Among the pantheon of filial offspring in China, a striking if overlooked figure is the wife of Wang Wuzi, or Wang Wuzi Qi 王武子妻, who offers her flesh to cure her sick mother-in-law through an act of filial thigh cutting, or gegu 割股. While the paradox of gegu as being both an act of filial caring towards one’s parents and an act of unfilial neglect towards the parental gift of the body has attracted the attention of scholars both medieval and modern, a close analysis of its figural representation remains to be done. Images of Wang Wuzi Qi are particularly intriguing since they appear across a variety of funerary media from Song, Jin, and Liao period tombs, ranging across painted murals, engraved stone slabs, painted carved bricks, carved low relief tiles, and three-dimensional tableaux of clay figurines. However, these diverse images are limited by established pictorial conventions, geographic locations in southern Shanxi and northern Henan provinces, and chronological parameters from the late eleventh- to early thirteenth-centuries. Moreover, the pictorial standardization of a controversial filial sacrifice within the hallowed filial space of the tomb raises key issues regarding the construction of a “new” filial paragon, the relationship between Buddhist caves and ancestral tombs, as well as the connection between filial efficacy as a popular belief and an elite value.

Winston Kyan was born in Rangoon, Burma. He holds a BA in Comparative Literature from Brown University and an MA and PhD in Art History from the University of Chicago. He has taught at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, where he is currently Assistant Professor of Art History. His current and primary research project is rethinking the intersection of filial piety and Buddhist art in medieval China through representations of the body, sacrifice, and health as a sensorium of sight, smells, sounds, tastes, touch, and other modes of perception beyond the usual five. He is wrapping up a manuscript on this topic while continuing side interests in the relationship between contemporary Asian art and Buddhism as well as Asian American visual culture as sites of religious identity. His next research project will explore the visual and material culture of the trade and military routes between Yunnan, China and Myanmar/Burma. His publications have appeared in The Art Bulletin, Amerasia Journal, and Art Journal Open, in addition to other conference volumes and digital resources.


Saturday-Monday, March 25-27, 2017
Workshop on Tannishō Commentarial Materials
Jodo Shinshu Center, 2140 Durant Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704
Sponsors: Center for Japanese Studies, Center for Buddhist Studies, Otani University, Ryukoku University

Image for Workshop on Tannishō Commentarial Materials

The Centers for Japanese Studies and Buddhist Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, together with Ōtani University and Ryūkoku University in Kyoto announce a workshop under the supervision of Mark Blum that will focus on critically examining premodern and modern hermeneutics of the Tannishō, a core text of the Shin sect of Buddhism, and arguably the most well-read religious text in postwar Japan. Beginning in 2017, the workshop will continue for five years, meeting twice a year for 3 to 4 days each time, in late March in Berkeley and early August in Kyoto, where it will be hosted alternately by Ōtani and Ryūkoku universities. Organized around close readings of the most influential materials produced in early modern, modern, and postmodern Japan, the workshop aims at producing a critical, annotated translation detailing the salient ways in which this text has been both inspirational and controversial, as well as a series of essays analyzing a wide spectrum of voices in Japanese scholarship and preaching that have spoken on this work. For the early modern or Edo period, the commentaries by Enchi (1662), Jinrei (1801-1808), and Ryōshō (1841) will be examined. For the modern period, works by Andō Shūichi (1909), Chikazumi Jōkan (1930), and Soga Ryōjin (1947) will be the major concern. And for the postwar/postmodern period, due to the sheer volume of publications (over 300 titles), reading choices will be selected at a later date in consultation with participants.

Click here for more information.

Event Contact: cjs-events@berkeley.edu, 510‑642‑3415


Wednesday, April 19, 2017, 5 pm
Buddhist Studies/Art History Lecture
Through the Eyes of Another: Visions of Arhats in Song-Dynasty China

Phillip E. Bloom, Indiana University Bloomington
308A Doe Memorial Library

Image from the Through the Eyes of Another: Visions of Arhats in Song-Dynasty China lecture

Crafted between 1178 and 1188 for ritual use in a small temple near Ningbo, the one hundred hanging scrolls of the Five Hundred Arhats (Daitokuji, Kyoto, Japan) possess a striking peculiarity: more often than not, the set’s eponymous semi-divine monks are simply shown gazing. They gaze at natural wonders, they gaze at supernatural feats performed by their peers, they gaze at episodes from the mytho-history of Buddhism, and most importantly, they gaze even at paintings. How are we to understand these scrolls’ insistence on acts of viewing, and how might Song worshippers have responded? Through their practice of gazing, do these arhats merely model for us how we ought to look, or are other motivations at work? To make sense of the multiple forms of spectatorial engagement facilitated by these scrolls, this presentation will bring them into dialogue with contemporaneous poems that describe imaginative acts of entering painted worlds and with liturgies that prescribe the performative inhabitation of other subject positions. Drawing on such texts, I shall argue that the Five Hundred Arhats and other works of Song Buddhist art seek to create possibilities for intersubjective experience—for viewing the world through the eyes of an awakened other.

Phillip E. Bloom is Assistant Professor of East Asian Art History in the Department of Art History at Indiana University, Bloomington. He specializes in the history of Song-dynasty Buddhist art and ritual. His work has recently appeared in The Art Bulletin and Bukkyō geijutsu, and he is currently completing a book manuscript, tentatively titled "Nebulous Intersections: Ritual and Representation in Chinese Buddhist Art, ca. 1178."


Thursday, April 20, 2017, 5 pm
The Logic of Zen Kōans
T. Griffith Foulk, Sarah Lawrence College
180 Doe Memorial Library

Image from The Logic of Zen Kōans lecture

The idea that kōans are “logically insoluble riddles” (Arthur Koestler) that are designed to “break down all reasoning” (Erik Zürcher) and thereby induce satori is commonplace, both in the academic literature that treats Zen Buddhism and in the imagination of many Western Zen practitioners. The so-called “Zen of contemplating sayings” (kanna zen 看話禪) that evolved in Japan and Korea on the basis of the teachings of Chan master Dahui Zonggao (1089-1163) is the main source of that idea, for proponents of the practice speak of cutting off all intellectual interpretation and concentrating the mind in a “great ball of doubt” as the prerequisite for a sudden awakening. Even in that branch of the Chan / Zen / Sŏn tradition, however, the test of awakening is the ability to comment appropriately on kōans, showing that one gets the point and understands the meaning of each particular “old case.” Foulk argues that kōan literature in general is grounded in the Mahāyāna doctrines of “emptiness” and “two truths,” and that the sayings of individual Zen masters found therein do, in fact, embody a certain logic. Nonsensical statements that have no reasonable connection to the topic under discussion are no more tolerated in the Zen tradition than in any other area of human discourse.

T. Griffith Foulk is Professor of Religion at Sarah Lawrence College and Co-editor-in-chief of the Sōtō Zen Text Project.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017, 5 pm
Buddhist Sectarianism in Burma’s Last Kingdom
Alexandra Kaloyanides, Ho Center for Buddhist Studies, Stanford University
180 Doe Memorial Library

'The Shwe Dagon Pagoda, Rangoon,' chromolithograph, from Burma by Albert Fytche, 1878

“The Shwe Dagon Pagoda, Rangoon,”
chromolithograph, from Burma
by Albert Fytche, 1878

The collapse of Burma’s final kingdom was devastating for the Buddhist organizations that depended on its royal sponsorship. The nineteenth-century encroachment of the British Raj crippled both the Konbaung Dynasty and its once-powerful monastic establishment, but it also created opportunities for opposition parties. One adversarial Buddhist sect, the Paramats, was particularly active between the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852 and the total colonization of the country in 1886. This reformist sect has been something of a mystery in the study of Burmese Buddhism because of minimal references to them in official Burmese materials. This paper examines a previously unstudied collection of documents dating from 1830–1880 found in an American missionary archive to argue that the Paramats were not a kind of Mahayanist group dedicated to propounding emptiness teachings, as scholars have argued, but rather, they were a Burmese Buddhist organization concerned with protesting laxity within mainstream monasteries and excess at royally-sponsored shrines. These archival documents suggest that scholars should attend to politics, as well as philosophy, to understand this particular sectarian development and similar religious reform movements at the end of the Konbaung Dynasty.

Alexandra Kaloyanides is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford University. She researches Burmese religions and American religious history. Her book manuscript, “Objects of Conversion, Relics of Resistance,” examines the religious contestations, conversions, and transformations during the nineteenth-century American Baptist mission to Burma.