Events


Past Events


Friday–Sunday, March 14–16, 2014
The Evolution of Tantric Ritual
Conference
Friday – Saturday: Toll Room, Alumni House, University of California, Berkeley
Sunday: 370 Dwinelle Hall, University of California, Berkeley

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The advent of tantric religion in seventh- and eighth-century India changed the face of religious practice across all of Asia. At the heart of these transformations stood the new ritual technologies that the tantras and their attendant manuals introduced. The tantras included new myths, cosmologies, deities, and rhetorical strategies of rulership, secrecy, and transgression, but all of these elements referred to, and revolved around, the complex rituals that formed the core of tantric religiosity. This conference turns a lens on the early development of these rites. The heyday of tantric ritual development was the seventh to the eleventh centuries, and these years will be our principal focus. By bringing together textual scholars working across a range of religious traditions in Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Chinese, we seek to investigate how specific ritual procedures or sequences change over time, across sectarian boundaries, and between cultural regions. Through our discussions, we will attempt to shed light on the early evolution of this highly complex and esoteric religious movement.

Conference Schedule

Friday (Toll Room, Alumni House)

5:00: Opening remarks

5:15-6:30: Keynote by Ronald Davidson, Fairfield University
      Pre-tantric Traditions, Ritual Fluidity, and the Problem of Mudrās


Saturday (Toll Room, Alumni House)

9:30-12:00: Brahmanical Roots

Shingo Einoo, University of Tokyo
      Ritual Devices to Become a God in Vedic and post-Vedic Rituals

Marko Geslani, Emory University
      The Dreams of the King: On the Overnight Structure of
      Royal Consecrations

Shaman Hatley, Concordia University
      The Sword's Edge Observance (Asidhārāvrata) and the Early
      History of Tantric Coital Ritual

1:00-3:00: Tantric Intertextuality

Ryan Damron, UC Berkeley
      Purāṇic Inflections: Visions of the Mahādevī in a Buddhist Yoginī Tantra

Paul Hackett, Columbia University
      On the Construction of a Sādhana from a Root Tantra: A Case
      Study in the Guhyasamāja System

Kurt Keutzer, UC Berkeley
      Evolution of Bon Ritual around the Figure of dBal-chen Ge-khod

3:00-3:15: Coffee break

3:15-5:30: The Tantric Body

Péter Szántó, University of Hamburg/University of Oxford
      How to Organize a Gaṇacakra?

David Gray, Santa Clara University
      Body Mandalas in the Yoginīītantras

Yael Bentor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
      The Body in Buddhist Tantric Meditations


Sunday (370 Dwinelle Hall)

9:30-12:30: The Sexual Yogas

Kikuya Ryūta, Tohoku University
      Two Steps (dvikrama-) in the Jñānapāda School of Indian Tantric
      Buddhism

Jacob Dalton, UC Berkeley
      Domesticating Sexual Union: A Case Study from Dunhuang

Christian Wedemeyer, University of Chicago
      Ritualization of Transgressive Observances: Vratadānavidhi-s in
      the Guhyasamāja Traditions

Harunaga Isaacson, University of Hamburg
      Title TBA


Download the abstracts here.


Thursday, March 6, 2014, 5 pm
Some Questions as to the Nature of Your Existence
(2007 India/Austria, single-channel video installation, 26 minutes)
Film Screening and Panel Discussion with directors Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam
Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor conference room

A single-channel video installation which explores the rarefied world of Tibetan Buddhist debate. Built around three sets of debates dealing with the basic Buddhist concepts of impermanence, lack of self-existence, and dependent-arising, the piece allows the viewer an opportunity to participate in this unique dialectical practice while highlighting its relevance to the modern world.

Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam have been making films since their student days in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 80s, including several documentaries, video installations and one dramatic feature film.

Ritu Sarin studied at Miranda House in Delhi University and went on to finish her studies at California College of the Arts in Oakland. Tenzing Sonam was born in Darjeeling in India to Tibetan refugee parents. He studied at St Stephens College, Delhi University, and then specialized in documentary filmmaking at the Graduate School of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley.

http://flim.potala.cz/some-questions-nature-your-existence


Monday, March 3, 2014, 5 pm
A Hiatus in the History of Chinese Buddhist Translation: What Happened in the Second Half of the Fifth Century?
Funayama Toru, Shinnyo‑en Visiting Professor, Stanford University
3335 Dwinelle Hall

The work of translating Indian Buddhist texts into Chinese began in the Han Dynasty and continued into the Ming and Qing, with much of the work being done between the mid-second and early eleventh centuries. But the translation activities did not proceed without interruption; there were at least two remarkable periods in which translation came to a halt. The first was in the latter half of the fifth century. In his talk, Professor Funayama will explore the reasons why the translation work (as well as the migration of Indian monks to China) temporarily ceased at this time, and the significance of this hiatus for our understanding of the Sinification of Buddhism.

Funayama Toru is Professor in the Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University, and Shinnyo-en Visiting Professor of Winter Term 2014 at Stanford. He specializes in medieval Chinese Buddhism in the Six Dynasties period, as well as in the scholastic tradition of the Yogācāra school of Indian Buddhism during the sixth through tenth centuries. His recent works include Making Sutras into 'Classics' (jingdian): How Buddhist Scriptures Were Translated into Chinese (in Japanese, 2013) and a four volume Japanese translation of the Biographies of Eminent Monks (Kōsōden) coauthored with Yoshikawa Tadao (2009–2010).


Thursday, February 20, 2014, 5 pm
The Buddhist Site of Mes Aynak, Afghanistan
Zemaryalai Tarzi, Professor Emeritus, Strasbourg University, France
Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor conference room

The Buddhist Site of Mes Aynak, Afghanistan

The site of Mes Aynak, Afghanistan, consists of an ensemble of ancient Buddhist settlements presently threatened by the modern exploitation of an adjacent copper mine by a joint Chinese-Afghan venture. The Buddhist art of Mes Aynak has been the object of meticulous attention by archaeologists and art historians, and several monastic settlements and hundreds of sculptures have been excavated. Stylistically, it is closely linked to the Kabul-Kapisa schools of art and, in a broader sense, is in keeping with the Central Asian art of the Hindukush, such as that of Hadda and Gandhara.

Although the chronology of the Buddhist settlements has yet to be determined, most of the monuments seem to date from the reign of the Kushano-Sassanids and the Hephthalites. However, to date no palace or administrative buildings have been unearthed, making it difficult to assign the site to a particular period of dynastic rule. One possibility is that Mes Aynak was managed by an independent commercial Buddhist brotherhood that had a monopoly on the copper, gold and glass mines. In this regard, it is interesting to note that the most impressive buildings are monastic.

Zemaryalai Tarzi, Professor Emeritus at Strasbourg University, is currently President of the Association for the Protection of Afghan Archaeology (APAA), the Director of the DIRI/APAA Mes Aynak Mission, Director for the French Excavations at Bamiyan, and a member of the UMR 7044 at the CNRS (MICHA-Strasbourg). Born in Kabul in 1939, Professor Tarzi has devoted his life to the protection and preservation of the archaeological heritage of Afghanistan, working as former Director for the Archaeology and Conservation of Historical Monuments of Afghanistan, as well as the former Director General for the Archaeology Institute of Afghanistan. He is the author of three theses and hundreds of articles and books.


Thursday, February 13, 2014, 5 pm
2014 Khyentse Lecture
Buddhist women as patrons and innovators: two Tibetan examples from the 15th and the 16th century
Hildegard Diemberger, Pembroke College, Cambridge
The Alumni House, Toll Room, University of California, Berkeley


Note: Due to weather conditions, there will be a new speaker for the Khyentse Lecture. Details are above. The time and place remain the same.

Thursday, February 13, 2014, 5 pm
2014 Khyentse Lecture
Creative Buddhas, Gnosticism, and Pure Lands in Renaissance TibetNote new topic above.
David Germano, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia — Note new speaker above.
The Alumni House, Toll Room, University of California, Berkeley

Creative Buddhas, Gnosticism, and Pure Lands in Renaissance Tibet

The Great Perfection (rdzogs chen) is historically one of the most creative developments to emerge in Tibetan Buddhism and Bön religious traditions. In the Buddhist forms, the classical history runs from the ninth to thirteenth centuries and culminates in the fourteen-century corpus of Longchenpa. This six-century process is marked by a dramatic transformation occurring from the eleventh century onwards with the emergence of the Seminal Heart (snying thig) form of the Great Perfection. The external markers of this transformation are clear: contemplative and ritual practices abound in a tradition previously marked by their absence, a plethora of new tantric themes, a complex set of new narrative traditions, and a systematic philosophical discourse ranging over a broad array of topics. This talk will examine the inner dynamic of this transformation and argue that at its heart is a model of divine creation modeled upon the efflorescence of pure lands from a divine Buddha’s primordial gnosis (ye shes, jñāna). These innovations, while extensive and intrinsically Tibetan in character, are clearly just as deeply grounded in the minutiae of Indian Buddhist thought, practice, and narrative, and constitute probably the most interesting strand in the larger Tibetan fashioning of a philosophical tantra movement. We will look at nine different contexts — cosmogony through eschatology — in which this model is apparent.

David Germano teaches and researches Tibetan and Buddhist Studies at the University of Virginia, where he directs the Tibet Center (www.uvatibetcenter.org), the UVa Contemplative Sciences Center (www.uvacontemplation.org), the Tibetan and Himalayan Library (www.thlib.org, THL), the Tibet Participatory Culture Initiative, the Contemplative Sciences Center (www.uvacontemplation.org), and SHANTI (Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts Network of Technological Initiatives, www.shanti.virginia.edu). His personal scholarship focuses on the history of Tibetan culture and Buddhism from the ninth to fourteenth century with a special focus on esoteric religious movements. In THL, he has directed an international digital library for facilitating interdisciplinary, collaborative, and engaged scholarship in Tibetan Studies; with the Tibet Center he has directed extensive exchange programs between China and the US in relationship to Tibetan communities on diverse topics including higher education, tourism, education to employment, and more. Under the Tibet Participatory Culture Initiative, he is working with others to use technology creatively to help support bridges between academics and development projects, and to enable local communities to use modern tools as vehicles for their own self-expression and empowerment. With the UVa Contemplative Sciences Center, he is coordinating a pan-University exploration of contemplation in learning and research contexts. Germano is currently returning to work on a fourfold set of works that constitute a comprehensive analysis of the Great Perfection Seminal Heart (rdzogs chen snying thig) tradition from its formation to its full expression in the fourteenth century with the corpus of Longchenpa, one of the greatest of all Tibetan Buddhist authors. This includes a translation of his major work, The Treasury of Words and Meanings (tshig don mdzod), a historical study, a philosophical study, and a literary study of the tradition.


Thursday, February 6, 2014, 5 pm
The ABCs of Emptiness: the Buddhist Abecedary in the Great Lamp of the Dharma Dhāraṇī Scripture
Ryan Overbey, Shinjo Ito Postdoctoral Fellow, UC Berkeley
Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor conference room

The ABCs of Emptiness

How did Buddhists do things with words? The Great Lamp of the Dharma Dhāraṇī Scripture, an obscure Mahāyāna text extant only in one sixth-century Chinese translation, transmits a dhāraṇī, a short magical spell which transforms the reciter into a perfect preacher of the dharma (dharmabhāṇaka). The Great Lamp attributes the power of the dhāraṇī to the "syllable portals" (akṣaramukha), the ability of empty syllables, when combined, to form an infinite array of meanings. While Buddhist thinkers have always engaged deeply with problems of language and representation, in the early centuries CE we see an explosion of new discussions about the power of syllables to preserve and produce Buddhist ideas. In this talk I explore how the Great Lamp theorizes its own dhāraṇī, and how this fascinating text positions itself within the broader tradition of the Buddhist abecedary.

Ryan Overbey studies the intellectual and ritual history of Buddhism, with particular focus on early medieval Buddhist spells and ritual manuals. He studied at Brown University (AB in Classics & Sanskrit and Religious Studies, 2001) and at Harvard University (PhD in the Study of Religion, 2010). He worked as an academic researcher for Prof. Dr. Lothar Ledderose’s project on Stone Sūtras at the Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften, and has also served as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the College of the Holy Cross. His dissertation explored the ideological and ritual construction of the "preacher of the dharma" (dharmabhāṇaka) in the Great Lamp of the Dharma Dhāraṇī Scripture, a massive text extant only in a single sixth-century Chinese translation.


Friday, January 31, 2014, 3:00 pm
Enacting Buddhism: Perspectives on Cambodian Buddhist Painting
Panel discussion
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor

Enacting Buddhism: Perspectives on Cambodian Buddhist Painting

Guest speakers will discuss the place of Cambodian temple painting in culture, custom, and social life, as well as the larger context of Southeast Asian religious arts. This panel is organized in conjunction with the exhibit Framing the Sacred: Cambodian Buddhist Painting, on view at the Institute of East Asian Studies through March 20, 2014.

Erik W. Davis, Religious Studies, Macalester College

Trent Walker, Ph.D. Candidate, Group in Buddhist Studies, UC Berkeley

Teri Yamada, Asian and Asian American Studies, California State University - Long Beach

Joel Montague, Collector of Cambodian Buddhist Art

Pattaratorn Chirapravati, Art Department, California State University, Sacramento

Moderator: Caverlee Cary, Institute of East Asian Studies, UC Berkeley

Co-sponsors: Institute of East Asian Studies, Center for Buddhist Studies, Center for Southeast Asia Studies, Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies.

See more information about this event here.


Monday, January 27, 2014, 5 pm
Why Birds are Fish and Fish are Birds: Glimpses of an Archaic Tibetan Cosmology?
Charles Ramble, École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE), Paris
Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor conference room

Green-glazed Pottery Architectural Ornament in the Shape of Makara. Xixia Dynasty. (National Museum of China, Beijing)

Green-glazed Pottery Architectural Ornament in the Shape of Makara. Xixia Dynasty. (National Museum of China, Beijing)

Literary and ethnographic studies of Tibet reveal numerous variants of a multi-tiered cosmos with different natural or supernatural entities inhabiting the vertically-arranged strata. However, there is also less obvious evidence of a different world-view in which opposed poles — especially zenith and nadir — are reflections of each other. Possible traces of such a cosmology can be found in a variety of domains: folktales, the decoration of the Lhasa Jo khang, the etiological myth of the Tibetan kings, the cult of Avalokiteśvara and, finally, the ancestral Tibetan kinship terminology. The traces are therefore widely dispersed, and the evidence inconclusive, but the presentation suggest that, even with these fragments, we may be able to trace the shadowy contours of a Tibetan view of the world that has now been largely forgotten.

Charles Ramble is Director of Studies (directeur d’études) at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE), Paris, and a member of the Centre de Recherche sur les Civilisations de l’Asie Orientale (CRCAO). After reading Psychology and Anthropology at the University of Durham, UK, he went on to pursue a D.Phil in Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford. Following two years of post-doctoral research in Nepal he remained in the country to work in wildlife conservation and local development, but returned to academic life to participate in German-funded, and later Austrian-funded, research projects on Tibetan societies. From 2000 to 2010 he held the position of University Lecturer in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies that had recently been established in Oxford. From 2006–2013 he was President of the International Association for Tibetan Studies. Since 2010 he has been Directeur d’Études at the EPHE in Paris, and also holds the position of University Research Lecturer at the University of Oxford. His publications include The Navel of the Demoness: Tibetan Buddhism and Civil Religion in Highland Nepal (New York, 2008), and Tibetan Sources for a Social History of Mustang (Nepal): Volume 1, The Archive of Te (Halle, 2008).


Thursday, January 23, 2014, 5 pm
Expressions of the Inexpressible: The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism
Robert E. Buswell Jr., University of California, Los Angeles
Donald S. Lopez Jr., University of Michigan
Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor conference room

Expressions of the Inexpressible

The new Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, in 1,304 pages and 1.2 million words, is the most authoritative and wide-ranging reference of its kind ever produced in English. Its more than 5,000 alphabetical entries explain the key terms, doctrines, practices, texts, authors, deities, and schools of Buddhism across six major canonical languages and traditions: Sanskrit, Pāli, Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean; the dictionary also includes selected terms from Burmese, Khmer, Lao, Mongolian, Newar, Sinhalese, Thai, and Vietnamese. The entries take an encyclopedic approach to the religion, with short essays that explore the extended meaning and significance of the terms in greater depth than a conventional dictionary. At this book launch event, both authors will be in attendance to discuss new and emerging perspectives on Buddhism that may be gleaned from the dictionary. They will also present a Top Ten list of misconceptions about Buddhism, and will explain how these issues are addressed in the dictionary.

Robert E. Buswell Jr. holds the Irving and Jean Stone Endowed Chair in Humanities at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he is also Distinguished Professor of Buddhist Studies and founding director of the Center for Buddhist Studies. He is the editor-in-chief of the two-volume Encyclopedia of Buddhism (MacMillan Reference, 2004) and the author of Cultivating Original Enlightenment (University of Hawaii Press, 2007) The Zen Monastic Experience (Princeton, 1992), among many other books.

Donald S. Lopez Jr. is the Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Michigan and chair of the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. He is the author of Prisoners of Shangri‑La (University of Chicago, 1998), Elaborations on Emptiness (Princeton University Press, 1996), and From Stone to Flesh (University of Chicago, 2013), among many other books.


Friday, November 15, 2013, 3-7 pm
Toshihide Numata Book Prize Presentation and Symposium
Award Recipient: Daniel A. Arnold, The University of Chicago Divinity School
Jodo Shinshu Center, 2140 Durant Avenue, Berkeley

Book cover for Brains, Buddhas and Believing: The Problem of Intentionality in Classical Buddhist and Cognitive-Scientific Philosophy of Mind

The 2013 Toshihide Numata Book Prize award winner is Daniel A. Arnold (The University of Chicago Divinity School) for his book Brains, Buddhas and Believing: The Problem of Intentionality in Classical Buddhist and Cognitive-Scientific Philosophy of Mind (Columbia University Press, 2012).

Program:

3:10 pm
Welcome on Behalf of Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai
Rev. Brian Nagata

3:15 pm
Prize Presentation
Robert Sharf, Chair, Center for Buddhist Studies

3:20 pm
Keynote Address
Nāgārjuna's Critique of Motion as Philosophy of Mind
Daniel A. Arnold, University of Chicago

4:20
Coffee/Tea Break

4:30 pm
Symposium
Taking Buddhist Philosophy of Mind Seriously
Daniel A. Arnold, University of Chicago
John Taber, University of New Mexico
Evan Thompson, 2014 Visiting Numata Professor, UCB
Parimal Patil, Harvard University


Thursday, October 31, 2013, 5 pm
Daoist Vocabulary in Early Chinese Buddhist Translations? A Reappraisal
Jan Nattier, Hua Hin, Thailand
3335 Dwinelle Hall

It is commonly held that when Buddhism was first transmitted to China, this foreign religion was understood — or rather, misunderstood — through a Daoist conceptual lens. The first Buddhist translators, so we are told, made free use of Daoist terminology, creating confusion thaat was only cleared up centuries later, when Kumārajīva and his colleagues began to eliminate such terms from Buddhist discourse. According to this scenario, Chinese Buddhist translations followed a clear trajectory of "progress," with the inappropriate choices made by early translators being rectified in the more careful work of their successors. This paper examines some of the indigenous religious terminology used during the first two centuries of Buddhist translation activity in China. As it hopes to show, the actual pattern of usage is much more complicated — and more interesting — than the simplistic picture of the early appropriation, and subsequent abandonment, of "Daoist" religious terms.

Jan Nattier did her undergraduate work in comparative religion (specializing in Buddhism) at Indiana University, where she also began graduate training in the Department of Uralic and Altaic Studies. She completed her Ph.D. at Harvard University under the Committee on Inner Asian and Altaic Studies (specializing in classical Mongolian and Tibetan). She has taught at Macalester College, the University of Hawaii, Stanford University, Indiana University, and the University of Tokyo, in addition to serving as a research professor at the International Research Institute for Advanced Buddhology (Soka University). Her publications include Once Upon a Future Time: Studies in a Buddhist Prophecy of Decline (on Buddhist predictions of the decline and disappearance of Buddhism), A Few Good Men: The Bodhisattva Path according to the Inquiry of Ugra (on early Mahāyāna Buddhism), and A Guide to the Earliest Chinese Buddhist Translations: Texts from the Eastern Han and Three Kingdoms Periods, as well as a number of articles on early Mahāyāna Buddhism, Chinese Buddhist translations, and Buddhism in Central Asia. She is now living and working in Hua Hin, Thailand, where she is engaged in the study of 2nd and 3rd century Chinese Buddhist translations.


Saturday, October 26, 2013, 9 am - 5 pm
The Study of Jainism: A Symposium in Honor of Prof. Padmanabh Jaini's 90th Birthday
220 Stephens Hall

The symposium brings together a select group of leading experts of Jainism from Europe and the US who work in different arenas of Jain Studies and represent different disciplines, including textual studies, anthropology, history, and art history. They will present papers on different aspects of Jainism drawing upon their current research. In this way the current state of Jain Studies will be brought to bear in its disciplinary breadth. This is to allow for discussions on past accomplishments and also the challenges and the new directions that may be envisaged for this important and still rather neglected field of study.

The symposium is organized in honor of Prof. Padmanabh Jaini who has pioneered the study of Jainism in the English speaking world. His The Jaina Path of Purification (first published in 1979) has brought the study and knowledge of Jainism to a broader English speaking public, and his numerous further publications — such as his book Gender and Salvation: Jaina Debates on the Spiritual Liberation of Women (1991) and his Collected papers on Jaina Studies (2000) — have made him one of the leading scholar in this field. Even as he is about to become a nonagenarian he continues to work and publish at the forefront of Jain Studies, and will also present himself.

Participants:

  • Prof. Christopher Chapple, Indic and Comparative Theology at Loyola Marymount University
  • Prof. John Cort, Director of Denison University Department of Religion
  • Prof. Paul Dundas, Reader in Sanskrit at the University of Edinburgh
  • Dr. Peter Flügel, Chair of the Centre for Jaina Studies at SOAS, University of London
  • Prof. Phyllis Granoff, Religious Studies - Yale University
  • Dr. Shalin Jain, S.G.T.B. Khalsa College, University of Delhi
  • Prof. Padmanabh Jaini, Department of South & Southeast Asian Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Prof. Robert Goldman, Department of South & Southeast Asian Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Prof. Olle Qvarnström, Centre for Theology and Religious Studies, Lund University
  • Prof. Alexander von Rospatt, Department of South & Southeast Asian Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Dr. Audrey Truschke, ACLS Fellow at Stanford University
  • Dr. Kristi Wiley, Department of South & Southeast Asian Studies, UC Berkeley

Program:

9:00 — Welcoming Remarks

9:10–10:30

Phyllis Granoff — "The Stages of Life"
Olle Qvarnström — "Jain and Buddhist Critique of Samkhya Philosophy"

10:30–10:50 — Coffee Break

10:50–12:10

Paul Dundas — "Hemacandra Maladharin's Allegorical Narratives"
Padmanabh Jaini — "A South Indian Jaina Rathayatra in Tulu Nadu Jain Bramanical Priests and Brahminisation of Temple Rituals"

12:10–1:10 — Break

1:10–2:30

Peter Flügel — "Wishful Thinking: The Padmavati Shrine at Humcha"
John Cort — "Digambar Jains in Gujarat"

2:30–2:50 — Coffee Break

2:50–4:50

Robert Goldman — "Ahiṃsa Warriors: Epic Heroes and Avatāras in Jaina Narrative Literature"
Kristi Wiley — "Nigodas Revisited"
Alexander von Rospatt — "Beyond Jainism: Reflections on the Survival of Indic Buddhism in Nepal"

Click here to visit the symposium website.


Thursday, October 10, 2013, 5 pm
Śākyamuni Returns to Lumbinī: A Popular Theme in Newar Buddhist Art and Literature
Gudrun Bühnemann, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor conference room

Image for Śākyamuni Returns to Lumbinī: A Popular Theme in Newar Buddhist Art and Literature lecture

According to Newar Buddhists, Śākyamuni Buddha returned to his birthplace Lumbinī after his enlightenment. Depictions of his journey and visit to Lumbinī date back to the seventeenth century. They show the Buddha riding standing up on a Nāga while being attended by Hindu deities in service to him. The theme, known as the lumbinīyātrā, is represented in numerous paintings and in wood and metal work and became especially popular in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Nepal. This paper traces the history of the lumbinīyātrā by examining descriptions in texts and artistic representations and discusses elements of the yātrā which are also found independently in other contexts. In conclusion, it offers some thoughts on the significance of the theme.

Gudrun Bühnemann is a Professor in the Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia, The University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has published extensively on South Asian iconography and ritual. Details can be found at http://lca.wisc.edu/~gbuhnema/. Her recent books include Buddhist Iconography and Ritual in Paintings and Line Drawings from Nepal (Lumbini International Research Institute, 2008) and The Life of the Buddha: Buddhist and Śaiva Iconography and Visual Narratives in Artists' Sketchbooks from Nepal (Lumbini International Research Institute, 2012).


Saturday, October 5, 2013
Fifth Annual Group in Buddhist Studies Fall Hike and Picnic
Stinson Beach


Fifth Annual Group in Buddhist Studies Fall Hike and Picnic


Fifth Annual Group in Buddhist Studies Fall Hike and Picnic
 

Thursday, October 3, 2013, 5 pm
The Interpretation of the Past in Modern Chinese Buddhism
John Kieschnick, Stanford University
Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor conference room

Image for The Interpretation of the Past in Modern Chinese Buddhism

Over 1500 years, Chinese Buddhists developed a distinctive way of writing about the past, informed on the one hand by Buddhist doctrine, and on the other by a strong indigenous tradition of Chinese historiography. In the twentieth century, however, many of the core assumptions of Chinese Buddhist historiography became increasingly difficult to maintain. A new awareness of the history of Buddhism in India, Ceylon and elsewhere suggested that long held Chinese views about, for instance, the dates of the Buddha, were wrong, and the primacy of Mahayana as the last word of the Buddha began to look suspect. At the same time, Chinese academics, under the influence of the latest trends in Germany, Japan and America, championed radical changes in the writing of history — calling for greater rigor in the use of sources and an iconoclastic suspicion of the veracity of texts and events of cherished national history — that had profound implications for the history of Buddhism. In this lecture, I trace the changes in Buddhist historiography, primarily in the writings of Taixu 太虛 (1890-1947) and Yinshun 印順 (1906-2005). The story of their struggles to narrate the Buddhist past in the modern era reveal the exciting opportunities provided by the new ideas that flooded China in the twentieth century, the dangers of a harsh and fickle political environment, and the limitations of their unique social circumstances as erudite monks from humble family backgrounds.

John Kieschnick, Robert H. N. Ho Professor of Buddhist Studies at Stanford University, specializes in the cultural history of Chinese Buddhism. His representative works are The Eminent Monk: Monastic Ideals in Medieval Chinese Buddhist Hagiography (University of Hawai’i Press, 1997) and The Impact of Buddhism on Chinese Material Culture (Princeton, 2003). He is currently writing a book on the place of the past in Chinese Buddhism.


Thursday, September 19, 2013, 5 pm
The Uttaratantra Commentaries in 13th-Century Tibet
Tsering Wangchuk, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of San Francisco
Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor conference room

Image for The <em>Uttaratantra</em> Commentaries in 13th-Century Tibet lecture

The Uttaratantra is an early Indic treatise that discusses the concept of buddha-nature at great length. The text was first translated into Tibetan in the 11th century, and since then Tibetan masters have written a number of commentaries to the treatise from various doctrinal perspectives. This paper focuses mainly on the 13th-century Tibetan commentaries that laid the doctrinal foundation for later Tibetan scholars' formulations of ultimate truth.

Tsering Wangchuk received his PhD from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. He is an Assistant Professor and the Richard Blum Chair in Himalayan Studies in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Francisco. His research interests include the intellectual history of Tibetan Buddhism and the Tibetan diaspora.


Thursday, September 5, 2013, 5 pm
The Self as a Process: Rāmakaṇṭha's Middle Ground Between Brahminical Eternalism and Buddhist Momentariness
Alex Watson, Harvard University
Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor conference room

Image for The Self as a Process: Rāmakaṇṭha's Middle Ground Between Brahminical Eternalism and Buddhist Momentariness lecture

This paper concerns the Buddhist-Brahminical debate about the existence or non-existence of a self. First an analysis is given of what precisely separates the Buddhist and the Brahminical positions. Next the view of Rāmakaṇṭha — a little-studied 10th century Kashmirian thinker, belonging to the tradition of Śaiva Siddhānta — is introduced. We will see how he carves out middle ground between the two protagonists in this debate, and I will argue that those two occupy extreme limits, leading to an unnecessary polarization of the debate. Rāmakaṇṭha's view arguably provides better opposition to Buddhism, since it achieves what the Naiyāyika wants to achieve while making less extravagant metaphysical claims.

At the end I ask which is to be preferred, Rāmakaṇṭha's view or the Buddhist's. I argue that these two views are also unnecessarily polarized, and I outline a different philosophical position, which rejects both the contention that we have an unchanging essence (accepted by all the Brahminical thinkers and by Rāmakaṇṭha), and the contention that we are momentary (which came to be the mainstream view of Buddhist philosophy).

Alex Watson is the Sanskrit Preceptor at Harvard University. His publications include The Self's Awareness of Itself (2006), about the Buddhist-Brahminical Ātman debate, and (with Dominic Goodall and Anjaneya Sarma) An Enquiry into the Nature of Liberation (2013), about twenty different theories concerning liberation (mokṣa) and the nature of the liberated state. After a BA in Western Philosophy and Psychology (University of Oxford), he switched to Indian Philosophy and Sanskrit, completing an MA (SOAS, University of London), MPhil, DPhil and JRF (University of Oxford). He has held research fellowships at the EFEO, Pondicherry, India, a JSPS fellowship at Kyushu University, Japan, and has taught at the University of Vienna.


Thursday, May 2, 2013, 5 pm
On the Western Study of Yogācāra Buddhism Alberto Todeschini, Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley and the Mangalam Research Center for Buddhist Languages, Berkeley
Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor conference room

Image for On the Western Study of Yogācāra Buddhism

Much attention has been paid, in the past few decades, to the Western encounter with Buddhism writ large. But the European and American encounter with Yogācāra Buddhism has received relatively little notice. Yogācāra, which arose in the first centuries of the common era, was one of the most significant philosophical developments of South Asian Mahāyāna. It was the subject of extended critique from Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike, and with the exception of Japan, classical Yogācāra did not survive as an independent school. Be that as it may, its influence was felt throughout the Mahāyāna world. This talk explores roughly the first century of the academic study of Yogācāra, highlighting the emergence of important trends such as the idealist interpretation of the school and notions surrounding the relationship between Yogācāra and meditative practice.

Alberto Todeschini received his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia after studying at the University of London and Lausanne. He specializes in South Asian Buddhism and is currently researching the function of dreams in Buddhism, the reception of Yogācāra Buddhism in 19th century Europe and North America, and the life of the nun Bhaddā Kuṇḍalakesā. He previously taught at the University of London, at Kathmandu University's Center for Buddhist Studies and at the University of Virginia, where he also worked at the Tibetan and Himalayan Library. He has been Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai fellow at the Research Institute for Buddhist Culture at Ryukoku University in Kyoto and visiting fellow at Kyoto University's Institute for Research in Humanities.


Thursday, April 11, 2013, 5 pm
From Seal to Consort and Back Again: The Shifting Significance of the Term Mudrā in Esoteric Buddhist Literature
David B. Gray, Santa Clara University
Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor conference room

Image for From Seal to Consort and Back Again: The Shifting Significance of the Term Mudrā in Esoteric Buddhist Literature lecture

The Sanskrit term mudrā is an important "term of art" in tantric Buddhist literature, given the fact that it has special meanings in this context, distinct from its customary usage. While it retains its ordinary sense of "seal," the term also has several other special meanings, including the well-known "hand gesture" as well as the lesser-known "consort" or "sexual partner." In this talk I will endeavor to explore the history of this term in tantric Buddhist literature, and in so doing shed some light on the history of the development of tantric Buddhist traditions in India.

David B. Gray is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Santa Clara University, in Santa Clara, California, where he teaches a wide range of Asian religions courses. His research explores the development of tantric Buddhist traditions in South Asia, and their dissemination in Tibet and East Asia, with a focus on the Yoginītantras, a genre of Buddhist tantric literature that focused on female deities and yogic practices involving the subtle body. His publications include numerous journal articles and book chapters, as well as The Cakrasamvara Tantra: A Study and Annotated Translation (New York: American Institute of Buddhist Studies, 2007), and the forthcoming books "The Cakrasamvara Tantra: Editions of the Sanskrit and Tibetan Texts" and "Tsong Khapa's Illumination of the Hidden Meaning: Maṇḍala, Mantra, and the Cult of the Yoginīs, An Annotated Translation of Chapters 1-24."


Friday, March 8, 2013, 5 pm
2013 Khyentse Lecture
Old Chang in New Bottles
New Light on the Dalai Lama Incarnation: The Dromtön Legacy, Sacred Junipers and the Lineage's Arboreal Origins

Per K. Sørensen, University of Leipzig
Toll Room, Alumni House, UC Berkeley

5th Dalai Lama

5th Dalai Lama

Throughout history, countless Tibetan religious masters and major emanational lineages or Tulku hierarchies have identified themselves with Tibet's celebrated patron bodhisattva and national saint, Avalokiteśvara, and further back with the Tibetan monarch and national founding figure Srongtsen Gampo. These lineages and eminent religious figures were all to play decisive roles in shaping the political and religious life of Tibet.

The most prominent embodiment of this popular deity patron surely culminated in the universally recognized Dalai Lama lineage, a lineage and cult of the Great Compassionate One that was to legitimize and thus underpin the first theocratic nation-building in Tibet. A compelling narrative central to the national identity of the country, the lecture will offer new intriguing insights regarding the formation and rise of this institution — aspects hitherto unknown to most people.

Per K. Sørensen is professor of Tibetology and Central Asian Studies at the University of Leipzig. He is the author of numerous books and research papers, including Divinity Secularized, Tibetan Buddhist Historiography, and co-authored the trilogy Civilization at the Foot of Mt. Shampo, Thundering Falcon and Rulers on the Celestial Plain. He has traveled widely in the Himalayas, in Tibet and Bhutan where he headed a research project for 15 years. His main interests include Tibetan language and literature, history and cultural studies.


Thursday, February 21, 2013, 5 pm
Images, Conventions, and Significance: Reading Buddha Images from Gandhara
Juhyung Rhi, Seoul National University, Korea
Conference Room, Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor

Buddha, Gandhara

Buddha, Gandhara

Two things seem clear as regards Buddha images from Gandhara. They were mostly votive dedications, and they had no straightforward connections to narrative themes from the Buddha's life. We are justified to ask, then, what they were supposed to mean as presentation, if not representation, of the Buddha. Did they reflect simple iconographic conventions? Or were they encoded with meanings that are not instantly manifest?

Juhyung Rhi is professor of art history at Seoul National University and currently a member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. As a specialist in Indian Buddhist art, he has written extensively on early Indian traditions, in particular Gandharan.

 

Thursday, February 7, 2013, 5 pm
From Buddhist Monasteries and Meditation to Mental Hospitals and MRIs
James Robson, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University
Conference Room, Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor

Image from the lecture 'From Buddhist Monasteries and Meditation to Mental Hospitals and MRIs'

This talk explores the intersections between Buddhism/Buddhist institutions and madness/mental institutions. It begins with a general discussion of the place of madness within the Buddhist tradition by tracking references to madness in a variety of sources (from doctrinal texts to law codes). Following that general discussion, the talk moves to the intriguing history of the institutional connections between Buddhist monasteries and mental institutions in China, Taiwan and Japan. I introduce some case studies of sites where modern mental hospitals grew up within the precincts or adjacent to Buddhist monasteries. What, I will ask, is the historical relationship between the Buddhist monasteries and the new mental hospitals? Have there been institutional connections between the monasteries and the hospitals throughout history? In addressing these questions we encounter a history of the fundamental role played by Buddhist monasteries in the therapy of those beset with mental illnesses. Due to modern changes in the care for the mentally ill — including a move toward mandatory hospitalization — the earlier history of the connections between the Buddhist monasteries and those afflicted with mental illness became hidden. One of the primary goals of this paper is to recover some of that history and show the role that was played by Buddhist temples in providing therapies, magical cures, and day to day care for the mentally ill. I will conclude the talk by shifting our attention to the West and the dramatic increase in the number of psychotherapists, counselors, mental health workers, and neuroscientists who have become interested in meditation and various forms of what have come to be called "Buddhist Psychotherapy" and "Buddhist Mindfulness." A spate of articles in the New York Times ("Mindfulness Meditation, Based on Buddha's Teachings, Gains Ground With Therapists," "Lotus Therapy," and "The Neural Buddhists"), for example, evinces the high level of popular interests in these topics. Recent therapies claimed to be derived from the Buddhist tradition have continued apace despite little understanding of the long history of the care for the mentally ill within Buddhism and little accurate information concerning scientific research on Buddhist meditation and mindfulness practices and their application to specific psychiatric disorders and general self-help therapies.

James Robson is a Professor of East Asian Religions in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University and previously taught at Williams College and the University of Michigan. He specializes in the history of Chinese Buddhism and Daoism. He is the author of the Power of Place: The Religious Landscape of the Southern Sacred Peak [Nanyue 南嶽] in Medieval China (Harvard University Press, 2009) and has published on topics ranging from sacred geography and local religious history to talismans and the historical development of Chan/Zen Buddhism. He has been engaged in a long-term collaborative research project with the École Française d'Extrême-Orient studying local religious statuary from Hunan province and is the editor of the forthcoming Norton Anthology of World Religions: Daoism.


Thursday, January 24, 2013, 5 pm
Letters of Advice for a Buddhist Queen of Tibet: Female Empowerment, Tantric Statecraft, and Contested Reputations
Jann Ronis, Shinjo Ito Postdoctoral Fellow, UC Berkeley
Conference Room, Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor

Image from the lecture on 'Letters of Advice for a Buddhist Queen of Tibet: Female Empowerment, Tantric Statecraft, and Contested Reputations'

At the turn of the nineteenth century the ruler of the powerful kingdom of Dergé in Eastern Tibet was the queen Tsewang Lhamo (d. 1812). This paper explores two epistles written for her by chaplains to the royal family. The conventions of advice for Buddhist kings written from the perspective of exoteric Buddhism are well known to scholars. These Tibetan epistles differ for being addressed to a woman and for operating out of a tantric ethical framework. The two works challenge the mainstream Buddhist views of the inferior spiritual and worldly capabilities of women in terms of esoteric doctrine and mythical precedents of the Buddha's past lives as women. Several key passages from the epistles will be highlighted in this paper. The normative claims made in the letters will be augmented with a profile of the political career and posthumous reputation of this unusually well documented female monarch.

Jann Ronis studied religion, Tibetan studies, Sinology, and the Tibetan and Chinese languages at the University of Virginia. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in 2009 for a dissertation about developments in the monasteries of eastern Tibet, along the border between Tibet and China, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. At Berkeley Dr. Ronis is researching the twelfth and thirteenth century formation of an important ritual tradition in Tibetan Buddhism — the Kagye (bka' brgyad), or Eight Dispensations in an effort to better understand the domestication of Buddhism in Tibet. The Kagye is a compendium of eight heterogeneous deity cults including deities of Indic and Tibetan origins, and supramundane and mundane statuses — and Dr. Ronis is exploring the innovations in narrative and ritual made by the Tibetan creators of this uniquely Tibetan pantheon.


Thursday, November 1, 2012, 5 pm
Buddhism, Becker and Social Violence: Toward a Buddhist Critical Social Theory
William Waldron, Middlebury College
Conference Room, Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor

Buddhism, Becker and Social Violence image

In Escape from Evil, Ernest Becker famously declared that "evil comes from man's urge to heroic victory over evil." He argues that is it our vain attempt — driven by hope, fear and ignorance — to forge unchanging personal and social identities that ends up making "the earth an even more eager graveyard than it naturally is." Indian Buddhist thought similarly suggests that it is our attempt to turn reality on its head (viparyāsa) — to find satisfaction, permanence, and personal identity in a world characterized by its opposites — that ends up making more, not less, suffering and unhappiness. Buddhist thought, though, has not typically directed its trenchant analysis toward the dreadful dynamics of social and political life, leaving modern Buddhists bereft of a critical social theory. This talk suggests such an approach by interweaving ideas from traditional Buddhism, Ernest Becker and the natural and social sciences.

William Waldron teaches courses on Buddhism, Buddhist Philosophy, and the Study of Religion at Middlebury College. He received his B.A. in South Asian Studies and Ph. D. in Buddhist Studies from the University of Wisconsin, after working with native scholars in India, Nepal and Japan. His research focuses on the Yogācāra school of Indian Buddhism. He has published a monograph on the 'store-house consciousness' (ālaya-vijñāna) (The Buddhist Unconscious) and numerous articles on Buddhist philosophy of mind in dialogue with modern philosophy and cognitive science.


Thursday, October 25, 2012, 5 pm
Contemporary Conversations between Buddhism and Science
David E. Presti, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, and Program in Cognitive Science, University of California, Berkeley
Conference Room, Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor

Tibetan monks studying neuroscience, Deer Park Institute, India. Photo by David Presti.

Tibetan monks studying neuroscience,
Deer Park Institute, India.
Photo by David Presti.

Back in the 1980s, the Dalai Lama offered the suggestion that a dialogue between Buddhist contemplatives and Western scientists interested in the nature of mind might lead to new ideas and be of benefit to both Buddhist and scientific communities. This dialogue has grown to become a nearly annual event between the Dalai Lama and various scientists and educators. As part of enlarging this conversation, educational programs are evolving in which Tibetan monks and nuns engage in the study of science. While the dialogue between Buddhism and science has opened up interesting new arenas of investigation, certain topics of potential great import remain unaddressed. These include deep questions about the nature of consciousness and the limitations of Western science, as it is conventionally practiced, to address such questions.

David Presti has taught neurobiology and cognitive science at the University ofCalifornia in Berkeley for 22 years. For the past 8 years, he has also been teaching neuroscience to Tibetan Buddhist monastics in India. His educational background is in physics, molecular biology, and psychology, and his primary research interest is in the connection between mental experience and brain-body physiology, the so-called mind-body problem.


Thursday, September 27, 2012, 5 pm
Buddhist Nuns? The Workings of Initiation Rituals and Normative Texts in Their Historical and Local Contexts
Ute Hüsken, Professor of Sanskrit, University of Oslo, Norway
370 Dwinelle Hall

Bhikkhuni Sanghamitta, wall painting, Keleniya Monastery, Sri Lanka

Bhikkhuni Sanghamitta, wall painting, Keleniya Monastery, Sri Lanka

Buddhism is often perceived and represented as a universal religion. At the same time, Buddhism always takes historically and locally specific forms. These forms emerge in close interaction with wider cultural and social norms and values. Contextual changes, the transfer of Buddhism from one context to another, and other dynamics often lead to conflicts and contradictions. Such conflicts challenge fundamental norms and values which are expressed in diverse canonical texts and also by contemporary representatives of Buddhist traditions. One of the most pressing contemporary challenges are the controversies over the ordination of women into the monastic community: Should women be allowed to formally lead the life of a Buddhist mendicant, become ordained nuns (bhikkhuni / bhikshuni) and be full-fledged members of the Sangha? In my presentation I will introduce some canonical textual traditions on the matter, discuss their contemporary interpretations and applications, and discuss the actual state-of-affairs in the Tibetan and Theravada traditions, interpreting the ordination as Buddhist nun as legal act and as a transformative rite de passage respectively.

Ute Hüsken is an Indian studies scholar and cultural anthropologist with PhD degree from Göttingen University (1996) and Habilitation from Heidelberg University (2002). Her main fields of expertise are Ritual Studies, Women in Buddhism, and South Indian Hindu traditions. Since 2007 she is Professor of Sanskrit at Oslo University, where she teaches courses on religion in South Asia, Sanskrit, Pali, ancient and contemporary Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. Together with Ronald L. Grimes (Canada) she co-edits the Oxford Ritual Studies Series (OUP).


Thursday, September 20, 2012, 5 pm
2012 Numata Lecture
The Buddhas of the Kathmandu Valley
Musashi Tachikawa, Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies, UC Berkeley
Conference Room, Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor

Avalokitesvara, Kathmandu, Nepal
Photograph by Alexander von Rospatt

Avalokitesvara, Kathmandu, Nepal
Photograph by Alexander von Rospatt

Although Mahayana Buddhism in India disappeared around the thirteenth century, it continued to be practiced among the Newars of the Kathmandu Valley, and, with some modifications, it survives there today. Accordingly, their pantheon of deities is structured according to late Indian Buddhist Tantric models and for this employs the standard Sanskrit names of Buddhas and other divine beings. This talk will explore the way the Newar pantheon is imagined and structured, tracking its Indian origins and its local modifications.

Musashi Tachikawa received his Ph.D. in Sanskrit and Indian Studies from Harvard University and was Professor at the National Museum of Ethnology (1992-2004) and Aichi Gakuin University (2004 to 2011) in Japan. He also was a visiting professor of Buddhist studies at the University of California, Berkeley (1987), at the University of Chicago (1992) and at Leiden University, The Netherlands (2001).


Saturday, September 15, 2012
Fourth annual Group in Buddhist Studies Fall Hike and Picnic
Muir Beach


Fourth annual Group in Buddhist Studies Fall Hike and Picnic

Fourth Annual Buddhist Studies Hike and Picnic, Tennessee Valley Beach

 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012, Noon
The Life and Songs of a Mad Yogin
Stefan Larsson, Postdoctoral Fellow in Buddhist Studies, UC Berkeley
3335 Dwinelle Hall

The Life and Songs of a Mad Yogin image

The Tibetan 'mad yogin' Tsangnyön Heruka (1452–1507) was an important figure in the history and formation of the genres of Buddhist 'songs of realization' (mgur) and 'biographies of liberation' (rnam thar) in Tibet. He and his disciples authored and published a large number of such texts. Among them, Tsangnyön's life story and collected songs of Milarepa (printed in 1488) stand out as particularly significant. These two works became extraordinarily popular in Tibet and beyond, eclipsing Tsangnyön's own biographies and songs. Given his position as one of Tibet's most important authors, and perhaps the most influential mad yogin in Tibetan Buddhism, it is somewhat surprising that his own life story and songs never became widely disseminated and have received comparatively little attention. Primarily drawing upon these texts, this talk will shed some light upon this important Tibetan master, and upon holy madness in Tibet, an often neglected subject in the study of tantric Buddhism.

Stefan Larsson, Ph.D. (2009) in History of Religions, Stockholm University, is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on the non-monastic and practice-oriented aspects of Tibetan Buddhism, particularly as evidenced in Buddhist songs and biographical literature. His book "Crazy for Wisdom: The Making of a Mad Yogin in Fifteenth-Century Tibet" is forthcoming from Brill.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 3-7 pm
Shamans, Buddhists and Muslim Saints: The Layered History of the Desert Mazar
Symposium
Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor conference room

Photograph by Lisa Ross.

Photograph by Lisa Ross.

In conjunction with the exhibition in the IEAS Gallery, "Desert Mazar: Sacred Sites in Western China," a symposium on the historical and contemporary religious landscape of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

3:00-3:20 Introduction
Sanjyot Mehendale, Vice Chair, Center for Buddhist Studies

3:20-4:00 Framing the Desert Mazar: Exhibitions, Artists and Scholarship
Beth Citron (Assistant Curator, Rubin Museum of Art) and Lisa Ross (Artist/Photographer)

4:00-4:30 Buddhist-Muslim Interaction in Mongol Inner Asia
Johan Elverskog, Visiting Fellow, Stanford University

4:30-4:40 Coffee/Tea Break

4:40-5:10 Sufis, Dervishes and Maddahs in the Mazars of East Turkestan
Alexandre Papas, National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), Paris

5:10-5:40 Mapping the Sacred Landscape: Uyghur Shrines in Xinjiang
Rahila Dawut, Xinjiang University, China

5:40-6:30 Panel Discussion and Q&A
Chair, Sanjyot Mehendale


Thursday, April 19, 2012, 5 pm
Johan Elverskog, Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences Fellow, Stanford University
Creative Destruction: An Environmental History of Buddhist Asia
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor

Lhasa Cityscape

Lhasa Cityscape

Buddhism is often linked to environmentalism and deep ecology in both popular and academic discourses, yet few have investigated how Buddhists actually impacted the natural world. Drawing upon the burgeoning field of environmental history, as well as Buddhist Studies, this presentation will explore not only how we can begin to investigate the environmental impact wrought by Buddhists, but also how the elucidation of this history enables us to explore large-scale interlocking processes across pre-modern Asia.

Johan Elverskog is Altshuler University Distinguished Professor and Professor of Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University, and is currently a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. He is the author and editor of seven books including most recently Buddhism and Islam on the Silk Road, which was a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2010, and winner of the American Academy of Religion's 2011 Award for Excellence in the Historical Study of Religion.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012, 5:15 pm
Osmund Bopearachchi, National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), Paris
Visiting Professor, History of Art, UC Berkeley
A 2nd Century BCE Shipwreck and the Role of the Bodhisattva Avalokistesvara as the Protector of Mariners
308J, Doe Library, History of Art Department

A 2nd Century BCE Shipwreck and the Role of the Bodhisattva Avalokistesvara as the Protector of Mariners

In December 2010 and January 2012, respectively, two test dives were carried out on a ship¬wreck discovered off the coast of Godavaya by an international team composed of divers and archaeologists from Sri Lanka (Department of Archaeology), the USA (INA, University Texas A & M and University of California at Berkeley) and France (CNRS – Sorbonne-Paris IV). Carbon 14 analyses carried out on three wood samples date the shipwreck to the 2nd century BCE which makes it the oldest ever found in the Indian Ocean. Given the importance of Godavaya as the main maritime trading center of the southern coast, it is no wonder that so many images of Avalokiteśvara, as the protector of mariners, were found along the Walawe Ganga.

Osmund Bopearachchi is Director of Research at the French National Center for Scientific Research (C.N.R.S.-E.N.S. Paris), a member of the Doctoral School VI of the Paris IV-Sorbonne University, and visiting professor of Central Asian and South-Asian archaeology and art history at UC Berkeley. He holds a B.A. from the University of Kelaniya (Sri Lanka), and B.A. honors, (M.A.), M.Phil., Ph.D. from the Paris I-Sorbonne University, and a Higher Doctorate (Habilitation) from the Paris IV-Sorbonne University.

Dr. Bopearachchi has published nine books, edited six books and published 130 articles in international journals. He currently serves as the director of the Sri Lanka-French Archaeological Mission, and also has launched a joint project with the Department of Near-Eastern Studies of the University of California at Berkeley focusing on Sri Lanka's role in ancient maritime trade in the Indian Ocean. He is currently excavating the most ancient shipwreck in the Indian Ocean (2nd century B.C.E.) in collaboration with the Department of Archaeology, Sri Lanka, INA, Texas A & M University, U.C. Berkeley, and CNRS.


Friday-Saturday, April 6-7, 2012
Healing Texts, Healing Practices, Healing Bodies: A Workshop on Medicine and Buddhism
Conference/Symposium
Sponsored by the Center for Japanese Studies and Center for Buddhist Studies
370 Dwinelle Hall

The prevention, alleviation and cure of physical and mental ills have been central concerns of Buddhist traditions across Asia, as well as a major drive in the creation and promotion of healing rituals and therapies. At the same time, monks have played a key role in the spread and circulation of medical knowledge beyond national borders, and Buddhist institutions have provided fertile ground for the development and consolidation of medical treatises and curative techniques.

The workshop Healing Texts, Healing Practices, Healing Bodies aims to be a platform for scholars working in different fields of Buddhist studies to explore the intersections of Buddhism and medical knowledge in comparative perspective. The papers will analyze different therapeutic strategies emerging from textual sources and ritual practices; discuss how discourses on physical and mental illness have been constructed, represented and embodied; and examine how conceptions of pollution and filth have informed notions of disease as well as their treatment.

Schedule

Friday, April 6, 2012

2:30: Welcome by CBS and CJS Chair

2:45–5:00 — Section 1: Buddhism and Medicine in Dialogue

2:45–3:15: Janet Gyatso (Harvard)
Values and Ways of Knowing: Conflicts (and Confluences) Between Buddhism and Medicine in Tibet

3:15–3:45: Andrew Goble (Oregon)
Faith in Medicine: The Emergence of a New Medicinal Culture in Medieval Japan

3:45–4:15: Laura Allen (Independent Researcher)
Pox-gods, Sacred Buckets, and Big Red Babies: Late Edo Prints for Disease Prevention

4:15–4:45: Discussion chaired by Robert Sharf (Berkeley)

5:00–5:30: Refreshments


Saturday, April 7, 2012

9:45–10:00: Breakfast

10:00–12:15 — Section 2: Monks, Healers and their Texts

10:00–10:30: Amy Langenberg (Auburn)
Female Herbalists, Midwives, and their Clientele in Early Buddhist India: A View from the Vinaya Tradition

10:30–11:00: C. Pierce Salguero (Penn State)
Buddhist Medicine in Crosscultural Translation: Disease and Healing in the Chinese Tripitaka

11:00–11:30: Paul Copp (Chicago)
Buddhist Healers and their Handbooks: Scribal and Ritual Practice in Manuscript Culture

11:30–12:00: Discussion chaired by Jake Dalton (Berkeley)

12:00–1:30: Lunch Break

1:30–2:30 — Keynote

Shigehisa Kuriyama (Harvard)
The Buddhism of Western Medicine

2:30–2:40: Coffee Break

2:45–4:15 — Section 3: Illness, Pollution and Madness

2:45–3:15: Edward Drott (Missouri)
The Meanings and Uses of Pollution in Late Heian Didactic Tales

3:15–3:45: Benedetta Lomi (Berkeley)
Healing Through the Six Syllables: Body and Medicine in the Rokujikyō-hō

3:45–4:15: James Robson (Harvard)
Monks, Monasteries and Madness: The Relationship between Buddhist Monasteries and Mental Institutions in East Asia

4:15–4:45: Discussion, chaired by Regan Murphy (Berkeley)

4:45–5:15: Plenary Discussion and Concluding Remarks chaired by Benedetta Lomi

5:15: Reception

Please contact the Center for Japanese Studies (cjs@berkeley.edu, 510‑642‑3156) or Benedetta Lomi (b.lomi@berkeley.edu) for more information.


Thursday, March 8, 2012, 5 pm
Padmanabh S. Jaini, Professor Emeritus of Buddhist Studies, UC Berkeley
Sri Ramakrishna's Legacy: A Buddhist Perspective
And a Note on the Buddha as the Ninth Avatāra of Vishnu

Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton, Conference Room, 6th floor

Swami Vivekānanda: 1863-1902

Swami Vivekānanda: 1863-1902

In his majestic work Sri Ramakrishna (1834-1886) and His Divine Play, Swami Saradananda states: "After performing sādhanā according to the main religious denominations prevalent in India, and even the non-Indian religion, Christianity, …Sri Ramakrishna observed that each one of them led the aspirant towards the non-dual plane: Advaita, the Brahman of the Upanishads, the Vedanta."

Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), the founder of the Ramakrishna Mission and the Vedanta Society, chose, probably without a precedent, the sacred syllable OM, as the supreme Icon of the Brahman, for the Society's Temple. It appears that in the post-Gupta era, OM became identified with a certain image of the god Ganesha, hailed as "pranava-svarupam," and occasionally invested with the emblems of Lord Vishnu.

To the question how the 'atheistic' Buddhism may find place in the Master's Vedanta vision, Swami Saradananda states: "In regard to Buddha the Master shared the same beliefs as all Hindus: He always offered loving worship and reverence to Buddha as an avatāra, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu".

There are several literary sources which describe the Buddha as the 'Illusion Personified' (māyā-purusha) avatāra of Vishnu. This paper will look at a rare sculpture of a standing Buddha appearing in the "dashāvatāra" panel, from North Gujarat.

Swami Saradananda sums up the Master's own legacy: "All religions are true — as many faiths, so many paths."…He lived for one purpose: to eradicate as far as possible religious narrowness from the world." This is a legacy inherited from the Emperor Ashoka, who was promoting 'harmony of religions' with the memorable words "samavāyo eva sādhu."

Padmanabh S. Jaini is Professor Emeritus of Buddhist Studies and co-founder of the Group in Buddhist Studies. Before joining UC Berkeley in 1972, he taught at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, and at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is the author of numerous monographs and articles on both Buddhism and Jainism. In the field of Buddhist Studies he is particularly well known for his work on Abhidharma and for his critical editions of the Abhidharmadīpa (a Vaibhāṣika treatise), the Sāratamā (a commentary on the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā), and a collection of apocroyphal Jātakas, the Paññāsa-Jātaka, that appeared in four volumes (text and translation). His collected essays have appeared in two volumes, and, recently, he has been honored by a Festschrift (2003) with contributions on early Buddhism and Jainism.


Thursday, March 1, 2012, 5 pm
Jann Ronis, Shinjo Ito Postdoctoral Fellow, UC Berkeley
Contestation and Innovation in the Fruitful Encounter Between a Lay Visionary and Monk Scholars: The Revelations of Longsel Nyingpo (1625-1692)
Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor

A dominant feature of Tibetan Buddhism is the tradition of revealed treasures (terma) — scriptures, images, and ritual implements "excavated" from from physical sites or the mind streams of designated revealers and made the foci of tantric cults. The treasure tradition dates to the early 11th century, the beginning of the Tibetan renaissance during which all major lineages have their origins, and treasures are integral facets of most Tibetan Buddhist sects. It is well known in contemporary scholarship on treasure traditions that the majority of treasure revealers have been non-monastic tantrists and that most textual treasure traditions reflect the liturgical and contemplative needs of smaller-scale communities that were themselves likely non- or loosely-monastic. Despite these humble origins certain textual treasure traditions have gained renown for their spiritual efficacy and the leaders of large monasteries have incorporated certain of them into their liturgical programs through the composition of liturgies that evoke the deities and lineages of the treasures while at the same time conforming to the customs of communal monastic rituals. Nevertheless, what might transpire when an active treasure revealer finds himself at the helm of a monastery that has a strong prior commitment to a non-treasure based system of ritual and scholastics, and, in fact, has a conflicted history with the treasures? This talk will explore just such an encounter and, in so doing, aims to expand the understanding of the tradition on several points.

The subject of this talk is the treasure revealer Longsel Nyingpo (1625-1692) and his tenure at Katok Monastery in last two decades of his life, after a long career as treasure revealer largely outside of monastic settings. At Katok, Longsel Nyingpo excavated — i.e., composed — one cycle of treasures and it is explicitly connected with the non-treasure traditions that Katok had always identified as their special heritage. How did Longsel Nyingpo present himself in these texts as a master of Katok's traditions, in which he presumably had little or no prior training? Though his texts explicitly identify themselves as within the Katok tradition, in what ways do they differ from mainstream Katok texts? Considering that he was attempting to establish a hereditary line of lamas at the monastery, what do these discrepancies suggest about Longsel Nyingpo's broader agenda at Katok? Are there indications of close collaboration between Longsel Nyingpo and learned Katok lamas on certain texts, especially his treasures on the path and systematic philosophy? Finally, what was the reception history of these texts in the medium to long term at Katok? This talk will therefore interest scholars working on the social history of esoteric movements, the intersection of monasticism and tanra, the centrality of "indigenous scriptures" in vernacular Buddhist traditions, and the intellectual history of competing ritual traditions.

Jann Ronis (Shinjo Ito Postdoctoral Fellow, 2011-12, UC Berkeley) studied religion, Tibetan studies, Sinology, and the Tibetan and Chinese languages at the University of Virginia. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in 2009 for a dissertation about developments in the monasteries of eastern Tibet, along the border between Tibet and China, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. His dissertation focused on innovations in scholastics, liturgical practices, and administration spearheaded by the lamas of Katok Monastery and their widespread adoption in the region. The resulting network of monasteries represented the only significant alternative in Tibet to the model of monasticism prevalent in central Tibet and was the site of tremendous literary and artistic production. His research interests include the social histories of visionary cults, scholastic traditions, monastic reform movements, and sectarian conflicts; the philosophical and contemplative traditions of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism; and Sino-Tibetan cultural relations. During his year at Berkeley Jann is researching the twelfth and thirteenth century formation of an important ritual tradition in Tibetan Buddhism — the Kagye (bka' brgyad), or Eight Dispensations in an effort to better understand the domestication of Buddhism in Tibet. The Kagye is a compendium of eight heterogeneous deity cults including deities of Indic and Tibetan origins, and supramundane and mundane statuses — and Jann is exploring the innovations in narrative and ritual made by the Tibetan creators of this uniquely Tibetan pantheon.


Thursday, February 16, 2012, 5 pm
2012 Khyentse Lecture
Matthew T. Kapstein, Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies, The University of Chicago Divinity School
Tibet in the Age of Manuscripts: Reflections on Recent Textual Discoveries
Heyns Room, Men's Faculty Club

Workers before the manuscript cache discovered at the Temple of the Sixteen Arhats, Drepung Monastery

Workers before the manuscript cache
discovered at the Temple of the
Sixteen Arhats, Drepung Monastery

During the past few decades, the discovery, cataloguing, and partial publication of important Tibetan manuscript collections has substantially transformed our view of the intellectual and religious history of Tibet. Important developments about which we were almost entirely ignorant only a decade ago may now be studied in detail thanks to copious newly available documentation. The present talk will review aspects of the recent manuscript finds, considering their implications for our understanding of Tibetan cultural history more generally.

Matthew T. Kapstein specializes in the history of Buddhist philosophy in India and Tibet, as well as in the cultural history of Tibetan Buddhism more generally. Kapstein has published a dozen books and numerous articles, among the most recent of which are a general introduction to Tibetan cultural history, The Tibetans (Oxford 2006), an edited volume on Sino-Tibetan religious relations, Buddhism Between Tibet and China (Boston 2009), and a translation of an eleventh-century philosophical allegory in the acclaimed Clay Sanskrit Series, The Rise of Wisdom Moon (New York 2009). With Kurtis Schaeffer (University of Virginia) and Gray Tuttle (Columbia), he has completed "Sources of Tibetan Traditions," to be published in the Columbia University Press Sources of Asian Traditions series in early 2012. Kapstein is additionally Director of Tibetan Studies at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris.


Thursday, February 2, 2012, 5 pm
Jeff Durham, Curator of Himalayan Art, Asian Art Museum
Transformation by Thangka: Yoga Tantra Paintings from Sakya's Tibet
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor

Image for 'Transformation by Thangka: Yoga Tantra Paintings from Sakya's Tibet' lecture

The Five Jinas, cosmic Buddhas associated with the four directions and their central axis, appear prominently across the Himalayan art historical corpus. These sets are visual synecdoche for the initiation (abhisekha) of Shakyamuni as told in yoga tantra texts like the Tattvasamgraha. In these accounts, four progressive initiations elevate Shakyamuni to full enlightenment (abhisambodhi) and with it realization of his true identity as Vairochana. When painted on a thangka, these events become an exemplar through whose re-enactment subsequent isomorphic awakenings can take shape.

Given their soteriological importance, the Five Jinas are the single most important iconographic motif in Sarma Buddhist art. As early as the 11th century, Ngari temples associated with Rinchen Zangpo and the Kashmiri art style focus on the Five Jina motif of the yoga tantras. Five Jina motifs also figure prominently in the corpus of (11th-12th century) central Tibetan paintings, where Indian styles predominate. By the 13th century, however, new anuttara yoga tantra deities had largely eclipsed Vairochana and his yoga tantra imagery. It was during this time that Sakya masters commissioned a particularly important set of Five Jinas — which is now being conserved by San Francisco's Asian Art Museum. In these three magnificent paintings, artists have focused on the old yoga tantra motif, but here they employ a radical new style — the Beri, or Nepalese. The Beri employs deep detailing to create dimensional effects on each thangka. Each thangka in its turn is part of a larger dimension — that of the Vajradhatu mandala from which each derives. On these thangkas, the ordinary sense of vision becomes a laboratory in which we can directly watch two flat dimensions magically become three.

Trained in Sanskrit and Tibetan at the University of Virginia, Jeff Durham is curator of Himalayan Art at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. Prior to joining the Museum, he served as professor of Religious Studies at St. Thomas Aquinas College in New York, where he developed cross-cultural approaches to the study of sacred art. Currently involved with a project focused on the influence of Yogacara thought on Yoga Tantra practice, Jeff has visions of creating the first transdisciplinary, pan-Asian exhibition of Vajrayana art on the west coast.


Thursday, December 1, 2011, 5 pm
Amelia Barili, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, UC Berkeley
Borges, Buddhism, and Dreams
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor

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One of the great writers of the 20th century, Jorge Luis Borges, was fascinated with Buddhism and with dreams. Amelia Barili, a longtime friend of his, will guide us in exploring the relation between these two themes and their presence in Borges' lectures and writings.

Dr. Amelia Barili is the former book review editor of the Argentine newspaper "La Prensa". She is faculty member of UC Berkeley, the Dharma Realm Buddhist University and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She teaches "Borges, Buddhism, and Cognitive Science," and "Borges, Buddhism and Dreams," and is writing a book on "Borges on Buddhism, Buddhism in Borges."


Thursday, November 17, 2011, 5 pm
Jonathan Gold, Department of Religion, Princeton University
Vasubandhu's Ultimate: How Scriptural Hermeneutics Lays the Foundation for a Yogācāra Mainstream
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor

Image for 'Vasubandhu's Ultimate' lecture

Vasubandhu is among the best known and most influential of Buddhist philosophers, but he is also extremely controversial and difficult to pin down. His scholarship is hounded on the one side by issues of dating and attribution, and on the other side by controversies over how to characterize his mature, Yogācāra philosophy. Yet even in the face of such complexities, it turns out to be fruitful to read works attributed to Vasubandhu for their conceptual continuity — in particular, their continuity on the nature of causality and the uses of scripture. This presentation paints a picture of how Vasubandhu's works employ scriptural citations within philosophical arguments, noting parallels among diverse texts. We see that these arguments reflect the interpretive principles found in the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra, which points us suggestively to a hermeneutical motive behind the elusive Yogācāra text, the Trisvabhāvanirdeśa. Vasubandhu was keenly aware of the paradox of articulating, in language, a view that the ultimate nature of reality is beyond words. His solution lays the ground for subsequent Indian Yogācāra, with its emphasis on the conventional utility of epistemology (pramāṇa) and the acceptance of "sliding scales" of truth.

Jonathan C. Gold (Ph.D. University of Chicago) is Assistant Professor and Julis Foundation University Preceptor in the Department of Religion at Princeton University. His research focuses on Indian and Tibetan intellectual traditions, especially theories of language, translation and learning. He is the author of The Dharma's Gatekeepers: Sakya Paṇḍita on Buddhist Scholarship in Tibet (State University of New York Press, 2007), which explains the nature of language and the role of the scholar from the unique perspective of a great thirteenth-century Tibetan philosopher. His current project is a study of the Indian Buddhist philosopher Vasubandhu.


Friday, November 4, 2011, 3:00–7:30 pm
2011 Toshihide Numata Book Prize Presentation and Symposium
Lives of the Buddha: A Symposium in Celebration of the Book "Sugata Saurabha" by Todd Lewis and Subarna Man Tuladhar
Jodo Shinshu Center, 2140 Durant Avenue, Berkeley, CA

The winners of the 2011 Toshihide Numata Book Prize are Professor Todd Lewis (College of the Holy Cross) and Mr. Subarna Man Tuladhar (Translator, Nepal), for their 2010 book Sugata Saurabha An Epic Poem from Nepal on the Life of the Buddha by Chittadhar Hridaya (New York: Oxford University Press).

3:00–3:15 pm
Introductory Remarks and Book Prize Presentation
Rev. Brian Nagata, Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai (Society for the Promotion of Buddhism)

3:15–4:15 pm
Keynote Address and Discussion – A Confluence of Narrative Ambitions: Reading Chittadhar Hridaya's Sugata Saurabha
Todd Lewis, College of the Holy Cross

Image for 2011 Toshihide Numata Book Prize Presentation and Symposium

Demonstrating to what extent the Indic cultural world was alive for the traditional Newar elite in mid-20th Century Nepal, this lecture will explore the narrative richness in Sugata Saurabha, among the greatest works of modern Himalayan literature. Composed during five years of imprisonment and smuggled out in fragments past his jailers, Chittadhar Hridaya's 19-chapter narrative of the Buddha's life is remarkable not only for its doctrinal erudition but also for the artistry of its rhythmic patterns and end rhymes. The author's originality is also found in his enlivening the great sage's life with details of Newar urban society and culture, poetic license taken where the classical sources are silent.

The lecture will then examine this text as a specimen of Buddhist modernism; it will explore how this work as a case study in the matrix of modernity in Nepal, reflecting the author's awareness of classical Sanskrit sources, as well as his knowledge of Hindi translations from the Pali Canon, publications from the Mahabodhi Society, among other influences. Yet another level to be examined in the fabric of Sugata Saurabha's narrative is how it is crafted to defend the integrity of Newar culture, offering a positive vision of the author's own traditions.

Illustrated with paintings from the original publication and informed by details of the great poet's life, the lecture will argue that Sugata Saurabha deserves a place among the great literary accomplishments of Buddhist history and modern world literature.

4:30–6:30 pm
Symposium on "Lives of the Buddha"

Chair, Robert Sharf, UC Berkeley

Sugata and the Goat's Milk
John Strong, Bates College

The Scent of Sanctity and the Sweet Smell of the Buddha
Gregory Schopen, UCLA

Remarks on the Representation of the Buddha's Life in the Newar tradition
Alexander von Rospatt, UC Berkeley

Response
Todd Lewis, College of the Holy Cross

6:30-7:30
Reception


Thursday, October 20, 2011, 5 pm
2011 Numata Lecture
Stefano Zacchetti, Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies, UC Berkeley
Early Chinese Buddhism through the Eyes of Liang Historians
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

Image for lecture on Early Chinese Buddhism through the Eyes of Liang Historians

A considerable part of what we know of the first four centuries of Buddhist presence in China comes from a group of historical works produced during the 6th century, particularly under the rule of the Liang dynasty (502-557 CE). These texts — collections of documents, biographies of monks, bibliographical catalogues, for the most part produced in a cultivated clerical milieu — marked the heyday of early Chinese Buddhist historiography. In this lecture, Dr. Zacchetti will discuss the historical and ideological background of the most significant Buddhist historians active in the 6th century, focusing on their portrayal of Buddhism during the Han and Three Kingdoms periods (2nd-3rd centuries CE). He will also investigate how their work shaped the traditional image of the introduction and early developments of Buddhism in China, ultimately influencing, at different levels, modern studies on these subjects.

Stefano Zacchetti received his PhD in 1999 from Venice University. He conducted further research at Sichuan University, China, and Leiden University, The Netherlands. From 2001 to 2005, he was an associate professor at the International Research Institute for Advanced Buddhology in Tokyo. He currently serves as a tenured lecturer at Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Department of Asian and North African Studies. Dr. Zacchetti's research focuses on early Chinese Buddhist literature (particularly translations and commentaries), and the history of the canon. His publications include the monograph In Praise of the Light (Tokyo 2005), and several articles.


Thursday, October 6, 2011, 5 pm
Anne M. Blackburn, Department of Asian Studies, Cornell University
Buddhists & the Raj in South and Southeast Asia
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor

Stupa, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

Stupa, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

Moving across a spatial scale — from the city of Colombo (Lanka) to a wider regional Buddhist world including Lanka, India, and Southeast Asia — Anne Blackburn explores the 19th- and early 20th-century interaction between Buddhists and the Raj. In doing so, she focuses particularly on the crystallization of expressions of collective identification that developed thanks to intersecting forms of knowledge, new technologies, and colonial urban growth.

Anne Blackburn received her Ph.D. in History of Religions in 1996 from The University of Chicago Divinity School. She was trained to study Buddhism as an historian of religions (in a program greatly influenced by approaches to historical sociology and hermeneutics) rather than as a philologist. She approaches Buddhist texts with attention to the contexts in which they were composed and used. It has also led her to substantial work in the history of devotional practices and intellectual history, topics first broached in undergraduate days at Swarthmore College. She approaches this work with the assumption that the history of Buddhist texts and practices should not be divorced from the history of other forms of life with which they are closely connected, and through which they have been constituted.


Thursday, September 22, 2011, 5 pm
Shi Zhiru, Department of Religious Studies, Pomona College
The Power of the Word: Textualizing the Pagoda into a Whole Body Relic in Tenth-Century Southeast China
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor

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Among the southern kingdoms in the Five Dynasties period, the small kingdom of Wuyue (907–960) visibly styled itself as a Buddhist state. Among its sponsorship of Buddhist projects, the state mass-produced the so-called "Precious Chest Mudrā" 寶篋印 stūpa which was disseminated throughout China and across the seas to Japan and Korea. New wealth and technological resources were integrated into historical practices of culture, piety, and textuality to engender a religio-political icon that resonated with the sinitic milieu of East Asia. In particular, Buddhist monks and the rulers embraced and added printing to their repertoire of writing technologies to materialize the power and perpetuity of the Sacred Word in the face of shifting socio-political forces.

Born in Singapore, Shi Zhiru is a nun ordained in the Chinese Buddhist tradition. She subsequently completed her graduate studies in the United States, receiving her M.A. degree in Buddhist studies from the University of Michigan, and Ph.D. degree in East Asian studies from the University of Arizona. She is currently an associate professor at the Department of Religious Studies in Pomona College. A specialist of Chinese Buddhism, she has published a book on sinitic reimaginings of the bodhisattva studied through the medieval cult of Dizang (Kṣitigarbha), and articles on image worship in China and Taiwan. Her research has regularly included the study of textual and visual materials beyond the transmitted canon.


Saturday, September 11, 2011
Third annual Group in Buddhist Studies Fall Hike and Picnic
Tilden Park


Third annual Group in Buddhist Studies Fall Hike and Picnic

Third Annual Buddhist Studies Hike and Picnic, Wildcat Peak, Tilden Park

 

Thursday, May 5, 2011, 5 pm
Kirill Solonin, St. Petersburg State University, Russia
Chinese Buddhism in the Tangut State
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor

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Since their discovery in the early years of the 20th century, both texts and material objects from Khara-Khoto have been the focus of considerable scholarly attention. Scholars generally agree that Tangut Buddhism evolved from Chinese and Tibetan source traditions; however the exact nature of Chinese and Tibetan influence on Tangut Buddhism remains obscure. In this talk Professor Solonin will present his recent research on the nature of Chinese Buddhist schools in Xixia, focusing on possible Liao influence.

Kirill Solonin holds a doctorate from St. Petersburg State University (Russia), and is currently on the faculty in both St. Petersburg State University and Foguang Buddhist University (Taiwan). His research is connected with the study of Khara-Khoto materials both in Chinese and Tangut. He is the author of Appropriation of the Teaching: Huayan Chan Buddhism in the Tangut State (St.Petersburg: St. Petersburg University Press 2007) and a number of papers.


Thursday, April 28, 2011, 5 pm
Lucia Dolce, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
The Secret Iconography of Empowerment: Triads and Other Ritual Bodies from Mediaeval Japanese material
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor

The Secret Iconography of Empowerment image

Several ritual exegeses produced in mediaeval Tantric circles are centered on non-canonical icons that visualize segments of the Buddhist practice in anthropomorphic form. Presented as 'exclusive' secret knowledge, these cryptic images were often instrumental to legitimize the existence of competing esoteric lineages. When considered from a broader religio-philosophical perspective, however, they point to a turn in the elaboration of fundamental Tantric ideas, a shift of attention from the complex world of the mandala to the material body of the practitioner. In these exegeses the process of growth of a human embryo is visually deployed as paradigmatic of the production of a perfect body, and the biological characteristics of the human body are emphasized through polar and color-coded glossas, often highlighting the sexual intercourse that starts the reproductive process. Probably because of their sexual overtones, most of the documents that include these images have so far remained unexplored in Japanese temple archives, and regarded as heretical and marginal. Yet the circulation of such imagery across lineages suggests that a specific discourse on the body was formulated and became the main trend of mediaeval Tantric hermeneutics. The talk attempts at reconstructing prominent features of such discourse exploring a number of recently discovered documents./p>

Lucia Dolce is Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in the Department of the Study of Religions at SOAS, University of London, where she also directs the Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions. She holds a first degree from the University of Venice (Italy), and a PhD from Leiden University (The Netherlands). Her main research interest is the religiosity of the medieval period. She has published on Nichiren's interpretation of the Lotus Sutra, Tantric Buddhism and the esoterisation of religious practice, kami-Buddhas associative practices, rituals and ritual iconographies.


Thursday, April 14, 2011, 5 pm
José Cabezón, Religious Studies Department, UC Santa Barbara
Sexual Misconduct: The History of a Buddhist Sin
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor

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This talk explores the history of the doctrine of sexual misconduct in Indian and Tibetan sources. Beginning as a relatively simple injunction against adultery, the doctrine becomes increasingly complex over the centuries. Cabezón will document some of these doctrinal shifts and suggest reasons for Indian Buddhists' greater interest in the "micro-management" of human sexuality, especially after the third century.

José Ignacio Cabezón is Dalai Lama Professor and Chair of the Religious Studies Department at the University of California Santa Barbara. He has published a dozen books and almost fifty articles on Indian and Tibetan Buddhism and on theoretical issues in the study of Religion. His most recent book is an edited volume entitled Tibetan Ritual (Oxford, 2010).



Monday, April 11, 2011, 5:30 pm
Osmund Bopearachchi, Director of Research at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)
The Kushans and the Earliest Depictions of Brahmanical Divinities in Gandhāra
Sutardja Dai Hall, Banatao Auditorium

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This talk attempts to show the evolution of the earliest iconographic depictions of Brahmanical deities in a Buddhist context from the stage of syncretism to the phase of polarization or codification. When the Kushans were reaching their apogee, cultural interactions with the Hellenistic, Iranian and Indian worlds in these frontier regions gave birth to a progressive Indianisation. The result of these interactions was the emergence of a composite iconography. Having gone through a transitional period, Hindu iconography developed into a codified orthodoxy where textual descriptions were carried out with scrupulous accuracy. Unlike Brahmā and Indra who played a symbolic role in the Buddhist context, the interpretation of the earliest images of divinities like Siva and Vi??u provoked much controversy. Early on, Gandhāran sculptors appear to have enjoyed some independence in the growing cosmopolitan atmosphere created by the politics of the Kushans. It seems that sculptors did not attempt to create images faithful to descriptions in the sacred texts. This transitional period was characterized by composite images and innovative attempts as witnessed by coin types and in plastic art. These efforts are the result of a multitude of interactions taking place in a region where civilizations from diverse horizons merged at the crossroads of Central Asia and Northwest India. These unusual images would eventually give way to the more strictly regulated and codified iconography of later Indian art.

Osmund Bopearachchi is Director of Research at the French National Centre for Scientific Research's (C.N.R.S) "Hellenism and Oriental Civilizations" program (UMR 8546/5), and teaches Central Asian and South-Asian archaeology and art history at the Paris IV-Sorbonne University. Prof. Bopearachchi holds a B.A. from the University of Kelaniya (Sri Lanka), a B.A. honors, (M.A.), M.Phil., Ph.D. from the Paris I-Sorbonne University, and a Higher Doctorate from the Paris IV-Sorbonne University. He has published nine books, edited six books, and published 130 articles in international journals.


Thursday, March 10, 2011, 5 pm
Sarah Horton, Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai
Jizō's Many Japanese Faces: Two Apocryphal Sutras and Their Influence
IEAS conference room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor

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Jizō bodhisattva is everywhere in modern Japan: the edge of town, the street corner, the playground, next to the rice field, and of course in temples. He is the most commonly depicted deity, his images outnumbering those of even Kannon bodhisattva. Jizō has played a central role in Japanese religion since the eleventh century. Closely associated with both life and death, his duties include guarding children at play as well as rescuing living beings who have fallen into hell. Although many aspects of the Japanese forms of Jizō find their origin directly in China, the Enmei Jizō kyō (Longevity Jizō Sutra) and the Jizōbosatsu hosshin in'en jūō kyō (Sutra on the Bodhisattva Jizō's Aspiration for Enlightment and on the Ten Kings), two apocryphal sutras that were produced in Japan around the twelfth century, contain ideas that form the basis for many of the unique features of Jizō worship in Japan today. Such features include the Six Jizōs Pilgrimage that is undertaken every August in Kyoto, the Enmei Jizō statues that are found throughout the country on the grounds of countless temples, and the funereal belief in the thirteen buddhas who care for the deceased. These two sutras successfully granted scriptural authority to nascent Japanese ideas concerning Jizō's multiple and complex roles and laid the groundwork for their future development.

Sarah Horton received her Ph.D. from Yale and has taught at the University of Colorado, Macalester College, and Sarah Lawrence College. She is the author of Living Buddhist Statues in Early Medieval and Modern Japan, and "Mukaeko, Rehearsals for the Deathbed," in Death and the Afterlife in Japanese Buddhism, as well as several scholarly articles. She has conducted research as a visiting scholar at Ryūkoku University and ōtani University in Kyoto, and currently works for the Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai. Her research interests include Tendai Pure Land Buddhism, religion and material culture, and Japanese Buddhist poetry.


Thursday, February 17, 2011, IEAS conference room, 5 pm
Janet Gyatso, Harvard University
Khyentse Lecture
Buddhism, Medicine and the Everyday World: Issues around Religion and Science in Tibetan Intellectual History

2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor

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By the 12th century A.D. academically based medical science in Tibet had already developed an intellectual and institutional trajectory that was separate from that of Buddhism, even though it was frequently taught at schools that were part of Buddhist monasteries. Looking at the sites of disjuncture — as well as the overlap — between Buddhist systems of knowledge and those of medicine helps us to appreciate the ways that religion interacted with the everyday world of people in traditional Tibet. While on the one hand medicine posed an epistemic challenge to Buddhism, the relation between the two systems was close enough for it also to serve as the principal example of Buddhist influence in human culture more generally in Tibet. This talk will look closely at several moments in Tibetan history when the two came into conflict, and how such conflicts were resolved.

Janet Gyatso is a specialist in Buddhist studies with concentration on Tibetan and South Asian cultural history. Her books include Apparitions of the Self: The Secret Autobiographies of a Tibetan Visionary; In the Mirror of Memory: Reflections on Mindfulness and Remembrance in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism; and Women of Tibet. Her current book project is an intellectual history of traditional medical science in Tibet, and raises questions about early modernity and disjunctures between religious and scientific epistemologies. She has also been writing on conceptions of sex and gender in Buddhist monasticism, and on the current female ordination movement in Buddhism. Previous topics of her scholarship have included visionary revelation in Buddhism; issues concerning lineage, memory, and authorship; philosophical questions on the status of experience; and autobiographical writing in Tibet. Gyatso was president of the International Association of Tibetan Studies from 2000 to 2006, and is now co-chair of the Buddhism Section of the American Academy of Religion.


Thursday, February 10, 2011, 5 pm
T. Griffith Foulk, Sarah Lawrence College
"Just Sitting"? Dōgen's Take on Sūtra Reading and Other Conventional Buddhist Practices
IEAS conference room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor

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Dōgen, founder of the Sōtō School of Zen in Japan, has often been described by modern scholars as a purist who stressed — quoting his teacher Rujing — "just sitting" in meditation, with "no recourse to burning incense prostrations, buddha-mindfulness, repentances, or sutra reading." This statement appears in a number of Dōgen's extant writings, but it is also a fact that his works contain detailed instructions for the very practices that he seems to dismiss as unnecessary. The question is: how to resolve the apparent contradiction in Dōgen 's own stated position on conventional Buddhist practices?

T. Griffith Foulk is Professor of Religion at Sarah Lawrence College and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Soto Zen Text Project


Wednesday, February 2, 2011, 1-5pm
Symposium: Religion and the Arts in Mongolia
International House, Chevron Auditorium
Sponsored by the Center for Buddhist Studies and the Institute of East Asian Studies


Thursday, January 27, 2011, 5 pm
Stefan Baums, Shinjo Ito Postdoctoral Fellow in Buddhist Studies, UC Berkeley
Relic Worship in Gandhāra: Nested Boxes, Royal Donors and the Use of Scripture
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor

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The Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra recounts how, after the final passing of śākyamuni Buddha, the brahman Droṇa distributed his ashes among eight competing kings for installation in eight memorial mounds. Just over one hundred years later, the emperor Aśoka is said to have opened all but one of these mound and distributed the Buddha's relics among eighty-four thousand stūpas all over South Asia. It is likely that the beginnings of Buddhist relic worship in Gandhāra also go back to Aśoka's time, but the earliest inscribed reliquaries enter the archeological record in the second century BCE. They are dedicated by the successive rulers of Gandhāra (Greek, Parthian, Scythian, Kuṣāṇa, and the royal houses of Oḍi and Apraca) as well as by Buddhist monastics themselves. For the next three hundred years, Gandhāra remains a focal point and one of our primary sources for the South Asian practice of relic worship in general, by virtue of the great number of reliquaries that are preserved (often taking the form of nested containers of crystal, precious metals and stone), but especially because the practice of inscribing reliquaries was far more widespread and elaborate in Gandhāra than in the rest of South Asia. Gandhāran Reliquary inscriptions are often dated and record the names of donors and beneficiaries, and the location and school affiliation of the monastic caretakers of the stūpa. In expressing their worship of the buddhas and saints, many of the inscriptions additionally quote scriptural passages, casting valuable light on the spread and use of the Gāndhārī and Sanskrit literature that has been so richly recovered in recent manuscript finds. This lecture investigates the origins and development of relic worship in Gandhāra; discuss the material, textual, and ritual practices associated with the Gandhāran relic cult; and highlight the role and motivations of those who established and maintained the relics of the Buddha.

Stefan Baums studied Indology, Tibetology and Linguistics at the Georg-August-Unversität Göttingen; Sanskrit, Nepali and Buddhist Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; and South Asian and Buddhist Studies at the University of Washington. He received his MA for a stylistic study of Daṇḍin's Daśakumāracarita, and his PhD for the edition and study of a first-century Gāndhārī birch-bark manuscript containing a commentary on a selection of early Buddhist verses. He currently holds the Shinjo Ito Postdoctoral Fellowship in Buddhist Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where he teaches on Buddhist literature in Gāndhārī, Pali and Sanskrit and on the Buddhist cultures of ancient South Asia. His research interests include Buddhist philology and epigraphy, the beginnings of written Buddhist literature, the interaction of written and oral modes of transmission, the development of Buddhist hermeneutics, and the description of Gāndhārī language and literature. His current research focuses on the decipherment of two additional Gāndhārī verse commentaries, and on a comprehensive study of the historical background and exegetical principles of the group of verse commentaries and the related Gāndhārī Saṅgītisūtra commentary. He is co-editor of the Dictionary of Gāndhārī.


Friday, December 3, 2010, 2:30–7 pm
Toshihide Numata Book Prize Presentation and Symposium on "Ritual Place"
Toll Room, Alumni House

The winner of the 2010 Toshihide Numata Book Prize is Professor James Robson, of Harvard University, for his 2009 book Power of Place: The Religious Landscape of the Southern Sacred Peak (Nanyue南嶽) in Medieval China (Harvard East Asian Monographs 316, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009).

2:30–2:45 pm
Introductory Remarks and Book Prize Presentation
Rev. Brian Nagata, Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai (Society for the Promotion of Buddhism)

2:45–4:00 pm
Keynote Address and Discussion – Coming Down from the Mountain: The Regionalization and Ritualization of the Divine Thearch of the Southern Sacred Peak [Nanyue shengdi 南嶽聖帝]
James Robson, Harvard University

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In the final pages of my Power of Place: The Religious Landscape of the Southern Sacred Peak in Medieval China, I noted that during the 1970's nearly all traces of religion were erased from Nanyue. During the last 30 years, however, the mountain has once again become a center for Buddhist and Daoist religious practices and a destination for pilgrims. How was the main deity of Nanyue transformed into a popular regional deity named Nanyue Shengdi 南嶽聖帝 [The Divine Thearch of the Southern Sacred Peak]? What kinds of rituals are performed by pilgrims who travel to Nanyue? These are the types of questions I seek to address by considering the development of the cult to Nanyue shengdi within the Buddhist and Daoist history of central Hunan.

James Robson is an Associate Professor of Chinese Buddhism in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. He specializes in the history of Medieval Chinese Buddhism and Daoism. In addition to his book Power of Place his publications include Buddhist Monasticism in East Asia: Places of Practice (as coeditor), "Signs of Power: Talismanic Writing in Chinese Buddhism," "Buddhism and the Chinese Marchmount System [Wuyue]: A Case Study of the Southern Marchmount (Mt. Nanyue)," "A Tang Dynasty Chan Mummy [roushen] and a Modern Case of Furta Sacra? Investigating the Contested Bones of Shitou Xiqian," and "Faith in Museums: On the Confluence of Museums and Religious Sites in Asia" (PMLA, 2010). He is presently engaged in a long-term collaborative research project with the École Française d'Extrême-Orient studying a large collection of local religious statuary from Hunan province.

4:15–6:00 pm
Symposium on "Ritual Place"

Chair, Robert Sharf, UC Berkeley

Tracking the Lords of the Earth: Tracing a Subterranean Rite's Movements across Asia
Jacob Dalton, UC Berkeley

From Words to Walls and Back Again: Painted Relic Chambers in Sri Lanka
Phyllis Granoff, Yale University

Dhāraṇīs, Image miracles, and Maṇḍala initiation: Reconstructing Early Esoteric Buddhist Rituals through Chinese Translations
Koichi Shinohara, Yale University

Reflections on the Identity of Deities Among the Newars of the Kathmandu Valley
Alexander von Rospatt, UC Berkeley

Response
James Robson, Harvard University

6:00–7:30 pm
Reception


Thursday, November 18, 2010, 5:00 pm
Jeff Watt, Director and Chief Curator, Himalayan Art Resources
Traditional Tibetan Art: Beyond Iconography and Religion
UC Berkeley Art Museum, Museum Theater, 2625 Durant Avenue (between Bowditch and College)

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The study of Tibetan art includes three principal disciplines: (1) Religious Studies, (2) Iconography and (3) Art History. In the field of Tibetan & Himalayan art, when discussing the art itself, it is time to rely less on religious studies scholars, historians, anthropologists, ethnographers and, yes, Tibetologists, and rely more on Art Historians, Art Critics and actual Artists of the past and present. Cultural objects can be religious icons when looked at as religious icons, ritual objects when viewed as ritually related and art objects likewise when viewed as art. The subject of Tibetan religion will still remain the domain of Religious Studies. The study of history will still remain the domain of historians. The obscure field of iconography will still remain the domain of iconographers. None of this will change, but the study of Tibetan art for it to move forward — must change."

Jeff Watt, one of the leading scholars of Himalayan art, acquired his prodigious knowledge of Buddhist, Bon and Hindu iconography from a longtime study of Buddhism and Tantra. He is the Director and Chief Curator of Himalayan Art Resources (HAR), a website and 'virtual museum' featuring more than 35,000 images with detailed descriptions, making it the most comprehensive resource for Himalayan 'style' art and iconography in the world. He has worked on HAR since April 1998 at which time there were only 625 images in total (all Tibetan paintings).

Watt was also the founding Curator and leading scholar at the Rubin Museum of Art (RMA) in New York City, from October 1999 until October 2007. The RMA houses one of the largest collections of Himalayan and Tibetan art in North America which is currently one of the best catalogued collections in the world. The HAR website has been the primary curatorial tool for cataloguing and mounting all exhibitions at the RMA. During his tenure as Senior Curator at the RMA he built the collection from a personal founder driven collection into a world class museum collection with some of the finest examples of Himalayan Art comparable to the best museums in the world.


Friday, November 12, 2010, 5:00 pm
William M. Bodiford, University of California, Los Angeles
Myth and Counter Myth in Early Modern Japan
3335 Dwinelle Hall

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Mythology continued to be of vital importance in Japan as late as the 20th century, long after Japan had become one of the world's major industrial and military powers. While mythos presents itself as outside of time, and thus unchanging, within the broad sweep of Japanese history there have existed many alternative mythologies. This lecture will consider two approaches to justifying the divine right to rule: the monk Jōin (1682–1739) marshals Buddhist theories to locate divinity within human history, and the physician Motoori Norinaga (1730–1801) reconstructs the language of the gods to relocate divine order at a stage of existence prior the beginning of time. By first considering Jōin's Buddhist arguments we can more easily discern the novelty of the later approach, which today too often escapes critical examination. Together this myth and counter myth also illustrate how the technology of printing not only can reframe myths to give them new power, but in so doing also can help create new texts, new histories, and new identities.

William M. Bodiford is a professor in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he teaches courses on religion in the cultures of Japan and East Asia, and Buddhist Studies. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University. He also studied in Japan at Tsukuba University and Komazawa University. His research spans the medieval, early modern, and contemporary periods of Japanese history. Currently he is investigating religion during the Tokugawa period, especially those aspects of Japanese culture associated with manuscripts, printing, secrecy, education, and proselytizing. Although many of his publications focus on Zen Buddhism (especially Soto Zen), he also researches Tendai and Vinaya Buddhist traditions, Shinto, folklore and popular religions, as well as Japanese martial arts and traditional approaches to health and physical culture.


Thursday, November 4, 5:00 pm
Asuka Sango, Carleton College
The Emperor's Misaie as the Rite of Legitimation and Resistance
IEAS conference room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor

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This paper examines the Buddhist rite of the Misaie in order to address a paradox of monarchy in Heian Japan (794–1185). In this period, the emperor was the "exemplary center" (as Geertz has termed it) in the centripetal government called "Ritsuryō" state. In order to establish his unparallel leadership, at the beginning of the Heian period, the emperor inaugurated the Buddhist rite of the Misaie in adopting the image of the ideal Buddhist king depicted in the Golden Light Sūtra. It is said that over the course of the Heian period, this monarchical system declined and became a mere puppet regime controlled by influential contenders for political power such as the Fujiwara regent and the retired emperor. However, recent scholarship has revealed that this transition in the structure of governance indicated, not the complete eclipse of the "exemplary center" but a shift from a centripetal government to shared rulership characterized by mutual dependence between competing political leaders including but not limited to the emperor. On the one hand, the emperor altered the format of the Misaie in response to this political shift. On the other hand, the Fujiwara regent and the retired emperor began to appropriate the imperial symbolism enacted in this ritual by sponsoring structurally similar Buddhist rituals. Thus, the Misaie (and rites imitating it) became a rallying point for social agents who sought to bolster their political influence not by overturning the emperor's rule but by mimicking and modifying his liturgy for their own purposes. Their attempts at legitimation in effect allowed the emperor's Misaie to reinvent and further strengthen the imperial authority despite the political shift to shared rulership. This paper casts new light on the indispensable roles that Buddhist rituals played in constructing and contesting political authority, and reveals a paradoxical nature of monarchy in the latter half of the Heian period wherein the centrality of the emperor was perpetuated not only by the emperor himself but also by those who tried to challenge it.

Asuka Sango (Wittenberg University, BA; University of Illinois, MA; Princeton University, PhD) is a specialist in premodern Japanese religions with particular interests in Buddhist rituals in the Heian period (794–1185). She teaches courses in East Asian religions at Carleton College, Minnesota. She is currently writing a book manuscript entitled In the Halo of Golden Light: Imperial Authority and Buddhist Ritual in Heian Japan (794–1185). It examines debate and lecture rituals in which monks discussed the doctrinal knowledge concerning the Golden Light Sūtra, and analyzes how various constituencies of Heian society — Buddhist temples, individual monks, the state, the imperial family, and court nobles — legitimized themselves by claiming the aura of imperial religious authority associated with this sūtra.


Thursday, October 28, 2010, 5:00 pm
Jens-Uwe Hartmann, University of Munich
Between India, Rome and China: Buddhism in Gandhara
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

Standing Buddha from Sahri Bahlol (Pakistan), Private Collection, photo I. Kurita, 1990

Standing Buddha from Sahri Bahlol (Pakistan),
Private Collection, photo I. Kurita, 1990

It is probable that Buddhism had already reached Gandhāra (an area in presentday northern Pakistan) during the time of King Aśoka in the 3rd century BCE. In the wake of Alexander's campaign to northwest India, this region had absorbed a surge of Greek culture, which remained present for a surprisingly long time. Even centuries later, this culture still served as a matrix for creating visible representations of the Buddha and his followers. These representations proved extremely influential, spreading to India proper and, more importantly, traveling along the Silk Road, initiating the Buddhist art of local cultures and, finally, reaching China and the Far East. So far, Gandhāra has mostly been understood as the name of this specific style of Buddhist art, but recent manuscript finds reveal that the region contributed much more to shaping Buddhism during a formative period than previously thought. It now appears that Gandhāra, earlier considered to be situated at the margin of the Indian Buddhist world, played a decisive role in the spread of Buddhism along the Silk Road towards the east.

Jens-Uwe Hartmann holds the Chair of Indian Studies at the University of Munich. Before his appointment in 1999, he served as professor of Tibetology at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Prof. Hartmann was trained in Indology and Tibetology at the University of Munich. In 1978/79, he spent one year in Kathmandu working for the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project. His work focuses on recovering and studying the literature of Indian Buddhism, mostly on the basis of Indian manuscripts and translations.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010, 5:00 pm
Meir Shahar, Tel Aviv University
Oedipal God: The Legend and Cult of Nezha (Nalakūbara)
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

Three Headed Nezha

Filial piety, we are told, was one of the cornerstones of traditional Chinese civilization. It is striking, therefore, that the Chinese pantheon features a patricidal deity. Celebrated in fiction and drama for over a millennium, the myth of Nezha has its protagonist rebel against paternal authority from the moment of his birth. Culminating in suicide, followed by rebirth and attempted murder, the myth is widely known, and its protagonist commonly worshipped, to this day. Why was Nezha driven to attempted patricide? Which tensions in the Chinese family structure did his myth reflect? How did the legend negotiate these tensions in diverse historical settings? These questions will be briefly addressed from psychological, sociological, and historical perspectives. The speaker will suggest that the oedipal god survived in the Chinese cultural environment by the pretense of filial piety. He will further trace his cult from China back to ancient India, for Nezha was originally an Indian deity named Nalakūbara, whose figure had been likely influenced by that of the great child god Kŗşņa. It is possible, therefore, that two of the greatest Asian story cycles — of the child-god Nezha and of the infant Kŗşņa — are related.

After receiving his undergraduate degree from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Meir Shahar studied Chinese in Taipei. He went on to pursue graduate studies in the U.S. and received a Ph.D in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University in 1992. Professor Shahar has taught at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem and is currently Associate Professor of Chinese Studies at the Department of East Asian Studies, Tel Aviv University. He is also the director of the Tel Aviv University Confucius Institute. Professor Shahar's research focuses on the interplay of Chinese religion, Chinese literature, and — in his most recent publications — the Chinese martial arts.


Thursday, August 26, 2010, 5:00 pm
Hubert Decleer, School for International Training (SIT) Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Studies Program
How Early Tibetan Visitors to Nepal Made Sense of Swayambhu
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

Thangka, Swayambhu Stupa

Thangka, Swayambhu Stupa

The earliest (1413) extant Tibetan pilgrimage guide to the Swayambhu hill shrine of the Kathmandu Valley names two scriptural sources, (1) the "Prophesy of Mt. Oxhorn in 'the Land of Li,'" for the theme of draining the lake and the Self-born stupa becoming manifest, and (2) the Mañjushrī Root Tantra for the origin of the underground temple of Shāntipur. The explanatory title of the guide refers to the monument as 'Phags pa shing kun,' after an incident in the life of Nāgārjuna: a title which, accordingly, ought to be understood as "Trees (shing) of every (kun) single kind, miraculously produced by the Ārya ('Phags pa') [Nāgārjuna]." Other 'Nāgārjuniana' are referred to in the guide: a ruby that was once part of his mālā (and is now part of a temple treasure in Bhutan), the meditation cave on Mt. Jamacho where he taught buffalo herdsman Shingkhipa Mahāmudrā meditation. No Nepal visit is mentioned in any of the Nāgārjuna biographies. And yet ...

Hubert Decleer received his B.A. in history and European literature from the Regent School in Ghent, Belgium, and his M.A. in oriental philosophy and history from the University of Louvain, where he studied with Étienne Lamotte. He has pursued classical Tibetan and Buddhist studies under a number of tutors in Kathmandu. Mr. Decleer has worked as a fine arts apprentice, art critic, language instructor, and translator and has lectured for the SIT Nepal program. He was the academic director for the Tibetan and Himalayan Studies program from its inception in the fall of 1987 until the spring of 2001.


Saturday, October 2, 2010
Second annual Group in Buddhist Studies Fall Hike and Picnic
Muir Beach and Dias Ridge Trail


Second annual Group in Buddhist Studies Fall Hike and Picnic
 

Thursday, May 6, 2010, 5:00 pm
Robert Gimello, University of Notre Dame
Esotericism in the Late Ming — Early Qing Buddhist Revival
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

The Goddess Cundī and a Lay Devotee, from a Ming Liturgical Manual

The Goddess Cundī and a Lay Devotee, from a Ming Liturgical Manual

The goddess Cundī (准提, a.k.a. Saptakoṭi Buddhabhagavatī 七俱胝佛母) — held in Japan and in modern (but not pre-modern) China to be a form of Avalokiteśvara (觀音) — came to be a, if not the, central focus of esoteric Buddhist practice in late traditional Chinese Buddhism. She is still a significant presence in Chinese Buddhism today. The textual and iconographical foundations of her cult were established in the late 7th and early 8th centuries with multiple Chinese translations of the Cundīdevīdhāraṇī (e.g., 佛說七俱胝佛母心大准提陀羅尼經, T1077) and attendant ritual manuals (e.g., 七俱胝佛母心大准提陀羅尼法, T1078). Late in the 8th century, or early in the 9th, she was assigned a prominent place in the configuration of the Mahākaruṇāgarbhôdbhava maṇḍala (大悲胎藏生大漫荼羅王) — in the "Chamber of Pervasive Knowledge" (遍知院) and, especially in that latter capacity, she then made her way to Japan where her career would develop, in tandem with that of Cintāmaṇicakra (如意輪), in distinctively Japanese directions. The corpus of Cundī scripture in Chinese was expanded in the early Song with translations of the Kāraṇḍavyūha sūtra (大乘莊嚴寶王經, T1050), the Māyājāla tantra (佛說瑜伽大教王經, T890), and a fully fledged Cundī (Cundā) tantra (佛說持明藏瑜伽大教尊那菩薩大明成就儀軌經, T1169), but it was not until the late 11th century, in the Buddhism of the Liao 遼 dynasty, that her cult came truly into prominence and was given its classical formulation. That accomplishment may be credited especially to the monk Daoshen (道蝗) and his Xianmi yuantong chengfo xinyao ji (顯密圓通成佛心要集 Collection of Essentials for the Attainment of Buddhahood by Total [Inter-]Penetration of the Esoteric and the Exoteric, T1955), which treatise also served to "locate" Cundī in the broader Chinese Buddhist tradition by arguing for the deep mutual complementarity of Cundī practice (especially dhāraṇī recitation and visualization) with Huayan (華嚴) Buddhist thought. Daoshen's work was the mainstay of what came to be called "Cundī Esotericism" (准提密教) down to the 21st century. It is particularly noteworthy, however, that the development of the Cundī cult was not a steady and gradual process. There was an intriguing period of especially rapid acceleration in its growth, in southern China, at the very end of the Ming and the beginning of the Qing dynasty, that is to say, in the 17th century. From that one period and region there survive today, in the addenda to the Jiaxing Canon (嘉興大藏經) and in the Supplement to the [Kyoto] Buddhist Canon (續藏經), no fewer than six substantial texts devoted entirely to the exposition and interpretation of Cundī practice (弘贊。七俱胝佛母所說準提陀羅尼經會釋, SSZZ 446, 謝于教。准提淨業, SSZZ 1077, 施堯挺。準提心要, SSZZ 1078, 弘贊。持誦準提真言法要, SSZZ 1079, 受登 (a.k.a. 景淳)。天溪准提三昧行法, SSZZ 1481, 夏道人 (a.k.a. 埽道人默)。佛母淮提焚修悉地懺悔玄文, SSZZ 1482). Some of these texts include prefaces rich in pertinent historical information. Moreover, the extracanonical literature of the same period (e.g., 澹歸。遍行堂集, 袁黄。了凡四訓, etc.) also abounds in references to Cundī, and we have numerous examples of painted and cast images of the deity that appear to date from the same era. It is especially noteworthy that many of the figures revealed in this literature to have been most engaged in Cundī practice were also affiliated with the better known leaders of the late Ming Buddhist revival, i.e. with figures like Yunqi Zhuhong (雲棲祩宏 1532-1612), Hanshan Deqiing (憨山德清 1546-1623), Ouyi Zhixu (蕅益智旭 1599-1655), and their progeny. This talk will survey the Cundī literature and iconography of 17th century southern China and will draw attention to the fact that esoteric Buddhism — as well as Chan, Tiantai, and the challenges of Confucianism and Christianity — was an important part of 16th–17th century efflorescence of Chinese Buddhism.

Robert Gimello is an historian of Buddhism with special interests also in the Theology of Religions and in Comparative Mysticism. He concentrates especially on the Buddhism of China, Korea, & Japan, most particularly on the Buddhism of medieval and early modern China. The traditions of Buddhist thought and practice on which most of his work has focused are Huayan (The "Flower-Ornament" Tradition), Chan (Zen), and Esoteric (Tantric) Buddhism, in the study of all of which he is particularly concerned with the relationships between Buddhist thought or doctrine and Buddhist contemplative and liturgical practice. In the area of Theology of Religions, he is concerned chiefly with the question of what Catholic theology can, should, or must make of Buddhism. In the field of the study of mysticism he is engaged with debates about the differences and similarities among various mystical traditions and about the relationship between mystical experience and religious practices and beliefs. In addition to his previous employment at Dartmouth College, UC-Santa Barbara, the University of Arizona, and Harvard University, he has held many visiting appointments around the world. In the spring/summer term of 2010 he will serve as the Shinnyō-en Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies at Stanford University. Gimello has served in the past as President of the Society for the Study of Chinese Religion, was a founding member of the Kuroda Institute for the Study of Buddhism, and has recently joined the editorial board of the journal Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture. Among his current research/publication projects are: 1) completion of "Philosophy and the Occult in Later Chinese Buddhism: A Study and Annotated Translation of Daoshen's Xianmi yuantong chengfo xinyao ji (Essentials for the Achievement of Buddhahood in the Perfect [inter]Penetration of the Exoteric and the Esoteric)"; 2) preparation of a volume of essays entitled "A Flowering of Chinese Buddhism: Essays on the Huayan Tradition," co-edited with Imre Hamar and Frédéric Girard; and 3) completion of an annotated translation of Ŭisang's Diagram of the the Realm of Truth according to the One Vehicle of the Huayan Scripture.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010, 5:00 pm
Nobuyoshi Yamabe, Tokyo Nogyo Daigaku
How was the Pure Land painted in Dunhuang?: Rethinking the connection between the Amitāyus Visualization Sūtra and the Transformation Tableaux
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

Detail of the visualization portion of Transformation Tableau image

Detail of the visualization portion of Transformation Tableau MG. 17673 stored at the Musée Guimet (early 10th century).

The Guanjing bianxiang 觀經變相, "Transformation Tableau based on the Amitāyus Visualization Sūtra," (Transformation Tableau) was very popular in Dunhuang. Even today, we can see many mural and silk paintings on this subject in or from Dunhuang. One of the interesting points of these paintings is that they give step-by-step depictions of the visualization process described in the the Guan wuliangshou jing 觀無量壽經, "Amitāyus Visalization Sūtra" (Visualization Sūtra). Thus, it is often assumed that these paintings were used as visual aides for the practice of visualization. However, these Transformation Tableaux are also highly problematic as they often show significant deviations from the Visualization Sūtra. In his talk, Yamabe will closely compare these paintings with sketches, manuscripts, inscriptions, and relevant texts to explain how these deviations were brought about. In so doing, he will show some aspects of artists' practice in Dunhuang. His discussion will also make clear that these Transformation Tableaux (at least those from later periods) were not meant to be a guide for visualization.

Nobuyoshi Yamabe earned his B.A. in Buddhist Studies from Otani University (1985), M.A. in Indian Philosophy from Osaka University (1987), and Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Yale University (1999). Currently he is Professor at Tokyo University of Agriculture. He is interested in clarifying the theoretical and practical aspects of Buddhist meditation. His theoretical interests are reflected in his early papers on Yogacara Buddhism, while his practical interests are expressed in his more recent works on texts and art relevant to Buddhist meditation/visualization in Central Asia.


Thursday, April 29, 2010, 5:00 pm
Zemaryalai Tarzi, Professor Emeritus, Strasbourg University, France
The Bamiyan Stupas
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

Professor Tarzi restoring an unfired clay Boddhisattva head found in Bamiyan

Professor Tarzi restoring an unfired clay Boddhisattva head found in Bamiyan

Professor Tarzi will discuss his excavations of Bamiyan stupas, as well as his comparative studies of stupas represented on murals in the Bamiyan region and in the north of Pakistan, particularly in the mountainous region of Gilgit. He will also take into account diverse stupas from a vast region ranging from India to Gandhara and the Central Asia region of Afghanistan, the ex-Soviet Union, and China.

Dr. Zemaryalai Tarzi (born in Kabul in 1939) is an internationally renowned archaeologist from Afghanistan. From 1973 to 1979, he was Director of Archaeology and Preservation of Historical Monuments of Afghanistan as well as the Director General of the Archaeology Institute of Kabul. Tarzi was exiled to France in 1979, there he assumed the post of Professor of Eastern Archaeology at the Marc Bloch University, University of Strasbourg, France. He later directed the excavations in Buddhas of Bamiyan and Hadda on the sites of Tape Shotor and Tape Tope Kalan. He is currently Director for the French Archaeological Missions for the Surveys and Excavations of Bamiyan. Professor Tarzi is the author of some sixty articles and books. He is also President for the Association for the Protection of Afghan Archaeology, Inc. (APAA).


Bamiyan Valley, Afghanistan; View of the niche of the 55m Buddha statue

Bamiyan Valley, Afghanistan; View of the niche of the 55m Buddha statue; photo by Nadia Tarzi

 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010, 5:00 pm
2009-2010 Numata Lecture
Christian Luczanits, Numata Visiting Professor in Buddhist Studies
Inconceivably Remote Future Accessible Now: The Bodhisattva and Future Buddha Maitreya during the Kuṣāṇa Period
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor
Reception to follow

The Bodhisattva Maitreya in Tuṣita Heaven image

The Bodhisattva Maitreya in Tuṣita Heaven; Nimogram, c. 3rd century CE; Museum Saidu Sharif; photo C. Luczanits 2007.

As both Bodhisattva and future Buddha in our world Maitreya occupies a unique position in the history of Buddhism and Buddhist art. Besides Śākyamuni, it is this Bodhisattva who first receives cultic attention. Such a cult can first be grasped within the realm of the Kuṣāṇa rulers and in particular in the cultural region of Gandhāra, where his imagery is extremely frequent. Although the importance of Maitreya during that period is frequently mentioned and several studies are dedicated to the depictions of Maitreya as such, no study has as yet attempted to provide more detailed information on the possible religious context and meaning of this imagery. Although precise information is scarce, a consideration of the available imagery in the light of the development of Buddhism in general and ideas related to and characteristic for what is later to become Mahāyāna Buddhism in particular, allows for the development of a much more complex picture of what Maitreya may have meant for a number of types of believers within the Kuṣāṇa realm. While some imagery can clearly be associated with the establishment of new ideas concerning the nature of a Buddha and of a Bodhisattva, the conservative nature of iconography makes differentiation practically impossible in other cases. The more developed cults of Maitreya in Central Asia and China, roughly contemporary with later Kuṣāṇa art or slightly later, provide further clues for possible roles of Maitreya in Northwest India during the Kuṣāṇa period. While Maitreya clearly has been the most prominent Bodhisattva during the Kuṣāṇa reign, Avalokiteśvara takes the more prominent position in fully developed Mahāyāna Buddhism. The lecture sets the upcoming of Maitreya imagery into context, explains his iconography, and relates different types of imagery to legends and believes associated with him and also to changing ideas about the nature and qualities of a Bodhisattva in general. In conclusion, it reflects on those changes that were instrumental in reducing the importance of Maitreya in fully developed Mahāyāna Buddhism.

Christian Luczanits received his M.A. (1994) and Ph.D (1998) at the Institute of Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, University of Vienna, Austria, the latter degree under the supervision of the late Maurizio Taddei (Istituto Universitario Orientale, Napoli). His research focuses on Buddhist art of India and Tibet. Earlier work on the western Himalayas was largely based on extensive field research and documentation done in situ. Besides numerous articles on the early Buddhist monuments, artifacts and inscriptions found in or related to this region his first book, Buddhist Sculpture in Clay: Early Western Himalayan Art, late 10th to early 13th centuries, has come out with Serindia at Chicago in 2004. Recent research concentrated on Buddhist art immediately before and during Kushana rule. In this connection he curated the exhibition "Gandhara – the Buddhist Heritage of Pakistan. Legends, Monasteries and Paradise" at the Kunst – und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland in Bonn together with Michael Jansen and was responsible for its catalogue. Christian Luczanits also was a Freeman Visiting Professor at UC Berkeley in 2004/05.

Home page: http://web.mac.com/clucz/home/. Research website: http://www.univie.ac.at/ITBA/.


Friday, April 16, 2010, 11:00 am-2:00 pm
Workshop with Prof. Brandon Dotson, Oxford
The Tibetan Empire: Sources for the Tibetan Chronicle
Numata Seminar Room, 288 Dwinelle Hall
Faculty and graduate students only


Wednesday, April 7, 2010, 5:00 pm
IEAS Book Talk Series: New Perspectives on Asia
Arjia Rinpoche, Former Abbot, Kumbum Monastery, Tibet
Surviving the Dragon: A Tibetan Lama's Life Under Chinese Rule
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor
Co-sponsored by the Institute of East Asian Studies, and the History of Art

Surviving the Dragon image

On a peaceful summer day in 1952, ten monks on horseback arrived at a traditional nomad tent in northeastern Tibet where they offered the parents of a precocious toddler their white handloomed scarves and congratulations for having given birth to a holy child – and future spiritual leader. Surviving the Dragon is the remarkable life story of Arjia Rinpoche, who was ordained as a reincarnate lama at the age of two and fled Tibet 46 years later. In his gripping memoir, Rinpoche relates the story of having been abandoned in his monastery as a young boy after witnessing the torture and arrest of his monastery family. In the years to come, Rinpoche survived under harsh Chinese rule, as he was forced into hard labor and endured continual public humiliation as part of Mao's Communist "reeducation." By turns moving, suspenseful, historical, and spiritual, Rinpoche's unique experiences provide a rare window into a tumultuous period of Chinese history and offer readers an uncommon glimpse inside a Buddhist monastery in Tibet.

Arjia Rinpoche was the Abbot of Kumbum Monastery in Amdo, one of the six great centers of Buddhism in Tibet. Born to Mongolian nomads in Eastern Tibet, he is the reincarnation of the father of Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelupa (Yellow Hat) Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Rinpoche (Gegeen in Mongolian) is one of the most important religious leaders to leave Tibet since the Dalai Lama fled into exile in 1959. He is fluent in Tibetan, Chinese, and Mongolian, and since 1998, when he moved to California, he has become adept at English as well. In the year 2000, the Rinpoche established The Tibetan Center for Compassion and Wisdom (TCCW) in Mill Valley and Oakland, California to preserve and celebrate Tibetan language, arts, and to advance understanding of Tibetan Buddhism in the West. Rinpoche is the only Tibetan high lama of Mongolian descent. Since a very early age, he has trained with lineage teachers, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the late Panchen Lama, from whom he received many initiations and empowerments in sutric and tantric traditions.


Thursday, April 1, 2010, 5:00 pm
Masaki Matsubara, Visiting Scholar, UC Berkeley
Remembering Hakuin in Contemporary Japan: Forgotten Memories of Rinzai Zen Master and Political Protest Use of Paintings
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

Daimyō Procession Passing Mt. Fuji image

Daimyō Procession Passing Mt. Fuji.
Jishō-ji.

Contemporary Japanese Zen is often regarded as a tradition unconcerned with moral formulations and contemporary social events and focused solely on the quest for deep religious experience (kenshō or satori). Hakuin Ekaku (1686-1769) is widely regarded as the leading figure of contemporary Japanese Rinzai Zen, much like Dōgen of the Sōtō Zen school. Hakuin's major writings and considerable production of artwork (paintings and calligraphy) are held up as examples of a highly developed capacity for religious experience in the Zen tradition. Previous studies, almost exclusively emphasizing his hard practice, decisive enlightenment experience, and tireless teaching activities in hagiographical manners, have been locked into a perspective which regards Hakuin only as the reviver/de facto founder of the tradition, an ardent meditation master, or/and a versatile artist. Yet this very same process of "remembrance" ignores and even represses his strong anti-elite social critiques, which in their day were very controversial and forthright.

In this talk, Dr. Matsubara will problematize this tendency to privilege this "experiential Hakuin" at the risk of ignoring his equally present and cogent moral voice. He will examine the neglected aspects of Hakuin's considerable role as a social critic, by focusing on both his writings, with a particular emphasis on one of his most influential political treatises, Hebiichigo (lit., "Snake Strawberries"), and his unique paintings that reinforce its views. All of these writings and paintings introduced here have remained largely unknown. Remarking that Hakuin as a social critic is not simply an isolated example, but is in fact part of a dominant theme evident in both his writings and artwork, the speaker will argue that Hakuin was a fearless fighter for social justice whose campaign on behalf of farmers or the lower classes resulted in his condemnation of the luxurious lifestyle of political elites, including that of the imperial household. He even criticized sankin kōtai, or "daimyō processions," the Tokugawa shogunate's economic policy to control the country. Matsubara will also argue how the art of one of Japan's most illustrious religious figures can in fact be seen as effective political protest. Rehabilitating these forgotten memories of Hakuin, he suggests that the selective data of religious figures often represent the "best" a given tradition had to offer its deceased and, used alone, are potentially misleading indicators in cultural historical reconstructions. Matsubara's ongoing research on "cultural memory" as a tradition's shared sense of its own past and identity which is socially determined focuses on the issues of tradition development (production, reproduction, and maintenance) in modern Rinzai Zen and its effects on the identity creation that elevates Hakuin to his present position of prominence. He proposes the possibility that the Hakuin we remember as the tradition's reviver today is a fairly recent innovation, or, more specifically, a twentieth-century or Meiji-Taishō product, in the history of Hakuin remembrances.

After receiving an undergraduate degree in Political Science at Gakushuin University (1995), Masaki Matsubara received his M.A. in Asian Studies (2004) and his Ph.D. in Asian Religions (2009) at Cornell University. His dissertation focused on the dynamics of tradition formation, (re) invention, and maintenance, and the role of cultural memory. It considered eighteenth-century Japanese Zen master Hakuin Ekaku's neglected role as a social critic and reformer. Matsubara has published articles on Hakuin (2004) and on Yasukuni Shrine and cultural memory (2007). He also wrote an article on succession problems in contemporary Japanese Zen in a book entitled "Making Japanese Heritage" (forthcoming, Routledge). He is presently engaged in translating Hakuin's political treatise Hebiichigo (banned soon after its publication in 1754), comparing the four extant materials (three autographed manuscripts and one published version of an autographed manuscript) with one another. He is also an ordained priest in the Rinzai tradition.


Thursday, March 11, 2010, 5:00 pm
2nd Annual Khyentse Foundation Lecture in Tibetan Buddhism
David Jackson, Rubin Museum of Art
Analyzing Lineages in Early Tibetan Paintings: Taklung Portraits as a Test Case
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor
Reception to follow

The 2nd Annual Padmanabh S. Jaini Graduate Student Award in Buddhist Studies and the new Khyentse Foundation Award for Excellence in Buddhist Studies will be presented at this event.

P.3835 v.#9 image

Portrait of Taklungthangpa, Founder of Taklung Monastery, Shelly and Donald Rubin Collection, Himalayan Art Resources no. 1005.

Though the analysis of guru lineages has opened up new possibilities of dating in Tibetan art, how useful is this tool in practice? As a test case Professor Jackson will apply the approach to a number of early Tibetan paintings from the so-called 'Taklung' corpus, mainly portraits of founding masters of the Taklung Kagyü tradition. That tradition was one of the most influential branches of the Dakpo Kagyü during the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries; its main seat, Taklung, was founded in 1185 by Taklung Thangpa Tashi Pal (1142-1210), a chief disciple of Phagmotrupa (Phag mo gru pa,1110-1170). At its branch of Riwoche in Kham province a large cache of early and later Pala-style thangkas survived the cultural revolution and were in recent years dispersed outside Tibet. Jackson will also investigate, if time permits, a few portraits from the related Kagyu traditions. He will begin by ordering each group chronologically following structural criteria, according to the number of generations of gurus before the generation of the patron. (In most cases the speaker has worked from photographs; he could not directly consult the painting or use the inscriptions.) Here observable structure and iconography will guide a preliminary analysis, and inscriptions will need to be taken into account later. He will also systematically chart the structure of each painting by giving a complete diagram. This may seem troublesome at first, but it has great advantages, compelling us to deal with unusual features that might otherwise be overlooked.

Background reading (articles by D. Jackson): "Lineages and Structure in Tibetan Buddhist Painting: Principles and Practice of an Ancient Sacred Choreography," Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, Vol. 1, No. 1 (October 2005). http://www.thdl.org?id=T1220. "The Dating of Tibetan Paintings is Perfectly Possible — Though Not Always Perfectly Exact." In I. Kreide-Damani, ed. 2003, Dating Tibetan Art: Essays on the Possibilities and Impossibilities of Chronology from the Lempertz Symposium, Cologne. Contributions to Tibetan Studies 3 (Wiesbaden, Dr. Ludwig Reicher Verlag), pp. 91-112.

David Jackson did his doctorate at the University of Washington's department of Asian Languages and Literature in 1985. In 2007, after fourteen years teaching at Hamburg University, he began working as curator for the Rubin Museum of Art.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010, 4:00 pm
John Holt, Bowdoin College
IEAS Book Talk Series: New Perspectives on Asia
Spirits of the Place: Buddhism and Lao Religious Culture
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor
Co-sponsored by the Institute of East Asian Studies, the Center for Southeast Asia Studies, and the Department of South and Southeast Asia Studies

Spirits of the Place image

A major aim of this study is to ascertain the manner in which Buddhist thought and practice have been construed through the prisms of the indigenous ontology of Lao spirit cults. To illustrate this pattern, I will examine the legacy of paradigmatic ritual actions attributed to pivotal 16th c. Lan Xang king, Photisarat, a king profiled in the Luang Phrabang Chronicle and in his own inscriptions as unabashedly orthodox in his Theravada Buddhist empathies and inimical to the indigenous substratum of Lao religious culture (the spirit cults). Specifically, I will discuss the unintended persistence of ancestor and phi (spirit) veneration in Photisarat's ostensibly Buddhist practices of merit transfer and worship of the Buddha respectively, practices that clearly reflect how power was understood in relation to the sacred space of the monastic vat and to Buddha images per se, especially in relation to the Phra Bang, the legitimating Buddha image for Lao royalty from which the capital city of Lan Xang, Luang Phrabang, ultimately derives its name.

John C. Holt has an A.B. (cum laude) in history from Gustavus Adolphus, an A.M. in history and phenomenology of religions from the Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley) with distinction, and a Ph.D. in history of religions from the University of Chicago. Since joining the Bowdoin faculty in 1978, he has taught courses about Asian religious traditions, especially Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as courses on theoretical approaches to the study of religion. In 1982, he founded the Inter-collegiate Sri Lanka Education (ISLE) Program for a consortium of private liberal arts colleges, and in 1986 he became the first chair of Bowdoin's Asian Studies Program. In addition to his newest book being discussed at this event, his publications include Discipline: the Canonical Buddhism of the Vinayapitaka (1981), A Guide to the Buddhist Religion (1981), Buddha in the Crown (1991) for which he was awarded an American Academic Book Award for Excellence in 1992, The Anagatavamsa Desana (Dehli: Motilal Banarsidass, 1993), The Religious World of Kirti Sri: Buddhism, Art and Politics in Late Medieval Sri Lanka (1996), and The Buddhist Visnu (2004). He has also edited a collection of essays entitled Communities: Buddhism and the Religious Cultures of South and Southeast Asia (2003). Professor Holt has been an editor of Religious Studies Review and was elected as a fellow to the American Society for the Study of Religion in 1995. He has been Visiting Professor of History and Comparative Religion at the University of Peradeniya three times (1984, 1989 and 1999), a Visiting Reader at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (1994), and the Visiting Numata Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Calgary twice (2000 & 2006). In 2002, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters (Litt.D) from the University of Peradeniya for his contributions to Sri Lankan and Buddhist Studies, and in 2007 he was cited as Alumnus of the Year by the University of Chicago Divinity School.


Thursday, February 11, 2010, 5:00 pm
Robert Brown, University of California, Los Angeles
The Gupta Connection: The Buddha Image in India, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, and China
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor
Cosponsored by the Center for South Asia Studies

Buddha, Stone, Sarnath Museum image

Buddha, Stone, Sarnath Museum, 5th c. CE.

In the second half of the fifth century a new type of Buddha image was invented at Sarnath. This image type interested Buddhist worshippers across Asia, and was used by artists to create local versions of the Gupta Buddha image type. The talk traces the timing of the relationships among images from India to Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, and China. It argues that the impact of the new Sarnath style image in Asia was rapid, by the mid-sixth century. It also suggests that the Buddha image in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia begins only in the sixth century, a radically later dating than has been accepted by scholars up until now. Possible reasons for the popularity of the Gupta style of Buddha image are proposed.

Robert Brown graduated from UCLA with a Ph.D. in Indian art history in 1981. Immediately after graduation he worked at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, being promoted to Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art in 1984. In 1986 he began teaching at UCLA where he is presently Professor of art history. In 2000 he was reappointed as Curator in the Department of South and Southeast Asian Art at LACMA, a position he holds with his UCLA professorship. His publications include a number of books and articles on Buddhist and Hindu art, on the nature of Indian artistic influence in Southeast Asia, and on the colonial and western basis for art historical understanding of India. He is presently writing a book on the Gupta-period Buddha images from Sarnath (India).


Thursday, January 28, 2010, 5:00 pm
Paul Copp, University of Chicago
Buddhist Seal Manuals and the Nature of Dunhuang Buddhism: The Case of P. 3835v.#9
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

P.3835 v.#9 image

Instructions for the carving and use of a Buddhist seal-amulet included on P.3835 v.#9

Chinese Buddhist uses of fu-talismans 符 and talisman-bearing seals (fuyin 符印) are among the most characteristic practices of the form of medieval Chinese religiosity known lately as "Buddho-Daoism." Yet aside from being a rather vague label, "Buddho-Daoism," as Christine Mollier has recently pointed out, implies a non-sectarian orientation on the part of the sources that is not always present. In the case of the text that will be the focus of this talk, "Dhāranī Methods of the Great Wheel Vajra" (Foshuo dalun jin'gang zongchi tuoluoni fa 佛說大輪金剛總持陀羅尼法), found as the ninth text on the verso of the Dunhuang manuscript Pelliot # 3835, seals are presented unmistakably as Buddhist – in fact, as forms of Buddhist incantation known as dhāranī (tuoluoni 陀羅尼, zongchi 總持, etc). I will thus take this text's seals as straightforwardly Buddhist and ask what close analyses of dhāranī-seal manuals may tell us about the deep doctrinal and practical natures of the forms of Buddhism practiced at Dunhuang in the ninth and tenth centuries. I will pay special attention to P. 3835v. #9's invocations of Manibhadra (Monibatuo 摩尼跋陀; often a protector of travelers) and Great Wheel Vajra (Dalun jin'gang 大輪金剛), a deity featured in such native Chinese Buddhist productions as the Pseudo-Śūraṃgama Scripture (Lengyan jing 楞嚴經) and the esoteric imagery found in Song Dynasty Sichuan.

Paul Copp is Assistant Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. He received his Ph.D. in 2005 from the Department of Religion at Princeton University and spent a year as a postdoctoral researcher at the Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften, in Heidelberg, Germany, working on Buddhist inscriptions from Northern Dynasties China. He recently finished a monograph entitled Incantatory Bodies: Spells and Material Efficacy in Chinese Buddhist Practice, 600-1000, which explores amuletic and philosophical traditions of Chinese Buddhist incantation practice. He is currently beginning a large-scale study of personal forms of esoteric Buddhist practice in medieval Dunhuang.


Thursday, January 21, 2010, 5:00 pm
Wendi Adamek, Stanford Humanities Center
Practicescape at Bao shan
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

The nun Faguang image

Lanfeng shan image of the nun Faguang 法光. Photo credit: Frederick M. Smith

The site known as Bao shan (Treasure Mountain) in Henan reveals a rich web of complex relationships: gender relations, lay and ordained relations, successive reshapings of the environment, human and non-human relations, and images and texts of various kinds. Dr. Adamek illustrates these relationships with slides and selected inscriptions from the site's treasures. Drawing from Tim Ingold's notion of a given environment as a rhizomatic "taskscape," she will discuss her current work on Bao shan in terms of "practicescape," a multi-directional reinscription of the landscape in Buddhist terms. The notion of "practicescape" allows us to examine the relationships noted above within the context of key co-dependent representations of practice space: empty peaks and caves with images, mountain and city temples, sites of ascetic "escape" and socioeconomic networks.

Dr. Adamek is a China religions scholar who received her Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Stanford University and has taught at Barnard College and Columbia University. Her book The Mystique of Transmission (Columbia University Press, 2007) centers on an 8th century Chan/Zen group in Sichuan and won an Award for Excellence from the American Academy of Religion. Works in progress include a book on the Buddhist community at Bao shan and a book on issues in environment and culture. Dr. Adamek's research interests include Buddhism of the Tang dynasty, donor practices, Buddhist art, and network theory.


Monday, December 14, 2009, 7:00-9:30 pm
Pre-release screening of "Journey From Zanskar" and discussion with filmmaker Frederick Marx
PFA Theater, 2575 Bancroft Way between College and Telegraph
The event is free but is also a fundraiser to support completion of the film.
Suggested donation: $25 general/$10 students

Journey From Zanskar image

In 3-5 years a road connecting Padum, the heart of Zanskar, with Leh, the heart of neighboring Ladakh, will be finished. The route which previously took up to two days by car will take only 4-5 hours. As economic growth descends on Zanskar it will bring with it an end to this unbroken Buddhist social tradition. Will the native language, culture, and religious practice be able to survive? The Dalai Lama has instructed two monks from Zanskar's Stongde Monastery to do everything in their power to insure that it does. The monks are building a school to educate the children from surrounding villages in their own language, culture, history, and religion. Presently, the government school teaches none of those subjects, and is closed most of the year. The nearby private school also doesn't teach those subjects and is additionally unaffordable for the area's poor families. At Stongde, along with indigenous traditions, the children will be educated in the best Western curricula. The monks are racing against the clock. While they complete the school they are also placing local children in other schools and monasteries in the city of Manali and beyond. This requires walking over a 17,500 foot pass. One such journey with 17 children aged 4-12 comprises the plot line of this unique film.

View the film's trailer at: http://www.warriorproductions.tv/JourneyFromZanskarTrailer.asp.

Frederick Marx is an Oscar and Emmy nominated producer/director with 25 years in the film business. Having worked as an English and creative writing teacher, Marx began his movie career as a film critic, and has worked both as a film distributor and exhibitor. He has also traveled extensively in Western and Eastern Europe, North Africa and Himalayan India, and has lived in Germany, China, and Hungary. He has a B.A. in Political Science and an MFA in filmmaking. His interest in languages and foreign cultures is reflected in PBS' international human rights program "Out of the Sience" (1991), the widely acclaimed personal essay "Dreams from China" (1989), and Learning Channel's "Saving the Sphinx" (1997). He consulted on Iranian-Kurdish director Bahman Ghobadi's feature "Turtles Can Fly" (2004) and was a teacher of renowned Thai feature filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul. He was named a Chicago Tribune Artist of the Year for 1994, a 1995 Guggenheim Fellow, and a recipient of a Robert F. Kennedy Special Achievement Award. His film "Hoop Dreams" (1994) played in hundreds of theatres nationwide after winning the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and was the first documentary ever chosen to close the New York Film Festival. Marx repeatedly returns to work with disadvantaged and misunderstood communities: people of color, abused children, the working poor, welfare recipients, prisoners, the elderly, and "at risk" youth. He brings a passion for appreciating multiculturalism and an urgent empathy for the sufferings of the disadvantaged to every subject he tackles.


Monday, November 23, 2009, 5:00 pm
Osmund Bopearachchi, Paris IV-Sorbonne University
The Buddha Sakyamuni and the Courtesan Utpalavarna in Gandhâran Buddhist Art
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

Gandhâran Buddhist Sculpture

Gandhâran Buddhist Sculpture depicting the Buddha's Descent from the Heaven of the Thirty-three Gods (Private collection Tokyo).

The Buddha Sakyamuni, having preached Abhidhamma in the Trayastrimsa heaven to the gods and to his mother who was then reborn as a deva, descended to Jambudvipa at Samkasya on a triple ladder with Brahma to his right and Indra to his left. At the bottom, the Buddha was greeted by Utpalavarna, a Buddhist nun who had been a courtesan in Rajagriha. Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese sources, relate how Utpalavarna came to renounce the secular world. While giving birth to a daughter, to her utter dismay, she discovered that her husband was having an illicit affair with her mother. She then ran away from home, leaving her newborn child behind. Sometime later she became the wife of a wealthy man in Varanasi, only to discover one day that the second wife he brought home was her own daughter. Disappointed with life, she became a courtesan in Rajagriha. After a chance encounter with Maudgalyayana, she became a disciple of the Buddha, engaging in Buddhist practice under the guidance of Mahaprajapati until she attained arhatship. The story of Utpalavarna has been a favorite legend among Buddhists, as attested not only by literary sources but also by Buddhist art in which the depiction of Utpalavarna, transformed by magic power into a great emperor (Chakravartin) and admitted with her chariot and troops into the foremost row to pay tribute to the Buddha upon descent from the Trayastrimsa heaven, was a popular theme. Very few art historians have paid attention to representations of the encounter between Utpalavarna and the Buddha. In his lecture, Prof. Bopearachchi will reexamine previously identified reliefs depicting this event in the light of newly discovered unpublished Gandharan reliefs where Utpalavarna is shown both as a Chakravartin and a Bikshuni.

Osmund Bopearachchi is a Director of Research at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (C.N.R.S. Paris), where he oversees the 'Hellenism and Oriental Civilisations' program of the C.N.R.S. UMR 8546/5, and also teaches Central Asian and South-Asian archaeology and art history at the Paris IV-Sorbonne University. This academic year, he is a visiting professor at Yale University. Prof. Bopearachchi holds a B.A. from the University of Kelaniya (Sri Lanka), and B.A. honors, (M.A.), M.Phil., Ph.D. from the Paris I-Sorbonne University, and a Higher Doctorate (Habilitation) from the Paris IV-Sorbonne University. He has published nine books, edited six books and published more than a hundred articles in international journals. Prof. Bopearachchi currently serves as the director of the Sri Lanka-French Archaeological Mission, and also has launched a joint project with the Department of Near-Eastern Studies of the University of California at Berkeley focusing on Sri Lanka's role in ancient maritime trade in the Indian Ocean.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009, 12:00 pm
Lewis Lancaster, Director, Electronic Cultural Atlas Initative (ECAI) and Professor Emeritus, East Asian Languages and Cultures
Buddhist Studies and Digital Technology: Computational Humanities
Brown Bag Lunch
3401 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley

ECAI image

Lewis Lancaster, a specialist in the canons of Buddhist texts, earned his Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies at the University of Wisconsin. He taught at UC-Berkeley for 33 years, with five years as Chair. With a grant from the National Geographic Society, he and a group of students and faculty inventoried texts in monasteries among the Sherpa people in the Himalayas. He then began to research the problems of converting Buddhist texts from Pali and Chinese into computer format, which resulted in major CD ROM databases. That computer experience then led him to form an association of scholars called the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative (ECAI), which is housed on the Berkeley campus and has a thousand affiliates worldwide. ECAI is promoting worldwide electronic access to quality research data by creating a partnership of technical specialists and the scholarly community dedicated to the support of scholarship through technology. Guided by the paradigm of the historical atlas, research data is indexed by time and place using temporally-enabled Geographic Information Systems software. User queries retrieve and display data in GIS layers on a map-based interface, allowing comparisons across discipline, region, and time.


Friday, November 13, 2009
Dr. Nareshman Bajracharya, Tribhuvan University
Public Construction of a Vajradhātu-maṇḍala, followed by a talk on the maṇḍala's principal characteristics and its ritual uses
(mandala construction starts at 10 AM; talk at 4 PM)
SSEAS Lounge, 342 Dwinelle Hall
Co-sponsored by the Townsend Center for the Humanities

Maṇḍala image

In a single isolated valley on the southern flank of the Himalayas, Indic Buddhism has survived to the present day. The historic Nepal Valley, known today as Kathmandu Valley, is the ancient home of the Newars. Some six hundred years after Buddhism disappeared from India, the Newars continue to preserve a form of "tantric" Vajrayāna Buddhism characteristic of the late phase of Buddhism in India. This highly ritualized form of Buddhism employs maṇḍalas, mantras and esoteric initiatory rites in pursuit of both liberation and worldly ends. The Vajradhātu-maṇḍala is the principle maṇḍala invoked in this tradition, used to consecrate and worship images, paintings, stūpas, monasteries, books, and other sacred objects.

Dr. Nareshman Bajracharya of Kathmandu is both an accomplished tantric ritual master with a large following in his community, and a well known academic, the founding director of the Department of Buddhist Studies at Tribhuvan University in Nepal.

Between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm Dr. Bajracharya will lay out a Vajradhātu-maṇḍala, following the Newar Buddhist tradition. Anyone interested is invited to come and observe the production of the maṇḍala and interact with Dr. Bajracharya. At 4:00 pm, having traced the maṇḍala, Dr. Bajracharya will give a brief presentation that will introduce the maṇḍala and its ritual uses in Newar Buddhism.


Thursday, November 12, 2009, 5:00 pm
Jan Nattier, Soka University
Re-evaluating the Translations of Zhu Fonian 竺佛念: A Preliminary Report
3335 Dwinelle Hall

Buddhist sutra carved into rock wall

Buddhist sutra carved into rock wall, Xiangtangshan caves (northern sector), Hebei Province, China. Northern Qi Dynasty (550-577).

Zhu Fonian (fl. 365-early 400s CE) is one of the best-known names in Chinese Buddhist translation history. Modern scholars generally think of him first in connection with the Dīrghāgama (長阿鋡經, T1) and the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya (四分律, T1428), both of which are listed in scriptural catalogues (both ancient and modern) as translated by Zhu Fonian together with the Kashmiri monk Buddhayaśas 佛陀耶舍. These two titles, however, are not singled out for attention in the oldest extant account of his life and works: the biography by Sengyou 僧祐 contained in the Chu sanzang jiji 出三藏記集 (completed c. 515 CE). Though these scriptures are registered under Zhu Fonian's name in the catalogue section of this work (which, as Antonello Palumbo has shown, is of a later vintage) in the biographical section Sengyou selects a quite different list of texts as representing Zhu Fonian's most important works. In this talk, Professor Nattier will begin by considering Zhu Fonian's life history as presented by Sengyou, paying special attention to what is said about the chronological sequence of his translations. She will then take a close look at at a text that is seldom mentioned in modern scholarship, but was considered by Sengyou to be one of Zhu Fonian's outstanding works: the Shizhu duan jie jing 十住斷結經 (T309), a scripture that presents an otherwise unknown account of the ten stages of the bodhisattva path. By doing so, we will be able to gain new insight into the way Zhu Fonian actually worked.

Jan Nattier did graduate work in the Department of Uralic and Altaic Studies at Indiana University (specializing in Classical Mongolian) before moving to Harvard University, where she completed her Ph.D. in Inner Asian and Altaic Studies in 1988. She has taught at Macalester College, the University of Hawaii, Stanford University, and Indiana University, and is currently Research Professor of Buddhist Studies at the International Research Institute for Advanced Buddhology (Soka University) in Tokyo, Japan. Her current area of specialization is the Chinese translations of Zhi Qian (early third century CE).


Thursday, October 29, 2009, 5:00 pm
Reiko Ohnuma, Dartmouth College
Mater Dolorosa: Māyā and Mahāprajāpatī in Grief
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

Mater Dolorosa image

Birth of the baby Buddha from the right side of his mother Māyā.
Gandhāran frieze, Kushan, 2nd c. C.E.

In the 13th century Latin hymn Stabat Mater, Mary, the mother of Christ, is celebrated and idealized as the "grieving mother" (mater dolorosa) who stands by the cross and weeps as her son is crucified. The believer, speaking through the words of the hymn, longs to experience Mary's grief for himself and thereby identify more closely with Christ's torment upon the cross. In the Indian Buddhist tradition, by contrast, the "grieving mother" is an iconic figure in an altogether different way: Mindless and hysterical out of grief over the death of her child, she stands as a paradigmatic example of the fact that all attachment leads to suffering. Spiritually stunted because of her grief and frequently likened to a pitiful animal, she is anything but an exemplary model for the Buddhist believer. She becomes exemplary, in fact, only when she is violently "de-mothered" — eradicating any particularistic attachment whatsoever to her own child, and universalizing her personal grief into a detached appreciation of the inevitability of death, impermanence, and suffering. Professor Ohnuma will focus on episodes in Buddhist literature in which the Buddha's own mothers — his biological mother Māyā and his foster-mother Mahāprajāpatī — are depicted in states of grief. It will contrast the way in which each mother deals with her grief, as well as placing this contrast within the context of a larger argument contrasting Māyā and Mahāprajāpatī as alternative representations of motherhood.

Reiko Ohnuma is an Associate Professor of Religion at Dartmouth College. She was trained in South Asian Studies at U.C. Berkeley (B.A., 1986) and in Buddhist Studies at the University of Michigan (Ph.D. 1997). She specializes in the Buddhist traditions of South Asia, with a particular interest in Indian Buddhist narrative literature, hagiography, and the role and imagery of women. She is the author of Head, Eyes, Flesh, and Blood: Giving Away the Body in Indian Buddhist Literature (Columbia University Press, 2007), and is currently working on a second book, tentatively titled "Ties That Bind: Maternal Imagery and Discourse in Indian Buddhism."


Thursday, October 1, 2009, 5:00 pm
Andrew Rotman, Smith College
Saving the World through Commerce: Buddhism, Merchants, and Mercantilism in Early India
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

Event image

"For householders in this world, poverty is suffering . . . woeful in the world is poverty and debt."
-Aṅguttara-Nikāya iii 350, 352

In the early centuries of the Common Era, Buddhism had a very close and formative relationship with the merchant world, and this relationship transformed Buddhism in fundamental ways, leaving the market's imprint on the very foundations of Buddhism. One important byproduct of this relationship was a resultant market-based morality. Merit and virtue were now subjected to the forces of commodification, and as such could be bought, earned, stockpiled, transferred, cashed in, and depleted. I discuss this moral economy, and the market-based morality that underlies it, in my book Thus Have I Seen: Visualizing Faith in Early Indian Buddhism. Yet, why use merchant activity as a model for spiritual activity? Did Buddhism embrace the market, or was Buddhism overrun by it? The aim of this paper is to begin to make sense of the history of this mercantilization process, focusing primarily on merchant-monastic relations in the Kusāṇa and Sātavāhana empires.

Andrew Rotman is Associate Professor of Religion at Smith College. His research largely concerns the ways in which seeing and what is seen in South Asia function as part of social history, affective relations, and material culture. This interest is apparent in his research on Indian Buddhism, South Asian media, and the economies of the north Indian bazaar. He recently published Divine Stories (2008), the first part of a two-part translation of the Divyāvadāna, one of the largest and most important collections of ancient Buddhist narratives. This volume inaugurates the Classics of Indian Buddhism series from Wisdom Publications. His second book, Thus Have I Seen: Visualizing Faith in Early Indian Buddhism (2008), considers the construction of faith as a visual practice in Buddhism, and how seeing and faith function as part of overlapping visual and moral systems.


Group in Buddhist Studies labor day picnic image

Saturday, September 5, 2009
Group in Buddhist Studies Faculty and Student Labor Day Weekend Hike and Picnic
Mt. Tamalpais

 

Friday-Saturday, August 28-29, 2009, 9:00 am - 4:30 pm
"Zen Practice at 50" Symposium
Friday venue: San Francisco Zen Center, 300 Page St. (at Laguna St.), San Francisco
Saturday venue: Lipman Room, Barrows Hall, UC Berkeley
Co-sponsored by the San Francisco Zen Center

Zen Practice at 50 symposium image

May 23, 2009 marked the fiftieth anniversary of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi's arrival in America, an event that offers the opportunity for a broader look at Zen practice in America over the past fifty years, its current place in American life, and its vision for the future. "Zen Practice at 50" will bring together a mix of scholars and Zen teachers, including Hoitsu Suzuki, Norman Fischer, Edward Brown, Carl Bielefeldt, Grace Schireson, Robert Sharf, Richard Jaffe, and Wendy Adamek, who will create a forum for a lively exchange of ideas.

The first day, to be held at the San Francisco Zen Center, will begin with a brief biographical and historical presentation on Shunryu Suzuki, including the cultural context of his Japanese background and his choices regarding how to offer Zen practice to Americans. The day will continue with considerations of what was happening in the 1960s in San Francisco, what people perceived Suzuki offered, and what they received from him.

The second day, to be held on the UC Berkeley campus, will examine the current state of Zen practice in America. This will include consideration of what has been transmitted from Asia, what has changed, what has possibly been misunderstood, and how and what may have been lost in the transmission of Zen to America. Participants will also address the effect of Zen on American culture, the challenges facing Zen teachers and practitioners, the sustainability of Zen practice as a movement, and the most helpful and effective ways to offer and teach the dharma.

A complete schedule of this two-day event is available online at http://suzukiroshi.sfzc.org/symposium.

The symposium is free and open to the public on a first come, first served basis. You can pre-register for all or part of the event by email at events@sfzc.org.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009, 5:00 pm
Gregory Levine, UC Berkeley
Malraux's Buddha Heads: Fragments of the Past and the Sculptural "Gothic-Buddhist"
308J Doe Library, UC Berkeley


Malraux's Buddha heads event image

Monday, April 27, 2009, 3:00-6:00 pm
Thinking About Not Thinking: Buddhism, Film, and Meditation (Week 5)
Waking Life (Richard Linklater, U.S., 2001), 99 mins.
Part of a 5-week lecture and film series on alternate Mondays
Taught by Professor Robert Sharf, Chair of Buddhist Studies at UC-Berkeley
Pacific Film Archive, 2575 Bancroft Way (between College and Telegraph)
$5.50 BAM/PFA members and UC Berkeley students
$9.50 Adults (18-64)
$6.50 UC Berkeley faculty and staff, non-UC Berkeley students, senior citizens (65 and over), disabled persons, and youth (17 and under)

Waking Life image

This series will use film to explore some seminal and controversial issues in Buddhism and Buddhist meditation theory, and at the same time use Buddhist views of meditation and meditative experience to reflect on film. Thinking About Not Thinking will consider such topics as the Buddhist understanding of death, rebirth, and liberation; the ethical tension between ascetic withdrawal and compassionate engagement; the role of memory in Buddhist theories of consciousness; and contemporary debates (in both the academic and Buddhist communities) over the nature of meditation and mystical experiences.

Waking Life — a rollicking reflection on dreaming, altered states of consciousness, and death — is the first feature film to use the technology of "digital interpolated rotoscoping," which uses computers to facilitate hand-drawn animation over digitally-shot film. The result is an unusual blending of medium and message, in which neither the characters in the film nor the audience are quite sure where the contours of reality lie. Waking Life is an ideal film to end a series that ponders the relationship between meditative states, reality, and the film-makers' art.


Friday-Sunday, April 17-19, 2009
North American Graduate Student Conference in Buddhist Studies
370 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley
For more information, please contact Buddhist_conference@berkeley.edu, or go to the conference website at ieas.berkeley.edu/gradconference2009.


Monday, April 6, 2009, 3:00-6:00 pm
Thinking About Not Thinking: Buddhism, Film, and Meditation (Week 4)
Memento (Christopher Nolan, U.S., 2000), 113 mins.
Part of a 5-week lecture and film series on alternate Mondays
Taught by Professor Robert Sharf, Chair of Buddhist Studies at UC-Berkeley
Pacific Film Archive, 2575 Bancroft Way (between College and Telegraph)
$5.50 BAM/PFA members and UC Berkeley students
$9.50 Adults (18-64)
$6.50 UC Berkeley faculty and staff, non-UC Berkeley students, senior citizens (65 and over), disabled persons, and youth (17 and under)

Memento image

This series will use film to explore some seminal and controversial issues in Buddhism and Buddhist meditation theory, and at the same time use Buddhist views of meditation and meditative experience to reflect on film. Thinking About Not Thinking will consider such topics as the Buddhist understanding of death, rebirth, and liberation; the ethical tension between ascetic withdrawal and compassionate engagement; the role of memory in Buddhist theories of consciousness; and contemporary debates (in both the academic and Buddhist communities) over the nature of meditation and mystical experiences.

What is the place of memory in Buddhist thought and practice? Does "living in the moment" require letting go of the past, or coming to terms with it? Memento, a film about someone who has lost the ability to form short-term memories, will be used to ponder the often conflicting Buddhist theories about the role of memory in experience, consciousness, and meditation.

 

Thursday, April 2, 2009, 5:00 pm
Sarah Jacoby, Columbia University
Love Revelations in the Autobiography of a Tibetan Ḍākinī
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

The first Padmanabh S. Jaini Graduate Student Award in Buddhist Studies will be presented at this event.

Statue of Sera Khandro

Statue of Sera Khandro (1892-1940) housed in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Romantic love as we think of it today is a product of a particular set of socio-historical influences exclusive to European-American cultures, or so many scholars contend. The Tibetan Buddhist context would seem to prove this point as love between a man and a woman is more often associated with the Buddhist nemeses of attachment, desire, and craving than with the path to enlightenment. Despite the ubiquity of iconographic and literary depictions of male-female (yab yum) deities, sexual union in Tibetan Buddhism is usually understood less as a sacralization of the love act than it is as a means to the end of spiritual realization. That said, the rare autobiography of the Tibetan visionary Sera Khandro (1892-1940) and the biography she wrote of her root teacher and partner Drimé Özer (1881-1924) offer a different perspective on consort practices far more akin to "Western" notions of love than her Tibetan Buddhist context would seemingly allow. In this talk, I suggest that as one of the few Tibetan women to have written her autobiography or to have her writings become accepted as authentic Buddhist revelation, Sera Khandro drew on the Tantric paradigm of wholeness as the union of male method and female wisdom to write herself into the male dominated religious hierarchy of her early twentieth-century Eastern Tibetan world. Her representations of her relationship with Drimé Özer not only mirror this Tantric paradigm, but articulate a sentimental love between the two of them that shares a great deal with Euro-American notions of romantic love.

Sarah Jacoby is a postdoctoral fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University. She received her PhD in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies from the University of Virginia. Her interests include Nyingma Studies, Buddhist revelation, gender studies, autobiography, Eastern Tibetan area studies, and Buddhism in contemporary Tibet. She is the author of "Revelation and Community in Early Twentieth-century Golok Religious Encampments (sgar)," forthcoming in the Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies. Additionally, she is the author of "To be or not to be Celibate: Morality and Consort Practices According to the Treasure Revealer Sera Khandro's (1892-1940) Auto/biographical Writings," in a book she co-edited along with Antonio Terrone titled Buddhism Beyond the Monastery: Tantric Practices and their Performers in Tibet and the Himalayas (forthcoming, Brill). She is currently working on two book manuscripts, the first a study of Sera Khandro's autobiography titled Love Revelations: The Autobiography of a Tibetan Buddhist Ḍākinī and the second an annotated translation of Sera Khandro's autobiography. In the fall of 2009 she will begin teaching at Northwestern University where she will be Assistant Professor of South Asian Religions.


Monday, March 30, 2009, 3:00-6:00 pm
Thinking About Not Thinking: Buddhism, Film, and Meditation (Week 3)
Fearless (Peter Weir, U.S., 1993), 121 mins.
Part of a 5-week lecture and film series on alternate Mondays
Taught by Professor Robert Sharf, Chair of Buddhist Studies at UC-Berkeley
Pacific Film Archive, 2575 Bancroft Way (between College and Telegraph)
$5.50 BAM/PFA members and UC Berkeley students
$9.50 Adults (18-64)
$6.50 UC Berkeley faculty and staff, non-UC Berkeley students, senior citizens (65 and over), disabled persons, and youth (17 and under)

This series will use film to explore some seminal and controversial issues in Buddhism and Buddhist meditation theory, and at the same time use Buddhist views of meditation and meditative experience to reflect on film. Thinking About Not Thinking will consider such topics as the Buddhist understanding of death, rebirth, and liberation; the ethical tension between ascetic withdrawal and compassionate engagement; the role of memory in Buddhist theories of consciousness; and contemporary debates (in both the academic and Buddhist communities) over the nature of meditation and mystical experiences.

Fearless image

Some see the heart of Buddhist meditation as the practice of mindfulness or "bare attention" — a stepping "forward" into the present moment. But there is also a sense in which Buddhist practice is a step "back" — one withdraws from the world so as to let go of everything, including the fear of one's own death. Can one be utterly fearless and still care deeply about the things of this world? Peter Weir's Fearless is a powerful vehicle for exploring the conundrums involved in bringing traditional Buddhist practices — practices originally intended for celibate renunciates who had left their families — into the modern world.


Monday, March 16, 2009, 3:00-6:00 pm
Thinking About Not Thinking: Buddhism, Film, and Meditation (Week 2)
I Heart Huckabees (David O. Russell, U.S., 2004), 107 mins.
Part of a 5-week lecture and film series on alternate Mondays
Taught by Professor Robert Sharf, Chair of Buddhist Studies at UC-Berkeley
Pacific Film Archive, 2575 Bancroft Way (between College and Telegraph)
$5.50 BAM/PFA members and UC Berkeley students
$9.50 Adults (18-64)
$6.50 UC Berkeley faculty and staff, non-UC Berkeley students, senior citizens (65 and over), disabled persons, and youth (17 and under)

This series will use film to explore some seminal and controversial issues in Buddhism and Buddhist meditation theory, and at the same time use Buddhist views of meditation and meditative experience to reflect on film. Thinking About Not Thinking will consider such topics as the Buddhist understanding of death, rebirth, and liberation; the ethical tension between ascetic withdrawal and compassionate engagement; the role of memory in Buddhist theories of consciousness; and contemporary debates (in both the academic and Buddhist communities) over the nature of meditation and mystical experiences.

I Heart Huckabees image

Buddhism teaches that everything we hold to be true, everything we hold most dear, is in some sense an "empty" conceptual construct, and that the solution to human suffering is to recognize the ephemerality of the world around us. Yet Buddhism also emphasizes compassion; although a saint or bodhisattva recognizes that suffering itself is an illusion, he/she must still act to alleviate that suffering. Russell's "existential comedy" plays out the struggle between emptiness and compassion, withdrawal and engagement, alienation and interconnectedness.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009, 5:00 pm
Mark Tuschman, Photographer
John Johnston, Curator of Asian Art, San Antonio Museum of Art
Jake Dalton, Assistant Professor of Tibetan Buddhism, UC Berkeley
Colloquium on Bhutanese culture and Buddhism
IEAS conference room, 2223 Fulton St., 6th floor

The three speakers participating in this colloquium will provide cultural, religious, and historical context for the exhibit of images of Bhutan by Bay Area photographer Mark Tuschman that is on display in the IEAS gallery February 19-April 15, 2009.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009, 12:05 pm
Sheng Jiang, Shandong University
Making Room for the Dao, Getting Rid of the Buddha: The Case of Qianfo Dong
3401 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley
Brown-bag lunch lecture
Cosponsored by the Institute of East Asian Studies, Center for Chinese Studies, and Center for South Asia Studies

In a remote dangerous mountain in Shandong Province, China, there is a former Buddhist cave that Daoists renamed Qianzhen dong (Cavern of a Thousand Perfected). This cave contains nearly a thousand Buddhist images on its walls. During our ethnographic fieldwork on Shandong Daoism, which included the collection of previously undiscovered stele inscriptions, we found that the character zhen ("Perfected") had been superimposed over the character fo ("Buddha"). Thus, at some point, Daoists had taken control of this "Buddhist" sacred site. In close proximity to Qianzhen dong, we found another cave called Qianfo dong (Cavern for Relocated Buddhas). It contains very simple Buddhist rock carvings that were executed or commissioned by local believers of Quanzhen Daoism.

Sheng Jiang will discuss the process by which this geographical transformation occurred as well as its principal agents. He will also offer critical reflections on the inter-religious history of the place as well as the significance of this place for understanding Chinese religiosity during the early Qing dynasty, especially the local and regional situation of Shandong Daoism. This research challenges the common assumption that Buddhism was the primary tradition of privilege during the early Qing. It also provides an interesting window into doctrinal and ritualistic concerns of Daoists as they came to occupy and reconstruct sites previously inhabited by Buddhists. Interestingly, the Daoists in question expressed a reverence for Buddhist images and sacred objects that is noteworthy for its sense of spiritual power contained therein. Sheng Jiang's preliminary research indicates that these Daoists created innovative ways to relocate the Buddhas in order to make room for the Dao.


Monday, March 2, 2009, 3:00-6:00 pm
Thinking About Not Thinking: Buddhism, Film, and Meditation (Week 1)
After Life (Hirokazu Kore-eda,Japan, 1999), 115 mins.
Part of a 5-week lecture and film series on alternate Mondays
Taught by Professor Robert Sharf, Chair of Buddhist Studies at UC-Berkeley
Pacific Film Archive, 2575 Bancroft Way (between College and Telegraph)
$5.50 BAM/PFA members and UC Berkeley students
$9.50 Adults (18-64)
$6.50 UC Berkeley faculty and staff, non-UC Berkeley students, senior citizens (65 and over), disabled persons, and youth (17 and under)

This series will use film to explore some seminal and controversial issues in Buddhism and Buddhist meditation theory, and at the same time use Buddhist views of meditation and meditative experience to reflect on film. Thinking About Not Thinking will consider such topics as the Buddhist understanding of death, rebirth, and liberation; the ethical tension between ascetic withdrawal and compassionate engagement; the role of memory in Buddhist theories of consciousness; and contemporary debates (in both the academic and Buddhist communities) over the nature of meditation and mystical experiences.

After Life image

In the film After Life three salient but incommensurable Buddhist death experiences are interwoven. In the first, one's state of mind at the moment of death irrevocably determines one's next rebirth; in another, at death one enters an interregnum — a bardo or purgatory — during which it is possible to influence the conditions of one's next rebirth; in the last, for Buddhas and enlightened beings only, death brings an eternal end to rebirth. However construed, Buddhists did agree that meditative practice was preparation for the inevitable confrontation with death. Kore-eda's After Life, which imaginatively draws on and moves beyond traditional Buddhist cosmology, will be used to explore central notions of death, rebirth, karma, and liberation.


Thursday, February 26, 2009, 5:00 pm
Mark Rowe, McMaster University
Biographies of Non-Eminent Monks: Situating Contemporary Japanese Buddhist Priests
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

Event image

Nichiren priests on their way to perform a memorial service in rural Nigata

Despite the fact that there are currently over 300,000 officially certified Buddhist priests in Japan, there has hardly been any significant scholarly research into their lives and training. What are their backgrounds? How are they trained? What are their day-to-day activities? How do they mediate between the doctrinal ideals of their particular traditions and the real-world needs of parishioners? What do priests think of the larger organizations (sects) to which they belong? As a way to open up some of these issues, this presentation will explore varying ideas of "propagation" within several Japanese Buddhist sects. Time permitting, there will also be an audience participation component to the talk.

Mark Rowe is an Assistant Professor of Japanese Religions at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He received an M.A. from Kyoto University and his Ph.D. from Princeton. He is an ethnographer of Japanese Buddhism specializing in the current realities of Japanese temple priests. In 2004 he co-edited (with Stephen Covell) a special issue of the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies focusing on contemporary Japanese Buddhism. He is currently completing a book manuscript titled "Death By Association: Temples, Burial, and the Transformation of Contemporary Japanese Buddhism," which traces the institutional realities of the "traditional" Buddhist sects through an exploration of Buddhist responses to radical shifts in contemporary burial practices.


February 19 - April 15, 2009
Portraits of Buddhist Bhutan
An exhibit of photographer Mark Tuschman's images of Bhutan
IEAS gallery, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

Buddhism is the state religion of Bhutan, and its institutions play a central role in society. Its monasteries are centers of continuing training. Buddhist ceremonial dances, choreographed over the centuries by religious leaders, serve not only spiritual functions but offer merit to all who observe. The visual arts, however beautiful, exist as expressions and enactments of Buddhist world-view, and as revelations of meaning for the initiate.

Photo exhibit image

Photo by Mark Tuschman

Known as the "Land of the Thunder Dragon," Bhutan has guarded its borders against much of twentieth-century development. With the acceptance by its king of a constitution in 2008, Bhutan may emerge as Asia's newest democracy. However, access to the country remains strictly controlled, and its traditional Buddhist culture as yet yields little to modernity.

American photographer Mark Tuschman seeks "to photograph people with compassion and dignity in the hope of communicating our interrelatedness." His images capture structures, rituals, arts, and individuals — young and old alike — that suggest the range of visual imagery associated with Buddhism in Bhutan.

This exhibit has been arranged as a complement to the exhibition The Dragon's Gift: The Sacred Arts of Bhutan at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.


Thursday, February 12, 2009, 5:00 pm
Toru Funayama, Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University
Calling Oneself a Saint: Religious Awareness in Medieval Chinese Buddhism
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

Calling Oneself a Saint Image

Buddhist saint, from cave 285 at Dunhuang.

We find some cases of self-designation of saintliness, i.e. saying "I am a saint of such-and-such a stage," in Medieval Chinese Buddhist texts. Some of those practitioners were truly regarded as saints by their contemporaries and revered as such; others were just frauds. In this talk Professor Funayama will introduce several interesting examples of this phenomenon and discuss some of the problems underlying self-designation in Buddhism. He will also take up such related problems as the connection with the monastic code of conduct (vinaya) and an example of cultic massacre.

Toru Funayama, born in 1961, is currently Associate Professor of Buddhist Studies at the Institute for Research in Humanities at Kyoto University in Japan. His research mainly covers two different areas in the history of Buddhism. One is Chinese Buddhism in the Six Dynasties period, especially in the 5th and 6th centuries (in particular, the formation of Chinese Buddhist translation and apocrypha and the spread of the notion of Mahayana precepts). His second specialty concerns philological and philosophical issues in Buddhist epistemology and logic in India from the 5th-10th centuries, particularly Kamalaśīla's (ca. 740-795) theory of perception. In both areas, he is interested in the concept of saints and saintliness in Buddhism, and the historical formation of Buddhist commentarial literature in India and China.


Thursday, January 29, 2009, 5:00 pm
Giulio Agostini, Visiting Scholar, UC Berkeley
Buddhist dreams, Erotic Dreams, and Herophilus of Chalcedon
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

Queen Maya's Dream image

Queen Māyā's White Elephant Dream and the Conception of the Buddha Provenance: Gandhāra
Location: Zenyōmitsu-ji, a Buddhist Temple in Tokyo, Japan. Date: 2nd/3rd century AD.


For a Buddhist cleric, a seminal emission is a fault, unless it occurs in a dream. The traditional definition of karma as passionate intention entails that dream actions are real and produce retribution, because intention and passions are present even while dreaming. Thus believed the Theravādins, the Vaibhāsikas, and the Mūlasarvāstivādins. And yet, dreams are instead unreal according to the Uttarapāthakas, the Dārsṭāntikas, Harivarman, the Yogācārabhumi, and arguably the Mahāsāṁghikas. In these disagreements, one must also see different reactions to Mahādeva's thesis on the possibility of nocturnal emissions for liberated beings. Related to the dream exception are the various Buddhist classifications of dreams. In most of them, a separate category for dreams caused by desire and for wet dreams is conspicuously missing. Noteworthy are those classifications mentioning dreams caused by humor disequilibrium and prophetic dreams not sent by the gods. The latter category is problematic because it includes heterogeneous elements: in the Theravāda commentaries, its prophetic character is explained in terms of the theory of karma, as a result of past actions; in the Milindapañha, instead, it is explained in terms of a theory of dream perception of external subtle images; according to a Chinese Theravāda commentary, to this category also belong dreams caused by desire, in which karma is produced. Quite surprisingly, this heterogeneity may be understood in the light of the Greek physician Herophilus' threefold classification, mentioning dreams caused by humor disequilibrium, dreams sent by the gods, and dreams caused by external subtle images. In the last category, Herophilus includes two Buddhist apparently heterogeneous elements: explicitly, dreams caused by desire and wet dreams; implicitly, referring to Democritus' theory of eidola, prophetic dreams not sent by the gods. Other details confirm the hypothesis of Herophilus' influence on the Buddhist classification, especially evident in the Milindapañha.

After completing a laurea in Classics and Sanskrit from the University of Milan, Giulio Agostini earned a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. His thesis focused on doctrinal debates about the definition of 'lay Buddhist' in ancient India. He has published on ethics and legal issues, such as the admissibility of abortion and of taking 'partial' lay vows, and on the history of exegetical disagreements between competing Buddhist traditions. Dr. Agostini will be a Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley during Spring 2009.


Thursday, January 22, 2009, 5:00 pm
Imre Hamar, Fulbright Scholar, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Commentary-writing in Chinese Buddhism
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor


A monk copying the Avatamsaka-sutra at Qiongzhu monastery in Kunming, Yunnan province

A monk copying the Avatamsaka-sutra at Qiongzhu monastery in Kunming, Yunnan province

In several major cultures of the world, commentaries make up a considerable proportion of the full body of written texts. Holy scriptures are often hazy and ambiguous, or even completely incomprehensible, without additional explanations. To understand them in the right way is, therefore, both an important task and a serious challenge for the literati of all times. In Chinese Buddhist literature, the significance of commentaries is well illustrated by the fact that in the Taishō edition they make up eleven and a half volumes, as opposed to the four and a half volumes of essays expounding the teachings of schools. The formal and essential criteria of commentary-writing formulated gradually, with commentary as a genre attaining its final form by Tang times. This is the form that became the model to be followed by later generations. In this lecture, Professor Hamar will show the process of how commentary-writing developed from the early period and discuss the main features of the full-fledged commentary.

Imre Hamar received his Ph.D. from the Hungarian Academy of Science in 1997 and earned his habilitation in 2004 with the completion of his study titled "Manifestation of Buddha." He has published many books and articles in Hungarian and English, most recently "A Religious Leader in the Tang: Chengguan's Biography" (2002) and "A kínai buddhizmus története" (History of Chinese Buddhism) (2004). In addition to his appointment as Professor of Chinese Studies at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) in Budapest, Dr. Hamar is also the director of ELTE's Institute of East Asian Studies. He is a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Virginia for the 2008-09 academic year.


Afghanistan event Image

Golden crown from Tillya-tepe (1st century CE), Musée Guimet
Photo: Thierry Ollivier
"Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul" exhibit
Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, October 24, 2008 to January 25, 2009.

Friday-Saturday, November 14-15, 2008
Recovering Afghanistan's Past: Cultural Heritage in Context
Chevron Auditorium, International House
2299 Piedmont Ave., Berkeley
Cosponsored by the Al-Falah Program for Islamic Studies (CMES), Townsend Center for the Humanities, Center for South Asia Studies (CSAS), Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ISEEES), History of Art Department, Society for Asian Art, Association for the Protection of Afghan Archaeology (APAA), California State University-East Bay, Consulate General of France, International House, and Willis Deming on behalf of the Society for Art & Cultural Heritage of India (SACHI)

The "Recovering Afghanistan's Past: Cultural Heritage in Context" conference will focus on Afghanistan's cultural heritage in its past and present contexts and bring together scholars from various disciplines to address, among others, the following issues:

  • The recovered objects from the National Museum
  • Recent research and preservation/renovation projects
  • Challenges of cultural heritage protection
  • The complexities of 'targeted' heritage
  • Cultural heritage and identity

This conference is organized in conjunction with the "Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul" exhibit which will be on display at several venues in the United States in 2008-2009, including the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, October 24, 2008 - January 25, 2009. This exhibit highlights the objects thought to have been looted from the National Museum of Afghanistan, but later rediscovered in the vault of the Presidential Palace. The exhibit centers on three major collections — Ai Khanum, Tillya-tepe, and Begram — which represent important archeological discoveries that have informed our understanding of the development of ancient Afghan cultures.

For more information, please go to the conference website at http:// ieas.berkeley.edu/ afghanconference2008.

 

Thursday, November 6, 2008, 5:00 pm
2008-09 Numata Lecture
James Robson, Numata Visiting Professor in Buddhist Studies
Searching For a Better Return: "Preparatory Cultivation" [nixiu 逆修, yuxiu 預修] and the Economy of Salvation in East Asian Buddhism
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

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Picture of Amitabha embroidered with the hair of the individual performing a rite of "preparatory cultivation." Owned by the Hôkoku-ji in Nagoya. Kamakura Period.


It is commonly understood that Buddhist death rituals, which transfer merit from the living to deceased ancestors, exemplify the importance of filial piety in East Asia. In this talk Prof. Robson discusses a variety of Chinese and Japanese sources that suggest that some people were in fact uneasy about placing their post-mortem fate in the hands of surviving relatives. His talk will explore the development of a ritual of "preparatory cultivation," which involves accruing merit for oneself while alive that is transferred to oneself after death. These pre-mortem rites were propagated by Buddhist institutions and became a widespread phenomena in East Asia. How does an understanding of the development of these practices force us to rethink commonly held notions about East Asian conceptions of death and the afterlife?

James Robson is an Associate Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. He specializes in the history of Medieval Chinese Buddhism and Daoism and is particularly interested in issues of sacred geography, local religious history, talismans, and the historical development of Chan/Zen Buddhism. He is the author of "Buddhism and the Chinese Marchmount System [Wuyue]: A Case Study of the Southern Marchmount (Mt. Nanyue)" in John Lagerwey, ed. Religion and Chinese Society: Ancient and Medieval China (Hong Kong: The Chinese UP and École Française d'Extrême-Orient, 2004) and "A Tang Dynasty Chan Mummy [roushen] and a Modern Case of Furta Sacra? Investigating the Contested Bones of Shitou Xiqian," in Bernard Faure, ed. Chan Buddhism in Ritual Context (London: Routledge Curzon, 2003). He is presently completing a book manuscript entitled Power of Place: The Religious Landscape of the Southern Sacred Peak [Nanyue 南嶽] in Medieval China (forthcoming, Harvard Asia Center). He has also been engaged in a long-term collaborative research project with the École Française d'Extrême-Orient studying local religious statuary from Hunan province and what they can tell us about the local religious history of that region.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008, 5:00 pm
Inaugural Khyentse Foundation Lecture in Tibetan Buddhism
Jacob Dalton, Assistant Professor, UC Berkeley
Rethinking Tibet's Dark Age: Demons, Tantras, and the Formation of Tibetan Buddhism
Heyns Room, The Faculty Club, UC-Berkeley

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Nubchen Sangye Yeshe (mid 9th-10th c.), a tantric master said to have protected Buddhism against the demonic forces of Tibet's dark age.

With the collapse of the Yarlung empire around 842 C.E., Tibet descended into its so-called "dark age." As for Europe's own dark ages, few documents survived the period, and what little we do know is usually filtered through traditional historical narratives that portray the age as one of religious corruption and decay. In this talk, Dalton will suggest that such traditional accounts have obscured the more positive aspects of the period. Freed from the watchful eyes of the imperial court and the monastic orthodoxy, Tibetans of the late ninth and tenth centuries were able to make Buddhism their own. The themes, the imagery, and the strategies they developed during these inchoate years formed the cultural foundations upon which Tibetan Buddhism would be built. Only by excavating these foundations and shedding some light on this "dark age" can we gain a clear appreciation of the Tibetan adaptation of Buddhism.

Jacob Dalton received his M.A. and Ph.D. (Buddhist Studies) from the University of Michigan. After working for three years (2002-05) as a researcher with the International Dunhuang Project at the British Library, he taught at Yale University (2005-2008) before moving to Berkeley. He works on Nyingma religious history, tantric ritual, paleography, and the Dunhuang manuscripts. He is the author of a forthcoming study on violence and the formation of Tibetan Buddhism, and co-author of Tibetan Tantric Manuscripts from Dunhuang: A Descriptive Catalogue of the Stein Collection at the British Library (Brill, 2006). He is currently working on a history of Tibetan Buddhism, as seen through the eyes of the "Sutra Empowerment" (Mdo dbang) tradition of the Nyingma school. Future plans include a study of tantric ritual in the Dunhuang manuscripts.



Thursday, September 11, 2008, 5:00 pm
Frances Garrett, University of Toronto
Considering Anthropophagy in Tibet
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

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This presentation will examine "cannibalism" as a locus of connection between religious, medical and occult traditions in Tibet. Surveying examples of the consumption of human body parts as articulated in Tibetan contemplative, ritual, occult and medical literature, and in myth, iconography and narrative, this talk will consider how anthropophagy has been controversial not only for Buddhologists and European visitors to Tibet, but also for Tibetans themselves. Professor Garrett draws in particular from the Nectar Tantras canon and its writings on the contemplative and ritual practice called Accomplishing Medicine (sman sgrub), an esoteric exercise that involves the creation and use of "nectar" recipes using human products. She concludes that in Tibet anthropophagous practices and narratives are acts of transgression, generosity, and incorporation that are simultaneously savage and civilized.

Frances Garrett is Assistant Professor of Tibetan Buddhism in the Department for the Study of Religion. She received her PhD from the University of Virginia in 2004. She is intrigued by how Buddhist voices command a growing literary, ideological, social and political presence in the formative twelfth-fifteenth centuries in Tibet. A history of ideas that weaves across sectarian and disciplinary boundaries, her book, Religion, Medicine and the Human Embryo in Tibet (Routledge, 2008) links aspects of Tibetan medicine to expressions of culture, religion, art and literature through a study of embryology in Tibetan literature. Current projects consider the intersections between tantric practice, ritual and occult knowledge, and medical theory, and what these tell us about the processes of institutional and ideological change in "renaissance" Tibet.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008, 4:00 pm
Patricia Graham
Faith and Power in Japanese Buddhist Art, 1600-2005
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor
Cosponsored by the Institute of East Asian Studies and the Center for Japanese Studies

Introduced by Gregory Levine, History of Art, UC Berkeley.

This talk explores the reasons for the enduring popularity in the Japanese Buddhist pantheon of Buddhist "saints" — monks known as Rakan (Luohan in Chinese; and Arhat in Sanskrit) and laity known as the Buddha's 10 Great Disciples (Shaka Judai deshi). Both groups were devout, unconventional personages who gained enlightenment after hearing the teachings of the Buddha in India. Their popularity as personal saviors continues to the present and has inspired the creation of numerous idiosyncratic images by artists working within and apart from formal Buddhist organizations. Their widespread appeal is emblematic of their transcendence beyond Buddhism to universal symbols of individualism and integrity.

Patricia J. Graham, a former professor of Japanese art and culture, and museum curator, is an independent scholar and Asian art consultant based in Lawrence, Kansas. This talk is drawn from her new book, Faith and Power in Japanese Buddhist Art, 1600-2005 (University of Hawai'i Press, 2007).


Friday, April 25, 2008, 12:00-2:00 pm
CBS Silk Road Initiative Lecture and Workshop
Jason Neelis, University of Florida
Enigma of an Absence: Buddhist Archaeology, Art and Inscriptions in the Transit Zones of Xinjiang and Northern Pakistan
3335 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley


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Petroglyph of figures venerating a stūpa with offerings along with a Kharosṭhī inscription ("By Puśia, resident of Oṇi") from the 1st-2nd century C.E. on the upper Indus River in northern Pakistan at Chilas II

A network of passageways through the upper Indus region of northern Pakistan directly connected the Northern Route (uttarāpatha) of South Asia with branches of the so-called Silk Routes in the southern Tarim Basin of Xinjiang. These capillary routes were instrumental in the cross-cultural transmission of Buddhism as well as commercial exchanges, migrations, diplomatic contacts, and military expeditions throughout the first millennium CE. However, the dearth of archaeological remains of Buddhist monasteries in Xinjiang before ca. 250 CE and in the upper Indus before the visit of Faxian shortly after 400 CE is enigmatic. The late appearance of residential monasteries in the intermediate regions between Buddhist centers in the northwestern Indian subcontinent, western Central Asia, and China poses challenges to the standard model of point-to-point diffusion from South Asia to western Central Asia and along the silk routes of eastern Central Asia to East Asia. In "Buddhism Across Boundaries: The Foreign Input" Erik Zürcher rejects the model of "contact expansion" as an insufficient explanation for the early phases of the establishment of Buddhism in China by drawing attention to the fact that the first Iranian and western Central Asian foreign monks and translators belonged to a Buddhist community in Loyang about a century before Buddhist monasteries appear in the Tarim Basin. Zürcher develops an alternative model of "long-distance transmission" to account for hybrid forms of Later Han period Chinese Buddhism, which resulted from irregular contact with Buddhist cultures in western Central Asia and South Asia because the transit zone of Xinjiang did not have sufficient economic surpluses to support residential communities of monks and nuns until later periods. This presentation will reassess the model of long-distance transmission and its application to Xinjiang and the Northern Areas of Pakistan by examining early Buddhist archaeology, art (including rock drawings), graffiti inscriptions, and other written documents. An attempt will be made to extend this model for the transmission of Buddhism to other areas of the Buddhist world.

Jason Neelis received his Ph.D. in Asian Languages and Literature from the University of Washington with a dissertation on long-distance trade and transmission of Buddhism through Northern Pakistan. He is an Assistant Professor for South Asian Buddhism in the Department of Religion at the University of Florida. While specializing in the study of early Buddhist inscriptions and manuscripts, he seeks to understand patterns in the cross-cultural transmission of Buddhism between South Asia and Central Asia. Recent publications include "La Vieille Route Reconsidered: Alternative Paths for Early Transmission of Buddhism Beyond the Borderlands of South Asia" in the Bulletin of the Asia Institute and "Passages to India: Śaka and Kuṣāṇa Migrations in Historical Contexts" in On the Cusp of an Era: Art in the Pre-Kuṣāṇa World.


Thursday, April 24, 2008, 5:00 pm
Ingrid Jordt, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Politics, Anti-Politics & the 2007 Monks' Protest in Burma
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor
Co-sponsored by the Center for Southeast Asia Studies


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"Turning over the alms bowl" is a form of non-violent Buddhist protest with deep historical roots in Burma. This talk will discuss the religious boycott as a soft power movement that negotiates the careful divide between religious moral sanction and outright political action.

Ingrid Jordt is a special authority on Burmese Buddhism having spent several years in Burma as an ordained nun in the 1980s. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University where she studied with Prof. Stanley Tambiah, and has emerged as a leading expert in recent months in providing context on the popular protests that emerged in Burma in late 2007. Her most recent book is Burma's Mass Lay Meditation Movement: Buddhism and the Cultural Construction of Power (Ohio, 2007).


Tuesday, April 22, 2008, 5:00 pm
Marcus Bingenheimer, Dharma Drum Buddhist College, Taiwan
Buddhism and Technology - Attitudes, Philosophy, and Practices
3335 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley
Co-sponsored by the Center for Japanese Studies

Information technology slowly changes the ways of research and teaching in the Humanities. As new forms of scholarly publication and evaluation emerge, scholars in the Humanities are challenged to rethink the role of technology for their field. Taking cues from the philosophy of technology in the Western tradition, especially that of Martin Heidegger, this talk will probe the possibilities of a dialog between Buddhism and technology. The presentation will make the case for a critical and reflective attitude towards the use of technology and the chance for Buddhist Studies as academic discipline to play a mediating role in the emerging dialog.

Marcus Bingenheimer's research interest lies mainly in the history of Buddhism and Buddhist historiography. Beyond that he is engaged in the task of editing and supervising the production of digital Buddhist texts and Buddhist study tools. Dr. Bingenheimer has published on Japanese and Chinese monks of the 7th and 8th century, the Chinese Buddhist historiographer Yinshun (1906-2005) and contemporary Buddhist whole-body relics in Taiwan. He has contributed an entry to the DDB on Yinshun.


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Saturday, April 19, 2008, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Symposium on Literati Buddhism in Middle-Period China
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor
Co-sponsored by the Center for Chinese Studies
Institute of East Asian Studies
Townsend Center for the Humanities

This conference seeks to examine the intersection between elite culture and Buddhism in the Tang, Song, and Yuan dynasties. This relationship has several dimensions: literati who pursued Buddhism as a complement or alternative to state-sanctioned studies; engagement with "Confucian" learning by Buddhist monks; the role of Buddhist sites in literary and artistic imaginations; the use of poetry and calligraphy by Buddhist monks; the role of Buddhist monasteries, temples, and cloisters in local society; and the material instantiations of the relations between monks and the literati.

Detailed conference information is available at http://ieas.berkeley.edu/events/literati.


Thursday, April 17, 2008, 5:00 pm
Ryûichi Abé, Harvard University
Origin of the Shingon Patriarchal Portraiture — Or, Disjunction between History and Theory
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor
Co-sponsored by the Center for Japanese Studies

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This talk examines, first, the social and historical condition in which Kûkai produced the portraits of Nâgârjuna and Nâgabodhi in the twelfth year of the Kônin era (821), and, secondly, the validity of the theory of Shingon's Dharma transmission, the nondual transmission of the Matrix and Diamond Mandalas, which is said to be grounded in these paintings and Kûkai's narratives attached to each of these works. Although a few art historians have studied these portraits, there is not yet a thorough investigation on Kûkai's motive to commission the production of these paintings at this particular stage in his career. Professor Abé will focus his analysis in the relationship, on one hand, between these two portraits produced under Kûkai's supervision and the five patriarchal portraits Kûkai brought back from China, and, on the other, between the biographical narrative texts Kûkai prepared to be attached to the seven portraits. The concluding part of the talk considers Kûkai's production of the portraiture in relationship to his swiftly increasing visibility and public responsibility in the early Heian priestly and aristocratic circles.

Ryûichi Abé is the Reischauer Institute Professor of Japanese Religions at Harvard University. Until May 2005, he was Professor of Japanese religions and Buddhism of East Asia at Columbia University, where he received the Philip and Ruth Hettleman Award for distinguished teaching. Professor Abé, through his teaching and books, has made an important contribution to the Western understanding of Japanese Buddhism. His book on Kûkai underscores Kûkai's impact on 9th century Japanese society. At a time when Confucian discourse dominated Japan, Kûkai developed a "voice" for Buddhism. He has also written about Ryōkan, and Saichō. His publications include The Weaving of Mantra : Kûkai and the Construction of Esoteric Buddhist Discourse (1999), Great Fool: Zen Master Ryōkan: Poems, Letters, and Other Writings (1996, with Peter Haskel), and Saichō and Kûkai: A Conflict of Interpretations (1995).


Thursday, April 3, 2008, 5:00 pm
Birgit Kellner, Visiting Assistant Professor of Buddhist Studies, UC Berkeley
Are External Objects Spiritually Harmful or Philosophically Impossible?: Some Remarks on the Criticism of External Reality in South Asian Buddhist Thought
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

Various Buddhist thinkers have criticized the notion that our cognitions are of external objects, or that external, material entities which we can cognize actually exist. This talk will discuss several varieties of this criticism that were articulated in the latter half of the first millennium CE in South Asia. In doing so, I am going to especially pursue two aspects: first, the philosophical characteristics of the various arguments that are advanced, and second, the interplay of philosophical argumentation, which looks at whether the existence of external objects is rationally defensible, with soteriological attitudes that might instead focus on whether believing in external reality is spiritually harmful.

Brigit Kellner specializes in the history of Buddhist logic and epistemology in ancient India and Tibet. After completing her M.A. studies under the supervision of Ernst Steinkellner at the University of Vienna (Austria) in 1994, she went to Japan, where a dissertation on the knowledge of absence in Buddhist epistemological thought in India after Dharmakirti, supervised by Shoryu Katsura, earned her a PhD from the University of Hiroshima in 1999. Supported by further research fellowships from the Austrian Science Fund and the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation (Germany), she carried out further research on the relationship between realist and idealist epistemologies in Buddhist thought, which is also going to be the topic of her Habilitation monograph that is currently being completed. In addition to her work on the history of Buddhist philosophy, Birgit Kellner developed and implemented several academic database projects, notably the "Indian Logic Knowledge Base", funded by the European Commission. She currently carries out a research project on the theory of reflexive awareness (svasamvedana) in Dharmakirti's Pramāṇavārttika at the Department of South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies of the University of Vienna. Together with Helmut Tauscher and Helmut Krasser, Birgit Kellner edits the monograph series "Vienna Studies in Tibetology and Buddhism" (http://www.istb.univie.ac.at/cgi-bin/wstb/wstb.cgi), and together with Helmut Krasser, she acts as editor-in-chief of the Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies.


Friday-Sunday, March 28-30, 2008
Buddhist Studies Conference and Workshop
Asilomar Conference Ground, Pacific Grove
Faculty and graduate students only


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Detailed conference information for participants is available at http://ieas.berkeley.edu/asilomarconference.


Thursday, March 20, 2008, 5:00 pm
Numata Lecture
Rupert Gethin, University of Bristol
The Word of the Buddha or the Disputations of his Disciples? The Buddhist Path as Presented in the Pali Nikāyas
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

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Thai painting (19th century) depicting the Buddha flanked by his two chief disciples, Sāriputta and Moggallāna

The Pali Nikāyas contain a number of different schemes of the Buddhist path. These schemes are characteristically set out in the Nikāyas by way of variations on stock formulas presented in a variety of narrative frames. It has been argued by scholars that these different schemes represent competing voices within early Buddhist texts, and some scholars even argue that it is possible to identify the authentic voice of the Buddha among these voices. Such an approach assumes that the Nikāyas are best considered as the end result of a somewhat haphazard and unsystematic process of compilation and redaction that reveals instances of incoherence and inconsistency which can then be used as a basis for distinguishing between early and late in the different path schemes. Rupert Gethin argues that such an approach has overlooked the extent to which the Nikāyas are a systematically redacted whole: the product of a particular process of compilation and editing which the compilers and editors deliberately employed in order to present a particular vision of the Buddhist path. Analysing the schemes and formulas both numerically and contextually, Gethin attempts to articulate what the vision was by establishing what the compilers of the Nikāyas wished to highlight and emphasize in their presentation of the Buddhist path.

Rupert Gethin isthe Numata Visiting Professorin Buddhist Studies at UC-Berkeley for Spring 2008. He isReader in Buddhist Studies in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, and co-director of the Centre for Buddhist Studies, at the University of Bristol, and (since 2003) President of the Pali Text Society. He holds a BA in Comparative Religion (1980), a Masters Degree in Buddhist Studies (1982), and a PhD in Buddhist Studies (1987), all from the University of Manchester. He was appointed Lecturer in Indian Religions by the University of Bristol in 1987, and then Reader In Buddhist Studies in 2005.His 1998 book The Foundations of Buddhism is frequently used in university-level classes on Buddhism in English-speaking countries.

 

Friday, March 14, 2008, 12:00-2:00 pm
CBS Silk Road Initiative Lecture and Workshop
Madhuvanti Ghose, Art Institute of Chicago
Chinese and Indian Buddha Images: A Study of Early Cultural Interaction
3335 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley

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Buddha dated 338, Hebei Province, China (Asian Art Museum, San Francisco)

Madhuvanti Ghose is the Alsdorf Associate Curator of Indian, Southeast Asian, Himalayan and Islamic Art at The Art Institute of Chicago. She is responsible for the exhibition, expansion, preservation and research of the institute's holdings in these fields. Dr. Ghose was previously a Lecturer at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and a Research Fellow in the Department of Eastern Art at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. She specialises in ancient Indian art and iconography. The interaction of South Asia with the Hellenistic, Roman, Near/Middle Eastern, Iranian, Central Asian and Chinese worlds from the Bronze Age to the coming of Islam is another major area of research activity. Her forthcoming publications include: From Nisa to Niya: New Discoveries and Studies in Central and Inner Asian Art and Archaeology (co-editor, forthcoming 2008), The Origins of Indian Cult Images (2008) and A Catalogue of the Gandhara and Central Asian Antiquities at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (2009). She is one of the co-founders of the Circle of Inner Asian Art (CIAA) which promotes the pre-Islamic art of Central Asia worldwide.


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A facsimile of a message inscribed on a bar of gold from the ruler known as Empress Wu to the gods of Taoism, discovered in 1982. This demonstrates her interest in seeking a better future in the afterlife, an aim that - surprisingly to us - could have been met by extensive printing, and probably was.

Monday, March 10, 2008, 5:00 pm
Timothy Barrett, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Religion and the Rise of Printing Reconsidered
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor
Cosponsored by the Center for Chinese Studies

This talk will pick up from a short paper published in 2001 and not widely circulated which has been cited surprisingly frequently in the absence of any other account of the religious roots of printing in China. The remarks in that paper are now to be restated and extended in The Woman Who Discovered Printing, which tries to set out a provisional narrative of the factors affecting printing up till the end of the Tang dynasty. But after completing this account, consideration of what happened next, in the early decades of the tenth century, has suggested to me that we need to look carefully at the political and social factors prevailing at that point to understand the widespread acceptance of printing thereafter. And once again, we need to look very carefully at religious materials to get some picture of what was going on, even if paradoxically they have nothing to do with printing at all.

T.H. Barrett graduated from Cambridge and received his doctorate from Yale. After teaching at Cambridge for over ten years he became Professor of East Asian History at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, in 1986, where he has taught ever since, first in the Department of History and more recently in the Department of the Study of Religions. He has published Li Ao: Buddhist, Taoist, or Neo-Confucian (1992), Taoism under the T'ang (1996), and a number of other studies; his next book, "The Woman Who Discovered Printing," is to be published by Yale in London by the end of March.

 

Thursday, February 28, 2008, 5:00 pm
Jacqueline Stone, Princeton University
Is There Still Buddhism outside Japan? Some Thirteenth-Century Perspectives
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor
Co-sponsored by the Center for Japanese Studies


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"Having vowed to journey to India, the monk Xuanzang (602-664) dreams of crossing the ocean and ascending Mt. Sumeru" (from the Genjō Sanzō-e, late 13th century)

Buddhist thinkers in premodern Japan were keenly aware of Japan's location at the extreme eastern edge of the Buddhist world. Contrasting rhetorics alternately maintained that Japan occupied a soteriologically disadvantaged status as a marginal country in a degenerate age, far from the time and place of the historical Buddha, or that, despite its peripheral position, Japan enjoyed a strong, even privileged connection to the dharma. Historians have long been interested in early medieval representations of Japan for what light they may shed on the beginnings of national consciousness. In their own time, however, such representations formed part of a standard framework for Buddhist discourse and were deployed to advance competing definitions of normative Budddhist practice. This paper will examine how some early medieval figures, notably Eisai (1141-1214) and Nichiren (1222-1282), deliberately juxtaposed the two contrasting rhetorics about Japan to promote their own visions of what Buddhism should be.

Jacqueline Stone received her Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Cultures from the University of California, Los Angeles. Currently she is professor of Japanese Religions in the Religion Department at Princeton University and co-director of Princeton's Buddhist Studies Workshop. She is the author of Original Enlightenment and the Transformation of Medieval Japanese Buddhism (1999) and, with Bryan J. Cuevas, co-editor of The Buddhist Dead: Practices, Discourses, Representations (2007). Her research interests include Buddhist intellectual history; medieval Japanese Buddhism; traditions based on the Lotus Sutra, including Tendai and Nichiren; Buddhist approaches to death and dying; and transformations of Buddhism in modern Japan.


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Wednesday, February 20, 2008, 4:00 pm
IEAS Book Series: New Perspectives on East Asia
Penelope Edwards, UC Berkeley
Cambodge: the Cultivation of a Nation
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor
Co-sponsored by the Institute of East Asian Studies and the Center for Southeast Asia Studies

Penelope Edwards is a cultural historian of Cambodia and Burma whose research and teaching interests include Southeast Asian modern literary and print cultures, Buddhism, gender, French colonialism, nationalism, race theory, urban studies and Chinese diaspora.

 

Thursday, February 14, 2008, 5:00 pm
Collett Cox, University of Washington
Bark unto Dust: Recovering the Ancient Buddhist Texts of Gandhāra
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

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Between 1994 and the present, several collections of early Indian Buddhist manuscripts written in the Gāndhārī language and Kharoṣṭhī script have come to light. Significant as the earliest (1st-2nd cent. CE) texts of any type yet to have been discovered in greater South Asia, these texts also provide unparalleled evidence for reconstructing the early history of Buddhist text styles and textual collections. These early Gāndhārī Buddhist manuscripts are currently being studied and published under the auspices of the Early Buddhist Manuscripts Project (University of Washington).

Following a brief overview of the collections and of certain methodological and text-critical issues that these manuscripts raise, this presentation will explore the practical side of working with such manuscripts, from the initial stages of preservation and reconstruction through the process of formulating an edition, translation, and contextual interpretation. After setting out the specifics of manuscript work, the discussion will turn to one particular manuscript, a fragment of a polemical, scholastic or Abhidharma text that treats the controversial issue, "everything exists." We will examine, as time permits, its contents, its argument structure, and its significance for the emergence of the scholastic commentarial genre and for our understanding of early Indian Buddhist sectarianism.

Collett Cox received her Ph.D. in Religion from Columbia University and is currently Professor of Sanskrit and Buddhist Studies in the Department of Asian Languages and Literature at the University of Washington. Her field is early Indian Buddhism, specifically scholastic or Abhidharma texts. She is currently Associate Director of the Early Buddhist Manuscripts Project at the University of Washington, which is engaged in the study and publication of recently discovered early Indian Buddhist manuscripts from Gandhāra.


Thursday, November 29, 2007, 5:00 pm
CBS Silk Road Initiative Inaugural Lecture
Etienne de la Vaissière, École Pratique des Hautes Études
A Strange Buddha for Strange Buddhists:TheSilk Road and the Sogdians
The Great Hall, Bancroft Hotel, 2680 Bancroft Way
A reception will follow

Strange Buddhists for a Strange Buddha event image

The Sogdians — from Samarkand, Bukhara or Tashkent — are usually regarded as playing a great role in the early Buddhist missions to China. However, the evidence for Buddhism in Sogdiana is very limited, and most of the Sogdian Buddhist texts seem to be translated from Chinese. Similarly, are we so sure that the Sogdians were actually the main Buddhist missionaries among the Turkic peoples? A recently discovered image of a strange Sogdian Buddha might offer a clue for an historical interpretation of the precise role of the Sogdian traders in the history of the Buddhist Far East.

Etienne de la Vaissière is Associate Professor at l'École pratique des hautes etudes (EPHE) in Paris. His area of specialization is the economic and social history of pre-Islamic and early Islamic Central Asia. In addition to numerous journal articles, he is the author of Sogdian Traders: A History (2005), and Samarcande et Samarra (2007).

 

Sunday, November 18, 2007, 4:30 pm
Sankara
Roxie Theater, San Francisco

The Center for Buddhist Studies is pleased to co-present:

SANKARA
4:30 pm, Sunday, November 18th
Roxie Theater, San Francisco

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Ananda, a Buddhist monk arrives at a village to restore the temple's paintings - moral tales which depict the trap of the five senses. When he chances upon a young woman's hairpin, he sets off on a reverie of worldly passion. One night, the paintings are destroyed and Ananda patiently begins his work all over again - it is then that he sees his own condition reflected in the paintings. Meditative & painterly, this film was Official Selection at the Rotterdam & London Film Festivals, and won the Special Jury Prize at the Cairo International Film Festival.

Sankara is Prasanna Jayakody's (1968- ) directorial debut film. Visual allure has been his aesthetic trademark, but his ability to articulate the Sinhala Buddhist ethos is the hallmark of his remarkable career. He debuted at the age of 21 with Seveneli saha Minissu (Shadows and Men), a stage drama thematically woven around a thoughtful discussion on the reality of life, which was a major critical success.

Admission: $9
Country: Sri Lanka (2006)
Running Time: 87 min; - US Premiere
In English

For tickets and further information about Sankara and the S.F. International South Asian Film Festival, please visit http://www.thirdi.org/festival/film/sankara.htm.


Thursday, November 1, 2007, 5:00 pm
Maria Heim, Amherst College
The Conceit of Self-Loathing
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

This talk will explore the psychological intricacies of Theravādin interpretations of the "conceit of inferiority" (omāna), which is considered to be one of the standard types of pride or conceit (māna). Considering oneself inferior involves an inflated and contrived construction of oneself, akin to other varieties of conceit. Yet the conceit of inferiority is a curious form of pride, involving as it does much self-abasement, disparagement, and despising of oneself. Looking primarily at Abhidhamma texts, Professor Heim will investigate questions about the nature of pride and humility in Buddhist thought, the psychology of self-loathing, and the affective dimensions of self-knowledge.

Maria Heim is an assistant professor of Buddhist Studies at Amherst College. She works primarily on the Theravada, and is currently working on a book about Buddhist theories of intention and the springs of moral action.


Friday-Saturday, November 2-3, 2007
Daoism Conference
Quanzhen Daoism in Modern Chinese Society and Culture: An International Symposium: 全真道與近現代中國社會和文化: 國際學術研討會
Toll Room, The Alumni House
Co-sponsored by the Center for Chinese Studies, Institute of East Asian Studies, Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités, CNRS-EPHE, Paris, East Asian Languages and Cultures, Townsend Center for the Humanities, Center for the Study of Religion and Culture, Graduate Theological Union, and Department of History

Detailed program information is available at http://ieas.berkeley.edu/events/2007.11.02.html


Thursday-Saturday, October 18-20, 2007
Text, Translation, and Transmission
Conference in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Numata Chair Program
Toll Room, Alumni House


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Detailed program information is available at http://ieas.berkeley.edu/numataconference


Thursday, September 27, 2007, 5:00 pm
Padmanabh S. Jaini, UC-Berkeley (Emeritus)
Buddhism and Warfare: A Note on Mahāvaṃsa 25, 110
A special lecture to celebrate the establishment of the Padmanabh S. Jaini Graduate Student Award in Buddhist Studies
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor
Responses by UCLA Professors Gregory Schopen and Robert Buswell


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The war for the relics of the Buddha, Great Stupa at Sanchi, c. 50 BCE

The "Buddhist" Nationalism of Ceylon (late 19th and early 20th century) had its roots in the Saṅgha-led agitation against the five hundred years of missionary activities during the successive Christian rule of that island by the Portuguese (1505-1638), the Dutch (1638-1795), and the British (1814-1947).

In the wake of independence that "religious" nationalism became transformed into an "ethnic" nationalism, claiming primacy for Buddhist education as well as for the Sinhalese over Tamil (the language of the minority), thus sowing the seeds of a bloody separatist movement. This was partly inspired by the widely read accounts of the victory of the Buddhist Sinhala heroDuṭṭhagāmaṇi Abhaya (101-77 B.C.E.) over the Damiḷa (Tamil) ruler Eḷāra (145-101 B.C.E.) in a bloody war, after which the king grieved over the dead, feared for his own rebirth in heaven, but was assured of his "innocence" by a group of arahants.

All this is detailed in the epic Mahāvaṃsa, hailed as a Buddhist Chronicle by its editor and translator W. Geiger (1908). Much has been written about the ensuing Sri Lankan political developments in the papers edited by Smith Bardwell in his Religion and Legitimation of Power in Sri Lanka (1978) and by G. Obeysekere in his "Duṭṭhagāmaṇī and the Buddhist Conscience" (1992).

Professor Jaini will examine the doctrinal implications of the grounds for "absolution" granted by the arahants in an act of warfare by a Buddhist king, apparently for the glory of the Dhamma.

Padmanabh S. Jaini is Professor emeritus of Buddhist Studies and co-founder of the Group in Buddhist Studies. Before joining UC Berkeley in 1972, he taught at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London and at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is the author of numerous monographs and articles on both Buddhism and Jainism. In the field of Buddhist Studies he is particularly well known for his work on Abhidharma and for his critical editions of the Abhidharmadīpa (a Vaibhāṣika treatise), the Sāratamā (a commentary on the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā), and a collection of apocryphal Jātakas, the Paññāsa-Jātaka, that appeared in four volumes (text and translation). His collected essays have appeared in two volumes, and, recently, he has been honored by a Festschrift (2003) with contributions on early Buddhism and Jainism.

Click here to view a webcast of the "Buddhism and Warfare" talk by Padmanabh S. Jaini.


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Thursday, September 20, 2007, 5:00 pm
Max Deeg, Cardiff University
Places Seen – Places Imagined: Reflections on Xuanzang's Xiyu-ji ("Records of the Western Regions")
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

Due to the scarce textual material for the study of the history of Indian Buddhism, the travel accounts of the Chinese pilgrims, especially Xuanzang's text, the Xiyu-ji, "Records of the Western world," have attracted the attention of scholars working in fields such as archaeology, history of arts, history of religion (especially Buddhism) and history in general, etc. Consequently, there is almost no book written on Indian Buddhism of the first millennium C.E. that does not refer to the pilgrims' reports. These texts have not, however, been studied in a sufficiently comparative and critical way by Western scholars and were not adequately contextualized in relation to information which we have from Indian Buddhist literature, archaeology and history of arts. Nor were they read as a specific genre of Chinese literature. Without taking this kind of research into account it is not possible to draw sound conclusions as to whether the pieces of information related in these texts reflect a historical reality – that is to say "places seen" – or whether they were moulded according to certain patterns of inner-Buddhist or inter- or innercultural topoi. This lecture explores one example where it can be shown that Xuanzang, in his Xiyu-ji, construed a complete description of an Indian region, Mathurā, probably without having travelled there and solely on the basis of information available to him in Chinese Buddhist texts. It will be argued that this was not for reasons of forging evidence but as a consequence of the very purpose of the text, written, as it was, for the Chinese emperor in order to provide a complete overview of Buddhist India.

Max Deeg is Senior Lecturer in Buddhist Studies at Cardiff University in Wales. He received his Ph.D. in Indian Studies and his Habilitation (professoral degree) in Religious Studies from the University of Würzburg. He taught German in Taiwan and Japan before joining the Religious Studies faculty at the University of Vienna from 2002-2005. His most recent publication is a German translation of Kumārajīva's Lotussutra.


Thursday-Friday, April 26-27, 2007
Exploring Esoteric Rituals in Early East Asian Buddhism
Faculty Workshop


Tuesday, April 24, 2007, 11:00 am - 12:30 pm
Two Revivals of Buddhist Education in East Tibet
Panel Discussion
Ida and Robert Sproul Rooms, International House, UC Berkeley

Khenpo Phuntsok Namgyal
Abbot
Dzongsar Khamje Institute, Derge, Eastern Tibet

Lodre Phuntso
Principal Administrator
Dzongsar Khamje Institute, Derge, Eastern Tibet

Lama Sonam Phuntsho
Translator


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The structures of modern Tibetan Buddhist monastic education are often traced to the efforts of Jamgn Kongtrul and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, two 19th-century scholars and innovators based in East Tibet (Kham). Considered as leaders of a movement toward nonsectarianism (Rimé), the two revived interest in many forgotten traditions of Tibetan Buddhism and shifted the emphasis of monastic education away from sectarian commentaries and back to the shared roots of the tradition. The present abbot of the monastic college at Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo's Dzongsar Monastery will discuss this 19th-century reformation and its effects upon monastic education in Tibet. This monastic college was one of many destroyed during the violence of the Cultural Revolution. It was rebuilt in the 1980's largely through the efforts of Lodre Phuntsok, a traditional Tibetan physician and the author of a history of Dzongsar Monastery. Dr. Lodre Phuntsok will relate the story of this 20th-century revitalization of Buddhism in East Tibet with a focus on the monastic college.

Co-sponsored by the Khyentse Foundation


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Thursday, April 19, 2007, 5:00 pm
Numata Lecture
Koichi Shinohara, Yale University
The Wonder-working Monk Reveals Himself to be the Twelve-headed Avalokitesvara: Miracle or Esoteric Ritual?
3335 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley

Yü Chün-fang in her learned study of Avalokitesvara observes that certain famous wonder-working monks were later identified with Avalokitesvara. Baozhi, for example, is said to have "peeled off his face" in front of Emperor Gao of Qi dynasty and then Emperor Wu of Liang dynasty and revealed himself to be the Twelve-faced Avalokitesvara. I will argue that this connection between figures like Baozhi and Avalokitesvara reflects a late development in Chinese Buddhism, and that the story offers us a clue to the growth of the esoteric cult Avalokitesvara, which may have spread by adopting popular cults such as those of "divine" monks.

Koichi Shinohara is the Numata Visiting Professor in Buddhist Studies at the University of California, Berkeley for Spring 2007. He is a senior lecturer of Religious Studies in the Department of Religious Studies at Yale University, where he works primarily on Buddhism in East Asia. For the past several years his work has centered around the writings of an influential commentator on monastic practices and historian Daoxuan (596-677) and his collaborator Daoshi (d.u.) at the Ximingsi monastery in the capital city. Among his current projects is the study of the cult of a deity with a terrifying appearance, Shensha or Jinja ("Deep Sand"). This cult originated in China in connection with the story of a famous pilgrim to India and later became popular in Japan, where a temple bearing the name of the deity continues to flourish outside of Tokyo.


Thursday, March 22, 2007, 5:00 pm
Phyllis Granoff, Yale University
Karma, Curse, or Divine Illusion: The Destruction of the Buddha's Clan and the Slaughter of the Yâdavas
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

The early Indian tradition knows of two instances of genocide in which the clan of a famous person was slaughtered. They are the slaughter of the Buddha's own clan, the Sakyas, and the slaughter of the Yâdavas, relatives of the god Krsna. This paper examines the treatment of the genocides in a range of texts, including the Pali Jatakas, Mahabharata, Bhagavata Purana, and vernacular versions of the epic from Northeast India.

Phyllis Granoff received her Ph.D. from Harvard University in Sanskrit and Indian Studies and Fine Arts. She is presently a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Buddhist Studies, UC Berkeley (Spring 2007). She teaches at Yale University in the Department of Religious Studies and serves as the Chair of the South Asian Studies Council. Her research interests include the development of classical Hinduism, medieval Jainism, and early Mahayana approaches to image worship.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007, 4:00 pm
Understanding Tibetan Monastic Music in the 21st Century
Panel Discussion
Seaborg Room, Faculty Club

Learn more about Tibetan musical structure and theory in preparation for the evening's performance by the Gyuto Monks. Benjamin Bogin (Buddhist Studies, UC Berkeley), Keila Diehl (Anthropology, Stanford University), and Jessie Wallner (Ethnomusicology, Indiana University) will situate the monks' performance in the context of the history of Tibetan monastic rituals, including the cultural transformations that occur when a ritual is displaced from the monastery to the stage. Co-sponsored by Cal Performances, the Institute of East Asian Studies, and the Center for Buddhist Studies, UC Berkeley.


Thursday, March 8, 2007
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor
4:00 - 4:30 pm    Dorji Wangchuk, University of Hamburg
Much Ado About the Appearance and Perception of Water: Attempts Made by the Four Major Schools of Tibetan Buddhism to Resolve Ontological and Epistemological Problems
4:30 - 4:45 pm    Q&A
4:45 - 5:00 pm    coffee break
5:00 - 5:30 pm    Orna Almogi, University of Hamburg
Does a Buddha Possess Gnosis (jñāna: ye shes)? A Dispute Among Madhyamaka Exponents in India and Tibet
5:30 - 5:45 pm    Q&A

Much Ado About the Appearance and Perception of Water: Attempts Made by the Four Major Schools of Tibetan Buddhism to Resolve Ontological and Epistemological Problems

Tibetan Buddhist scholars generally tried to adhere to the doctrines of Indian Buddhism, but we do encounter philosophical theories and interpretations that are purely Tibetan, typically due to the scholars' attempts to resolve conflicts and inconsistencies found in the heterogeneous Indian Buddhist scriptures and systems. The varying Tibetan positions on the ontological status of water and the validity of its perception re intriguing examples. According to Indian Buddhist sources, sentient beings of different realms are said to perceive what is known to humans as 'water' differently. Tibetan Buddhist scholars have pondered whether there is a common and shared object of perception, and if so, what it is. Further, they consider whether any of these perceptions are valid, and if so, which and why? Wangchuk will show how scholars from the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism came to their various conclusions and point out the possible practical (e.g. ethical) implications of such theoretical deliberations.


Dorji lecture image

Dorji Wangchuk is at present a lector (Tibetology) and research scholar (Indo-Tibetan Buddhism) at the Department of Indian and Tibetan Studies, University of Hamburg. His general area of interest lies in the intellectual history and philosophy of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism (i.e. Abhidharma, Pramāna, Yogācāra, Madhyamaka, Prajñāpāramitā, Tantra, and rDzogs-chen). His most recent study, "The Resolve to Become a Buddha: A Study of the Bodhicitta Concept in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism" (forthcoming), deals with the various aspects of tantric and non-tantric Mahāyāna soteriology centering on the idea of bodhicitta ('the resolve to [attain the highest state of] awakening'). Currently he is preparing a critical edition of the *Guhyagarbhatantra, an important tantric scripture of the rNying-ma school of Tibetan Buddhism.

Does a Buddha Possess Gnosis (jñāna: ye shes)? A Dispute Among Madhyamaka Exponents in India and Tibet

Orna lecture image

A controversy concerning the existence and nature of the buddha's gnosis (jñāna: ye shes) apparently emerged in India in the 7th or 8th centuries and reached its peak in the 11th century, with the growing influence of Yogācāra-Madhyamaka, the followers of which adopted various Yogācāra theories of knowledge for establishing the conventional truth. The debate surrounding the existence of gnosis was taken up by various Tibetan scholars with great interest, and discussions of it have continued to the present day. Almogi will discuss the different positions of the Madhyamaka subschools on this issue, as presented by the 11th-century Tibetan scholar Rong-zom Chos-kyi-bzang-po, and will provide a summary of the main issues of the debate, at the center of which stands the question of how a buddha is able to act in the world for the benefit of living beings.

Orna Almogi is currently an adjunct lecturer for Tibetan Studies at the Department of Indian and Tibetan Studies, University of Hamburg. Her major areas of interest are the different concepts of Buddhahood found in the various Indian and Tibetan Buddhist scriptures as well as doctrinal and historical issues related to the rNying-ma school of Tibetan Buddhism, particularly those surrounding the eleventh-century scholar Rong-zom Chos-kyi-bzang-po. She is also interested in Tibetan literature in general and worked for the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project and its follow-up project, the Nepalese-German Manuscript Cataloguing Project, for six years, and was responsible for the publication of the CD containing the preliminary list of the Tibetan material microfilmed by the project in Nepal.


Friday, March 2, 2007, 12:00 - 2:00 pm
Richard M. Jaffe, Japanese Religion, Duke University
Buddhist Material Culture and the Construction of Pan-Asianism in Pre-War Japan
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

Late-nineteenth and early twentieth century Japanese Buddhism was marked by a wide-ranging fascination with Buddhist origins in India. This Indian turn in Japanese Buddhist circles manifested not only in elite academic scholarship, but also in Buddhist art and architecture. In this paper the speaker considers the early twentieth century artistic and architectural production of Ito Chuta and Otani Kozui to deploy Indian and Southeast Asian Buddhist art as part of the effort to create a universalized Japanese Buddhism.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Japanese Studies.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007, 7:00 pm
Panel discussion
Contemplation and Education - Landscape of Research
Chapel at the Pacific School of Religion - 1798 Scenic Avenue, Berkeley

This panel discussion will feature Father Keating (Christian elder and monk, founder of Centering Prayer Movement); Venerable Tenzin LS Priyadarshi (Buddhist contemplative and Chaplin at MIT); and Doctor Tobin Hart, Ph.D., (Professor of Psychology, University of West Georgia). The panelists will talk about the insights to contemplative practice, current research, and the practical and natural role of contemplation in life-long learning, including formal education.

Co-sponsored by the Institute for Buddhist Studies, Graduate Theological Union, The Impact Foundation, The Prajnopaya Foundation-MIT, and Contemplative Outreach.


Friday-Saturday, February 9-10, 2007
Does Humor Belong in Buddhism?
Toll Room, Alumni House

The Buddha Shakyamuni is said to have asked, "How can anyone laugh who knows of old age, disease, and death?" Despite the severity of this rhetorical question, Buddhists through the centuries and across cultures have incorporated humor into their religious lives. The literary, ritual, and artistic traditions of the Buddhist world contain a variety of humorous and comedic elements that challenge the representation of Buddhism as a humorless doctrine of detached austerity. As a result of this image of Buddhism, scholars have tended to view humorous elements of Buddhist texts and practices as anomalous or marginal rather than as vibrant and vital aspects of Buddhist traditions. This workshop will explore the role of humor in Buddhism from early canonical theories of humor and the unexpectedly robust comedy of the rules for monks and nuns to the outrageous behavior of tantric gurus and Zen Masters. Confirmed participants include Benjamin Bogin (UC Berkeley), Jacob Dalton (Yale University), Georges Dreyfus (Williams College), Janet Gyatso (Harvard University), Charles Hallisey (University of Wisconsin), Natasha Heller (UC Berkeley), Donald Lopez (University of Michigan), Reiko Ohnuma (Dartmouth College), James Robson (University of Michigan), Gregory Schopen (UCLA), Robert Sharf (UC Berkeley), George Tanabe (University of Hawaii), and Alexander von Rospatt (UC Berkeley).

Detailed program information is available at http://ieas.berkeley.edu/events/humor


Thursday, February 1, 2007, 4:00 - 5:30 pm
Susan Whitfield, Director, International Dunhuang Project, British Library, London
The Discovery of Buddhism on the Silk Road
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

The Eastern Silk Road's Buddhist ruins and relics are now well-known. Yet in the late nineteenth century they were still hidden by the desert sands. It was the curiosity of scholars such as Stein which led to their discovery and the start of scholarship in this area. Just as Buddhism traveled from India through Central Asia, so the rediscovery of its sacred sites made the same journey. This lecture will tell the story of the scholars and their finds and consider how far - or how little - we have traveled in our own journey of understanding Buddhism in this region.

For more information, please contact: Kimberly Carl, kcarl@berkeley.edu.

Co-sponsored by The Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative, Berkeley China Initiative, Caucasus and Central Asia Program, Center for Chinese Studies, East Asian Library, and Institute of East Asian Studies.


Thursday, January 25, 2007, 5:00 pm
Jinhua Chen, Associate Professor, Department of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia
Reading Chinese Buddhist Monastic Hagiographies: A New Approach
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

Scholars have developed various approaches to the study of Buddhist monastic hagiographies and biographies, each of which have their merits and demerits. This talk explores a new approach that promises to be more balanced and productive; it seeks to preserve the merits of older approaches while at the same time avoiding their shortcomings.

Jinhua Chen teaches East Asian Buddhism at the University of British Columbia. His research covers monastic historiography and biography, state-church relationshipin medieval China and Heian Buddhism.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Chinese Studies, UC Berkeley.


Thursday, December 7, 2006, 5:00 pm
Oliver Freiberger, Assistant Professor, Department of Asian Studies, University of Texas at Austin
The Heart of the Buddha's Message? The Middle Way and Other Disputed Concepts in Early Buddhism
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

The Heart of the Buddha's Message

This talk will explore divergent voices and views in early Buddhist literature in order to raise a fundamental question: is there a central core to early Buddhist doctrine, and are we able to identify it? The talk will focus on the pivotal teaching of the Middle Way among other important topics. The Middle Way may be viewed as a rhetorical tool that was used in certain Buddhist circles to attack not only non-Buddhists but also different factions within the Buddhist community.

Oliver Freiberger teaches Asian religions, in particular Buddhism, and method and theory of religious studies at the University of Texas at Austin. His research interests include the early history of Buddhism in India, asceticism, and comparison in the study of religion. He has published a book on early doctrinal interpretations of the Buddhist monastic order and co-edited three volumes on various topics in the history of Asian religions (a fourth one is in preparation). A volume on Asceticism and Its Critics, edited by Dr. Freiberger, was recently published. His current research focuses on the comparison of ascetic beliefs and practices in India and early Christianity.


Thursday, November 9, 2006, 5:00 pm
John McRae, The University of Tokyo
Comparing the Buddhisms of East and Southeast Asia: A World Historical Perspective
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

Comparing the Buddhisms of East and Southeast Asia image

In preparing a general survey of East Asian Buddhism, I have avoided telling parallel stories of separate national traditions in favor of an integrated macro-regional perspective. The oral presentation was inspired by a brief stint teaching in Thailand, which led me to compare the Buddhisms of East and Southeast Asia, with attention to geographical, anthropological, and political features, all undertaken with a world historical perspective.

John R. McRae did his Ph.D. under Stanley Weinstein at Yale and has taught at Cornell and Indiana Universities. Currently a visiting scholar at The University of Tokyo, he will be teaching a course on early Chinese Chan at Komazawa University in Tokyo beginning in April 2007.



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Thursday, November 2, 2006, 5:00 pm
Vesna Wallace, Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies, UC Santa Barbara
The Interplay of Buddhism and Law in Pre-communist Mongolia
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

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Since the early 17th century until 1918, religious Buddhist and secular laws in Mongolia frequently and in various degrees fused into a single system of jurisprudence, thus invariably influencing each other. In her presentation, Professor Wallace will discuss the ways in which these influences shaped Mongolian Buddhism and legal consciousness of the Mongols.

Vesna Wallace is an Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at UC Santa Barbara. Her research interests focus on the comparative analysis of the Buddhist traditions of South Asia, Tibet, and Mongolia. Recent publications include The Kalacakratantra: The Chapter on the Individual Together with the Vimalaprabha (2004) and The Inner Kalacakratantra: A Buddhist Tantric View of the Individual (2001). She has also published a series of articles on Indian tantric Buddhism and produced three documentary films on contemporary Mongolia. Her latest book The Kalacakratantra: The Chapter on Sadhana is in press at Columbia University.


Friday, November 3, 2006
Graduate student conference, Stanford University


Thurday, October 5, 2006, 5:00 pm
Catherine Bell, Santa Clara University
"Do Buddhists Believe? Not Exactly the Same Old Question"
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor

Do Buddhists Believe Event image

Drawing on a larger book project on the issue of belief (using religious studies and anthropology methods), Bell picks up the argument in which Donald Lopez found the concept neither natural nor universal. For Lopez, Buddhism has suffered the effects of a collision with Christian and Western colonial categories like "belief." New work in cognitive theory, even when assessed by anthropologists active in the field, like Maurice Bloch, suggests more nuanced attempts to mediate universality as we need it as scholars and particularity as we experience it in the cultural materials we study.

Catherine Bell is the Bernard J. Hanley Professor of Religious Studies and former chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Santa Clara University. She has written two books on ritual, Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice (1992) and Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions (1997), with a forthcoming edited volume, Teaching Ritual (Oxford/AAR Series), as well as many articles on manuscript and printed texts in Chinese popular religion. She is currently on leave to complete a book entitled Believing.



Saturday, September 30, 2006, 6:30 pm
"Milarepa"
Wheeler Auditorium, UC Berkeley

From the producers of The Cup and Travelers and Magicians comes the true story of Tibet's greatest saint, Milarepa. In this account of his early life, we encounter the forces that propelled him onto the path to enlightenmentbetrayal, magic, demons, vengeance and awakening. Directed by Tibetan Lama Neten Chokling Rinpoche, this film is of interest for anyone concerned with the cycle of violence and retribution consuming today's world.

6:30 pm      Screening of Milarepa, Wheeler Auditorium
8:00 pm      Q & A with the Director, Neten Chokling Rinpoche
9:00 pm      Benefit Reception

Please call 877-697-2998 or order tickets online.

Co-sponsored by the Conservancy for Tibetan Art and Culture.



The Riddle of Tabo

Thursday, September 7, 2006, 5:00 pm
Paul Harrison, Visiting Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Stanford University
The Riddle of Tabo: The Origin and Fate of a West Tibetan Manuscript Collection
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

The surviving fragments of an enormous manuscript library in the West Tibetan Monastery of Tabo, founded in 996 C.E., confront researchers with many problems and challenges. How and when was this huge collection produced? Who or what was responsible for the unbelievable state of damage and disorder in which it was found at the start of the 20th century? The work of cataloguing these sacred remains, much of it carried out "in the field" at Tabo, casts new light on the development of the Buddhist canon, and on the history of West Tibet, the cradle of the Tibetan Buddhist renaissance in the 10th-11th centuries.

Paul Harrison was until recently Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch New Zealand. During the Fall and Winter Quarters he will be a Visiting Professor at Stanford University. His research interests include the history and literature of Mahayana Buddhism (especially Mahayana sutras), the study of Sanskrit Buddhist manuscripts, and the development of the Tibetan canon.


The Riddle of Tabo

Friday–Sunday, May 5–7, 2006
Conference
Tibetan Religion and State in the 17th and 18th Centuries: Tibetan, Chinese, and Mongolian Perspectives
Lipman Room, Barrows Hall, UC Berkeley

The 17th and 18th centuries were watershed periods in the history of Tibetan religious and political life. It was during this pivotal era that Tibet witnessed the rise to power of the incarnate Dalai Lamas and the establishment of a centralized government in the capital city of Lhasa under the leadership of the Fifth Dalai Lama (1617-1682). In the century following the political ascent of the Fifth Dalai Lama, far-reaching changes unfolded in almost every sphere of Tibetan cultural life and social organization. The central government's efforts to innovate and exert control were felt in areas ranging from administration to commerce, from monastic curriculum to public festival life, from ritual performance to medical and legal practice. At the same time, response and resistance to these changes fostered a vibrant flourishing among groups at the social and geographic margins of Tibet. These changes in the Tibetan polity also involved complex negotiations of Tibet's relations with Mongolian, Manchu, and Chinese neighbors.

In recent years, the increasing availability of Tibetan language documents, the growth of the academic study of Tibet, and productive collaborations with scholars in China and Tibet have inspired vital new research on the specific events of the period and the broad social and political currents that connect them. This conference will highlight original research by many scholars working on diverse topics within the history of 17th and 18th century Tibet and will seek to redefine our understanding of the period through discussion of the connections between them. Confirmed participants include Patricia Berger (UC Berkeley), Benjamin Bogin (UC Berkeley), Timothy Brook (University of British Columbia), Bryan J. Cuevas (UC Berkeley), Jacob Dalton (Yale University), Johan Elverskog (Southern Methodist University), Janet Gyatso (Harvard University), Leonard van der Kuijp (Harvard University), Matthew Kapstein (Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris/University of Chicago), Nancy Lin (UC Berkeley), Derek Maher (East Carolina University), Kurtis R. Schaeffer (University of Virginia), Tsering Shakya (University of British Columbia), E. Gene Smith (New York) and Gray Tuttle (Columbia University).

Detailed program information available at http://ieas.berkeley.edu/events/tibetanreligionandstate


Thursday, May 4, 2006, 5:00 pm
William Bodiford, Professor, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, UCLA
The Birth of Japanese Buddhism: Books, Publishing, and the Awakening of Sectarian Consciousness in Tokugawa-Period Japan
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

What was the role of print culture in the creation of the religious teachings that today are universally recognized as being Japanese Buddhism? What can an examination of this topic reveal about Buddhism in Japan?

William Bodiford is a Professor in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA. His research focuses on medieval and modern religions, especially Buddhism, in Japan and East Asia. He is the associate editor of the Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004), editor of Going Forth: Visions of Buddhist Vinaya (2005), and author of Soto Zen in Medieval Japan (1989).


Monday, April 10, 2006, 5:00 pm
Oliver Freiberger, Assistant Professor, Department of Asian Studies, University of Texas
Berkeley-Stanford Buddhist Studies Colloquium
What Makes Holy Scriptures Holy? Rethinking the Idea of a Buddhist Canon
Stanford University, room to be announced


Saturday, March 18, 2006, 9:30 am-6:00 pm
Workshop
Buddhism at Dunhuang
Toll Room, Alumni House, UC Berkeley

In the hundred years since the discovery of the hidden library at the Mogao cave complex near the oasis town of Dunhuang (Gansu Province, PRC), scholars have made significant strides towards preserving, cataloging, and interpreting the large number of manuscripts and material objects recovered from the site. In addition, they have greatly advanced our knowledge of both the layout and iconography of the caves themselves. Despite such advances, a number of questions regarding the actual practice of Buddhism at Dunhuang remain unanswered, including those related to the on-site production and circulation of Buddhist manuscripts, the development and cross-fertilization of local Buddhist traditions, as well as the function of the individual cave temples within the larger context of Buddhist ritual culture along the ancient Silk Road. Detailed program information available at http://ieas.berkeley.edu/events/dunhuang.


Thursday, March 16, 2006, 5:00 pm
Mudagamuwe Maithrimurthi, Visiting Lecturer of Buddhist Studies, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Michigan
Benevolence, Compassion, Joyousness and Equanimity: Cultivation of Mind, Ethics and Soteriology in Buddhism
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

Mudagamuwe Maithrimurthi will discuss aspects of the so-called four Brahmic States (brahmavihâra) or Immeasurables (apramâna). The analysis will also contain an investigation of the pre-Buddhist background of these concepts, their historical development within the frame of early Buddhist thought and their Mahâyâna reinterpretation and re-evaluation.

Mudagamuwe Maithrimurthi currently teaches Buddhist Studies in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan. He previously taught at the University of Leipzig, Germany. A native of Sri Lanka, he holds a Ph.D. in Classical Indology from the University of Hamburg, Germany.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006, 4:15-5:30 pm
Maithrimurthi Mudagamuwe, Visiting Lecturer of Buddhist Studies, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Michigan
Berkeley-Stanford Buddhist Studies Colloquium
Consciousness, Self and Intermediate State: Some Problems in Theravada Buddhism
Building 60, Room 61G (Main Quad, next to Memorial Church), Stanford University


Friday, March 10, 2006, 7:00-8:00 pm
Bryan Cuevas, Professor, Assistant Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies, Florida State University.
Berkeley-Stanford Buddhist Studies Colloquium
Family Matters: Kinship Bonds and Buddhist History in Tibet
Building 200 (History Corner), Room 030 (Lower Level), Stanford University


Thursday, March 2, 2006, 5:00 pm
Per Sörensen, Professor, Institute of Central Asian Studies, University of Leipzig, Germany
Buddhism and the Environment: The Birth of Flood Control Politics and Disaster Management in the Battle for Lhasa's Jo-khang Temple
341 Dwinelle Hall

Per Sörensen will discuss the importance of environmental protection, particularly water conservation, in a Buddhist society. He will focus on the protection of one of the holiest sanctuaries in Central Asia: Jo-khang Temple in the heart of the Tibetan capital Lhasa. He will demonstrate how the struggle for pre-eminence in safeguarding and maintaining this holy site became an important component of hegemonic and political supremacy in Tibet.

Per Sörensen teaches at the University of Leipzig. He is a specialist in Tibetan and Bhutanese history and literature. The author of numerous books, his most recent publication is Thundering Falcon - An Inquiry into the History and Cult of Khra-'brug, Tibet's first Buddhist Temple.


Thursday, February 16, 2006, 5:00 pm
Paul Hackett, Visiting Scholar, Center for Buddhist Studies, UC Berkeley
Theos Bernard and 1930s Tibet
370 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley

Paul Hackett will discuss the life and legacy of Theos Bernard. Theos Casimir Bernard (1908-1947), a nearly forgotten early pioneer of Indo-Tibetan religious studies and tantric yoga in America, was the third American ever to visit Tibet who, upon his return, promoted himself as the "White Lama of Tibet". Traveling to India and Tibet in the 1930s, Theos Bernard returned to America with a treasure trove of texts, film, still photos, statues, thankas, and ritual implements, which have since been scattered across the United States, including a sizable collection at UC Berkeley. Paul Hackett is the author of A Tibetan Verb Lexicon: Verbs, Classes, and Syntactic Frames (Snow Lion, 2003) and is currently completing a biography of Theos Bernard.


Friday, February 10, 2006, 4:15-5:30 pm
Jonathan Silk, Assistant Professor of Asian Languages and Cultures, UCLA
Berkeley-Stanford Buddhist Studies Colloquium
Incestuous Ancestries: the Family Origins of Gautama Siddhartha and a Comparison with Stories of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 12 & 20
Building 60, Room 61G (Main Quad, next to Memorial Church), Stanford University


Thursday, February 2, 2006, 5:00 pm
Greg Schopen, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, UCLA
Locating Buddhist Nuns in the Urban and Cultural Landscape of Early North India
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

Older work on Buddhist nuns in India is not particularly interested in the question of where they actually lived. More recent work raises the issue, but is not sufficiently informed and a potential source of confusion. In fact several vinaya traditions contain ample evidence to indicate that the nuns their authors knew, or envisioned, lived – unlike monks – in towns and cities, and were required by rule to do so. Gregory Schopen will present and discuss several texts from one of these traditions, focusing on how their urban location affected the perception of nuns, the problems it created, and the economic activities that it made available to them. The recognition of the textual location of nuns in towns makes it possible to finally identify for the first time several Buddhist nunneries in the archeological record – three such sites will be briefly discussed – and to propose a demographic explanation for the decline or disappearance of Buddhist nuns from medieval India.

Gregory Schopen is a Professor in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA. His research focuses on the history of Indian Buddhism, the Mulasarvastiavda-Vinaya, early and medieval Mahayana Sutra literature, and Indian Buddhist epigraphy.


Thursday, December 1, 2005, 5:00 pm
Eugene Wang, Department of Art History, Harvard University
Thinking Outside the Boxes: Nesting Reliquary Caskets from a Ninth-Century Chinese Monastic Crypt
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

An underground crypt was discovered in the Tang-dynasty pagoda basement of a Chinese Buddhist monastery in 1987. The crypt yielded hundreds of precious artifacts donated in the name of the Tang emperors and others, as well as four Buddha relics, one of them now believed by the Buddhist community to be the "authentic" finger-bone of Buddha Sakyamuni. What merits art historical attention in particular is the set of eight nesting reliquary caskets arranged in the manner of Russian dolls. The reliquary contains examples of the earliest surviving mandalas in China. Professor Wang's lecture will unpack the nesting caskets to reveal the vast ancient and medieval Chinese imaginary cosmos embedded therein.

Eugene Y. Wang is Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Professor of Asian Art at Harvard University. His most recent book is Shaping the Lotus Sutra: Buddhist Visual Culture in Medieval China (2005). He is the art history associate editor of Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004). He has widely published on Chinese art and visual culture.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005, 5:00 pm
Harunaga Isaacson, Department of South Asia Studies, University of Pennsylvania
Becoming Hevajra
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

Professor Isaacson will give an overview of the daily meditative and ritual practice of an initiate into the system of Hevajra, on the basis of a large body of literature in Sanskrit, mostly unpublished, describing this Buddhist tantric practice. He will also comment on the tensions between this form of practice and non-tantric Buddhism, and on how the authors of this corpus attempt to resolve these tensions.

Harunaga Isaacson is Assistant Professor of South Asia Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His focus is on Sanskrit and classical Indian studies, with special interests in poetry, Puranic literature, Indian philosophy, and Tantric religious practices. He is currently working on a forthcoming monograph entitled, The Practice of Hevajra: Studies in the Sanskrit texts of the Hevajra-cycle.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005, 3:00-5:00 pm
Edward Tompkins Lecture Series
Michael Puett, Professor, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University
Humans, Ghosts, and Spirits in Chinese Late Antiquity
3335 Dwinelle Hall


Monday, November 14, 2005, 5:00 pm
Gautama Vajracharya
Baby Showers: Ajanta Ceiling Paintings and Festivals of Kathmandu Valley
425 Doe Library

Indian astrological texts usually have a chapter called "Symptom of Pregnancy." This chapter, however, has nothing to do with human pregnancy but with the conception of Mother Sky. Recent investigation indicates that this concept is closely associated not only with Ajanta ceiling paintings but also with the Buddhist and Hindu festivals, still observed annually in Kathmandu Valley.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Art History, UC Berkeley.


Saturday, November 5, 2005
'Buddhist Relics Redux' Workshop
Seaborg Room, Faculty Club

In the past few decades the study of relic veneration has taken a central place in research on Buddhist history, material culture, and institutions. This spate of interest was spurred, in part, by the groundbreaking studies of relics in medieval Christendom by scholars such as Peter Brown, Caroline Bynum, and Patrick Geary. Following the lead of these medievalists, Buddhologists such as Gregory Schopen and Bernard Faure turned their attention to the phenomena of relics in the Buddhist tradition, producing a number of important studies. In 1994 Kevin Trainor and David Germano started the Relic Veneration Seminar, which met over a four-year period in conjunction with meetings of the American Academy of Religion. A number of participants in that seminar came out with entire monographs devoted to the subject; the volumes include Kevin Trainor's Relics, Ritual, and Representation in Buddhism: Rematerialising the Sri Lankan Theravada Tradition (1997), Brian Ruppert's Jewel in the Ashes: Buddha Relics and Power in Early Medieval Japan (2000), and John Strong's Relics of the Buddha (2004). And in 2004 Trainor and Germano published a volume of papers that emerged from the Relic Veneration Seminar, entitled Embodying the Dharma: Buddhist Relic Veneration in Asia. As a result of these monographs and dozens of additional articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia articles, we now possess a wealth of data testifying to the importance of relics in Buddhist history across the Asian continent.

Much of the work done to date has been descriptive in nature, testifying to the centrality of relics in Buddhism. When scholars have strayed beyond description, the analyses have often been Foucauldian in nature; we learn that relics were wielded in the interests of institutional authority, political power, and religious legitimation. Many questions, however, remain unexplored. Why do relics assume such a prominent role in Buddhism in the first place? Is there something distinctively "Buddhist" about the Buddhist treatment of relics? Why are there so many apparent parallels – superficial or otherwise – in Buddhist and Christian relic cults? This workshop will take stock of where we are with respect to our understanding of relics, and where we might go from here.

SCHEDULE

10:00 am Keynote address
Roderick Whitfield (London University): "A Phoenix from the Ashes: The Inextinguishable Power of Chinese Buddhist Relics"

11:30 am Lunch Break

1:00 pm Panel 1: Circumscribing Relics
Chair: Bryan Cuevas (Florida State University)

Panelists:
Phyllis Granoff (Yale University): "Relics, Rubies, and Rituals: Some Comments on the Distinctiveness of the Buddhist Relic Cult."
Koichi Shinohara (Yale University): "The Distinctiveness of Relic Miracle Stories."
Peter Skilling (Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, and Fragile Palm Leaves Foundation): "Relics: The Heart of Buddhist Veneration."
Benjamin Bogin (UC Berkeley): "Making Brahman's Flesh in Tibet: The Kyédun Ritual and the Cult of Relics."

Discussant: Duncan Williams (UC Irvine)

3:10 pm Coffee Break

3:30 pm Panel 2: Thinking with Relics
Chair: Jan Nattier (Soka University, Japan)

Justin McDaniel (UC Riverside): "Category Shift: Making New Relics in Bangkok."
James Robson (University of Michigan): "Relic Wary: Facets of Buddhist Relic Veneration in East Asia."
John Strong (Bates College): "What Makes Relics Run."

Discussant: Steven Collins (University of Chicago)


Saturday, October 29, 2005, 11:00 am-5:00 p.m.
Third Berkeley-Stanford Buddhist Studies Graduate Student Colloquium
Slide Ranch (Map and Directions)

DESCRIPTION

This term's Berkeley Stanford Buddhist Studies Graduate Student Colloquium will take place at a particularly beautiful spot directly on the cost (just off Highway 1, a few miles South of Stinson Beach in Marin; see the map and directions). The presentations will be in an isolated "conference yurt" that is located on a bluff overlooking the sea. Outside there are tables and benches where we will serve light refreshments at the start of our gathering at 11 am. After the three presentations (which will be interrupted by a coffee break) there will be more food and drinks. The drive from Berkeley takes 50 minutes, from Stanford 70 minutes, and we suggest participants car-pool.

Space is limited. Please RSVP to Liz Greigg, lgreigg@berkeley.edu, by Tuesday, October 25.

PROGRAM

1: Shari Ruei-Hua Epstein, Stanford
"Decoding the Dao: Revealing the Buddhist Core of the Zhuangzi"

Hanshan Deqing's (1546-1623) Commentary on the Inner Chapters of the Zhuangzi (ca 1620) was unprecedented in Chinese history. Through this act of exegesis, textual and religious boundaries collapsed as Hanshan reactivated the revered language of this formidable classic to reveal Buddhist rather than Daoist principles. This talk will explore the exegetical techniques that Hanshan employed in his commentary as well as the embedded prophecy that he appealed to in order to justify his interpretation.

2: Wen-shing Lucia Chou, Berkeley
"Fluid Landscape, Timeless Visions, and Truthful Representations: A Sino-Tibetan Remapping of Qing-Dynasty Wutaishan"

The landscape of Wutaishan underwent major transformations during the Qing period (1644-1909), when Manchu emperors patronized temples at Wutaishan with unprecedented vision and fervor. This paper considers the Sino-Tibetan reinvention and representation of Wutaishan by studying a hand-colored woodblock print of Wutaishan carved onsite by a Mongolian lama in 1845. The image is situated at the intersection of several different image-making traditions, each containing its own criterion for truthful representations; examining the particular rhetoric of history and revelations in this image affords us a glimpse into the continuous and dynamic processes of religious and cultural transformation in Chinese sacred geography.

3: Sarah Fremerman Aptilon, Stanford
"Sacred Impersonations: Early Visions of Nyoirin Kannon"

According to legend, Shobo (832-909), founder of the Ono branch of Shingon in Japan, had a vision of Nyoirin Kannon and Juntei Kannon atop Mt. Kasatori that led him to found the temple Daigoji on that site. In his vision, the two Kannon spoke through the goddess Seiry Gongen – or was it the other way around? Early visions of Nyoirin Kannon reveal the way in which the "original substance" (J., honji) of a deity may serve as a mask of Buddhist orthodoxy through which the "manifest trace" (J., suijaku) speaks. This paper explores how various deities merged with and transformed Nyoirin Kannon in Japan.

DIRECTIONS

From San Francisco:
Cross the Golden Gate Bridge on Highway 101 North. Take the Mt. Tamalpais, Stinson Beach, Highway 1 exit (the exit immediately after the Marin City/Bridgeway exit). Follow the "After Exiting Highway 101" directions below.

From the East Bay:
Get across the Richmond Bridge and travel south on Highway 101. Take the Mt. Tamalpais, Stinson Beach, Highway 1 exit. Follow the "After Exiting Highway 101" directions below.

From Marin County:
Take the Mt. Tamalpais, Stinson Beach, Highway 1 exit from Highway 101. Follow the "After Exiting Highway 101" directions below.

From West Marin:
Go to Stinson Beach, and drive 3.8 miles south on Highway 1. Our driveway is on your righthand side. Look for the Slide Ranch sign. If you get to Muir Beach, you have gone 2 miles too far.

After Exiting Highway 101:
After leaving Highway 101, follow the signs for Highway 1. After about 1/3 mile you will come to a stoplight - turn left at the stoplight; you will now be on Highway 1, a narrow, twisty, and hilly road. After 2.4 miles, you will come to a fork in the road at the top of the hill. Turn left to Stinson Beach, do not turn right towards Muir Woods and Mt. Tamalpais. You will reach Muir Beach and the Pelican Inn after 2.5 miles of steep descent. Drive past the Pelican Inn and follow Highway 1. Just beyond the Pelican Inn, Highway 1 curves to the left, so do not go straight or you will end up in Muir Woods. The green highway sign will tell you to bear left to stay on Highway 1 (towards Stinson Beach). Slide Ranch is 2.2 miles north of Muir Beach. You will see Slide Ranch signs shortly before you reach our driveway on your left. Turn left into our drive.


Thursday, October 27, 2005, 5:00 pm
Angela Howard, Department of Art History, Rutgers University
Miracles and Visions Among the Monastic Communities of Kucha, Xinjiang
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

In this presentation, Angela Howard focuses on some aspects of the art and Buddhist teachings of the ancient Kingdom of Kucha, present-day Xinjiang, where monastic communities thrived from 200-650. Monks settled in several locations – Kizil and Kumtura are the largest and best known, but equally important are Simsim, Mazabaha, Kizilkargha, and Taitai'er to name a few. Howard discusses a selected number of unusual images from these sites. They are painted representations of the Shravasti miracle, of the Cosmological Buddha, and of monumental clay sculptures of Buddha. All three are rooted in teachings formulated during the earliest phase of Buddhism. Teachings and images are tightly interconnected. These icons, moreover, are the exclusive outcome of devotional practices in which Kuchean monks engaged.

Angela Howard is Professor of Asian Art, Department of Art History, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. As Special Consultant in Chinese Buddhist art, the Asian Art Department, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, she contributed to the exhibition China – Dawn of a Golden Age (October 2004-January 2005). In addition to numerous articles, Dr. Howard has authored The Imagery of the Cosmological Buddha (1986) and Summit of Treasures, Buddhist Cave Art of Dazu, China (2001). She is the Western editor and collaborator of the volume Chinese Sculpture, a Yale University and Foreign Language Press publication, forthcoming Fall 2005.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005, 3:00-5:00 pm
Edward Tompkins Lecture Series
Vincent Goossaert, Vice-Director, Institute of Sociology of Religions and Secularism, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, and David Palmer, Director, Hong Kong EFEO Centre, Chinese University of Hong Kong
How Taoist Masters Engaged with the Modern Spiritual Market: The Case of Peking, 1800-1949 and The Qigong Movement, Taoist Revival, and Nationalism in Post-Mao China
3335 Dwinelle Hall


Wednesday, October 19, 2005, 3:00-5:00 pm
Edward Tompkins Lecture Series
Xun Liu, Assistant Professor, History, Rutgers University
An Immortal in Politics: Abbot Gao Rentong and the Quanzhen Daoist Nexus of Patronage, Power, and Monastic Expansion in Ninteenth Century Beijing
3335 Dwinelle Hall


Wednesday, October 12, 2005, 3:00-5:00 pm
Edward Tompkins Lecture Series
Franciscus Verellen, Director, cole franaise d'Extrme-Orient and Fabrizio Pregadio, Acting Associate Professor, Religious Studies, Stanford University
Disciple of the Three Caverns: Lu Xiujing's renewal of medieval Taoism and Daoist Inner Alchemy and its views of other practices
3335 Dwinelle Hall



Calligraphy Horizantal
Calligraphy Vertical

Tuesday, October 11, 2005, 12:00 pm
Venerable Master Hsing Yun, Founder, Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Order, Taiwan - Lecture and Calligraphy Exhibit
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor
Lecture followed by reception.

This exhibit features a wide array of Master Hsing Yun's calligraphy works and other artifacts. The works have been grouped into three categories: encouragement to disciples, blessings to devotees, and Dharma words. Venerable Master Hsing Yun founded Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Order in Taiwan in 1967. He has devoted his time to promoting Dharma propagation through educational, cultural, and charitable endeavors.

The lecture is organized in conjunction with Master Hsing Yun's calligraphy exhibit, which is on display October 11-28, 2005, in the IEAS lobby, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor: Monday through Friday, 9:00 am-5:00 pm.


Thursday, October 6, 2005, 5:00 pm
Peter Skilling, Fragile Palm Leaves Foundation, Thailand
Doxography, History, and Identity: Reflections on 'Theravada Buddhism'
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

'Theravada Buddhism' has become an unquestioned category in modern religious studies, as well as one of the premier options for Buddhist practice in the globalized 'marketplace of religions.' Peter Skilling will examine the origins and significance of the term 'Theravada.' Is the modern usage historically accurate? Have there been alternate designations? Was 'Theravada' the chosen marker of identity for the Buddhist communities of Southeast Asia in the pre-colonial and pre-modern periods? Is it possible that the term flattens the landscape, and lulls us into thinking we know more than we do?

Peter Skilling is the 2005/06 Numata Visiting Professor in Buddhist Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a Fellow of the Lumbini International Research Institute (Lumbini, Nepal) and a Special Lecturer at Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok, Thailand). He is founder of the Fragile Palm Leaves Foundation (Bangkok), a project dedicated to the preservation, study and publication of the Buddhist literature of Southeast Asia. He is also a founding member of the International Centre for Buddhist Studies (Bangkok).

Co-sponsored by the Center for Southeast Asia Studies.


Thursday, September 22, 2005, 5:00 pm
Jonathan Silk, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, UCLA
What Mahayana Sutras Mean: Thinking about Interpretation and Commentary
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

Scholars and students of Buddhism have given much attention to Mahayana sutras, but little to the question of what they may have meant to traditional Indian readers. This talk will explore some questions of the meaning of Mahayana scriptures, how we might determine that meaning, and what to make of the comparative absence of Buddhist scripture commentaries in India.

Jonathan Silk is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research focuses on the history and scriptures of Indian Buddhism on the basis of Indian, Tibetan and Chinese literary sources. He is the author of Heart Sutra in Tibetan and the editor of Wisdom, Compassion, and the Search for Understanding: A Buddhist Studies Legacy of Gadjin M. Nagao.


Event Image

Justin McDaniel speaks about the history of the Burmese in Northern Thailand.

Monday, April 25, 2005, 12:15 - 1:30 pm
Justin McDaniel
Whither a Buddhist Golden Age? The History of the Burmese in Northern Thailand
IEAS conference room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

Co-sponsored by the Center for Southeast Asia Studies.

The Burmese invasion of Northern Thailand in the 1550s is often seen as ushering in a period of decline in Buddhism after its Golden Age from 1400-1550. However, manuscripts, inscriptions, and literary evidence suggest that this was not a period of serious decline and, in fact, the teaching of Buddhism survived and in many cases thrived under Burmese rule. Furthermore, it is difficult to label this period particularly Burmese. Justin McDaniel explores the available evidence and suggests new ways of looking at Buddhist history and development in the region from 1550-1893.

Justin McDaniel received his PhD from Harvard University's Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies in 2003. Presently he teaches Buddhism and Southeast Asian Studies at the University of California, Riverside. His research foci include Lao, Thai, Pali and Sanskrit literature, Southeast Asian Buddhism, ritual studies, manuscript studies, and Southeast Asian history.


Friday, April 15, 2005, 2:00 - 5:30 pm
Second Berkeley-Stanford Buddhist Studies Graduate Student Colloquium
followed by reception
Stanford Humanities Center, 424 Santa Teresa Avenue, Stanford

Jinah Kim (Berkeley)
From Text to Deity: Understanding the advent of Mahayana female deities in the perspective of book-cult

Nancy Lin (Berkeley)
Narrative Strategies in the Avadana Thangkas of Situ Panchen (1700-1774)

Tad Cook (Stanford)
Pivots of Meaning in the Teaching of the Way: An Introduction to the Daojiao yishu

2004 Graduate Student Colloquium


Event Image

Thursday, April 14, 2005, 5:00 pm
Dina Bangdel, Ohio State University
Myths, Mandalas, and Monuments: Art of the Newar Buddhist Monasteries of Nepal
425 Doe Library

The Newar Buddhist traditions of Nepal serve as the last remaining legacy of Sanskrit Buddhism, still practiced within the South Asian cultural milieu. Contextualizing the art and ritual practices, Dina Bangdel will discuss the iconography of Newar Buddhist monastic architecture, highlighting the relationship of these visual expressions with the larger Tantric traditions as well as with the local cosmogonic myth of Kathmandu Valley.

Dina Bangdel specializes in South Asian as well as Himalayan Art and is currently the Director of Special Collections at Ohio State University. In fall 2005, she will join the faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University as Associate Professor of South Asian art.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Art History.


Friday, April 8, 2005, 5:00 pm
José Cabezón, Department of Religious Studies, UC Santa Barbara
The Sera Project: Representing a Tibetan Monastery in a Digital Environment
370 Dwinelle Hall

José Cabezón will introduce The Sera Project, an interdisciplinary digital multimedia initiative whose goal it is to document Buddhist monastic life in one of Tibet's great monasteries. Sera Monastery, one of Tibet's premier monastic educational institutions, had close to 10,000 monks before 1959, making it the second largest monastery in the world. What variables of analysis are most relevant to the study of a religious institution like Sera? What difference does digital media make in the envisioning and dissemination of research on an institution like Sera?

José Cabezón is the XIVth Dalai Lama Professor of Tibetan Buddhism and Cultural Studies in the Department of Religious Studies at UC Santa Barbara. His research interests focus on Tibetan Buddhism, and Buddhism and popular culture. He recently co-edited Identity and the Politics of Scholarship in the Study of Religion. He is the principal investigator for The Sera Project, a joint research initiative between UC Santa Barbara, and the Tibetan and Himalayan Digital Library. For more information about the project, visit http://www.seramonastery.org


Event Image

Michael Hahn addresses a question from the audience.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005, 5:00-7:30 p.m.
Michael Hahn, Numata Visiting Professor in Buddhist Studies, UC Berkeley
A Never-ending Story - On the Rediscovery of Buddhist Sanskrit Texts
IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton St., 6th Floor

After the demise of Buddhism in the fourteenth century almost the entire body of Buddhist texts was lost in India. However, outside India proper Buddhist Sanskrit manuscripts survived in Nepal, Kashmir, Central Asia, Tibet and elsewhere. The process of locating and accessing these manuscripts is by no means completed, and new and exciting discoveries continue to be made. Reconstituting a particular corpus of Buddhist narrative literature, Michael Hahn will illustrate how recent discoveries can make it possible to regain works of seminal importance that have been believed to be irretrievably lost in the Sanskrit original.

Michael Hahn is the current Numata Visiting Professor in Buddhist Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. A professor of Indology and Tibetology at Philipps-University in Marburg (Germany), his research interests focus on classical Sanskrit and Buddhist literature, in particular narrative works and didactic and epistolary texts. He is the author of numerous articles and books, among them a primer of the Tibetan language that has been reprinted seven times and is now forthcoming in an English translation.


Buddhist Film Series - Spring 2005
During the spring term 2005 the Center for Buddhist Studies and the Pacific Film Archive co-sponsored "Seeing Through the Screen: Buddhism and Film," a Buddhist film series. Taught by Professor Robert Sharf, director of the Group in Buddhist Studies, "Seeing Through the Screen" focused on Buddhism through film, and film through Buddhism — using the medium of film to explore various themes and issues in the study of Buddhism, and employing ideas culled from Buddhism to reflect back on the nature and power of film. In viewing a wide variety of international and domestic films, the class considered such themes as the Buddhist notion of the "empty self," and the epistemic status of the viewing subject, the role of imagination and visualization in Buddhist meditation, and the role of projection and fantasy in cinematic representations of Buddhism.


"Speaking for the Buddha? Buddhism and the Media" conference - February 8/9, 2005
Sponsored by the Center for Buddhist Studies and the Institute for East Asian Studies at UC Berkeley (with support by Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai America) this conference will bring together scholars, journalists, filmmakers, writers, and professionals from the television, movie, and publishing industries to discuss the media's role in the contemporary transformation of Buddhism.
For more details, please visit:
http://ieas.berkeley.edu/ events/ 2005.02.08-09.html

The conference is organized in conjunction with the International Buddhist Film Festival with screenings in San Francisco (Jan 27-29), Berkeley (Feb 3-13), and San Rafael (February 12-13). For more information, see:
http://www.ibff.org/ index.cfm?pg=N0


Graduate Student Colloquium
On December 3, 2004 the Center for Buddhist Studies hosted a graduate student colloquium featuring talks by three students, Amanda Goodman and Juhn Ahn from Berkeley, and Lisa Ann Grumbach from Stanford. Rather than presenting finished papers, the presenters discussed work in progress, sharing the results of their ongoing research and talking about problems they have encountered. Amanda Goodman shared her research on "Why did Bodhidharma ascend the Vajradhatu? Observations on the 'Chapter on Entrusting the Dharma Repository' (Fu fazang pin) from the Tanfa yize (P3913)," Juhn Ahn spoke about "To Death and Back Again: The Great Death and the Malady of Meditation," and Lisa Ann Grumbach reflected on "Sacrifice and Salvation in Medieval Japan: Hunting and Meat in Religious Practice at Suwa Jinja."

Colloquium Photo

The Buddhist Studies Graduate Colloquium will be held twice a year in order to give graduate students at UC Berkeley and Stanford the opportunity to present their work in an informal setting. This is part of a broader effort to strengthen the cooperation between the Buddhist Studies programs at UC Berkeley and Stanford University.

The next Graduate Student Colloquium will be held on April 15, 2005 at Stanford University.


Berkeley-Stanford Buddhist Studies Colloquium Series
The Berkeley-Stanford Buddhist Studies Colloquium Series continues in the 2004-2005 academic year.