2022 Glorisun International and Intensive Program, with Yale University – Seminar and Lecture Series

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Segment 1

Seminar 1: Barend TER HAAR (Hamburg): “Thinking through socio-religious change from the Han to the late imperial period”

1.1 Framework and terminology in studying Chinese religious life
1.2 Early China: worshipping ancestors and/or the gods of nature
1.3 The late Han-Period of Disunion: towards anthropomorphic worship and individual interaction with the supernatural/divine
1.4 The rising power of local communities in shaping religious trends
1.5 Lay people, monastic institutions and the state

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Seminar 2: Imre GALAMBOS (Cambridge): “The Afterlife of Manuscripts in Buddhist Cultures of East and Central Asia”

2.1 Manuscripts as objects
2.2 The recycling theory
2.3 Lineages
2.4 Within the ritual space
2.5 New scrolls out of old fragments

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Seminar 3: Jacqueline STONE (Princeton): “The Tendai Buddhist Tradition and Lotus Sūtra Interpretation in Heian and Medieval Japan”

3.1 Introduction: Tiantai Doctrinal Foundations
3.2 Early Japanese Tendai and “Realizing Buddhahood with This Very Body”
3.3 Medieval Tendai (1): The Doctrine of Original Enlightenment
3.4 Medieval Tendai (2): Rethinking Practice and Attainment
3.5 Tendai’s Broader Influence: Dōgen and Nichiren

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Lecture 1: Matthew ORSBORN (Oxford): Translating Buddhist texts: theory and practice

As scholars of Buddhism, particularly those of us involved with classical texts, the task of translation and interpretation is central to our discipline. Despite this centrality, we seldom approach the task of translation consciously and explicitly, which leads to numerous problems that permeate our scholarly goals. To bring translation into the conscious light, we will here examine five critical theoretical points in the translation process. Each point will in turn be illustrated with numerous practical examples from a range of Indic and Chinese texts across historical periods and genres translating into English.

One, the question of formal vs dynamic equivalence. Much can be learned from Nida in this regard, though scholarly and lay readers’ expectations needed to be balanced. A further compounding factor is when the text in question is already a translation itself, such as Chinese translations of Indian works, and has not consistently (or consciously?) dealt with this issue.

Two, translation voice, that is, which or whose text are we translating? When working with Indic texts in Chinese, while philologists tend toward the underlying Indic text. Later traditions re-interpret texts through the lens’ of various schools of Chinese Buddhist thought. It is important to explicitly state the voice, not to claim it as original, true or even superior, but simply to clarify a particular point of view while leaving open the possibility of translations through other voices.

Three, preservation of a text’s over-arching structures. Beyond mere chapter or section headings embedded in the text, many works include multiple levels and layers. The ways in which these are presented in translation, without forcing external systems upon the text, are critical for understanding and reader usage.

Four, representation of oral qualities in texts with oral origins when using a modern printed form. Many Buddhist works contain prose passages, litanies, call-and-response passages and other such literary forms. There are ways of representing these oral forms on the written page in a semiotic shift from oral/aural to visual, producing some powerful results.

Although a perfect translation is likely a mythical beast, the task of producing better translations should never cease.

As we will discuss, from a vinaya perspective as well as in Daoxuan’s view, the relations between human and non-human beings, in this case, animals, have to be considered in the light of a careful balance between the interests of all participants in the ethical, social and economic life of both the monastic and the lay communities. In this sense, virtues of compassion and non-killing are both actively promoted as well as placed against the realities of lay-monastic interactions, critically taking into account the surrounding social context in which monasteries operate and on which they depend.

Lecture 2: Ann HEIRMAN (Ghent): “What about Animals in a Buddhist Monastery? Some Thoughts by the Vinaya Master Daoxuan (道宣, 596–667)”

As is well known, Buddhism calls for the protection of all living beings, humans and animals alike. Yet, what at first sight may seem a straightforward stipulation becomes much more complex in circumstances involving dangerous and annoying animals, or economically useful animals. This lecture focuses on the commentaries and guidelines of one of the most important early Chinese Buddhist masters, Daoxuan (596–667), who effectively established the benchmark for monastic behavior in China for the next millennium and beyond. In his works, Daoxuan strongly adheres to every aspect of the Indian vinaya texts, including their prohibitions against deliberately harming or killing any living creature. In addition, though, he provides detailed guidelines on issues that the original Indian texts did not address.

Particular attention will be paid to Daoxuan’s discussion on animals in his Liang chu qing zhong yi 量處輕重儀, Models for Measuring and Handling Light and Heavy Property (T no. 1895, 45: 845b22–c19). In this treatise, he distinguishes between animals that are economically useful, even in a monastery, and those that are not. First, he mentions domesticated animals, such as camels, donkeys, cows, and sheep. These animals may be kept as long as they are treated properly, without recourse to whips or sticks. Next, he insists that all wild animals—including monkeys and apes, deer, bears, pheasants, rabbits, mountain cocks, wild ducks, and geese—should be released into nature. He then introduces a third and final group of animals: those that monasteries keep for the express purpose of killing rodents.

As we will discuss, from a vinaya perspective as well as in Daoxuan’s view, the relations between human and non-human beings, in this case, animals, have to be considered in the light of a careful balance between the interests of all participants in the ethical, social and economic life of both the monastic and the lay communities. In this sense, virtues of compassion and non-killing are both actively promoted as well as placed against the realities of lay-monastic interactions, critically taking into account the surrounding social context in which monasteries operate and on which they depend.


Segment 2

Yin-Cheng Lecture: James ROBSON (Harvard): Monasteries and Madhouses: On the Care and Confinement of the Insane in Early Modern and Contemporary East Asian Buddhism 

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 early modern and contemporary Taiwan, China, 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 older 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 talk 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.

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Seminar 4: Eric GREENE (Yale): “From chan to Chan: the theory and practice of Buddhist meditation in early medieval China”

4.1 The Chinese understanding of Buddhist Meditation (禪) in the Han and Three-Kingdoms Period
4.2 The “chan scriptures” (禪經) and the First Chinese Traditions of Meditation Practice
4.3 Visionary Meditation in the Fifth Century
4.4 Early Tiantai 天台 Meditation
4.5 The Transformation of Meditation in the Early Chan School (早期禪宗)

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Seminar 5: ZHAN Ru (Peking): “Monastery Networks in Sui-Tang China and Beyond”


Seminar 6: Eugene WANG (Harvard CAMLab): “Buddhists Towers?”

6.1. Towers | Caves
6.2. Tower in the air
6.3. Tower with four faces
6.4. Tower and Flight
6.5. Tower | Topography | Topos

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Lecture 3: Birgit KELLNER (Austrian Academy of Sciences): “Philosophy and the study of Buddhism: Perspectives and Problems” (Lecture 2, Segment 2)

Philosophical ideas that were formed within Buddhism have been subject to intense intellectual engagement across Asia and more recently also beyond. Buddhist philosophical traditions in ancient India, medieval China or Tibet developed sophisticated interpretations of such fundamental doctrinal concepts as emptiness, momentariness or the fundamentally unsatisfactory nature of existence; they elaborated fundamental analyses of causality and put forward deep and penetrating accounts of consciousness. While the existence of philosophy in premodern Asian contexts is nowadays no longer challenged on the ground of a presupposed cultural-civilizational hierarchy, the place of philosophy within the modern academic study of Buddhism is often unclear. It is, in any case, far from being fixed. This talk will sketch some of the problems involved, outline contextualism and philosophical engagement as two approaches to the study of Buddhist philosophy and advance an argument about how they are, or should be, related to each other.

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Lecture 4: Monika ZIN (Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities /Leipzig University): “The Buddha, the Dead and the Demons”

The extant cave complexes of the Buddhist world, especially those in which sculptures and paintings have been preserved, are of particular importance for research into the real-life faith of both monks and the community. This holds true already for India: The student of the caves in Ajanta in central India may be surprised by the importance of nature deities – yakṣas and nāgas – to whom separate chapels were dedicated in the immediate vicinity of the gandhakuṭī of the Buddha. An incomparably larger corpus of pictorial, inscriptional and manuscript material is provided by the cave complexes of Kucha on the Northern Silk Road; here, images of terrifying demons attacking the Buddha or – in other scenes – worshipping him were obviously among the most popular topics. We also see shocking pictures of graveyards with meditating monks, in caves that were apparently close to the real burial sites. We see pretas and beings from the hells to whom no one but the Buddha can provide help. From the extant writings we learn about the śrādha rituals for the dead and about offerings to the evil local spirits, the naivāsikas. What Schopen and DeCaroli were only able to demonstrate in the preserved writings, can be confirmed in Kucha, drawing on the extensive pictorial material.

DeCaroli, Robert, 2004, Haunting the Buddha, Indian Popular Religions and the Formation of Buddhism. Oxford / New York: Oxford University Press.

Schopen, Gregory, 2004, Immigrant Monks and the Proto-historical Dead: The Buddhist Occupation on Early Burial Sites in India. In:  Buddhist Monks and Business Matters. Still More Papers on Monastic Buddhism in India, Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, pp. 360–381.

Schopen, Gregory, 2014, On Buddhist Monks and Dreadful Deities: Some Monastic Devices for Updating the Dharma. In: Buddhist Nuns, Monks, and Other Worldly Matters: Recent Papers on Monastic Buddhism in India. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, pp. 333–357.