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Notions of the infinitely small have engendered numerous paradoxes within both Buddhist and Western intellectual history. In the West, Zeno famously noticed ways in which infinitely small distances challenged competing intuitions while Bishop Berkeley mocked their use in calculus, derisively dubbing them “ghosts of departed quantities”. In Buddhist philosophy, a commitment to mereological reductionism would seem to leave infinitesimal particles as the last stand for realism; thus dismissing their possibility constitutes a final step for Vasunbadhu in his proof of idealism. Dharmak¯irti, on the other hand, treated infinitesimals as dharmas when working within a Sautr¯antika framework. This lead to new questions about the nature of such particles and debates ensued within the tradition on matters such as the seeming inability of causally inert infinitesimal particles to give rise to the perception of extension.
In an attempt to give a logically coherent account of the infinitely small, mathematicians have developed sophisticated tools and gained deep insights into the nature of infinitesimals. These tools and insights can in turn provide some new ways to think about some of the ways in which infinitesimals are encountered in the works of Vasubandhu and Dharmak¯irti.
This paper will begin such an exploration. In particular, I will examine Vasubandhu’s outright rejection of infinitesimals in light of modern mathematics, offer some possible rejoinders to his objections, and consider what new objections might be raised therefrom. Turning to Dharmak¯irti and his interepreters, the paper will give a mathematical treatment of some of the attempts to explain how infinitesimals can give rise to the experience of extension.
The overall discussion will aim to bring two very rich intellectual traditions into conversation and draw on ideas from both Buddhist metaphysics and the mathematics of set theory, nonstandard analysis and cellular automata.
無窮小的概念在佛教和西方學術史上都引生了眾多悖論。在西方，芝諾（Zeno）著名地指出無窮小距離質疑其他學派的方法，而柏克萊主教（Bishop Berkeley）嘲弄了無窮小在微積分中的應用，嘲諷地將其戲稱為“消失量的幽靈（ghosts of departed quantities）”。在佛教哲學中，對分體還原論的投入似乎使極微成為實在論的最後立場，因而駁斥極微的可能性構成了世親（Vasubandhu）證明唯心論的最後一步。另一方面，法稱（Dharmakirti）在經量部的框架中將極微視為“法（dharmas）”。這導致了新的關於極微本質的疑問以及隨後在佛教中關於諸如不動的極微似乎沒有能力導致對擴展的認知。
Chinese Buddhist canons (Tripitaka) preserve a large number of translations of Indian Buddhist texts, which reflect the many rich facets of ancient Indian Buddhism and the complexity of social life in ancient India. Based on Chinese translations of some Tantric texts utilizing some relevant Sanskrit Tantric texts, this paper discusses use of medicines in Indian Tantric texts and their roles in Indian folklore and social life. It will also try to recover the roles played by medical sciences in Sino-Indian religious and cultural exchanges from the perspectives of translation studies and cultural exchanges.
The relationship between religion and catastrophe is a topic worth investigating. Every major religion comes into being preceding or following a catastrophe. Survival from a catastrophe or the prospect thereof is a critical juncture that instigates the foundation of a major religion. The other juncture is the religious reformation. Admittedly, there are social reasons as well as reasons internal to the religious institutions, which can propel the reformation. There is, however, another factor that is crucial: catastrophe. In history, any religion would have fallen to the fate of disintegration, had it not undergone a reformation, or a renaissance. And the most important factor, at least among external factors, is catastrophe. It is interesting and significant that catastrophe can exert such an influence on a religion. This phenomenon obliges us to consider the nature of religion. Why do we need religion? If we could comprehend the nature of religion — that it helps us overcome imperfection, the finite, as well as the menace, confusion and helplessness brought about by death──then we would understand why religion and catastrophe are an intimately connected pair.Our world is currently undergoing a tremendous, unprecedented catastrophe──the kind caused by technology revolution. This article explains why and how the technology comes to pose humanity is unprecedented and how a Buddhist perspective may contribute to the discussion of human response to technology-related catastrophes.
On the basis of data collected through fieldwork and the existing literature, this chapter unpacks the way Buddhist populations in contemporary Rakhine deal with health and illness using a plurality of conceptions and practices. Previous scholarly works have failed to understand this “therapeutic field” and its specific dynamics, the main reason being that health-related conceptions and practices have always been studied separately as considered to belong to different fields, religion or medicine. If, in this sense, etic categories are blinding, as they prevent a comprehensive approach, I claim that emic categories and notably the ones of Buddhism and medicine that appear in people’s narratives have an ethnographic and analytic value, as they reveal the cultural, social and political forces that contributed to define the position different notions and practices occupy in the therapeutic field and the relations of hierarchy and complementarity that have emerged over time between them. I want to show that the position attributed to the different notions and practices not only depend on their intrinsic capacity to contribute to the apprehension of health and illness, but also on the epistemic hierarchies which emerged between them as a consequence of the state’s intervention in this plurality and which affects the way there are implemented, valued, and used. In particular, the formalization and regulation of Buddhism and medicine carried out by the colonial and post-colonial state, came to attribute to these traditions a somehow privileged position, in the same time as it led to a redefinition (“purification”) of the contents of these categories, thus limiting their action in the therapeutic field and shifting the relationship with the other components of the field such as astrology, divination, exorcist practices and spirit cults. This complex process of categorisations and redefinition of relations, coexists and contrasts with the persistent hybridity of health-related notions and practices that keep cutting across all categories. I argue that if the coexistence of, and the tension between clear categories in people’s representations and the blurriness of these categories in the practices, reflects the complex interplay between biological, cultural, social and political forces, it also contributes to shape therapeutic efficacy in a certain way which reproduces political interests and power.
This talk looks at the somatic (body-based) practices of pre-modern or ‘boran’ Theravada meditation. In boran practice, positive outcomes of meditation are internalised to create a Buddha within the practitioner’s body. When we examine the advanced stages of this practice closely, we can see that its understanding of how transformation takes place shows parallels with other pre-modern sciences and technologies, including chemistry, medicine and grammar. Boran meditation was widespread until the mid-colonial period, but then began to disappear for various reasons, with just a handful of teaching lineages surviving beyond the 1970s. This means that it was already rare by the time Buddhist meditation began to gain popularity globally. This global popularity underpinned a new trend of research into meditation, but by this time meditations which stopped with psychological transformation as the highest goal had come to the fore. At the same time, colonialism and modernity transformed the broader landscape of technologies and scientific learning. This meant that the relationship between boran meditation and pre-modern technologies went unrecognised, with early studies of boran practices stalling because what was described in relevant manuals confounded researchers’ expectations of what meditation should be. This paper will look at how boran meditation harnesses understandings of causality that came to be forgotten or side-lined in the modern period, and the implications this has had for our perception of Theravada meditation.
本演講討論前现代或“Boran”的上座部佛教禪修中以身体为基础的修行。在 Boran 的訓練中，禪修的积极成果被內化，從而在修行者身體中創造一尊佛。當我們仔細研究這種修行方式的高級階段時，我們可以發現它對於轉化方式的理解與其他前現代科學和技術（包括化學、醫學和語法）存在相似之處。Boran禅修在殖民時期的中期之前一直很普遍，但之後由於各種原因開始消失，在20世紀20年代之後，只有少數幾個傳承得以保留下來。這意味著，當佛教禅修開始在全球範圍內流行之時，它已經變得很少見了。禪修在全球的流行推動了禪修研究的新潮流，但此時以心理轉化為最高目標的各类禅修已經脱颖而出。與此同時，殖民主義和現代化改變了技術和科學學習的大环境。這意味著Boran禅修與前現代技術之間的關係未被認識，而早期對Boran修行的研究停滯不前，是因為其相關手冊中描述的內容与研究人員對禪修的預期相悖。本文將探討Boran禅修如何利用在現代被遺忘或被邊緣化的因果觀，以及其對於我們於上座部禪修認知的影響。
A Buddhist system of two truths provides a descriptive framework with criteria for what counts as real in contrast to what does not. This paper looks at the relationship between the two truths in the works of two seventh-century Indian philosophers, Dharmakīrti and Candrakīrti, and draws implications for comparison and contrast with modern scientific understandings of the world. I will highlight important features of Dharmakīrti’s epistemology that aim to circumvent cultural conventions in a way that resonates with scientific representations of knowledge. I will also contrast this approach with one inspired by Candrakīrti to argue for an irreducible place of ethics and persons in a hybrid Buddhist-scientific picture of the world.
This paper will look at two disparate Buddhist communities—the Buddha Center in Second Life, and the Daifukuji Soto Zen Mission in Hawai’i—and show how each sangha has used digital outreach to build community capacity for online practice. Although the two institutions are very different—one only exists in a virtual world, while the other is a 100-year-old actual life temple—they have both worked to expand opportunities for community members to participate in online meditative ritual and practice. Based on years of ethnographic work with both communities, I look at the opportunities and limitations of online meditation with a Buddhist sangha. Since I did substantial fieldwork with these two communities before, during, and after the Covid-19 crisis, I will also discuss the extent to which the closure of in-person services during quarantine periods impacted digital Buddhist worship.
本文關注兩個完全不同的佛教群體——“第二人生”（Second Life）的“佛陀中心”（Buddha Center）和夏威夷的大福寺曹洞宗，揭示二者的僧團如何各自利用數字外展服務創建社區線上修行實踐的能力。儘管這兩家機構十分不同——一個僅存在於虛擬世界，另一個是有著百年歷史的現實生活中的寺院，他們都努力擴展社區成員線上參與坐禪修行實踐的機會。基於對兩個團體多年的民族誌調查，我將探討佛教僧團開展線上坐禪的機遇和限制。因為我曾在新冠疫情前、疫情中及疫情後對兩個團體進行實地調查，我也將討論疫情隔離期間面對面服務終止對數字禮佛的影響程度。
The excavation of Buddhist sites in Chinese Central Asia is among the most fascinating chapters in the history of modern exploration. Partly fuelled by the British and Russian colonial rivalry known as the Great Game, a series of Western expeditions explored the region along the region known today as the Silk Roads. Inspired by the results of excavations carried out by European explorers, three expeditions were organized by Ōtani Kōzui, abbot of the Nishi Honganji branch of the Jōdo Shinshū school of Buddhism. His aim was to locate Buddhist ruins and relics related to the history of the transmission of Buddhism from Central Asia to China. The expeditions carried out excavations at sites around Kucha, Turfan and Khotan, bringing to light a large quantity of manuscripts and artefacts. Among the most important items was the group of Buddhist manuscripts acquired in Dunhuang and Turfan. This presentation examines how Japanese explorers who possessed a Buddhist background differed from their European counterparts in approaching these sites and artefacts. My interest is in comparing their motivations with explorers such as Sven Hedin, Aurel Stein and Paul Pelliot, and what effect the differences in attitude had on the fate of their collections.
對中國西部地區佛教遺址的勘探與挖掘是現代探險史上最引人入勝的篇章之一。部分受英俄之間稱作大博弈的殖民競賽影響，一系列西方探險隊在如今被稱作絲綢之路的地區展開了一系列的探索挖掘。受這些歐洲探險家的成果所啟發，日本淨土真宗西本願寺的方丈大谷光瑞先後組織了三次探索，旨在尋找佛教從中亞傳入中國這一過程中相關的佛教遺址與歷史文物。這三次探險分別在吐魯番，庫車和于闐等地進行挖掘勘探，發現了大量的寫本與文物。其中最重要的是在敦煌與吐魯番獲取的一批佛教寫本。本次演講將探索具有佛教背景的日本探險家在對待與處理這些遺址與文物時，與歐洲同行之間有著何種不同。我將著重分析其與如赫定（Sven Hedin）、斯坦因（Aurel Stein）與伯希和（Paul Pelliot）等西方探險者的不同，並探索這類觀念態度上的差異對其所獲文物的影響。
The advance of science especially neuroscience is providing more coherence evidence to Buddhism theories including those on human mind and nature. With regard to Buddhism discussion on dukkha and three poisons, greed, anger, and ignorance are interconnected factors that influence one another. In cognitive science, three poisons represent three levels of brain evolutionary stage of central nervous system, the reptilian brain, mammalian brain and human brain. Greed and anger are more impulsive and bottom-up processes, originating from lower-order brain structures. Higher-order cognitive functions well-developed in human brain are needed to regulate these impulsive behaviors. These are top-down processes, while the lack of this is referred to as ignorance in Buddhism term. Our neuroimaging studies reveal that Buddhist chanting can intercept the cycle of greed, anger, and ignorance through both top-down cognitive activity involving language and bottom-up processing by activating the locus coeruleus in the brainstem, which belongs to the reptilian brain. This unique training process, which intertwines instinct, emotion, and cognition, may elucidate the power and popularity of Buddhist chanting.
Another field of neuroscientific research on Buddhism is about the body and mind problem, a hard problem in philosophy and science. We begin the investigation on a more solid topic of connection of heart and brain, which are the vital parts to represent the body and mind, respectively. With the advance of neuroscience, we could utilize algorithms including machine learning to monitor the connection between heart activity and brain activities, by measuring the correspondent electrocardiogram (ECG) and electroencephalogram (EEG). This relevant research on body and mind problem can be also meaningful for the development of AI system in human society. The integration of modern neuroscience with Buddhist principles offers promising opportunities for future research and potential therapeutic applications, especially with the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI). By integrating principles of mindfulness, equanimity, and interconnectedness into AI training algorithms, we may foster the development of AI systems that are more attuned to human emotions and the complexities of the world. This holistic approach to AI training can potentially result in systems that exhibit not only advanced problem-solving skills but also a deeper understanding of the human experience. Ultimately, blending Buddhist teachings with AI development may lead to a more harmonious coexistence between humans and advanced intelligent system as we navigate the complexities of our ever-changing world.
The Chinese Philanthropic Institution, founded by Shanghai Jiyunxuan 集雲軒, which is an artist’s organization with Layman Buddhist, is one of the largest non-governmental charitable organizations in China. Wang Yiting 王一亭 (1867-1936), a famous Buddhist layman in modern China, was the second president of the institution (1928-1938). He was also a famous revolutionary, artist, industrialist, and philanthropist as well. Previous studies focused on his charitable activities and the institution, but there were few views on the rescue mode of specific medical assistance activities. This paper observes the relief activities carried out by the institution led by Wang Yiting during the Wuhan Flood 武漢水災 in 1931. It tries to explore the factors affecting the modern transformation of Buddhist charity mode based on sorting out the ways and means of medical activities. Therefore, the social identity of Buddhist layman in modern China is investigated, and its modern significance to the construction of Buddhist charity concept is analyzed.
As the power of large language models (LLMs) has become more and more obvious, concerns have increased about the adverse social impacts, and even existential risks to humanity, such technology could potentially create. These concerns have been strengthened by examples of outrageous misbehavior exhibited by models such as Microsoft’s Bing AI shortly after their public release. One prominent analysis that could make sense of this misbehavior postulates a “Waluigi Effect” that sometimes causes LLMs to behave in ways directly opposed to the personality traits that programmers were trying to induce. I show that the analysis, published under the pseudonym “Cleo Nardo,” depends in part on a version of the interdependence of extremes, a key teaching of both Buddhism and Daoism. Indeed, Nardo shows us a way to use the technical concept of Kolmogorov complexity to make the traditional teaching much more precise.
Given the problems predicted by Nardo’s hypothesis, and those which have been actually encountered in practice, what could help make LLMs and related AI systems safer? The Tibetan yogi Milarepa taught: “When it comes to moral discipline, nothing to do but stop being dishonest.” After examining this saying in its Buddhist context, I show how most cases of existential risk from AI centrally depend on the system’s capacity to deceive us. Honesty could protect us, but is difficult to engineer into AI systems generally; for LLMs in particular, the concept may not even be well-defined. This topic raises problems which may be similar to those that confront Buddhist philosophers in certain other contexts.
In these ways, Buddhist teachings can help us understand the contours of the problems we face in the realm of AI safety. Could they point to any solutions? As AI systems grow more powerful, it becomes increasingly important to ensure that they respect human values, but experts in the field seem to agree that no one knows how to do this. I offer the very tentative suggestion that we try to build AI systems with the capacity for repentance. The practice of repentance, specifically as it is understood in the Buddhist tradition, could offer a model for what it would take to train future AI systems to internalize moral norms, thereby making them more likely to make a positive contribution to humanity’s future.
隨著大型語言模型（large language models, LLMs）愈加明顯，對於這種技術可能帶來的負面社會影響乃至對人類存在的風險的擔憂不斷增長。這些憂慮也由於模型（例如微軟Bing AI）發布不久即展現出來的駭人的不當行為而進一步加強。一個重要的可以解釋這種不當行為的分析假定“瓦路易吉效應”（Waluigi Effect）有時會導致大型語言模型（LLMs）以與程序設計者試圖引導的人格特質截然相反的方式做出反應。我將表明這個以筆名（Cleo Nardo）發表的分析，在某種程度上依賴於佛教和道教中都有的一個重要觀念——極限的互相依存。Nardo確實為我們呈現了利用柯爾莫哥洛夫複雜性這個技術概念使傳統教義更加精確的方法。
The “hard problem” of consciousness is generally seen as one of explaining how phenomenal experience emerges out of physical brain activity, often with the expectation that this will require some biological explanation of the evolutionary value of consciousness. Blending Buddhist and contemporary scientific resources to theorize consciousness relationally, I will suggest, instead, that: that the explanatory gap between the phenomenal and the physical is an experimental artifact; that evolution is an improvisational record of consciousness mattering; and that the “really hard problem” of consciousness is fundamentally ethical. The talk will conclude by considering the technological risks of synthesizing human and machine intelligences and already ongoing experiments in algorithmic consciousness hacking.
In this presentation, I discuss the intrinsic value of phenomenal consciousness in early Buddhism, focusing on the āgamas that comprise the Suttapiṭaka. This paper has three parts. First, I argue that for early Buddhism, consciousness is intrinsically disvaluable. Second, I contend that early Buddhists would choose to be zombies rather than attaining nirvana. Third, I show that one can attain nirvana in an experience machine.
Buddhist literature is a unique witness to the evolution of metallurgy in China over the course of over a thousand years. Translators used native Chinese vocabulary for different metals when translating foreign texts, although in some instances they were faced with unclear nomenclature or references to alloys that were rare in China. The use of specific metals in ritual contexts became essential following the introduction of Mantrayāna in China during the mid-Tang period. The present study will focus on brass (an alloy of copper and zinc), which was originally imported from the Western Regions, and a unique type of iron called bintie 鑌鐵 (crucible steel), which was first known as an import from Sasanian Iran. Based on the common Buddhist use of metals in the casting of statues, vajras, and bells, we might wonder whether Buddhists in China had a strong understanding of metallurgy during the first millennium. The present study will address this question with reference to Buddhist and non-Buddhist sources.
佛教文獻是中國冶金發展的獨特見證。 佛教譯者在翻譯梵文時，使用了漢語本土詞彙來表示不同的金屬，儘管在某些情況下，他們面臨著不明確的命名法或提及在中國罕見的合金。 中唐時期密教入中國，金屬在儀式及修行中的使用很重要。 本研究將重點關注最初從西域進口的黃銅，以及一種獨特的鐵，稱為鑌鐵，最早是從薩珊王朝的伊朗進口的 。 基於佛教在鑄造佛像、金剛杵和編鐘時普遍使用金屬，我們可能會想，中國佛教徒在第一個千年是否對冶金有深入的了解。 本研究要參考佛教和非佛教的資料來解決這個問題。
Tibetan astrological science has several different system, such as the elementary astrology, Kalachakra calendar, Shi-xian calendar and so on. The time of a day in Kalachakra calendar is based on the breathing rhythm of a healthy man. The year, month and day are divided according to the laws of the sun and the moon. There are several ways of numbering the years as 12, 60 and 180. The Time in a large scale is calculated in Kalpa. This paper attempt to analyze the division of different time scales in the Tibetan calendar, and then to explore the exchange between Eastern and Western cultures.
調查表明，印度早期石窟寺在建造時，是嚴格按照一定的數學比例關係設計的，最典型的就是石窟寺的核心洞窟——支提窟，支提窟的主室在整體設計採用了印度建築學上慣用的精緻數字比，這種簡約的數字關係，建立了一種美學上的優雅風格。這些石窟雖然經過2000多年的風蝕和人為破壞，如果忽略工匠在設計時出現的8-10釐米的微小誤差，我們可以發現，洞窟的高、寬幾乎相等；殿內，從前面木屏位置到佛塔前的距長，為整個殿寬的1.5倍；塔的直徑又是塔到兩側牆邊距的1.5倍；塔與後牆的距離等於塔與左右牆距；內頂高度與寬度幾乎相等；側廊是殿寬的1/8；（主）殿寬又是總寬度的3/5；列柱是殿內通高的2/5；入口寬為洞窟總寬的1/8等等，這些規則與印度古老的宗教建築量度，即 《準繩經》（śulva sûtras）可能密切相關，本文嘗試從數學的角度解讀印度早期佛教石窟寺在建造上的特點。
The investigation shows that the early Indian caves were designed strictly in accordance with a certain mathematical ratio when they were built. The most typical one is the caitya. The main room of the caitya was designed with the exquisite numerical ratio commonly used in Indian architecture. Although these caves have undergone wind erosion and man-made destruction for more than 2,000 years, if we ignore the small error of 8-10 cm in the design of the artists, we can find that the height and width of the caves are almost the same; Inside the hall, the distance from the position of the front wooden screen to the front of the stupa is 1.5 times the width of the entire hall; The diameter of the stupa is 1.5 times the distance between the stupa and the sides of the wall; The distance between the stupa and the back wall is equal to the distance between the stupa and the left and right walls; The height of the inner top is almost equal to the width; The side corridor is 1/8 of the width of the hall; The width of the hall is 3/5 of the total width; The columns are 2/5 of the full height of the hall; The entrance width was 1/8 of the total width of the cave, etc. These rules may be closely related to the old Indian religious architectural literatures-the śulva sûtras, and from this way, the paper is trying to understand the characteristics of the construction of the early Buddhist caves in India.
Beidou belief, a prevalent form of faith in East Asia, permeates various religious and belief systems, resulting in diverse expressions. This paper primarily examines the liturgical texts of the Zokushōsai 屬星祭 ritual, which is centered around the veneration of stars, within the framework of Japanese Onmyōdō. The aim is to analyze the influence of Buddhism in this context. It is noteworthy that the Zokushōsai ritual has undergone a multifaceted evolutionary process, exemplified by the liturgical texts found in Shosaimon Kojitsu Shō 諸祭文故実抄 and the later Saimon Burui 祭文部類 from Documents of the Wakasugi Family. This transformation is partly attributed to the evolution of Beidou belief in Japan and the gradual development of a more indigenous belief system within Onmyōdō, which deviated from its initial form that regarded Buddhist sutras as authoritative scriptures. Both tendencies are intricately linked with Buddhism, although they manifest as active and passive aspects, respectively. This case study provides valuable insights into the dynamics of cultural exchange in East Asia and sheds light on the distinct roles played by Buddhism as a faith system with significant cross-cultural influence.
While Buddhism is often recognised in the contemporary society as a religion compatible to modern scientific thinking in terms of its purported rationalism and universalist values such as non-violence and compassion, the Buddhist cosmology which is inherently at odd with our scientific understanding of the universe is rarely discussed. Ideas such as flat earth and Mount Sumeru are implicit in all Buddhist texts but are aberrant to the modern minds. This paper examines the history of Buddhist attempts to accommodate these ideas from the Bonreki movement in late Edo Japan to some of the more recent ones from various Buddhist traditions.
Contemplative technologies for enhancing interrelationality are viable strategies for addressing social and environmental challenges. Scientific studies of contemplative practice often focus narrowly on mindfulness, usually secular forms, alongside compassion meditation, while largely neglecting to examine neuroendocrine variables and sustainable behaviors reflective of inner and outer ecologies. Other contemplative methods from Buddhism remain less investigated, particularly via scientific technologies such as biobehavioral analytics. Combining hermeneutical and empirical methods, this project reports on fieldwork among international retreatants at a Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. Throughout a one month immersion program, measurements were obtained of recycling, food waste, and oxytocin via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Empirical findings indicate increased oxytocin following huatou, a Chan practice, accompanied by quantifiable improvements in pro-environmental behavior, including increased recycling and decreased food waste by mass. Extrapolating from these novel results, I identify Huayan philosophical doctrines and meditation practices with potential to induce comparable neuroendocrine and behavioral changes. The fieldwork and proposed follow-up study thus shed light on the relevance of Chinese Buddhist teachings and practices to scientific investigation integrating textual analysis and laboratory technologies, yielding outcomes with potential to bridge inner and outer ecologies and mitigate ongoing social and environmental challenges.
There are many foreign astronomical materials preserved in the Chinese translation of Buddhist sutras. From the content, these astronomical materials include cosmology theories, lunar mansion systems and calendrical data, etc. These astronomical materials are important evidence for the exchange and dissemination of astronomy between ancient civilizations. This report aims to sort out and analyze the astronomical materials preserved in the Chinese translation of Buddhist sutras, evaluating the preservation form, characteristics, reliability, and functionality of these astronomical materials, classifying and differentiating the content of foreign astronomy, discussing its origin and local influence. Through the above discussion, this report will demonstrate the core meaning of the historical view of transcultural transmission of sciences and technology, which is ‘knowledge advances through dissemination and civilization thrives through exchange’. This report will also provide an overview of the progress of relevant research and explore possible future research directions.
Therapeutics and botany in medieval Japan: the monk Shinjaku-bō in context Buddhist monks have been known for their ability to handle materia medica since the inception of Buddhism in Japan. Eminent figures like Jianzhen 鑑真 (J: Ganjin; 688-763) were noted, among other things, for their ability to recognize herbs and concoct medications, as records in Shoku Nihongi 続日本紀 (797) and Ishinpō 医心方 (984) show. In this talk, I will focus on a relatively obscure figure, the monk Shinjaku-bō 心寂房 (d. 1231), whose activities are only documented in the diary and letters of the famous poet Fujiwara no Sadaie 藤原定家 (better known as Teika; 1162-1241). Shinjaku-bō, whose descent, Dharma name and temple affiliation remain unknown, was an accomplished practitioner of continental therapeutics; in particular, he appears in Teika’s journal as a frequent practitioner of moxibustion and herbalism. For a number of years and until his death, Shinjaku-bō was a constant presence in Teika’s life, for whom he also functioned as a source of information and gossip, counsel and support. At the same time, Shinjaku-bō was also a skilled botanist, and Teika often resorted to his services for most garden-related issues, including numerous instances of grafting and gifts of trees. As the poet records in his journal, “as for plants and trees, I simply follow what this monk does.” Shinjaku-bō’s pharmacological and botanical skills, as well as hints pointing towards a Shingon affiliation, allow for a broader discussion of the locus of his practices within early medieval Buddhism. Plants, whether as ingredients for medications and decoctions, or as herbs dried and burned as incense and aromatics, played, in fact, an important role within the ritual domain of Japanese Buddhism at the time, and of the esoteric traditions in particular. I will, thus, conclude my talk by tracing possible sources for the monk’s mastery of these technical domains.
The thesis delves into the following two main points:
- Some Buddhist scriptures contain a significant amount of scientific content. This indicates that the metaphorical use of science was not uncommon in Buddhist India. If we possess an understanding of popular science, it may help us to deepen our understanding of the scriptures and aid in comprehending the teachings of the Buddha.
- Since the metaphorical use of science is a common technique in composing Buddhist scriptures, applying popular science in analogizing the Buddha’s teaching may help people in modern society, where scientific technology is significantly valued, to understand Buddhism better. This should, in turn, lead to more effective promotion of Buddhism.
The thesis examines numerous scientific terms cited in the Diamond Sutra to explore their underlying ideas and impacts on human civilization. This may be what the Sutra emphasizes as the Buddha being a “speaker of reality.” Furthermore, examples of modern science are designed to illustrate the meaning of the sutra to see if they could enhance its readability.
My talk will take as its focus the signature Sarvāstivāda-Vaibhāṣika doctrine that past, present, and future things all exist. This theory—or theories, since the Vaibhāṣika masters themselves disagreed on how to make sense of it—anticipates, in many respects, “block-time” models of the universe that are in fashion among theoretical physicists today. In these models, time is a dimension spread out like space, and everything that ever was or will be has a fixed position within this four-dimensional space-time block. I will argue that the similarities between the early Buddhist theories and contemporary scientific ones are neither coincidental nor insignificant: both are responses to deep puzzles concerning the nature of change, causation, and the apparent “flow” and “direction” of time.
The “self-representationalism” in the contemporary philosophy of mind is one of the latest ways to respond to the question “how a mental state can be conscious”. Compared with higher-order representationalism and the like, self-representationalism suggests a series of stronger and more reasonable arguments; it is a current theory with potential. The same conscious question was also discussed between philosophers in India and Tibet. Especially, the model and the argument steps of self-representationalism have a high degree of similarity with the “reflexive self-awareness theory” (Svasaṃvitti) in the “epistemological and logical system of Buddhism” (Pramāṇavidyā); to a certain extent, the reflexive self-awareness theory could supplement the self-representationalism. In this paper, I will focus on Uriah Kriegel, the most representative self-representationalist in the contemporary philosophy of mind, and Indian Buddhist philosopher Dignāga in the 6th century CE, comparing their argument steps, interpretation method and so forth, to reach a brief comparative study.
人工智能 (Artificial Intelligence) 在近些年獲得了前所未有的巨大進步， 其發展速度之快已經遠遠超過了即使是過去極為超前的若干預期。人工智能的崛起， 就產生了諸多相關的重要社會問題， 從而需要學界對於由此引起的相關倫理及社會問題加以探討並且試圖加以應對。除此之外， 人類還應該考慮另一個更為根本的深層次問題， 即目前人類自身所一手打造的人工智能，是否會終極成為替代人類的選項？由此而言， 也觸發了人類對於自身與人工智能體之間關係的考量， 以及如果技術最終會成為人類災難性結果的誘因， 那麼是否可以從宗教， 尤其是佛教的角度來未雨綢繆？所有這些， 就都是相當值得學界與社會各界詳加思考的重要問題。
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made unprecedented advances in recent years, and its rapid development has far exceeded even some of the most advanced expectations of the past. The rise of Artificial Intelligence has given rise to a number of relevant and important social issues, which require academics to explore and attempt to address the ethical and social problems that arise. In addition to this, there is a more fundamental and deeper question that scholars should consider, namely, will the artificial intelligence that mankind is currently building become an option to replace mankind? In this way, it also triggers the consideration of the relationship between human beings and artificial intelligences, and if technology will eventually become the cause of catastrophic results for human beings, what constructive responses can be proposed from the perspective of religion, especially Buddhism? All of these are important issues that deserve deliberation by academics and society at large.
Buddhist literature contains not only teachings for spiritual liberation but also information on diverse aspects of ancient cultures, such as medical knowledge of different civilizations. Material pertaining to ancient Indian medical sciences is found in early Buddhist literature. This paper explores such material in the early Buddhist scriptures, especially the Nikāyas and Āgamas, as well as the extant versions of the Chapter on Medicine (CM) of the Vinayas. Data on ancient Indian medical sciences are examined and interpreted in terms of modern medical terminology. Abundant information pertaining to various medical sciences – including anatomy, physiology, aetiology, nosology, therapeutics, and preventive medicine (health maintenance) – is preserved in these early Buddhist texts. From such information, it can be noted that medical sciences had already developed to a certain level in ancient India. Study of medical sciences in early Buddhist literature may act as a base for further exploration of medical knowledge in other Buddhist texts. Moreover, comparisons of ancient Indian medicine with modern biomedicine may discover similarities and differences between the two medical traditions, and ancient Indian medical ideas and/or practices may provide inspirations for research and development in modern medicine.
There are four Buddhist texts from the late Tang to Song and Yuan periods that record the star-point charts and star god figures of the twenty-eight lunar mansions: the Seven Obsidian Star Separation Acts (Qiyao xingchen biexingfa,《七曜星辰别行法》) from the late Tang period, the Killing Light Buddha’s Dzogchen (《熾盛光佛頂大威德銷災吉祥陀羅尼經》) (972) from the Nara Collection in Japan, a fresco of a star chart from the Uighur period (866-1383) excavated from the Shengjinkou Grottoes in Kaochang, and the Fire-Ra (Huoluo tu,《火罗图》) chart from the Gokokuji Temple in Kyoto, Japan (1166). These four documents are unusual in that they combine a star-point chart with a star god chart for each lunar mansion. This is because traditional Chinese star-point charts of the twenty-eight lunar mansions exist in tombs, astronomical star charts and astronomical astrological texts, and only having star-point charts, whereas depictions of the numbers and shapes of the foreign twenty-eight lunar mansions exist only in textual narratives of Chinese translations of Buddhism, with no specific illustrations. At the same time, the twenty-eight star charts with foreign elements are mainly found in the Five Stars and Twenty-eight Star Charts and in Buddhist images of the Star Mandala and the Blazing Broad Buddha, and generally do not contain star-point charts. These four Buddhist texts combine the traditional Chinese star-point charts with star god figures of foreign origin, and although there are many misconfigurations in their correspondence, their most important effect is to give the star-point charts a different meaning from their purely celestial predecessors, i.e. a divine power similar to that of the star charts, while highlighting the individual differences in the religious beliefs and rituals of each lunar mansion. Since then, however, the divine power of the star-point charts have been manifested mainly in Taoist rituals and practices; while the power of the star-god charts have been displayed mainly in Buddhist and folk beliefs, but these beliefs and their practices mostly highlight the function of images of the twenty-eight lunar mansions in their totality, with their differences gradually diminishing.
The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in linguistics claims that language is correlated with, or even determines, worldview. That is to say, the language we use impacts the way we observe the world. Based on this premise, Benjamin Lee Whorf concludes that “users of markedly different grammars … are not equivalent as observers but must arrive at somewhat different views of the world.” Whorf goes on to suggest that modern science, with its European origins, has therefore been shaped more by the grammatical structures of Indo-European languages than other languages. If one accepts Whorf’s hypothesis to be true, an intriguing question begs to be asked: how have the non-Indo-European languages of Asia contributed to the ongoing development of modern science? In response, this paper examines how Buddhism offers a counterpoint to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and sheds light on the emergent discourse of artificial intelligence. While scholars and scientists generally accept Whorf’s linguistic relativity to a certain extent, they almost always understand this relativity as applicable to human languages only. In contrast, Buddhist thought and praxis often push the limits of human language to the realm of nothingness where the human self withdraws from the myriad world. Given this context, this paper examines how Buddhist approaches to the nonhuman—from Buddha’s reincarnation as a nine-color deer (jiu se lu) to Wang Guowei’s literary theory of “self-withdrawal” (wuwo) and even the Zen Buddhist practice of ensō as communicating beyond the limits of human language—offer a different framework for contemplating ongoing developments in artificial intelligence, especially in the West. Citing a wide range of materials in media studies, literature and linguistics, and the history of science, this paper compares how Buddhism as well as contemporary scientific and cultural discourses have variously approached the question of nonhuman intelligence.
據薩丕爾-沃夫假說 (Sapir-Whorf hypothesis) 所稱，語言與世界觀有密切的關係。語言學中的“語言相對論”就是指語言的使用能影響觀察世界的模式。在這前提下，沃夫認為：“使用不同語法的人…不是等同的觀察者，並必然得出稍微不同的世界觀。”沃夫進一步指出，起源於歐洲的科學因此比其他語言更多地受到印歐語系語法結構的影響。假設沃夫的理論是正確的，那麼亞洲的非印歐語言如何為現代科學作出貢獻？本文探討佛家思想如何對薩丕爾-沃夫假說作出回應，並且提供對人工智能的一種闡明。雖然學者普遍接受沃夫的語言相對論，但他們認同的程度不一，而這個理論更限於人類語言的範疇。相比之下，佛家思想往往將人類語言推向“空”的境界，使人的自我漸漸退出塵世。從佛陀前生為九色鹿的敘述到禪宗的“円相”以至王國維的“無我”詩學，本文探討佛家思想如何促進超越人類極限，並在這過程中提供應對“非人類”智能的思维模式。本文引用文學、語言學、媒體研究及科學史中的廣泛材料，提出思考佛學和人工智能問題的一個框架。
In the period of the Song and Yuan Dynasties, many medical monks were active at different levels of society. They had contact with a wide range of social classes when practicing medicine. It was a special and active group. The medical skills of this group were spread. Different types of events or stories occurred such as politics, charity, and gods and spirits. These monks actually formed a lifestyle of taking medicine as a career and making a living as a monk. Around their stories, we can further discover the medical monk group except for the ordinary medical group in the society in Song and Yuan Dynasties. Their lives and technologies formed an interesting and vivid picture of life in the period of the Song and Yuan Dynasties.
The child-granting temple under discussion here is not a physical temple that exists in reality. It is not associated with any religious institution, nor does it involve the participation or guidance of religious clerics. The temple is a digital space that originated from fertility prayers and aspirations of expectant mothers expressed on the internet. Apart from occasional traffic redirection by online administrators, the operation of this virtual temple relies primarily on spontaneous sense, self-discipline, and mutual assistance among the community of expectant mothers. This Send-Child Numinous Temple is perceived as a genuine temple despite its operation in an online setting. It facilitates the daily rituals of offering incense, worshiping, and making wishes, silently listening to the heartfelt aspirations of expectant mothers. Over a period of approximately eight years, it has gathered hundreds of thousands of records of wishes and fulfillments, creating a self-sustaining and beneficial cycle and a virtual pilgrimage community.
This paper aims to deconstruct the existence of the virtual pilgrimage community represented by the Child-Granting Numinous Temple based on the presentation of online texts. It demonstrates the demand among ordinary people for the belief in the Child-Granting Guanyin. Furthermore, it highlights the active role that the belief in Send-Granting Guanyin plays in alleviating anxieties related to childbirth among devotees.
The Buddhist Sangha was an important cultural group in ancient China and had a significant influence on ancient Chinese society. This influence stemmed from their religious identity as well as their cultural knowledge. However, not all members of the monastic community were literate. The examination system implemented during the Tang Dynasty, which tested monks’ ability to recite a sufficient number of Buddhist scriptures to determine their eligibility for ordination, and the movement to eliminate unqualified monks and nuns provided an opportunity to estimate the literacy rate among the monastic community in the Tang Dynasty. Statistical analysis of the literacy rate among the monastic community provides a new perspective for understanding the development of Buddhism, the relationship between religion and politics, and the role of the monastic community in local society during the Tang Dynasty.
“Wu 武 to Zun 遵 total twenty-eight cases of secret scriptures” were created under the director of Guan Zhuba 管主八, a monk in the Yuan Dynasty. The secret scriptures collection, the sole supplement for Tantric texts in the entire history of woodblock printing, circulated alongside the Puning canon and could be found in the photocopy of the Qisha canon. However, several questions about the collection remain unsolved, such as: Whence did the collection come from? When was it carved? When did it begin circulating with the Puning canon and Qisha canon? And when was it incorporated in the Buddhist canon?
This paper examines the circulation of the secret scriptures collection from two aspects: the circulation of the texts and the circulation of the wooden blocks. The texts began circulating in the eleventh year of Dade 大德 (1307), while the wooden blocks, which were the private property of the Guan family, were surrendered to the Qisha Yansheng Monastery in Pingjiang Prefecture in 1363. Although the majority of the texts in the secret scriptures collection were from the Jin canon, the sequence of the Thousand-Character Classic (Qianzi wen 千字文) from Wu to Zun is consistent with the Jiangnan system of the Buddhist canon.
After collecting all the secret scriptures, Guan Zhuba began fundraising in 1306, when the cases from Tian 天 to Gan 感 of the Puning canon had already been completed. He established a new printing office for the secret scriptures collection which was not connected to the printing office of the Puning canon. On the other hand, as a merit sponsor of the Qisha canon, Guan Zhuba knew more about the Qisha canon and the state of the Jiangnan system of the Buddhist canons. While carving the Qisha canon, he noticed the absence of Tantric texts in the Jiangnan, Min and Zhe Buddhist Canons. After the secret scriptures collection was completed in 1307, the entire Qisha canon had not yet been completed. Therefore, the purpose of carving the secret scriptures was not for the supplement the Qisha canon, but to provide Buddhist canons with Tantric text supplements, especially the most widely spread Puning canon.
The secret scripture collection as a separate corpus alongside the Puning canon until 1363. The collection had received their Thousand-Character Classic before 1313, because the printing office of the Puning canon carved the Baiyun Heshang Chuxue ji 白雲和尚初學記 under the Thousand-Character Classic, Yue 約. In 1315, the complement of the Yue 約 case of the Qisha canon indicated that two printing offices had recognized and accepted the fixed position of the collection within the Jiangnan system of the Buddhist canon. However, it was not until by 1363 that the collection was formally incorporated into the Buddhist canon.
The incorporation of the twenty-eight cases of secret scriptures followed a process of separation from the Buddhist canon, rearrangement as the secret scriptures collection and circulation alongside canons, and formal incorporation into the Buddhist canon. This process not only contains Guan Zhuba’s personal intentions, but also reflects the changes in the attitudes of the printing offices. It is a unique case study in the study of the Buddhist canon.
While Buddhist teachings deny the presence of a stable, unchanging self, they must still make sense of human agency. In this article, I look through metaphors of mechanical men in Buddhist literature which inform us of attempts to tackle the problem by resorting to figurative speech. This survey does not only show how ancient Buddhist scholars think with technologies of their times, but also provides us with insights into what it possibly means to live towards an era of artificial intelligence.
This research explores the history of medical prescriptions (jifang 乩方) and disaster relief (jishi 濟世) through spirit-writing. Originating in the late Ming dynasty, the cult of the Buddhist monk Jigong 濟公 (?-1209) flourished by the late Qing and early Republican periods. Organized as Pavilion of Gathered Clouds 集雲軒 in Shanghai, this group of lay Buddhists self-identified as the Buddhist lineage of Nanping 南屏派, venerating Jigong as their patriarch. Led by successive urban elites including Wang Yiting 王一亭 (1867-1938), their success and widespread recognition helped it to establish Chinese Society for the Relief of Sentient Beings 中國濟生會 in Shanghai. One unique aspect of their activities involved spirit-writing sessions during which they received divine revelations from Jigong. These revelations guided their multi-faceted disaster relief efforts during periods of crises. To conduct an in-depth analysis of their initiatives, this study will draw upon a variety of primary sources, such as spirit-written texts, religious scriptures, temple and local gazetteers, and newspaper reports. The main objective of this paper is to shed new light on the significant influence of spirit-writing on the philanthropic activities undertaken by lay Buddhists during the Republican period.
From the Three Kingdoms period to the Tang Dynasty, Indian astrological knowledge came to the Han along the desert Silk Road with the translation of Buddhist canon. Through a comparison of the Sanskrit and Chinese translations of Buddhist scriptures such as the Śārdūlakarṇāvadāna, Xiuyaojing and the Records of the Western Regions of the Great Tang Dynasty, the history of the early Sinicization of astrological aspects of astronomy and calendars is explored. In astronomy, the Chinese translation of the names of the Indian astrological constellations, using the inherently Chinese names of the 28 constellations to correspond to the Indian 28 constellations, is preferred over the use of the meaningful or phonetic transliteration of the names of the constellations. For the unit of time measurement, the Chinese tradition of dividing the four seasons replaces the Indian system of three or six seasons and corresponds to the Indian twelve astrological months, reflecting the translators’ skilful handling of the natural seasons. At the level of calendrical practice, the adoption of Central Asian or China sun and shadow data in the Chinese translation shows the intellectual adoption of local scientific data. And in the astrological divinations, the blurring of special terms such as mountain and place names from South Asia aids in the ability of the divinations to spread across regions. Overall, the early Chinese Buddhist translations of astrological material often employ locally adapted changes, from which a glimpse of the dissemination strategies and methods adopted by ancient scientific and technological knowledge in the process of the Sinicization of religion can be roughly gleaned.