Guest Lecture: Buddhism in Contemporary China Through the Prism of Meditation Techniques

Speaker: Ester Bianchi (Perugia University)

Date: Monday, February 17, 2020 – 7 pm to 8:30 pm

Venue: Mangalam Center, 2018 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA 94704


In modern times, outstanding Buddhist masters reinforced and revived traditional Chinese Buddhist practices, such as chan meditation and Pure Land chanting and remembrance of the Buddha’s name. However, this general emphasis on meditation also included the implementation of early meditation techniques inspired by the Theravada tradition, as well as Tibetan and Japanese tantric practices. Being perceived as legitimate parts of the Buddhist tradition according to a modern perception of the religion, these forgotten or new forms of meditation were integrated into mainstream Chinese Buddhism. The idea was that of complementing chan meditation with other cultivation practices which, in some cases, were even considered to be more effective than chan itself. This general trend can still be seen in present-day China and Taiwan. The talk will present contemporary Chinese Buddhism through the prism of these various meditation techniques among Han Chinese practitioners.

About the Speaker:
Ester Bianchi holds a Ph.D. in ‘Indian and East-Asian Civilization’ from the University of Venice (co-tutorial Ph.D. received from the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Section des Sciences Religieuses of Paris). She is associate professor of Chinese Religions and Philosophy and of Society and Culture of China, coordinator of the Double Degree in “World Religions and Philosophy” (with the Department of Religious Studies of Fu-Jen University, Taipei), and member of the research group “Culture, Languages, Practices (CLIPRA) at the Philosophy Department of the University of Perugia (Italy). She is also external associated researcher of the Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités CNRS-EPHE (since 2012) and Research fellow of the Wutai International Institute of Buddhism and East Asian Cultures (since 2016). Her studies focus on the religions of China, particularly on Buddhism, both in imperial and in modern and contemporary time; her research is centered on Sino-Tibetan Buddhism, Chinese Buddhist monasticism, the revival of Buddhist monastic discipline and, more recently, the spread of Theravāda Buddhist Model in modern Chinese Buddhism. She is currently a Glorisun Visiting Professor at UC Berkeley, Buddhist Studies.


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