Fo Guang Shan Temple, Berlin. Buddha Hall. Gathering of nuns, © 2016 Almut-Barbara Renger

We are pleased to inform you about the opening event of a seminar on Buddhism at the Freie Universität, Berlin on October 18th 2017 (“Einführung in den Buddhismus: Standort Berlin”). The first session of the seminar will be an open public discussion with the focus on the question “What is Buddhism?” where various representatives of Buddhism in Berlin will present and discuss their views on the subject.

The aim of the course is to explore the multi-faceted religious landscape in Berlin, through focusing specifically on a variety of expressions of Buddhism within the city. Many forms of Buddhism exist in Berlin and are made visible in a variety of ways—offering activities and social networks which includes magazines, major events, Buddhist publishers and centers with their own websites.
The seminar will first explore the historical development of Buddhism by means of selected textual sources, in which successive Buddhist currents and national-specific manifestations can be found in modernity, such as examples within Germany. With this understanding as a groundwork, focus will then turn to specific cases within Berlin. The leading questions explore the attractiveness of Buddhist activities, and why these seem to represent a philosophical, spiritual and life-practical supplement and/or an alternative to Christianity for many people. For this purpose, selected popular science texts as well as media from the area of pop-spirituality will also be used to investigate the enormous diversity of the functionalizations and transformations of basic Buddhist concepts.
In subsequent meetings of the seminar, the theoretical subjects are supplemented by excursions to Buddhist institutions in Berlin, such as “Lotos Vihara”, “Fo Guang Shan Tempel” and “Förderverein Theravada-Buddhismus Berlin”. In doing so, the students are given the opportunity to conduct fieldwork, and ask questions regarding practices,objectives and goals of the practitioners as well as take notes, evaluate and discuss their experiences.

For more information on the open public discussion on October 18, please visit:


Dear Colleagues,

We are delighted to recommend to you a recently published collection of essays, Imagination and Narrative: Lexical and Cultural Translation in Buddhist Asia (University of Washington Press), edited by Peter Skilling and Justin Thomas McDaniel. Particularly noteworthy is the way the book frames each contribution according to specificities of geography and topography, thereby shedding fresh light on the translingual circulation of religious terminologies, notions, and tales. With this decided emphasis on the localization of religious thought and art, we come to understand to what extent the proliferation of Buddhist teachings, stories, images, and concepts was historically conditioned by linguistic difference and by the natural contingencies of place. Consequently, Buddhism demonstrates its astonishing capacity to adapt, maintaining coherence amidst great diversity while bridging socio-cultural gaps. According to the publisher’s notes, “The fresh perspectives presented here—all drawn on primary sources—give an overall impression of a singular diversity that somehow participates in an unacknowledged unity. Beyond the fragmentations of sectarian and cultural divides, disparate Buddhist and non-Buddhist traditions have gone beyond arbitrary boundaries and flourished through their simultaneity.” Altogether, the chapters exhibit fascinating global range: from the emergence of Chinese and Japanese texts and the preparation of manuscripts in northern Thailand to the persistent presence of Indian Brahmanism in the jatakas and the development of legal codes based on Theravada doctrines; and further, to the significant role of Western exploration in Burma by British geographers and anthropologists.

We are happy to announce that our special issue on Buddhism in National Socialist Germany, published with De Gruyter’s Zeitschrift für Religionswissenschaft is now available.

Here is the link to the issue on the publisher, De Gruyter’s site: https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/zfr.2017.25.issue-1/zfr-2017-0004/zfr-2017-0004.xml

Karl Baier & Almut-Barbara Renger (eds.): Buddhismus im Nationalsozialismus. Themenheft der Zeitschrift für Religionswissenschaft, H. 1, 2017.

The Doctoral Program in Buddhist Studies at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Germany invites applications for two PhD scholarships for dissertation projects related to Buddhism.

Deadline for applications: 22 October 2017
Start of scholarship: summer or autumn 2018
Duration of scholarship: 3 years
Scholarship amount: 1000 € per month + insurance + support for rent + travel lump sums + 460 € per year
Scholarship donor: German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

For details concerning the application, please visit the homepage of the Doctoral Program:

Dear Colleagues,

We are delighted to recommend a recently published translation of poems by three Chinese monks of the Tang Dynasty. The Poetry of Hanshan (Cold Mountain), Shide, and Fenggan is published in De Gruyter’s “Library of Chinese Humanities” series. The translator is Paul Rouzer, a specialist in poetics and poetry of China and Japan, Buddhism, and traditions of the supernatural in East Asia.

This legendary trio of monk-recluse-poets has enjoyed a popular afterlife both in China and abroad. Hanshan (Cold Mountain) in particular is a beloved figure in Japan, where he is also known as Kanzan. In America,these poets are icons of counterculture. Gary Snyder, among others,translated Hanshan into English. Upon Snyder’s suggestion, Jack Kerouac dedicated The Dharma Bums to Hanshan.

The present edition brings together all the extant poems composed by these monks, providing English translations alongside the original Chinese. A pdf version can be downloaded for free from www.degruyter.com/view/product/449925.

A recent study in Contemporary Buddhism has considered the environmental impact of vegetarianism and Buddhists in China. Greenhouse gas, the major source of increased global warming, is closely linked with livestock production, which is thought to contribute between 18-29.7% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Meat consumption worldwide has been rising steadily and in China, the changing diet which incorporates more meat has been cause for environmental concern. The author, Ampere A. Tseng, estimates the number of Chinese Buddhists, both lay and ordained, that have various degrees of vegetarian diets and though they comprise a small percentage of the population within China, they have a large global impact. Tseng concludes that 39.68 million metric tons of CO 2 are offset by Buddhists in China – which is 9.2% of the greenhouse gas
emissions from France. He suggests that “the vegetarian practice of Chinese Buddhism should attract more Buddhists or lay people to follow, if the additional environmental and health benefits of vegetarianism could be emphasized.”

Tseng, Ampere A. “Reduction of Greenhouse-Gas Emissions by Chinese Buddhists with Vegetarian Diets: A Quantitative Assessment.” Contemporary Buddhism, 2017, 1-19.

Dear colleagues,

We would like to draw your attention to the new interdisciplinary journal Buddhism, Law & Society. The journal focuses on the “social and legal manifestations” of Buddhism, in regards to scriptural analysis, historical or contemporary practice. Buddhism, Law & Society has broad interests welcoming submissions surrounding “local community practices, jurisprudence, textual analysis, commentaries, legal subject matters, philosophy, procedure, ritual, ethics, law codes, social sanctions and other areas.” For more information, see: