Dear all,

The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Buddhism, edited by Michael Jerryson, has just been published and may be of interest to our members. Michael Jerryson writes that this publication addresses the perpetual changes and diversity found in Buddhism and “…offers a comprehensive collection of work by leading scholars in the field that tracks these changes up to the present day…the book provides a blueprint to understanding Buddhism’s past and uses it to explore the ways in which Buddhism has transformed in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.” This large scale work includes 41 essays spanning many traditions, countries and addresses topics such as globalization, Buddhist international organizations and diasporic communities. Other discussions include various kinds of Buddhist influences and interactions with technology, medicine and art as well as violence and peace-building, economics and ecology.

For more information see:

Wishing all members and friends a joyful winter celebration as 2016 slowly comes to a close.

© 2016 Venerable Delek Yangdron and Tibetan Nuns Project

© 2016 Venerable Delek Yangdron and Tibetan Nuns Project

As a final blog post for this year, we would like to highlight a historical event for women in Buddhism happening at the end of this month. On December 22, HH the Dalai Lama will be awarding Geshema degrees to 20 Tibetan nuns at the Drepung Loseling Monastery in Mundgod, southern India. The Geshe degree (feminine: Geshema) had previously only been available to monks and is the highest academic degree within Tibetan Buddhism, requiring at least 21 years of intense study of texts and practice. Discussions of equal opportunity for women in Buddhism has been blossoming in previous years, throughout many traditions. After meetings between representatives from six major nunneries, the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics and the Tibetan nuns project, the Department of Religion and Culture announced in 2012 that nuns would be eligible for receiving the degree. Ven Karma Gelek Yuthok, of the Department of Religion and Culture is quoted as saying that, “The conferment of the Geshema degree is a historic development as it marks a new chapter in empowerment and education of Tibetan woman particularly in the spiritual sphere. The degree will openavenues of employment and opportunity to the nuns, as it makes them equally eligible as monks to assume various leadership roles in the monastic and lay communities.”

© 2016 Venerable Delek Yangdron and Tibetan Nuns Project

© 2016 Venerable Delek Yangdron and Tibetan Nuns Project

Until now there has only been one woman who has received the Geshema title in 2011 (Kelsang Wangmo, a German nun) however this graduation represents a change in the system giving more opportunity, support and education to women ongoing. The historic graduation ceremony can be viewed live online on the Tibet Nuns Project, TTV, and the CTA’s official website.


official-cover-imageDear everyone,

We thought we might draw your attention to the following book that may be of interest:

Jan Kiely, J. Brooks Jessup. Recovering Buddhism in Modern China. The Sheng Yen Series in Chinese Buddhist Studies. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016. 400 pp.

More details can be found here:

Dear colleagues,

We would like to draw your attention to the introductory textbook Buddhism in America: Global Religion, Local Contexts, from Bloomsbury Press. Divided into three parts (Histories; Traditions; Frames), this introduction traces Buddhism’s history and encounter with North American culture, charts the landscape of US Buddhist communities, and engages current methodological and theoretical developments in the field.

See more at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/buddhism-in-america-9781472581938/#sthash.ooSltAt6.dpuf

Dear colleagues,

We would like to draw your attention to an upcoming conference on Conceptuality and Nonconceptuality in Buddhist Thought, which will take place at the Center for Buddhist Studies of UC Berkeley, Friday–Sunday, November 4–6, 2016. Registration is not necessary.

For more information and updates, check the website of the Berkeley Center for Buddhist Studies:

Robot Monk

An interesting development combining technology and Buddhism can be found at Longquan Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Beijing. A robot monk named Xian’er was created to help make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to a wider audience, especially those who are accustomed to learning through technological means. Xianfian, a residing monk at Longquan developed the 60cm tall Xian’er in collaboration with a technology company and Chinese universities. Xian’er is able to respond and move to voice commands and recite chants. Through a touchscreen mounted on his chest he can answer basic questions about Buddhism and Longquan temple. Xian’er was based on a cartoon character created by Xianfian, with the same intention of spreading Buddhism to a more mainstream audience. The current abbot of Longquan temple is enthusiastic regarding digital communication and using modern means of spreading the Dharma, supporting projects such as the creation of Xian’er.

Tom Kellner photoTom Kellner is a Doctoral candidate at the Department of Hebrew Literature at Ben-Gurion University, Israel, and a guest researcher at the Department of Philosophy and Humanities, Freie Universität Berlin. Her PhD research focuses on Poetics and Ideology in Yoel Hoffmann’s Works. Hoffmann is an Israeli professor of literature and eastern philosophy, and a writer of very unique and complex prose, influenced by Zen-Buddhism as well as western philosophy.

In her research, Tom explores the literary appearances of Zen-Buddhist meditations on the Self and on the nature of language as an interesting and challenging opposition to western literary conventions. Furthermore, these Buddhist notions may convey a political potential as a way of counteracting notions of hierarchy and stability, and opposing the western Capitalization and Commoditization of the Self.

Tom would be very happy to be introduced to more examples of western literature engaged with Zen-Buddhism, and to take part in a dialogue on Buddhist ethics and its relations to state-power and state-violence. By doing so, she hopes to broaden her discussion of the interrelations and literary representations of the Self, “reality” and language.