Archive for the ‘Seminar Activities’ Category

This is a reminder pertaining to our upcoming excursion on Wednesday December 13, 2017. Three separate working groups of the seminar on Buddhism at Freie Universität Berlin will visit three different Buddhist temples, which are: Förderverein Theravada-Buddhismus Berlin (Wulffstr. 6, 12165 Berlin); Berlin Fo-Guang-Shan temple (Ackerstr. 85–86, 13355 Berlin), and Lotos Vihara Berlin (Neue Blumenstr. 5, 10179 Berlin).

Please keep informed as to any new changes in your group, as well as the suggested reading and any necessary preparations.

Time: 12–16. December 13, 2017
Location: Steglitz, Wedding, and Mitte in Berlin
Languages: German and English

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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:

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S.N. Goenka

In the seminar “Religion and Film” held this semester at Freie Universität Berlin, Alexandra Stellmacher will present and discuss two short documentaries on meditation courses for children. The meditation courses are conducted on a regular basis in Vipassana Centers founded by S.N. Goenka worldwide. According to the German Vipassana homepage the concern of these documentaries is to offer informative insights into the courses itself as well as into the meditation technique Anapana.

The films are comprised of sequences of interviews with the protagonists (teachers, parents, and children) and thematize the contents of the teaching as well as the practice of meditation itself. Although intended to be documentaries, a critical-objective recipient will notice their affinity to promotional films. The films aim to motivate the recipients to imitate the protagonists by active participation. This occurs not only explicitly, e.g. in the statements of the interviewed, but also implicitly by the use of certain sequences, fading, choice of colors, and background music.

Time to Breathe. Vipassana Trust (GB), 2008. (13:27 Minuten); Seeds of Awareness. Anapana Meditation for Children and Teens. Dir. Marta van Patten. California Vipassana Center, 2011. (12:41 Minuten)

Time: 6:00 pm, Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Location: FU Berlin, Fabeckstr. 23-25, 14195 Berlin, Room 0.2002

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Freie Universität Berlin

As we enter the last weeks of summer, we are excited to welcome you back to the new fall semester of 2015! The new course “Foundations of Buddhism”, instructed by Prof. Renger will begin on the 16th of October in Fabeckstr. 23-25. Buddhism is found with an extraordinary amount of diversity throughout the world, and the aim of this seminar is to examine the development of Buddhism in an introductory manner, setting a historical and systematic focus. Selected historical sources with the help of literature on culture-specific diverging forms and manifestations of Buddhism will be discussed to further understand this aim. Current issues in Buddhism will also be systematically identified and discussed in relation to contemporary transformations and the reception of Buddhism. Visiting Buddhist institutions in Berlin, literary and cinematic resources will be worked with to provide insight into Buddhist thought on an international and local scale. Field trips will require some flexibility since it can extend outside of the prescribed seminar time. The course will be taught in German, however English skills are also required.

Recommended literature:
Michael von Brück, Einführung in den Buddhismus (Introduction to Buddhism), Frankfurt a.M. 2007; Oliver Freiberger and Christopher Kleine, Buddhismus. Handbuch und kritische Einführung (Buddhism. Manual and critical introduction), Göttingen , 2011; Almut-Barbara Renger (Hrsg.), Buddhism and Film. Special Issue, Contemporary Buddhism: An Interdisciplinary Journal 15,1 (2014).

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zentrumWelcome to the 2015! To start the year, the Introduction to Religious Studies class led by Prof. Renger had yet another interesting excursion on Thursday January 8th to the head temple of Kwan Um Zen School in Western Europe. We were greeted by the teacher Roland Wöhrle-Chon (dharma name Ji Kwang) and two long term students who ushered into the main meditation hall where we sat on meditation mats on the floor, filling the room to it’s full capacity. Once again, the aim was to take a closer look at a religious group/community and its practices.

Dr. Wöhrle-Chon began with an introduction of himself, and then gave an outline for our visit: Approximately 20 minutes of lecture, 10-20 minutes of sitting and walking meditation and afterwards time for questions. The lecture began with the legend of Bodhidharma and various other stories about patriarchs that were to follow during the spread of Chan in Asian countries. In this context, we were also given the history of the lineage of the Kwan Um Zen School and it’s development in the West, including the centres in Germany. Dr. Wöhrle-Chon explained to us what “Zen” means for him. This included concepts and ideas around Buddha nature, enlightenment and the term bodhisattva. We were then given instructions for a short partially guided meditation, and sat in silence for 10 minutes, before standing and continuing for walking meditation. Afterwards, we had the opportunity to ask various questions, regarding daily life, meditation practice, chanting, robes, and the symbols and instruments on the altar. We had an informative afternoon and got quite an understanding of what challenges one can meet when using the method of participant observation in field research. Thank you to everyone who made the field trip possible!

Cheers, Robekkah 

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Dear all,

You are most welcome to join us for our excursion to the Fo-Guang-Shan Temple in Berlin. It is part of Prof. Rengers course “Introduction to Religious Studies”. Our member Yuanying WU accompanies the group and will meet you in front of the temple:

Time: 14:00, Tudesday, 6 January, 2015

Location: Fo-Guang-Shan Tempel Berlin, Ackerstr. 85-86 13355 Berlin

For more information click here.

See you there!

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End of Semester

The semester came to a close last week, as the students of the “Introduction to Buddhism” seminar wrote the final exam. The week prior was dedicated to presentations regarding meditation and final text preparation. Throughout the last semester, excursions were made to both Fo Guang Shan temple, and Das Buddhistische Haus (The Buddhist house) here in Berlin. The seminar was also visited by Prof. Johann Figl (University of Vienna) who gave a guest lecture on “Buddhism in Daily Life”. A broad range of information was covered, from the historical Buddha, to the spread of Buddhism and how Buddhist practice exists now in Berlin. Many interesting discussions were had, and the continual engaged involvement of the students was greatly appreciated. Much thanks to everyone who participated in making an enjoyable and informative semester!

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buddh_hausOur second excursion for the seminar “Introduction to Buddhism” was to “Das Buddhistische Haus” (The Buddhist house) located in Frohnau, North Berlin. The Theravada Buddhist temple complex was designed and constructed in 1942 by Dr. Paul Dahlke, making it the oldest Theravada temple in Europe. The center is also home to Buddhist monk, Venerable K. Santharakkhitha from Sri Lanka. We were greeted by the caretaker, who led the group to the library and gave a detailed explanation of their beliefs and way of life. He firstly described the center, when it was built, the founder and the progression of ownership. Our host then spent some time describing the life of the Buddha and Theravada practice, and how the Buddhistishe Haus differs from different Buddhist centers in Berlin. The majority of the time was dedicated to discussing the Buddhist practice and theory. The center holds regular meditation sessions, group activities and hosts people wanting to do meditation retreats on a donation basis.

More information can be found at www.das-buddhistische-haus.de

– by Robekkah Ritchie

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fu_guang_shan2The summer semester began for the “Introduction to Buddhism” at Freie Universität Berlin on the 17.04, being led by Manuela Möbius-Andre and Robekkah Ritchie. Many topics have been covered in the past few weeks, and the class was able to have the first excursion last week to the Fo Guang Shan temple on Ackerstr.

Beginning in the main reception, community hall, the group was given a short introduction to the history of Fo Guang Shan, the founder and the current residence. We then continued to the classroom/teaching area, and then were brought into the main ceremony hall. Our guide let the group explore the hall before discussing further the Fo Guang Shan teachings, community and way of life. The students then had the opportunity to ask a variety of questions to our guide before continuing the tour. The group was able to visit the room commemorating members of the community that had passed away, and hear the mantra chanting which plays continuously for them. The field trip concluded with a 15 minute meditation in the meditation hall. Our guide led the group through a body scan meditation, and then a silent meditation for the remaining time. During our next class, on the 22.05, we will discuss the trip, and also be visited by our own Fo Guang Shan expert in the institute, Yuanying Wu.

A hearty thank-you to Fo Guang Shan and our guide for such a welcoming and informative experience.

For more information on Fo Guang Shan visit:



– by Robekkah Ritchie

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Summer Seminar on Buddhism

Introduction to Buddhism

Instructor: Manuela Möbius-Andre
Concept: Almut-Barbara Renger
Time: 4–6pm, every Thursday
Location: Room 009, Freie Universität Berlin, Gossler Str. 2-4

Buddhism has developed an extraordinary diversity throughout its history and propagation through India, Asia and more recently in the Euro-American regions. It adapted to each new culture it came into contact with, changing in style and method. The seminar will explore these developments historically and systematically to the present day. The first block will concern the historical Buddha through selected sources and the succession of the resulting Buddhist developments such as the cultural and national specific divergent forms of Buddhism. The second block will deal with the modern and contemporary receptions and transformations. Both literary and cinematic sources will be worked with to provide insight into Buddhist thought as well as interactive visits to Buddhist institutions in Berlin. For two of these visits, the standard course time of two hours will most likely be extended- please expect this possibility.

Recommended reading:
Michael von Brück, Einführung in den Buddhismus (Introduction to Buddhism), Frankfurt a.M. 2007; Oliver Freiberger and Christopher Kleine, Buddhismus. Handbuch und kritische Einführung (Buddhism. Manual and critical introduction), Göttingen , 2011.

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