​It’s been a while since the last one, so it’s time again for an update about what happened since I moved from Rāṣṭrīya Sanskrit Sansthan to Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

I am proud to report that I had the opportunity to serve as Chair of the Centre for Sanskrit Studies at JNU, as Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies in Cambodia, and as Research Associate in the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies in Himachal Pradesh. I was also invited to teach Buddhist Philosophy at various universities such as Latvia University in Riga and National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy in Ukraine. Some of my papers I have written during this time can be found on https://jnu.academia.edu/httpssanskrit985wordpresscomblogabout   ​

Among the projects I have been working on is a translation project granted by Khyentse Foundation as part of the ‘Buddhist Literary Heritage Project’ (BLHP) to translate the Sutra of the “Ārya Pitā Putra Saṁvāda sūtra.” I executed the project with Khenpo Kalsang Gyaltsen and Prof. Ani Kunga Chodron from George Washington University,’ USA. Now a new translation of Pañjikā of Prajñākaramati into English is going on. My latest book, “Essentials of Pali: Language and Literature,” will be published soon this year.

This is to inform you that the new issue (Vol 30, no. 2) of the International Journal of Buddhist Thought and Culture (IJBTCI) is now available in print and online (all downloadable without cost) at http://ijbtc.dongguk.edu/

IJBTC is a peer-reviewed, academic journal published bi-annually in English language by the Academy of Buddhist Studies at Dongguk University, Korea. It is indexed in Thomson Reuters’ Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), the American Theological Library Association’s Atla Religion Database, and the Korea Citation Index (KCI). The journal aims to advance the study of Buddhism, its diversity of thought and culture that historically spread over the regions of Asia and has now expanded to all parts of the world. In addition, IJBTC endeavors to expand the diverse voices and perspectives in the academic study of Buddhism by featuring research from all parts of the world. In particular, it seeks to introduce scholarly investigations from regions outside the traditional centers of Buddhist study in Asia and the West.

In the spirit of expanding the study of Buddhism, IJBTC highly encourages research articles that explore new perspectives and methods while not disregarding the long and rich tradition of Buddhist studies. The journal welcomex submissions of original research including proposals for special issue publications fitting to the scope and interests of the journal. Moreover, reviews of English and non-English books, films, and other published works on Buddhism are accepted. IJBTC is published bi-annually in June and December and accepts submissions throughout the year.

For more details, click here.

This year has been incredibly eventful, both around the globe and here in Germany. As 2020 comes to a close, we would like to express our warmest thanks for your cooperation and interest in our blog. May your holidays be full of love, peace, and happiness – and may it continue into the coming year. Enjoy the holidays as much as possible, stay safe, and happy new year!

The annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) is going to take place online this year due to the ongoing covid-19 situation. More than 400 sessions will be happening virtually, with almost 2,000 scholars presenting on their research. For more information, see the Online Program Book at https://papers.aarweb.org/online-program-book. The virtual conference begins this upcoming Sunday.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to participate myself, but I would like to inform you that the Buddhism in the West Unit has two sessions on Tuesday December 1.

Buddhism and Racism Across Asia, Europe and North America (co-sponsored with the Buddhism Unit)
Tuesday, December 1, 11:00 AM-1:00 PM (EST UTC-5)

  • Paride Stortini, “The Buddha as an Aryan Samurai: Julius Evola’s Spiritual Racism and its Legacy on Italian Buddhism”
  • Bruce Grover, “Race, Ethnic Nationalism and Power in Modern Japanese Buddhism, 1880-1945”
  • Kim Lam, “Multiculturalism and the racialisation of Buddhism in Australia”
  • Adeana McNicholl, “Shades of Whiteness in American Buddhism”
  • Joseph Cheah, Presiding
  • Duncan Williams, Responding

Transnationalism, Secularization, and Hybridity: Adapting Buddhisms in the West (plus business meeting)
Tuesday, December 1, 1:45 PM – 3:15 PM (EST UTC-5)

  • Alexander Rocklin, “Buddhism, Race, and the Magic of Secularism in Antebellum America”
  • Peter M. Romaskiewicz, “Beware the Curse of the Buddha: Race, Gender, and Religious Xenophobia of Buddhism in Early Twentieth Century American Media”
  • Jason Ellsworth, “Buddhist Social Enterprise or ‘Corporate Buddhism’ The Commodification and Consumption of Discourses of Social Change”
  • Claudia Schippert, “Translating Korean Zen in America: Hybridization in Seung Sahn’s Kwan Um School of Zen”

I am sure this will be two splendid sessions!

Take care and be well.
Almut (Renger)

The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) invites applications for The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies 2020-21 competitions. In cooperation with the Foundation, ACLS awards fellowships and grants supporting work that will expand the understanding and interpretation of Buddhist thought in scholarship and society, strengthen international networks of Buddhist studies, and increase the visibility of innovative currents in those studies.

Worldwide Scope

These are global competitions. All scholars – anywhere in the world – who are engaged in the study of any aspect of Buddhist traditions are encouraged to apply. There are no restrictions as to the location of work proposed or the citizenship of applicants. Applications must be submitted in English, but the written work produced by the fellow or grantee can be in any language. Work proposed must be in the humanities and related social sciences and must employ humanistic approaches and methods.


Dissertation Fellowships: One-year stipends to PhD candidates for full-time preparation of dissertations.
Postdoctoral Fellowships: Two-year stipends to recent recipients of the PhD for residence at a university for research, writing, and teaching.
Research Fellowships: One-year stipends to recent PhD recipients for residence at a university for research, writing, and teaching.
Grants for Critical Editions and Scholarly Translations: One-year awards supporting collaborative or individual projects for the creation of critical editions, translations of canonical texts, and translations of scholarly works.
New Professorships: Multiyear grants to colleges and universities to establish new teaching positions in Buddhist studies.


Fellowships and Grants – November 16, 2020
New Professorships Awards to Institutions – January 8, 2021

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies, administered by ACLS, is committed to inclusion, equity, and diversity as integral components of merit that enhance the scholarly enterprise. It is a priority of this program that cohorts of fellows and grantees be broadly inclusive of different backgrounds and cultures. In Buddhist studies we seek balance in regard to citizenship and university affiliation, as well as in languages, topics, Buddhist traditions, and locations of research.

For questions, please, contact the ACLS team at BuddhistStudies@acls.org.

Hello everybody,

In my academic life, I am a professor of Buddhist Philosophy in Dialogue with other World Views at VU University in Amsterdam. In my Buddhist life, I am a Zen teacher in the Chinese Chan tradition (Maha Karuna Chan in the Netherlands). I received dharma transmission from my teacher Ton Lathouwers in 2013.

In my new book, Reimagining Zen in a Secular Age, I offer an account of the exciting but also problematic encounter between enchanted Japanese Zen Buddhism and secular Western modernity over the past century, using Charles Taylor’s magnum opus A Secular Age as an interpretative lens.

As the tenuous compromises of various forms of “Zen modernism” are breaking down today, new imaginings of Zen are urgently needed that go beyond both a Romantic mystical Zen and a secular “mindfulness” Zen. As a Zen scholar-practitioner, I show that the Zen philosophy of the 13th century Zen master Dōgen offers much resources for new hermeneutical, embodied, non-instrumental and communal approaches to contemporary Zen theory and practice in the West.

All the best,
André van der Braak

Just as religion influences societal perceptions of gender and sexuality, so sexuality is a central theme in religious systems of interpretation. Since the 1970s, this mutual relationship among religion, gender, and sexuality has become increasingly prevalent in the German-language media landscape. Countless videos, audio files, texts, and images contain reports, interviews, features, and commentaries on this complex topic. Concepts of women and men in different religious traditions, heterosexuality postulated as a social norm, and questions about celibacy and abstinence are particularly frequent themes. Many questions are posed: What is the role of women in different religions? Are women and men equal? What effect does state recognition of same-sex partnerships have? Is there a connection between celibacy and sexual abuse? And how much sexual pleasure is permitted within the framework of which sexual morality?

A podcast series at Freie Universität Berlin takes up these and other questions about the interrelations of religion and sexuality in a series of lectures and panel discussions. In particular, the series deals with the so-called five major world religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam. However, the focus is also on alternative forms of religiosity, as well as contexts outside or on the fringes of organized religion – especially those in which sexuality, physicality, and the acceptance of sexual variance (LGBTQI*) constitute important points of attraction. In order to discuss these issues from diverse perspectives, representatives of various scientific disciplines and religious institutions have their say. In addition to gender and sexuality, the theoretical background is comprised of structural categories such as ethnicity, class, nationality, age, and even the body, which allow for the inclusion of issues such as diversity and intersectionality. In this way, space is also and particularly made for perspectives that focus on multiple affiliations and the interplay of different forms of discrimination in the context of religion and sexuality.

Episode 6 of this podcast is on Buddhism, gender and sexuality. To listen to it, click here.

For more information (in German) on all podcast episodes, please visit: https://www.geschkult.fu-berlin.de/e/relwiss/Aktivitaeten/Religion-Geschlecht-und-Sexualitaet.html.

© John Whalen-Bridge

Hello everyone,

Greetings from the English Language and Literature Department of National U of Singapore! I’m currently working on engaged Buddhism and American writing, and I’m researching the authorized biography of Maxine Hong Kingston, a Buddhist American writer. In recent years I’ve also written “Tibet on Fire: Buddhism, Protest, and the Rhetoric of Self-Immolation.” With Andrea Pinkney I co-edited “ Religious Journeys in India: Pilgrims, Tourists, and Travelers,” for which I wrote an essay on Buddhist pilgrimage in the Dharamshala area.

Take care,
John Whalen-Bridge

We are pleased to inform you that the first book to focus on Buddhist Tourism in Asia is now available and on sale through the University of Hawai’i Press. This innovative work, edited by Courtney Bruntz and Brooke Schedneck, explores how Buddhists, government organizations, business corporations, and individuals in Asia participate in re-imaginings of Buddhism through tourism. Contributors from religious studies, anthropology, and art history examine sacred places and religious monuments as they have been shaped and reshaped by socioeconomic and cultural trends in the region.

Following an introduction that offers the first theoretical understanding of tourism from a Buddhist studies’ perspective, early chapters discuss the ways Buddhists and non-Buddhists imagine concepts and places related to the religion. Case studies highlight Buddhist peace in India, Buddhist heavens and hells in Singapore, Thai temple space, and the future Buddha Maitreya in China. Buddhist tourism’s connections to the state, market, and new technologies are explored in chapters on Indian package tours for pilgrims, thematic Buddhist tourism in Cambodia, the technological innovations of Buddhist temples in China, and the promotion of pilgrimage sites in Japan. Contributors then situate the financial concerns of Chinese temples, speed dating in temples in Japan, and the diffuse and pervasive nature of Buddhism for tourism promotion in Ladakh.

For more information, click here.

Dear all,

I would also like to share with you the study and work with Buddhist studies I have been doing in the past years. My dissertation, under the supervision of Prof. Renger, is about the collective practice of Buddhism in contemporary China, based on my fieldwork of a group of temples and nunneries in Mainland China conducted in 2014-2018. Most recently, I had the pleasure of publishing an article on Buddhist leadership transition in the Journal of the Oxford Center for Buddhist Studies (JOCBS) in 2020. My research topic continues with contemporary Chinese Buddhism, with particular interests in and focuses on Buddhist nuns, common Buddhist practices in urban areas, Buddhist charities, Buddhist material culture, and Buddhist leadership of the younger generation in China today. I look forward to hearing about other similar projects!

Kind regards,