We are thrilled to announce the launch of the “Tianzhu Global Network for the Study of Buddhist Cultures” funded by the Liuzu Temple.

The Liuzu Temple is based in the Guangdong province of China. The elder monk Ven. Tianzhu was an eminent Chan monk who was the abbot of the Liuzu Temple and who over the course of ninety years,  worked tirelessly to promote benevolence and compassion across Chinese society through various Buddhist activities. Ven. Tianzhu presided over the ordination of Ven. Dayuan. In June, 2012, one year after the serene passing of Ven. Tianzhu at Renrui monastery on Mount Qi, the causes and conditions came together to allow for the development of a charitable foundation named after Ven. Tianzhu: this explains the name “Tianzhu”, and the Foundation was formally established in 2013. As a charitable social group that benefits the public, it is comprised of voluntary members whose collective aim is to carry out charitable activities related to culture, society, spirituality, and engendering wisdom. The Liuzu Temple is very active in building an international presence, and in 2017 opened a Buddhist centre close to Göttingen, Germany, accompanied by a cooperation agreement with the University of Göttingen.

This global network significantly complements this project (funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) with a total of $4.6 M CAD that has been pledged for the next five years (2017 – 2022), and with the potential for renewal for an additional 5-year term. This network funding will increase opportunities for scholarly engagement in a number of ways. Postdoctoral fellows will be employed to increase the offerings of courses related to Buddhism, and eminent professors will be identified as visiting professors at partner universities, and deliver lectures on their particular area of research. Graduate students will benefit greatly through the creation of fellowships, along with an award that will be established to highlight prominent research in the area. The reach of these funds will extend to other academics through the hosting of major international conferences, and as well to the public through a Buddhist Festival at each member institution.

The Network will be managed by the Tianzhu Steering committee, which includes a representative from the donor and each member institution.

New members of the network include:

  • University of California Berkeley
  • Harvard University
  • Ghent University
  • Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO)
  • McMaster University

The network also includes three institutions in East Asia also funded by the Liuzu Temple:

  • Sun Yat-sen University
  • Peking University
  • Chinese University of Hong Kong

In conjunction with the activities of the network, UBC will be undertaking several special initiatives including:

  1.  Graduate student fellowships to support the development of emerging scholars and encourage them to continue in Buddhist Studies.
  2. Graduate student exchanges to provide students with intercultural exchanges and training opportunities to study the material culture, in situ.
  3. A lecture series to advance the discussion of specific aspects related to Buddhist Cultures.
  4. Visiting professorships to allow senior scholars to share their wisdom and collaborate with colleagues from other continents.
  5. International conferences for both emerging and established scholars to enrich the dialogue on specific themes.
  6. A book series written and edited by top scholars in the field.
  7. An award for outstanding research on Chan Buddhism.