2024 Wutai International and Intensive Program – Seminar and Lecture Series

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Lecture 1: KUAN Guang 寬廣 (Qing Liang Buddhist Association [London] 倫敦清涼講堂/Wutai Research Institute for Eastern Buddhist Culture 五臺山東方佛教文化研究院):  鑒往知來,古為今用:中古佛教譯場體制對當代佛經翻譯的啓示  | Learning from the Past: Implications of the Institution of Medieval Buddhist Translation for Contemporary Translation Projects of Buddhist Scriptures


Seminar 1: Meir SHAHAR 夏維明 (Tel Aviv University 以色列特拉維夫大學): The Lay Buddhist Masters of Rural South China and Their Ritual Scriptures | 南中國鄉間在家佛教師及其禮儀典籍

1.1 The Lay Buddhist Ritual Masters of Rural South China

1.2 Canonical and non-Canonical Sources of Rural Buddhist Rituals

1.3 Textual Transmission from 10ht- Century Dunhuang to 20th- Century Guizhou

1.4 Buddhist Rituals for the Protection of Draft Animals


Seminar 2: Barend TER HAAR 田海 (University of Hamburg 漢堡大學): Late Ming-early Qing (circa 1550-1700) Regional Religious Groups as an Expression of Buddhist Beliefs | 晚明到早清(約1550-1700)地域宗教團體作為佛教信仰的表現

2.1 Revisiting the historical White Lotus 白蓮 movement  of the Southern Song and Yuan dynasties

In my doctoral dissertation (published in 1992) I proposed a radical new interpretation, based on materials found by the Chinese scholar Yang Ne and others (including myself). Since then I have found more materials and attained additional insights, making it a useful exercise to go back to my original doctoral project and present a more complete view of this important lay Buddhist movement of the Southern Song and Yuan periods. Amongst other things, I can now present  more precise chronology of the movement and its place in China’s social and religious history. Central to my approach will be the concept of local agency, namely paying attention to the role of local people in shaping a religious culture according to their own needs and expectations.

2.2 Finding and reading sources on the White Lotus movement

I will use the now available evidence on the movement to show how we can piece together the social and religious history of a much maligned and misunderstood. In this session we pay much more attention to methodology, both the question of the proper contextualisation of a religious movement and how to read and translate primary sources. Here we will also touch upon the analytical problem of later uses of the term White Lotus Teachings 白蓮教 as a distorting factor in interpreting historical evidence.

2.3 Late Ming-early Qing  (circa 1550-1700) regional religious groups as an expression of Buddhist beliefs

There is a long term tendency to dismiss new religious groups as they came into being all over China because they do not fit our modern expectations of what Buddhism and/or Daoism and/or Confucianism ought to look like. In my own research, especially the so-called Non-Action Teachings 無爲教, I have long advocated taking these movements seriously as a continuation of the Song and Yuan White Lotus movement (NOT the so-called White Lotus Teachings) in the sense of an attempt by local people to make sense of what we today call Buddhist, Daoist and Confucian teachings. IN this lecture I will extend this interpretation to a few other new movements of the late Ming and Qing period.

2.4 Finding and reading sources on late Ming-early Qing  (circa 1550-1700) religious groups

We will look at selected passages to discover how the writings of these groups allow us to get a much better picture of religious agency, in this case what local people outside the monasteries made of old Buddhist, Daoist and Confucian traditions. Rather than explaining their interpretations as deviancy and miscomprehension, we will see how they represent creativity and further development.


Seminar 3: CHEN Jinhua 陳金華 (University of British Columbia 英屬哥倫比亞大學): McLuhan Matters: Media Theory and the Paradigm Shifts in East Asian Buddhist Studies | 白馬是馬亦非馬:馬克魯漢”媒介理論”與東亞佛教研究的範式轉換

3.1. Why McLuhan still Matters, Secularly and Academically

3.2. Material, Medium and Message in East Asian Buddhism

3.3. Empirical Cancer: New Lights on State-sangha Interactions in Medieval China

3.4. Buddhism-entered Networking and Field Construction in Medieval China

 


Lecture 2: SHENG Kai 聖凱 (Tsinghua University 清華大學): 唐宋转型与中国佛教史分期 | Tang-Song Transition and the Periodization of Chinese Buddhist History

本讲座试图以中国文化为视角,在汉传佛教史和儒释道三教关系为脉络,以王朝更替和佛教重大事件为分水岭,强调唐宋转型和现代转型,建立中国化佛教史的新分期,为理解佛教中国化提供一种新视角。

This lecture aims to establish a new periodization of the Sinicized history of Buddhism by examining the transition from the Tang to the Song dynasty and the modern transformation from the perspective of Chinese culture. It will follow the trajectory of Chinese Buddhist history and the relationships among Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism, using dynastic changes and significant Buddhist events as evidence. By emphasizing these transitions, the lecture seeks to provide a new perspective for understanding the Sinicization of Buddhism.


Lecture 3: KIM Youn-mi 金延美 (Ewha Womans University 韓國梨花女子大學): Buddhist Teaching and Ritual Embodied in Architecture | 建築中的佛教教義與禮儀

This lecture explores how Buddhist architecture visually embodied Buddhist teachings and served as ritual spaces, with a particular focus on the pagodas of the Liao dynasty (907-1125 CE), founded by the nomadic Kitan people. By examining these pagodas, the lecture illuminates how the material culture of Buddhism intricately blends physicality and virtuality, encapsulating profound Buddhist teachings and rituals. The inner spaces of the Liao pagodas were meticulously designed to embody the “truth-body” (真身) of the Buddha, which, in theory, is invisible and formless. These pagodas, especially those sponsored by the imperial family, were not merely architectural reliquaries but dynamic venues for ritual enactment. They facilitated “virtual rituals” through the material agencies of nonhuman actants, such as the Buddha’s relics, mandalas, and dhāraṇī inscriptions, rather than human officiants. Furthermore, the lecture explores the function of the miniature pagodas attached to the walls of the monumental Liao pagodas. These miniatures replicate the eight stupas marking the Eight Great Sacred Places in the Buddha’s homeland, enabling a “virtual ritual” by symbolically transferring these sacred sites to the land of the Kitans. Through the interplay between replica and original, these miniature pagodas further activate the cosmic vision of the multi-layered Huayan cosmology, wherein the cosmos endlessly expands through self-reproduction. This exploration reveals the innovative ways in which Liao pagodas integrated tangible and intangible elements, creating immersive architectural experiences that dynamically conveyed Buddhist cosmology and teachings. The lecture provides deeper insights into how spiritual and material elements coalesced to shape religious experiences and practices during the Liao dynasty.


Lecture 4:  JI Yun 紀贇 (Buddhist College of Singapore 新加坡佛學院):  般若文獻與研究 | Prajñā Literature and Studies


Lecture 5: Marcus BINGENHEIMER 馬德偉 (Temple University 天普大學): The Last Translators: How Machine Translation Might Change Buddhist Studies | 最終的譯者:機器翻譯會如何改變佛教研究

The major transition of our lifetimes: between c. 1990 and 2020 most cultural information has been moved from the analog into the digital. Digital heritage data is subject to computation and thus can be manipulated, disseminated, and analyzed in ways that analog artifacts can not. This used to excite us, but now it seems possible that the process of digitization will in retrospect be seen mainly as preparatory for the rise of generative AI, the separation of language and creativity from consciousness.

Most of us were taken unawares to see that LLMs can, without specific prompting, machine translate ancient Buddhist texts to a degree that was previously unimaginable. Conceivable is a near future in which all past literature will be available in all languages everywhere. Because the universe of past literature is finite, what does it mean for texts that were before “canonical”, “esoteric”, “rare”, difficult to access etc, to be available to everyone, everywhere, anytime? What does it mean for the power structures that were based on the more or less exclusive knowledge of such text? What does it mean for our relationship with our intellectual heritage?

The presentation will give an overview of some of these issues focusing on the current state of machine translation of Buddhist Chinese text, address evaluation issues, and sketch possible scenarios for the future.


Lecture 6: HAMADA Tamami 濱田瑞美 (Yokohama University of Art and Design 橫濱藝術大學): Iconography and Inscriptions on the Pictorial representations of the Bhaisajyaguru Sutra in Dunhuang Caves | 敦煌石窟藥師經變的圖像與題記

There are many murals in Dunhuang caves with inscriptions. This is particularly noticeable in the murals from Tang dynasty onwards, and among them, murals of sutra scenes are often accompanied by texts from the corresponding sutras. How did the viewers understand and experience the world described in the sutras through the inscriptions and the iconography? This lecture will focus on the iconography and inscriptions in the Bhaisajyaguru Sutra scene paintings. Bhaisajyaguru Sutra scene from Cave 148 of the Mogaoku, created towards the end of High Tang is a particularly interesting case in terms of the relationship between texts and iconography, where three different Chinese translations of the Bhaisajyaguru Sutra texts coexist within a single painting. In addition, the lecture will also consider what Buddhist paintings contribute to the genre of sutra studies.

敦煌石窟的壁畫多伴有題記。這一點在唐代以後的壁畫中尤為明顯,亦散見經變畫的题記中書寫經文的例子。觀者是如何通過文字內容和圖像來理解和感受佛經世界的呢?本次講座聚焦藥師經變畫的圖像和題記,特別關注莫高窟第148窟盛唐時期的藥師經變。這幅藥師經變的題記內容,可以確定來源於三種不同的漢譯本。這一耐人尋味的現象顯示出了圖像與題記的關聯性。除此之外,本次講座還討論在經文研究中佛教繪畫的意義。


Lecture 7:  SUN Yinggang 孫英剛 (Zhejiang University 浙江大學):  犍陀羅與佛本生故事的再造 | The Remaking of the Buddha’s Jātaka Stories in Gandhāra


Lecture 8: CHEN Juxia 陳菊霞 (Shanghai University 上海大學):   敦煌石窟藝術:新視野與新思考 | Dunhuang Grotto Art: New Perspective and New Thoughts

在敦煌學人近百年的開拓耕耘下,現已大體完成敦煌石窟造像「是什麼」的研究任務。接下來,解答「為什麼」,即研究洞窟組合造像乃至整窟造像思想及其宗教功能的任務又凸現重要。

我們知道,敦煌石窟內的繪塑作品往往相互聯繫,形成特定的造像組合,體現一定的設計理念,並共同服務於洞窟的宗教功能。本次講座將以莫高窟第246窟,榆林窟第 12、16、20 窟為例,通過結合藏經和敦煌文獻中的佛教儀式文本研討這四個洞窟內的千佛、尊像、經變畫等造像組合關係,並進一步解析這些洞窟的宗教功能。通過研究,我們認為這四個洞窟,有的是舉辦受戒儀式的戒場,有的是舉行禮懺法會的懺法道場,還有的是舉辦水陸法會的水陸道場。


Lecture 9: ZHANG Xiaoyan 張小豔 (Fudan University 復旦大學): 從敦煌西域文獻看早期佛經寫本的特徵 | Looking at the Formation of Early Buddhist Texts from Dunhuang and Turpan Documents

敦煌西域發現的早期佛經寫本,大多抄於晉魏時期,表現出鮮明的寫本特徵:行文皆爲隸書;每段起首於天頭加一墨點;經文連書,偈頌分四欄抄寫,每欄抄一句;行文多用當時流行的異體俗字,顯示出典型的時代特色。這些典型的寫本特徵,對於早期佛經寫本的斷代具有重要的參考價值。報告將以時代明確的早期佛經寫本爲例,詳細解説其中的寫本特徵,並以此爲準,嘗試對其他具有類似特徵的無紀年寫本的抄寫年代進行推斷。

The early Buddhist scriptures discovered in the Dunhuang Cave and Central Asia were mostly transcribed during the Jin and Wei periods, exhibiting distinct manuscript features: all the texts are written in clerical script; each section begins with a dot atop the first character; the scriptures are written continuously, with verses written in four columns, one verse per column; many characters used in the text are variant forms popular at the time. These manuscript features demonstrate typical characteristics of the era, which holds significant value for the dating of early Buddhist scripture manuscripts. The report will use early Buddhist scripture manuscripts with clear historical contexts as examples to elaborate on their manuscript features. Based on these features, an attempt will be made to infer the dates of other undated manuscripts with similar features.