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The occasional lecture series will be presented by the following highly recognized scholars:
1. The CRTA Project (Chinese Religious Texts Authority), July 9
Abstract: This talk will introduce a new international collaborative project aims at mapping and documenting Chinese religious texts and recently reprinted collections of late imperial texts in particular; it will introduce this literature and its genres before detailing the aims and methods of the database project.
Lecturer: Vincent Goossaert (Directeur d’études, EPHE)
2. Religious Plurality and Buddhist Revival in Contemporary Vietnam, July 11
Abstract: Contemporary Vietnam is characterized by religious diversity. Such an extreme diversity is due notably to the close relationship this country has maintained over centuries with the Chinese realm (and its Confucianism, Daoism and Mahâyâna Buddhism), indianized realms (such as Champa) and later with the Malay world and Theravâda Buddhism kingdoms. But this diversity is also due to the numerous religious innovations that took place starting mid-19th Century and lead to a strong movement of reinterpretation of Buddhism. This talk will remind the roots of buddhsim in Vietnam then contextualize this revival of Buddhism within the national and Southeast Asian frameworks; it will also demonstrate its doctrinal and institutional diversity.
Lecturer: Pascal Bourdeaux (Maître de conférences, EPHE)
3. Adapting the Rules: Buddhist Monastic Regulations in Contemporary China, July 12
Abstract: This lecture will provide an overview of the regulations that are nowadays in use in Chan and Tiantai public monasteries in the People’s Republic of China. Pointing to new features, new typologies and new contents of contemporary Buddhist regulations as compared to Imperial Rules of Purity and Republican codes of rules, it will emphasize how monastic codes have accompanied the recent transformations of Chinese Buddhism, while remaining strongly anchored in the received tradition. Thanks to their greater flexibility compared to other disciplinary regulations such as prātimokṣa rules and Bodhisattva precepts, monastic codes represent the device by which Chinese Vinaya can quickly respond to social, political and economic changes. Since they conveniently reflect both the internal transformations of Buddhist institutional practices and the external socio-political demands to which Buddhism is subjected and reacts, monastic regulations remain a fundamental resource to understand the evolution of Chinese Buddhism since the beginning of the post-Mao religious reconstruction.
Lecturer: Daniela Campo (Maître de conférences, Université de Strasbourg)
4. The Composition of a Manual of Dzogchen Meditation, July 18
Abstract: Tülku Tsullo (1884–1957), an important scholar of the Nyingma branch of Tibetan Buddhism, is the author of a large meditation manual on a cycle of « revelations » of the «treasury discoverer » Rigdzin Gödem (1337–1408), the Direct Revelation of the Intention of Samantabhadra (Kunzang Gongpa Zangthal). This corpus had, to some extent, fallen into disuse since the early 18th Century; Tülku Tsullo’s comprehensive manual was surely an attempt to revive this tradition. An exhaustive historical and philological inquiry on this text revealed the complete making of the text, drawing largely on 14th century sources of which it is more or less a patchwork—not only of those that are clearly acknowledged, but also a few writings of Longchen Rabjam (1308–1364), one (unquoted) treatise of which gives the whole book most of its structural canvas and a large part of its contents. Tülku Tsullo, who knew most of what had been written about the Gongpa Zangthal from the 14th century, seems to have prefered to reconstruct something from older materials. After a few words about Dzogchen (rDzogs chen) as a specific meditative and doctrinal tradition, and about the Gongpa Zangthal as such and its transmission from the 14th to the 20th century, we will describe Tülku Tsullo’s manual and show, on the basis of a few examples, in which way it was composed.
Lecturer: Stéphane Arguillère (Maître de conférences, INALCO)
5. Postmortem Pilgrimage: The Journey to the West as Mortuary Rite, July 19
Abstract: Xuanzang (600/602–664), the celebrated seventh-century Chinese cleric, pilgrim, and scholar, is arguably the most famous monk in the two-thousand years history of Chinese Buddhism. His epic seventeen-year pilgrimage from China to India, his close relationship with two Chinese emperors after his return, his subsequent translation of hundreds of volumes of Sanskrit texts into Chinese, and the influence of those translations and commentaries on Buddhist traditions throughout East Asia have taken on mythic proportions in the literature, liturgy, theater, and popular culture of China and neighboring countries. After his death, Xuanzang was apotheosized as a powerful deity in China and came to be revered as both an exorcistic spirit and as a guide for the souls of the dead. The historical evolution of Xuanzang’s posthumous cult is closely related to the development of the famous Journey to the West (Xiyou ji), a novel published anonymously in the late sixteenth century. While the novel and its antecedents have been studied by numerous scholars, the ritual roots of the narrative and its relationship to the deified Xuanzang are not well known. This talk draws on recently discovered ritual manuals, liturgies, and ethnographic accounts to explore mortuary rites featuring Xuanzang and other figures from the Journey to the West story-cycle.
Lecturer: Benjamin Brose (Associate professor, University of Michigan)
6. History from Imagination: Lineages, Texts and Teachings of Chan Buddhism under Tang Dynasty, July 22
Abstract: Chan school appeared in China around the beginning of sixth century. In the early stage of this religious sect, various aspects presented a loose condition. However, with the patriarchal tradition took shape during seventh and eighth centuries, Chan Lineage played a strictly utilitarian role in constructing, distorting, even fabricating its own history. Moreover, this retrospective identity actually characterizes various phases of Chan school, and the process of retrospective production of history as thus continued forward. Therefore, we should change our way of thought to discuss Chan texts and teachings under Tang Dynasty.
Lecturer: Jiang Hainu (Associate professor, Zhejiang Sci-tech University)