Guest Lecture: Precarity – Living and Dying in Himalayan Buddhist Cultures

Guest Lecture: Precarity – Living and Dying in Himalayan Buddhist Cultures

Time: Friday, March 4, 2022 – 7:00 PM PST/ 8:00 PM CST/ 10:00 PM EST

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Abstract: Buddhists have a lot of wisdom to share about dying. In Himalayan Buddhist cultures, in particular, the precarity of life in an unpredictable climate and fragile ecology gave rise to a large body of knowledge about the practice of dying. Meditation on the stages of the dying process simulates the dissolution of the elements of body and mind, and prepares a person to transition from this life to the next with confidence and moment-to-moment awareness. Instead of being catapulted into the unknown “at the mercy of karma and delusion,” one can prepare for death in advance, either to secure a higher rebirth or achieve liberation from the cycle of birth and death altogether. Another practice, unique to Tibetan Buddhism, is phowa, “transference of consciousness,” achieving mastery over the winds and channels of the body to achieve rebirth in a Pure Land. We all have to die. Why not be prepared?

About the Speaker: Karma Lekshe Tsomo is a professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Diego. She offers classes in Buddhist Thought and Culture, World Religions, Comparative Religious Ethics, Religious and Political Identities in the Global Community, and Negotiating Religious Diversity in India. Her research interests include women in Buddhism, death and dying, Buddhist feminist ethics, Buddhism and bioethics, religion and politics, Buddhist social ethics, and Buddhist transnationalism. She integrates scholarship and social activism through the Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women and Jamyang Foundation, an innovative education project for women in developing countries, with 15 schools in the Indian Himalayas, Bangladesh, and Laos.


This event is sponsored by the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhism and Contemporary Society and the Himalaya Program.


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