Yin-Cheng Distinguished Lecture Series: A Zen Foundation for Critical Subjectivity in the New Field of Contemplative Studies

Yin-Cheng Distinguished Lecture Series: A Zen Foundation for Critical Subjectivity in the New Field of Contemplative Studies


Time: June 5, 6:00am (Vancouver) | 2:00-3:30pm (Oxford/London) | 9:00pm (Beijing/Taipei)

University of Oxford, Basement Teaching Room 1, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Pusey Lane, Oxford, OX1 2LE

All are welcome for tea and snacks at 3:30-4:00pm (in the Common Room in the basement)

The lecture will be in person and live-streamed via YouTube with simultaneous English and Mandarin channels.

Prof. Harold Roth’s lecture in English

Prof. Harold Roth’s lecture in Chinese

Abstract: The new academic field of Contemplative Studies supplements the third-person academic model of the critical study of texts through the contexts of culture and history with an equal emphasis on the critical study of the experiences embodied in these texts via first-person epistemology, supported by scientific research on meditation. At the core of this first-person epistemology is a new approach to critical subjectivity derived from modern Zen Buddhist philosophy and practice. These will be presented and detailed in the lecture


About the speaker: Harold D. Roth (Brown University)

Harold D. Roth is professor of religious studies and founding director of the Contemplative Studies Initiative at Brown University. He is a specialist in Chinese philosophy and textual analysis, the classical Daoist tradition and a pioneer of the academic field of Contemplative Studies, in which he created the first Bachelor’s degree program at a major research university in North America.  He has written and/or edited nine books and more than 50 scholarly articles in these areas including Original Tao (Columbia, 1999), a translation and analysis of the oldest text on breath meditation in China;  “Against Cognitive Imperialism,” (Religion East and West, 2008), a critique of conceptual bias in Cognitive Sciences and Religious Studies; The Huainanzi: A Guide to the Theory and Practice of Government in Early Han China  (2010) (with 3 other scholars), the 139 BCE Daoist compendium long considered the last great untranslated work of classical Chinese thought; and  The Contemplative Foundations of Classical Daoism  (2021), a collection of his scholarly articles on this topic. He is also the compiler and editor of Manifesting Zen: Master Dharma Talks from Mt. Baldy, a collection of teishos on the foundational Chan work, the Linjilu (Jp.: Rinzai roku) by Zen Master Kyōzan Jōshū Rōshi (Sasaki: 1907-2014).


About the discussant: Sarah Shaw (University of Oxford)

Dr. Sarah Shaw read Greek and English, at Manchester University, where she did a doctorate in English literature. After studying Pali and Sanskrit at Oxford University, she began to conduct research on Pali literature, particularly jātakas, texts concerned with meditation, and modern practice. She is a member of Wolfson College and the Faculty of Oriental Studies, Oxford. She is also a fellow of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies.

Her books include Buddhist Meditation: an Anthology of Texts, Routledge (2006);

Jātaka Stories: Birth Stories of the Bodhisatta (2006); co-authored, with Naomi Appleton, The Ten Great Birth Stories of the Buddha: the Mahānipāta of the Jātakatthavaṇṇanā Silkworm Books, Thailand/University of Washington Press (2015); Mindfulness: Where it Comes From and What it Means, Shambhala (2020) and The Art of Listening: A Guide to the Early Teachings of Buddhism, Shambhala (2021). She has just edited a posthumous book by her teacher, L.S. Cousins, Meditations of the Pali Traditions: Illuminating Buddhist Doctrine, History, and Practice, Shambhala (2022). A frequent visitor to South and Southeast Asia, she lectures and writes on Buddhist subjects.


About the Yin-Cheng Distinguished Lecture Series: Launched in September 2021, the Yin-Cheng Distinguished Lecture Series (印證佛學傑出學術系列講座) is a collaborative, multi-university partnership between Peking University, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Inalco (Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales), Princeton University, Harvard University, and the University of British Columbia. The Lecture Series is established in honour of Venerable Cheng-yen 證嚴, founder of Tzu Chi, and her mentor Yinshun 印順 (1906–2005), with the goal of promoting topics in Buddhist Studies.


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