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This year’s Michaelmas term, which provided me with a taste of the well-known intensity of Oxford terms, marked the beginning of my teaching experience at this university.
One of the three courses I taught during this term, a series of eight lectures on “Early Buddhist Doctrine and Practice – Buddhism I” (for the Faculty of Theology and Religion), aimed at introducing undergraduate and graduate students to the main ideas of the early Buddhist tradition. In connection with this course, I also taught a series of tutorials, which constituted my initiation into the arcana of the tutorial system.
The remaining two courses have been of a decidedly philological character. In “Prajñāpāramitā in Sanskrit, Tibetan and Chinese”, I read with graduate students some unedited passages from the Gilgit manuscript of the Larger Prajñāpāramitā. Occasionally we consulted some of the available parallels (particularly the Tibetan translation of the Pañcaviṃśatisāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā), but mostly we focused on the Sanskrit text, which gave us a chance to take a close look at a comparatively early manuscript (c. 6th-7th century CE), with all its palaeographic and linguistic peculiarities.
The other course, “Introduction to Buddhist Chinese”, has been something of an experiment: a focused introduction to the variety of Chinese used in Buddhist translations, with the aim of opening a shortcut for students with a predominantly Indological background to consult the precious sources preserved in the Chinese canon. I am not sure that the experiment has been successful, but without a doubt the classes have been very enjoyable, at least for the teacher.
Finally, I gave two lectures on the introduction of Buddhism into East Asia (particularly in China) for the East Asia Survey Series at the Institute for Chinese Studies.
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