The OCBS Lecture Series will continue in Trinity Term 2014.
Please note that all lectures will be held in Hertford College Old Library.
Mondays at 5.30 pm.
28 April: Professor Richard Gombrich, OCBS
'Buddhism and violence in the world today'
In some parts of the world, Buddhists, often led by monks, are carrying out many acts of violence; nor is this a wholly new phenomenon. Can Buddhism really claim to be pacifist, or at least non-aggressive? After a brief survey of the Buddha’s teachings on this matter, this lecture will rashly attempt to discuss how those teachings might help to make the world a less violent place.
5 May: Dr Rob Mayer, Oxford
'Indigenous elements in Tibetan Tantrism'
12 May: Professor Ian Harris, King's College London
'Buddhism and political power: a provisional typology'
Buddhism has been practised in an extraordinary variety of environments, some strongly supportive of the monastic order (saṅgha), others intensely hostile. Buddhist monks have, not surprisingly, developed a range of adaptive strategies, sometimes throwing themselves into the heart of the political project, at others withdrawing to the periphery, but mostly operating at points between these two extremes. It has often been suggested that Buddhism presents an opposition to the spirit of politics in its most acute form. But while there is clear evidence of “political quietism” in the historical record, this is, in fact, quite rare. By surveying a wide range of specific contexts, both in the past and in the modern period, I will use this lecture to develop a provisional typology of all possible interactions between organized Buddhism and political power.
9 June: Dr Peter Sharrock, SOAS
'From Vajrabodhi to Jayavarman VII: uncovering the expansion of esoteric Buddhism across Asia'
India’s Pāla dynasty’s Buddhist strategists forged alliances in Southeast Asia in the 8th century that became key to keeping alive their international proselyting mission when the emperors of China and Tibet ordered the closure of thousands of monasteries on political-religious whims. And the roots they put down in the region survived the eventual sacking of the Buddhists’ huge homeland monasteries in the Ganges valley by Islamic armies at the end of the 12th century. One such place where the Buddhist flame kept burning was the city of Angkor under king Jayavarman VII, then one of the largest and best administered cities on earth.
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