Lectures MT2017

6 November

Oriental Institute, Lecture Room 1


Dr. Nick Allen, University of Oxford

Chronicle and epic, or the introductions to the Mahāvaṃsa and to the Mahābhārata: selected comparisons

The Mahāvaṃsa (written in Pali) presents itself as a chronicle recounting the origins of Buddhism and its import to Lanka, where it became the State religion. Examined in detail, the chronicle shows surprisingly pervasive similarities to the great Sanskrit epic. A selection of such similarities, drawn from the respective introductions, will be presented, and possible explanations will be considered.


20 November

Oriental Institute, Lecture Room 1


Dr. Alex Wynne

Buddhist India

In his Buddhist India (1903), T. W. Rhys Davids described ancient India from the Buddhist rather than Brahminic perspective. But he was aware that such an approach would regarded by some as a form of lèse majesté: ‘the brahmin view … has been regarded so long with reverence among us that it seems almost an impertinence now, to put forward the other’. This lecture will review Rhys Davids’ thesis in the light of recent work by Giovanni Verardi and Johannes Bronkhorst; by drawing on these works and barely noticed material from the Pali canon, it will re-evaluate the relationship between Buddhism and Brahminism in classical India.



Lingyin Lectures in Buddhist Studies – Michaelmas Term 2017

October 30th and November 27th 2017, h. 5.15pm

 The Oriental Institute, Pusey Lane, Oxford OX1 2LE

Lecture Room no. 1

 Monday, October 30th 2017:

 Philosophy and Philology in Edo Commentaries on Dōgen’s Shōbōgenzō: Construction and Deconstruction of the 95-Fascicle Honzan Edition.

Prof. Steven Heine, (Florida International University)


 Monday, November 27th  2017:

 The Ox-Bezoars Empowerment for Safe Childbirth in Heian Japan.

Dr. Benedetta Lomi (University of Bristol)

Lectures TT2017 – OCBS and Lingyin

24 April

Lecture Room 1 – Oriental Institute

Professor Richard Gombrich, OCBS
New Discoveries about the Origins of the Buddhist Order of Nuns

Buddhism makes a reasonable claim to be the first world religion to emphasise human equality, including equality between the genders. But certain well known features of the Buddhist religion seem incompatible with this claim. Perhaps the most important of these are the tradition that the Buddha was reluctant to agree to the foundation of an Order of Nuns, and that when he finally agreed he said that it would mean that Buddhism would die out within this world in 500 years. Besides, Theravada Buddhism has for about a thousand years stopped ordaining nuns, a move backed by both religious and secular authorities.

Ven. Analayo, a German Theravada monk, published a book last year proving that these positions do not go back to the Buddha himself, but reflect misogynistic changes in the tradition and its texts. His discoveries deserve to be known and acted upon wherever Buddhism is found today. This lecture will simply summarise Analayo’s findings, which I believe to be momentous and convincing.


5 June

Lecture Room 1 – Oriental Institute

Dr Péter-Dániel Szántó
Tantric Buddhist Gurus in Mediaeval Indian Royal Courts

Although some passages of late tantric Buddhist literature (ca. 700 to 1200 CE) display a certain reticence towards royal courts, there is some evidence to suggest that a handful of tantric Buddhist masters did became kings’ chaplains. I will examine this corpus, consisting mostly of inscriptions and exegetical passages, trying to draw out as much information as possible about these masters’ perceived roles, standing, influence, and possible problems they may have encountered when trying to harmonise antinomian teachings and social morality.

Lingyin Lectures in Buddhist Studies – Trinity Term 2017

May 8th and May 22nd 2017, h. 5.15pm

The Oriental Institute, Pusey Lane, Oxford OX1 2LE

Lecture Room no. 1

 Monday, May 8th 2017:

“The Indian Yogācāra Scholar Sthiramati and his Proofs of the Validity of the Mahāyāna”.

Prof. Jowita Kramer (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)


Monday, May 22nd 2017:

“Reviving a Text and Questioning a Tradition: Yinshun (1906-2005) and New Studies of Da zhidu lun in Twentieth-century China and Taiwan”.

Prof. Stefania Travagnin (University of Groningen)

All are welcome to attend.

For information, please contact: stefano.zacchetti@orinst.ox.ac.uk

Buddhism in Nepal – a personal perspective

A talk given by Gakar Rinpoche.

Date: 24/2

Time: 17:00

Place: Florey Room, Wolfson College

Rinpoche will discuss his Buddhist heritage in Dolpo, and will present his experience of the wider Buddhist scene in and around Nepal in the light of his training at Shechen Monastery. He will reflect on the changes that Nepal has been undergoing, and Nepali Buddhism with it, then he will invite the audience to offer academic perspectives on what he has said and on that basis to enquire further.

Buddhist Philosophy lectures from the Faculty of Philosophy


These lectures are offered by the Faculty of Philosophy, rather than the OCBS.  We are sure that many of our visitors will be interested in them:

Course: Buddhist Philosophy

Lecturer: Rafal K Stepien

Time: Hilary Term 2017, Fridays 2-3pm (except 2nd Week: 10-11am)

Place: Radcliffe Humanities Lecture Room, Faculty of Philosophy, Woodstock Road


This series of lectures constitutes a thematic introduction to Buddhist philosophy. It explores major topics in Buddhist ontology, epistemology, philosophy of logic and language, philosophy of mind, ethics, and other fields. While arranged thematically, the course also serves as an introduction to the history of Buddhist philosophy, in that each lecture singles out certain prominent thinkers or movements to illustrate the problematic at hand. This approach allows classical Buddhist philosophers to be studied who represent all the major schools of Buddhist thought from India, Tibet, China, and Japan. In addition to reading relevant primary sources in translation, students are encouraged to read secondary scholarship selected so as to help guide them through the seriously mind-altering ideas encountered in the Buddhist philosophical world. The course also proposes ways in which Buddhist thought can contribute to Western philosophical issues and, conversely, how intellectual paradigms prevalent in the West can be used to understand Buddhist philosophy. Students interested in broadening their mind beyond the confines of Western philosophy should find this course rewarding. The foreseen order of topics is as follows:

1st Week: Buddhism as Philosophy

Surveys the history of Buddhist philosophy, introduces the core philosophical tenets shared across traditions, and provides a rationale for studying Buddhist philosophy as philosophy.


2nd Week: Causation, Interdependence, and Impermanence

Addresses the metaphysical underpinnings of the Buddhist worldview. (Note different time: 10-11am).


3rd Week: Ontology

Explores Buddhist anti-foundationalist ontologies of emptiness.


4th Week: Selfhood & Personhood

Draws on the Buddha’s arguments for the ultimate non-existence of a substantial self to explicate the conventional operation of personal action.


5th Week: Epistemology

Addresses the nature of knowledge and examines the validity of perception and inference as means of its acquisition.


6th Week: Philosophy of Mind

Addresses cognition and self-cognition in the light of idealist and phenomenological accounts of mind.


7th Week: Philosophy of Logic & Language

Focuses on Buddhist formulations of non-classical logics and the linguistic expression of concepts.


8th Week: Ethics

Addresses normative ethics and their application to contemporary social issues.


All are welcome.

Michaelmas Term 2016 Lectures

Mon 7th November


Oriental Institute, Lecture Room No. 1

Prof Richard Gombrich

Tzu Chi: the rapid development of a new Buddhist sect

Lingyin Lecture in Buddhist Studies – Michaelmas Term 2016

Monday 24 October


The Oriental Institute, Pusey Lane, Oxford OX1 2LE

Lecture Room no. 1

Dr Christian Luczanits (SOAS, London)

Portraiture in the Light of Symmetry: Revisiting the Sculptures of the Path with the Fruit Teaching Lineage at Mindroling Monastery, Tibet.

“The Possibility of Buddhism for the Future of Humankind”

The Second Symposium of the Institute of Oriental Philosophy and the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies

Wolfson College

6 – 7 April 2016

The OCBS will be hosting this joint Symposium on 6th and 7th April.

On the 6th, six papers will be delivered, exploring various ways that Buddhism interacts with the modern world.  The 7th April will see a discussion of the areas explored.

All are welcome.  If you wish to attend then please inform steven.egan@ocbs.org ahead of time, as space is limited.


Dr. Sarah Shaw: “Voices of Freedom: friendship, trust and liberation in the poems of the early Buddhist nuns”

Dr. Kurihara: “The world without nuclear weapons and women’s roles”

Mr. Mark Leonard: “Mindfulness meditation and social change: from therapy to wisdom and ethics”

Dr. Onishi: “Natural disasters and Buddhist organizations’ activities”

Ven. Dr. Dhammasami: A Reflection on the Practice of Compassion in the Theravada Buddhist Meditation Traditions

Dr. Kawada: “Medical ethics and Buddhism – The issues of death with dignity and the vegetable state”

Lectures TT2016 (including Lingyin Lectures)

Monday 2nd May

Lecture Room XXIII, Balliol College

Dr. Marie-Hélène Gorisse (SOAS)

Who can infer the existence of God from the concept of ‘product’? Genealogy of a Buddhist refutation.

In his Īśvarasādhanadūṣaṇam, Ratnakīrti (11th c.) attacks the thesis according to which God exists as the creator of the world. Ratnakīrti’s multi-layered refutation is a witness of the history of debate in classical India, because it displays changes of focus and of technical terminology, which are indicators of the fact that specific philosophical problems were overcome thanks to the development of new theories concerning the art of debating. This lecture aims at showing the impact of these philosophical transitions on the main argumentation over God, especially in relation to the conception of probative inferential evidence.


Thursday 19 May

Wolfson College

Mr Alex Wrona (University of Vienna)

An Arabic Dhamma? – On Sri Lankan Theravadins in the Sultanate of Oman

There are currently around 14,000 Sri Lankan expatriates in Oman, at least half of which settled in Muscat, the Sultanate’s capitol. Most of them follow Theravāda Buddhism. Only little research has been done on the modern phenomenon of Asian migrant workers in the Gulf, and nearly exclusively from a social or legal perspective. In this lecture, the focus is on Theravāda Buddhism as constituted in the Sultanate of Oman, namely in the community of the Sri Lankan expatriates. It would appear that this community has not been studied in such a way before.

Mr Wrona will  present parts of the results of his ethnographic research in the Sri Lankan community in Muscat, carried out from September 2015 to December 2015. He will try to explain the major aspects of the situation the Sri Lankan community in Oman finds itself in and investigate how the Theravāda Buddhists within this community experience and develop their religious identity, being a religious and ethnic minority in an Arab-muslim majority country. It will thereby become clear that this process of religious identity building can at least partly be understood as a result of mechanisms of transnationalism.


Lingyin Lectures in Buddhist Studies – Trinity Term 2016
May 16th and May 30th 2016, h. 5.15pm
The Oriental Institute, Pusey Lane, Oxford OX1 2LE
Lecture Room no. 1


Unfortunately, Prof. Nicoletta Celli’s lecture (“The Dawn of Buddhist Art in China: Reflections on the Image of the Buddha in Meditation”), originally scheduled for Monday May 16th, has been cancelled.


Monday, May 30th 2016:
“Mahāyāna in Gandhāra”.
Prof. Dr. Ingo Strauch (Université de Lausanne)
All are welcome to attend.

For information, please contact: stefano.zacchetti@orinst.ox.ac.uk

Lectures HT 2016 (including Lingyin Lectures)

This term we will be holding two lectures.  The lectures will start at 5.15pm at the Oriental Institute, Lecture Room 1 . The details are as follows:

Monday 18 January

Nawang JinpaIndependent Researcher

Introduction to the Drukpa Lineage – the yogic order of ‘divine madmen’

In 13th century Tibet,  it was said  that “half the world is Drukpa, and half the Drukpa are mendicant hermits”. In the 17th century, as Tibet was being reshaped by civil wars and Mongol invasions, Himalayan rulers still eagerly sought out Drukpa yogis.

This lecture will introduce the religious characteristics and social influence of that yogic tradition, and will outline  its contemporary importance in Ladakh and in Bhutan, where it is still the ‘state religion’.


Monday 15 February

Prof Rey-sheng Her, Tzu Chi

Tzu Chi: Buddhism as compassion in action


Prof Rey-sheng Her will also be delivering a lecture at the University of Oxford China Centre, Dickson Poon Building, Canterbury Road

Tuesday 16th February at 2pm

Organizing Charity in China: the work of Tzu Chi in the People’s Republic.


This term’s Lingyin lectures are as follows:

Lingyin Lectures in Buddhist Studies – Hilary Term 2016

January 25th and February 8th 2016, h. 5.15pm

The Oriental Institute, Pusey Lane, Oxford OX1 2LE

Lecture Room no. 1

Monday, January 25th 2016:

“Bodily care in Buddhist Monastic Life of Ancient India and China: An Advancing Purity Threshold?”

Prof. Ann Heirman (Ghent University)

Monday, February 8th 2016:

“Monk and Lay in the Mahāyāna Sūtras”.

Prof. Jens Erland Braarvig (University of Oslo)

All are welcome to attend.

For information, please contact: stefano.zacchetti@orinst.ox.ac.uk

Lectures MT2015 (including Lingyin Lectures MT 2015)

This term we will be holding two lectures.  The lectures will start at 5.30pm in Balliol College, Lecture Room XXIII. The details are as follows:

Monday 26 October

Dr. Alexander Wynne,

Hope University, Liverpool

The ur-text of the Pali Tipiṭaka: some reflections based on new research into the manuscript tradition.

Wat Dhammakaya in Thailand are preparing a critical edition of the Pali Canon, and Dr Wynne has been playing a leading role in their work. He will explain the importance and difficulties of the project, and suggest what benefits it may produce.


Monday 23 November

Dr Tadaatsu Tajima,

Professor of Liberal Arts & Sciences at Tenshi College, Sapporo, Japan

Ethnic Buddhist Temples and Korean Diaspora in Japan

Some Korean-Japanese have established their own Buddhist temples for the performance of ancestral rituals. This will be discussed from the point of view of the sociology of religion.


Please also find below details on the Lingyin Lecture Series for this term:

Lingyin Lectures in Buddhist Studies – Michaelmas Term 2015

October 19th and November 16th 2015, h. 5.15pm

The Oriental Institute, Pusey Lane, Oxford OX1 2LE

Lecture Room no. 1

Monday, October 19th 2015:

“Writing on Mountains to Save the World”.

 Prof. Dr. Lothar Ledderose (Seniorprofessor für Kunstgeschichte Ostasiens, Universität Heidelberg)

Monday, November 16th 2015:

“Buddhist Texts and Buddhist Images. New Evidence from Kanaganahalli”.

Prof. Dr. Oskar von Hinüber (Professor Emeritus, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg)

All are welcome to attend.

For information, please contact: stefano.zacchetti@orinst.ox.ac.uk

Launch of the MPhil in Buddhist Studies

We are very pleased to announce that Oxford University is offering a MPhil in Buddhist Studies in 2015-16.

This newly launched two-year degree aims to give comprehensive training in one of the main Buddhist canonical languages, namely Sanskrit, Classical Tibetan and Classical Chinese. In-depth explorations of Buddhist history, philosophy, and literature will be the focus, along with a comprehensive study of important Buddhist texts in the original language.

This degree can be a standalone qualification or preparation for doctoral research.

More information about this programme can be found at:

Oxford University – Graduate Admissions.