Michaelmas Term 2018 Lectures

The OCBS is holding one lecture this term.  There will also be two Lingyin lectures.

OCBS Lecture

October 8 – 5.15pm

Oriental Institute Lecture Room 1

Professor Todd Lewis (College of the Holy Cross)

Reconfiguration and Revival: Newar Buddhist Traditions in the Kathmandu Valley (and Beyond)

100_2474Beginning with Sylvain Lévi,  most scholars for the past century who have assessed the state of Newar Buddhism in the Kathmandu Valley have described the tradition as “decadent,” “corrupted by Hinduism,” and so in serious decline. Many predicted its withering away, most often due to competition from the reformist Theravādins, a movement that arrived in Nepal a century ago. The predations of the modern Nepalese state with its staunchly Hindu biases have also been a central axis of analysis. What has emerged over the last decade, however, is a hitherto unimagined revival among traditional Newar Buddhists and their venerable tradition centered on Mahāyāna-Vajrayāna teachings and practices. Led by younger Buddhist vajrācāryas and scholars, leaders have introduced a welter of new spiritual initiatives, institutional innovations, along with gender and caste reforms; supported by wealthy merchants, newly-rich landholders, and a growing number of migrants living abroad, Newar Buddhist traditions have shown a remarkable resiliency and vibrancy. The talk will sketch this confluence of re-configurations and revivals, with special focus on how these factors converged in the nearly-completed construction of a Newar Vajrayāna monastery in Lumbini.

Lingyin Lectures in Buddhist Studies – Michaelmas Term 2018

October 29th and November 19th 2018, h. 5.15pm

The Oriental Institute, Pusey Lane, Oxford OX1 2LE

Lecture Room no. 1

Monday, October 29th, 2018:

“The paradox that is language and what the Yogācāra had to say about it”.

Prof. Roy Tzohar (Department of East Asian Studies, Tel Aviv University).


Monday, November 19th, 2018:

 “Meditation and its subjects: tracing kammaṭṭhāna from the early canon to the boran kammathan traditions of South East Asia”.

Dr. Andrew Skilton (King’s College London).

All are welcome to attend.

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

Trinity term 2018 Lecture Series

There will be two lectures this term, given in the Oriental Institute, Lecture Room 1.  All are welcome


April 23 – 5.15pm

Prof. Richard Gombrich (OCBS)

The Origin of Pali


April 30 – 5.15pm

Professor Paul Bernier (Université de Moncton)

Causation and Free Will in Early Buddhist Philosophy

The problem of free will and determinism has a long history in Western philosophy; it is also an important issue in contemporary metaphysics. While this problem has not been the focus of discussions in the commentarial tradition of Buddhist philosophy, it has recently attracted the attention of many Buddhist scholars, who have defended conflicting interpretations.

As we know, causation is a central notion of Buddhist philosophy, particularly in the context of the doctrine of Dependent arising (paṭiccasamuppāda). It is very tempting to interpret this notion as entailing universal causal determinism, as many scholars have done. This interpretation, however, raises a serious problem with respect to a passage of the Aṅguttara Nikāya (A. I. 173-175), where the Buddha rejects as “wrong views” three so-called “sectarian views”. I argue that a good reason to reject these “sectarian views” is also a reason to reject universal causal determinism. This suggests that causation in Early Buddhism does not entail universal causal determinism and that it leaves room for indeterminist causation and a form of free will.


Lingyin Lectures in Buddhist Studies – Trinity Term 2018

May 14th, June 4th, and June 11th 2018, h. 5.15pm

The Oriental Institute, Pusey Lane, Oxford OX1 2LE

Lecture Room no. 1

 Monday, May 14th 2018:

 “The Three Nature (trisvabhāva) Theory in the Yogācāra Texts of the Five Maitreya Works”.

Prof. Dr. Klaus-Dieter Mathes (Institut für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde, Universität Wien).


Monday, June 4th 2018:

 “Legality, ideologies and identitarian dynamics in the contemporary re-establishment of the Theravāda bhikkhunī-saṅgha”.

Bhikkhunī Dhammadinnā (Āgama Research Group, Department of Buddhist Studies, Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts).


Monday, June 11th 2018:

 “What can we learn from Musīla and Nārada?”

Prof. Johannes Bronkhorst (Université de Lausanne).

All are welcome to attend.

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

Hilary Term 2018 Lecture Series

This term we will be presenting a series of five lectures by Dr. Alex Wynne.

The lectures take place every Monday, 29 Jan – 26 Feb, at 5.15pm in Lecture Room 1 at the Oriental Institute.  All are welcome.

Early Buddhist Meditation: A Philosophical Investigation

What is the philosophical basis of Buddhist meditation? The theory of ‘calm’ (samatha) and ‘insight’ (vipassanā) was the norm in Buddhist India, and remains standard in modern Theravāda. Other Indian options include concentration alone and ‘dry insight’; the former is found in some forms of contemporary Theravāda, whereas recent therapeutic adaptations of mindfulness depend on the latter.

Going against the general consensus, these lectures will claim that none of the traditional theories of spiritual praxis makes sense of early Buddhist philosophy. Instead, it will be argued that the theory of calm and insight was a non-Buddhist idea which distorted the original meaning of Buddhist jhāna. In the earliest form of Buddhist meditation, the four jhānas were not states of inner concentration, and ‘mindfulness’ (satipaṭṭhāna) was not a sort of ‘insight’ (vipassanā) meditation.

Through close textual readings and conceptual analysis, and touching on the early Buddhist philosophies of mind and personhood, the earliest Buddhist meditation will be re-imagined as a natural process of absorption (jhāna), devoid of specific or necessary objects, but enabled by bodily attention (kāya-gatā sati).


1. Monday January 29th: Conceptual foundations: Sāriputta or Kaccāyana?

2. Monday February 5th: Māluṅkyaputta

3. Monday February 12th: What did the Buddha mean by bare cognition’ (viññāṇa-matta)?

4. Monday February 19th: Jhāna

5. Monday February 26th: The Gateway


Lingyin Lecture

5th March. 5.15pm

Lecture Room 1:  Oriental Institute

Dr. Francesca Tarocco

 “(Re)locating Chinese Buddhism in the Digital Age”.

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

Chris Jones

CJBlackChris Jones completed his doctorate at the Oriental Institute of Oxford University in 2015, and is currently affiliated also to the Theology Faculty of Oxford University. His doctoral research concerned the Buddhist account of the self present in the earlier tathāgatagarbha literature, and his ongoing research remains the doctrinal content of these texts; their relationship to the wider Indian Mahāyāna; and their portrayal of non-Buddhist Indian religious traditions.

Buddhist Monks and the Politics of Lanka’s Civil War


Ethnoreligious Nationalism of the Sinhala Saṅgha and Peacemaking in Sri Lanka, 1995-2010

Suren Rāghavan

The war in Sri Lanka was violent and costly in human and material terms. This was one of the longest wars in modern South Asia. Often referred to as an ‘ethnic’ conflict between the majority Sinhalas and the minority Tamils, the war had a profound religious dimension. The majority of Sinhala Buddhist monks (the Saṅgha) not only opposed any meaningful powersharing but latterly advocated an all-out military solution. Such a nexus between Buddhism and violence is paradoxical; nevertheless it has a historical continuity. In 2009 when the war ended amid serious questions of war crimes and crimes against humanity, monks defended the military and its Buddhist leadership.

Taking the lives of three key Saṅgha activists as the modern framework of a Sinhala Buddhist worldview, this book examines the limitations of Western theories of peacebuilding and such solutions as federalism and multinationalism. It analyzes Sinhala Buddhist ethnoreligious nationalism and argues for the urgent need to engage Buddhist politics – in Lanka and elsewhere – with approaches and mechanisms that accommodate the Saṅgha as key actors in political reform.

Sinhala Buddhism is often studied from a sociological or anthropological standpoint. This book fills a gap by examining the faith and practice of the Sinhala Saṅgha and their followers from a political science perspective.



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

Sarah Shaw

Sarah Shaw is a Part-time lecturer for the Oxford University Department of Continuing Education, and a Faculty Member of the Oriental Institute.

Her research interests include:

  • Early Buddhist (Pāli) suttas and Abhidhamma material on meditation
  • Early Buddhist narrative: literary features of Jātakas and Dhammapada stories
  • Indian and Asian influences on British nineteenth-century writers
  • Modern South and Southeast Asian Buddhist ritual, chant and meditation

Recent publications include:

  • An Introduction to Buddhist Meditation, London and New York: Routledge (2008)
  • Linda Covill, Ulrike Roesler and Sarah Shaw eds., Lives Lived, Lives Imagined: Biographies of Awakening,Boston, MA: Wisdom (2010)

Her new book, The Ten Great Birth Stories of the Buddha, co-written with Naomi Appleton is now published.  Full details can be found here: http://silkwormbooks.com/collections/frontpage/products/the-ten-great-birth-stories-of-the-buddha-paperback.


How Buddhism Acquired a Soul on the Way to China


Jungnok Park

How Buddhism Acquired a Soul on the Way to China tells the story of the spread of Buddhist religious thinking and practice from India to China and how, along the way, a religion was changed. While Indian Buddhists had constructed their ideas of self by means of empiricism, anti-Brahmanism and analytic reasoning, Chinese Buddhists did so by means of non-analytic insights, utilising pre-established epistemology and cosmogony. Furthermore, many specific Buddhist ideas were transformed when exchanged from an Indian to a Chinese context, often through the work of translators concept-matching Buddhist and Daoist terms.

One of the key changes was the Chinese reinterpretation of the concept of shen – originally an agent of thought which died with the body – into an eternal essence of human spirit, a soul. Though the notion of an imperishable soul was later disputed by Chinese Buddhist scholars the idea of a permanent agent of perception flourished in China. This historical analysis of the concept of self as it developed between Indian and Chinese Buddhism will be of interest to readers of Buddhist Philosophy as well as the History of Ideas.


Sermon of One Hundred Days: Part One

sermonpicVen. Seongchul; ed. L Covill; Translated by Hwang Soon-Il, Assistant Professor of Indian Philosophy at the College of Buddhist Studies, and Associate Dean of International Programmes and Education, at Dongguk University, Seoul

Sermon of One Hundred Days is the first translation into English from Korean of a seminal text in Korean Buddhism. Buddhism was introduced into Korea through China in about the 4th-5th century C.E. and within 200 years became so advanced that it influenced the development of Chinese Buddhism. Chan Buddhism was introduced into Korea around the 8th century and Seon Master Jinul (1158-1210) is honoured as having set the curriculum for the education of Buddhist monks and established Korean Buddhism as it was known for the next millennium.

In this Sermon of One Hundred Days, published in 1967, Master Seongcheol (1912-93) develops Korean Buddhism further by teaching what Buddhist truth is. This Sermon comprehends the vast developments of Buddhism in India and China, including early Buddhism, Abhidharma, Madhyamaka, Yogācāra Buddhism, Chinese doctrinal schools of Tiantai and Huayan and Chinese Chan and Korean Seon Buddhism. The Master analyses the logical structure of various historical teachings, which are connected by the principle of ‘the middle way,’ and encourages his audience to pursue solely the truth to which the Buddha awakened.


Lives Lived, Lives Imagined: Biographies of Awakening


edd. L Covill; U Roesler; S Shaw

A collection of cross-traditional accounts of the lives of Buddhist practitioners. From the Buddha in ancient India to Sri Lanka, to a nun living in modern day Los Angeles, this book spans time, tradition, and culture. In fascinating presentations of how those following the Buddhist path are lived and remembered, this book defines what Buddhism really is through examining the lives of those who live it fully. By tracing diverses voices through many times and places this book forms an accurate assessment of the process of living in the world as a Buddhist in any when, where, or how.

Includes: And That Was I: How the Buddha Himself Creates a Path between Biography and Autobiography by Sarah Shaw; Early Chinese Biographies of the Buddha: The Late Birth of Rahula and Yasodhara’s Extended Pregnancy by Max Deeg; Truth Under the Guise of Poetry: Asvaghosa’s Life of the Buddha by Roland Steiner; Handsome is as Handsome Does: Asvaghosa’s Story of the Buddha’s Younger Brother (Nanda) by Linda Covill; the Autobiography of a Burmese Monastic Thinker in the Twentieth Century by ven.Khammai Dhammasami; How Ganesh Kumari Shakya Became Bhikkhuni Dhammawati (a Postmodern Journey from Uku Baha, Lalitpur, to Hsi Lai Monastery, Hacienda Heights, California) by Sarah LeVine; the Evolution of the Biographies of Milarepa and Rechungpa by Peter Roberts; Tibetan Sources on the Life of Serdog Panchen Shakya Chogden by Volker Caumanns; Narratives of Reincarnation, Politics of Power, and the Emergence of a Scholar: The Very Early Years of Karmapa Mikyo Dorje by Jim Rheingans; and the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: the Circumscription of Saintly Evil in Tibetan Biography by Charles Ramble.


What the Buddha Thought

Richard Gombrich

Winner of Choice Outstanding Academic Title award 2010

In What the Buddha Thought, Richard Gombrich argues that the Buddha was one of the most brilliant and original thinkers of all time.

Intended to serve as an introduction to the Buddha’s thought, and hence even to Buddhism itself, the book also has larger aims: it argues that we can know far more about the Buddha than it is fashionable among scholars to admit, and that his thought has a greater coherence than is usually recognised. It contains much new material. Interpreters both ancient and modern have taken little account of the historical context of the Buddha’s teachings; but by relating them to early brahminical texts, and also to ancient Jainism, Gombrich gives a much richer picture of the Buddha’s meaning, especially when his satire and irony are appreciated. Incidentally, since many of the Buddha’s allusions can only be traced in the Pali versions of surviving texts, the book establishes the importance of the Pali Canon as evidence.

The book contains much new material. The author stresses the Buddha’s capacity for abstraction: though he made extensive use of metaphor, he did not found his arguments upon it, as earlier thinkers had done. He ethicized and radically reinterpreted older ideas of karma (human action) and rebirth. Similarly, building on older texts, he argued for the fundamental importance of love and compassion, and analysed fire as a process which could stand as a model for every component of conscious experience. Morally, the Buddha’s theory of karma provided a principle of individuation and asserted each individual’s responsibility for his own destiny. To make the book completely accessible to the general reader, the author provides an introductory section of ‘Background Information,’ for easy reference.



Mindfulness in Early Buddhism: New Approaches through Psychology and Textual Analysis of Pali, Chinese and Sanskrit Sources

Tse-fu Kuan

This book identifies what is meant by sati (smrti), usually translated as ‘mindfulness’, in early Buddhism, and examines its soteriological functions and its central role in the early Buddhist practice and philosophy. Using textual analysis and criticism, it takes new approaches to the subject through a comparative study of Buddhist texts in Pali, Chinese and Sanskrit. It also furnishes new perspectives on the ancient teaching by applying the findings in modern psychology. In contemporary Buddhism, the practice of mindfulness is zealously advocated by the Theravada tradition, which is the only early Buddhist school that still exists today. Through detailed analysis of Theravada’s Pali Canon and the four Chinese Agamas – which correspond to the four main Nikayas in Pali and belong to some early schools that no longer exist – this book shows that mindfulness is not only limited to the role as a method of insight (vipassana) meditation, as presented by many Theravada advocates, but it also has a key role in serenity (samatha) meditation. It elucidates how mindfulness functions in the path to liberation from a psychological perspective, that is, how it helps to achieve an optimal cognitive capability and emotional state, and thereby enables one to attain the ultimate religious goal. Furthermore, the author argues that the well-known formula of ekaayano maggo, which is often interpreted as ‘the only way’, implies that the four satipa.t.thaanas(establishments of mindfulness) constitute a comprehensive path to liberation, and refer to the same as kaayagataa sati, which has long been understood as ‘mindfulness of the body’ by the tradition. The analysis shows that kaayagataa sati and the four satipa.t.thaanas are two different ways of formulating the teaching on mindfulness according to different schemes of classification of phenomena.


The Origin of Buddhist Meditation

 Alex Wynne

Having identified early material that goes back to the Buddha himself, the author argues that the two teachers of the Buddha were historical figures. Based on the early Brahminic literature, namely the early Upanishads and Moksadharma, the author asserts the origin of the method of meditation learned by the Buddha from these teachers, and attempts to use them to identify some authentic teachings of the Buddha on meditation.

Stimulating debate within the field of Buddhist Studies, the following claims are put forward:

  • the Buddha was taught by Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, as stated in the literature of numerous early Buddhist sects, is historically authentic
  • Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta taught a form of early Brahminic meditation
  • the Buddha must consequently have been trained in a meditative school whose ideology was provided by the philosophical portions of early Upanishads

Shedding new light on a fascinating aspect of the origins of Buddhism, this book will be of interest to academics in the field of Buddhist studies, Asian religion and South Asian studies.


The Biographies of Rechungpa: The Evolution of a Tibetan Hagiography

 Peter Alan Roberts

This book traces the lifestory of Rechungpa (1084-1161) – the student of the famous teacher Milarepa – using rare and little-known manuscripts, and discovers how the image of both Milarepa and Rechungpa underwent fundamental transformations over a period of over three centuries.

Peter Alan Roberts compares significant episodes in the life of Rechungpa as portrayed in a succession of texts, and thus demonstrates the evolution of Rechungpa’s biography. This is the first survey of the surviving literature which includes a detailed analysis of their dates, authorship and interrelationships. It shows how Rechungpa was increasingly portrayed as a rebellious, volatile and difficult pupil, as a lineage from a fellow-pupil prospered to become dominant in Tibet.

Written in a style that makes it accessible to broad readership, Roberts’ book will be of great value to anyone with an interest in the fields of Tibetan literature, history or religion.


Remaking Buddhism for Medieval Nepal: The Fifteenth-Century Reformation of Newar Buddhism

 Will Tuladhar-Douglas

Will Tuladhar-Douglas sheds new light on an important branch of Mahayana Buddhism and establishes the existence, character and causes of a renaissance of Buddhism in the fifteenth century in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal. He provides the basis for the historical study of Newar Buddhism as one distinct tradition among the many that comprise Indic Buddhism. Through a thorough study of the relevant texts in the classical Himalayan languages (Sanskrit, Newari, Tibetan and Nepali), the book puts forward a new thesis about how the Newars legitimated and reinvented their tradition by devising new concepts of canonicity, as such it will appeal to scholars of the history and philology of Buddhism.


Metaphor and Literalism in Buddhism: The Doctrinal History of Nirvana

Soonil Hwang

Soonil Hwang studies the doctrinal development of nirvana in the Pali Nikaaya and subsequent tradition and compares it with the Chinese aagama and its traditional interpretation. He clarifies early doctrinal developments of Nirvana and traces the word and related terms back to their original metaphorical contexts, elucidating diverse interpretations and doctrinal and philosophical developments in theabhidharma exegeses and treatises of Southern and Northern Buddhist schools. The book finally examines which school, if any, kept the original meaning and reference of Nirvana.


Buddhist Meditation: An Anthology of Texts from the Pali Canon

 Sarah Shaw

Meditative practice lies at the heart of the Buddhist tradition. This introductory anthology gives a representative sample of the various kinds of meditations described in the earliest body of Buddhist scripture, the Pali canon.

It provides a broad introduction to their traditional context and practice and supplies explanation, context and doctrinal background to the subject of meditation. The main themes of the book are the diversity and flexibility of the way that the Buddha teaches meditation from the evidence of the canon. Covering fundamental features of Buddhist practice such as posture, lay meditation, and meditative technique it provides comments both from the principal early commentators on Buddhist practice, Upatissa and Buddhaghosa, and from reputable modern meditation teachers in a number of Theravadin traditions.

This is the first book on Pali Buddhism which introduces the reader to the wide range of the canon. It demonstrates that the Buddha’s meditative tradition still offers a path of practice as mysterious, awe-inspiring yet as freshly accessible as it was centuries ago, and will be of interest to students and scholars of Buddhism as well as Buddhist practitioners.


How Buddhism Began: The Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings


Richard F. Gombrich

Written by one of the world’s top scholars in the field of Pali Buddhism, this new and updated edition of How Buddhism Began, discusses various important doctrines and themes in early Buddhism. It takes ‘early Buddhism’ to be that reflected in the Pali canon, and to some extent assumes that these doctrines reflect the teachings of the Buddha himself. Two themes predominate. Firstly, the author argues that we cannot understand the Buddha unless we understand that he was debating with other religious teachers, notably Brahmins. The other main theme concerns metaphor, allegory and literalism. This accessible, well-written book is mandatory reading for all serious students of Buddhism.


Mipham’s Dialectics and the Debates on Emptiness: To Be, Not to Be or Neither

Karma Phuntsho

This is an introduction to the Buddhist philosophy of Emptiness which explores a number of themes in connection with the concept of Emptiness, a highly technical but very central notion in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. It examines the critique by the leading Nyingma school philosopher Mipham (1846-1912) formulated in his diverse writings. The book focuses on related issues such as what is negated by the doctrine of emptiness, the nature of ultimate reality, and the difference between ‘extrinsic’ and ‘intrinsic’ emptiness. Karma Phuntsho’s book aptly undertakes a thematic and selective discussion of these debates and Mipham’s qualms about the Gelukpa understanding of Emptiness in a mixture of narrative and analytic style.


Early Buddhist Metaphysics: the making of a metaphysical tradition

Noa Ronkin

Early Buddhist Metaphysics provides a philosophical account of the major doctrinal shift in the history of early Theravada tradition in India: the transition from the earliest stratum of Buddhist thought to the systematic and allegedly scholastic philosophy of the Pali Abhidhamma movement. Entwining comparative philosophy and Buddhology, the author probes the Abhidhamma’s metaphysical transition in terms of the Aristotelian tradition and vis-à-vis modern philosophy, exploits Western philosophical literature from Plato to contemporary texts in the fields of philosophy of mind and cultural criticism.


Mindfulness and Psychological Process

Mark G. Williams

The author reviews the articles in the Special Section on Mindfulness, starting from the assumption that emotions evolved as signaling systems that need to be sensitive to environmental contingencies. Failure to switch off emotion is due to the activation of mental representations of present, past, and future that are created independently of external contingencies. Mindfulness training can be seen as one way to teach people to discriminate such “simulations” from objects and contingencies as they actually are. The articles in this Special Section show how even brief laboratory training can have effects on processing affective stimuli; that long-term meditation practitioners show distinct reactions to pain; that longer meditation training is associated with differences in brain structure; that 8 weeks’ mindfulness practice brings about changes in the way emotion is processed showing that participants can learn to uncouple the sensory, directly experienced self from the “narrative” self; that mindfulness training can affect working memory capacity, and enhance the ability of participants to talk about past crises in a way that enables them to remain specific and yet not be overwhelmed. The implications of these findings for understanding emotion and for further research is discussed.

Download paper as PDF

Mindfulness, Depression and Modes of Mind

J. Mark G. Williams

The author introduces the special section on mindfulness: four articles that between them explore the correlates of mindfulness in both crosssectional and treatment studies. Results from these studies, taken together, suggest a close association between higher levels of mindfulness, either as a trait or as cultivated during treatment, and lower levels of rumination, avoidance, perfectionism and maladaptive self-guides. These four characteristics can be seen as different aspects of the same ‘mode of mind’, which prioritizes the resolution of discrepancies between ideas of current and desired states using a test-operate-test-exit sequence. Mindfulness training allows people to recognize when this mode of mind is operating, to disengage from it if they choose, and to enter an alternative mode of mind characterized by prioritizing intentional and direct perception of moment-by-moment experience, in which thoughts are seen as mental events, and judgemental striving for goals is seen, accepted and ‘let go’.

Download paper as PDF

Language Hierarchy, Buddhism and Worldly Authority in Yunnan, Laos, Etc.

Eisel Mazard

When Cambodia gained its independence from France, a concerted effort was made to replace French loan-words with ancient-sounding neologisms: new Cambodian words were coined through the combination of Pali parts.1 This reflects a tradition that can be traced back through several centuries of adapting the unfamiliar syllables of Pali and Sanskrit into more indigenous-sounding forms; it also reflects a unique era of optimism when European colonialism seemed to have come to its end—an optimism that proved to be painfully brief. In the past century, the ancient, dead language of Pali has had a rather lively role in mainland Southeast Asia: it has not only been used to expunge French words from Cambodian, but also to expunge Thai words from Lao, and Lao words from Thai. While Pali is an equally foreign language to all of the countries and cultures concerned, it has retained its status as a touchstone of cultural authenticity for all. This paper reflects on the basis of that sociolinguistic perception in more tangible relations of authority.

Download paper as pdf

The Rigveda, ‘small scale’ societies and rebirth eschatology

Joanna Jurewicz

In this paper I would like to join the discussion about transmigration in Vedic times. It is generally assumed that the ideas of transmigration were introduced by the kṣatriyas, as attested in the Upaniads (Bṛhadāraṇyaka,Chāndogya, Kauṣītaki) . The BU and CU present the ‘knowledge of five fires’ (pañcāgnividyā) together with the division into the pityāna and devayāna, paths taken by the dead according to their past deeds. The model of five fires is used to explain how the world works also in the Jaiminīya Brāhmaa (JB 1.45-46, 49-50). This Brāhmaṇatoo presents two possible ways the dead can take, depending on their knowledge.

Click here to download full document.


The Rise of the Concept of ‘Own-Nature’ (Sabhāva) in the Paṭisambhidāmagga

Noa Ronkin (Gal)

The Buddha’s teaching, as it is recorded in the first basket of the Pali Canon, the Sutta-piṭaka, is presented as the path leading to the solution of the fundamental problem of human existence, namely, dukkha, customarily translated as ‘suffering’. The Buddha’s message contains doctrinal concepts and theoretical statements on the nature of suffering, its cause and the way to its cessation, but these are merely guidelines for making sense of Buddhist thought and do not amount to a systematic theory.

Noa Ronkin (Gal) (more…)

Mindfulness and Psychological Process

J. Mark G. Williams

The author reviews the articles in the Special Section on Mindfulness, starting from the assumption that emotions evolved as signaling systems that need to be sensitive to environmental contingencies. Failure to switch off emotion is due to the activation of mental representations of present, past, and future that are created independently of external contingencies. Mindfulness training can be seen as one way to teach people to discriminate such “simulations” from objects and contingencies as they actually are. The articles in this Special Section show how even brief laboratory training can have effects on processing affective stimuli; that long-term meditation practitioners show distinct reactions to pain; that longer meditation training is associated with differences in brain structure; that 8 weeks’ mindfulness practice brings about changes in the way emotion is processed showing that participants can learn to uncouple the sensory, directly experienced self from the “narrative” self; that mindfulness training can affect working memory capacity, and enhance the ability of participants to talk about past crises in a way that enables them to remain specific and yet not be overwhelmed. The implications of these findings for understanding emotion and for further research is discussed.

Please click here to read the paper.

OCBS News – June 2015

Welcome to the June 2015 Issue of OCBS News.

We start with some very sad news.  Lance Cousins, renowned Pali scholar and Fellow of the OCBS, died on March 14th.  Sarah Shaw, another of our Fellows, has written an obituary which we are including here.  Lance was a great supporter of the Centre, and of the teaching in Pali at the University.  He is greatly missed.

In this newsletter we also report  on the recent donation by the Dhammachai Education Foundation and Dammachai International Research Institute, to support the Pali Summer School.  Full details below.

We finish with details of Volume 8 of our Journal, news of the latest Student Grants awarded by the OCBS, and details of our new Annual Review.

Thank you for your continued support of the OCBS.

Lance S. Cousins – Obituary

written by Sarah Shaw

With the death of Lance Cousins we have lost a man whose life was devoted to both the study and the practice of Buddhist meditation and theory. He will be deeply missed, and the effects of his life’s work long-lasting.

Lance Selwyn Cousins was born in 1942 in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, a place for which he always retained an affection, and where his family had been printers for several generations. He attended Letchworth Grammar and Hales Grammar. In 1961 he won a scholarship to read History at St John’s College, Cambridge. He changed to Oriental Studies, though a historical perspective never left his academic work. He studied with Professor Sir Harold Bailey and Professor K.R.Norman, both of whom left a mark on his scholarly methods and understanding. When he graduated he worked in computers, and then conducted research in Denmark. By this time he was married, and he and his wife Barbara had two children, Randal and Halla. In 1970 he obtained a job at the University of Manchester, in the Department of Comparative Religion, where he subsequently became Senior Lecturer.

Whilst at Cambridge, he had met the man whom he regarded as his lifelong teacher. Boonman Poonyathiro (1932–) had become a monk at an early age and trained at Wat Pailom in various forms of samatha practice at that time popular throughout Thailand. In 1963, now a layman, Boonman met Lance, who immediately decided to set up classes for him in London and then Cambridge. In Britain Boonman taught a variation on a traditional Thai practice based on samatha breathing mindfulness, the meditation said by the commentaries to have been undertaken by the Buddha on the night of the awakening. Lance instinctively felt that he had found a practice true to the Buddha’s original teachings on meditation, a conviction deepened by a lifetime’s practice and academic research. During this time Lance was involved with setting up the Samatha Trust and became its founding chairman (1973–1999). He worked on organization and class teaching, but his success perhaps lay most in the one-to-one discussion that lies at the heart of the way this form of meditation is taught. He remained a trustee all his life and regularly attended courses taken by Boonman.

In Manchester in the early seventies Lance enjoyed working with Professor John Hinnells, in a lively academic environment. As the only full-time member of staff teaching in the area of Indian religions he had a busy workload. He was also asked by one of his students to start a meditation class, which he did in 1971, with great success. So from this time teaching commitments were paramount, with those in academia and those with meditators working in tandem.

In 1977 Lance established a centre for Samatha practice in Manchester, on High Lane, Chorlton, and organized often extended visits by monks, nuns and lay teachers. The range of these demonstrated the interest he felt in the living Buddhist tradition: they included Ven. Anandamaitreya, Ven Piyadassa (Sri Lanka), Ajahn Chah, Ajahn Mahamanop (Thailand), and monks and nuns in the forest monastery tradition of the British Sangha Trust, including Ajahn Sumedho and Ajahn Viradhamma. The Burmese monks Ven U Titthila and Ven U Ñāṇika were invited: Ven U Ñāṇika’s teaching on the Yamaka over an extended period brought Lance in the presence of what he felt was a living Burmese tradition of Abhidhamma teaching. Guests from Cambodia were Ven Dhammavara and Ven Candavaṇṇa, a greatly esteemed student at Manchester University, who helped Lance in his early Abhidhamma and Sutta classes, linked to meditation. Ven Candavaṇṇa trained a few members of the group in the disciplines of Cambodian chanting, in which he was expert. Ananda Bodhi visited, as did Ato Rinpoche, and a Bhaisajyaguru initiation was held at the centre by the fourteenth Karmapa in 1978. Lance fostered links with the oldest Buddhist group in Britain outside London, the Manchester Buddhist Society, Sale, and with Saros, a philosophical group established by W.G.Davies. In 1986 a national Samatha Centre was founded in Greenstreete, Llangynllo, Powys; Lance frequently took courses and held meditation weeks there.

Whilst often busy with academic and personal teaching, Lance wrote some seminal articles, on oral literature, meditation and jhāna, during this time. He always felt, however, that he would like to pursue more academic research. The early nineties were a very difficult time for him, but after this period he did indeed do this. The circumstances were unhappy: his marriage broke up and the university became victim to radical changes. Lance took early retirement and in 2000 he moved to Oxford. He became a member of common room (2001–2007, 2009-2015) and a supernumerary fellow (2007–2009) at Wolfson College. He was made a member of the Faculty of Theology at Oxford University, where he taught and lectured on Pāli and Buddhist Studies. Lance thoroughly enjoyed academic life in Oxford, and his college. His given names were oddly apt: certainly on the outside a ‘Lance’, he was, on the inside, a ‘Selwyn’, ‘a friend in the house’ – or in college, organization, and family home. He was a regular attender at Wolfson, and Sanskritists’ lunch. He was a staunch supporter of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, set up by Professor Richard Gombrich, and became an honorary fellow. He was also delighted when Ajahn Dhammasāmi established the Oxford Buddha Vihāra. Some chanting was performed for him there on his 70th birthday.

At Oxford he undertook a considerable amount of academic work, though continued to teach and hold courses in samatha meditation, both for those in Wales and, in ventures he greatly enjoyed, for newly founded groups in Northern Ireland and America. He wrote extensively on Abhidhamma, Buddhist meditation, Pāli, Middle Indian and Buddhist Sanskrit textual studies, and the history of early Buddhist schools, particularly in the Southern Buddhist Tradition. Always primarily interested in the common sources of the modern meditative traditions, he had a special interest in Sanskrit Buddhist sources. He was working on a number of projects at the time of his death, a situation he patently enjoyed. He did not complete his translation of the Abhidhammāvatāra. A long-term planner, however, he left complete drafts of two books: a translation of the Yamaka and its commentary with Charles Shaw, and a history of aspects of Buddhist meditation. He knew that after two major heart attacks he might not see these published. After his move he sustained his strong connections with the living traditions in South and Southeast Asia. He spent periods of practice, teaching and research in Sri Lanka and Thailand and encouraged the Samatha group learning chanting with Ajahn Maha Laow to make tours in Thailand. In all, his death, the day after completing teaching of a five-term Pāli course, finally studying the commentary of Jarasutta (the ‘Discourse on Old Age’), came at a time of contented study, discussion and teaching.

His body remained at the Oxford Buddha Vihāra before his funeral, where full funerary Abhidhamma chanting was performed. Ajahn Dhammasāmi presided over his funeral, which included chanting, recital of the Mettā Sutta in English, and recollections from his daughter. At the reception at Wolfson afterwards, Professor Richard Gombrich discussed his career as an academic, Dr Paul Dennison his association with the Samatha Trust, Professor Rupert Gethin his role as a teacher, and Dr Rajith Dissanayake his strong Sri Lankan connections. The family recounted memories from childhood.

It is an odd thing when someone that you have known for a long time dies, as if only at death you see that person’s life as a whole, as you only see the full boat as it leaves the port. A funeral is a time when this becomes strangely possible, as one sees so many parts in a person’s life coming together. At Lance’s funeral many strands interacted, and all just looked very happy to have had a chance to know him. A theme that recurred was Lance’s careful distinction between academic work and private practice. This seems odd, but it was out of respect for both. The analogy that comes to mind is of the historian of an early musical instrument and the player. The historian wants to find out the detail of early materials that make up the composition of the instrument, the circumstances in which it was played, how and why the instrument developed, and notation for its music. The player just wants to play it better. For Lance, the instrument was the human mind and body. He helped people who wanted to find out about how the instrument was understood by early Buddhists, and the detail of its music. But he also helped people who wanted to find the right notes to play now. At his funeral, hosted by his children, all these parts came together so we could feel a harmonious whole; his life events, happy and sad, were recollected in an atmosphere of deep attentiveness. Barbara, his brother and sister, his extended family and all his seven grandchildren, of whom he was very proud, attended.

He died on March 14th, 2015. The hospital lost all records of him for a while afterwards and the family did not find out about his peaceful death, from his third heart attack, until five days later. As Dr Paul Dennison noted at his funeral, this was rather typical of Lance. For all his unbounded enthusiasm, quizzical wit, love of debate and conviviality, he could also be quietly traceless. After death his face apparently had that slight amused smile he sometimes had when some knotty puzzle was starting to become clear.

For his published work, see http://oxford.academia.edu/LSCousins

Dhammachai Foundation and DIRI

The Centre recently hosted a visit by monks from the Dhammachai Education Foundation and the Dhammachai International Research Institute, both based in Australia.

Led by Most Venerable Phrakruvithetsudhammayana  they came to the Centre to sign a Memorandum of Understanding.  As part of this they have pledged £6,000 per annum to the Centre for five years, to support the Pali Summer School.  This has been done to commemorate the 71st Birthday Anniversary of their Founder.

The Centre is very grateful for this support of such an important activity.

Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies

We are pleased to announce that Volume Eight of our Journal has been published.  It contains seven articles and one book review. Topics include Problems with Conze’s Prajñāpāramitāhrdaya and a detailed look at a ritual which is part of Tibetan medical practices.  It also includes an article by the late Lance Cousins on the origins of the canoncial abhida(r)mma literature.

We are happy to receive submissions for Volume Nine that is to be published in November.

Thank you to everyone who has worked to publicise our Journal. Full details about the JOCBS can be found here.

OCBS Student Grant

The OCBS has awarded two grants of £500 since our last newsletter.  In Hilary term, the grant went to Sangseraima Ujeed, a DPhil student who is working on the Tibetan Buddhist historiographical or biographical literary genre of gsan yig or thob yig ‘the records of teachings received’.  In Trinity term, the grant was awarded to Aleksandra Wenta, an MPhil student in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies, to assist with fieldwork.

The OCBS would like to thank the devotees of the Oxford Buddha Vihara, and an anonymous donor, for their generous sponsorships of these grants.

New Annual Review

The  OCBS has now produced its Annual Review for this year.  In it we give details of our activities over the last year, including our conference in Pune, and list some of our plans for the future.  It can be found on the Support Us page of our website, or by clicking here.

We hope you enjoy reading it and please pass it on to anyone you think might be interested in our work.

Clair Linzey



Clair Linzey is the Deputy Director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics and Associate Editor of the Journal of Animal Ethics.

She graduated first in her class with First Class Honours from the University of St Andrews, Scotland (2002-2006), with a Master of Arts in Theological Studies. While studying at St Andrews, she won a string of prizes, including the Samuel Rutherford Prize for outstanding achievement in Senior Honours, the Norman H. G. Robinson Book Prize for achievement in Senior Honours, the A. H. Johnstone Memorial Medal for outstanding achievement in Junior Honours, the John Hope Prize for achievement in Junior Honours, the Hamilton Bursary for academic merit, the Agnes Anderson Prize for outstanding examination performance, the Wemyss Bursary for academic merit, and the Yeomann Bursary for academic merit.

She was awarded the Monrad Scholarship and William Honeymoon Gillespie Scholarship to study at Harvard Divinity School, where she gained her Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard University in 2008. During her time at Harvard, she was a member of the Editorial Review Board ofCulture: The Graduate Journal of Harvard Divinity School, and was a research assistant for Professor Philip Clayton helping to produce Arthur Peacocke’s All That Is: A Naturalistic Faith for the Twenty First Century, edited by Philip Clayton (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007).

While at Harvard Divinity School, Clair won a place on their International Summer Field Education Placement in 2007. She spent the summer in Nicaragua where she taught in a rural school and travelled the country learning about its history and the growth of liberation theology. This, combined with her life-long commitment to animal protection, resulted in an interest in ecological and liberation theologies in South America. She is currently pursuing a PhD under Professor Mario Aguilar at the University of St Andrews on the Ecological Theology of Leonardo Boff with special consideration of the place of animals.

She is currently writing, with Andrew Linzey, a series of articles, including entries for the Vocabulary for the Study of Religion, the Encyclopedia of Bioethics 4th Edition, the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Ethics, and the Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics.

For more details on Clair Linzey please visit The Ferrater Mora Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics and the Journal of Animal Ethics.

Revd Professor Andrew Linzey



The Revd Professor Andrew Linzey, PhD, DD, HonDD, is a member of the Faculty of Theology in the University of Oxford, and Honorary Research Fellow of St Stephen’s House, Oxford. He is also Honorary Professor at the University of Winchester, and Special Professor at Saint Xavier University, Chicago. In addition, he is the first Professor of Animal Ethics at the Graduate Theological Foundation, Indiana.

Professor Linzey previously held the world’s first academic post in Theology and Animal Welfare — at Mansfield College, Oxford (1992-2000), and subsequently at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford (2000-2006). From 1987 to 1992, he was Director of Studies of the Centre for the Study of Theology in the University of Essex, and from 1992 to 1996, he was Special Professor in Theology at the University of Nottingham. In 1998, he was Visiting Professor at the Koret School of Veterinary Medicine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. From 1996 to 2007, he was also Honorary Professor at the University of Birmingham.

Professor Linzey has written or edited 20 books and more than 100 articles. His work has been translated into Italian, French, Polish, Spanish, German, Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese. He has lectured and broadcast extensively in Europe and the United States. In 2001, he was awarded a DD (Doctor of Divinity) degree by the Archbishop of Canterbury in recognition of his ‘unique and massive pioneering work at a scholarly level in the area of the theology of creation with particular reference to the rights and welfare of God’s sentient creatures’. This is the highest award that the Archbishop can bestow on a theologian and the first time it has been awarded for theological work on animals. In 2006, he was placed on The Independent’s ‘Good List’ of 50 people who have changed Britain ‘for the better’. In 2010, he was awarded the Lord Erskine Award from the RSPCA for advancing animal welfare within the Christian community.

For more details on Professor Linzey please visit The Ferrater Mora Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics and the Journal of Animal Ethics.

Sarah Shaw



Sarah Shaw studied Greek and English at Manchester University, where she obtained a doctorate in English Literature. She studied Pali at Oxford and has written books and articles on Buddhist themes. She is a member of Wolfson College and the Oriental Institute.

E-mail:  sarah99@onetel.com

Georgios Halkias


Dr Georgios T. Halkias is a specialist on Tibetan forms and practices of Buddhism in Tibet, Central Asia and the NW Himalayas. He completed his MA (Comparative Philosophy) at the University of Hawai‘i and his DPhil (Oriental Studies) at the University of Oxford. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Tibetan Buddhism at the Centre of Buddhist Studies, the University of Hong Kong.

He has held several research posts at the Warburg Institute, at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, and has been a British Academy Post-doctoral Fellow at SOAS, University of London. He has several publications including a substantial monograph on the history and development of Pure Land Buddhism in Tibet, Luminous Bliss: a Religious History of Pure Land Literature in Tibet. With an Annotated Translation and Critical Analysis of the Orgyen-ling golden Small Sukhāvatīvyūha-sūtra (Hawaii: University of Hawai‘i Press 2012); “The Muslim Queens of the Himalayas: Princess Exchange in Ladakh and Baltistan,” in Islam and Tibet: Interactions Along the Musk Routes, ed. by Anna Akasoy, et al. (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2010), pp. 231-252; 2008. “Buddhist Meditation Traditions in Tibet: The Union of the Three Vehicles,” in Buddhist Meditation: An Introduction, by Sharah Shaw. (New York: Rutledge Press, 2008) pp. 159-186; and “Tibetan Buddhism Registered: Imperial Archives from the Palace-Temple of ’Phang-thang.” (The Eastern Buddhist, Vol. XXXVI, Nos. 1 and 2, 2004). pp. 46-105.

He is currently researching the translation history of Buddhism in Tibet with Prof. Roberta Raine http://translationintibet.wordpress.com/.


Tibetan Buddhism Registered

The Muslim Queens of the Himalayas

From: “The Muslim Queens of the Himalayas: Princess Exchange in Ladakh and Baltistan.” In Islam-Tibet: Interactions along the Musk Routes,  eds. Anna Akasoy et al. Ashgate Publications, 2011: 231-252.

Georgios’ new book is Luminous Bliss: A Religious History of Pure Land Literature in Tibet.  For more details please click here.


Lance Cousins

Obituary Notice:

We announce with deep regret that Lance S. Cousins, Research Fellow of the OCBS, died in Oxford on 14 March 2015.

Here is a link to a collection of his academic works held online:


L.S. Cousins was formerly Senior Lecturer in Comparative Religion (University of Manchester) and a Supernumerary Fellow of Wolfson College (Oxford). Also a former President of the UK Association for Buddhist Studies and of the Pali Text Society His main areas of research concern the history of Buddhist schools, Abhidhamma literature and thought, as well as Pali, Middle Indian and Buddhist Sanskrit textual studies. His publications include 22 articles in periodicals and festschrifts and some edited volumes. To this can be added some 44 book reviews in 15 periodicals. and the section on Buddhism in: John R. Hinnells, _A New Handbook of Living Religions, Blackwell, 1997, pp. 369–444. Eight of his articles have been reprinted in Vols I–IV of Williams, Paul, Buddhism: critical concepts in religious studies, Routledge, London, 2005. In Oxford, he has taught various aspects of Buddhism, mainly in the Theology Faculty and Pali and Middle Indian in the Oriental Faculty. He has also taught Buddhist meditation for many years and is the Founding Chairman of the Samatha Trust and other related organizations.


Tambapaṇṇiya and Tāmraśāṭiya


Ven Dhammasami

dhammasamiOriginally from Shan State, Union of Burma, Khammai Dhammasami has a doctorate from Oxford. The incumbent of the Oxford Buddha Vihara, he also heads the International Association of Buddhist Universities (www.iabu.org) and has been involved in organising the UN day of Vesak, based in Bangkok since 2005. He travels the world both in that capacity and as teacher and meditation master. He has a key role in the OCBS’ relations with the Sangha and Buddhist Universities in Theravada countries and more widely across Asia.

Jowita Kramer

jowita2Jowita Kramer completed a doctorate (Hamburg, 2004) and habilitation (Munich, 2010) in Indology. The main focus of her research lies on Indian and Indo-Tibetan Buddhism (with particular emphasis on the philosophical concepts of the Yogācāra tradition) and on aspects of authorship, originality, and intertextuality in Buddhist commentarial literature. Her publications include a monograph on the Yogācāra concept of the “five categories” (vastu) and studies of the Pañcaskandhakavibhāṣā, a 6th-century commentary by the Indian scholar Sthiramati on Vasubandhu’sPañcaskandhaka.

See also the Faculty of Oriental Studies website at http://www.orinst.ox.ac.uk/staff/isa/jkramer.html

Robert Mayer

robmayerRobert Mayer joined the Oriental Institute in 2002, where he holds the posts of University Research Lecturer and Research Officer.   He completed his BA (Hons) at Bristol, and his PhD at Leiden. His first job was Lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Wales, followed by a Visiting Chair in Tibetology at the Humboldt University of Berlin from 1999 to 2001, and after a year in the Anthropology Department at Kent, he came to Oxford in October 2002. He has also twice been a Visiting Scholar at Wolfson College. He is a specialist in the rNying ma school of Tibetan Buddhism, and has published a number of books, monographs and articles, over twenty of them since 2006 for the current REF period, and mostly together with his wife and co-worker, Dr Cathy Cantwell.  One of his goals is to clarify the early rNying ma period by studying the Dunhuang texts in context. Another goal is to improve the standards of philology and critical editing within Tibetan Studies. A third goal is to preserve, protect and describe the few surviving witnesses of the once much more plentiful ‘Ancient Tantra Collection’, or rNying ma’i rgyud ‘bum.  A researcher by vocation, he and his wife Dr Cathy Cantwell have designed and directed several large research projects, mainly funded by the AHRC. However, he also occasionally teaches and takes graduate students, particularly if their interests overlap with his.

He and Cathy’s blog can be found at: http://blogs.orient.ox.ac.uk/kila/, and his faculty staff page at http://www.orinst.ox.ac.uk/staff/isa/rmayer.html.

Rob has recently published a new book with Cathy.  Please Click Here for more details.

Enduring Myths Smrang, Rabs and Ritual in the Dunhuang Texts on Padmasambhava


Suren Rāghavan

surenSuren – a native of Sri Lanka, won the first James Madison Trust Scholarship for Asia and joined the School of Political and International Relations at the University of Kent in 2005 for his MA. He wrote a dissertation on the question of Federal Possibility in Sri Lanka, for which he was awarded a distinction. He returned to Canada and engaged with a research project with University of Ottawa. Suren was offered another scholarship for his PhD by James Madison Trust in 2008. Above this, he also won the ORSAS scholarship by the British Government (for the years 2008-2011) Suren is also the recipient of the OSAP award offered by the Ontario Provincial government of Canada. He carries a number of years of experience in direct political activities including Track I & II peace negotiations and political reforms at national level in Sri Lanka.

He is currently a visiting professor at University of St Paul – Ottawa. He has presented more than 25 research papers at various international forums and contributed to several academic books. His recent publications include The Buddhist Monks and the Politics of Lanka’s Civil War (Equinox – UK), and Post -War Militancy of Sinhala Saṅgha: Reasons and Reactions (Oxford University Press (North America) [co-edited] .

Yao Jue

yaojueYao Jue has a doctorate from Yunnan University in history (2007). And, she is the postdoctoral research fellow of the Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica (2009-2011). Currently, she is the associate research fellow of the Institute of Religious Studies, Yunnan University. Her research fields include Theravada Buddhist texts in Sipsonbanna Dai Lue script (Vessantara Jātaka and Ordination text in particular), Pāli texts and Tangut Buddhist texts.

Yu-Shuang Yao

yu-shuang yaoYu-Shuang Yao completed her PhD in Sociology of Religion at the University of London in 2001. She is an Associate Professor at Fo Guang University, Taiwan, specializing in contemporary religions of Taiwan. She has published various articles in Chinese and won scholarships from the CCK, International Scholarly Exchange for Thesis Fellowship (1997), and the Fulbright American Study (2004).


Brian Victoria

bvBrian Daizen Victoria is a native of Omaha, Nebraska and a 1961 graduate of Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Nebraska. He holds a M.A. in Buddhist Studies from Sōtō Zen sect-affiliated Komazawa University in Tokyo, and a Ph.D. from the Department of Religious Studies at Temple University.

In addition to a 2nd, enlarged edition of Zen At War (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), Brian’s major writings include Zen War Stories (RoutledgeCurzon, 2003); an autobiographical work in Japanese entitled Gaijin de ari, Zen bozu de ari (As a Foreigner, As a Zen Priest), published by San-ichi Shobo in 1971; Zen Master Dōgen,coauthored with Prof. Yokoi Yūhō of Aichi-gakuin University (Weatherhill, 1976); and a translation of The Zen Life by Sato Koji (Weatherhill, 1972). In addition, Brian has published numerous journal articles, focusing on the relationship of not only Buddhism but religion in general to violence and warfare.

From 2005 to 2013 Brian was a professor of Japanese Studies and director of the AEA “Japan and Its Buddhist Traditions Program” at Antioch University in Yellow Springs, OH. Currently he is a Visiting Research Fellow at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto, Japan where he is writing a book tentatively entitled:Zen Terrorism in 1930s Japan. Brian is a fully ordained Buddhist priest in the Sōtō Zen sect.

Please click here to see a video of a talk given by Prof Victoria for the The Asian Conference of Ethics, Religion & Philosophy 2016 (ACERP2016) in Kobe, Japan in Spring 2016.

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.