New Buddhist Institute in Europe

One of the less discussed modes in which transnational Buddhist connections and interactions are taking place globally is through education, particularly university-level institutions. Increasingly we are seeing the organisation of Buddhist education at a global scale through organisations like the International Association of Buddhist Universities, The International Association of Theravada Buddhist Universities, or through specific Buddhist universities with a global focus, such as The World Buddhist University. Interestingly, Thailand has a particularly important role in the international Buddhist education scene, a fact which has, as far as I know, not yet received detailed scholarly attention.

In an interesting new development, a new Institute has recently been established in Hungary through cooperation between the Dharma Gate Buddhist College and Mahachulongkornrajavidayala University, Thailand’s biggest Buddhist university.

The prestigious Mahachulongkornrajavidayala University of Thailand (MCU) is *opening wide* the gate of the Dharma in Europe.

The new institute, the European Buddhist Training Center (EBTC) is a cooperative effort between *Dharma Gate Buddhist College (DGBC),Hungary and MCU.

From September, 2014, we will open the Master of Arts Program in Buddhist Studies, an MCU accredited degree available at DGBC, Budapest. Language of instruction is English.

The EBTC is unique in a sense that this is the only school, where both religious practice *and* academic research of Buddhism meet in one state-accredited institute of higher education in Europe.

Please find more information on EBTC here:

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Latest JGB article: “Cultivating Charisma” by Clark Chilson

Our latest JGB article is now online. Here are the details:

“Cultivating Charisma: Ikeda Daisaku’s Self Presentations and Transformational Leadership” by Clark Chilson, University of Pittsburgh.

Abstract: Although social scientific studies of leadership have progressed significantly since the 1960s, discussions of popular religious leaders remain grounded in Weberian ideas on “charisma.” Because “charisma” in Weber’s writings lacks conceptual clarity and analytical precision, it fails to illuminate how specific understandings of popular leaders develop or how leaders create affective ties with followers. Weber’s discussions of charisma, however, can still lead to important questions. Using a Weberian statement on charisma as a departure point, this article argues on the basis of the published diary of Ikeda Daisaku, leader of the Nichiren Buddhist organization Sōka Gakkai, that self-representations by a leader can influence how followers understand him or her in a way that cultivates charisma. More specifically it argues that by depicting the mentor-disciple relationship as empowering, Ikeda’s diary can serve as a method for transformational leadership that fosters a sense of intimacy and nurtures affective ties with him.

Edit: I forgot to add a link to the article. Here it is (PDF).

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Conference on violence and non-violence in Japanese religions

Relevant to my most recent post, I’d like to mention that there is a conference coming up in Hawaii on the the subject of violence and non-violence in Japanese religion. Here are the details:

Numata Conference in Buddhist Studies, University of Hawaii. March 20–21, 2014 in the Hawaii Imin International Conference Center, Keoni Auditorium.

For two days, presentations, discussions, and movies will focus on the following theme: Violence, Nonviolence, and Japanese Religions: Past, Present, and Future

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Daizen Brian Victoria on D.T. Suzuki and the Nazis

The Asia Pacific Journal has recently published a series of three articles by Daizen Brian Victoria on the subject of D.T. Suzuki and the Nazis. This is the latest contribution by Victoria in his long-term research on the relationship between Zen Buddhism and war in Japan.

Here are the links to part 1, part 2, and part 3.

Over at the Sweeping Zen site, there’s an interesting (and robust) discussion going on the subject here: “An Article Concerning “D. T. Suzuki and the Nazis”“. As can be seen from the heated nature of the discussion it’s an extremely controversial subject. It’s thought-provoking stuff and well worth investigating.

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JGB volume 15 now online

I’m happy to announce that volume 15 of the Journal of Global Buddhism is now underway. The first three articles and one book review are now online, with much more in the pipeline. 

Here are the details of our first offerings for 2104:


Almost a Proper Buddhist: the Post-secular Complexity of Heritage Buddhist Teen Identity in Britain
By Phra Nicholas Thanissaro 
[abstract] [full textPage 1

From Buddhist Hippies to Buddhist Geeks: The Emergence of Buddhist Postmodernism?
By Ann Gleig 
[abstract] [full textPage 15

Diversification in the Buddhist Churches of America: Demographic Trends and Their Implications for the Future Study of U.S. Buddhist Groups
By Anne C. Spencer 
[abstract] [full textPage 35

Book review

The Arts of Contemplative Care: Pioneering Voices in Buddhist Chaplaincy and Pastoral Work by Cheryl A. Giles and Willa B. Miller. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2012, vii + 345 pages, ISBN 978-0-86171-664-7 (cloth), $34.95.

Reviewed by Wendy Cadge
[full textPage 63

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JewBu: Teaching resources on Jewish Buddhist encounters

A very interesting initiative I recently learnt about is called Jewish Buddhist Encounters, a website providing teaching resources on the intersection of Jewish and Buddhist religious identities in the USA. The site address issues to do with multiple religious identifications, the relationship between Jewish and Buddhist contemplative traditions, and the problem of multiple religious belonging for membership in religious organisations. The resources include literature on general issues of multiple religious identification, but the emphasis is on case studies “designed to enhance the ways in which theological and religious studies educators teach about the changing religious landscape in America”. The site would seem to offer an excellent set of resources, not only for teaching on  (and researching) the articulation of Judaism and Buddhism in the USA, but also for those interested in broader issues of religious belonging, transformation, “hybridity”, “Buddhism in the West”, and so forth.

These resources  were designed by Emily Sigalow and Wendy Cadge  of Brandeis University and Ellie Pierce at Harvard. The project receives support from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.

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Vello Vaartnou and the Encyclopedia of Chinese Buddhism

CBE Logo

Logo of the Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia

The following is an interview with Australian-based Estonian Buddhist monk and scholar Vello Vaartnou. It details an exciting project he has been working on since 2012 to develop the Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia, an online Wikipedia-style production which seeks to collect and curate knowledge about Buddhism. The emphasis is on Chinese Buddhism, as the name suggests, but the the Encyclopedia sets out to provide a repository of knowledge about Buddhism generally. It therefore promises to be of interest to Buddhists, regardless of tradition.

The interview has been reproduced with permission.


The First Year of Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia

The end of the year 2012 marked an important milestone in academic Buddhism.             During the PNC conference held at Berkeley University on 7-9 December, Vello Vaartnou , a Buddhist monk from Australia,  launched his voluminous new project, an online Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia.

Delegates attending the Berkeley conference.

Delegates attending the Berkeley conference.

It has taken Vaartnou many years to accumulate the knowledge and merit to start such a massive undertaking – one that is expected to continue long after most of our lifetimes.

Vello Vaartnou has been a dedicated Buddhist for over 40 years and has educated people in Buddhism in many countries. He established the practical Buddhist tradition and the first nyingma movement, the Estonian Buddhist Brotherhood  in 1980 and introduced the first Buddhist objects into the Estonian intellectual and religious landscape.

He has translated books and texts, built seven stupas (including the first stupas of Northern Europe), and prayer wheels and temples.

Vello Vaartnou himself is a significant person in terms of modernizing Buddhist teachings and making them more available. He is the first ever to start using computers to paint thangkas and design temples with 3-D software and is today the author of two online Buddhist Encyclopedias and founder of two annual international Buddhist conference  in Europe and Australia. Since 2010 Vaartnou has been developing international educational projects in the Australasian region, initiating the international conferences Buddhism & Australia, an online History of Buddhist Australia, series of exhibitions and an online Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia (CBE).

Vaartnou giving an interview in Hongkong

Vaartnou giving an interview in Hongkong

The first entries for the Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia were posted  in December 2012 and it has since grown to 20 000 articles in English and 4000 in Chinese. Vaartnou has continued his work on the project which is already considered one of the biggest online resources on Buddhism.

Let`s have a look at the CBE on its first birthday, and ask its author more about it.

Continue reading

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Call for papers: Buddhism and healing

Here is a call for papers for an upcoming event in the UK:

Buddhism and Healing

University of Leeds 1-2nd July 2014

Call for Papers – Postgraduate Panel

This is the first call for graduate student papers for the Postgraduate panel at the next UKABS two-day conference at the University of Leeds, 1-2nd July 2014. As part of the conference, which has drawn a number of high-profile international speakers, there will be an opportunity for a select number of graduate students to present short papers on their research. Note that you do not need to present a polished final version of your work. If you are not yet at an advanced stage, you can present your current ideas and plans, with a view to gaining some feedback from more established Buddhist Studies scholars – a fantastic opportunity for graduate students. Your paper does not need to follow the theme of the conference. Conference attendance and reasonable travel costs will be funded.

To apply, please send an abstract and a statement of your university affiliation and stage of studies, to reach me by 28th March 2014. Could academic staff please inform your students of this, and encourage those who are interested to submit an abstract.

Caroline Starkey ( Post-Graduate Representative, UKABS Committee.

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Insight connect

I recently wrote about how new social media have been allowing meditators to come together in physical space in so-called meditation flash mobs. Now here is an example of new technologies enabling meditators to connect while physically dispersed. As reported on the Wildmind blog, the new Insight Timer app (for iOS and Android) has a function called Insight Connect that allows registered users to see who is currently meditating around the world (looking at the website, there is an interactive map that shows that there are 181 people currently meditating with the app).

According to the app’s creator, Brad Fulmer, “The idea behind the community part is to provide the experience of being part of a meditation group even though you may be meditating alone.” So, a bit like the flash mobs, the app is designed to overcome the potential isolation associated with meditation and to turn it into a collective practice.

Looking at the video demonstration below, I see that the app also has a lot of social media functions that allow people to “friend” other users and to compare achievements. I could see the system of displaying achievements could lead to a subtle competition for status, although this social aspect is perhaps not a bad thing.

The use of the mobile apps in this way reminds me of Benedict Anderson’s argument in Imagined Communities that new forms of literature like the novel and the newspaper that emerged in the modern era helped to create the sense of simultaneousness, of a shared experience of time, which allowed people to be able to imagine themselves as being part of a nation. When people read the daily newspaper, so the argument goes (and my memory might not be totally accurate), in the back of their mind they imagined other people around the nation doing the same thing. It’s not hard to see how an app of this kind could contribute to a sense of shared time and the experience of being part of an imagined transnational community of co-practitioners.

I’ve downloaded the app and plan to try it out. I’m interested to see what the experience is like if it does produce the sort of sensibility its creators intended.

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CfP: 3rd International Conference Buddhism & Australia

Here is a recent call for papers for an upcoming conference on Buddhism and Australia:

IC Buddhism & Australia is pleased to announce a call for papers for the

3rd International Conference Buddhism & Australia

The conference investigates Buddhism in Australasian region and will be held on 6 – 8 February 2014,
in Perth, Western Australia.

The main theme for the conference is: ” History, current and future directions of Buddhism in Australasian region”.
The organizers are open to proposals for contributions on Buddhism history, philosophy, texts (Sutras, Tantras, commentaries, translations)
as well for proposals on open topics related to Buddhism e.g. art, psychology, science, astrophysics, etc.

All Buddhists, researchers, scholars, students and members of the general public interested in Buddhism are cordially
invited to present their papers in this coming conference. Researchers across a broad range of disciplines are welcomed.

Working language will be English.
The time for paper presentation is 30 min including questions and answer time.
Papers to be presented in the conference will be published on conference website.Papers must not have previously been published and,
if accepted, cannot be published though other media. Copyright owner for published papers will be B& A Inc.

Deadline for Abstracts: September 30, 2013

Deadline for Full-Article: November 30, 2013

To participate in the conference “Buddhism & Australia 2014″ please kindly submit an abstract of your paper and CV (max of 2 pages)
by September 30, 2013 by the following e-mail:

Registration Fees
Payment of the conference fee of 650 AUD should be made by December 10, 2013
! Early Bird registration fee of 550 AUD is possible until October 10, 2013

Participation fee 650 AUD will include  participation in all sessions for 3 days,
printed conference materials; lunches and coffee breaks during the conference.

*Conference Package with accommodation and transfer is possible for 1600 AUD by request.
! Early Bird of 1400 AUD is possible until October 10, 2013

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