2012 Professors and Topics

Lance Cousins, Oxford University
“Buddhist Meditation Old and New”

The title of Professor Cousins’ lectures will be “Meditation Old and New.” They will provide a look at meditation in the Southern Buddhist tradition from its beginnings at the time of the Buddha and after, with a survey of some of the many schools of meditation practice found in recent Theravāda Buddhism and an interlude in Central Asia. Topics of individual lectures include: “Form and Formless Meditation in the Pali Canon,” “The Roots of Insight Meditation,” “A Lost Meditation Tradition from the Silk Road,” “The prorāṇa Meditation Practice of Southeast Asia,” “The Flourishing of Insight Meditation in Modern Times,” and “The Various Schools of Samatha Meditation Today.”

Toru Funayama, Kyoto University
“Kamalaśīla on the Bodhisattva Path, Meditation, and Yogic Perception”

The title of Prof. Funayama’s lectures will be: “Kamalasīla on the bodhisattva path, meditation and yogic perception.” Numerous Mahāyāna sutras tell us that conceptual cognition (vikalpa) prevents us from knowing the world as it really is, in other words, we cannot understand reality due to our minds being dominated by conceptual thought. On the other hand, some Yogācāra texts claim that a sort of analytic, correct examination of things is indispensable for knowing the truth or reality. In his lectures Prof. Funayama will focus on Kamalaśīla (late 8th cent.), a key Yogācāra philosopher and bodhisattva who was very influential in the later history of Buddhism in both India and Tibet. He will explore his theory of bodhisattva practice and meditation with special reference to the significance of conceptual cognition in meditation.

Morten Schlütter, University of Iowa
“The Platform Sutra and the Beginning of Ch’an”
“Silent Illumination versus Koan Introspection in Song-Dynasty China”

Professor Schlütter will be lecturing on two themes: “The Platform Sūtra of the Sixth Patriarch and the Beginnings of Chan” and “Silent Illumination versus Kōan Introspection in Song-dynasty Chan.”

“The Platform Sūtra of the Sixth Patriarch and the Beginnings of Chan”

Dating back to the eighth century C.E., the Platform Sūtra of the Sixth Patriarch is a foundational text of Chan Buddhism that can tell us much about the early evolution of Chan/Zen. The Platform Sūtra is purported to be the recorded words of the the Sixth Patriarch Huineng (638-713), who is understood to be the father of all later Chan/Zen Buddhism. These lectures will focus on the Dunhuang version of the Platform Sūtra, which is available in English translation, and will explore how the text both reflects and contributes to the early development of Chan Buddhism.

“Silent Illumination versus Kōan Introspection in Song-dynasty Chan”

In the Song (960-1279) an important debate took place within Chan Buddhism between two different approaches to practice and enlightenment. The dispute seems to have begun with the development of mozhao (Jpn.: mokushō), or silent illumination Chan, named after a famous poem by its most distinguished proponent, the Caodong (Jpn.: Sōtō) master Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091-1157). Hongzhi strongly emphasized the inherent Buddha nature of all sentient beings, which he held can be experienced directly in sitting meditation. The renowned Linji (Jpn. Rinzai) master Dahui Zonggao (1089-1163) sought to counter silent illumination with what came to be known as kanhua (Jpn.: kanna) Chan, or gongan (Jpn.: kōan) introspection Chan, a style of practice that aimed at a shattering enlightenment experience. This lecture series will seek to illuminate the difference between the two approaches and clarify the context in which they arose.

Previous Professors

Each year, eminent professors from across the globe journey to the Seminar to present studies of Buddhism from their individual perspective. Previous professors include:

Dr. John Mcrae, U. of Indiana, Bloomington
Dr. Harold Roth, Brown University
Dr. Karma Lekshe Tsomo, USD
Dr. Frederick Streng, S.M.U.
Red Pine, translator
Dr. Shigeo Kamata, Tokyo Univ.
Dr. Gajin Nagao, Kyoto Univ.
Dr. Keiji Nishitani, Kyoto Univ.
Dr. Koshiro Tamaki, Tokyo Univ.
Prof. Helen Baroni, U. Hawaii
Prof. Sarah Shaw, Oxford University
Dr. Carl Bielfeldt, Stanford Univ.
Dr. Martin Colcutt, Princeto
Dr. Jay Garfield, Smith College
Dr. Luis Gomez, Univ. of Michigan
Prof. Janet Gyatso, Harvard
Prof. Charles Hallisey, UW Madison
Dr. Lewis Lancaster, U.C. Berkeley
Dr. William LaFleur, U. of Pennsylvania
Prof. Emer. Noritoshi Aramaki, Kyoto Univ.
Prof. Sara McClintock, Emory
Prof. Emer. John Maraldo, Brown University

Dharma Talks may be offered by the Rev. Kyozan Joshu Sasaki, Roshi, health permitting.