First International Buddhist College Buddhist Studies Conference

The First International Buddhist College Buddhist Studies Conference was held at Than Hsiang Temple from Friday, 11 th to Sunday, 13 th August 2006. More than two hundred and fifty people participated in this Conference, the theme of which was “Aspects of Buddhist Studies”.

On Friday, 11 th August 2006, an Opening and Welcoming Banquet was held at the Multi Purpose Hall in Level 5 of Than Hsiang Temple. Venerable Wei Wu, the Abbot of Than Hsiang Temple and Council Chairman of the International Buddhist College, welcomed everyone to the banquet. The Guest of Honour, Yang Berhormat Datuk Tan Chai Ho, Deputy Home Affairs Minister of Malaysia, then declared the Conference open in his speech. Professor C. F. Lee, JP of Tung Lin Kok Yuen and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong was next to speak as co-sponsor of the Conference. Venerable Dr. K. L. Dhammajoti, the Vice-Rector of the International Buddhist College, next took the floor to talk on the Conference.

After the Banquet, a documentary “Gate of Sweet Nectar: Feeding Hungry Spirits in an American Zen Community” by Professor Peter Gregory (Smith College) was shown to the public. It was interesting to note how the Hungry Ghost Festival here deferred from the more ritualistic approach adopted by the Zen community in Los Angeles, USA.

During the Conference, a total of seven panels were held in which twenty-three speakers presented their papers. The subjects of these papers ranged from Sera, one of Tibet's great monasteries, to the Bodhisattva Dizang to Buddhist Hymns in Theravada Buddhism in Nepal. The papers presented truly covered all “Aspects of Buddhist Studies”, the theme of the Conference.

This was the first time a conference of this nature had been organised and held in Than Hsiang Temple. Even then, it can be said that the Conference was a resounding success. This was mainly due to a core group of volunteers who helped plan, took leave, and worked real hard at bringing the Conference to fruition. Maha Sadhu to their unstinting and selfless efforts! Thanks are also due to all the staff of Than Hsiang Temple who had helped in one way or another behind the scene.

It had been decided that the International Buddhist College would hold such conferences annually. It was announced that the 2007 conference would be held in July in Malaysia. We can surely look to a better conference next year!

Papers Presented in the Conference

1) "Sera: One of Tibet's Great Monastic Universities" by Jose Cabezon (University of California - Santa Barbara)

2) "The Evolution of Geluk Leadership: The Case of Drebung Monastery" by Georges Dreyfuss (Williams College)

3) “Darstantika, Sautrantika and Yogacara” by Venerable K.L. Dhammajoti (Hong Kong University)

4) "Resurgence of the Zhunti Cult in the Late Ming/Early Qing China" by Robert Gimello (Harvard University)

5) "Esotericism in East Asian Buddhism: Iconographical Questions on the Cult of Dizang" by Hank Glassman (Haverford College)

6) "Gate of Sweet Nectar: Feeding Hungry Spirits in an American Zen Community" by Peter Gregory (Smith College)

7) "Medieval Japanese Tendai Interpretations of the Precepts" by Paul Groner (University of Virginia)

8) "Reflections on 'Buddhist Modernism': The Case of Colonial Cambodia" by Anne Hansen (University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee)

9) "Buddhism and Religious Culture" by John Holt (Bowdoin College)

10) "An Overview of Research of Chinese Commentaries of the Lotus Sutra" by Hiroshi Kanno (Soka University)

11) "Candrakirti's Prescription for Treating the Three Poisons" by Karen Lang (University of Virginia)

12) "What is an 'Esoteric' Rite in Late Imperial China? The Case of Yuqie yankou" by Hun Lye (Warren Wilson College)

13) "Fear, Ghosts, and Incantations: Towards a Buddhist Textual Anthropology of Bangkok" by Justin McDaniel (University of California - Riverside)

14) "Sinification and Indianization: State Formation, Cultural Influence, and Indigenization in the History of Buddhism in East and Southeast Asia" by John McRae

15) "One Vehicle in the Chinese Agamas: New Light on an Old Problem In Pali" by Jan Nattier (Soka University)

16) "The Monastery as an Avenue of Social Mobility?: Monastic Recruitment in the Theravada" by Jeffrey Samuels (University of Western Kentucky)

17) "Buddhist Studies in 2006: A Transformed Field" by Peter Skilling (Chulalongkorn University)

18) "Production of Manuals for the Rites of the Tiantai Four Samadhis in Later China: The Case for an Inter-textual Ritual Discourse" by Daniel Stevenson (University of Kansas)

19) "'This Land of Mine is Secure and Peaceful': The Lotus Sutra and the Immanent Buddha Realm" by Jacqueline Stone (Princeton University)

20) "Buddhist Hymns in Theravada Buddhism in Nepal" by Venerable Phra Sugandha (Mahidol & Mahamakut University)

21) "Presencing the Buddha in Northern Thailand: Perspectives from Ritual and Narrative" by Donald Swearer (Harvard University)

22) "The Sanskrit of Harivarman's Chengshi lun" by Charles Willemen (International Buddhist College)

23) "Filial daughters and Condemned Mothers in the Drama of Afterlife Salvation: A study of the Scripture on the Past Vows of the Bodhisattva Dizang" by Venerable Shi Zhiru (Pomona College)

24) “Using Digital Technology to Facilitate Collaborative Research on Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries" by David Germano (University of Virginia)

For more information about the Conference, please visit the conference page: