INCISE and Fo Guang Shan (FGS) London co-organised a forum and conference on the 27th of January at Canterbury Christ Church University.
At the opening of the forum, a donation for the library was made to the University and INCISE if the form of a 20 volume encyclopedia of Buddhist Arts edited by a team under the auspices of grand-master Hsing Yun, the founder of FGS, featuring approximately 10,000 entries and 14,000 illustrations in eight categories including architecture, caves, and sculptures.
The University and the Intersectional Centre for Inclusion and Social Justice (INCISE) have received a precious library donation from Fo Guang Shan (FGS), a charitable Buddhist organisation with over one million followers worldwide.
Distinguished FGS dignitaries including Ven. Man Qian, the organisation’s global ‘number two’ and abbess of FGS Europe, and Ven. Miao Shiang, abbess of FGS UK, presented INCISE and the University with the encyclopedia, which was gratefully accepted by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Shepherd, and INCISE Director, Professor Bee Scherer.
Bee said: “This is the first official collaboration between FGS and INCISE. I am overjoyed by this generous gift; only a few libraries in the UK and the world hold a copy of this precious encyclopedia. It will be an invaluable aid to future generations of students and researchers at INCISE and the University.”
Three speakers were invited to give a talk at the morning session. These were the President of the UK Association of Buddhist Studies, and INCISE visiting researcher, Dr Cathy Cantwell, who spoke on Tibetan Medicine and Ritual; Dr Fiona Kumari Campbell (Dundee) discussing Disability in Theravadan Buddhism; and the Head of Religious Studies at the University of Kent, Professor Richard King with the subject of Global Mindfulness.
After lunch Venerable Miaolung of Fo Guang Shan London opened the afternoon workshop and BLIA volunteers and LBRSG and YAD members took to the stage, professionally introducing each section.
The first section on Buddhist chanting or Fan-Bei discussed Do ritual participants recognise Fan-Bei as ‘music’? (Chiawei Chou). A further presentation talked about 3 Ideas of Buddhism Music – different perspectives on Buddhist chanting (Gutian Zou). After which we were introduced to the origin, meaning and benefits of the mani mantra (Lestin -Xiaogang- Liu). This section ended with a beautiful example of chanting the mani mantra.
The second session was on Humanistic Buddhism. First we were introduced to the concept of Humanistic Buddhism as set out in two chapters from the book by founder of Fo Guang Shan, Master Hsing Yun (Tracy Liu) entitled Humanistic Buddhism, Positive Deconstruction and then the various ways in which Humanistic Buddhism shaped Chinese Society were introduced, with notable effects on food, charity and art (Jordan Sinda).
In the final session we were treated to a presentation on the history of Chinese Buddhist Seals with wonderful pictures of examples straight from the Buddhist Encyclopedia – Volume 17 (Maisie Astbury). After this introduction a master seal maker talked us through his process of turning a piece of jade into an intricate seal.
After this, film students from Goldsmith University London, who filmed the workshop throughout, talked about their documentary on Fo Guang Shan London as their final year project and gave two short tasters of the film.
Venerable Miaolung and professor Bee Scherer closed the afternoon session with a short thanks to all speakers and all those who attended, and to mark the occasion people posed for a group photo.
INCISE will hold a forum and workshop on the 27th of January 2018 (10am-5pm) in collaboration with Fo Guang Shan London:
Focusing on Humanity (人間)
Buddhist living in/and/for Contemporary Society
Canterbury Christ Church University
North Holmes Road campus
Lg26 Laud building, (lower) ground floor room 26
10am to 5pm
Book your free place here.
10am Opening with Fo Guang Shan Dignitaries and Deputy-Vice Chancellor, Prof. David Shepherd (CCCU)
10:30am Dr Fiona Kumari Campbell (Dundee)
Sensing Disability in Buddhism: Reading Sri Lankan Buddhism Against the Grain
This presentation discusses Buddhist understandings of ‘disability’ through an interpretative process called ‘reading against the grain’, which whilst drawing upon the Pali scriptural canon, reads the meaning of texts in an alternative way. This approach can provide an opportunity to recognise the possibility of Buddhism’s unique contribution to social justice for disabled people and dispel myths that Buddhist beliefs harm the social inclusion of disabled people. The presentation will cover Ableism (Abledment & Disability), Buddhist views of Bodies/Humankind by discussing the Four Sightings & Samvega, Four Noble Truths (Suffering), Paṭiccasamuppāda (Dependent Arising). I ask: How does Kamma relate to disability? How is the Buddha’s Body represented and finally I introduce Lakuntaka Bhaddiya, a disabled Buddhist hero.
Question & Answers, short break
11:30am Dr Cathy Cantwell (INCISE Visiting Senior Research Fellow)
Buddhist traditions of healing in Tibet
Historically, there have been many traditions of healing in ethnically Tibetan areas. Over time, two main specialisms have developed their own institutions, professional practitioners, and bodies of literature: traditional medicine, known as, the knowledge of healing (gso ba rig pa); and tantric Buddhist practices. Here, both are introduced, but the talk focuses on the Buddhist tantric traditions. Taking the case study of tantric longevity rituals, the techniques are examined, considering both theory and practice: how they are envisaged as working, and the contexts in which they are performed. The mental visualisation practices are one dimension, combined with embodied performance which includes communal enactment and the production and consumption of longevity pills. The natural potencies and medicinal qualities of the pills’ ingredients is an important aspect, while these are considered to be enhanced by the consecrations during the rituals.
Question & Answers, short break
12:30pm Professor Richard King (Kent)
Mindfulness: traditional Buddhist meditation and secular therapies
This presentation examines the role of ethics and prajna (‘wisdom) in classical South Asian accounts of vipassana (‘insight’ [meditation]) and explores the way in which way mindfulness is understood in secular and engaged Buddhist contexts.
Question & Answers
1:30pm Lunch (vegetarian, provided – please write to firstname.lastname@example.org in case of allergies)
Workshop with senior Fo Guang Shan nuns and volunteers:
- Humanistic Buddhism
- Art and Chanting
- FGS Movie
Dr Fiona Kumari Campbell, is an interdisciplinary researcher in the School of Education & Social Work, University of Dundee as well as an Adjunct Professor in Disability Studies, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka. Her research focuses on studies in ableism, disability philosophy, Buddhism and disability as well as Sri Lankan approaches to peripheral populations and intersectionality.
Dr Cathy Cantwell is the President of the UK Association for Buddhist Studies. She specialises in Tibetan and Himalayan tantric rituals of all periods from the 10th century CE, and especially the ritual texts and practices deriving from the “Early Transmissions” (snga ‘gyur rnying ma). Before becoming an INCISE Senior Visiting Fellow she was based at the Oriental Institute, University of Oxford (2002-2015), and is currently involved in a major research project on a twelfth century Tibetan manuscript collection, at the University of Bochum, Germany.
Dr Richard King is Professor of Asian Buddhist Studies and Head of Department of Religious Studies at the University of Kent. His scholarship focuses on classical Indian (Hindu and Buddhist) philosophy and its ongoing representation through the category of ‘religion’ in the modern period. His current research interests include ‘mindfulness meditation’ from its ancient roots as a Buddhist monastic practice to its current deployment as a modern ‘secularised’ therapy in healthcare, corporate and military contexts.