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Category Archive: News & Announcements

Buddhism or Buddhisms? Rhetorical consequences of geo-political categories

Monday, August 13, 2012, 9:54 am

The categorization of Buddhism along geo-political lines is perhaps the most common organizing principle today. It also tends to be accepted uncritically. Thus we find, without explanation, such expressions as “Indian Buddhism,” “Tibetan Buddhism,” “Chinese Buddhism,” “Burmese Buddhism,” and so on. These categories predominate not only in popular representations of Buddhism, such as the Buddhist magazines, but also in textbooks of both “world’s religions” and of Buddhism, in academic societies, and publishing, and perhaps the most durable entrenchment, in academic appointments (full disclosure, my own title is that of Professor of “Japanese Buddhism”). The general absence of discussion regarding contemporary geo-political divisions as the organizing principle for the field of Buddhist studies, much less its justification, suggests implicitly that dividing the field along these lines is unproblematic — that it is a simple reflection of things just as they are. Naturalized in this way, the categories become hegemonic, molding both decisions regarding research and the ways in which research is presented. The category system and its consequences need to be consciously evaluated, either so that they may be used with more nuance, or replaced with less problematic and (one hopes) more intellectually productive ones.

Read the rest of this post at the OUPBlog here.

IASBS Now Affiliated RSO with AAR

Tuesday, June 26, 2012, 1:04 pm

The North American District of the International Association of Shin Buddhist Studies is happy to announce that we have been accepted by the American Academy of Religion (AAR) as a Related Scholarly Organization (RSO).

The AAR is North America’s largest professional organization for scholars of religion. Each year, the AAR hosts an annual meeting drawing thousands of religious studies scholars together. RSOs, mainly smaller academic and professional organizations, benefit from their affiliation with the AAR by being included in the AAR’s promotional materials as well as being able to host meetings, conferences, and symposia in conjunction with the annual meeting.

As an RSO, the North American District of the AAR will be able to provide a regular venue for scholars to meet and share their work on Pure Land Buddhism. Our hope is to be able to bring Pure Land Buddhist Studies to the attention of a broader array of religious studies scholars.

RSO status will go into effect immediately. During the 2012 AAR annual meeting in Chicago, members of the North American District Steering Committee will meet to discuss how best to use this new status. We hope to begin offering an annual symposium at the AAR annual meeting beginning in 2013.

For more information, please visit the IASBS website.

IBS Intensive Summer Seminar

Monday, June 18, 2012, 9:00 am

Dr. Mark Blum, Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Albany, SUNY, East Asian Studies Department, will conduct an Intensive Study Program on the subject of “Shinran and the Nirvana Sutra (Mahaparinirvana Sutra)” Monday, July 9 to Thursday, July 12, 2012 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, daily at the Jodo Shinshu Center, Berkeley, CA.

This is a new professional development and continuing education program.

The course will cover Shinan’s quest to understand himself and the human condition, which led to the study the Nirvana Sutra, which he relied upon to develop his major work, The Kyogyoshinsho. This special reading course (SRC 9999) will provide graduate students with 1.5 unit credit with the completion of the requirements of the study program.

Registration fee is $900.00 for graduate students, $375.00 for auditors, and $185.00 for seniors who wish to take the course.

For detailed information click here or call (510) 501-809-1444.

2012 Institute of Buddhist Studies Commencement

Monday, May 21, 2012, 9:00 am

Five Institute Of Buddhist Studies’ students received their Master Degrees at a commencement ceremony on Friday, May 18, 2012 at the Jodo Shinshu Center in Berkeley.

The event was chaired by Rev. Dr. David Matsumoto. The opening service was conducted by Rev. Kodo Umezu, IBS President and Bishop of the Buddhist Churches of America.

Opening remarks were given by Dr. Richard Payne, IBS Dean, and Rev. Marvin Harada, IBS Trustee Interim Chair.

The commencement address was presented by Dr. Franz Aubery Metcalf, Professor at California State University Los Angeles and the IBS Spring Numata Lecturer. He spoke on the subject of “Our Buddhadharma, our Buddhist Dharma.”

IBS graduates were awarded a Masters Degree in Buddhist Studies degree, in joint sponsorship with the Graduate Theological Union. Graduates included:

  • Kathryn Bilotti Stark, “Compassionate Awareness and Transformation: The Relevancy of Mindfulness Teaching and Practice in Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care,” with thesis committee members Rev. Dr. Daijaku Kiinst, Dr. Payne, and Dr. Gil Fronsdal
  • Alex John McDermid, “Gender in Jodo Shinshu Temple Families,” with thesis committee members Dr. Lisa Grumbach and Dr. Matsumoto
  • Christina Yanko-Ringle, “Aspects of Yogachara in the Discourse on the Pure Land,” with thesis committee members Dr. Matsumoto and Dr. Payne
  • Diana Lynne Thompson, “Narratives of Evil: A comparison of the Ajatashtru Story and Batman Graphic Novels,” with thesis committee members Dr. Matsumoto and Dr. Payne
  • Anne Cottrell Spencer, “Jodo Shinshu in America: A Demographic Survey of the Buddhist Churches of America,” with thesis committee members of Dr. Scott Mitchell and Dr. Kinst

Ven. Nguyen Duong and Kathryn Stark were awarded the Certificate of Buddhist Chaplaincy for their work and course studies under the guidance of Dr. Kinst.
McDermid, Yanko-Ringle, and Duong received their degrees in absentia. All the degrees and certificates where conferred to the recipient by Dean Payne and Rev. Harada.

A reception followed with family and friends.

Second Annual Graduate Student Symposium

Monday, March 26, 2012, 9:01 am

The Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, CA sponsored and held its Second Annual Graduate Symposium that presented work from graduate students across the United States. Institutions represented included Florida State University, the Graduate Theological Union, the Institute of Buddhist Studies, Maitripa College, Northwestern University, and University of Southern California. Within the fields of Art History, Buddhist Studies, and Religious Studies, students presented papers focused on the theme of Globalization, Tourism, Modernization and the Religions of Asia.

Each student explored how one or more of these topics transforms Religions of Asia, both in Asia and the West. Major issues that arose included global and cultural transformations and translations of texts and practices, modern and contemporary activities of Buddhists, and current exhibitions and presentations of Buddhism and Religions of Asia.

The first panel of students gave papers that raised these issues as related to published materials. Jared Gardner from Maitripa College suggested ways that Buddhist literature on the self can be applied to global capitalism, arguing there is a need to think about globalization from a Buddhist perspective. Chenxing Han from the Institute of Buddhist Studies analyzed popular and scientific perspectives on mindful eating and their presentations of Buddhism, which generated conversations comparing the use of Buddhist ideas in popular versus scientific literature. Finally, Sarah Whylly from Florida State University investigated translations of Tannisho that gave way to discussions of contemporary translations of Buddhist texts and concepts. While these papers were diverse in their areas of expertise, an issue raised among them was the importance of power and publication. Across Asia and into the West, Buddhism is globalized and modernized in new ways, and these presenters evidenced how publications affect Buddhism’s contemporary cultural transformations.

The second panel of students raised issues of tourism, exhibition, and presentations of Buddhism and Religions of Asia. Courtney Bruntz from the Graduate Theological Union investigated how religious tourism before China’s 2008 Olympics impacted Beijing temple reconstruction, and in doing so, she presented the ways in which temples were repurposed to meet the needs of China’s growing tourist market. Xiao Yang from Northwestern University detailed visual strategies of Feng Zikai’s Buddhist-Inflected sketches to analyze the relationship between Buddhist art and the development of a civic body. This raised conversation regarding the connections between the cultivation of new cultural environments and Buddhist-inspired practices. Lastly, Victoria Pinto from University of Southern California looked at ‘The Vision and Art of Shinjo Ito’ exhibit in North America to discuss contemporary representations of Buddhism. In keeping with the other two presenters, Victoria also raised correlations between visual materials and cultural settings. Questions brought up by the presenters included global representations of Buddhism and Religions of Asia, contemporary museum practices, effects of tourism, and visual strategies of artists. Whereas the first panel considered textual material, this second panel focused on the visual, and presenters introduced art and architecture as a means for conveying, exhibiting, and espousing particular religious and political ideals.

For more information on abstracts and papers from this symposium, please contact Scott Mitchell or Courtney Bruntz at

New Book: Arts of Contemplative Care

Friday, February 24, 2012, 9:12 am

A new book is being published by Wisdom Publications, titled The Arts of Contemplative Care, which explores the budding field of Buddhist contemplative care.

Contemplative care, of course, is of particular importance to our community, our chaplaincy and ministerial students. And this forthcoming title features an essay by the Institute of Buddhist Studies’ faculty member Daijaku Judith Kinst.

Rev. Daijaku Kinst, ordained in the Soto Zen tradition and a dharma successor in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, teaches graduate courses in Buddhist Studies, Contemplative Psychology, and Spiritual Direction and has an ongoing commitment to interfaith dialogue. She is the Institute’s director for chaplaincy training.

Check out the book’s Facebook page for updates on its release.

Spring Events at the Institute of Buddhist Studies

Monday, February 20, 2012, 11:25 am

The Institute of Buddhist Studies is pleased to announce the following spring events. All events are free and open to the public and will be held at:

the Institute of Buddhist Studies, 2140 Durant Ave., Berkeley, CA 94704.

Graduate Student Symposium:

Second Annual Graduate Student symposium: “Globalization, Tourism, Modernization, and the Religions of Asia.”

The symposium will highlight work by graduate students, who will present a range of topics within the field of Religious Studies. Considerations will include religious tourism, cultural transformation of texts and practices, and modern and contemporary activities of Buddhists.

The event will take place on Friday March 16th from 1:00pm – 5:30pm, with a light reception to follow.

If you’re on Facebook, RSVP on our event page. (The event is free and open to the public. No RSVP required!)


Spring 2012 Ryūkoku Lecture Series

True Teaching, Practice and Realization: its aim and the formation of Shinran’s Pure Land Teaching

Presented by Professor Hisashi Tonouchi, Ryūkoku University

All lectures will be held at 6:00 – 9:00 pm

Thursday March 8: Features and Critiques of Hōnen’s Pure Land Teaching

Thursday March 15: Birth through the nembutsu: Shinran’s explications of practice and shinjin

Thursday March 22: The Jōgen Suppression and Shinran’s admonition against self-power


Spring 2012 Numata Lecture:

Our spring 2012 Numata Lecture will feature noted Buddhist teacher and author, Franz Metcalf.

The lecture will be held on Friday April 27 at 3 p.m., and is also free and open to the publuc.

This event has been rescheduled. Please see our news blog for updates.

And check our News and Events blog for upcoming details regarding our 2012 commencent ceremony to honor our graduates.


Never Forget. Never Again, a message from George Takei

Sunday, February 19, 2012, 9:56 am


“Seventy years ago today, the President signed a decree that sent me and my family to a prison camp. Hear my story, and learn how you can help fulfill our pledge: Never Forget. Never Again.

We have a tremendous opportunity, through the medium of theater, to reach hundreds of thousands with this incredible story of strength, honor and courage in a time of great sadness and injustice in America. Please watch the video all the way through, and take 5 minutes to make a contribution that says, “I care, George.” Any amount helps, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

George Takei

“The Nembutsu”

Thursday, February 09, 2012, 7:55 am

Short clip of Rev. Harry Gyokyo Bridge playing his version of “The Nembutsu.”

Gil Fronsdal: Making a Difference, A Vision for the Role of Mindfulness in Society

Tuesday, January 31, 2012, 11:24 am

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