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Dharma at Times of Need: symposium jointly sponsored by IBS and Harvard

Thursday, April 11, 2013, 9:45 am

A two day symposium jointly sponsored by the Institute of Buddhist Studies and Buddhist Ministry Initiative, Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, will be conducted on Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4, 2013 at the Jodo Shinshu Center, 2140 Durant Avenue, Berkeley, CA , with the theme “Dharma at Times of Need: The interface of Chaplaincy and Ministry.”

“This two-day symposium will explore the ways that engaging the insights of how the Dharma can benefit people at the times of greatest suffering, frustration and disappointment, and the role of minister and chaplain in assisting others at and through hose times of need,” said, Dr. Richard Payne, IBS Dean.

IBS and Harvard students and faculty will present papers to be discussed in their field of study.

The program:


Friday, May 3

3:00 – 3:30 pm                    Opening Greetings

3:30 – 5:30 pm                    First Panel

5:30 – 6:00 pm                    Break/Refreshments

6:00 – 7:00 pm                    Keynote: “Buddhist Chaplaincy and Practical Ministry in an International  Context.”


Saturday, May 4

8:30 – 9:00 am                    Opening Greetings

9:00 – 11:00 am                  Second Panel

11:00 – 1:00 pm                  Lunch Break

1:00 – 3:00 pm                    Third Panel

3:00 – 3:30 pm                    Break

3:30 -  5:30 pm                    Fourth Panel

5:30 -  6:00 pm                    Closing


The symposium is free and open to the public. Those who wish to participate are asked to register online.

3rd Annual Graduate Student Symposium: Buddhist Ritual, Buddhist Culture

April 13, 2013
1:00 pmto5:00 pm

The Institute of Buddhist Studies’ 3rd Annual Graduate Student Symposium

Generously co-sponsored by the Graduate Theological Union’s Asia Project
and The Numata Foundation

April 13, 2013, 1 pm – 5 pm

We are pleased to announce 3rd Annual Graduate Student Symposium at the Institute of Buddhist Studies. Our theme this year is “Buddhist Ritual, Buddhist Culture.” Buddhist ritual practices are shaped by their location and are affected by the ritual objects. How does the material world determine the ways that Buddhism is practiced? How do Buddhists use ritual objects? In turn, how does Buddhism shape these objects and transform the physical world? What is the impact, for example, on the physical world as a result of religious pilgrimage or tourism? How do Buddhists transform physical objects in the process of ritualization? This symposium will focus on these themes and will consider both historical and contemporary uses of material objects in Buddhist ritual, Buddhism’s impact on cultural materials, and the relationships between Buddhism and sacred objects.

The symposium will feature a keynote address by Prof. Justin McDaniel of the University of Pennsylvania. Prof. McDaniel’s talk is generously supported by the Numata Foundation.

The event will be held on Saturday, April 13, beginning at 1 pm, at the Jodo Shinshu Center in Berkeley, CA.

This event is free and open to the public. Please visit our Facebook event page to RSVP or drop a note in the comments below.

Keynote Address:

Architects of Buddhist Leisure
Justin McDaniel, University of Pennsylvania

The rise of Asian economies over the 20th and 21st centuries has not only brought market competition and political influence, but also the rise of a “leisure class.” Buddhism, usually described as an austere religion which condemns desire and promotes monasticism and denial, has not been the subject of the history of leisure. There has been little investigation of Buddhist pleasures or pastimes. However, Buddhist leisure activities, Buddhist tourism, and Buddhist material products are common parts of Asian culture. Indeed, some of the first tourist books and souvenir shops in Asia were marketed and owned by practicing Buddhists in Bangkok, Kyoto, and Singapore. Novels and coffee-table books about Buddhist tourists and pleasure-seekers have been popular in Thai, Chinese, and Japanese history. Buddhist monasteries across Asia are sites of playgrounds, sports-fields, and shopping bazaars. Over the past seventy years, Buddhist comic books, films, and soap-operas have flourished on Asian airwaves. Indeed, many of the ways Buddhist children first learn about their religion is not in the strict confines of a monastic training center, but through Buddhist leisure activities like singing songs, family trips, martial arts camps, and beauty contests.  These creative religious improvisations and public culture of Buddhism in Asia is often built on the idea that Buddhist practice and leisure activities go hand-in-hand.

This short talk focuses on the work of three architects of Buddhist public and leisure spaces in Nepal, Singapore, and Thailand and is designed to start a discussion about the very idea of Buddhist leisure space in modern Asia.

Justin McDaniel studies ghosts and manuscripts in Asia. After living and researching in South and Southeast Asia for many years as a translator, archivist, amulet collector, volunteer teacher, and Buddhist monk. He returned to the States and received his PhD from Harvard University’s Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies in 2003. His research foci include Lao, Thai, Pali and Sanskrit literature, Southeast Asian Buddhism, Japanese Buddhist architecture, ritual studies, manuscript studies, asceticism, the undead, and general phantasmagoria. His first book is on the history of Buddhist monastic education in Laos and Thailand, Gathering Leaves and Lifting Words (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2008). It won the Benda Prize from the Association of Asian Studies for the best first book in Southeast Asian Studies. His second book, The Lovelorn Ghost and the Magical Monk (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011) is a study on material culture and ritual in Thai Buddhism. His recent publications appear in the Bulletin l’École Française d’Extrême-Orient (Études thématiques), Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, Aséanie, Journal of Religion and Film, Material Religion, Manusya, Journal of Burma Studies, and the Journal of the Siam Society, as well as contributions to collected articles on Buddhism and Modernity, Pali literature, Palm-leaf Manuscript research, and liturgical studies. He is the co-editor of the journals Buddhism Compass and Journal of Lao Studies, and is the former Chair of the Southeast Asian Studies Council and the Thailand, Laos, Cambodia Studies Group of the Association of Asian Studies. He has won several teaching and advising awards. In collaboration with colleagues at Penn, UC Riverside, and in Thailand, he has designed two websites: The Thai Digital Monastery Project ( and the Thai, Lao, Cambodia Studies Portal ( His present project looks at the advent of Buddhist leisure (parks, museums, carnivals, film, comics, bird-watching, and collecting stuff) in Japan, Nepal, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Laos. In 2012 he was named a Guggenheim Fellow and is the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Schedule of Events:

1:00pm: Welcome
Scott Mitchell, Institute of Buddhist Studies
Moses Penumaka, Graduate Theological Union Asia Project

1:15pm: Presentation of Graduate Student Work, part 1

Ryan Anningson; Wilfrid Laurier University-University of Waterloo
“’There Hang the Jewels:’ The Motif of Jewels in Buddhist Narratives”

Matthew Milligan; The University of Texas-Austin
“Material Evidence for Donation as Ritual in the Epigraphic Habit of Early Indian Buddhists”


2:00pm: Presentation of Graduate Student Work, part 2

Ying Chien Chen (Rev. Jian Ji); The Institute of Buddhist Studies
“DDM Ash Burial Ceremony – How Buddhism Influences Chinese Cremation Culture”

Tsun Nyen Yong (Rev. You Min); The Institute of Buddhist Studies
“Memorial Tablets in Contemporary Chinese Buddhist Ritual”

Aaron Proffitt; The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
“Dōhan’s 道範 (1178-1252) Himitsu nenbutsu shō 秘密念仏抄 and Tantric Pure Land in Medieval Japanese Buddhism”

Discussion and Questions

4:00pm: Keynote Address: Architects of Buddhist Leisure

Dr. Justin McDaniel; Associate Professor, Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania

A light reception will follow.

Call for papers, Update: Proposal Deadline Extended

Monday, December 03, 2012, 9:31 am

Buddhist Ritual, Buddhist Culture

Update: Proposal Deadline Extended

The Institute of Buddhist Studies’ 3rd Annual Graduate Student Symposium

Keynote speaker Dr. Justin McDaniel
University of Pennsylvania

April 13th, 2013
Institute of Buddhist Studies
Berkeley, CA

Call for Papers

We are pleased to announce a call for papers for the 3rd Annual Graduate Student Symposium at the Institute of Buddhist Studies. Our theme this year is “Buddhist Ritual, Buddhist Culture.” Buddhist ritual practices are shaped by their location and are affected by the ritual objects. How does the material world determine the ways that Buddhism is practiced? How do Buddhists use ritual objects? In turn, how does Buddhism shape these objects and transform the physical world? What is the impact, for example, on the physical world as a result of religious pilgrimage or tourism? How do Buddhists transform physical objects in the process of ritualization? This symposium will focus on these themes and will consider both historical and contemporary uses of material objects in Buddhist ritual, Buddhism’s impact on cultural materials, and the relationships between Buddhism and sacred objects.

We invite graduate students to submit proposals considering one or more of these topics, either historically or contemporarily. Proposals should be no more than 200 words, and include the paper’s title and the author’s name, affiliation, and contact information. Please submit proposals to courtney.bruntz -at  - gmail no later than January 31, 2013.

Professor McDaniel’s keynote address is being generously supported by the Yehan Numata Foundation.

Important Dates:
Submission of Abstract: January 31, 2013
Notification of Proposal Result: February 15, 2013
Submission of Full Paper: April 1, 2013
Conference Event: April 13, 2013

Domestic Dharma

September 22, 2012
9:00 amto5:30 pm

Domestic Dharma Symposium

The Institute of Buddhist Studies Numata Symposium:

Domestic Dharma

Beyond Texts, Beyond Monasteries


Saturday, September 22, 2012, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Jodo Shinshu Center

2140 Durant Avenue

Berkeley, CA

For a detailed schedule of the day’s event, download this flyer and schedule.

Lay Buddhist practices are increasingly recognized as a distinct tradition, existing outside the definitions of Buddhism provided by the textual tradition and by monastic models. The 2012 IBS Numata Symposium will focus on the practice of Buddhism in the household—the Dharma in its domestic setting. Keynote addresses will be given by
Paula Arai and Lisa Grumbach. Other speakers will include
Daijaku Judith Kinst and Scott Mitchell.

Dr. Arai will speak on the topic of “Cleaning Cloths, Poetry, and Personal Buddhas: Laywomen’s Healing Practices in Contemporary Japan.” Creativity, flexibility, and accessibility are qualities characteristic of the Buddhist practices that women in contemporary Japan engage in as they weave healing activities into their daily life. Home-made ritualized activities, which draw upon and innovatively adapt age-old traditions, include common greetings turned into healing events, cleaning cloths performing medical mysteries, and poetry writing. In addition, this domestic Dharma often sees a loved one transformed into a Personal Buddha upon death, bestowing wise counsel and compassionate support.

Paula Arai, the author of Women Living Zen: Japanese Buddhist Nuns (Oxford University Press, 1999) and Bringing Zen Home: The Healing Heart of Japanese Buddhist Women’s Rituals (University of Hawaii Press, 2011), has performed ground-breaking research on monastic and lay Japanese Buddhist women. She is currently an associate professor of Buddhist Studies at Louisiana State University and vice-president of Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women.

Dr. Grumbach’s presentation will be entitled, “Nuns at Home, Nuns as Homebuilders: Rethinking Ordination and Family in Medieval Japan.” She will explore the roles of ordained women within the social and familial structures of medieval Japan. Focusing on the reasons women became nuns, their age at ordination, and the work they performed as nuns, she will argue that women used ordination as a way to build and maintain homes rather than as a way to “leave home.”

Autobiographical writings by women, historical and biographical information about nuns, and medieval literature will be used to show that ordination and family life were not opposing categories for many women, suggesting that we need to revise our understanding of what it meant to be a “nun” in medieval Japan.

Lisa Grumbach teaches at the Institute of Buddhist Studies, Berkeley, California, and at Ryukoku University, Kyoto, Japan. Her research focuses on interactions between Buddhism and Shinto in medieval Japan, the development of Shinto-Buddhist ritual, and the role of food in East Asian religions.

This event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP using the form below.


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

Winter Pacific Seminar: A Life of Shinjin

January 28, 2012
8:30 amto5:00 pm

The Institute of Buddhist Studies & the Center for Buddhist Education present the first Winter Pacific Seminar, 21st Century

A Life of Shinjin


Keynote Speaker:

Reverend Dr. David Matsumoto

Panelists: Rev. Yushi Mukojima, Rev. Patricia Usuki, Rev. Henry Adams & Rev. John Iwohara

Haiku Workshop: Rev. Lee Rosenthal


Saturday, January 28, 2012 8:30 am – 5:00 pm

Los Angeles Hompa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple

815 East First Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012


Registration donation of $20 includes lunch. Deadline is January 15, 2012

Please make checks payable to “CBE.” Mail to 2140 Durant Ave. Berkeley, CA 94704
For info and online registration, please contact the Center for Buddhist Education: 510.809.1460



Report: Buddhist Culture and Monseki Temples in Japan

Thursday, March 11, 2010, 9:00 am

The International Ryukoku Symposium, with the theme of “Buddhist Culture and Monseki (Imperial and Aristocratic lineage) Temples in Japan” was held on Saturday, March 6, 2010 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at The RUBEC (Ryukoku University Berkeley Center) located at the Jodo Shinto Center, 2140 Durant Avenue, Berkeley, CA.

The symposium was co-sponsored by the Center for Japanese Studies at the University of California, Dr. Duncan Williams, Director; Ryukoku University, Kyoto, Japan, and Institute of Buddhist Studies, Berkeley. Dr. Richard Payne, Dean.

The first presenter was Professor Yukio Kusaka of Ryukoku University. His presentation was “Literary Texts and Archives at the Imperial Temple of Shogo-in.” He spoke on the literary contribution and transmission of classic literary texts to future priests of the imperial temples.

The second presenter was Associate Professor Tesshin Michimoto of Ryukoku Univertsity. His presentation was “The Five Wisdom Crown Buddha (Image) of Mt. Hiei.” His paper dealt with the use of the Five Wisdom Crown Buddha as a main shrine in the “jogyodo” or continuous nembutsu practice halls of Mt. Hiei. Also, in the field of religious studies, he showed that a single tradition held on to divergent interpretations of a single text, practice, or ideas without trying to reconcile them.

The third presenter was Visiting Professor Koichi Fujimoto at Ryukoku. His presentation was “Aristocratic Society and Temple Complexes with a Focus in the Construction of Byodo-in Temple.” In his presentation Fujimoto states that the founder of Byodo-in Temple, Fujiwara no Yorimichi show that every aspect of the temple, design and iconography was aimed at helping individuals envision the Pure Land. He also used the temple for a larger political and economic purpose, which was to protect the interests of his own clan Sekkanke line of the Fujiwaras.

The fourth presenter was, Dr. Donald Drummand Director of RUBEC Berkeley Center. His presentation was “Monastic Imperial Prince Kakuho and the Imperial Temple of Ninnanji.” He takes up the life of Prince Kakuho, his early life and his education. Kakuho’s major contribution stabilizing the factions on Mt. Koya.

Dr. Lori Meeks, Assistant Professor of Religion and East Asian Languages and Culture, at the University of Southern California, gave the final summation. In her summation she posed one large question to the presenters, that is, “what was the broader impact, on Japan Buddhism as a whole, of the aristocraticization of certain monastic institutions from the late Heian period forward? How did the expansion of monzeki culture, and the growing power of aristocratic elites at places like Mr. Hiei, affect the larger history of Japanese Buddhism?”

On Saturday, March 5, welcome reception was held at the JSC.

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