Numata Symposium Celebrates “Oxford Handbook of Buddhist Practice”

Gesshin Claire Greenwood  |  October 22, 2023

On October 6, 2023, Buddhist scholars and students from around the country gathered at the Institute of Buddhist studies to celebrate the “Oxford Handbook of Buddhist Practice,” edited by Paula Arai and Kevin Trainor. Each panelist presented a paper on their chapter in the anthology, followed by a moderated discussion and then question and answers.

The day began with a discussion about the role of ritual and a debate about the meaning and use of the term “ritual” itself. Scholars questioned how to center the experiences of women and ethnic minorities, as well as embodied practices such as dance and pilgrimage. Participants and presenters questioned and grappled with who is centered in Buddhist history, who is excluded, and how practices of inclusion and exclusion impact academic funding. The body was a unifying theme in these discussions.

The public is welcome to listen to a recording of the event here:


Introductions and welcome

Regional Perspectives

Nathan McGovern, “Buddhist Practice in Southeast Asia.” Eun-su Cho, “Buddhist Practice in East Asia.” Todd Lewis, “Buddhist Practice in Central Asia/Himalayas.” Scott Mitchell, “Buddhist Practice in Europe and North America.”

Modernities and Emergent Forms of Practice

Jitsujo T. Gauthier, “Buddhist Chaplaincy.” Erik Braun, “Seeing through Mindfulness Practices.” Elizabeth Harris, “Buddhist and Non-Buddhist Practitioner Relations.” John D. Dunne, “Contemplative Science and Buddhist Science.”

Domestic & Monastic Practices

Vesna Wallace, “Monastic Discipline and Local Practice.” Hiroko Kawanami, “Women’s Ordination,” University of Lancaster. Lori Meeks, “Monastic Authority in Medieval Japan: The Case of the Convent Hokkeji,”


Part Two:

Material Mediations / Bodies in Transition

Susan Huntington, “The Agency of Images.” Julia Shaw, “Buddhism and the “Natural” Environment.” Miranda Shaw, “Dance as Vajrayana Practice.”

Body-Mind Transformations / Human and Non-Human Interactions

Charles Jones, “Pure Land Practice.” Mahinda Deegalle, “Aural Practices of Chanting and Protection.” Stephen Jenkins, “Heavenly Rebirth and Buddhist Soteriology.”



Part Three:

Keynote Address by Anne M. Blackburn, Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities, Cornell University. Author of Buddhist-inflected Sovereignties Across the Indian Ocean: A Pali Arena, 1200-1550, Buddhist Learning and Textual Practice in Eighteenth-Century Lankan Monastic Culture, and Locations of Buddhism: Colonialism and Modernity in Sri Lanka.