The Divinity School is pleased to offer a series of six lectures on various topics in Theravada Buddhism during the 2019-2020 academic year. All lectures will take place in Swift Hall’s Common Room (1st) floor at 4:30pm.

This series of six lectures on Theravada Buddhism is supported through a generous gift by Mr. Jun Zhou. Need an accommodation to attend a Divinity School event? Please contact Suzanne Riggle in advance at 773-702-8219.

Tuesday, October 22 - Justin McDaniel, Professor of Religious Studies, The University of Pennsylvania

Title: A Siamese Manuscript found in a Greek Orthodox Monastery in Pittsburgh and other Strange Adventures in the study of Thai Buddhist Literature

Bio: McDaniel’s research foci include Lao, Thai, Pali and Sanskrit literature, art and architecture, and manuscript studies. His first book, Gathering Leaves and Lifting Words, won the Harry Benda Prize. His second book, The Lovelorn Ghost and the Magic Monk, won the Kahin Prize. He has received grants from the NEH, Mellon, Rockefeller, Fulbright, PACRIM, Luce, the SSRC, among others. His forthcoming work includes edited books on Thai Manuscripts, Buddhist Biographies, and Buddhist ritual. He also has a new book on modern Buddhist architecture.

Monday, November 4 - Alicia Turner, Associate Professor of Humanities and Religious Studies, York University

More info coming soon.

Monday, January 14 - Thomas Borchert, Professor and Interim Chair, Director of Asian Studies Program, The University of Vermont

More info coming soon.

Monday, February 17 - Kate Crosby, Professor of Buddhist Studies, King’s College, London

Title: Esoteric Theravada Meditation: Corruption or Abhidhamma?

Description of lecture: This talk will examine the esoteric meditation that dominated much of the Theravada world before the modern period. It will examine features that have seemed heterodox, and gained it a reputation as a corrupt form of Theravada and then counter this by considering how it enacts the path of transformation expounded in commentarial Abhidhamma.

Bio: Kate Crosby is Professor of Buddhist Studies in the department of Theology and Religious Studies at King’s College, London. She works on Sanskrit, Pali and Pali-vernacular literature, and on Theravada practice in the pre-modern and modern periods. She is interested in meditation, the history of the relationship between Buddhism and other technologies, and how varying responses to modernity influenced the shape, rhetoric and practice of Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. Her publications include The Bodhicaryavatara; The Dead of Night & the Women; Theravada Buddhism: Continuity, Diversity, Identity and Traditional Theravada Meditation and its Modern Era Suppression.

Monday, March 30 - Pyi Phyo Kyaw, Research Associate in Abhidhamma Meditation, King’s College, London

Title: The Infinite Method: Mathematics of the Paṭṭhāna

Abstract: The Paṭṭhāna, the seventh text of the Abhidhamma Piṭaka, deals with the functioning of causality and interdependence in Theravāda thought. It uses the mathematics of enumeration and combinatorics to plumb the depths of causality. The emphasis on the Paṭṭhāna in Burmese Buddhism has been influenced by sociopolitical conceptions, developments and institutions. This paper focuses on a more technical aspect of the Paṭṭhāna – the Saṅkhyā-vāra, ‘Enumeration sections’. I examine the Paṭṭhāna through analysis of its mathematics, demonstrating not only the types of mathematics being used to further understand the nature and depths of causality, but also close parallels between the mathematics of the Paṭṭhāna and the mathematics of ‘combinatorics’.

Bio: Dr Pyi Phyo Kyaw (pronounced “Pyé Jaw”) is Dean of Graduate Studies and Lecturer in Theravada Studies at Shan State Buddhist University, Taunggyi, Myanmar. She is also a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at King’s College, London, United Kingdom. She studied BA in Economics and Management at Oxford University, before completing MA in Buddhist Studies at SOAS in 2010, and PhD in Buddhist Philosophy at King’s College, London in 2014. She has undertaken meditation practice within different meditation traditions in Myanmar for the past 14 years. She has also undertaken monastic training in Myanmar as a precept-nun in a meditation centre based at Pyay (formerly Prome) in 2007 and 2015.

She specialises in Burmese Buddhism, Abhidhamma (Theravada analytical philosophy), Theravada meditation, Buddhist business practices, and Buddhist ethics. She also teaches Vipassana meditation in Budapest, Hungary.

Monday, May 11 - Aleix Ruiz Falques, Pali Lecturer, Shan State Buddhist University, Myanmar

More info coming soon.

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