Buddhist Universities/Buddhist Studies

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Re: Buddhist Universities/Buddhist Studies

Postby kirtu » Tue Jan 03, 2012 7:30 pm

Aside from shedra in a Tibetan Buddhist context or advanced studies in a general Mahayana context (typified by the Chinese tradition but in the past essentially restricted to monastics) what is the case for Buddhist studies? Philosophy of religion has a sketchy value it seems. Language study is of course invaluable but there may be too much other baggage that is not conducive to realization or improvement of the human condition.

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Re: Buddhist Universities/Buddhist Studies

Postby Tenzin1 » Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:27 pm

U of Washington, Seattle, has an MA program in Tibetan Buddhism, if you're looking for an academic approach. It sounds like you may not be, however. All graduate programs require a minimum of two foreign languages relevant to the field. You need to be able to do research on original texts. Often, a reading knowledge of some European languages is also required, also for research purposes.
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Re: Buddhist Universities/Buddhist Studies

Postby lotwell » Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:44 am

Personally I am looking towards the academic route. I have taken a semester of Tibetan and am starting to learn Chinese (at university) and Nepali (at work). I'm quite good with languages and grammar and would like to bring this skill to Buddhism Studies. My fantasy is unearthing ancient texts in remote monasteries and translating them. In reality I would more likely but looking at sitting in front of a computer all day translating works no one will ever read.

Kirtu makes a good point about the academic side of Buddhism. It certainly does not remove suffering itself and in fact could be performed by a non-Buddhist uninterested in nirvana, enlightenment, eliminating suffering, etc. But many of the great masters (Thich Nhat Hanh and HHDL come to mind) and all (or many) monastics are trained in a traditional "academic"/scholarly methods alongside the practice elements.

Althought I'm not sure what sketchy value you are talking about in Phil of Religion. Perhaps you mean skeptical values, which is certainly true.

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Re: Buddhist Universities/Buddhist Studies

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:36 am

lotwell wrote:Personally I am looking towards the academic route. I have taken a semester of Tibetan and am starting to learn Chinese (at university) and Nepali (at work). I'm quite good with languages and grammar and would like to bring this skill to Buddhism Studies. My fantasy is unearthing ancient texts in remote monasteries and translating them. In reality I would more likely but looking at sitting in front of a computer all day translating works no one will ever read.


As time goes on it is becoming more and more difficult to secure a position in humanities departments, all the more so in religious studies or anything related to Buddhism. There are up and coming Buddhist universities in Asia, but they're all small and wouldn't provide the same atmosphere as one would find in a western university.

There is less and less interest in funding religious studies in general. As economies contract (and things will only get worse from here), funding priorities go towards things perceived as having a strong commercial value or anything that can generate additional funding from third parties. If the military or Monsanto are willing to pay for your research, you'll be set, but Buddhist Studies is not a field with a lot of third parties willing to fund it. Even with a PhD, solid language skills and sterling references you'll be hard pressed to secure a permanent position anywhere.

As to translating things, if you're willing to do it for a major Buddhist organization, then you'll have both some funding as well as people reading it. I can say this is possible from personal experience.


Kirtu makes a good point about the academic side of Buddhism. It certainly does not remove suffering itself and in fact could be performed by a non-Buddhist uninterested in nirvana, enlightenment, eliminating suffering, etc. But many of the great masters (Thich Nhat Hanh and HHDL come to mind) and all (or many) monastics are trained in a traditional "academic"/scholarly methods alongside the practice elements.


With the right state of mind, studying Buddhism is practice and any other of the five sciences (pañca-vidyā), which includes grammar, arts + mathematics, medicine, logic + epistemology and philosophy complement one's critical thinking abilities and general knowledge, which can be of benefit to others and to one's own practice. The aforementioned five sciences were encouraged in classical Indian Buddhism.

I don't know why a lot of people assume study is not practice. It is after all listening (or reading), contemplating and implementing in one's own mind the Buddha's teachings. Anything that complements it is worthwhile to a certain extent.
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Re: Buddhist Universities/Buddhist Studies

Postby Mr. G » Thu Jan 05, 2012 3:00 pm

Huseng wrote:
I don't know why a lot of people assume study is not practice. It is after all listening (or reading), contemplating and implementing in one's own mind the Buddha's teachings. Anything that complements it is worthwhile to a certain extent.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Buddhist Universities/Buddhist Studies

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:23 pm

lotwell wrote:My fantasy is unearthing ancient texts in remote monasteries and translating them. In reality I would more likely but looking at sitting in front of a computer all day translating works no one will ever read.


The reality, if you can actually get a teaching position, is that you will spend your days teaching world religion classes to freshman who don't care and survey courses on Buddhism, and in the evening writing papers because of the publish or die phemomena that is pervasive in academia. You will get little translation done.

N
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Re: Buddhist Universities/Buddhist Studies

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:58 pm

Namdrol wrote:
lotwell wrote:My fantasy is unearthing ancient texts in remote monasteries and translating them. In reality I would more likely but looking at sitting in front of a computer all day translating works no one will ever read.


The reality, if you can actually get a teaching position, is that you will spend your days teaching world religion classes to freshman who don't care and survey courses on Buddhism, and in the evening writing papers because of the publish or die phemomena that is pervasive in academia. You will get little translation done.

N


This is true.

Translations don't get as much "career credit" as monograph studies and journal articles.
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Re: Buddhist Universities/Buddhist Studies

Postby Astus » Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:44 pm

"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Buddhist Universities/Buddhist Studies

Postby Tewi » Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:28 am

If I had my life to live over again, I would go to Ranjung Yeshe / Kathmandu University. (It wasn't around back when I was of an age to go, but I've visited over the years.) The main drawback is that rightly or wrongly, other academics tend to look down on (or just not pay any attention to) degrees from the third world. This will be an issue if you want to use the degree to apply for further study, or teaching jobs. On the other hand, you'll come out speaking and reading fluent Tibetan, Nepali, and who knows what else. And they've got some fine faculty to guide you in the academic stuff. Also,since RY/KU only offers the BA and MA (in "Buddhist Studies with Himalayan Language"--oh how I love that name!), the drawbacks I mentioned would matter less than they would for a Ph.D. program.

Universities or academic programs run by dharma centers, or closely associated with them, have a poor reputation. Most are expensive (but not Foguangshan or UWest, which might even be free), some are doctrinaire (but perhaps this is what you want), and most have low admissions standards. Naropa has been called a party school (my information is from two decades ago, though), while Maitripa and Namgyal Ithaca are unaccredited. Anyway, it would be very easy to place Ranjung Yeshe in this company, although I like them.

JIABS has published articles surveying Buddhist Studies programs. You should definitely read the latest bunch (from vol. 30, nos 1-2, 2007), especially Prebish:

Buddhist Studies in North America, Contributions to a panel at the XVth Congress of the IABS (Atlanta, 23-28 June 2008)
Guest editor : Charles S. Prebish
CABEZON, Jose Ignacio : "The changing field of Buddhist Studies in North America", p. 283-298;
FREIBERGER, Oliver : "The disciplines of Buddhist Studies : Notes on religious commitment as boundary-marker", p. 299-318;
GOMEZ, Luis O. : "Studying Buddhism as if it were not one more among the religions", p. 319-343;
PREBISH, Charles S. : "North American Buddhist Studies : A current survey of the field", p. 253-282.
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Re: Buddhist Universities/Buddhist Studies

Postby Indrajala » Fri Feb 03, 2012 3:51 am

Tewi wrote:If I had my life to live over again, I would go to Ranjung Yeshe / Kathmandu University. (It wasn't around back when I was of an age to go, but I've visited over the years.) The main drawback is that rightly or wrongly, other academics tend to look down on (or just not pay any attention to) degrees from the third world.


Some also look down on degree from other first world countries, too.

I was told by a professor of Columbia University that someone with a PhD from Japan wouldn't get a job in his faculty. A lot of my former professors said that getting a PhD in Asia (even Japan or Korea which are first world countries) will mean you don't get a job in North America. Even European degree holders are not necessarily held in the same esteem as someone with a PhD from a North American university.


This will be an issue if you want to use the degree to apply for further study, or teaching jobs. On the other hand, you'll come out speaking and reading fluent Tibetan, Nepali, and who knows what else. And they've got some fine faculty to guide you in the academic stuff. Also,since RY/KU only offers the BA and MA (in "Buddhist Studies with Himalayan Language"--oh how I love that name!), the drawbacks I mentioned would matter less than they would for a Ph.D. program.


Well, even a PhD degree from some respected western institution doesn't guarantee a position anywhere. In recent years the humanities has been getting axed piece by piece. With the economies of western nations contracting, fields not seen as commercially viable or able to protect themselves with external powers (mainly sponsoring organizations with authority in the real world) are prone to be downsized.

If you go to learn Tibetan in Kathmandu, you'd be better off using that knowledge reading texts and getting teachings from Tibetan speaking authorities. Studying Tibetan there hoping it buys you something back home is probably going to lead to disappointment.





Universities or academic programs run by dharma centers, or closely associated with them, have a poor reputation. Most are expensive (but not Foguangshan or UWest, which might even be free), some are doctrinaire (but perhaps this is what you want), and most have low admissions standards. Naropa has been called a party school (my information is from two decades ago, though), while Maitripa and Namgyal Ithaca are unaccredited. Anyway, it would be very easy to place Ranjung Yeshe in this company, although I like them.


I have friends in RY. From the sounds of it, the quality of the end product depends solely on the student. Kathmandu is full of young backpacker party-goers and as a student there it would be easy to fall into such a lifestyle. It would end up being an extended vacation in Nepal rather than being an educational experience. However, there are serious students and they come out with solid language skills.

The same principle applies to western universities as well.

I've met enough Ivy League graduate students and graduates to know the institution doesn't make the scholar.
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Re: Buddhist Universities/Buddhist Studies

Postby kirtu » Fri Feb 03, 2012 4:59 am

What's the deal with visa requirements? I thought that Westerners could only stay 150 days of the year total in Nepal? And in India it's 3 months now with a mandatory 2 months out of India?

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Re: Buddhist Universities/Buddhist Studies

Postby Indrajala » Fri Feb 03, 2012 7:24 am

kirtu wrote:What's the deal with visa requirements? I thought that Westerners could only stay 150 days of the year total in Nepal? And in India it's 3 months now with a mandatory 2 months out of India?

Kirt


My last two visas to India were six months each. You have to stay out for two months once you leave, unless you pay for a re-entry stamp.

In Nepal you can acquire a student visa by registering in a shedra.
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Re: Buddhist Universities/Buddhist Studies

Postby lotwell » Sat Feb 25, 2012 7:43 pm

Lots of Good information here! Thank you!

The Rangjung Yeshe Institute sounds more appealing after reading the other post about the present state of academia...

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Re: Buddhist Universities/Buddhist Studies

Postby Huifeng » Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:33 am

New website for the Department of Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University, Taiwan:
http://buddhist.fguweb.fgu.edu.tw/front/bin/home.phtml

It's still under construction, but please ask if you have any questions.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Buddhist Universities/Buddhist Studies

Postby Adamantine » Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:39 am

lotwell wrote:Lots of Good information here! Thank you!

The Rangjung Yeshe Institute sounds more appealing after reading the other post about the present state of academia...

Lotwell


Kathmandu is a quite polluted and unstable city. It can be a shock to one's body and mind. Of course, it is brimming with sacred spaces... but I'd suggest visiting before you commit to spending year/s there. It all depends on how sensitive your body is to that level of pollution.
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Re: Buddhist Universities/Buddhist Studies

Postby Indrajala » Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:05 pm

Adamantine wrote:
lotwell wrote:Lots of Good information here! Thank you!

The Rangjung Yeshe Institute sounds more appealing after reading the other post about the present state of academia...

Lotwell


Kathmandu is a quite polluted and unstable city. It can be a shock to one's body and mind. Of course, it is brimming with sacred spaces... but I'd suggest visiting before you commit to spending year/s there. It all depends on how sensitive your body is to that level of pollution.


Around Boudha it ain't so bad.
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Re: Buddhist Universities/Buddhist Studies

Postby lotwell » Sun Feb 26, 2012 6:21 pm

No I understand (at least theoretically) what Kathmandu is like. I actually work for a Nepali family. I'm planning on doing an trip to Kathmandu to 1) check it out and 2) study Sanskrit and Nepali. I might extend this trip to China (Chengdu more specifically) to study Chinese and perhaps Tibetan as well. I'd like to get soild language skills begining to develop before taking up a masters program.

Also @Tewi,

Do you have access to those JIABS articles your referenced? I tried pulling them up online but couldn't get ahold of them. I'd love to read them.

Once again, thank you all.

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Re: Buddhist Universities/Buddhist Studies

Postby Adamantine » Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:46 pm

Huseng wrote:
Adamantine wrote:
lotwell wrote:Lots of Good information here! Thank you!

The Rangjung Yeshe Institute sounds more appealing after reading the other post about the present state of academia...

Lotwell


Kathmandu is a quite polluted and unstable city. It can be a shock to one's body and mind. Of course, it is brimming with sacred spaces... but I'd suggest visiting before you commit to spending year/s there. It all depends on how sensitive your body is to that level of pollution.


Around Boudha it ain't so bad.


I usually stay in Boudha and my body generally goes into a type of toxic-shock allergy hay-fever from all the burning garbage and cheap fuel mixed with dust in the air at all times. If I was to live there, I'd prefer to be out of the city at least a little ways-- like Sankhu or Parphing. That said, I'm sure the air is cleaner during the rainy season..
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Re: Buddhist Universities/Buddhist Studies

Postby Indrajala » Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:37 am

Adamantine wrote:I usually stay in Boudha and my body generally goes into a type of toxic-shock allergy hay-fever from all the burning garbage and cheap fuel mixed with dust in the air at all times. If I was to live there, I'd prefer to be out of the city at least a little ways-- like Sankhu or Parphing. That said, I'm sure the air is cleaner during the rainy season..


Yeah I know, it can wreak havoc on your body.

Anti-histamines work wonders. Just don't take the drowsy type. :smile:

Much of India is like that, too. Dry, dusty, full of airborne contaminants from all the burning rubbish and who knows what else.

On the sub-continent it is common for people to toss their plastic rubbish in a heap and burn it right on a busy street.

But when you have no proper trash disposal services, then your options are limited. I don't know if burning the plastic is better or worse than dumping it into the local river...

In any case I still think Nepal is cleaner than much of India. Kathmandu is also a lot more chill than Delhi. Nepali people don't have a bizarre unwarranted sense of patriotism, nor do they resent foreigners. In India it is quite different. There is still a strong sense of ill-will against westerners. There is also just generally a lot of hatred in India whether it be directed inward or outward. Nepal is completely different.
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Re: Buddhist Universities/Buddhist Studies

Postby kirtu » Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:58 am

Huseng wrote:
Adamantine wrote:I usually stay in Boudha and my body generally goes into a type of toxic-shock allergy hay-fever from all the burning garbage and cheap fuel mixed with dust in the air at all times.


Much of India is like that, too. Dry, dusty, full of airborne contaminants from all the burning rubbish and who knows what else.

On the sub-continent it is common for people to toss their plastic rubbish in a heap and burn it right on a busy street.

But when you have no proper trash disposal services, then your options are limited. I don't know if burning the plastic is better or worse than dumping it into the local river...


This is extremely shocking. Why don't they organize trash services and recycling? Dumping plastic in water, streams, rivers and creeks??? This is unbelievable and horrifying.

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