"Buddhist Modernism, Meditation, and Mindfulness: What Is at Stake?"
Speaker: Prof. Robert H. Sharf, D. H. Chen Distinguished Professor of Buddhist Studies, University of California, Berkeley
Time: March 6, 2018, 7pm-8:30pm
Location: Chapel in Emmanuel College, 75 Queen’s Park Crescent, Toronto, ON M5S 1K7
Language: The lecture will be in English. Simultaneous interpretation from English to Mandarin will be provided. Please specify if you need interpretation upon RSVP.
"Buddhist modernism" evolved out of a complex intellectual exchange that took place between Asia and the West over the last century. Generally speaking, Buddhist modernists hold that Buddhism, properly understood, is not so much a "religion" as it is a "spiritual technology" designed to bring about a liberating psychological and spiritual transformation. The technology is comprised of meditation, which is often identified by Buddhist modernists as the practice of mindfulness. Scholars have justly criticized this approach to Buddhism for being historically and ethnographically naïve. (Indeed, some have argued that construing Buddhism as a "science of happiness" turns Buddhism on its head!) But putting aside a scholar's concern with theoretical sophistication and historical accuracy, one might ask what harm there is in popularizing Buddhism in this manner? After all, Buddhism spread and survived for two thousand years precisely by adapting itself to local needs and norms. This talk will consider the issue of what is at stake—historically, sociologically, and philosophically—in reducing Buddhism to meditation, and meditation to mindfulness.
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*Please note: Registration for this event is now full. If you are still interested in attending, there will be limited standing room only, offered on a first come first serve basis.