Prof. Dr. Michael Zimmermann

Professor Zimmermann studied Classical Indology, Tibetology and Japanology at the University of Hamburg. His dissertation dealt with the origin of the buddha-nature theory in India. Four years of his PhD studies were spent at universities in Kyoto and Tokyo. He later worked for the Nepalese-German Manuscript Preservation Project of the German Research Council (DFG) in Hamburg and Kathmandu where he also directed the Nepal Research Centre from 2002 to 2003. After four years as assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies of Stanford University (USA) and director of the Stanford Center for Buddhist Studies, in 2007, he became professor for Indian Buddhism at the Asien-Afrika-Institut of the University of Hamburg. 
His research focuses on all aspects of Mahayana Buddhism in India, in particular its textual-historical dimension, based on the study of primary sources in the Buddhist canonical languages of India, Tibet and China. He is also interested in questions of Buddhist ethics such as the relation of Buddhism to political ideas and violence. The analysis of contemporary developments in the Buddhist traditions of East and West serve to illustrate how ancient questions are reconsidered among scholars, religious specialists and followers of modern Buddhism.

 

Employment | Educational Background | Awards | Interviews | Papers Presented | Publications | Contact

 

     Employment

  • October 2010–September 2012: Head of the Asien-Afrika-Institut of Hamburg University
  • Since July 07: Professor for Indian Buddhism at the Asien-Afrika-Institut of Hamburg University and Director of the Numata Center for Buddhist Studies of Hamburg University
  • May 05–June 07: Director of the Stanford Center for Buddhist Studies (Division of International Comparative & Area Studies)
  • Oct 03–June 07: Assistant Professor of Buddhist Studies, Stanford University
  • Apr–Oct 03: Postdoc research fellowship at the University of Munich in Indian Studies
  • Apr 02–Mar 03: Directing the Nepal Research Centre in Kathmandu (an institute of the German Oriental Society) and the Nepalese branch of the Nepalese-German Manuscript Cataloguing Project (NGMCP) (a joint project between His Majesty’s Government of Nepal and the Asia-Africa Institute of the University of Hamburg) in Nepal
  • Apr 00–Mar 02: Instructor and lecturer in Indian Studies, Hamburg University; working for the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project (NGMPP)

     Educational Background

  • 2000   Ph.D.   University of Hamburg in Indology; Dissertation: “The Tathagatagarbhasutra: A Text-critical and Philosophical Analysis with an Annotated Translation from the Tibetan Canonical Version” (passed with summa cum laude)
  • 1996   M.A.   University of Hamburg in Indology, Tibetology, Japanology; Thesis: “The Nine Illustrations of the Buddha-Nature in the Tathagatagarbhasutra”

     Awards

  • 2002   Förderpreis der Dr. Helmut und Hannelore Greve Stiftung für Wissenschaften und Kultur
  • 1999   Fellowship of the International Research Institute for Advanced Buddhology at Soka University, Tokyo
  • 1998   Fellowship of the International Research Institute for Advanced Buddhology at Soka University, Tokyo
  • 1997   Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai (BDK; Society for the Promotion of Buddhism) Fellowship (for one year research in Japan; directed by Prof. K. Mimaki)
  • 1996   Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai (BDK; Society for the Promotion of Buddhism) Fellowship (for one year research in Japan; directed by Prof. K. Mimaki)
  • 1994   Participating at the “Intensive Summer Course of the Japanese Language for European Students Held at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies” (awarded to thirty European students annually by the Japanese Foreign Ministry)
  • 1991   Five Year Study Grant of the Robert Bosch Corp. (Stuttgart, Germany)

     Interviews

     •  Der Buddhismus spricht innere Wünsche in uns an
        Deutschlandfunk
     •  Auch im Buddhismus gibt es Konflikte
        WDR Hörfunk
     •  Der Buddha war ein Heilspragmatiker
        Zeitschrift Tibet und Buddhismus
     •  Was sagt der Buddhismus zur Gewalt?
        WDR 5 Hörfunk

     Papers Presented

  • 2014   “Practicing Ethics and Purifying the Mind: The 'Four Immeasurables' — an Early Buddhist Spiritual Exercise" at Tsukuba University, Japan
  • 2013   “From Spoken Word to Written Manuscript: the Introduction of Writing and Its Meaning for Indian Buddhism" at the Workshop “Document and Writing Materials in East Asia" at the Institiute for Research in the Humanities, Kyoto University, Japan 
  • 2013   “Socially Engaged Buddhism: Old Ideas for Modern Times?" at Saitama University, Japan
  • 2013   “Studying Asia in Europe, Learning about Europe in Japan: Why the Humanities Matter" at Saitama University, Japan
  • 2013   “On the Relation between Buddha-nature Thought and Early Yogacara Buddhism in India” at the First International Academic Forum on Maitreya Studies in Hong Kong
  • 2013   “Buddhism Across Frontiers: Challenges on the Way to Modernity”  at the International Symposium “Tradition and Modernity: Thinking Asia Across Frontiers” at Saitama University in Saitama City, Japan
  • 2012   “The Early Phase of Buddha-nature Thought in India” at the EKO-Haus der Japanischen Kultur in Düsseldorf, Germany
  • 2012   “Anthropocentrism in the Guise of an All-inclusive Ethics? Buddhist Attitudes to the Natural World” at the International Symposium "Biodiversity Conversation and Animal Rights: Religious and Philosophical Perspectives" at SOAS University of London, UK  
  • 2011   “Terms for Buddha-Nature in the Early Phase of Buddha-Nature Thought in India” at The XVIth Congress of the International Association of Buddhist Studies in Jinshan, Taiwan
  • 2011   “The Process of Awakening in Early Texts on Buddha-Nature in India” at The Workshop on Indian Buddhist Thought in 6th-7th Century China at National Chengchi University in Taipeh, Taiwan
  • 2010   “The Ethical Base of Socially Engaged Buddhists: Unity in Difference?” at the University of Munich, Germany
  • 2010   “Frieden und Gewalt im Buddhismus” at the International Symposium "Religions and World Peace: Religious Communities and their Potential for Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution" in Osnabrück, Germany
  • 2010   “Socially Engaged Buddhism: Local Manifestations of a Buddhist Socio-ethical Philosophy” at the University of Oslo, Norway
  • 2010   “The Process of Awakening in Early Texts on Buddha-Nature in India” at the 55th International Conference of Eastern Studies in Tokyo, Japan
  • 2010   “Is Violence Avoidable? On War and Peace in Indian Buddhism” at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  • 2010   “Engaged Buddhism: Social Entanglement with Spiritual Gain?” at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  • 2010   “The Innovative Structure of the 'Chapter on Ethics' in the Bodhisattvabhumi” at Mahidol University, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand
  • 2009   “The Innovative Structure of the 'Chapter on Ethics' in the Bodhisattvabhumi” at Dharma Drum Buddhist College, Taipeh 
  • 2009   “When Compassion Trumps Non-Violence: Mahayana Codes of Conduct for Bodhisattvas and Kings” at the Ghent Centre for Buddhist Studies, Ghent, Belgium
  • 2009   “'All Beings Have Buddha-Nature': the Genesis of a Central Concept in Mahayana Buddhism” at Ghent University, Belgium
  • 2008   “Ist der König immer ein Narr? Herrschaft und Gewalt im Buddhismus Indiens” at the University of Hamburg
  • 2008   “Die Ethik des Bodhisattva: Das Kapitel zum Rechten Verhalten in der Bodhisattvabhumi” at the University of Vienna, Austria
  • 2008   “The Chapter on Ethics in the Bodhisattvabhumi” at the conference The Yogacarabhumi and the Yogacaras (The 3rd Geumgang International Conference for Buddhist Studies) in Seoul, Korea
  • 2008   “Mahayana Buddhism: the Traditions of Yogacara and Tathagatagarbha” at the L'Orientale, University of Naples, Italy
  • 2007   “Vom gesprochenen Wort zum Manuskript: Die Schriftkultur und ihre Bedeutung für den Buddhismus Indiens” at the University of Hamburg
  • 2007   “The Pierced Foot: The Transformation of an Episode from the Buddha's Life” at the conference Text, Translation, and Transmission at the University of California, Berkeley
  • 2007   “Buddhism, War, and Violence” and discussion panel “Indological and Buddhological Intersections: German and American Approaches to the Study of Buddhism and Indian Religion” at the University of Florida, Gainesville
  • 2007   “Conceptions of Buddhist Kingship in South Asia” at the 2nd South and Southeast Asian Association for the Study of Culture and Religion (SSEASR) Conference in Bangkok, Thailand
  • 2006   “Once the Bodhisattva Was a Killer: Ethical Discourse and the Creation of History in Indian Buddhism” at the symposium The Practice of History in Asian Religions at the Colegio de Mexico, Mexico City
  • 2005   “The Righteous King: Buddhist Statecraft from Ideal to Realpolitik” at the University of Texas, Austin
  • 2005   “Looking for the Textual Origins: Buddha-Nature Thought in Indian Mahayana Buddhism” at the University of California, Los Angeles
  • 2005   “Violence in Early Mahayana Buddhism” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley
  • 2005   “Eternal Buddhahood and Permeating Knowledge: The Origins of Buddha-Nature” at the XIXth World Congress of the Association for the History of Religions in Tokyo
  • 2005   “Doctrinal Justifications of Buddhist Violence: Preliminaries to a Holy War?” at the conference "The Rhetorics of Holy War" at the University of California / Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley
  • 2004   “Buddha-Nature in India: Ethical Stimulant, Metaphysical Rationale, or Prosyletizing Strategy?” at the University of California, Berkeley
  • 2003   “Beneficient Partners or Unholy Allies? Compassion and Violence in Indian Buddhism” at Stanford University
  • 2003   “Beneficient Partners or Unholy Allies? Compassion and Violence in Indian Buddhism” at the International Institute for Buddhist Studies in Tokyo
  • 2002   “Buddhism and Violence: The Early Background” at the Royal Nepal Academy in Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 2002   Organization of the panel “Buddhism and Violence” at The XIIIth Conference of the International Association of Buddhist Studies in Bangkok; title of own paper: “Indian Mahayanists and the Punitive Measures of a King”
  • 2001   “Tathagatagarbha: Der Ursprung von der Lehre der Buddha-Natur aller Lebewesen im indischen Mahayana“ (Tathagatagarbha: The origin of the teaching of a buddha-nature in all living beings in Indian Mahayana) at the XXVIII. Deutscher Orientalistentag in Bamberg, Germany
  • 2001   “Die Frühphase der Herausbildung des Bodhisattva-Ideals im Mahayana” (The early phase of the advent of the bodhisattva ideal in the Mahayana) at the EKO-Haus der Japanischen Kultur in Düsseldorf, Germany
  • 2001   “Das Bodhisattva-Ideal im indischen Buddhismus“ (The bodhisattva ideal in Indian Buddhism) at the Conference “Das Bodhisattva-Ideal im chinesischen Buddhismus“ at the Fo-Guang-Shan-Tempel in Berlin
  • 2001   “Buddhismus und Gewalt“ (Buddhism and violence) at the University of Hamburg in the project “Buddhismus in Geschichte und Gegenwart“
  • 2000   “The Kanjur stemma of the De bzhin gshegs pa'i snying po'i mdo (Tathagatagarbhasutra) including fragments from Tabo and its relation to its paracanonical translation in the ‘Newark-Kanjur’” at the Ninth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies in Leiden, Holland
  • 2000   “Die Lehre von der Buddhanatur aller Lebewesen” (The teaching of the buddha-nature of all living beings) at the University of Hamburg in the project “Buddhismus in Geschichte und Gegenwart“
  • 2000   “Friedliebender Buddhismus – nur ein Mythos?“ (Peaceful Buddhism – only a myth?) at the Conference “Buddhismus in Wissenschaft und Praxis“ in the Vietnamese “Pagode Vien Giac” at Hannover, Germany
  • 1998   “The ‘discovery’ of a second Tibetan translation of the Tathagatagarbhasutra among the Newark Kanjur manuscripts: Its philological and philosophical implications” at the 43rd International Conference of Eastern Studies in Tokyo
  • 1996 “The Tathagatagarbhasutra: Some Philological and Philosophical Considerations” at the University of Kyoto, Institute for Research in Humanities

     Publications 

     Monographs and Edited Volumes    

  • 2012   Achtsamkeit: ein buddhistisches Konzept erobert die Wissenschaft, M. Zimmermann, C. Spitz, S. Schmidt (ed.), Berne: Verlag Hans Huber
  • 2011   Buddhismus im Westen. ein Dialog zwischen Religion und Wissenschaft, C. Roloff, W. Weiße, M. Zimmermann (ed.), Münster, New York, Munich, Berlin: Waxmann
  • 2006   Buddhism and Violence, M. Zimmermann (ed.), Lumbini: Lumbini International Research Institute
  • 2002   A Buddha Within: The Tathagatagarbhasutra, The Earliest Exposition of the Buddha-Nature Teaching in India, Bibliotheca Philologica et Philosophica Buddhica 6, Tokyo: The International Research Institute for Advanced Buddhology, 444 pages (download PDF 78MB; low print quality: PDF 6MB; Chinese and Tibetan texts in the Thesaurus Literaturae Buddhicae)

     Series Editor: Hamburg Buddhist Studies

      Articles

  • 2014 「如来蔵経」再考―仏性の九喩を中心として(日野慧運 訳), in 如来蔵と仏性, 高崎道 監修, 下田正弘 編, シリズ大乗仏教8, Tokyo: 春秋社, 97-139
  • 2013    "Zwei Wege buddhistischer Friedensstiftung," in Religionen und Weltfrieden. Friedens- und Konfliktlösungspotenziale von Religionsgemeinschaften, R. Mokrosch, T. Held, R. Czada (ed.), Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 80-84
  • 2013    "The Chapter on Right Conduct in the Bodhisattvabhumi," in The Foundation for Yoga Practicioners. The Buddhist Yogacarabhumi Treatise and Its Adaptation in India, East Asia, and Tibet, U.T. Kragh (ed.), Harvard Oriental Series 75, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 872-883 
  • 2011    "Buddhismus: Mystik zum Heil aller Lebewesen," in Mystik: Die Sehnsucht nach dem Absoluten, Albert Lutz (ed.), Museum Rietberg Zürich, Zurich: Scheidegger & Spiess, 215-217
  • 2011   Several contributions in Buddhismus im Westen: "Einleitung" together with C. Roloff and W. Weiße, 7-16; "Buddhas Wege sind vielfältig: die Wissenschaft erforscht den Buddhismus," 19-23; "Der Buddhismus: mehr als Religion und Philosopie," 65-69
  • 2009   Review of "Catherine Ludvik, Recontextualizing the Praises of a Godess. From the Harivamsa to Yijing's Chinese Translation of the Sutra of Golden Light, Italian School of East Asian Studies, Occasional Papers 10, Kyoto: Scuola Italiana di Studi sull' Asia Orientale 2006," in Orientalistische Literaturzeitung 104 (2009) 4-5, 562-567 
  • 2008   "On Power and Punishment: Buddhism and Statecraft in Ancient India," in Homo Oeconomicus 25(2), 225-244
  • 2008   "Zur Geschichte der Abteilung für Kultur und Geschichte Indiens und Tibets," in Vom Kolonialinstitut zum Asien-Afrika-Institut. 100 Jahre Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften in Hamburg, Ludwig Paul (ed.), Gossenberg: OSTASIEN Verlag, 106-127 (together with Dorji Wangchuk)
  • 2007   "Conceptions of Buddhist Kingship in South Asia," in His Majesty King Bhumibol Aduyadej: Upholder of All Faiths, Institute of Language and Culture for Rural Development, Mahidol University (ed.), Nakhonpathom: Mahidol University, 121-128
  • 2006   "Only a Fool Becomes a King: Buddhist Stances on Punishment," in Buddhism and Violence, M. Zimmermann (ed.), Lumbini: Lumbini International Research Institute, 213-242 (download PDF)
  • 2006   "Wie die Lehre von der Buddhanatur entstand," Tibet und Buddhismus 77 (April, Mai Juni), 20-24
  • 2006   Several entries in Das grosse Lexikon des Buddhismus, translated from the Japanese and revised, G. Paul and others (eds.), Munich: IUDICIUM
  • 2004   "War," in Encyclopedia of Buddhism, R. E. Buswell (ed.), New York: Macmillan Reference, 893-897
  • 2003 "Bericht über das 'Nepal Research Centre' (NRC) für den Zeitraum von April 2002 bis März 2003," Geschäftsbericht der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft (Geschäftsjahr 2002/2003), Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 153-2, 525-526
  • 2003   Review of "Ludwig Alsdorf, Kleine Schriften, 2d ed., Albrecht Wezler (ed.), Glasenapp-Stiftung Band 10, Stuttgart: Steiner 2001," Indo-Iranian Journal 46, 90-91
  • 2003   "A Preliminary Analysis of the Tathagatagarbhasutra as Found in the Lang Kanjur," appendix to Klaus-Dieter Mathes' "Establishing the Succession of the Sakya Lamas of Näsar Gompa and Lang Gompa in Dolpo (Nepal)," Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde Südasiens 47, 104-105
  • 2002   Together with K.-D. Mathes: "Bericht über das 'Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project' (NGMPP) für den Zeitraum von April 2001 bis März 2002," Geschäftsbericht der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft (Geschäftsjahr 2001/2002), Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 152-2, 477-478
  • 2002   Several entries related to Mahayana Buddhism in Harenberg Lexikon der Religionen: die Religionen und Glaubensgemeinschaften der Welt. Ihre Bedeutung in Geschichte, Alltag und Gesellschaft, B. Budde and C. Laue-Bothen (eds.), Dortmund: Harenberg Verlag
  • 2002   "Buddhismus und Gewalt," in Buddhismus in Geschichte und Gegenwart, vol. 7, Continuing Academic Education, Hamburg: University of Hamburg, Asia-Africa-Institute, Department for Indian and Tibetan Studies, 101-110
  • 2002   "The Tabo Fragments and the Stemma of the Tibetan Tathagatagarbhasutra," in The Many Canons of Tibetan Buddhism. PIATS 2000: Tibetan Studies: Proceedings of the Ninth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Leiden 2000, Brill's Tibetan Studies Library 2/10, H. Blezer, A. McKay and C. Ramble (eds.), Leiden, Boston, Cologne: Brill, 177-196
  • 2000   "A Mahayanist Criticism of Arthasastra: The Chapter on Royal Ethics in the Bodhisattva-gocaropaya-visaya-vikurvana-nirdesa-sutra," Annual Report of the International Research Institute for Advanced Buddhology at Soka University for the Academic Year 1999, 177-211 (download PDF)
  • 2000   "Identification of a Quotation in the Ratnagotravibhagavrtti," Annual Report of the International Research Institute for Advanced Buddhology at Soka University for the Academic Year 1999, 215-216 (download PDF) 
  • 2000   "Tathagatagarbha," in Buddhismus in Geschichte und Gegenwart, vol. 4, Continuing Academic Education, Hamburg: University of Hamburg, Asia-Africa-Institute, Department for Indian and Tibetan Studies, 235-249
  • 1999   "The Tathagatagarbhasutra: Its Basic Structure and Relation to the Lotus Sutra," Annual Report of the International Research Institute for Advanced Buddhology at Soka University for the Academic Year 1998, 143-168 (download PDF)
  • 1998   "A Second Tibetan Translation of the Tathagatagarbhasutra in the Newark Manuscript Kanjur from Bathang: A Translation of the Early Period (snga dar)," Transactions of the International Conference of Eastern Studies 43, Tokyo, 33-50

     Contact

     Prof. Dr. Michael Zimmermann
     Numata Zentrum für Buddhismuskunde
     Alsterterrasse 1
     D-20354 Hamburg
     Germany

     Tel.: +49-(0)40-42838-3384
     Fax:  +49-(0)32-121403031
     Email: Michael.Zimmermann(at)uni-hamburg.de