Buddhism in Dialogue with Contemporary Societies 20-22 June 2018
Museum für Völkerkunde, Großer Hörsaal, Hamburg
The ongoing encounter between Buddhism and contemporary Western societies has already left a lasting mark on both parties, as happens in any open dialogue. Arriving in the “West”, Buddhism has been confronted with the values of European enlightenment and human rights, articulated within the paradigms of Judeo-Christian culture. Buddhism has often been described as a kind of philosophy and lifestyle. Buddhist voices have joined discussions of secular values, Buddhist-inspired mindfulness practices are penetrating therapeutic fields, while Buddhist communities have gained followers attracted to what they see as a more rational and “less religious” religion. Yet Buddhism clearly comprises an immensely diverse system of beliefs and practices that are themselves in the process of vast internal changes in response to new social realities.
To explore these dialogical processes, this International and Interdisciplinary Conference “Buddhism in Dialogue with Contemporary Societies” brought together 20 scholars of Buddhism and senior Buddhist teachers from the three mainstream traditions of Buddhism, i.e. Theravāda, East Asian (including Zen), and Tibetan Buddhism. They addressed such questions as:
- What can Buddhist thought and practice contribute to today’s world?
- How, and how much, can or should Buddhism adapt in order to make those contributions in new contexts?
- What, if any, must be considered to be core teachings or practices that cannot be subject to revision or adaptation?
- What strategies have Buddhist communities developed to protect core teachings while responding to rapidly changing technological, social, and material conditions?
To ensure a successful academic outcome of the conference, the first two and a half days were dedicated mainly to listening to the presentations on five panels followed by an intensive exchange with the speakers, respondents, and faculty. In the afternoon of the third day, preliminary results were summarized and discussed with the interested expert audience (among them practising Buddhists and teachers of Buddhism) as well as university students. Language: English; German translation if required.
The flyer with the full program can be downloaded here.
For all abstracts please see here.
The recordings of the lectures and discussions are available here.
The International and Interdisciplinary Conference «Buddhism in Dialogue with Contemporary Societies» was jointly held by the Academy of World Religions and the Numata Center for Buddhist Studies at the University of Hamburg in cooperation with the Studienstiftung für Buddhismus, co-funded by the following foundations. The support of all esteemed organizations is gratefully acknowledged.