UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO / McMASTER UNIVERSITY YEHAN NUMATA PROGRAM BUDDHIST STUDIES PROGRAM
RUPERT GETHIN (Bristol University)
NUMATA LECTURE AND KEYNOTE ADDRESS AT THE 2nd BIENNIAL UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO GRADUATE STUDENT CONFERENCE:
The Quest for the Historical Buddha and the Path to Enlightenment
FRIDAY, November 1, 2013, 4-6 pm, UTSC, JHB 318
The study of the Pali Nikayas by scholars over the last 150 years has been especially associated with the attempt to recover the historical Buddha and his original teachings. This ‘historical’ Buddha is opposed to the ‘mythic’ Buddha of Buddhism, and his teachings to the misunderstandings and distortions of the Buddhist ‘Church’ and later scholastic systematisers. The method has typically been based on the assumption that a close reading of the Nikayas reveals inconsistencies that betray their haphazard and unsystematic process of compilation and redaction and that can be used as a basis for distinguishing between earlier and later strata. Such an approach perhaps overlooks the extent to which the Nikayas are a systematically redacted whole: the product of a process of compilation and editing which the compilers and editors deliberately employed in order to present a particular vision of the Buddha and his teaching. By considering the Nikayas in this way it is possible to suggest a different reading of the apparently contrasting of meditation and nirvana found in the Nik?yas. Rather than representing competing voices within the early Buddhist community, they represent an attempt by the Buddhist community to establish a distinctively Buddhist vision of the path of meditation and its goal to compete with other non-Buddhist visions.
READING GROUP: The Good, the Bad and the Undetermined: Reflections on the Theravada, Sarvastivada, and Yogacara Listing of Dharmas
THURSDAY, Oct. 31, 2013, 4-6 pm, McMaster, University Hall 122
RUPERT GETHIN is Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Bristol where he teaches courses in Indian religions. He has published a number of books and articles on aspects of Pali literature, Buddhist meditation and the psychology and philosophy of Buddhist systematic thought (abhidharma), including The Buddhist Path to Awakening (1992), an English translation (with R. P. Wijeratne) of a Pali commentary to a traditional textbook of Abhidharma, Exposition of the Topics of Abhdihamma (2002), and an introduction to Buddhist thought and practice, The Foundations of Buddhism (1998). He is currently working on a comparative study of aspects of the Abhidharma of the ancient Theravada, Sarvastivada and Yogacara schools of Buddhist thought. Since 2003 he has been President of the Pali Text Society.
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