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Webinar: Australasian Association of Buddhist Studies (AABS) – “Mystics as Scholars”

AABS’s last seminar for the year will be hosted via Zoom on 9 December from 6:00pm to 7:30pm (Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney time).

Mystics as Scholars: The Obscure Role of Abhidharma in Tibetan Kagyüpa Meditation Traditions From the 15th to 17th Centuries

This paper aims to investigate the unique philosophies and historical significance of the emerging Abhidharma commentarial literature (Buddhist ‘metaphysics’) within Tibetan meditation dominated (‘yogic’) traditions of the 15th to 17th century. To that end this research will analyse three key commentaries from scholars of the Kagyü school of Tibetan Buddhism in context and ask the following questions: Why did yogic traditions that were well established and had produced generations of accomplished adepts feel a need to engage in intensive commentary on scholastic materials that were widely regarded as of merely provisional importance and associated with lower ranked philosophical traditions such as the Abhidharma? (By that time, the Madhyamaka was regarded by all Tibetan Buddhist orders as the supreme philosophical system.) Was it an attempt to ground meditation in fundamental tenets common to all Indian and Tibetan Buddhist traditions? Was it for reasons of religious/political prestige? Or did the engagement with scholastic and epistemological materials do significant work for meditators? 

Dr Jim Rheingans is Khyentse-UBEF Senior Lecturer for Tibetan Buddhism at The University of Sydney. His research focuses on Tibetan literary genres, religious history of the Tibetan plateau, and Buddhist meditative traditions. Recent publications include articles about the history of Tibetan Studies (JOSAH 51 2021–21) along with the monographs The Eighth Karmapa’s Life and His Interpretation of the Great Seal (Hamburg Buddhist Studies, 2017) and The Life and Works of Karma ’phrin las pa (1456–1539) (Contributions to Tibetan Studies, 2021).

To join the seminar, click the following link: https://uni-sydney.zoom.us/j/83945874599?pwd=UmU4QUJpTVpnZWVMLzh6endkTnZqUT09
(Password: 597795)