A four-week seminar for sixteen college and university faculty to study classical Buddhist texts in the context of their translation and transmission.
Luis Gómez (religious studies and Asian languages, University of Michigan, and academic director, Mangalam Research Center) and Parimal Patil (religion and Indian philosophy, Harvard University) direct a new seminar on the translation and transmission of classic Buddhist texts. Using a cross-section of texts and translations, the seminar investigates ways that a classic text reveals both the unity and the diversity of a tradition. The seminar is organized around guiding questions: "Who translated the text being studied? When? Why? For whom? What tools and textual strategies were available to the translator and the interpreter? When key terms are translated in so many different ways, how confident can we be that we understand their historical usage and application?" Through close reading, directors and seminar participants bring indigenous technical terms into interpretive context and reflect on the ways that systems of religious thought and practice cross over from one culture to another. Texts to be read in their entirety include the Sutta Nipāta, the Diamond Sutra (Vajracchedikā), the Heart Sutra (Bhadracar), and the Lotus Sutra. Guest speakers Jeffrey Durham (curator, Asian Art Museum) and Erika Rosenberg (psychology, University of California, Davis) discuss Himalayan art and the emerging dialogue between Buddhism and the natural sciences. Field trips take participants to the C.V. Starr Asian Library, the Doe Library, and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. The Mangalam Research Center in Berkeley, host for the seminar, boasts an impressive collection of Buddhist texts, including the complete Pali Canon (in both Pali and English) and the world's most complete collection of Nyingma Tibetan Buddhism.