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Stories from our students

Traveling through a valley of flowers

I have the sense in Tibet that the land is alive. It reads like a manuscript punctuated with white Buddhist stupas and illustrated with painted rocks and caves high in the mountainside. Triangles and circular structures made of prayer flags mark where the local gods inhabit the mountains and lakes.

Buddhist texts and life in Nepal

Nepal is a place full of opportunities to learn about religion, as well as humanity and its resilience. After the devastating earthquake, people continue their practice of the Dharma despite economic and political difficulties. Inspirational is one of the many things one could call this experience. My research in Nepal is not over but has just begun.

Friends in high places

On the way to Myanmar I stopped in Japan to meet with scholars there studying Southeast Asia, Burmese Buddhism and Pali philology. In Myanmar I studied Burmese and also acquired numerous new materials crucial to my research, including an invaluable anthology of twenty-first century interpretations of Ū Nārada’s controversial writings.

Life in a nunnery

I lived for nine months in a Buddhist nunnery in Myanmar, conducting research on nuns’ training. Around Mandalay we met with locals and astrologers to ask how rituals adapt to current conditions. I miss the simple things we did there, like taking walks with the nuns to the river each evening and joining the nuns chanting Paṭṭhāna.

Connecting art and religion

We visited caves at the Mogao and Yulin Grottoes, many of which are rarely open to the public. Dunhuang was a perfect site to negotiate issues of global vs. the postglobal. Interdisciplinary collaboration between international scholars of history, art, and religion should be encouraged.

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