Destroying the Dharma: Heresy, Suppression and Rationalism in the Emergence of Modern Buddhism
April 17, 2018
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Jackman Humanities Building, Rm 318
170 St. George St
Join us for a public lecture by Professor Kate Crosby.
If Buddhism is a religion of science and personal assessment, as many modernist Buddhists claim, why are there heresy cases in Burma for those who discard cosmologies long understood in the West as psychological metaphors? How come the meditations behind modern Mindfulness are subjected to close scrutiny for doctrinal accuracy in the countries of their origins? Why did Cambodian Buddhists risk their lives to preserve texts the Sangha hierarchy determined as false teachings? How does a religion of gender equality imprison a nun for ‘deliberately destroying Buddhism.’? The suppression of traditional Southeast Asian practices and the court cases of modern Burma exemplify some startling polarities between reactionary and relativist forms of Buddhism. This lecture will examine some of these, identifying their common origins in the diversity of Asian efforts to save the Buddhist religion from destruction.
Kate Crosby is Professor of Buddhist Studies in the department of Theology and Religious Studies at King’s College, London. She works on Sanskrit, Pali and Pali-vernacular literature, and on Theravada practice in the pre-modern and modern periods. Her books include Traditional Theravada Meditation and its Modern Era Suppression, Buddha-Dharma Centre of Hong Kong 2013, and Theravada Buddhism: Continuity, Diversity, Identity, Blackwell-Wiley, 2014. Her talk emerges from her interest in the rich diversity of responses of Southeast Asian Buddhists to the modern world, as well as what Buddhism may have looked like at the dawn of this period.