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Workshop: "Textual and Visual Sources on Buddhist Meditation: Fifty-Six Years after the First Publication of the ‘Buddhist Yoga´

07. Feb 2020 - 08. Feb 2020
Veranstalter: Professorship of Buddhist Studies
Karl Jaspers Centre, Room 212

The workshop is one of the events taking place within the framework of the collaborative project "An English Translation of a Sanskrit ‘Buddhist Yoga Manual’ from Kučā", awarded the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Grants (American Council of Learned Societies) for Critical Editions and Scholarly Translations 2019.

The goal of our translation project is to render the first English translation of the so-called “buddhistisches Yogalehrbuch” (YL), a ‘Buddhist Yoga Manual’ from Kučā, located on the Northern Silk Road of the Tarim Basin. The YL comprises several highly fragmentary manuscripts written in a local Sanskrit and North Turkestan Brāhmī, which first came to light in the excavations of the Third German Turfan Expedition (1905-07) at a Buddhist monastic complex in Qïzïl, Kučā. The text was found to detail a hitherto unique visionary meditation schema, primarily concerned with elucidating how a yogācāra (‘practitioner of yoga’) should conduct meditation on the basis of a quite unique visual and psychosomatic technique, the contents and idiosyncrasies of which are shared with other meditation (chan jing 禪經) and visualisation (guan jing 觀經) sūtras, dated to ca. 5th century CE, as well as with epigraphic and visual features of meditative scenes, painted as murals in what are likely meditation caves at Qïzïl, Toyok, and Šorčuq. Due to these peculiarities, the work belongs to a forgotten Buddhist meditation tradition. This text has unfortunately not received the attention it deserves and our translation project is designed to remedy this issue.

As the highlight of the project, this workshop brings together scholars from both the East and West who specialize on textual and visual sources of Buddhist meditation in various regions. Their presentations address a wide variety of issues raised by the YL from different disciplinary and cultural perspectives. Accounting for more recent research into associated textual materials and artworks from the region, the project team and participants endeavors to reestablish the true significance of this forgotten work.

Detailed workshop program TBA.


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