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Workshop: "Textual and Visual Sources on Buddhist Meditation: 56 Years after the First Publication of the ‘Buddhist Yoga Manual´

Feb 07, 2020 - Feb 08, 2020
Organiser: Professorship of Buddhist Studies

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.

Day 1: Friday, February 7

9:30–10:00 Reception

10:00–10:15 Opening Address

10:15–11:00 Introduction to the Project - An English Translation of a Sanskrit “Buddhist Yoga Manual” from Kucha

11:00–11:45 Prof. Dr. Dieter Schlingloff (Honorary professor, Universität Leipzig) - "My Work on the Birch-Bark Manuscript of the “Yoga Manual” (1956–1961): A personal mémoire"

Lunch Break

14:00–14:45 Prof. Dr. Lothar Ledderose (Universität Heidelberg) - "For Meditation or Not, That is the Question: Remarks on the 6th-century stone inscriptions on Mount Hongding 洪頂山 in Shandong, China"

14:45–15:30 Dr. Ines Konczak-Nagel (Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig)- "The “Yoga Manual” and the Murals of Kucha: Artistic representations alluding to visionary meditative experiences"

Coffee Break

16:30–17:15 Prof. Dr. Daniel M. Stuart (University of South Carolina, USA) - "The Deities of Others: Visionary meditation as inter-tradition critique in the Saddharmasmr̥tyupasthāna-sūtra"

17:15–18:00 Dr. Péter Daniel Szántó (Leiden University, Netherlands) - "Proto-Tantric, Tantric, and non-Tantric Elements in the “Yoga Manual”"


Day 2: Saturday, February 8

10:15–11:00 Prof. Dr. Yamabe Nobuyoshi (Waseda University, Japan) - "The Tree Image in the “Yoga Manual” Reconsidered: In comparison with a Japanese esoteric painting"

11:00–11:45 Prof. Dr. Fujii Jun (Komazawa University, Japan & Universität Heidelberg) - "The Origin of the Privative a- in Mahāyāna Sūtras: With a focus on early Buddhist literature about the mind (citta)"

Lunch Break

14:00–14:45 Prof. Dr. Michael Radich (Universität Heidelberg) - "Sengchou’s 僧稠 ‘Four Bases of Mindfulness’ Meditation from the Mahāparinirvāṇa-mahāsūtra: As seen at his cave at Xiaonanhai 小南海"

14:45–15:30 Dr. Philipp Maas (Universität Leipzig) - "The Brahmavihāras or Apramāṇas in the Yoga of Patañjali"

15:30–16:15 Dr. Lin Qian (Tsingtau University, China & Universität Heidelberg) - "How to Contemplate ‘Internally’ and ‘Externally’ in the Satipaṭṭhāna Meditation: Philosophical and practical implications"

Coffee Break

17:15–18:00 Round-Table Discussion


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