Renowned scholars to speak at Buddhist meet

By ANTHONY CHEW, The Star, Aug 6, 2006

Penang, Malaysia -- Twenty four world-renowned professors and scholars will be making a beeline to Penang to speak at the 1st International Buddhist College Buddhist Studies Conference at Than Hsiang Temple from Aug 11 to Aug 13. 

They will present papers on various aspects of Buddhist studies covering the three Great Traditions, namely, the Theravada Tradition of South-East Asia, the Mahayana Tradition of East Asia and the Vajrayana Tradition of the Himalayan Region and Mongolia.

The scholars are lecturing at Harvard University, Princeton University, University of Virginia and Williams College in the United States, Soka University in Japan, and Chulalongkorn University and Mahidol Univer-sity of Thailand.

Dr Lye Hun Yeow, who invited the scholars on behalf of the International Buddhist College and Than Hsiang Temple, will present a paper on “Esoteric Buddhism in
Late Imperial China”. The paper will be based on analysis of the Yoga-Rite of Burning-Mouths – a ritual for feeding hungry ghosts.

Dr Lye, a Penangite, is currently lecturing at Warren Wil-son College, USA, and has orga-nised conferences of similar nature.

He told StarMetro that a documentary on Buddhist rituals to feed hungry ghosts now practised by Buddhist groups in the US would also be screened during the conference.

“The rituals are simple but with emphasis on knowing the meaning. They are serious, on a smaller scale but not so elaborate,” he said, adding that perhaps, one day, Malaysians would adopt this practice.

He said the conference was intended as an introduction for the Malaysian public to Bud-dhist Studies as a modern, academic field of studies.

Among the presenters are Peter Gregory of Smith College, US, who will speak on Gate of Sweet Nectar: Feeding Hungry Spirits in an American Zen Com-munity, and Singaporean Shi Zhiru who will speak on Filial Daughters and Condemned Mo-thers in the Drama of Afterlife Salvation: A study of the Scripture on the Past Vows of the Bo-dhisattva Dizang.

The conference is co-sponsored by Tung Lin Kok Yuen Foundation in Hong Kong. More details on the conference are available at www.thanhsiang. org/conference.html.