Renowned Scholar and Zen Priest to Speak at Carleton College

Carleton College News, April 24, 2007

Northfield, Minnesota (USA) -- Renowned scholar and Zen Buddhist priest Eshin Nishimura will present a lecture entitled “Zen and Kierkegaard” Thursday, April 26 at 4:30 p.m. in the Carleton College Gould Library Athenaeum. Nishimura’s appearance, which will include a booksigning and reception, is free and open to the public.

<< Scholar and Zen Buddhist priest Eshin Nishimura

A monk and temple priest from Kyoto, Japan, Nishimura practices Zen Buddhism, which emphasizes experiences in the physical and psychological world as a way to reach the understanding of Buddha. He is known internationally as a leading participant in the dialogue between Zen, Christianity, and Western Philosophy. In addition to his scholarly work, Nishimura has served during most of his professional life as a jushoku, or head priest, in a Rinzai Zen temple near Kyoto.

This is not Nishimura’s first visit to Carleton College. A longtime colleague and friend of Bardwell Smith, Carleton College John W. Nason Professor of Religion and Asian Studies Emeritus, Nishimura was a visiting professor of religion at Carleton during winter term of 1970-71 and again during spring term of 1988-89. While at Carleton, Nishimura taught classes on Japanese religion in its cultural context and a seminar on the Buddhist view of reality.

Nishimura is the author of several books, written in both English and Japanese, including including "Unsui: A Diary of Zen Monastic Life" (University of Hawaii Press, 1973), also edited by Smith. Called “thoroughly delightful,” this volume on Zen Buddhist training and monastic life combines 96 color drawings by Giei Sato (1920-1970) with commentary by Nishimura and an insightful introduction by Smith, underlining the paradox of tension and harmony that often characterizes Zen Buddhist monastic life. Copies of "Unsui: A Diary of Zen Monastic Life," offered at a 15% discount, are available for purchase at the Carleton bookstore and at the event.

Nishimura is the former president and dean of Hanazono University in Kyoto, where he earned his BA in Buddhism. He received his MA and his PhD from Kyoto University.

Nishimura’s current visit to Carleton College follows his recent appearance at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard University, where he delivered a talk entitled “Buddhism and Science: Tibetan and Zen Buddhist Perspectives.”

This event is sponsored by the department of Asian studies and the Gould Library. For more information, call (507) 646-4232.